Garbage Begets Garbage

Insouciance is too sweet a word to perfume what seemingly transpires in random encounters among Las Vegas residents. And often that aroma sours with proximity.

How visitors conduct themselves in the Big Mayberry is another thing altogether. A lot of visitors are drawn to this wedge of the Mojave Desert believing whatever latencies suppressed at home can be fully exposed and let run amok here.

Part of it should be credited to the fabulous ad campaign based on the slogan “Whatever happens here, stays here.” Well, that’s a canard. Before social media, sure, a good deal of mischief, merriment, and mayhem did remain unknown to the outside world. What percentage got buried and forgotten thanks to convenient cash outlays or participants who preferred disassembling those events and strewing them in the surrounding high desert will never be known. Or researched.

That’s the thing about curiosity, about people seeking answers. They wish to know. They always wish to know. But in truth even they’re aware some truths are best never uncovered and instead better off left unrevealed. After all, aren’t all the most edifying fables and the horror stories derived from them based on meeting aspects of ourselves we’d patently denied?

Social media, though, has aimed searing klieg lights onto once dark trails, into the blackest corners. There are few mysteries shielded by obscurity and silence and discretion. Well, fewer than when I was growing up and entering adulthood.

Foibles and failings which had been the grist of an individual’s introspection are now becoming with every encroaching generation quickly digested then regurgitated fodder quickly dismissed in order to make way for the next batch of feverish folderol. That before being shoved aside by following sparks of oblivious ad infinitum embarrassment, misbehavior, or just plain cruelty for clicks sake.

Instead, what happens among Las Vegas residents occurs in leisurely paces, over time, in the unblessed unrepentant open.

As readers who’ve followed these dispatches with any consistency know, I reside in a co-op complex. This is uncommon housing in Las Vegas. Residents either own houses or condominiums, or rent apartments, houses, and trailers.

There’s also a subset here who own their trailers but not the land upon which it sits. Meaning park management can pretty much sock owners with charges more akin to rents than maintenance fees. Since it costs as easy five figures to move a trailer as well as near impossible to find plots for sale already offering utilities connections, those residents are stuck and screwed.

Rather than just a home, I regard my residence as a stock, myself as a shareholder.

I’m one of the few owners who occupies his apartment at this complex. There had been plenty at my arrival almost 10 years ago. Mortality and economic forces emptied this place of them. Again, as I’ve written before, probably the sole other remaining long-time resident (at least in my portion of the complex) is a woman who spends weeks on/weeks off at an Alaskan seafood processing plant.

As my Nevada years have played out, more and more Californian investors have cast covetous eyes on this state’s land and structures. Seeing them as locust who devour with money, they’ve crossed the Mojave. Here, they purchase rapaciously readily driving up home prices while pushing aside and driving out Nevadans who, for the most part, just don’t have that sort of ready cash on hand. Compared to the Coast, buildings and parcels can be bought for songs here. Yes, even today. Relative to California, even wildly inflated Nevada prices still look like bargains. That’s how hyper West Coast sales are.

When that bubble finally explodes over there it just may remind of the Hindenburg mooring at Lakehurst.

Like investors who’ve sunk money into any enterprise, the goal of absent owners in my complex is maximum return. The idea of being conscientious in real estate is amusing. “Aware” as our era increasingly professes to be, land is not a product but a commodity. A desired one which through the fortune of location can be lucrative.

Using management companies, absentee owners must be reaping admirable profits. Covid only momentarily hampered rent increases and home prices. It didn’t lower or halt them.

Say what many Nevadans will claim about the intrusive nature of Californian authorities into citizens’ lives, the Golden State’s offers its residents rafts of all kinds of protections, social, business, environmental. Compared against those “nanny state” measures Nevada must appear something ideally Darwinian.

Recourses and redresses are comparatively few in the Silver State. For renters that means unfettered increases. For renters who can’t make the monthly nut, it means downgrading accommodations or temporary – one hopes – ad hoc life. In cars. On others’ couches. At its roughest, on pavements subject to the elements.

Knowing they have the upper hand even more so here in Nevada, investors, their management agents, express no qualms about shuffling renters who can pay while dealing out those who can’t or won’t. In an already transient Las Vegas, resident turnover is rapid.

From my first few months here, I’ve determined it’s really useless to acquaint myself with neighbors. The likelihood is they won’t be around for long. So, why bother?

Since profitmaking is the sole name of the game, owners and management companies have cored out many of the standards one might’ve suspected sought in responsible tenants. It seems, at least here, and doubtlessly elsewhere, if the prospective renter can pass checks that don’t bounce they’re in – until they’re out.

At this complex, stable residents have been somewhat lucky that most of our ever-shifting roster of neighbors haven’t been obtrusive. It’s too bad most couldn’t have hung around until familiarity developed. They might’ve helped establish a community.

Our loss. Instead, less reputable ones who have found haven and anchored here are the basis of this post. They make me remember “money is green.” As long as the units they occupy produce revenue, my part of the maintenance burden, as well as that of my fellow owner-occupiers, stays low. That constancy also helps the entire complex’ appreciation increase. Hence my earlier reference to stock and shareholding.

Every owner’s boat at this address rises thanks to that tide.

Nonetheless …

Through last summer until now there’s been a little too much excessive money mongering. What few lightly observed standards regarding renters have fairly vanished. As a more solid neighbor astutely noticed, once owners and management companies raised rent even higher on lease renewals, we could expect heavy outward migration. A certain percentage of tenants were Section 8 recipients. That program has a housing payment threshold. Once rent exceeded it those recipients must vacate this address. Exactly what happened.

Rather than be content with sure payments, owners and management companies decided to forfeit guaranteed money. They sought more in the belief, well, more was out there to get. Give them credit. They took chances. Believing the market could only rise and bear higher asking prices, they exercised free market principles. Principles which must be way looser in Nevada than elsewhere in the nation.

No rent control here. Renters have scant recourses against landlords. And marshals don’t mind evicting at 3 o’clock in the morning.

And while owners and management companies got more monthly pounds of flesh, remaining residents are looking askance at the newer elements sharing our complex.

I’m cutting the Cubans slack. They’re industrious. Besides, coming from where they do, they don’t know how to comport themselves yet. After all, migrating from a collective culture, notions of propriety to them are as foreign as speaking English.

However, Americans lacking any sense of comportment is a different thing. Especially when it comes to their children.

Some young parents who’ve settled their families in this complex, couples whose own parents likely disciplined them laxly, seemingly have abrogated measures which might eventually develop somewhat worthwhile adults. The kids are borderline feral.

Thing is the less domesticated families only wash up at this address on the weekends. Weekdays, the grounds are clean, noise isn’t bothersome. But when Friday arrives and they crash in, litter mushrooms and multiplies. Stereos reach beyond college dorm room blasting. Particularly the bass. None of them speaks in normal tones. They holler. Whatever door can be slammed is. Often. Often repeatedly.

Yet the worst endurance of obliviousness is the children’s ease with vulgarity. From adults in the wrong situations it’s bad enough. However, hearing preschoolers and prepubescents curse and denigrate others around and before their indulgent, approving, careless parents astounds.

No doubt there’s a faulty school of parenting which promotes such negligent grooming. It’s probably viewed as “toughening children.” No, it only transforms them into callous people. And this will limit them in any future that matters.

Even as an adult I rarely dropped f-bombs or scatology within my parents’ hearing. Same with my contemporaneous relatives and friends. Our elders didn’t behave in such a manner before us. We followed this and as much as I’m aware, we continued this practice before our inheritors/successors until they entered their own adulthoods.

But these children are learning it from their parents. Not in schoolyards. Not by pop culture. Nor infection through insidious dreams. Mom and dad.

Recently I reread Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. An 1893 novella chronicling the harshness of tenement life in Gilded Age New York City, my neighbors’ kids unfortunately have plenty in common with the story’s brawling urchins.

Though the present-day minors aren’t begrimed or bedraggled, they possess identical attitudes. They’ve learned to respect nothing but shouted invective, nearly mortal threats, and the short, sharp shocks inflicted by beating others or received by getting beat.

To them, vengeance is reward.

The Las Vegas practitioners of slipshod parenting swan around entitled. Long as they’ve been our neighbors, none has bothered inquiring whether their noise, their children, their behavior disturbs me or anyone else.

It’s immaterial to them to be concerned about others outside themselves. The rest of us don’t matter.

When they encounter someone older with bearing, anyone who carries him- or herself assuredly, they wilt instinctively. Heads bowed. Eyes cast down. Stature shortened by slumped shoulders. I gather these gibbons are aware they’re falling short as adults. But let them commune with those equally as shallow and self-centered, it’s a plummet to the bottom to see who can be the loudest, crudest, cruelest, and most insipid.

It’s easy imagining these couples, their children, spending the school/workweek in some small tight-assed community beyond the Mojave Mecca. That environment probably feels more confining to them than solitary may to a jailed prisoner.

During their times here in Las Vegas they must believe whatever constraints exist are formed by cotton candy. Or better, don’t apply to them.

I live on a second floor. Only on weekends am I acutely aware of the concrete deck spanning the north and south staircases. Its trembling registers inside my apartment.

Feet bare, the parents’ heels stomp the plank with vehemence enough to make one wonder whether they’d grown up on dirt floors. Bad as that is, the kids’ own barefoot percussion could be heard as carpet bombing. They seldom walk past my door. It’s almost as if they consciously run along the front of my apartment, their bare feet pounding concrete like so many stones tumbling from burlap bags.

At night, ostensibly a quieter time, muffled video games rumble against our common walls. Yet even in the deepest part of nights, when the volume finally recedes and becomes much less thunderous, the atmosphere seems eerie.

The muted roars and explosions loop with an unchanging pattern.

I want to suspect the parents have sedated their children, then drugged themselves into stupor as inane video game violence serves as “white noise.” These particular moms and dads fit that demographic.

How soon until their children report that “mommy and daddy won’t wake up!”? How probable these urchins will wind up wards in a system less picaresque than what waited many of Crane’s fictional creations?