Thursday September 6, 2001
The city is planning on passing out roughly 10,000 fliers titled "Be a Good Neighbor" throughout neighborhoods near campus. You see, it's party season again and apparently many of the fine folks that live in these neighborhoods prefer not to listen to loud thump-thump music and chants demanding keg-stands at two in the morning.
They are starting, most appropriately, with the west campus neighborhood, roughly from Speedway to Sixth, and then from Fourth Avenue to Euclid Avenue. That's my neighborhood. The fliers are cute and worded rather kindly, but what they should really say is, "Don't Be a Bad Neighbor." I'm a bad neighbor.
My roommates and I were red-tagged in late April, after a more-than-successful party at our west university residence. We had far too many people there, we went through four kegs, we didn't check IDs, and we were loud. This is exactly the sort of behavior the flier is trying to curtail. And this is exactly the sort of behavior they will never be able to stop.
If you receive one of these fliers, don't be mistaken by the cute and friendly tone of the flier, it's a threat. It's a scare tactic.
And maybe you should be scared. A red-tag sucks. For 120 days you can't make a peep at the risk of receiving a $500 fine. If you collect money for the alcohol you provide, you can be charged with illegal sale of alcohol. And in the worst cases - okay, as in my case - you can be charged with disorderly conduct and arrested on your own porch.
Among the unwanted and uninvited guests at my party was my neighbor Marty. He's 80 or something - old, cranky, and used to getting his way. I saw him walk up the steps yelling at random party-goers and rushed over to him.
"God dammit, you shut this party down! You shut it down now, or I'm going to call the cops!"
"I'm very sorry, sir. Of course we'll turn down the music, and I'll try to get some people inside."
"No, I want it shut down! Forget it I'm calling the cops," and then he left. Nothing left to do but inform the guests that the cops were coming soon. And frankly I was sort of happy the cops were coming. There were about 200 people at my house and I knew about 30 of them. And some of them seemed a lot cooler than me.
But the cops didn't come that night.
They came in the morning. Apparently my poor old insomniac neighbor suffered the entire night and was so pissed off in the morning that he went down to the police station and yelled at them until they came down to my house and pressed charges on someone - anyone - me. I answered the door in my boxers. I was cited with a first-degree misdemeanor in my boxers. I watched the cops put a red-tag on my window.
I was arraigned three weeks later. Arraignment involves sitting in the courthouse with the finest collection of miscreants in Tucson waiting to hear the bargain the city attorney will offer you. Most of the people were up for such glamorous crimes as trespassing, indecent exposure and shoplifting. I just had a party. I didn't get a bargain due to some city court hang-up, and I went home and waited for my next court date.
I eventually figured some stuff out and got a misdemeanor compromise form and got my angry neighbor to sign it. He ended up not being so angry. He was an ex-judge from Minnesota or something, and he just wanted some respect. And apparently he enjoys peace and quiet when he goes to bed. I can understand that. I can even respect it.
Marty ended up moving out of my neighborhood, and I can only imagine why. It was the right thing for him to do. There is no reason for cranky old folks to believe that they can enjoy the rest of their cranky little lives in a campus neighborhood. This is our university, this is our neighborhood, and we aren't going to stop shaking it down on Saturday night for anybody.
If you live in the west university neighborhood, fear not, I'll be a good neighbor and invite you to my party. But you can't scare us into being a "Good Neighbor." Many of us have already gone through the ringer, and it's not that big of a deal.