Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'd write a sharply worded note, if I knew where to leave it

I have a neighbor who owns, and frequently plays, some sort of electric organ. Not a cool electric organ, like what Billy Preston plays on Let It Be. It's more like what you'd hear at a circus, or on an old-timey carousel. And I'm not talking fun, swirly calliope music (like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite") -- just the basic boo-boop-boop boo-boop-boop sound that makes me imagine clowns with tiny umbrellas. Whatever makes that sound, that's what my neighbor plays. Often. Especially on the weekends.

This has been going on since I moved in to this apartment two years ago, and I have never been able to locate the source of the sound -- it comes in through my window, but I can't tell whether it's coming from this building, or an adjacent one, or someplace across the street. Being able to hear it so clearly and not trace it to its source makes it that much more maddening -- and it was already pretty darn maddening. This amateur musician's playlist includes the hymn "How Great Thou Art" (at least, I think that's what s/he is trying to play, but since s/he is not so hot on what the professionals call "rhythm," it's hard to be totally sure), "Hey Jude," "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" and, of course, one or more Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes from Phantom of the Opera. I think "How Great Thou Art" rules out the synagogue across the street as the source of the sound, but otherwise I am baffled. And inevitably, whenever I sit down to work on something that requires concentration, and I decide to turn off my own music to facilitate that concentration, I hear the familiar tunes wafting on the breeze, each note wavering in a completely unsuitable manner: "...Then sings my soullllll..." (boo-boop-boop boo-boop-boop). And I have to turn my own music back on, loud, to drown it out.

The thing that really drives me crazy is that this instrument is obviously electronic, which means it very likely has other, less annoying settings. (Nothing could be more annoying, unless it was that howling "human voice" option we had on our old Casio). But the person playing it seems very attached to this cheesiest of tones, perhaps because of the way it cuts through all other noise. Even if there are no other sound options, the odds are good that the instrument has a jack for headphones to be plugged into it. If only my more-enthusiastic-than-talented neighbor would take advantage of this, s/he could play all day and night and I would be none the wiser. I've actually considered making a gift of headphones to this person, for this purpose, but... I can't tell where the sound is coming from! So, if you or a loved one live on the Upper West Side and spend your weekends pounding on a circus organ, I beg you to consider plugging in some headphones now and then. And also: buy a metronome. I thank you.

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