So I'm pretty sure its not my imagination, my neighborhood is headed downhill fast. For eight years, I lived less than 1/2 mile away from my current neighborhood. Closest thing we saw to a crime was watching *ahem* classy Tufts women have to endure a rooftop party thrown by beer-is-everything Tufts guys.
Fast forward to my current neighborhood, maybe its because I purposefully chose this neighboorhood because of the low rent, maybe it really is the economy, stupid. Maybe it is my super-duper new-parent sense of the community.
Since my son was born: High school kids walking down the street got into a fist fight in front of my house having body slammed most fo the cars on the street(in a snowstorm, so that must have been super fun), wrote profanities in the snow and when they noticed me observing them from the comfort of my living room window, threatened me with physical violence . They(someone?) got in the habit of letting the air out of my tires at night.
My car has been looted. I had questioned the 'investigating officer' (Mr. Its-too-expensive-to-bother-dusting-for-prints) about how frequently this sort of thing happens and isn't it likely that the local kids are looking for drug-money, and is there any correlation to be draw from the locations of the break-ins, because if anyone has that data, its you right? "No, no correlations, totally random". 'Sif.
Attempting to connect with said popo, in my best Tony Soprano voice: "But who steels a guys gym-bag? Whadda they want wid dat? Its not the money I care about (truth, t'was petty squirrelage). That's just disrespectful! Its not right, you know what I'm sayin'?" The next day, my gym bag unceremoniously (and anonymously) returned to my street, complete with unfenceable, non-monetary contents, four houses down of course after a side-street. For-real.
Both playgrounds in our neighborhood are frequently littered with 'adolescent' trash; cigarette butts, beer cans and I shudder to think what we don't see. Our formerly favorite playground has been vandalized at least 5 times that I know of (some reports involve actual human feces), and the police quite literally refused to accost the perpetrators in the act.
More to the point of paranoia: The (jackass) neighbor across the street has yelled profanities at me and my family with practically no provocation (in front of his probably 5 year old daughter), he's since bought a pit-bull puppy. complete with choke collar. Judging from the language he used, I'd guess that he's either done some hard-time in prison, or on much meaner streets that I'd be comfortable raising a human being near. He drives a Mercedes-esque Acura with serious bling rims. He has dreds, wears winter coats with the hood up in the summertime, and occasionally receives visitors who blair rastafarian music.
Now if you're still reading, you're probably thinking, "Ah ha, you're a racist f&cker" and wagging your finger in the Lewis Black style... well having grown up in the whitest part of the country, I try to be very aware of the spectre of racism. Well last night, I was taking the boy for a walk. As we passed Mr. Wintercoat's house, I spied a very tiny square ziplock bag on the sidewalk. Now having led a purposefully clean life, I wouldn't have known the significance or most-likely uses of that tiny bag (about the size of a dime) if it weren't for Hollywood. Specifically the movie "Rush". Well I was taught that racism is changing ones behavior based on the racial attributes of another. I understand that the world is a complicated place but when does "benefit of the doubt" become racism?
So I am well aware that just about everything I've described could be dismissed as 'circumstantial'. Very funny thing is, Mr. WC's landlord, also his common-law brother-in-law (who in the four years I've lived there has been very reluctant to make eye-contact or hold a conversation, quite uncharacteristic of this proud gregarious Italian neighborhood), when I sought to inform him about his lodger's combative nature informed me that he is a former popo, now collecting his pension so of course his lodger-in-not-law must be a good upstanding citizen.
Which popo you might ask? Now given that I'm paranoid, which popo would make the most sense as having drug connections, having the best oh-crap factor? Not that I know Mass very well, but Dorchester would definitely be in my top five. DING DING DING. To add to my paranoia, my first thought being, "Wow, he seems young to be collecting a pension, well I have heard that popo-pensions were good", my second thought being "How can you afford that recent model Caddy, your three other cars, expenses from your teenage daughters _and_ your mortgage on a popo's pension?" I've often heard that two-families were a great way to increase cash-flow.
To top things off, only the second smashed car window I've seen happened this weekend, four houses down, after a side-street, from Mr. WC and friends(other direction from gym bag, wouldn't want to be obvious). I'm told it was because they had Maine plates, people who travel are more likely to have stuff in their cars. Local old-guy at the playground (former see-bee from the war) recommended to tell the local popo we'd like to form a neighborhood patrol to protect the playgrounds. At this point, I feel sad for the people who own houses there, and saddly am not at all sure I want to invest any more of my time in this neighborhood. On the bright side, maybe housing prices will follow?