by Dan Bolles
I was having such a good weekend. Nay, a great weekend. And then something went horribly awry . . .
I caught a new (to me, anyway) band at Red Square on Friday evening — Lendway, who pleasantly surprised me with a sound reminiscent of under-appreciated late 1990s Detroit alt-pop outfit The Waxwings. I had a nice, if somewhat bizarre, dinner at the Green Room with my girlfriend before she left town for the weekend — I say bizarre because the joint apparently doubles as a waiting room for What Ale's You after 9 p.m. . . . ugh. I followed that up with drinks at Flatbread and then caught a great set by Ryan Ober with The Jazz Guys at Metronome. All around, a solid night.
Saturday, I took full advantage of having the house to myself for the first time in months by settling in on the couch with my furry life-partner Buckley for a delightfully greasy dinner from Beansie's. I topped that off by watching my beloved Celtics pummel the Pistons for dessert. Again, a great night.
But the next morning, things would take a decided turn for the worse. There I was, nestled all snug in my bed while visions of NBA titles danced in my head when . . . BAM! I was sucker punched by Kid Rock.
It took me a moment to grasp the situation. As comprehension slowly dawned and I realized that it was Marathon Sunday and as I live practically on top of the start line at Battery Park, I resigned myself to getting out of bed, figuring that I must have overslept. After all, no one in their right mind would blast music over a loudspeaker — especially music as indefensibly sucktacular as Kid Rock — before, like, 10 a.m., right?
As my bleary eyes fell upon my alarm clock, I did a triple take. Seven? SEVEN? Are you fucking kidding me?! I strolled into the living room to find Buckley whimpering on the couch, his head quite literally buried under the back cushions — this is something he does quite frequently and leads me to believe he may actually be part ostrich.
I peered out the window to discover Battery Park positively coursing with very skinny people wearing very short shorts and nipple tape. Slackjawed, I descended the steps to my back yard just in time to catch a middle-aged man — in short shorts and nipple tape — urinating on my fence . . . my chain link fence. Aghast, I wasn't sure if I should I should look away in embarrassed modesty or yell at the guy. I went with the latter.
"Oh, come on!" I exclaimed. "Aren't there, like, 50 port-o-lets across the street?" There were. And they looked simply lovely framing the park, I must tell you — you haven't lived until you've seen the sun setting over the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain and 50 bright blue plastic shitters.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry," he said before smiling and trotting away in that obnoxiously smug manner that hardcore health nuts largely seem to possess. Nonplussed, Buck trotted over to the fence and peed on it, marking his territory, all the while staring at our discourteous interloper as if to say That's my fence, pal. My fence.
By this point, the noise from the park had gone from suck to blow as two blithering yahoos from a local talk radio station simulcasting the event began to describe the proceedings — at near painful volume — and reminisced about the weather from past marathons. Remember when it snowed that year? Yup. Man that sucked. Yup. Sure is nice out today, though. Yup.
Some sporting events are wonderful on radio. For example, if given the choice, I'd almost prefer to listen to baseball than watch it. Other events like, say, NASCAR, don't translate as well — "And here comes Dale Jr. . . . I think he's gonna turn left . . . yep! He turned left! Great left turn there from Junior!" Marathons appear to fall under the latter category.
I have to say that I was at the end of my rope by this point. Enraged, I did what any rational citizen would do and called the police — whose station I can see from my kitchen. Here's how it went down:
BPD: Burlington Police.
DB: Uh, yeah. I'd like to file a noise complaint.
BPD: OK. Against who?
DB: The Burlington Marathon, please.
BPD: The Bu . . . what?
DB: Yeah. I'd like to file a complaint against the marathon. It's seven in the morning, they woke me up and I can hardly hear myself think. I want to file a complaint.
BPD: You can't . . . I mean, there's nothing we can do. It's been advertised for months. You should have known.
DB: I should have known that I would be ousted from a dead sleep at 7 o'clock on a Sunday morning by some schmuck blasting Kid Rock? No way. You guys need to tell them to turn it down and you need to do it now.
BPD: I'm sorry sir, but this is a permitted event . . .
DB: I'm sure it is. And I'm also sure that on that permit there is a noise regulation. I'm even more sure that if you were to measure the decibels in my bedroom right now, they would be in violation.
BPD: Well I . . . um, would you like to speak to the officer on call?
Clicking sounds as I'm transferred . . .
BPGD: You've reached the voice mail for Officer I. Dontgiveashit (not his real name, for privacy reasons). I'm unavailable to take your . . .
I hung up.
Resigned to the fact that I was left no recourse but to wait it out, I poured myself some iced coffee and returned to the back yard. As I sat down, the radio morons were introducing Miss Vermont, who was set to sing the national anthem. I groaned audibly.
In fairness, "The Star Spangled Banner" might be the most difficult song to sing in the history of music. The phrasing is awkward, the melody is ugly and spans an octave and a half. Few singers have the talent to pull it off. Poor Miss Vermont is not one of them.
She got about as far as "By the dawn's early light" before going painfully flat. By the time she got to "Whose broad stripes and bright stars," she was in a new key entirely and still slipping. By the end of the song I was seriously considering applying for Canadian citizenship.
Her saving grace was resisting the urge to Mariah Carey up the ending. Though that didn't warrant the radio announcer's comment that she "knocked it out of the ballpark! Alright!"
I have nothing against the marathon or marathon runners, per se. It's a huge event and a boon for the local economy. I suppose this would be part of the story where I claim that "some of my best friends are marathon runners" — actually, that's true. I know a few people who ran this year.
But it seems to me that the marathon organizers should take greater care to minimize the impact of the event on the people who call Burlington home. If that was a rock band playing in the park, the police would have been all over it. I've even seen them tell bands to turn down the volume and I can almost guarantee it will happen again this summer when the Thursday night concert series resumes.
But because the marathon a big freakin' event with the mayor in attendance, the best the police can do for agitated citizens is voice mail. There oughta be a law.
Oh wait, there is.