You know that saying about how when you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and me?
I recently read an excellent blog post that drove that idea home — in language that’s pretty close to the cliché.
(It’s also language more delicate readers might not enjoy. If that’s you, maybe skip this one? Perhaps you could look at some kitten photos instead?)
In a Nolavie post headlined LOVE NOLA: WHEN MUSIC IS JUST NOISE … HEALING NOISE, Brett Will Taylor shared his first-hand account of getting bombarded by loud, obscene music in his New Orleans home.
You know what? You can learn a lot from being an asshole.
I found out last week. When I was an asshole.
It was late Friday afternoon, around 5:30 on my block of North Robertson in Treme. As I came in my back door, the music started coming in my front door. And my windows. And my walls.
It wasn’t live music. It was recorded music. Coming from a private plot of vacant land at the corner of Robertson and St. Philip called Tuba Fats Square.
Recorded bounce music with lyrics that, well, lyrics I don’t usually invite into my house. Loud recorded bounce music. Extremely loud. So loud that I couldn’t listen to my own music in my own home. So loud that, when I went to take a shower, I could still hear it. Even though my bathroom is in the back of the house. Not kinda hear it, but fully hear it. You haven’t quite lived until you’re taking a shower while being able to hear, over the running water, a blow by blow account of an R-rated sex act, followed by, while toweling off, a discussion of the merits of filling a snitch’s mouth with seaweed.
Taylor describes hours and hours of this loud music — if you don’t know bounce, it’s New Orleans club music with a strong beat I can imagine rattling your mirrors and your molars at high decibels. It went on not just for hours but for multiple days. He first sent a polite email to neighbors, then got more aggressive.
I was an asshole that second night not because of how I complained, but because of the way I did. Sarcastically. Deliberately mentioning the most obscene lyrics in emails to our neighborhood list. Just to get a rise out of people who I knew would feel offended (and furious at some “newcomer” who dared to complain about the place he, too, now called home).
Which is where I started learning.
I learned that you can get quite a response when you’re an asshole. Where my previous night’s carefully worded inquiry had merited one response (the next day), my angry, emotional missives started getting replies almost immediately.
I also learned that the music was to honor a young man who had been murdered. A kid folks called “Buddha.” The music was also for Buddha’s mom. She had been in poor health for quite some time. When she heard that her son had been murdered outside a local bar, she took a turn for the worse.
And died hours later.
And with that, the music took on a new meaning. It wasn’t just some inconsiderate neighbor blasting obscene lyrics. There was a serious significance, a sort of high-volume sitting shiva.
I won’t tell you how it ends. I encourage you to read the full account here.
But I will share this beautiful insight Taylor receives when he drops his assumptions:
When you’re an asshole, you only learn what your anger will permit you to learn. But, when you turn your own anger down, you can learn even more.
Have you ever dropped your assumptions and your anger, and learned something you might not have otherwise?
Still with me? Want an idea of what bounce might’ve sounded like for days in Taylor’s house? This is the genesis of Miley’s twerking antics, so the lyrics *and* the dancing are not suitable for work. Really, you could look at so much cuteness instead.