My wife and I have lived at [elided] in Brighton since 1997. At least a third of the residential units on our block are rental units, most of which are rented to a different set of Boston College students each year. Some years are good: the students are respectful of the neighborhood, keep the noise down, and keep things clean. Some years are bad: the students host loud, rowdy, outdoor parties until all hours of the night; get drunk; throw plastic cups, beer bottles and cans everywhere; throw up or urinate in the street; set off fireworks under cars; etc.
Although we never know what we’re going to get in terms of students, we do have a pretty good idea of what we are going to get from the police department, which is that when we call the department at 2:00am on a Sunday morning because the students are playing Denis Leary’s “Cause I’m an Asshole” at top volume out of an open window, drunkenly screaming along, and waking up the entire neighborhood, and we call 911 and ask for someone to come do something about it, the odds are that nobody is going to show up.
About a week and a half ago, one of the students living on our block for the summer approached me as I was leaving my car and said the following: “Hi. You live across the street, right? Some of my friends are in a blues band, and we’re hoping to have them do a little performance from our porch on Saturday afternoon. We wanted to check with the neighbors to make sure it’s OK. Is that OK with you?”
I told him that my wife and I liked music and had no problem at all with a daytime performance. I was very impressed that he took the time to check with me and (I assume) our other neighbors.
On Saturday afternoon the band, Original Gravity, showed up and started playing. My wife and I were sitting on our porch very much enjoying the free concert, when, after only a few songs, not one but two D-14 police cruisers showed up. After the police spoke for a few minutes with the student who had previously spoken to us, the band announced that they had been ordered to end the concert, and that was the end of it.
After the police left, I went over and asked the band members what had happened. They said that someone had called the police and complained. They also said that the city requires a permit for a live band performance, and they didn’t have one, so the police ordered them to stop playing. Finally, they said that they had called city hall all week trying to get just such a permit, and no one had returned any of their calls.
The band was no louder than a loud stereo would have been. It was good music, and it wasn’t hurting anybody.
It’s simply mind-boggling to me that the same police who can’t be troubled to show up when a drunken party is disturbing the peace on our block at 2:00am, have no trouble at all showing up within a few minutes to shut down a relatively quiet party, with good music, in the middle of the day, on the basis of a single complaint from a single sourpuss resident.
It’s also incomprehensible that these students don’t need a permit to hold a raucus, alcohol-driven party at all hours of the night, but they do need one to have some friends play some live music on their porch in the middle of the day. Asinine doesn’t begin to cover it.
The band wasn’t a public nuisance, but shutting it down certainly was. I assure you that my wife and I do not believe that our quality of life was improved by the policemen’s actions.