The land down under

Rear Window, sans Jimmy Stewart

Rear Window, sans Jimmy Stewart

Fruit Cake introduced himself at 7 a.m. on a Sunday by playing guitar in my bed.

Directly above my head. To the radio. Through the ceiling.

A very unprintable scream brought the Gin Blossoms rendition to a halt. We would meet many times again, through the wooden beams of a 1800s-era carriage house.

So began six years as a downstairs apartment dweller. The median age of my last three buildings stands at 117 years. With character and charm come creaky, thin floors. Renter beware – and be prepared to hear everything, including pieces of the most uncomfortable conversations.

This particular neighbor’s nickname was taken from his beat-up sedan in the parking lot, license plate FRUTCKE. There were no signs, however, that he was interested in culinary arts. His passion was playing ’90s pop and country tunes along with FM stations, usually just as dawn had faded.

With a move two years later, I failed to warn the next tenant. Maybe they’d enjoy karaoke as an alarm clock.

After a period of calm, the Princess and the Pea began his reign. He introduced himself in person and seemed normal enough. Maybe we’d be friends.

But Princess was delicate. The slightest noise left him sleepless, terrified, simply inconsolable.

My movie tastes were the last straw. He called in a uniformed army.

Nearing midnight on a Sunday, the war began with a knock at the front door of the 1929 fortress. The officer appeared sheepish. Standing less than 30 feet from the thunderous racket, he had to ask.

“Do you have the television on?”


“We’ve had a noise complaint from a neighbor in the building.”

“Oh, we know who it was.”

The movie silenced and the offenders seething, a tell-tale creak of feet was heard on the floorboards above.

The offensive film? “Independence Day,” perhaps? “Scarface”? Explosions and warfare? Obnoxious musical?

Try 1948’s “The Naked City.”

With film noir now part of my permanent record, I’ve recently retreated a safe distance of two blocks. The neighbor above doesn’t yet have a nickname. And, so far, 1875 has been a decent year.


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