I have been, and will be, remarkably busy for a day or two. Please enjoy this re-posting -- from 2011, I think it was -- a serial-style story of declining property values, of petty crime and low-slung trousers.
Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends: The Jefferson (Street, that is) Hillbillies.
Let me begin by saying that I love my neighborhood. Northeast Minneapolis is the arts district of Minneapolis, a neighborhood full of restaurants, bars, art studios, live music, sidewalks and trees, people walking their dogs and cats lurking in windows, smoking cigarettes.
And sometimes, sometimes there are some real freaks as well. Remind me to tell you about Stephanie, the Tattooed Lady. She would like to sit next to you at the bar, bemoaning the fact that the tattoos on her face have made finding a job really hard.
Lousy establishment! The Man is keeping her down!
She’ll go away if you buy her a drink.
But that’s not what we’re on about today. Oh, no. Today, my friends, I would like to introduce you to the Jefferson Hillbillies.
The Jefferson Hillbillies moved in to the bottom half of a duplex three houses down roughly six years ago. They lived there for five months.
But I’m ahead of myself.
Sit back! Today’s story is “The Jefferson Hillbillies Move In”.
There is a lovely park directly across the street from us. There are mature trees for shade, open spaces for Frisbee-hurtling, dog-walking, and the occasional couple lying on a blanket, kissing. Our neighbors are a mix of couples with children, retired folk with meticulous lawns, and the work-a-day types like myself hustling toward and away from bus stops at regular intervals.
We are Middle America.
Our new neighbors moved in on an early summer day. After enduring the face-peeling attempts of Mother Nature’s seasonal efforts to make us move south, the neighborhood was fairly giddy with good humor and there were sightings of both bare arms and bare legs.
And when five battered pickup trucks pulled up in front of the duplex that had recently had a “For Rent” sign removed, we were naturally curious.
And “curious” is the word we’re looking for here, because despite the number of trucks involved, our new neighbors’ possessions seemed to be restricted to several large screen TVs, several frighteningly worn mattresses, and children.
But hey. Live and let live, right? Plenty of room for everybody!
Moving said items didn’t take much time, of course; and before you could say “what the?” our new neighbors had set up a ping-pong table on the sidewalk in front of their house.
And a recliner.
And three coolers that we came to know were filled with beer because of the empties that eventually littered the boulevard.
The new people played ping-pong until it was dark.
Whereupon they played in the dark.
It was all delightfully audible.
The ping-pong table stayed on the sidewalk for several weeks, until the police were called and they were required to remove it and the beer cans from the public walkway.
They moved it all up into the front yard.
Where it sat next to the recliner.
Oddly enough, this did not bode well – and it’s surprising how often a good boding turns out to be for a good reason.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.