Friday, September 24, 2010

This is what the Bronx sounds like...

The part of the Bronx that we live in is very noisy. In fact, one of the only times where there is anything even remotely approaching quiet is at six in the morning, when nobody is awake. Except us crazy white people.

Every day there are car stereos, home stereos and portable stereos blasting rap, r&b, bachata, salsa, merengue and reggae from about 8 a.m. to about 2 a.m. You can hear snippets of conversations, people calling from their windows, our unofficial intercom system (in which people stand in front of the building and yell), street football and basketball games, arguments and singing. There are car horns, sirens, alarms, buses, trucks and policital propaganda trucks with loudspeakers. We're directly under the flightpath from LaGuardia airport, so airplanes fly over all day. On really bad days we're inundated with the sound of low-flying police helicopters searching for perpetrators of recently committed crimes. Garbage trucks and street cleaners come through once a day.

In our building there are people bumping carts of groceries and laundry up and down the stairs. There is a childcare facility on the first floor, so the sound of children playing drifts up to my windows. A playground is out back, sandwiched between buildings and the noise echoes off the walls. Dogs barking, stray cats fighting or in heat, birds chirping and singing (the rats, amazingly enough, are quiet).

We can hear our neighbors' movies and television shows. We can hear the kids bouncing around in the apartment above us, as I'm sure our downstairs neighbor can hear Georgia. Our downstairs neighbor is a bass player in a bachata band, so we hear him practicing the same song OVER AND OVER. Just the bass line. ARGH.

Bruce and I have said recently that our scale for judging what's obnoxious has been completely reset by the Bronx. What was intolerable to us before we don't even notice now. Georgia could probably sleep through a nuclear apocalypse at this point.

So what I'm getting at is, this past weekend, we had new sounds. Sounds that were totally alien to the Bronx. Sounds that drove me up the friggen wall for about two days.

Geese and chickens.

Some well-meaning folks who don't live in the neighborhood decided to build a chicken coop in the community garden that our apartment overlooks.

No really. Because exactly what this friggen hood needed was... chickens.


  1. :o)))
    I'm surprised that you even noticed the new sounds.

  2. Lol Virginia, can't help it but this sounds like heaven to me :-) Where I live it is so damned quiet that it is good for my ears. I love city sounds, and I love going to Oslo in the end of the office day - stuck in traffic or at an overfilled tube. Here rush-hour is between 16.00 and 16.10 and even then it is not possible to get stucked in traffic... But chicken and geese maybe belong better here than in your neighbourhood :-) Lovely shots!!

  3. What i love about my neighborhood is, it is in many ways similar! 2 blocks from the LIE, the hum of cars is a constant.
    Queens Blvd is a busy as the Grand Concourse,too.

    the music is different -we have spanish, and hip hop and kleimer, and russian, and other kinds.
    maybe not as much..

    but black friday, there is the clamor of horns (there are 2 side by side shopping centers) and the fire house is just 4 blocks away, so i am always hearing sirens..

    I lived for a while in a very quiet (roll up the sidewalks at 9pm sort of place.. but I love where i live now. --it reminds me of my childhood home-less then 2 blocks from where you are now!

  4. The farm market down the road put up a little shed-sized barn. I wondered what that was for, and now I know: chickens. I can hear the roosters from my house.

  5. Chickens really have a tendency to cock up the neighborhood.

  6. ...sigh~ how I love to feel your thoughts thru your words! I feel like I've just spent an evening on your couch, listening and experiencing all the sounds of the Bronx!
    How our worlds are different! Where I am tonight, the only sounds are the owls hooting, the coyotes howling, the frogs chirping and space. Yes, space. When the animals stop their talk to rest or just to breathe, the only sound is the sound of nothing. And when you get so close to this abyss, you can actually hear the stars shifting, the moon moving and your heart beating. It's magical. It's moving. It's the sound of space. And as much as I love the hustle and bustle of city life, including all of it's bronx-like noises....I have to say that this eery, fairytale-like absence of sound is what brings my spirit to life.

  7. hahaha! of course its the people who don't live in your neighborhood who think its a brilliant idea to have a chicken coop there! Someday though I am going to visit New York and see what its all about.