I was recently advised, and rightly so, to find a way to let off some steam for my acting’s sake. And so here we go.
My neighbor (who I assure you will never read this blog because he definitely can’t remember my name), has a habit of sitting in his car on warm afternoons and playing music to himself. Well, playing bass to himself. Essentially his car just thumps for a few hours and then he goes back inside. I’d say he’s warming up the car, but it’s currently 80 degrees and he never actually goes anywhere. So perhaps he’s just taking in some quality me-time or maybe he’s doing other things that aren’t my business. Nevertheless, here’s dorky-ol’-me sitting in the backyard in my floppy white hat, 20 feet from his car, reading my book and eating pickles, when it strikes him as a grand idea to blast music. Ah! I meant to listen to some thumping, thanks for taking care of that for me.
I once did a gig with a girl who told me I was a narcissist for hating loud cars. She claimed that if someone bothers you, it was your own fault–and that furthermore, you had the right to do whatever made you happy, no matter how it affected anyone else. As you can imagine, this young lady was a delightful coworker. Anyway, I think of her, much to my dismay, every time a car drives by blasting its music. Am I being selfish by hating your tunes? Perhaps you are just hard of hearing. Or am I just disappointed that you haven’t chosen good music to share with the group?
Because I assure you, most people who blast music, do not blast good music. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is when they sing along.
Until I was eleven years old, I lived in a rougher area of Union County, New Jersey, surrounded by people that definitely followed my coworker’s philosophy of life. Every day around 4pm, a family of approximately 30 people (that all seemed to be somehow living in one small house), took to the street to play soccer, drink and blast music. Sometimes, as an extra treat, they would set off their car alarms–perhaps just to be sure they still worked, how responsible of them! Well, as you can imagine, after four or so years of this, you start to crack a bit, especially since they would occasionally get a little too drunk and knife each other at your ninth birthday party. But that’s another story.
To our further dismay, the cops had stopped caring–probably having much bigger fish to fry–so nothing else could be done short of confronting them ourselves–which was really the last thing we needed.
Sometimes the feeling of complete helplessness sparks creativity. On one tense summer afternoon, my mother came up with a different plan. After the usual failed attempt to report them to the police, my mother suddenly went to the backyard, armed with car keys, determination, and a cassette tape. She pulled the car up to the front of our house, and sent none other than the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Into the Woods sailing into the humid afternoon air.
Well, my friends, if you’ve ever wondered about the one thing that will stop a group of thirty men from blasting cuss-filled music in their front lawn, it’s this: the beautiful belting vibrato of Bernadette Peters, projected at full volume out of an old Mazda 626, captained by a worn out mother at the end of her daily rope. Though they came back to play their music the next day, that afternoon, she had won. The music stopped, and so did ours. She triumphantly returned to the house and we remained silent in stunned amazement.
I thought of this while staring at my territorial music-blasting neighbor. Perhaps I should take this approach the next time he claims the backyard for himself. Or perhaps I should save Bernadette for a real emergency. As always, thanks for the inspiration, mom.