Girlll, It's Loud, We Get It

So a few weeks ago, as I scrolled through my timeline on Twitter, I saw an 'op-ed' published by the incredibly irresponsible, NY Daily News, that struck a serious nerve in me - prompting me to give the writer, una sinvergüenza named Ann Votaw, a pela de lengua via Twitter (@_wonderfrankie).

The eye roll inducing article in question: an angry, tasteless rant about one Inwood residents struggle with the NYC noise... specifically, a place with a concentrated dose of New York noise, Dyckman. The Dyckman strip was the scene of the exchange that swept across Twitter and inspired this little number. To those of you unfamiliar with the 'Dyckman strip'; it is a series of bars and restaurants on a span of about 2 blocks, whose hours run into the late night, sometimes until 5am.

For those of you who have yet to visit my beloved neighborhood of Washington Heights -  I'll give you some facts and some opinions about Uptown. Washington Heights is an upper Manhattan neighborhood bordered by Harlem and Inwood, its contents are a mix of about a dozen different cultures and backgrounds. The demographics are largely Dominican with Jewish, Greek, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Puerto Rican and Black sub-communities, to name a few. The noise level, however, has stayed about the same for the past 20+ years.

In recent years, what has been dubbed gentrification, has started to change the face, and heart of the neighborhood. Naturally, people of different cultures may have to look beyond surface details to happily co-exist and thrive with one another, but this seems to be more difficult for some - ie: that foolish writer who wrote that bullsh*t article. She made the mistake of not researching the neighborhood she was moving into and decided to choose Uptown, a largely Dominican neighborhood whose sounds pour out onto the street from just about every restaurant, barbershop and car you can find. Something inherently Dominican, and also a trait of other Latino and Caribbean cultures, is celebrating just about every occasion with loud music, dancing and the burning of the midnight oil...occasionally into the sunrise.

One Midwest transplant wrote a grotesque effrontery - that is clearly aimed towards the Latino community based on her descriptions, offending other people of color and other natives of Washington Heights, alike. And she had the nerve to call herself a writer. Girrrrrrl, bye! The article describes her encounter with a 'child', as she specified, and how she yelled obscenities at him and flipped him the bird because she was overwhelmed by the music he was playing on his boombox. I think it a very cowardice thing to verbally harass a child and a gross act of bigotry to identity him as a 'possible criminal' to her readers. (Please note that she has edited the article after the backlash she received and has since removed the part where she called the 'boombox kid' a 'possible criminal'; with no knowledge of his past or upbringing.) Prejudice, much?

As a writer, she is tasked with painting an image for her readers and has made false and accusatory statements about the residents of my community. While noise pollution is obviously super annoying and something I've had to deal with myself, I sympathize with her to a certain degree.. to me it's irresponsible to print work that is painted that sickly shade of elitism that is too often overlooked, for fear of having to be confronted. She moved into a neighborhood and is violently trying to change it by her own means, which happens to be writing. As a writer, she owes it to her readers to be unbiased and fair in her work, and has failed herself by publishing this anger infused mess.

I am tired of seeing people from the Midwest, who move into neighborhoods like Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and areas of Brooklyn and try to replicate their pre-nyc-living environment, with no regard for the people who already live there. It's not right. I recently experienced this myself as I was sitting in front of my friends building and was approached by cops who said someone called and said there was someone with a knife outside. This was untrue and illegal even, as filing a false report is not something that gets a pass... Unless you're a Midwest transplant living in the Heights.

Oftentimes, these culture killers use police intimidation to try to get the upper hand. They thoughtlessly provoke the police department into profiling long-time residents of the neighborhood because of noise. With no regard for the people they are basically harassing, some of these people play a dangerous game when they involve the police. Some people have criminal records and for non-violent offenses like noise complaints, they are at risk of being put back into the prison system. All because of people like Ann.

Ann, we the residents of Washington Heights, can only welcome you if you are willing to offer the same respect you are demanding. Be tolerant of our culture and traditions, even when they disturb your quality of life. Find a better solution... We have all been compassionate of one another for decades. The Jews and Greeks learned to welcome the Dominicans and we are learning to welcome the growing population of our beloved neighborhood, the newbies who some call gentrifiers. Respect us or find some new place to call home, girl. Or incorporate Zumba into your yoga and make it work for you. Do anything BUT write something like that again. Anything at all. You chose to live here, don't you ever forget that. It was your choice. You're an adult. Don't throw tantrums and call it an 'op-ed' because you can't handle the city life that you thought you thrived off of. We don't believe you and you definitely need more people.

-Frankie Reese