Saturday, July 08, 2006

Can Black people go 5 minutes without music?

...or rather why do we have to blast the music during every gathering?

Having been back in Harlem now for about 4 years -- after being away for over 20. There are plenty of improvements but one thing about this community that gets on my nerves is some folks apparent belief that we all want to hear their music or that it is fine to just blast you music out of your car, open window, or mobile boom box.

I know I live a a big city, and I don't expect silence. However why do men, and it is usually men, have to blast music all the time.

It seems if there is more than two of us together someone is blasting music. When did it become a requirement for every picnic to have ultra loud music. Lately the music is not just loud but obscene...

My next door neighbor was blasting music out of his window one afternoon while my daughters and I were hanging out in the backyard. The lyrics went something like this;

I getting some head
gettin gettin some head
I getting some head
gettin gettin some head infinitum (or so it seemed)

I yelled, "A brother can't even go OUTSIDE without subjecting his daughters to obscenities!" The song was skipped mid stream. My daughters thought the situation was funny. They seem to take pleasure at their old man's irritation with the words in some of the rap music. Now when we hear the song in the street, the oldest will say, "there goes Dad's favorite song"

Sure there are times for loud music; like at a dance party, or a concert, but the concept background music or silence seems alien in our community.

IPODs -- same thing. Many people walk around all day with music blasting from those little white ear buds. Are people ever interested in being alone with their own thoughts? Has loud music replaced conversation?

"...what, he think he live in a white neighborhood or sumptin?!"

I'll never understand, why people feel it is okay to litter. I can go outside, right now and watch an adult finish a beer and throw the bottle in the street or leave in on the sidewalk. Mind you, there are garbage cans on every single corner and many homeowners provide receptacles outside of their home for such purposes.

On may way in or out of the house I have to pick up rubbish which usually includes beverage bottles and cans, potato chip bags, cigarette butts, chicken bones, those miniature ziplock crack bags, and the occasional soiled condom, or even tobacco discarded from a hollowed out Philly Blunt. (Once I got a $130 ticket for trash in front of my house. The trash was placed in front of my house after I left for work and before I returned home. I know one home owner in the area who got 3 of these tickets in two month period, under similar conditions).

On one particular evening I bent down in front of my building to pick up some rubbish and I heard a woman sitting on the stoop (not her stoop) next to me say to her friend, also on a stoop hat was not her own say;" ...picking up that trash... what, he think he live in a white neighborhood or sumptin?!"

I thought about saying something in response. But I knew my initial reaction would have offended her and while she may, indeed, needed to have been offended I choose not to bother -- hoping my actions, alone, would speak for itself.

A week earlier the same woman was sitting on my stoop (as strangers do from time to time). However I don't allow people to sit on my stoop and I always ask them to leave. Usually people comply without word. Once in a while someone will ask, as this woman did (and it is always a woman), "Why?" This is one of those questions, if asked, that you know will take a long time to explain. However on this occasion I said; "If you really want to know, I'll tell you". She immediately replied, as she left; "I know, 'cause we'll leave soda cans and chickens bones all over your stoop"'.

See this woman understands perfectly, but just does not care enough to respect that right until challenged.

Once a couple of guys were walking down the street and one threw a paper bag on the ground, while I was picking up in front of the house. I was like "YO!, COME, ON MAN!" Normally I would not yell at stranger but he caught me off guard. The guy picked up the paper bag almost as if he'd dropped it by mistake and kept on going.

I noticed virtually everyone understands that littering is bad and spoils the neighborhood; but when did not littering become a white thing?