OK, once I moved into this $545-a-month place, I understood that, though I was 44 and long past my own loud college years, I was, nonetheless, also geographically going back in time, to a place where people, in 2010, did indeed live in $545-a-month apartments -- college kids and really poor people, i.e., people who tend to be loud.
I had a house that I rented in Austin from 2000 to 2007. From 2008 to 2010, in NJ, I lived in a duplex above a 70-year-old couple. There were rarely any noise problems. (In Austin, I bitched about a neighbor's band once, and about a DJ living next door who came home from clubs and played loud music after 4am several times. The guy moved after a couple of months. In NJ, sometimes groups of teenagers would sit on the wall outside the duplex in the summer. When that happened, I'd go outside and smoke a cigarette on the porch. Nothing chases away teens like an adult just... sitting there.)
Since I moved into this apartment in late June 2010, it's been pretty quiet, considering the environment. The neighbors below and to the right are completely silent. (Does anyone even live there?) The neighbor to the left... I heard him having loud sex with his girlfriend once. And in the 5 weeks that I've lived here, he's cranked up his music to annoying levels maybe twice a week. But always during reasonable hours: In the afternoon, or in the morning after 11am, or at night around 9pm. Those hours seemed reasonable to me. No reason to complain.
Tonight (Sunday night), though, the guy came home after 1:30am and turned the stereo up... I sat here, while on my computer, listening to his bass pounding through my walls and wondering what to do... After all of my years of living around others, here's what I've learned: Usually, when you knock on a neighbor's door to complain, they're hostile. However politely you state your case. They're hostile. 80% of the time. (God bless the 20% who say they're sorry for disturbing you!)
After living with my extremely anal mother for over two months, and after acknowledging internally that I was now living in a cheap apartment and not in a house and so I shouldn't expect any quiet, I'd told myself that I was NOT going to complain about any neighbors... I did good about this guy's stereo up until tonight at 2am...
Finally, I broke my non-complaining vow and went and knocked on the neighbor's door. I was apologetic -- "Hi. Sorry for bothering you" -- and then: "I live next door. Can I ask you a favor?" He immediately said: "Turn it down?" I gratefully nodded: "Yes. Thank you." He smiled, shut the door, turned down his stereo. No bad vibes.
p.s. At 3:30am, the bass through the walls started up again; I had to go back over to the neighbors' at 4am, this time banging on their door a little louder and being a little less polite. I'm trying in my life to be a little more Buddha-like, but... and here's the sad thing: Sometimes Buddha doesn't work and you've got to fucking hit people over the head with an old-school/Old Testament Christian verbal crowbar -- IT'S 4AM! SHUT THE FUCK UP!