A rumble of thunder wakes me and my spine twinges in the way reality can often hit us after the throes of a romantic dream. In the newborn air is the kind of sonic bass and bang a car crash makes when it’s right on top of you. My nerves jolt and a thunderclap of dialogue comes in through the walls. Then there is a clapping and loud applause, so close that either my neighbor has some weird car show going on in his apartment or he’s installing a new sound system.  Then finally, coming through my walls is the chorus of euphoric laughter. Whoever is talking must be funny as hell, because sheer laughter is omnipresent. Most of he laugh tracks on television were recorded in the 1960’s, during the Technicolor days, and now most of the people you hear laughing on TV are long dead. 

I’m up and head out to make a store run. I make one stop. One bottle. Jim Beam Black. 86 proof of don’t get too cocky.  

I return and the bump of a drum comes down through the ceiling. From the back wall away from the car crash across the hall, is a loud dance number, something rave worthy. The rhythm changes, maybe the beat of a snare drum crowds together, then in top Buddy Guy fashion it spreads out, but it doesn’t stop. Yes, I’m at the epicenter of all things noise, this doomed din I call home. 

Up through the floor from below, someone’s yelping or singing the words to a song. Outside the patio for a quick smoke and an Amish buggy click clacks down a cracked cement road. Even those without electricity, those without technology wearing homemade hand stitched clothing can make a lot of noise. The Amish buggy waves at me and the world, where I live somehow suddenly becomes a Dickens novel with Hi-Fi high end stereo sound.

Everyone needs their volume on 10. Mine is on 10, just to drown out the 9’s of the world. The 9’s listening to Taylor Swift. The 9’s listening to Justin Bieber. The 9’s trying to break me down with horrible music. These no taste, know nothing audiophiles, these jackasses who need their television or stereo or radio playing at all hours of the day are so scared of silence. Above me is the generation who got through school copying their homework off the Internet. They are listening to some dub, dropping X and grooving like it’s 1999. In the back now I hear Polka. The Polka is coming from the hard of hearing retired couple, who has lived here for twenty seven years. They have that kind of stereo sound that looks like furniture, but it always creeps in. Those old furniture watts, you can never count them out.

Laughter of the dead comes back in through the front wall and I crack the seal on the Jim Beam Black. I hit the remote to a JBL and it’s Deftones. A Volume of 5 weeds out the North End, the ones with the new system that is in the midst of another  car crash. Then there is more laughter. What in the hell are they even watching?

Above me generation Y, the generation that was raised on Call Of Duty is jamming with faster beats than before. If they keep that pace for much longer, someone may have to call 911 and that someone is probably me. 

Over to the West End now, and either an ancient Mummy has come back to life or Bob and Wendy Watson next door are watching a movie. No doubt they turned there’s way up to drown out the rave dance party USA above and the ongoing onslaught of a Talladega nightmare to the left.

Under the floor, someone is shouting now. I wait for gunshots. Then I turn the volume down so I can hear. After a lot of cussing, it seems Daryl downstairs, the one who just moved in with his home girl Sara, should really stop talking to Becky from across the hall. 

I hit play.

Deftones. Be Quiet And Drive Far Away at Volume 7 now. Key Words: Drive Far Away. Some plaster has even fallen into my living room. Might be time to get serious, but it’s still early.

Upstairs. These Conversation-O-Phobics. These Noise Main Liners.

I shut my bathroom door in an attempt to thwart the East side clamor coming through my shower. Of all nights, my night, while my girlfriend is at a baby shower, this is my relaxation…and the old people and their Oak cabinet record player on crack is wailing some serious Lawrence Welk. My whole apartment sounds like a remix from Charles Manson.

Jim Beam Black. Half Water – Half…Ah! But oh! Much better.

People who would save sick children in Africa will make you listen to their Mozart or Michael Bolton or Kenny G at ungodly levels. Rich people who donate to The United Negro College Fund will jam Josh Grobin or Pavarotti until you have a cerebral hemorrhage.

Those bleeding hearts who do community service and join some The Peace Corp  will fog the neighborhood with their stereo playing fucking Yoko Ono or Who Let The Dogs Out.

Outdoors, a bird singing is fine. Miley Cyrus is annoying. Outdoors, the clatter of traffic is bad enough, but adding Mambo Number 5 is not making the situation any better. You turn up your music to hide theirs and other people turn up theirs to hide yours.

The Audio War is on. The Technicolor War had begun.

Right now in condo 313, it’s gotten serious. To the West of me now, where Bob and Wendy Watson were watching a movie, that movie has stopped and now it’s Tim McGraw, my Kryptonite. My nerves jump to the brink of panic yet again.

Jim Beam Black…OH! I dial a couple friends. I may need back up.

30 minutes later…

No More Fucking Family Traditions. No More Jesus Is At The Wheel. So Soulfly is on deck, some old Max Sepultura stuff and it’s like a nuke headed for North Korea. And so starts the beginning of the end. From here bail money is a recurring thought. From here, it’s all about bragging rights.

Now at The Villa Villa West, this is the arms race of sound and this isn’t about quality. It’s about volume and at this point, it isn’t even about music. This is about reputation. You stomp the competition with the bass line way up on your new Yamaha Equalizer, the one you bought for just an occasion.  There is no other choice, because if you don’t Tiny Tim will ukulele you into next week. Lawrence Welk will blow champagne bubbles in your face. Car crashes will seep into your dreams.

These clatter junkies. These Music-a-holics.

Jim Beam Black. OH! BUT AH!

No one wants to admit they’re addicted to TV and music. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. The Big Machine is making sure your imagination withers and wanders away from the Greed Heads slicing up The American Pie. With everything distracting you there is no opinion. There is no thought. With everyone’s imagination emaciated and defunct, no one will ever be a threat to the world or question those who run it. 

Your wife will fantasize watching Magic Mike and you can see how annoyed she is of you. You can watch your kids discover everything you told them that might kill them. Drugs, crime, drinking, disease…still there are worst things than watching a loved one die. Just watch the world do it instead. Pick up a newspaper. Channel 4: Film at 11. This Just In: The world is not a happy place. We know this, but the key is to find happiness in the drama. Personal happiness, this is what they have no clue about, happiness like music and Jim Beam Black. They don’t know how this feeds the soul of society and those that love music wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Jim Beam Black – Oh! But AH!

The thing with Jim Beam Black is to not get too cocky. Don’t think you can win, because you can’t. The object is to hang in there as long as possible and take the white knuckle hits. So a buddy comes over bitching about super loud Polka music and you pop in Rage Against The Machine – Freedom, always a go to.

Volume 9…now…and life is good again.

Jim Beam Black, all around. OH! BUT AH!

Alcohol philosophy in full effect now…and I say to deaf ears.

The Mayans in ancient times believed that Karma was everything. That so onto others coming back around shit…This was back before Christ mind you and when they felt grief because someone had died, well that wasn’t their grief they though, that was Kisin, The God of Death. If there was a torrential downpour or hideously hot drought and the crops suffered, that wasn’t just The Weather, that was Ah Peku, The God of Thunder and Rain teaching them a lesson. If a hunt was plentiful that wasn’t from skill that was from Yum Kaax, The God Of Hunting and Nature. This kept the Mayan people humble. Now people hear a thirty second commercial for Garlic BBQ Sour Cream and Chive potato chips and rush out to buy them, but now we call it “free will.” Now we buy the next new drug, because it will improve our lives, because Joe Actor said so. The Gods we follow now are manufactured and sling their goods out into the airwaves on golden voices and impeccable good looks. 

We are dust in the wind. We are another brick in the wall. This is how we must look to God. To God we must look insignificant, quiet souls trying our best to get it right, no matter what volume our stereos are on.

Jim Beam Black – AND OH!

Now, the cops are knocking. My stereo is off. I tell them apologies. It’s funny after some old Sepultura how the cops always show up. This tells me I won this war. My reputation is in tact. They give me a warning and when they leave,Dance Party USA upstairs has waged a late offensive. They haven;t waved the white flag just yet.

So now, at 2 a.m., maybe this Technicolor War is a stalemate and we both know it. It has quieted down a little and the Jim Beam Black has become a diminishing return. It is in this rare and silent moment that I put on Billy Joel, Piano Man. Upstairs they yell down to turn it up, so I do. If ever a song should be on every playlist known to man this is it and the world seems more peaceful now…