» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

August 1, 2002

Hi, all. I live on the third floor, in #9A. Yes, I know, we never talk. And that's my fault as much as yours. Sure, there are nods in the hall, occasional hellos, recriminations for loud nocturnal vomiting in the bushes along the driveway. Sometimes we have to buzz each other when we lock ourselves out of the building. But face it--we remain strangers. Even so: though we might have little in common, we're nevertheless bound together by the dank confines of our lovably dilapidated walk-up. Like an old lover, we well know her particulars: the stain-blotched industrial carpets in the halls, the faux-elegant (plastic) chandeliers dangling over the stairwells, the vintage washing machines (I believe that shade of industrial green is called avocado). This is our shared space: under-lit, dusty, speckled with moths and sugar ants, but ours nonetheless.

In any case, I just thought I'd make the first move and say hello.

To begin with, I want to give a shout out to whomever it is that makes sure the seasonally appropriate decorations get hung in the main vestibule. Yes, especially those ghosts last year, the ones made out of rubber banded wads of Kleenex--those where great. You really know your crafts! And those cornucopia pictures you taped to the front door at Thanksgiving? Wonderful. Really. You're a treasure. You make me take pride in where I live. That's the desired effect, no?

Ok. Now you, Mystery Chef--I don't know your name or exactly which apartment you're in, though I'm sure it's somewhere on the second floor. I have to ask: what the hell is that smell that seeps into the halls every night? My girlfriend thinks it's burned pork chops, but my theory is that you're slowly roasting an old rug. What a stench. Aren't you ashamed? The skunky ghosts of your "meals" haunt the building for months. I can still smell the gamy residue of last week's "Barbeque Wednesday". If it smells like that outside, what must your apartment be like? Jesus. Give it a rest. Get takeout once in a while.

You, in #6A: I've never seen you--at least I don't think so. That may have been you hanging out on the corner by the bank last week. The burly guy in short shorts just smoking and watching traffic. Was that you? Probably not. That was probably some other guy. But that's how I imagine you. The only evidence (to me) of your existence is that whiny shit-kickin' US99 drivel blasting through your closed door every time I pass by. Since I haven't seen you, I've built you a face (nose seamed with broken blood vessels, eyes too close together, lips like uncooked sausages) and a body (paunchy, arms sleeved in dark hair, fat thighs like chewed bubble gum). Not a flattering image--certainly not one I'd choose for myself. Still, it's my call, isn't it? But maybe, after all this speculation, you're a woman. Someone's daughter, girlfriend. A nurse or human resource coordinator, perhaps. Maybe an ex-gymnast. I don't think so, but maybe.

To the people/person in #2: I am not convinced that you exist. You are never home. Perhaps the apartment is empty.

Mr. Bus Driver: you drive the short bus. I know because you drive it home. I didn't know bus drivers could do that--treat it like a company car. Do you take it to the grocery store? I would. You have a wife. My girlfriend and I call her The Bus Driver's Scary Wife because she's built like a troll. Similarly, we call your daughter The Bus Driver's Scary Daughter because she is also trollish and maybe a little chipmunky around the mouth and has an eerie tendency to stare. I know, we're mean people. We're assholes. You call me Jeb. As does your wife. I'm not sure how you learned my name. I don't like it. I wish you wouldn't talk to me at all, or try to small talk my girlfriend when she's unloading her underwear from the dryer. I wish you didn't live here.

Now, I'm sure we've all seen that older woman who sits on the dryers in the laundry room reading romance novels and chain smoking. Don't you wonder what's up with her? I do. Does she live with one of you guys?

Dear Hamsters: that's what I call you, the couple on the first floor by the mailboxes. I don't know much about you, but I think the wife is called Melinda, but that could be wrong. I call you The Hamsters because I always see you guys lugging giant bags of cedar chips into your apartment. And whenever the door is open, your place gives off a milky, bestial smell. What do you have living in there that requires so many cedar chips? An entire family of small rodents? Or do you use them for yourselves? My girlfriend thinks your apartment is devoid of furniture, that you've merely lined your apartment with cedar chips in which you burrow, sleep, defecate, etc. Is this true? I know it's rude to ask, but I just have to know.

To the bats that spent all of last summer bivouacked outside my bedroom window: where have you gone? At first the idea of bats outside my window freaked me out. But then I came to enjoy watching you flit around in the moonlight. What happened? Was it something I did? Am I repellent?

Now, the person I hate most, the person I want assassinated, is the Jackass on the second floor with that thrum-thrum-thrumming music. Why do you ignore my girlfriend when she hammers our kitchen floor (AKA: your roof) with one of her sandals? Don't you realize that she's asking you to turn-it-down? And how can you listen to Euro house mix tapes all day long? I've always marveled at your tolerance--even (despite myself) admired you for it. Now, are you that blond girl? The one whose boyfriend parks in front of the building and honks instead of getting off his ass to ring your apartment? I bet you are. How can you date a guy whose car looks like a frog? How can you stand your life?

Mr. Limo Driver: If Lurch from the Addams Family and Buddy Holly had a baby, it would look like you. Do you get that a lot? Because of your unusual appearance I find myself trying to imagine what sort of furniture and dishes you have, what kind of food you like. Sick, isn't it?

I'm not sure who I'm addressing this part to, but whoever you are, quit putting your cigarettes out on the carpeting. The halls look like hell as is. Don't make it worse. And are you the same phantom that keeps stealing the batteries out of all the smoke alarms? You can afford rent but not batteries? What do you do with so many? And are you also the same dude that owns that black Monte Carlo? I have to ask: who keeps slashing your tires? What did you do to deserve that? Why don't you just apologize and ask forgiveness for your trespasses? And, again, how can you afford new tires every few weeks but not batteries? Explain yourself.

Finally, which one of you left that note under my windshield wiper yesterday: PLEASE DON'T PARK HERE AGAIN? Why not? I live here!


Your Neighbor

**Current, former, and imagined.

Jeb Gleason-Allured
An editor at THE2NDHAND who lives in Chicago, Illinois, Jeb Gleason-Allured briefly entered the LAS fold with his contribution to the Sell Me to the Mayor column.

See other articles by Jeb Gleason-Allured.



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