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My Block: The Neighborhood As a Mixtape

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It came from inside the house. Or rather, from below: The very familiar sounds of someone learning to play bass. And not just that: Learning to play "Iron Man." Then, 15 minutes later, came another sound from across the hall: Pink Floyd's "Money" at full blast, as if to negate Black Sabbath. I turned my music up louder too. This was ridiculous. Had I somehow fallen into a wormhole back to my sophomore year of college?

No, I'm an adult, and I have to resist the urge to tell other adults to shut the fuck up in the middle of the day, but the one thing I noticed when I moved into my East Dallas neighborhood was music. It was always in the air: Outside, blaring from a passing car or, since January has decided to bless us with 70-degree days, wafting from an open window.

So I decided to do a little experiment on a Sunday afternoon. I started at one end of my block and kept walking, making a mental mixtape.

Press play.

Right on cue, there was the familiar jangle of the ice cream cart. Tejano music came wafting out of one open window on the second floor of an apartment building. A car drove by blaring REO Speedwagon's "Take It On the Run," segueing seamlessly into a crying baby, who was throwing a tantrum on the sidewalk several feet behind her mother, who was holding a yapping, shivering terrier. I offered a smile.

Farther up, two young men sat on a stoop, listening to a sternum-rattling track in someone's still-running truck. After inquiring as to what they're listening to (Alley Boy), I'm offered a peace pipe.

Fast forward.

If I'm home in the early evening, I always hear this odd whooping sound. Today I discovered the source: A woman toting two Styrofoam containers behind her. She's selling tah-mah-lehhhhhhs, but there's something almost tribal about the pitch and cadence of her voice. Also, I am high.

Farther up, there was a church with its doors halfway open, spiritual hymns and hand-claps fluttering out. Farther up, a car drove by blasting more heavy bass. I only caught the phrase "That's my dick's name," but it caused another car's alarm to go off. Did you know that in South Florida, wild parrots perfectly mimic the sequence of your standard car alarm?

Rewind.

Classical music streamed from one older house on a corner. There was a hardcore band practicing in the next. Selena? Do I hear Selena? I closed my eyes and walked in the direction of Selena.

Stop.

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