GIG TALES: "The Neighbors"
by Jon Dunmore ©

Band Residence. Mt Druitt, NSW, Australia. 1992
During rehearsal, the drummer noticed something odd near the corner of the studio and said, "What's that?" and was suddenly hit with a stream of water to the face - from a hose poking through our garage wall!

As Musicians living in neighborhoods made for non-Musicians, we're all familiar with the phrase: "Turn down that damn noise!" It's de rigeur for any self-respecting Neighbor to bellow this phrase at least once monthly if living next door to Musicians. But these are two tales of Neighbors who went above and beyond simple stentorian entreaties.

Truly - these were Neighbors Gone Wild.

This first episode took place in our insulated studio garage, at our Band Residence in Mt. Druitt, a family neighborhood bordering on lower class (read as 'white trash'). It was only 7:00 pm. Nonetheless, somewhere out there a camel's back was being broken and the usually lusterless, lounge-potatoed neighbors were actually driven to smashing a hole in the garage wall during the band noise and sticking a hose through - with the intent to deluge us!

Neighbors! Can't live next door to 'em; can't kill 'em.

What did they hope to achieve? - the complete cessation of loud music by hosing us down? We called the cops. Someone was going to pay for busting this hole in our wall. We didn't even know that Neighbor's name, in the house two doors down from us, whose harridan wife put on her best fishwife shrieking as the cops arrested him - for destruction of property and - oh! Irony! - for DISTURBING THE PEACE!

Band Residence. Hollywood, CA, USA. 1992
11:00 pm: The drummer made a thumping noise as he leapt onto his bed in a not-too-shabby half-swan. Twenty seconds later, a violent banging on our apartment door. It was the Neighbor from downstairs, Daniel (6'1", 280lbs, forties, long, jet-black, brillo-pad hair, owned a vicious doberman and a mangy alsatian and - the scariest part - he was a christian; not the type that was born only once - that's not good enough for these wackos - they've got to be born 'again'), in a vein-busting scream, "Cut out the bullshit - or something's going to be done about it!"

The three of us decided right there to kick his jesus-lovin' head in, and we planned for the drummer to rush him through the front door and the bassist and myself charging him from the side door. As soon as we opened the doors in unison and piled out, we came face to face with the second amendment: Daniel, with mangy alsatian on leash, in cowboy hat, black tank top, army pants, heavy black boots - and to finesse this ensemble, a full bullet-belt around his waist, holstering a Make-My-Day .44 magnum!

He obviously subscribed to the credo: "Neighbors! Can't live next door to 'em; CAN kill 'em".

We had just moved from Australia to The States and secured this apartment dump on Whitley Avenue, directly north of that slum, Hollywood Boulevard: shouts and screams from every other apartment; shots fired out in the street; slamming doors, breaking glass; the doughy Filipino security guard chasing someone across the backyard; urine streams from the balconies above ours; sirens wailing; hip-hop, metal and mexican music - after that first half hour, things got even worse.

The neighbors were ALL kookoo, so we slotted in seamlessly: there was Shane the Actor, waiting tables and lifting girly-weights with a weight-belt on, there was the stripper who was dating Ron Jeremy, there were street-walkers and cross-dressers and Wanna-bes and Use-ta-bes - playing loud music was the least of our worries; this burnt-out, bum-infested, urine-smelling suburb brought a literal meaning to the phrase Staying Alive.

Daniel lived directly below us - and now he was flaunting his right to bear arms directly in front of us. The question now was: Did We Feel Lucky? No - we poker-faced and let him rant, although the bassist saw fit to call him "paranoid" to his face. (Now is it really such an insult to call an already-paranoid person paranoid? Ultimately, the bassist was just identifying Daniel's present condition - offering a gratis medical diagnosis, as it were.)

He didn't brandish the gun or even un-holster it - but he was sending an unambiguous message: It was like a penis placed on a table at a dinner party for the Queen - you couldn't NOT notice it.

He eventually ranted his way back downstairs without a dramatic shootout and we immediately called the police. Mention the word "gun" and even in the toilet districts of Hollywood, the cops drop their donuts and respond. The black-and-whites cruised in silently and darkly, cordoning off the street like an episode of CSI: Miami. From outside, we watched the spectacle unfold, as they pulled those classic movie maneuvers of hiding behind parked cars for cover and sneaking up on the building like Tango & Cash.

They brought Daniel out handcuffed, weeping, screaming at him close range, one cop holding the magnum between thumb and forefinger like a smelly sock.

The manager thanked us, the security guard thanked us, other tenants thanked us - apparently, unbeknownst to us, the other Neighbors were regularly terrorized by Daniel's "patrolling" of the building with his dogs, so were eternally grateful to us for putting him in his place. Well, a man's got to know his limitations…

They hauled him away to a holding cell that night. So much for the Right To Bear Arms…

…And now for the ever-popular Ominous Final Shot: A week later, Daniel abandoned the building. The only evidence of his passing were the windows of his evacuated apartment, facing the garden - wall-papered full of pictures of his devil-doberman - facing OUTWARDS.

Fade to black.


Added: 2005, May 31