Quite an amusing story in the News today, a variation on a timeless theme in suburbia: There goes the neighborhood:
GROSSE POINTE — When Joe Rippolone parked the lime-yellow fire truck on the cobblestones in front of his century-old carriage house on Washington Road, his well-heeled neighbors did not know quite what to make of it.
“It’s just not a property in the character of Grosse Pointe,” said Dick Doerer, who lived next door, until he sold that home to his son, John, a few weeks ago.
“Have you noticed the two concrete lions on the big rock pile? There are more rocks there than anywhere this side of Sing-Sing.”
Then, Rippolone — the plumber husband of Henry Ford’s great-great-granddaughter Elena Ford — put a life-size painted statue of a Clydesdale in the front yard. Its head stares over the fence — and neighbors’ heads wagged all the more.
“Well, I’m from the Bronx,” Rippolone says in his own defense. “I guess I’m used to doing things a little bit different.”
I encourage you to click through to the picture. The Clydesdale is hilarious. I guess I’m going to have to put Washington Road on my bike-riding route and see this for myself.
Now, there are two schools of thought on the neighbors’ decor: My Property, My Rules vs. Keep Up Your Lawn. The MPMR folks, when not filing fevered blog posts about “post-Kelo America,” are busy defending their right to paint their goddamn houses purple, and if you don’t like it, well, don’t look at it. Sometimes they do.
The KUYL types worry about every little detail of your property. (They don’t worry about their own; that’s your job.) Sometimes they live in communities where a committee led by bitchy queens decides what sort of window treatment you can use, because while they may not come into your house, they can see the backside of your drapes from the sidewalk, and they don’t like them.
I sit between the camps. If I were renting, I’d probably be happy to live in the MPMR neighborhood, on the very real chance the neighbors would be more fun, or at least interesting. If I were buying, I’d go with KUYL and turn the basement into a freak pad. The latter would be a better investment.
MPMR people like to think of themselves as proud individualists, flinty libertarians, the sort of people who made America great. Frequently this is a self-delusion covering for the fact they’re really too lazy to cut the grass more than once every six weeks, move the moldy couch off the porch and the auto parts off the front steps.
KUYL are incredibly sensitive to perceived changes in property values. They’re like a herd of nervous gazelles, ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble, in this case, the dandelions on your lawn. They like to “encourage neighborhood pride” by giving out monthly awards for Best Use of Geraniums (Window Box Division).
Oh, well. I could go on all day. I think the best single comment, though, was on the DetNews comment boards, and it captured a certain GP je nais sais quoi perfectly: It’s in bad taste. Period. And it would be in bad taste in any neighborhood in any city, except maybe Warren.
Also, that “the plumber husband of Henry Ford’s great-great-grandaughter” would be a great name for a band.
Share your tales of MPMR/KUYL types in the comments, if you wish.