This year, on the other hand, was an entirely 'nother matter. We were trying to spend a quiet weekend at home while pyr8queen studies for the bar, but did step out to run some errands and get exercise. When we walked out during the block party, I only saw one or two actual neighbors, the rest of the people were what can best be described as "dirtbags". Venice is chock-a-block with dirtbags during the Summer. For the rest of the year our homeless are quite harmless, if a little spooky or kooky. But in the Summer, like ill-behaved birds migrating home to roost, we get a ton of dirty, substance-abusing young people probably on walkabout between college semesters. They squat in flocks on the beach, are loud and obstreperous, and frequently use our streets as a toilet. This is just life in Venice, however, and once school starts back up in the fall, they and their 40oz Coors Lites will return to whence they came.
But somehow, this crowd got wind of the block party, and was out in force. Walking through the crowd to go out to the car for dinner, I felt like Merry and Pippin in the Prancing Pony (in the movies, not the books) - a huge crowd of dirty, surly people standing around. When we returned the crowd was even rowdier, and as the night wore on, it got more and more shouty. Generally the bums in Venice are too stoned to be loud - they're busy agreeing with each other about how awesome each other's taste in music is or something. I approve of stoned bums. But drunken bums are prone to shouting and fighting and bellicosity. Some of them were up on the roof of my building, setting off a fire alarm that would not shut off. Others were directly in front of my apartment, and had an hours-long shouting match with each other. From time to time I'd peek out at them, to see dirtbags jabbing grimy fingers at each other, and shouting, shouting, shouting. At one point one of the neighbors from another building asked me "Did you see that?"
I said, "See what?"
He said, "Good, never mind. If you didn't see it, it doesn't matter."
It's a shame that drunken, shouting dirtbags actually made me miss the jackbooted thug-cops of the previous year.