Stories about John's neighbors Gary and Skeeter can be found on their own page.

John’s relationship with his neighborhood (RL112, RL137)

In the past John’s neighborhood would had been referred to as a respectable diverse lower middle-class working-class neighborhood where people don’t have a disposable income to really care for their yards and houses in a way that you would give it curb appeal. People are solid, making their payments, and are minding their own business. Everybody owns their house with the exception of the ones where there are a lot of people living (RL137).

It is one of the differences of Seattle and Portland compared to a lot of American cities: There are not really any ghettos in Seattle. There are single family homes in richer and poorer neighborhoods, and there are some housing projects, but even those are built to emulate single family home neighborhoods with winding streets and basketball hoops at the cul-de-sac (RL137).

John is trying to learn a little acceptance. If he was living north of the ship canal and had paid three times more than he paid for his house, the neighbors around him would probably be even more entitled and would be out in the backyard playing Yoga music, and they would have qualms with him that they would bring up with the homeowner’s association about how he used the wrong shade of white on his mailbox (RL112).

Then there is the barking dog situation and not many ways to handle that aren't from the get-go confrontational. This dog is literally barking all day long, making you into an insane person, but you are not going to complain about it and by the time you first broach the topic you are already loaded for bear, but their answer is just: ”What do you want me to do about it? I have a dog and it barks. Deal!”, which seems to be the attitude. If John notices the dog, a lot of other people do probably as well, but nobody wants to be a dick and call the police and then they will say: ”Nobody else has complained!” John gets this a lot (RL112).

John’s neighborhood, rooster, possums, rats (RL167)

In August of 2015 the people in John's neighborhood next to where Gary and Skeeter live got a young rooster who was just coming into his own and his cockadoodledoo was pretty fucked up and immature. ”Are you kidding me? When does it end?”

On the plus-side the possums are gone because John trapped three of them who went to live on a farm. During the last days of his political campaign when he was working all the time and had no time to think about anything, his mom said in her inimitable style: ”Listen, I can’t abide that possums are getting into your house!” and at 81 years old she came out at 5am, dug a trench, and put down tight wire mesh all the way around the base of his house. She started at 5am because it is cooler and: "Why not get to work?" By noon she is done for the day!

In the meantime the house on the other side of the road got torn down and all the rats that were living in that house went everywhere. Just as he was getting the possums out John now had rats in the ceiling and had to trap the rats. Now he has trapped the rats, the possums, everything is trapped, and his mom hermetically sealed the foundation of the house, making it probably impermeable.

Diversity in John’s neighborhood (RL49)

John lives in the most diverse county in America and there are just as many white people as there are South-Pacific islanders, Native Americans, or any group you could care to name, which even bears out on John’s block. On the pie graph of Westchester County, New York, there is going to be a pretty big white piece: 80% White people, 20% Jews and .3% Other. Merlin wonders why John would break out the Jews, but they would probably do this in Westchester County to give the appearance of any diversity. In Seattle they probably don’t count Jews as a separate group and John’s neighborhood just looks like a clock with 12 slices.

The West Coast is very diverse in the first place with numerous waves of migration, not only from Europe, but from Asia and beyond. Seattle has the best Thai Food in America! They would probably break the pie chart down into Tongans and Samoans. In a lot of places those would go into the same slice of pie, and South-Pacific Islanders would not even rate as a slice of the pie, but lumped in with Other. Merlin says that for the longest time it used to be a thing with voting that you had to check off a box that was either White, Hispanic, or Black non-Hispanic. Maybe they introduced Asian later, but for a long time it was a form of Black. Nowadays you would need to break down the Pacific islands in some very specific ways.

Merlin has traveled extensively and has been to at least 6 states and 3 countries. When he was in Hawaii he was completely baffled that all the food seemed like a joke on the white guy. Shaved ice was the only thing! Fried spam sounds like a pretty good deal on the face of it, but there are a lot of joke foods in Hawaii and they keep the good food for the locals. They are eating some pretty big rib-eyes, but Poi? "Here is some terror root!"

No community-building facilities in the neighborhood (RW10)

Times are happening in Seattle and none of the neighborhoods are really on the decline. The whole city is becoming less affordable and more uptight. John's neighborhood is on an up as well, but on a much slower up because it was built as a working class neighborhood with small houses on big lots that are still affordable and will remain affordable. The neighborhood is absolutely changing, but it has changed dozens of times.

Originally it was a farm community and because it is close to the lake there were some beach cabins for people who lived in the city. The city is only eight miles (13 km) from here, but in 1890 that was far enough to go to the beach and to have a cabin for the weekends. Some of them are still there, but a lot of the ones that once had an acre (4000 sqm) of land are now on a small lot, surrounded by houses built later.

It is very close to Boeing Field and during the war they built a lot of houses there for Boeing workers. It was a Catholic-Italian and Irish neighborhood all the way through the 1970s and due to Seattle’s racist zoning policies, which existed both on the books and then off the books, it then became increasingly the only neighborhood where black middle class families could own homes.

There was a lot of racial tension in the 1970s as middle class blacks moved into this Irish-Italian neighborhood, which is a famous dynamic: Irish and Italian Catholics love it when people of different ethnicities move into their neighborhood! John’s neighbor from right across the street told him once that they had burned a cross on her lawn in 1976. They have since moved, but they had been the first black family in the neighborhood.

In the 1980s the neighborhood became predominantly black. Some Irish and Italian families still held on, and the big waves of migration in the late 1980s and 1990s were all from Asia: From Vietnam, from Cambodia, from Laos, and also from Mexico and Central America. Now the neighborhood is absolutely completely perfectly diverse. It is by some measurements the most diverse ZIP code in America because it has equal populations of every conceivable group. There are just as many South Pacific islanders as there are whites in 98178, maybe fewer Native Americans because that is a population under threat, but there are still more Native Americans than anywhere else in Seattle. It is a fantastic neighborhood!

The entire neighborhood infrastructure that once existed, the barber shop, the hardware store, the shoe repair guy, the bakery, the butcher, were all demolished at a time in the 1970s when people thought they were never going to need these things again. It was a Pre-Walmart gentrification and urban renewal. "Let's get all these shabby little barbershops out of here and build enormous parking lots with big restaurants, a big open space where you can drive, and let's put in a Taco Bell and a McDonald's!” What was formerly the town of Rainier Beach is 80% destroyed.

The neighborhood can't psychologically collect itself because when you want to go to a coffee shop there is a place called King Donuts, owned by a Vietnamese family or Cambodian family, and they make donuts, you get some coffee in a foam cup, you can get Teriyaki or Yakisoba and it is also a laundromat, but that is the only real old culture place. Nobody is playing board games, but there are some old people playing chess and gossiping. It is a scene, but then nothing. It is totally the kind of thing John is into. The restaurant is now being run by the daughters and they are the best. They are sassy and take no bullshit. They are dealing with the whole neighborhood all day, they hear it all, and they spin it right back at you.

The neighborhood wants to have a sense of community, but if you want to go to the grocery store you better fire up the jalopy and you can never really build a thing around that. The store closest to John is a little bodega (see RL49) run by a Korean family and that family very definitely indicates in every way that they don't give a shit about this neighborhood at all. They are just selling popsicles, cigarettes, 40oz-ers and they don't even care enough to hook up the Jojo Machine. They are just selling sugar crap! They are at an intersection where a lot of people pass by and jump in and buy cigarettes and sugar crap. The guy who runs the store is the son of the family and he just stands out in front of his own store smoking cigarettes and looking sourly. He doesn't want to be there and his folks don’t want to be there.

The danger is that somebody buys that place and turns it into a little store that sells 25 kinds of olives and then you are like: ”Fuck, that is not what we need either!” They don't need a store with an olive bar and 20 different kinds of Washington wines. What they need is a little store that sells cream and JoJos and cereal, more of a wholesome thing, a grocery that is run by somebody who understands that being a grocer is an honorable trade and they would not only have cigarettes, but also bananas. This store has no bananas, which would be the easiest of all things! You don't even need to put them in a bag because they are already in a flesh bag.

There were a couple of empty lots and as construction started on them John was hopeful: ”Okay, all right! Here we go! We are building in Rainier Beach!” and then they built a clinic. ”Okay, yeah, the neighborhood needs a clinic, I guess?”, It is a main corner that could have been a lot of things and even a roller skating rink would build more community. There is also a veterinary hospital, but these are things that we could build on abandoned lots in a place where we are still thinking in terms of car architecture and not foot or bike architecture. If John really cared he would run for public office and do something about it, but instead it is just all talk.

John’s local Bodega (RL49)

There is a Bodega two blocks from John’s house. It is licensed and John walked there during the first week he lived there. There was a Korean kid sitting behind the counter, playing a video game, and John asked for some Half & Half and the kid looked up and said: ”What is Half & Half?” They literally don’t have Half & Half there!

It is one of those Bodegas that sells Fuego Menthol cigarettes, lottery tickets, and 75 different kinds of malt liquor, but they don’t have one milk that isn’t flavored with Strawberry Quick. He said: ”My folks own this place and I am just waiting to get out!” Merlin doesn’t like to be ping pong, but that sounds like something from a rejected Spike Lee movie.

John lives in a working neighborhood, apart from himself, but what are those people drinking in the morning? How are there not more people who need Half & Half for their coffee? Are his neighbors all putting vanilla ice cream in their coffee (see RL49)? Has he just crossed over some invisible line and has become a local? It had never occurred to him!

This store does have frozen goods except in the ice-cream sandwich and Popsicle variety. They don’t have a carton of ice cream. They don’t have any staples like a bag of flour. Maybe you could buy a bag of ”flour” out front? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a little rack of artisanal cheese and an olive case, some local wines and a little hand-picked produce?

This kid would put his video game down and put a white apron on. He would hand John a little paper cup with a toothpick sticking in some kind of little chopped fish and he would ask: ”Would you try our Kimchi of the day?” - ”Hurray!” Instead it is just a bunch of donks parked out front and everybody is coming to buy Juggalo foods.

This is basic economy, like Howard Friedman and Milton Burrow, who would take out just enough to beat you, or was it Thorstein Veblen? That name sounds like one of these skinny Norwegian countries, but John has all the Norwegian countries pretty well mapped out and Thorstein Veblen isn’t one of them. Iceland is one of the Norwegian countries.

Eric the Green misnamed them on purpose! It turns out that Iceland is the one that has Fins in it and Finland is the one that is icy (John is losing it and almost chokes on his breakfast) To this day throughout all of the Swedish countries only Vikings put their lottery tickets into their coffee.

Merlin goes through things that you find and don’t find in John's Bodega:

  • Lottery tickets: Yes!
  • Funyuns: Absolutely!
  • Faygo: This is a juggalo drink that is located more or less in the South. You can get it in Seattle at Ezell’s Famous Chicken, but he imports it specially. You can probably not get Faygo at this store, but you could get Orange Drank or Grape Drank, which is off-brand sugar pop.

Merlin has been intrigued by generic store brands like Professor Peppiet (?) and stuff like that. It is the soda pop that you get when your business does not shop at Costco wholesale. There are flavored things, there is probably a huge amount of Xanthan gum and high fructose corn syrup, and the ice cream is mostly limited to ice cream sandwich type things. There is a freezer case with weird off-brand ice creams, like a rabbit that kind of looks like the Trix rabbit, but his nose is longer like Joe Camel had sex with the Trix rabbit. It doesn’t look appetizing and John doesn’t want to eat that ice cream sandwich! Silly rabbit, your nose looks like a penis!

This store is absolutely useless unless you are six guys in Carharrts on a truck covered with dry-wall dust. They jump in there and get a Faygo, a lottery ticket, an ice cream sandwich, a pack of cigarettes, a brown bag with some kind of booze in it and they get the fuck out of there. They are making a living, but they are also dragging down the whole neighborhood.

There is a vacant acre (4000 sqm) of land not far from John’s house that they are converting into a P-Patch, a community garden, which is going to bring the community together in a way that this Bodega has been tearing them apart. Pride of ownership! People are going to have fresh vegetables and it is only a matter of time before somebody will open a little store with an olive-bar and six different kinds of organic coffee creamers.

Merlin is always concerned that something is a trick when you are not from a place where you know a lot about what is fancy in the right way, and he is constantly parsing things for tricks. For example, olive bars are a fucking trick! You have given this much real-estate in your store to things that look and smell and taste like rotting toes? Pull anybody out of their Prius, give them an artisanal blindfold, sit them down, give them six fucking olives and they will not be able to tell you: ”Oh, this is salty and tastes like olives!” You give them a plate of locally sourced chopped-up human toes that have been soaked in formaldehyde for a year and they will call them for olives.

Scrimshaw, railroads and steamers always say something about the community: We learn about the language and the way people dress by these regional things that take a long time to go away. Even though they are not there anymore, even though we are not building ships in this place anymore, there is still a ship-building culture. They are not pushing out as many jets at Boeing as they used to because they have outsourced it. The tail-assembly is manufactured in Japan and the wings are made in Italy and then they bring them all here to Seattle and try to bolt them together.

GOP (Grand Old Party) Capitalists would tell you to go in there every day and ask if they have any Half & Half until the guy finally gets Half & Half (Merlin) or shoots him, but he is not going to shoot John. He might shoot him with his virtual video game! According to the capitalist model, if enough people want Half & Half, they will get Half & Half, but it has been five years and as far as John knows nothing has changed.

It doesn't matter enough to him to get Half & Half two blocks away instead of 15 blocks away. Merlin says that sometimes a Bodega is more than just a Bodega: It is a Harbinger in the Nexus of cultural diversity. John might be in a potential retail inflection point for effecting a lot of change. In this particular neighborhood John is the diversity, he is apparently the only one who wants Half & Half at this grocery store. "Where is my parade? It is so hard to be white!"

John’s neighbor smoking pot in a car in front of John’s house (RL68)

The people living around the corner across the street from John have a kid at about 30 years old and people sometimes show up to talk to him. They pull up alongside the house on John’s side of the house, the kid comes out, gets in the car with them, they sit there for a while, you see some lighters going off, and some pot getting smoked. The kid doesn’t want them parked in front of his house for some reason, which is why they park in front of John’s house. There is no reason to park in that spot unless you are trying to do some basic level drug dealer stuff and for most drug dealers parking around the corner is on top of their imagination.

When John would pull up in front of his house at night he would turn the wheels at the last minute so that his car was pointing across the street and his headlights were shining right in their front window of where they were sitting, and he would sit in his car with the motor running and his headlights filling their car with awful light and they would sit there for a long time, waiting for John to turn his car off, but John would just sit there.

One time in April of 2013 John was at the playground with his little girl and the same guy showed up with a whole parcel of kids where he was their uncle and he was the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. Another group of kids showed up with a couple of gals at the same park, they were related to each other, none of them lived with their folks, but they were all living with uncles. He was a great sweet-natured 30-year old stoner uncle to these charming well-behaved athletic and polite little kids. Maybe he is just a stoner guy who is selling a little weed, or his lady does not want him smoking pot in the house, but she suffers quietly, looks the other way, and it is the one time each week where he gets to hang out in a car and smoke pot and not bother anybody.

John was sweating about this guy across the street, thinking he was running some operation, but it turned out that he just wants to sit outside, listen to the chronic, and have some pot. Now John likes the guy and doesn’t know what he is supposed to do. He still keeps half an eye on him of course! Just today he was out in front of John’s house, talking to some guy dressed like Minister Farrakhan, but John doesn’t want any Muslims in horn-rim glasses and bow-ties. He is okay with it if it is a Pee-wee Herman affectation, but he doesn’t want to see guys out there selling newspapers.

Kids in John’s neighborhood bouncing a basketball (RL68)

In April of 2013 some kids were bouncing a basketball and John looked out the window because he doesn’t like anybody bouncing a basketball on his street unless he is looking at them. John and Merlin's very famous interview together (see probably MSHOW) was completely disrupted by one ball hippie and some Chinese people playing basketball.

The crows in John’s yard are doing a lot of crazy stuff! That day were two crows up on the telephone wire, John was looking at the kids with the basketball, and the crow started to have something to say to him about being in the window, and he was looking at the other crow. John was in his own house, he doesn’t need an alert sounded on him, he is the vigilant one. It was at least 4 layers of vigilance counting the drone.

John’s Vietnamese neighbors playing terrible karaoke (RL112)

John's next door neighbors are Vietnamese Catholics and they must have had a restaurant in the past with a professional-grade karaoke system and when the restaurant closed they took it home and it seems like it has 6000 Watts! A lot of time it is just mom, dad, and their son playing karaoke, but it is so loud he can hear the intake of their breath over the amplifiers, and he has no idea what they are singing because the songs are all in Vietnamese.

There are tonalities in Vietnamese or Chinese Pop music that are foreign to John’s musical ear. When it is done expertly he can hear the beauty of it and he thinks he understands what the music intends, but it is a foreign musical language and John is always listening to it as a curious outsider.

When John is sitting in a bar where someone is doing a bad out of tune karaoke, he is familiar with the song and knows where they are going astray and where the singer is failing to achieve the right tone. He can listen to it grimacing, but with knowledge of how far away the singer is from accomplishing what they think they are accomplishing.

In this case the dad is a terrible singer, and John does not understand what he is going for because he doesn’t know the source material. There is no musical language in the universe where the note he is singing and the note of the backing track belong together. Someone from another planet could look at it on a piece of paper and know mathematically that those two notes cannot coexist.

Their son is wearing a Radar O’Reilly cap sideways and a white track suit, and he is just sitting and playing his Gameboy. For some reason he does not leave when his parents play karaoke. He has a Subaru WRX with a big wing on the back and an air scoop on the front and expensive rims, he is part of an outside culture and if John was him he would be at whatever discothek it is where there are girls, but instead he is sitting in the living room with his folks. It is a thing they do together, but he just sits there while mom and dad trade off songs, probably singing to one another. He is 25 years old, maybe he is the one who knows how to turn the machines on.

They are only 10 feet from each other, they could be whispering these songs, but instead they are using a larger PA than any band John has ever been in has owned, and they are not in a sound-proof basement, but in the living room in the middle of their house in the middle of the neighborhood and John imagines all the raccoons in the neighborhood take this opportunity to go raid the trash in a different neighborhood because it is just sonically so wrong that even raccoons know.

John not wanting to interfere

John's relationship with them is a little bit like ”54°40’ or fight” (the Oregon boundary dispute), but they get along with one another in a ”wave over the fence” kind of way and there is a little bit of a ”pick your battle” situation. Of the issues that John has with the next-door neighbors, does he want to a) address the volume of their karaoke machine or b) suggest that they let him cut down one of their trees? What is his next move going to be?

There is also a little bit of Alaskan "sanctity of one’s own home" philosophy where the enjoyment they are deriving from owning their own home is bleeding over their property line and is causing him mild discomfort on alternate Saturdays in the afternoon when they are having their karaoke parties. They are not doing it every night, and it is obviously a day they look forward to where mom and dad are going to serenade each other with the sound of throwing fully-grown hogs into a wood chipper while their son is playing Mario Kart.

It is one of the challenges that John has as a fully grown person: At what point does his naked self-interest become something he needs to privilege over the empathy he has for someone else having innocent fun in their own home? Every musician has to learn at one point or another that louder isn’t better, but that is a process that a lot of musicians never learn. For most people at some point in their arc the louder it is the better it sounds, and that is what they have going on over there.

John doesn’t want to go over and intervene. His neighbor is from Vietnam and he is older than John, meaning that he survived the war and who knows what his life was during the war! He is not old enough to have been a soldier, but there was not a single person in Vietnam who didn’t have to confront that war right upfront. There were no suburbs where you were safe.

His English still isn’t very good, so John can’t just go over and sit in his living room and talk about their shared experience. There is so much about what they are doing over there that he doesn’t understands and instead of going into confrontation he would rather sit in his own home, trying to learn to appreciate what they are doing.

Other people are irritating to John and he cannot figure out if it is just that other people are truly irritating and everybody else pretends that they are not, or whether there is something in him where he is just more irritated by other people, but he doesn’t think so. He has no idea how people work Downtown and not get into fist fights every day.

John not understanding karaoke

John doesn’t understand karaoke at all because it is a busman’s holiday for him (see RL15) and he does not have a tin ear. It is like Kryptonite to him and he stays far away from karaoke. That is what car stereos are for: You put your favorite song in the car stereo and you sing at the top of your lungs as you are driving down the street and you play the drums on the steering wheel, you are in your bubble and you are having a blast.

It is like John playing guitar on a tennis racket back in Junior High (see RL48): The tennis racket and ZZ Top’s Eliminator were two things put on God’s Earth by God for one reason: Tennis rackets are not for tennis, they are for playing the Eliminator record in front of the mirror when you are a young teenager. Karaoke feels like playing the tennis racket in front of the mirror, except you are forcing your loved ones to be the mirror and the tennis racket is actually a 3000 Watt amplifier.

John doesn’t understand karaoke and he doesn’t understand the role it performs in the Asian cultures and he further doesn’t understand his neighbor’s particular version of super-loud karaoke. He recognizes some of the songs that come back multiple times, but the musical bed is all Yamaha DX-7 tinkle chords, it is garbage music to begin with that sounds like amusement park music where all the characters that they are trying to put forward are sub-par Hanna Barbera imitations, like ”That is not Tony the Tiger, it is plywood made to look like Tony the Tiger”

John’s neighbor’s cherry tree (RL68)

John's Vietnamese neighbor has a volunteer cherry tree in his front yard that John very much wants to cut down with a chain saw. Normally a cherry tree only bears delicious fruit when it is grafted onto hearty crap-cherry roots and made into a Supertree, but not in this instance. John has a great cherry tree in his front yard whose roots extend under his neighbor’s yard and from the root a volunteer poked up out of the ground and nobody mowed it down and it became its own tree. It was doing a September 1939 (Invasion of Poland) on him!

Now there is this huge cherry tree in John’s neighbor’s yard that produces the tiniest little shitty pie cherries that nobody eats or wants, and it is just sucking up John’s energy. For a long time he would go out in the night and lop limbs off of it. Just the fact that this big tree is over there bothers him!

In April of 2013 John was standing outside, staring at this tree, giving it the ugliest looks, and he was hoping that eventually his neighbor is going to come out and ask: ”Hey, how are you doing?” He couldn’t quite figure out how he was going to knock on his door and say: ”Listen, I have a beef with this tree! I will buy and plant and maintain a better tree for you somewhere else in you yard if you will let me saw this tree down!”

The problem is that there is a language gulf and John’s neighbor doesn’t speak English and John is afraid that he is going to get some nephew to come out and the nephew is going to be bored and garble John’s message, but John only has one chance to get this message across to this guy, because if it comes across the wrong way you don’t get a second chance. Merlin thinks that these kinds of turf wars are what make suburbs literally kill us.

John's neighbors before the Vietnamese were from Sudan. There were a couple of trees over there that bothered John and when the Sudanese people moved out… (… John cut one of the trees down, see RL112).

The Sudanese people were a man with a couple of wives and some other women living there and he listened to really loud fiery polemical sermons in Arabic from some Imam that was broadcasting, none of them would shake John’s hands, he didn’t get along with them. Merlin counted 16 unmarked helicopters flying over John’s neighborhood while he was there and it makes a lot more sense now.

John cutting down an offensive fruit tree on his neighbor’s property when the house was for sale (RL112)

Before the Vietnamese family bought the house next door it had been owned by a family of devout East African Muslims who would sit in their living room with all the windows open and listen to a short wave radio broadcast of an extremely fiery sermon, which was a little scary. There were a couple of guys, a multitude of mothers, and a lot of kids. There seemed to be more mothers than fathers, probably because there were multiple wives.

Those sermons were obviously tape recorded and the original recording was made in a bunker somewhere. It was very cultural and John did have an encounter with them that wasn’t 100% positive that was effectively a ”no infidels shall cross our property line” type confrontation.

When the house went for sale and that family moved out, there was a fruit tree that John objected to on their property because it was a garbage tree and anyone with any responsibility would have taken it out a long time ago. The house was empty and John went over there, stood in their yard, stared at this fruit tree, said: ”I have had enough!”

On the following morning at the crack of dawn, the most inconspicuous time to run a chain saw, he snuck over into their yard with his chainsaw and cut down the tree. There was a ”For Sale” sign in the yard, the house was not for rent anymore, it was empty, and whoever owned it did not live there but was divesting himself from this property and hadn’t been there in years.

The new owners were going to move in and were not going to do anything about the tree the day they move in. Nobody was going to miss this tree and John was the only person who could deal with this tree. He chainsawed it down, took it around into his yard, and threw it into his swimming pool.

The great error he made was that there was a second tree he also should have cut down and after he cut down the most offensive tree, his bruiting attention was only sated for about a day and a half before he realized that he should have cut down the other tree as well. During the period when the house was for sale John was increasing its value by cutting down this tree.

The house was in limbo, he wasn’t taking anybody’s tree, and the next people weren’t even going to know it was there, but once the house had sold the new people had bought a house with this second tree, and for him to cut down that tree would be to actually be cutting down a tree that belongs to somebody else.

Little girls shrieking in John’s neighborhood (RL112)

In May of 2014 somebody in the neighborhood either had their niece over visiting, or it might be the family on the far corner that has a lot of kids, but whatever it was, John was sitting in his bathtub on a Sunday afternoon and some little girl between the ages of 5-7 had discovered her scream (see RW117). John was a little boy once a long time ago and he had a lot of little girl friends and he does not remember that little girls in the 1970s were entertaining themselves with a blood-curdling scream. It didn’t used to be a thing, it is probably vaccinations or the estrogen in our drinking water.

Somewhere along the line little girls have taught one another to shriek and it is probably nothing they are being encouraged to do, but it is something they are not being discouraged from doing. If somebody kicks a ball at them, instead of kicking the ball back they shriek. If a bird flies over, instead of going ”Oh my God!” they shriek. John was in the bathtub and couldn’t see her, but she must have been on John’s block and for an hour she just took in breath and shrieked as if she was being murdered. The shrieks are long and each one gets more and more evocative. If Merlin’s daughter would do that once, he would tell her to not ever do that again.

John can hear other children out there playing with her, he can hear adults, like a father’s voice, people speaking to each other and speaking to her, and he can only picture it. At no point did he go out of the bathtub because it was Sunday afternoon. That family was either in their yard or in the street, playing ball or having a family activity, and one of their little children had discovered her scream and she was really practicing it and no-one in the family said: ”Okay, Esmeralda, that is enough! Not another one!” and take her inside and have a conversation with her.

The one time that sound is appropriate is if you need to communicate across a mountain valley that you are being murdered, or if you are being attacked by a bear, which is a form of being murdered. Is this not bothering them? Do they not want to inhibit her and think she will grow out of it and this is just an important phase for her? John was sitting in the bathtub and was thinking that this was another instance where if he had a megaphone he would be in more trouble than he is not having a megaphone because he might get out of the bathtub, put it out of the window and say: ”Stop your child from screaming!”, but he doesn’t want to open his bathroom window and stand there like Steamin’ John (see RL85), going: ”Stop it! For the love of fucking God stop screaming!”

Just like with the barking dog it immediately becomes a thing where you are talking to the other parent and now John seems like the crazy one. ”You don’t like little girls having fun?” - ”I like the sound of of little girls having fun, but this is not the sound of someone having fun, she is fully conscious that she has arrived upon a power that she has to rule everyone!” The child becomes aware that they have a new power that no-one else can do, no adult can make that sound, and if they did you would think they were possessed and their skin split from head to toe and the giant Pterodactyl that lived inside of them was freed.

The child realizes that she was not only in control of everyone she could see, but she was in control of the entire block and no-one could think because of this sound she learned to make. Maybe John should be thinking of ways to harness it (see RL111)? If you got 40 little girls in a room and told them all to make that sound, what power could you generate from that?

You could take them to Guantanamo and all of the people in shackles there would start spilling whatever beans they had left to spill. Maybe you could weaponize it, record it in high fidelity and then broadcast it on battlefields instead of playing Ride of the Valkyries? As your troops move into a situation you just play highly amplified Vietnamese karaoke and little girls screaming at the top of their lungs and armies would flee before you. Who would go into battle if the sound of the opposing army would be that unholy cocktail of noise? You would throw your gun down and cower.

They could shatter glass in advance of going into the slurry, like Ella Fitzgerald. Maxell (no, actually Memorex)!

John's neighbors across the street getting two barking pit bulls (RW117)

For ten years John has maintained a friendly neighborly cordiality, a Northwestern style neighborly bond, with his neighbors 100 yards across the streets. Even though it never extended to speaking to one another more than about ten words a year. "Hey how are you? Good! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!", but they pass each other every day and there was always a smile and a wave. When others would complain, John would always defend his neighbors as being great and as holding everything together and everybody would be "Yeah, I guess!"

The fact that they lived a hundred meters from one another and never really spoke or exchanged any pie (see RW4) might seem to be not very neighborly to a Southern listener, but John's neighborhood is the most diverse ZIP code in America and what that means is that a lot of his neighbors don't speak English or speak it only a little. Yet, they don't all speak the same language with one another either. They don't have a block party vibe and also: The Northwest just isn't like that, but they are a little bit standoffish in a friendly way.

Running a car repair business

As neighborhoods close to town will gentrify, more people will move to neighborhoods further away from town like John's where nothing is gentrifying really, there are no people buying an old house and fixing it up, but a new family is moving into the house while the old family didn't move out and now there are two families in the house and they also run a car repair business out of their yard which is not legal but it is also not noisy. The only thing it does is add some extra cars to the street, but in John's neighborhood there are plenty of houses with 7 cars parked out front and their house has 12 cars on the property, but they have a big fence and you don't hear tools during the day. It has never been a problem.

Screaming little girls

What has been a problem is that they have a lot of little girls at the house screaming in a blood-curdling way. When John's daughter screamed when she was little, he told her that a little girl screaming is a thing that we disincentives in our family. There is no sweeter sound than a little girl laughing, but a little girl screaming at the top of her little lungs in a way that would bring migrating birds down out of the sky is a sound that we are going to try to modify into a different sound or maybe no sound.

Perhaps the little girls across the street are being raised in a culture where little girls are treasured such that even if they let out blood-curdling screams all day long as a part of their play, the people in the family go: "Isn't that darling?", a behavior that is true for many families and it is true of dogs, too! The screaming little girls never really bothered John that much, because although he doesn't like them screaming blood-curdlingly, he does like the sound of children having fun.

The screaming little girls have now all grown up and are in High School. Back when they were 10, it occurred to John to tell them: "That scream is indistinguishable from a scream of pain or distress. You are giggling because somebody splashed some water on you and that is your response, but you need to calibrate that sound because it is a Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario. If you were in real trouble over here screaming for help I would ignore it because I wouldn't be able to tell the difference!"

It was not just bloodcurdling screaming, but they were playing with their friends going "Help! Help! Help!" because their little brother was doing something and not even as bad as squirting water on them. It is a conversation John wanted to have with them at a certain age, but then there was the problem of strange neighbor pulling the daughters aside and saying: "Hey, here is a hot tip: Don't scream like that!" So now they are in High School and every once in a while one of them screams like that and John just hopes they are not in trouble, because he wouldn't know how to tell the difference. There is no way they could be in pain or distress and scream any louder or crazier than they already have.

His neighbors getting dogs

In July of 2018 John's neighbors have broken the social bond that they had with him by buying two Pit Bulls and putting them in a cage at the far end of their property where the dogs just pee on themselves and bark 22 hours a day. The whole castle of their neighborly bond came crashing down. They think that their property is a space station and the rest of the neighbors are just the vacuum of space. It is the kind of inconsiderateness that John can't get his head around and Dan is 1000% with him. John was raised to always be thinking about how his behavior is impacting others in social interaction with strangers.

John has communicated with his neighbors about their dog, but they say they have a right to own a dog. Although you can not have a dog bark all night, the city of Seattle has bigger fish to fry and there is not a dedicated two-officer team driving around Seattle, citing people for barking dogs right in the middle of the night. There it an elaborate process where you have to document the source of the noise, you have to submit that to an office and wait for up to six weeks. If you haven't heard from the office by that time, you have to submit it again. It is a six month long process before you can get a police officer out there to knock on the door for some complaints about the noise. John is not somebody who is dialing 911 in the middle of the night and you don't want to be one of those people calling 911 about your neighbor's barking dog. Now the covenant between them is severed permanently. John does not wave or smile at them anymore.

There is no friendliness left between John and his neighbors which is a tragedy after 10 or 11 years of good neighborliness. The rope that bound them, the epoxy that John felt they had both been bringing their halves: It turned out that they didn't ever feel that way and it was just luck that they were minding their business and John was minding his. At one time they had a rooster which was rude and against the law in the city, but John let the rooster slide because they are from Mexico and roosters have some symbolic importance. Maybe they are getting eggs from the chickens, but you don't need a rooster for that. It is a thing you keep because it means something to you. It was an irritation that John got used to, but he can't get used to two barking Pit Bulls.

The dogs in John's neighborhood (RL302)

About 8-9 years ago (around 2009/2010) there was a dog up John’s street that barked all day, a big Poodle with a big bark. The people who owned him would put him out in the morning and then go to work and the dog sat out there and barked all day.

One time John went over there with a letter, and as he walked up to the fence the dog’s tail started wagging and he got a big friendly look on his face. John tentatively put his hand over the fence and the dog was like: ”Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” for getting any kind of contact, or anything to do or think about. He was licking John’s hand and wagging his tail like an excited seal.

John went inside the gate and put the letter in their mailbox saying: ”FYI: Your dog barks all day, it echoes through the whole neighborhood, and there has got to be something else you can do!” A couple of weeks went by and the dog was still out there, so John wrote another letter and put it in their mailbox: ”I asked you to think about this and the dog is still barking every day and I would like to point out that it is not very neighborly. You may not hear it, but I work from home and it is exasperating and starting to drive me crazy!”

By the third time John wrote an even more exasperated letter to them, and you can imagine what an exasperated letter from John sounds like, they finally solved the problem. Maybe they locked the dog in the basement and it has become a raving lunatic, but at least it doesn’t bark outside anymore.

John is not like his sister who thinks on behalf of the dog. When the dog stopped barking all day, John’s mind went back to a peaceful state of rest and he doesn't care whatever accommodations that family had to make. That is their responsibility! John has to resist the impulse to put on a sword every time he walks out the door and he does resist that impulse because of neighborlyness.

When the family across the street bought two giant-necked Pit Bulls and chained them in an 8x8 shipping container to bark all night, it empowered the people with the Poodle to leave their dog out again and all of a sudden John was hearing barking from a couple of locations. That was not a coincidence because the Poodle came back 8 years later. It had been maybe 3 years old back then and it is fucking 11 now! It has lived its life somewhere else and now it is back!

When John was talking to the family with the Pit Bulls, the second thing they said was: ”Well, we are not the only ones! There is that dog up at the corner!” and it was impossible for John to explain that it didn’t used to be there, but now it is there again. It is an ”Would you jump off a bridge if they did?”-argument, but people don’t hear that. They having been raised differently.

The problem of the way [Pit Bulls Liberals] interact with government is that they do think it is magic and they do think that government can solve all these problems. John looked into what it would take to call the cops or animal control on the people across the street, but he realized that government isn’t set up to do this.

They have a lot of stuff on their website about what their process is about filing this kind of complaint, but as you read it, you realize that they have to think about this from 20 different ways. Merlin says this is a very Nextdoor problem, and every time John has ever heard about Nextdoor, it was always in the context that it is very problematic.

Some neighbor exploding sticks of dynamite (RL249)

In June of 2017 there was someone in John's neighborhood who walked around late at night, setting off sticks of dynamite. Those were not just cherry bombs! Some nights when John was up late, he could hear it all across the neighborhood. It was loud, but also very distant. Other times he will hear it nearby and the windows will rattle. Some nights he heared two or once even three of these explosions moving at a distance.

One time John was sitting in his bedroom at 3am sorting his cufflinks into boxes and a stick of dynamite went off in the street directly in front of his house. He saw the flash in front of the windows and it rattled the entire house. He leaped downstairs in his underpants and didn't even have the foresight to take a fencing sabre with him (see Sword and Bathrobe).

He went out the front door and the entire street was full of black powder smoke 30 feet high. There was a big black spot in the pavement, but no-one in sight. At the corner two blocks down there was a solitary figure dressed in black. Just before he turned he stopped and looked back at John, standing in his underwear in the middle of the smoke cloud. This bomb must have been on a long fuse, some kind of timer or remote detonator. To set this up in a neighborhood street is one thing, but to light it and walk away when you don't know who will come along is another!

They looked at each other at this long distance and John wanted to sprint at him, but it wasn't doable. Later he could not find anything on the Internet about the mad bomber of South Seattle. Did no-one else hear these massive explosions? He could never hear a police car either, and doesn't think calling the police would help because it is a fait accompli. The thing went off, there is a guy in a black hoodie, and from where does he get these amazing bombs?

John’s neighbors doing the Grand Slam (RL282)

New neighbors in Jamaika's house

In March of 2018, John had a little bit of a situation in his neighborhood. Skeeter had died of cirrhosis of the liver during 2017 and they also lost Gary (see Gary and Skeeter, John said Randy at first and didn’t remember his name until 38:20 into the show) who lived in his van down by the river. Then Jamaika’s old house across the street got sold to flippers who worked on it for a long time and spent a lot of money on it, expecting to sell it at an instant, but they didn’t. Part of it was that the street John lives on didn’t have a lot of curb appeal. His next door neighbor Patrick works in the Underground Sewer Installation Department of a company that works with the city and he has got a working man’s truck parked up front. His son in law wrecked a car and they brought it over to Patrick’s to put it under a tarp. John had an RV at the time that was hidden under a huge bushel basket. The guys across the street have a side business working on cars and there are always between 13 and 30 cars over there. Still, the flippers did a very nice job fixing up the house and eventually it did sell.

The new owners were a delightful African-American couple with young children age 5 and 3. She was a long-time Seattleite and he was from Brooklyn. John had an extremely pleasant exchange with them on the street when they were moving in on Christmas Eve of 2017 about how amazing it is getting to spend your first Christmas in the new house! John was just leaving to spend Christmas with his family in a little house in the snow and during January and February of 2018 he traveled a lot and he didn’t see his new neighbors on the street at all. The last time they talked she asked if John would take Gary's van into his yard for a couple of weeks while Gary got his stuff figured out, but John declined because this van is not an asset and you need to stop thinking about like it like that. Gary thought that his retirement was in this van, but it is garbage and needs to go to the crusher. It is not restorable or salvageable as a piece of metal, but it is rusted and full of rats. It is not just not a nice truck, very but it is tetanus on wheels.

Cars parking on the streets and John not seeing his new neighbors

John's new neighbors drove nice new SUV-style cars and every once in a while somebody would even drive up in a pearlescent SUV. John does not know what brand it was because they all look the same now. There are no sidewalks in this neighborhood and the areas in front of people’s houses sort of belong to the house. If there were sidewalks, then you would just park on the sidewalk in any spot that wouldn't belong to anybody specific, but the gravel in front of John’s house is an extension of John’s yard and you would park your car in your own area and not bleed over into somebody else’s area. John’s neighbor next to him on the other side will bring the front bumper of their car right over to the fence line, but they would never go even 2 inches (5 cm) with their bumper over that fence line.

When John came home on a Sunday night, a whole bunch of cars were parked on his side of the street so that there was no place for him to park. He talked to his mom about it, but she said that those were public roads and asking his neighbors not to park in front of his house would make John a very bad person. No matter the social conventions, you do not mess with public roads! It was a temporary thing, but it made John realize that they were church people who were inviting people over on Sunday evenings after church, which made it even harder to tell them ”I know you are having this church event, but don’t park in front of my house!” After that it got real quiet over there and by the end of February John had become curious. He had never seen or heard their children. The garage has a door, but John could always tell when Jamaika or Gary were there, because the garage was full of garbage so they couldn’t park inside and their car was either there or not. His new neighbors do have their two cars inside and John is out at odd hours and he never saw them come and go. The house was very neatly kept and put into neat zone in order to sell and it still looks like it is a house for sale.

The Grand Slam begins

In the beginning of March 2018, cars started coming and going from John's neighbors' house. Three cars would pull up, all arriving at the same time, and John would hear a dozen door slams like the Mafia had just driven up. As was obvious from the multiple slams, or the Grand Slam, as John likes to call it, between 9 and 13 white kids in their early 20s, all pretty clean cut and fresh faced, got out of the cars. They were not going through the front door into the house, but through the gate into the backyard. John thought they could be missionaries because this young African-American family had already established that they have Sunday evening events and now there were a bunch of college-age kids coming and going as a group. He might be a pastor who has a youth group of some kind and these might be the leaders getting some extra training.

At some point, a sign appeared on the fence next to the garage, the kind of sign that you would get at Target saying ”This is Janet’s room. Keep out!”, or one that is made to look like a street sign saying ”Keep Calm and Carry on!”, ”Volkswagen Bug parking only” or ”Parking for world’s greatest peepaw”. The sign was shaped like a city sign and it said something like ”Parking for Guests Only!”, worded strangely like something you would find in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. It was the first expression of personality that this family had put on the house. They didn’t put two white lions on either side of the driveway as you see in John’s neighborhood a lot, they didn’t put a Buddha next to the front door, no wind chime, but they put this charming ”Parking for Guests Only” sign on the fence.

John was hearing the Grand Slam a lot: In the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, at 11:30pm at night. He did a little bit of reconnoitering, went over and looked at the cars. There was a 2010 Toyota 4Runner with Montana plates, "Big Sky Country" and a sticker of a blue whale with no other writing on it. It was the type of blue whale you would get at an aquarium, but it didn't say ”Rhode Island Aquarium” or anything on it. There was also a little sticker at the bottom corner of the window that John later deciphered as a parking sticker for Boise State College in Boise, Idaho. The second car was a 2009 Infiniti with Washington plates, no stickers, no other sign of life, and nothing inside. The third car, which always parked in the Guest-only-spot was a brand-new car with temporary and expired Washington plates. Next time John would see the kids, he would be prepared to say ”I’m your neighbor! What are you guys doing?”, but during the week that John was trying to put himself into that situation, he was never able to get to them between hearing the Grand Slam and them all disappearing behind the gate. There was still no sign of the African-American family at all: You could hear no kids or any darn thing at all and at night none of the lights were on.

John tried to anticipate when the Grand Slam of white Millennials was going to show up again in order to move very quickly through what is just one fence gate. One time John was driving up as they arrived, but as he got out of the car, they reflexively looked down and away from him, suggesting that they were young people who didn’t ever want to look at an adult or be addressed by one.

The most diverse neighborhood in America

The house had been fixed up by flipper Dan and John had toured it many times. The downstairs, which had previously been a kind of slapdash mother in law, got turned into a proper 3-bedroom apartment, even though the zoning would not allow you to describe it as that. There was a nice big living room, a full bath, a large legal bedroom, an office and another bedroom, so you could have 3 people living down there comfortably. It had its own entrance because flipper Dan had been thinking ahead and some of the people who were looking at the house when it was for sale were thinking about having their mother live in that basement.

The young family who did buy it did not show any signs of having a mother-in-law-plan, but they were an affluent young family and John assumed they would fill up that house with toys and excitement. He thought they would have kids over who could play with John’s daughter, they could have a lemonade stand and they were part of the kind of gentrification that John was waiting for. This neighborhood is the most diverse ZIP-code in America and they want to keep that true. They don’t want to see displacement, but they want the standard of living to rise while maintaining a diverse community. The new neighbors were decidedly a middle class family who would increase the tax base so the schools could get better, while at the same time not changing the fact that John is the only white person in his neighborhood. He is the anchor baby and they need him to keep it diverse.

The Mexican family with the rooster and the dog

There is a Mexican family living on the corner with between 13 and 30 cars parked out front. They have chickens running around the neighborhood and everybody thinks that is charming, but for many years they had a rooster which is technically against Seattle city regulations because roosters are a pain in the ass. This rooster was a fucking dumbass as they all are and from the first inkling of light he started cockadoodling all morning all the time. Within the Mexican culture, a rooster is a very important character and plays a cultural role within the whole pantheon. John was okay with keeping the rooster around because he lives in a diverse neighborhood and he claims the ravens and the raccoons, they got their rooster and somebody is going to want the possum and they all got the rats. John wasn’t thrilled about the rooster, but he was fine with it.

At some point along the way they also bought a dog which they kept in a pen right at the fence at the far end of their property, pretty far from their house, but very close to flipper Dan’s house. The pen of the dog was probably closer to John’s bedroom window than it was to the house to which it belonged. John has been conscious of the dog for a long time because it barked a few times a day and another dog in the neighborhood often enough answered to that, but John took it for what it was, just like with the rooster. There used to be a dog down the road that would bark all day long. Merlin’s neighbors upstairs had a sweet little dog called Linus and they would keep it in a kennel literally right over Merlin’s head where Merlin worked all day, and it would go ”Happ, happ, happ!” In terms of tape measures, that dog was maybe 8 feet (240 cm) from Merlin’s ear, which will make a person a little bit crazy after a while. His owners were gone all day, which was why sweet little Linus was in his little basket.

The whole situation with the dog and the rooster became a problem for John. The Mexicans were an extended family, meaning there were between 3 and 5 families living in this big house with a lot of daughters and at least one quinceañera per year for the last 8 years, but John loved them as neighbors because they were extremely conscientious. In the morning the girls were going to school in a big gaggle, they would come home in the afternoon, there were moms around, there were cars coming and going, and everybody tipped their hat over there when you drove by.

The situation getting worse

The members of the Grand Slam used to sit on the back porch of the house in a way John could not see, but the penned dog right on the other side of the fence was very aware of them, barking relentlessly from 10pm-2am. For a few days John didn’t make the connection, but all of a sudden he was conscious of this dog that had been around for 1-11 years barking all night. This wasn’t how things go around here! There were those fucking kids across the street and where was the family that John though he was going to be friends with? What the hell was going on around here? John thought they would be getting stability when Jamaika and Gary went away! He was traveling a lot and was home at unusual times, so it wasn’t unusual that he would not see his neighbors. The Grand Slam could just as well have happened every Sunday and John just hadn't noticed.

John was also missing a tooth at the time (see RL277) and if you did have the option of driving up to your house, pushing a button to open the garage door, driving in and the garage door closing while John was standing there with a pitchfork in one hand and a Romanian flag in the other, like ”Hi neighbors”, he understood why you would go straight in, but that was not what was happening. Only in March when all of that started to happen all at once did John realize that he hadn’t seen his neighbors in a long time.

It got so bad that he went down the block to ring the doorbell at the Mexicans' house to ask what was going on. The problem was that between their house and the house in question was a big area where they did all the mechanical work on those between 13 and 30 cars, where they would have all the quinceañera, and where they had a basketball hoop. Living in their house, their dog could just sound like a dog in the distance and you can’t see into flipper Dan’s yard either.

In the different layers of languages that are happening in John’s neighborhood, English is between 2nd and 5th place of the languages that are regularly spoken. Because there was a lot of activity in the Mexican's house, there was a guy standing out in the yard at 11:30pm and John asked him ”Hi! Let’s talk about this dog” His reply was ”What did he do?”, while the dog was barking like crazy, and John said ”It is 11:30pm and the dog is barking like this all night. It is barking like this now all the time! I don’t know what happened and what changed, but this has to stop!” and the guy nodded ”Well, I’ll talk to the guy who owns the dog”, which made sense because there were a lot of people living in this house and different things were owned by different people. They were not just all in co-ownership of this dog or the Volkswagen GTI or the plastic 4-foot (120 cm) tall illuminated Christmas ornament of Jesus that was up all year. John said ”Thank you!” and listened to the dog continue to signal for the rest of the night. It is frustrating when you talk to somebody and the problem doesn’t go away immediately, but John had some faith that they were going to work it out.

The generational gulf between John and Millennials

One day there was a big 12 or 13 person Grand Slam, but they all went through the fence before John could get his shoes on and go outside. It was in the afternoon and this time John could see them through the fence sitting together. Some of them were sitting in a semi-circle up on the Rock wall, having a meeting but it was not a culty thing. This would have been an opportunity to go over, go through the gate and say ”Hey, since we are all here”, but John was reluctant. Every exchange in this neighborhood has a racial component because everybody is a different ethnicity and anytime one person from one house goes over to another house, language is possibly not the only problem. For example, the neighbors who always park 2-inches (5 cm) to John’s fence line are Vietnamese and for some reason they have been cutting John's bamboo.

The house in question was owned by an affluent African American family, but now there were a dozen white Millennials coming and going. If it were a Christian meeting, they would probably have been inclined to answer politely, but there was also a cultural separation and John was not sure exactly what he was asking for. That was also the time when he made the connection that the dog was barking at the kids. It had been there for years and had just barked once in a while when a sketchy person went by. It did not bark at Gary, and when Gary was out at 2am talking on the phone, he was the problem and not the dog. John did not feel 100% secure in walking across the street, ringing the doorbell and demanding answers, particularly because his mom had told him that he had no right to yell at them about their parking. What were his rights then? This is America and they can do whatever they want in their own house! He can’t just go over and say ”Can you 11 people not all close your car doors at the same time?” Because they are Millennials, they are not conscious of the dog. They don’t even hear the dog and they are not conscious of themselves being the source of the dog barking, because the dog is always barking when they are out there and for them that is just what it is. It had taken John four days to figure it out himself!

While John definitely felt secure to go over to the people he knew and ask about the dog, he didn’t feel secure to go over, ring the door bell and ask ”Who are you and why are you in my neighborhood all of a sudden? What the fuck is going on? Is this a Jesus thing? That is fine, but I want to know!” He was almost at the point of "I can’t live like this!" The dog all night, kids coming and going, his curiosity was going crazy, what was the story here? Did those guys kill the family that was living there? John was dealing with white 22-year olds with a blue whale sticker on the back of their Nissan Xterra, a group of people he can address in a shared language, except for the Millennial Generation cultural gulf, but the language barrier with millennials is sometimes greater than with any hispanics. John didn’t know which way to go!

The Grand Slam stops without an explanation

Two days before they recorded the episode, John heard a Grand Slam in the morning, off they went and they have not returned since. The house was empty and there was no sign of life there at all. There had been a Grand Slam 4 times a day through the entire Grand Slam period. They were never not coming and going. Now there has not been a Grand Slam for 48 hours, no sign of life, nor has the dog barked. It is back to silence, emptiness, and complete lack of motion.

The entire reason John brought this story up was that the family who owns flipper Dan’s house hired landscapers who came once a week with gas-powered leaf-blowers to walk around blowing leafs and dirt. Confusingly, the dog wouldn't care about the leaf blower, but leaf blowers drive John crazy just in principle. Right before Merlin called, John was sitting in his chair looking out the window at the gas-powered leaf-blower guy walking around the driveway and John thought ”Merlin is going to call and there is this leaf-blower guy”, but as the phone rang, the leaf-blower-guy miraculously turned his motor off almost simultaneously and John started to tell this story to prep Merlin for the fact that there might be gas-powered leaf-blower noise, but the guy was gone, the sun came out, and there was not even a rooster! Either everything has gone quiet because they were feeling some electromagnetic pulse and Mount Rainier is about to explode, or John doesn’t know what happened. Maybe everybody got raptured?

Merlin had written his guess of what was going on over there on a 3x5 card and he guessed it was a startup. John was laughing out loud when he heard that at the end of the show

John’s neighbor’s dogs are gone (RL310)

In October of 2018 John’s neighbor’s dogs, the giant Pit Bulls were finally gone! John used to go out, stand at the other side of the fence, and the dogs would bark like crazy and John would go like ”Ssshhhh!” One time a guy came out from behind the fence and said ”Can I help you?” - ”Well, you can help me by having your dog not bark all night!” - ”Are you the one who wrote the letter to my dad?” - ”Yes!” - ”This is what dogs do!” - ”Yes, but not in cities at 3am, it is just not how neighbors behave to one another” - ”I’m moving and I’m taking the dogs with me!” - ”How exciting for your new neighbors! Vaya Con Dios, dogs! I hope that wherever you live, you will have more grass than you are having now!”

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