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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Weekly Behavior Awards

So folks, we have a couple of winners, and in one case I use that "winners" very loosely.

Crack---, disruptive neighbor of Manola, who hosts/authors sex and the beach (, takes the Biggest Bum prize. I'd spell out his full nickname, but this blog, like the newspaper that supports it tries to keep it rated PG.

Anyway, it seems Crack--- is a loud, obnoxious, disruptive, and even alleged thieving neighbor. He's tried - I assume under the influence - to open doors to apartments that aren't his, chucked neighbors' stuff off their balconies and more.

Not cool to make your neighbors' lives miserable.

Manola, before I moved to Miami I declared war on a couple of bad neighbors in Milwaukee, my last home city. We lived in a neighborhood that was best described as "redeveloping." You could walk one pristine peaceful block, and then on the very next block find yourself in unkempt, unsafe territory. My block was trying hard to join the always peaceful club. But a couple of holdouts made things difficult at first. One apartment building directly across the street was home to a 40something woman, her 20something daughter, and at any given time her several of her daughter's friends. Seemed like they were drunk and making a racket constantly. At all hours of the day and night they (mom, daughter, and friends) would blast their home stereo with their front door wide open. They'd dance on the front porch naked showing off nicked-up, scarred, stretch-marked bodies, or exposing naughty bits. They'd have loud profane arguments for fun on the sidewalk with children nearby. They'd intimidate and menace other neighbors.

After a couple of months of the triflin' behavior, I decided I'd had enough and took 'em on. First stop, City Hall. I learned the rules on landlords' legal responsibility for their tenants' behavior. I also learned there was a limit to what the cops would put up with, when it came to complaints about nuisance behavior. And I learned that if safety is a concern, police can take anonymous complaints on nuisance tenant behavior. The important thing is that they get complaints, because it leaves a paper trail, a record of how often the offender has been reported. Eventually the landlord in this case was pressured so much by the city - in the form of warning letters, police visits to the tenants, and the looming threat of fines for not keeping his property in order - that he gave the tenants the boot. The hassle they presented became more potentially costly than their rent money was worth to him.

So you can do something about this guy. Most municipalities have ordinances in place that hold landlords at least partly responsible for bad tenant behavior. When I moved to South Florida a few months ago, I found one of my next door neighbors was a knucklehead who liked to bump his stereo in his driveway 30 feet from my front door for hours at a time. And I decided right away I was too old to deal with amateurs again. I checked with the cops in my city on landlord/tenant rules and found that they were virtually identical to those I was familiar with in Wisconsin. My neighbor has since moved out, but had he stayed I was ready for him.

Declare war on Crack--- and drive his behind out without lifting a finger to do more than write a letter and make some phone calls. In the mean time, let's give him this award and hope that somewhere deep down inside a sense of decency will be stirred up. And maybe a little old-fashioned shame will mellow him out.

And to end on a positive note, the winner of the Good Behavior Award goes to the woman walking her dog across the street on Young Circle in Hollywood Friday evening. While I sat at a red light, the woman's dog stopped in the middle of the intersection and did his business (of the solid variety). A lot of people would have left it there and kept walking. Middle of the street, right? Granted, she took a step as if to keep going, but then hesitated, turned, looked at the steaming pile, and walked over to a nearby row of shrubs where she found a plastic bag snagged on a branch. The woman then walked back to the crosswalk with the bag and cleaned up after her dog. Good for her... and for the shoes of anyone who walked in that crosswalk after her.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Maria de los Angeles, at 10:20 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Maria de los Angeles, at 10:38 PM  

  • James, sorry ... blogger gettin' jiggy wid me ... THANK YOU, though, am honored to be the recipient of the first ever bum award from Burnettiquette ... not for my own sake, but for the sake of all of us who have to deal with very uncivlized neighbors here in Miami Beach.

    As always, this situation is just one of those challenges that I -- (author here, not Manola) -- can't even deal with on the blank page, unless something is done. Checkmate on that with you James ... something needs to be done ... am working on it ...

    Ladies, you need not feel powerless in HoBe or MDC for that matter ... more info about anti-bad-neighbor coming soon Sex and The Beach and please, please, please ... don't be shy about gushing oodles of praise to Mr. Burnett here ...



    By Blogger Maria de los Angeles, at 10:55 PM  

  • Hair up is definitely a good thing, M.

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    I once had a woman flip me off as she passed me (I was doing 75) she had four unrestrained kids under five in her back seat. Incluiding an infant, which the oldest toddler was holding. By it's feet. This was a well dressed upper middle class woman driving a mercedes. jees.

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  • i once got cut off in traffic, to the point of almost running of the road, by someone with a "Choose Life" license plate.

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