Respect My City

I guess this blog is going to get a tad more political as time goes on. But I'll try to keep it musically related. For posts w/musical clips, videos and content, you can always visit the main hub: http://pmurraymusic.com/

Recently, the New York press has been reporting the woes of Bill Lee, father of filmmaking icon Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing, Malcom X), and, in his own right, a legendary bass-player whose career in both the Jazz and Popular music idioms spans both the decades and the gamut of big names in the music industry (Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, just to name two you might have heard of *note lighthearted sarcasm here*).  Up until the last three years of his roughly 44-year residency in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, his musical proceedings at home have gone on relatively untroubled and sans any civil grievance from the nearby residents on his block.  However,  since 2010, a new tenant has taken it upon herself to make a statement about the "noise" coming from her adjacent NY native.  A recent article in the Times, pointed out:
"...This year through May 23, the [NYPD] said, 17 noise complaints have been filed about the Lee residence on a street called Washington Park. Most, if not all, were called in by a woman in the brownstone next door who moved in three years ago. “It wakes us up constantly,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition that her name not be printed because she did not want to aggravate her already strained relations with Mr. Lee’s wife, and did not want to be seen as a complainer...."
-- Corey Kilgannon, NY Times 5/31/13

I'm going to be as delicate as I can about this, but wish me luck. The bottom line is this: by all NYC laws & standards, there is nothing wrong with what the woman who has complained is doing (being a gentrifist neo-urbanite, sadly, is not a crime).  However, what no law enforcement official is able to say publicly - and what no long-time resident of the multicultural wonderland that is Brooklyn can openly admit to the press - is that there is always a give and take when it comes to neighbors and neighborly understanding.  I live in Breezy Point, Queens, a private - and relatively quiet - cooperative community with closely situated houses on both sides of mine, and I practice my music regularly.  Because my neighbors know of my profession, and my family and I have built good will with their families over the years, there is never a problem with me vocalizing, referencing records, or playing instruments, regardless of the hour.  A healthy neighborhood should be chock full of such understanding and mutual coexistence.  What newer residents of gentrified Brooklyn have done (besides raise property value, displace native New Yorkers, and create a modern-day cultural & ethnic Diaspora) is inset a highly privatized and distinctly suburban quality of life into a major metropolis, the likes of which has not been seen here - nor been required - since the turn of the century, at least.  It's Main Street USA trying to force its way onto Fulton Street, BK, and I could care less about what the statistical benefits or quality of life enhancements that come with this kind of a movement.  It's.  Not.  Right.

Mutual coexistence in a large, portioned city with myriads of cultures and countless varieties of lifestyles means that when you get the chance to live here, you learn the ropes just like the rest of us had to, and if the jazz player next door is working on a show piece till 2AM, you make light, humorous conversation about it the next day with your friends over brunch and move on.  There is something to be said for New York's make-it-or-break-it reputation, and just because Stable Mabel from Normalville, Ohio has a preconceived notion of how she wants her new hometown to act and what kinds of people she wants to live next door to, doesn't mean she's entitled to get it (no disrespect the the good people of Ohio, but you get my drift).  Call the NYPD all you want, if Lee's mortgage notes are paid on time (or if the house is already paid up), and I were him, I'd file a tort claim against this woman on the grounds of aesthetic and cultural coercion.  Long story short, baby girl next door needs to have several seats and turn up the volume on her HGTV DVR programming.  Legends are legends, Brooklyn is Brooklyn, and damned though I may be for loving my city as fiercely as I do, as we like to say here, "It is what it is."  DEAL.