Basketball downtown = Complaints

The day my roll-away rim fell through my car’s windshield, it had to go.

I got the rim for free using
I could not believe my luck the day I saw the availability listed in my inbox “subject” line. I had recently moved, and I didn’t have a rim nearby. I will grow to be the size of a house if I don’t play a couple of times per week. It was a victorious moment getting this behemoth out of the lady’s driveway and into Phog Lounge’s truck. It was the most dangerous drive I’ve ever taken, as it wanted to tumble out of the truck bed at the slightest degree change in direction. Turning a corner was almost impossible. It was so traumatic, getting it to my house, I think I blocked out most of the trip.

I do remember the woman who gave it to me, when she said, “We have to get rid of it, it fell and almost went through my neighbour’s kitchen window. There was a wind storm.”

Fast forward to the decision to bring this basketball hoop to Phog. It had to leave my house. Dreaming of having it somewhere close to (attached to) Phog was something I thought unfathomable. Why?
But, when I dragged it downtown (literally dragging it out the back of my minivan, scraping the road at every minor dip) Frank really didn’t say a thing. It was a bit of a miracle. I always hoped I would catch him shooting hoops when driving downtown one day, but it never happened.
Getting the rim to Phog was harder than getting it to my house. I had to stop twice, as it was falling out of the back of my van. These things are shaped like very tall esses. Like the letter “s” only thin and tall. No matter how you place it, it stays virtually the same shape. It was hell. I had to drive with one hand on the wheel, and one hand pulling ceaselessly on the hoop.
Unloading it was like finishing a major home renovation. I was making something new!

Customers could shoot a few hoops, joining my love for the game with their love for beer and music. People would play before we opened, while we were open, and after we closed. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before from the music community.

“Hey, wanna go shoot some hoops? Yeah? Hey Tom, can we get the ball?” became something I was beginning to hear more and more. I enjoyed hearing it more and more often. Even better was hearing the basketball (extremely faint) bouncing in the alley that I had swept clean for the first time in five years of business. The grit, the garbage, the homeless disjectamenta, bottle-caps from proprietors passed were all push-broomed out of sight, all for the sake of the game.

I played every chance I got. When I wasn’t biking to work, AND when I was, I would arrive and shoot baskets alone, until inevitably, a passerby would stop and say, “Can I get a shot?”

Of course, I gave them a shot, which turned into 20 shots. Yes, there were some people who actually could play, and there were screwballs wanting to show off for their young sons. There were shirtless weasels and weasels of another kind…lawyers heading to their parked cars. Normally, this trek consisted of a slight realization that they were standing next to the Capitol Theatre. Especially before Dave Kant added his giant artwork to the south end of the alley-wall of Phog. Now there was a reason to engage someone they had never met.

The dry cleaner across the street is a Chinese man. Metro Dry Cleaners. I’ve never said a word to him. Never needed to. I don’t dry clean anything. But when he saw me shooting one day, he meandered over University Avenue and nodded at me. We simply exclaimed how great it was to have the rim out there. Did I bring it from home? Yes, I told him. Great idea, he said. He took a shot. Just one. I invited him to shoot any time he wanted.

My main worry was that it would get torn down by local assholes out on Friday or Saturday night. I fully expected it to be vandalized, like many other good things downtown can be. Surprisingly, it is one of the only pieces of property that isn’t festooned with a god damn Denial sticker. Sorry Dan, but give me a break already.

Local and touring bands have found energy-inducing fun with this rim’s short life. You Say Party, We Say Die! and members of Winter Gloves had a two-on-two battle with myself included.
Here’s some video evidence.

Andrew MacLeod and I had an epic one-on-one game, after he had played on a Saturday evening and was liberally lubricated to the point that I could actually win the game. We played in what we had on. I in my Chuck Taylors, and he in his sandals. Jeans and corduroys were our uniforms. George Manury, a southpaw, shot baskets with me one afternoon after he planned to do so. It was a chance to talk to him without the usual social distractions I face when talking with him during business hours. It was great.

If you want to understand downtown Windsor on a weekend, imagine Mardi Gras. There might be more American kids between 19 and 21 than there are on Bourbon Street. It is a throng of alcohol-fueled hormonal outbursts, speckled with violence, drowned in stupidity. Imagine the sound of that. Imagine how loud, how overtly raucous this would be every weekend. Got it? Okay, I’ll continue.

After a show, one Saturday night, a couple of the customers want to shoot some hoops while I’m closing the bar. They take the ball and shoot around. When I finish my duties, I exit the building to get the ball, but I take a few shots first. I think I remember Ryan Fields making a shot from the street (!) which is almost 40 feet away. Nice! I also remember seeing the flashing lights of an ambulance down the alley toward the North. Not unusual. Someone pummeled someone else for looking at them the wrong way. So macho. People are screaming and yelling at each other as the bars empty.
“Hey bitch! Where you goin’?”
“Fuck you, dude!”
“Wait up!!”
“Stop!! Cabbie!! Stop! Fuck!”

This is the language and tone of the streets of Windsor on the weekend. Living downtown would be awful for this reason. Alas, if you choose to live downtown, you’re kind of up shit’s creek without a paddle because you chose to live in the city-centre where activity is encouraged. I suppose if I didn’t want to experience this I would live on the outskirts of downtown, rather than on ground zero.

As we are playing, a police car approaches.
“Shut it down fellas. We got a noise complaint.”
We looked at each other, frozen, wondering how anyone could actually complain about a bouncing ball with the most ridiculous noise happening steadily for the previous 10 years, let alone the previous 20 minutes.
We stopped.
We went home.

A couple of weeks later, an un-uniformed police officer comes into Phog. Nice guy. He tells me that if we get another complaint about the basketball, it will be bad. Very bad. Very costly. Someone in the Victoria Park Place apartments has complained. I asked if it was possible for someone else to complain, without just cause, was I still culpable and punishable?
“Just don’t play anymore,” he said.
“Like, I can still play during the day, right, the noise bylaw is after 11pm, right?”
“Nope,” he said, pulling out an official piece of paper, “your license says that you have to abide by the noise bylaw 24 hours a day.”
I remember shaking my head a little, like a cartoon character shaking away the cobwebs after a fall.
“Okay,” I said reluctantly.

Since then, it got cold, then it snowed. No b-ball.
But when it warms up, I might just have to draft a letter to the residents of that building.
I might have to inform them of our willingness to play only before a certain time of night.
They need to know what petty complaints are going to do to a small community. A community of people began engaging one another in a way that was absent before the installation of the hoop. That engagement will dissolve.
And yes, I have a problem with someone sitting in their castle balcony, making phone calls about noise (in a place where noise is environmentally apt) adversely affecting a community-at-large.

This is a classic Windsor thing, where someone makes noise complaints on a night when there is such a din, you can’t tell one sound from another.
It’s like choosing to live at the end of an airport runway, and then calling to file a noise complaint, to ground all future flights. Consider your surroundings before you decide to move in and reign supreme over your dominion.
There is more at stake than you can see from your perch.


21 responses to “Basketball downtown = Complaints

  1. That is such crap. Most of the people who live in that building are major boozehounds who party it up at all hours of the night.

    I guess that means the alley patio/biergarten is a for sure no-go.

    Oh well.

  2. there is definitely ways to object to that complaint or fight a ticket for noise violations. the treehouse has had many run ins with the city over noise complaints and all have been tossed because of lack of guidelines. there are no hours, no decibal levels to adhere to, nothing. its ridiculous. its up to the enforcement officer at the time to determine if its too loud or not. we’ll look int it before spring time so i can teach you how to shoot.

  3. I’m sad I missed this when it existed. I hope the letter is effective because that hoop is such a good idea.

  4. Rino’s gonna kick your ass, Lucier!

    Again, it can’t be an arbritrary thing. There must be guidelines, but I understand your reluctance to fight it.

    You’d have to accept the fact that Rino’s a better shot than you are if you didn’t.

  5. Hey Tom,

    We lived downtown (corner of university and pelisier for 3 years.. and you’re right.. its noisy ALL the time. Anyone complaining from up high on their balcony has issues. You should hire a lawyer, or at least consult with one. There is am outdoor hoop at the firehall downtown.. do nerby apartments complain about that?

  6. its all good smack talk but i will kick your ass in a shoot out! don’t bother with the video tom, i’ve seen you play. don’t you remember that i was one of the people that taught you how to play way back in the saint andrew’s gym. i like how chris trusts that i can shoot better than you. interesting.

  7. Wow, are you serious, i live over at VPP, at a bounceing ball, there is no way you can hear that! WoW over the drunk screams and the traffic, a basketball, wow give it up! I hear the music from the bars a few blocks away till 2am a few nights a week! but a ball common! Wow such BS

  8. I do love the idea of a hoop down there and I agree with everything you said about bringing people who would otherwise not acknowledge each other together… and I think the person who made a noise complaint should worry about the real noise makers downtown, however I don’t agree with the idea that choosing to live downtown means you have to accept the noise as part of the package. I live right downtown as well and it is annoying to hear tough guys, sluts, ginos and douches yell at each other about how fuckin sweet there night was, but there are tons of other reasons why I chose/need to live there that accompanied my decision. Just because it’s prevalent doesn’t make it right or okay. If the city started handing out noise violation tickets to those people that are acting like dick holes they would make a fortune. Basically I’m saying just because someone chose to live somewhere doesn’t mean they should not have a right to the same basic values of common courtesy and respect other communities enforce.

    That being said, I would not call the cops on a friendly bball game. I would suit up and dunk on you. Especially MacCleods drunkin’ as.

    • Awesome reply. The dunking comment made me laugh out loud. Congratulations.
      I do have an issue with the living downtown and noise…If you move into this area, you HAVE TO ACCEPT some noise. The stupid, disrespectful, shouting, swearing thing is a totally different thing. That is NEVER cool. When it comes to cars, bass kicking out of bars, the general crowd noise…people who live downtown DO have to live with it. They DO have to surrender to that fact.

  9. sean can’t really dunk. he’s the weakest big guy you’ve ever seen. it would make for a good game, me and sean vs you (tom) and macleod. we would obviously win but it might be nice to let you guys try hard. after the thaw. game on.

  10. hey, as long as it’s noise from booze, drugs, or hos, or police brutality, it’s all acceptable. any of that healthy shit like b-ball should be banned because it doesn’t make any money!

    / sarcasm

  11. Yeah I totally agree with you there tom… that’s the kind of noise that is natural to a downtown environment. I was fine with it when I lived in TO, in fact I kinda liked it, put me to sleep better. It’s the outbursts of bull ish like you said that are the bother. And how does Rino go from taking pot shots at my game to drafting me on his team in one post?

  12. long as nobody drafts me! I don’t do that “physical” thing.

    I say get that rim back up and we push this “noise-by-law” envelope like the Tree House did.

  13. This would be ridiculous anywhere except…beloved downtown Windsor. I live in that building and a few months ago someone went around to all of the apartments asking us to complain about specific noise issues. When I told him I didn’t have any (besides my nextdoor neighbours who are hard of hearing) he said he could offer a few suggestions that I could report. I told him I wasn’t interested and after years of living with a streetcar passing my bedroom window every five minutes, a group of kids puking on the side of the road every weekend wasn’t such a big deal. I’m with you, Tom. With real estate prices like they are in Windsor, these guys could be living twenty minutes away in an enormous house with nothing at all to bother them except their own crotchety selves. Alas, money talks. Too bad it has no idea what it’s talking about.

    • Becky…you’re so awesome!
      “Alas, money talks. Too bad it has no idea what it’s talking about.”
      So perfect.
      Thank you for the support.
      I am, without exaggerating, very concerned that the people in this building actually go door-to-door trying to create unrest and complaints about noise.
      Holy shit.

  14. i just noticed you posted videos. lol it boggles my mind because i watched it with volume at max and i could barely hear any talking or anything. one of the quietest games i’ve ever seen and thats what they complained about. i’m going to stand on the corner of park and pelissier and yell all night after work at BKB and i bet my life nobody will say a damn thing.

  15. I used to live in that building.
    There’s a few old assholes who like to whine about everything. You see them sometimes at city council complaining about things like this, and trying to change by-laws because they don’t like the noise. I agree with the post completely, if you don’t like it, move to a suburb.

  16. Downtown Residents Association

    Good day.

    There are many issues with regards to noise, especially from VPP residents. However, I doubt your basketball game was cause for any issue at that building. The officer that came along was more interested in getting any issue resolved so he could go on his merry way.

    As for people looking into noise issues at VPP, there was a meeting to be held about the noise problems downtown (moreso music blaring too loudly from bars than people walking home or playing a round of b-ball) . That is why they may have been trying to find out what problems you may have had Becky. However, they should not have been trying to “push” the issue with you. If you have no problems, you have no problems.

    That being said, if there are any further issues it would be great if you could contact the Downtown Residents Association (John Sheridan from VPP is also on that board as is Rhys Trenhaile also from VPP) so that we may look into the issue for you.
    The last thing this association is trying to do is create issues for good business neighbours such as Phog. In fact we are working with the DWBIA and their new Executive Director in order to facilitate better dialogue between businesses downtown and the residents. We want to be a unified force for the downtown in order to get city hall off of their butts and to make downtown a priority, not an after thought. we are also looking to bring more people to live downtown, and thus increase business for existing merchants while increasing their numbers as well.

    I ask that those who live downtown to please come out to the next general meeting to voice any concerns you have about your downtown. What can we all do to make it a better place, how can we attract new business, people, residents and h0w we can live in harmony.

    People are correct in that a downtown will be noiser than most other neighbourhoods.
    However, instilling a 4:00am bar closing in order to clean up the blood, puke, glass and trash off of the streets and keep some levels of noise to acceptable levels (a b-ball game is hardly loud considering the kids screaming. Where are the police to control that?) . I hardly think that consitutes people benig assholes. In fact it is a smart decision for both residents and businesses in order to achieve the goals outlined above. The studies throught N. America prove it.

    I for one applaud the idea of the basketball net. I wish we had more downtown.

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