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the stepford neighbors

Attention:

Will all the people who want perfect communities with perfectly manicured lawns and regulation-height shrubs and houses painted in only five different shades of yellow and no kids, pets or Christmas decorations, please pack up your shit and leave. Go form your own country with your own damn rules and have fun living in a sterile, perfect environment where your lives are one endless drone.

What is going on with the adults of America? Has someone slipped a Stepford Adult potion into their Metamucil?

In the past few years there has been a surge of people who draw up petitions at the blink of an eye. They don't want the ice cream man in their neighborhood because the music he plays wakes up their kid. They don't want you to skateboard or rollerblade or be able to play on the school playground when school is not in session. They want to regulate how loud you can play your stereo, what color you can paint your house, where you can park your car and how many wildflowers you can grow in your own garden.


Now, they want to take away the basketball hoops.

Citing safety concerns, communities in Kentucky, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania have banned portable hoops in or around streets. Others are shooting to do the same.

"We all want to be Mayberry, but no government official can look a parent in the eye and say, 'It's OK for your children to play in the street,"' said Paulsboro Police Chief Kenneth Ridinger.

Mayberry? Not me, thanks. I always thought Andy was bit on the weird side.

Never believe anyone when they sayit's For the Children(tm). That's just a coverup for othe subversive activities. In this case, aesthetics. Basketball hoops ruin the look of the neighborhood. They kill the continuity of the sidewalk. They attract kids. They will keep your block from being a perfectly coiffed version of suburbia, with no distractions or ugly accessories.

If these Stepford citizens have their way, soon your life will be a vast, sterile emptiness.

From basketball hoops it's a slippery slope down to the bottom level of this suburban dictatorship.

Your car has a dent in it. Your flower garden has weeds. Your dinner makes the block smell of garlic. Your music sucks.

You and your wife come home from the hospital, beaming with pride at the arrival of your new son. But man, is he ugly. He looks like a cross between ET and Winston Churchill. The neighbors gasp. The kids cry. And before you know it, you are run out of town, torches burning, former friends chanting your name with some ugly epitaph after it while Iron Maiden's Run to the Hills plays in your head and your wife screams "We are not animals, we are humans beings!"

There's a place for people like the ones who want to wring every single drop of joy out of suburban living. No, not hell. It's called Stepford. Just look it up under"gated communities" in the phone book.

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Comments

I can't imagine living in a neighborhood devoid of normal, human imperfections. I wouldn't choose to live in one, either. My neighborhood has it's drawbacks, sure, but I love that the little neighborhood munchkins rollerskate up my driveway, and that the lady up the block has not just one plastic pink flamingo, but three....plus a mini-burro with a flowered hat, a goose, a duck, and gazing globe, and a couple of gnomes. Hell, the neighbor two doors down has plastic rabbit heads wired to their topiary-like tree thingies. Weird? Yes. Causing the Yuppies to look elsewhere for property? Most likely. But they're all nice people.

My apartment itself sucks -- it's ugly and too drafty and beseiged by carpenter ants -- but I love the actual people in my neighborhood, and don't care in the least that some of the house are painted shades of green that really should only be squeezed out of toothpaste tubes.

I agree in principle.... In our old neighborhood we lived on a bust street and the portable hoop was a royal pain in the ass. Parents need to exercise some common sense when the hoops are a safety issue.

They're all descendants of this guy.

I have yet to figure this out yet, but there must be some sort of competition in my neighborhood with landscaping. Now, I will admit that I dug up the weeds in the garden this weekend. But that took all of 15 minutes.

I'm talking spending from Saturday 9:00am to 6:00pm working on one section. And, no there weren't any heavy tools invoved. Just planting a small tree.

Oh well, that's why we're the white trash of this neighborhood. I yell at my kids, I play my music, and I get strange looks from my neighbors.

i swear i am going to move to fucking canada.

All this just when it is announced that a "Stepford Wives" remake is in the works and the new treatment is a comedy.

Good entry, Michele.

This the insane side of America. A land that's partially is and soon will be nothing but strip malls, track housing, crowded highways, and the remnants of something beautiful built by a previous generation.

Everything but real estate and cars will be cheap. Everything else will be convenient, perfectly safe, and utterly, completely shallow. No one more basketball hoops! Wear your helmet when you ride a bike! Be like everyone else!

Maybe Canada doesn't sound like a bad idea.

I dunno. I kind of like Mayberry.

I'm no fan of government regulation but don't really see much problem with gated communities that have community covenants as a condition for living there. Since most of us don't know our neighbors anymore and because the actions of others affect us greatly, it's not entirely unreasonable. If some yahoo moves in next door and paints his house purple with lime green trim, it detracts from everyone else's enjoyment of their homes. And lowers their property value and makes it harder to sell their houses if they move.

There shouldn't be any need to regulate things like how loud people play their stereos, when people cut their grass, and the like. But, unfortunately, there is a large chunk of society that just don't give a damn about the impact they have on their neighbors. If I'm trying to enjoy my Sunday paper and cup of Joe, I don't want to listen to some yahoo playing Iron Maiden at the maximum capacity of his car stereo system. And I like Iron Maiden.

You want to tell me what color to paint my house, pay me full market value and you can do anything you want with it.

Seriously, there have to be limits to what people can do when it affects the lives of their neighbors, but some just feel the need to make everyone conform to their tiny little views. In those communities with Neighborhood Associations, it seems that "police" are always the ones who are retired and have WAY too damn much time on their hands.

Just a few years ago, the city of Pleasanton, CA, took some people to court because their house was painted one shade of off-white too dark. I am not kidding.

The only thing that's kept me from painting my house "purple with lime green trim" has been my wife...

Twenty years ago, a friend who immigrated from Switzerland told me, "We thought we were free, but I'm really free here. I put up a windmill and painted it orange. Now that's free." Of course, this was on his farm and there were no neighborhood associations. McMansions changed my rural setting to suburbia. Because I am in "metes and bounds", I do not have to follow the association's rules. I have a beautiful wildflower meadow by the road. I say it's beautiful, my aesthetic, even though it looks like weeds ten months of the year.

Neighborhood covenants are one thing (this is why I will never, ever live in a subdivision again), but making laws and taking people to court about this kind of thing is total crap. People ought to be free to choose whether they would prefer to live in these times of neighborhoods, or whether they would rather live near sane people.
This is exactly the sort of thing that is making me have grave misgivings about buying a house, even though, with the amount of stuff my wife and I accumulate, it's something we'll have to do eventually...

UTOPIANS RUNNING AMOK !!!!!

That kind of crap is why, now, while I'm hunting for a house, one of its prime requirements is that there is no HOA. I don't want to be harrassed because my mailbox isn't regulation black plastic. Nor do I want to get official mail complaining because the grass in my back yard has grown taller than 2 inches. Most of all, I don't want to be charged for the privilege of having a bunch of housing-nazis require approval for every change I make to my house.

The danger with 'hoops in the street is that the people driving don't pay attention to what the hell they're doing and speed through the block doing 90 (ok ... slight exaggeration). If the people driving paid attention to where they're at it would be no problem.

I have no problem remembering to look out for the kids playing at the 5 or so 'hoops where I live. If people would take a little responsibility for their own actions you don't need laws like this one.

Now loud music at 2:00 AM is another thing...

I'm strongly with you in terms of resisting the neighborhood nazis, which makes it really painful for me to have to take their side on the issue of basketball goals in the street. I think it does create a legitimate safety concern, and it can be an annoyance for neighbors. In some cases, it's also a means for young thugs to assert their "ownership" of the street.

My basketball goal as a child was in the backyard, and I don't think I suffered any great deprivation because of it. The streets are public property - to me, expecting to be able to go plant your basketball goal out there is just not kosher.

I live in a condo in San Diego Ca. and am the major BITCH of the association because I don't follow the rules. I have had to move my son out, tell my daughter about her bike riding area and got a letter when my balcony sliding door was ajar for one day. meanwhile I have bithed about everything that the association has not done, put my 300 a month hoa fees into a holding account, and write tons of letters. The officers hate me but leave me alone because I am in their face. Should anyone have to put forward that effort???

Amen!!! I have been ranting about this myself for years now, but you have put it much more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you!

Suburban Canada is Stepford North....this crap is rampant everywhere in the free world. I live in the middle of a city in a gentrified neighbourhood with various skin colors, ages, and the landscaping ranges from "OMG one more flower pot and bird feeder and we'll have to call the Cute Police" to "is that a lawn or a dandeliion field". As it should be.

I wonder how much of this is a retaliation against what some people see as a breakdown of the "social contract." (I.e., people doing whatever the hell they please and their neighbors be damned if they don't like it)

while I don't care what color my neighbors choose to paint their house, or if they want a b-ball hoop, I do object to their choice to play their stereo at top volume at 1:30 am. "Top volume" being loud enough that I can hear it in my bedroom of my house with a fan going and my windows closed.

I don't believe in retaliation or I'd be out there at 8 am on a Saturday mowing my lawn. The one time I talked to them about it I got a rather dismissive response.

I have to admit, I'm more favorably disposed to certain "activity restricting" laws after I've gone five or six nights without a full night's sleep because of noise.

They're called Neighborhood Associations with their CCnRs who move from the city. They're doing this sort of stuff for your own good you know.

The only problem I have with portable hoops is that when I visit my parents I park on the street. Without fail, the neighbors' boys drag the hoop out of the garage & plop it down right next to my car instead of in front of their own damn house next to their own damn car. My car is my baby; you hit it, you die. I've explained this to both the boys & their parents but it hasn't stopped yet. Of course these are the same people who let their 2 year-old play in the street so this may just be an example of people who are so stupid they shouldn't breed. Otherwise, if it's not a busy street & no one is getting hurt, what's the big deal? It gives the kids something to do and hopefully keeps them out of the kind of trouble kids always manage to find when they're bored.

That's one reason why I always live in cities rather than "the burbs". In cities, while there are more of the problems people move to the suburbs to escape, there's also infinitely more variety of everything from cultures and social venues to lights, noises, night life, architectural periods, etc. A lot of the neighbors you find in small towns in the burbs become weird that way, they get that "gated community" syndrome or something and want their 'hoods to be "just so". I lived in Smithtown for a few years as a kid, when the town was still mostly woods and many of today's main thoroughfares were dirt roads(boy, am I dating myself!), and I perceived it then. Since that time, it's been Manhattan, SF, L.A., New Orleans and so forth. You can keep "the neighbors". Let 'em try turning a cosmopolitan city into Hooterville, Harper Valley or Mayberry! "Wha' joo mean, no baskeboll hoop, man? Joo wanna figh', I geeb joo beeg figh', man!" or "Wha yoo mean, my keed can't skayboard. Yoo go pees op rope, eediot!" "What noise you talkin' bout, lady? Bring yo mama roun', I'll show you noise!" "You don't like my purple window frames? Fine, don't look at 'em." And for every hundred people who sign a petition for some mares- eat- oats, "you must conform" bullshit, there are six hundred people who'll tell them, in no uncertain terms, where to insert said document and even provide the necessary slippery substance to help them expedite matters.

I live on a cul-de-sac with my toddlers and at least a handful of other toddlers, and as soon as they're all big enough to dribble a basketball without getting a bloody nose, I'm buyin' 'em a hoop and putting it up in the middle of the circle -- permanently.

I suspect the law is being passed for something like this: When I lived in Montclair, NJ, there was a street that I drove on regularly to bypass a traffic light. It's a residential street, with kids. I would drive slowly.

The kids got a portable basketball hoop, and kept it in the middle of the street, all the time. And played basketball in the middle of the street, all the time. This was NOT a cul-de-sac. It was a street that had a CVS opposite its end (used to be an Acme supermarket), and has always been heavily traveled.

The little shits wouldn't move until they absolutely had to. They didn't care that I was driving--in their eyes, it was THEIR street, and I had no business on it.

And that's not the only place I've run into that problem. Basketball hoops don't belong on public streets. Sorry. Put them in your driveway, fine. But keep them off the street, which is public, and for cars to drive on.

The way things are out here, Southern California, it's pretty-much getting that you can not buy a new house without agreeing up-front to join the "Homeowners Association". They just won't let you. You have to sign-up; fork-over monthly fees forever after; pay any fines they might give you (they will put a lien on your house to recover them, if necessary); and must pass those same terms on to anyone you sell to. You will have to change your curtains, too, if they don't fit the plan (seriously - my friends live in tracts like that).
The way out, of course, is to buy an older house. Like mine. Paint it any bloody color you like, then.

I'm for it, simply because kids need to stay out of the damn road. They play out there where they're likely to get hurt, and they're a hazard for drivers trying to get through.

In my suburban youth, we ignored all those large lawns and played all sorts of games in the street. I invented one called Blockade Runner which required the Union Navy to stand in the street trying to stuff a ball/bomb in the basket of the Southern bicyclist/ship trying to ride past. There was a high risk of being run down by the cyclist. If a car came, we got out of the street.

We also played Pony Express with the cowboys armed with water pistols and the Indians armed with bows and arrows made of garden stakes. It was a lot better to be an Indian. Fortunately, we wore glasses so we had some eye protection.

Ray Bradbury predicted all of this fifty years ago.

I wonder how many folks with those portable hoop things actually put them away when done with them? Or how many keep them in repair when, as all K-Mart or WallyWorld Chinese-made crap does, the damned things start to fall apart, rust, and otherwise become even uglier than they already are?

For those of you considering moving to Canada to escape homeowners' associations, please see me before you commit so that I may hit you in the head with a hammer. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the prison.
Here are your housing options - live so far out in the countryside that you have at least a 2 hour commute to any type of livelihood, move into an apartment tower (there are no low, sprawling complexes, only huge ugly brown towers a la Stalinist Russia), or you can live in a condo, like me, or buy a detached house in your choice of dark brown or light brown brick.
News flash - everything up here is homogenized, HOAs try to step all over you (I live next door to our condo assoc. president, and she hates me because I'm
American, loud, and don't give a shit about their meetings), and there is absolutely NOWHERE else for you to go. That's one of the reasons I'm moving back to New Orleans, where I'm buying a nice house that I can renovate however I choose. Sure, move up to Canada - I hear they're putting everyone in unitards - you might want to practice taping your genitals up behind your legs so as not to offend. Anyonw want to buy a condo?

How about putting the portable basketball goal on wheels, and have the kids watch the first Wayne's World movie, the scene where they're playing hockey in the street, and when a car comes they shout "CAR!" and move to the side walk and then when it passes they say "Game On!" and resume.

And, if I ever move into a residential neighborhood, I will be the white trash neighbor who does not cut his grass and has a junk car in the yard up on blocks, but i will only do that if it is a neighborhood run by a totalitarian HOA neighborhood. The first time they pissed me off, I would turn into the neighbor from hell.

Then again if they are regular people, nice, and neighborly, I will be a good neighbor. Ya know, I'm flexible :)

My husband and I live in a cul-de-sac area. Our neighbor has a bball hoop erected on the side of their house, that is very close to our house. They erected it just an inch far away from the property line. When their kids play, they are literally playing in front of our house, killing our rose buds, our lawn, etc. Sometimes the kids are not even playing basketball, they just throw the ball and let it fly and bounce everywhere.
We talked to the man of the house and asked him to move the hoop farther away from our house, we will even pay for it but he told us that he is not going to move the bball hoop and that his children will play anytime anywhere they want. Oh, he even told us that he works with the sheriff. We told him that when they play bball, they are killing our lawn and our roses. He told us to move our roses! What a jerk! We then told him that his children are on our property when they retrieve their balls and we have safety concerns. He said, they are on our property to retrieve the ball and that's all there is to it!
This guy and his family are inconsiderate, insensitive and selfish! They don't care if they are damaging our property, our investment. They only care about themselves - do whatever they want, whenever they want. Moreso, what is he and his wife teaching their kids? That it is okay to not respect other's property? That it is okay to be selfish?
To put an end to this, we called the county office because the bball hoop is actually erected on a setback that is county's property. The county officer told me that since the bball hoop is on the guy's property, they can't do anything about that. As for the setback, we were told that when the county would need the space, they will ask the guy to move the bball hoop, until then, they can't do anything.
So, we hired a lawyer to find out what we can do. He said we can sue our neighbor for property damage and public nuisance but we have to take pictures showing they are on our lawn, the ball on our lawn and a picture showing that they play, they are in front of our house. Well, I have those pictures! We also have to take notes on the date and time they play, which I have done.
We are now going to file a suit for the bball hoop to be moved away from our house. We also want to put a sign on our property that it is a private property and no tresspassing!
We want to put an end to this selfish behavior of our neighbors. And show them to respect other's property!
If we are not going to win the case, we are moving to Canada!