Neighbour from Hell


underneath the stairwell parkdale toronto

(This article appeared in Unbelievably Bad  Magazine)

Being a broke-ass-honky-starving-artist isn’t that bad in western society. It’s not like you are actually going to starve to death. If worse comes to worse you may have to eat at soup kitchens – which are great for new material.

Finding new accommodation can be a real pain in the cunt however, especially when the vacancy rates are less than one percent as they were in the late 90s in Toronto. So when my syruplovin’ buddy told me he had room to rent for next to nothing, I jumped at the chance.

My mate’s place was at 66 Lansdowne Avenue in Parkdale (AKA ‘Crackdale’) and was an old two storey house that had been separated into a downstairs and upstairs rental.

The first time I met our downstairs neighbour was on my second day there. I was having a chat with my housemate on the front porch when she swung open the door and started screaming abuse at him. She was just over five foot tall and looked almost 200kgs.

Her hair was all over the place and had bits of Doritos suspended in it. She wore an oversized white shirt to her knees and it was smeared all over her left tit region with ketchup and stuff. My mate screamed back at her and they made a racket together.

Later on he explained the situation. Apparently, she was very combative and regularly accused my flatmates of all kinds of atrocities. Their nickname for her was ‘Jabba’ or ‘The Hut’ and I quickly abbreviated it to ‘Jabsy’ which stuck. I determined that there were much better ways to deal with someone of her temperament.

My chance to test my new theories weren’t long in coming. One night as I came home from a gig, her door swung open and she let rip, “you are always playing that horrible music and I can’t fuckin’ sleep!” (my room was above hers)

I apologised sweetly and assured her that it wouldn’t happen again. She was taken aback with this approach but quickly gathered her senses, “Is it you that keeps making that horrible grunting noise? It only started when you moved in!”

She was referring of course to an extremely loud and disturbing groaning noise that I would make upon entering my abode as an unofficial greeting salutation. My house mates would reciprocate and the effect was quite disturbing. At times I have referred to this sound as one that “retards fucking” would make and at other times, “the mournful bailing of hermaphrodites.” Anyway, I explained to Jabsy that I had a “touch of bother with the old throat but nothing that a good rest wouldn’t cure.” Again she was utterly perplexed by this answer. She snapped “well don’t do it again!” and slammed the door.

I promptly entered my abode and let out a protracted retards fucking noise to which my housemates enthusiastically reciprocated. Then I went into my room and turned up GBH to full volume.

Shortly after, the other housemates moved out and I became the leaseholder. I got my friend Phil to move in and quickly realised that he would make a terrific scapegoat. Despite our differences, I often helped Jabsy out with repairs and chores she couldn’t do. The thing was, if I helped her out once she expected me to do it again without asking. Like taking out the garbage frinstance. She let it build up yet would never confront me directly about. She started harassing Phil to tell me to take it out. When this didn’t work Jabsy left a note under my door:


Hi Drew,

The trash is building up and starting to smell. Please take it out before raccoons and other animals start to come – you have the croc hunter accent ha ha!

Ps. I told Phil to do it but he obviously hasn’t passed this onto you.


I wrote her back a letter and signed it from Phil-


Hi Judy,

Drew has taken to his bed and you probably won’t see him for some time. I would help you with the garbage except my hands are very dainty and I don’t want to get smeared by the rancid discharge that you classify as ‘trash’ Please hurry up and throw it out or I will be forced to telephone the police.

 Love and kisses,

God bless you,



Jabsy tore the letter up into pieces of confetti and jammed it under my door. The next time she saw me she was in paroxysms of rage.

“That stupid bastard says he has dainty hands!”

I agreed with everything she said, shaking my head sadly. Then I saw a perfect opportunity to up the ante. I had recently been in a completely unrelated fight and copped a good right hook that had split my eyebrow wide open. I pointed to it and explained a few home truths.

“See that? The other night Phil was playing his music real loud at 2a.m. I knocked politely on his door and asked him to please turn it down. He smashed a bottle in my face.”

Jabsy was quite shocked by this so I went with it.

“He is very violent, you need to be careful- you know of course that he is a Nazi?”

She didn’t seem that concerned with the whole Nazi thing so I did a John Cleese Hitler impersonation to drive the point home. Still she didn’t flinch. Then I explained to her that he was a ‘gay Nazi’ and she fairly lost it.

“He’s a faggot?! That homo bastard!”

“Yes – a gay Nazi, he always has his Nazi mates around for butt fucking parties – I don’t know what to do.”

“But what about his girlfriend?”

I had forgotten about that small detail.

“She’s a front – nothing more.”

With this exchange, Phil became the official scapegoat. Drawings of cock and balls in a love heart superimposed over a swastika started appearing on our stoop – obviously the work of a gay Nazi. Jabsy’s backyard filled with empty 40 ounce bottles – no doubt the sinister detritus of a Nazi fuelled gay orgy.

Even by my standards the noise pollution was extreme, but I lived with a violent homosexual national socialist, what could I possibly do? Jabsy’s hatred of Phil became pathological and we bonded over our perceived victimisation at his evil hands. I told her repeatedly that I was “working on a permanent solution to our shared dilemma” and that she got off easily, at least she didn’t live in the same house as the prick.

I regaled her with stories of his insane behaviour. Like how Phil had removed all the light bulbs from our place and lurked around in the dark with a pair of night vision goggles and watched me from the bathtub as I got up for a nocturnal urination. Naturally, I filled Phil in on the latest developments and he found it highly amusing.

At the time I had built a MAME tabletop in the kitchen. Me and my mates would sit around all night, punchin’ cones, doin’ rails and poundin’ 40s and playing all the old video arcade games. Intermittently, I would demand one of my pals to scream abuse out the kitchen window as this backed up onto Jabsy’s bedroom window. Whenever it was my turn to scream out the window I would put on my best Canadian accent to fool Jabsy.

“Hey buddy, do ya wanna suck the fuckin’ shit outta my bunghole ay?” I would bellow into the night and follow it up with a protracted retards fucking noise.

Then as a piece de resistance I would gather up all the empty bottles and dump them down the stairwell. The racket was unbelievable; especially considering it was usually around 4am. Then on cue Jabsy would start pounding on the door and shrieking like a banshee. I would tell everyone to go completely quiet, then after a good thirty seconds I would harmoniously sing out “hellllllloooooooooooo”

She would bluster on about the noise and whatnot and again I would put on my very unconvincing accent and say, “I’m sorry about the noise ay? I think I must have accidently dropped a bottle.”

As usual, the next day when she confronted me I would complain that I too suffered the previous evening when Phil’s gay Nazi mates took over my house.

The strange thing is that me and Jabsy formed a friendship throughout all this, mainly I think because I was unfailingly polite and sympathetic to her complaints. There was also a level of empathy – she was addicted to food and I was addicted to chemicals. She strongly suspected me of more implicit involvement with the upstairs shenanigans but suspended judgement in favour of a shared scapegoat.

drew gates phil page underneath the stairwell

Me and Phil having a Bud at the Bop. (Notice how he looks like a young William S Burroughs?)


The AIDS condom incident

One day I got home and I just thought, “That’s it!”

Then I got a bunch of condoms and put Grand Marnier syrup in the tip and flung them onto Jabsy’s back porch. Next went several sachets of lubricant. I pretty much forgot about them until one morning Jabsy confronted me as I opened my front door.

“There are used condoms all over my back porch!” She shrieked.

This was the one time that I lost my composure with her and I started to laugh. I apologised for laughing and explained that her claims just seemed so, “wild and indecent.” So she brought me out onto the back porch and pointed out the offending articles.

I put my hands behind my back and walked around like I was a lawyer from a TV show as I examined the evidence. It was spring and I could hear the neighbours on their back porches so I talked in a very loud voice.

“These could have come from anywhere Judy.”

“No! They are from that fuckin’ homo upstairs!” She shrieked.

“Impossible! Phil is a member of the “bareback knights”

“What the hell is that?”

“They don’t believe in using condoms, hence the ‘bareback’”

I had a strong point which temporarily threw her off.

“Well…well what about that girl that he hangs around, maybe she took someone home the little slut!”

I did a small loop, hands behind back and brow furrowed in concentration.

“No, she doesn’t like condoms.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, sometimes when Phil goes to the corner store to get some milk I fuck her is the ass. She hates condoms – thinks they are ‘gay’”

Jabsy was flummoxed and I decided to throw her a line. I stuck my finger in the air.

“There is however, one way to find out if these are from Phil and his gay Nazi mates,” I picked up a stick and lifted one of the condoms, and keeping in mind the neighbours were listening, continued, “If there is shit on the tip of this condom we know that Phil used it!”

I examined the tip, “No shit on the tip of this condom!”

“There was shit on the tip! But it rained!”

As Jabsy explained her rain-shit-tip theory I listened intently and accidently on purpose rubbed my arm with the condom. When I could tell from her expression that she had noticed, I pretended to notice as well. I threw the condom in the air and screamed, “AAAARGH! AIDS!”

Jabsy laughed like a hyena and hid from the filthy AIDS behind her screen door. Fuck knows what the neighbours made of this strange intercourse.

 underneath the stairwell rancid piss

The Rancid Piss Incident

One afternoon I got home from work and started sculling red wine on an empty stomach. I was feelin’ all silly and crazy and thought, “What the hell?”

So I pulled out a two litre bottle of piss I had stored underneath the kitchen sink (everyone has these right?) and opened the kitchen window that looked out onto Jabsy’s back porch. I undid the lid and gave the bottle a punch sending the thick orange discharge flying through the air. I paused due to a laughing fit when the piss hit her porch.

It stunk like you wouldn’t believe and made a racket when it splashed down. I squeezed out the rest and when it was mid-air, Jabsy came storming out onto her porch. She screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU BASTARDS DOING….AAARGH! RANCID PISS!” She identified the smell immediately! It had splashed all over her left arm and she flew into a rage yelling and screaming. I stumbled laughing into the lounge room where Phil and his girlfriend were sitting.

“What’s going on?” Phil asked.

“I just douched Jabsy with two litres of rancid piss!” I said.

His girlfriend screamed, “Ohmigod! You’re insane!”

Jabsy started pounding and kicking at our door.

“You watch, she will threaten to phone police in a second.” I told them.

Sure enough, on cue she bellowed, “I’m phoning 911!”

Phil and has bird got all concerned as they were just about to go out and I saw a great framing opportunity. They obviously hadn’t thought it through – a hysterical lady phoning 911 screaming about rancid piss – the cops definitely weren’t coming.

Nevertheless, I told them, “You guys had better leave right now before the cops arrive,” knowing full well that Jabsy would confront them as soon as they left the door. They took my advice and ran down the stairs. Sho’nuff, Jabsy swung open her door as soon as they exited. Due to my stories, she was quite wary of Phil and her tone changed considerably.

“Do…do…do you know who threw something onto my back porch?” She stammered.

“No, I don’t think so.” Said Phil.

“Is anyone else upstairs?”

“I can’t remember.”

With this they parted ways and I listened to Jabsy downstairs yelping, “I can’t remember!” “Fuckin’ homo!” as she threw buckets of water on her back porch.

The next day, I received a message from my landlord on the phone; “Hi Drew, Judy downstairs says that a pail of urine was thrown on her back porch yesterday – gimme a call.”

So I phoned him up and explained the situation. Jabsy had taken a shine to Phil which extended to greeting him at the door whenever he came back from work. Then she started making him dinners and knocking on our door – nothing short of harassment you see?

The only way, I explained, for Phil to be free of her quite frankly unwanted attentions was to tell her in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t interested. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” I told the landlord and he laughed and agreed. The effect that this conversation had was that I now had a “green-light” any complaints to the landlord would be dismissed as her scorn. So naturally, I took full advantage of this. Like the time I stayed up all night high on acid hammering on the floor with a ball-peen hammer.


This is one of the kids from the story below, he visited me almost 10 years later in Sydney all growed up.

This is one of the kids from the story below, he visited me almost 10 years later in Sydney all growed up.

The ‘Fuck Phil’ Party

Eventually Phil moved out with his girlfriend. I bumped into Jabsy and she expressed her relief that the gay Nazi was gone. I told her that I wanted revenge and to this end had arranged a party which I had ostensibly told Phil was a ‘going away party.”

I put my arm around Jabsy’s shoulder and in conspiring tones explained that in fact it was a “Fuck Phil Party”. And, I explained, “We’re gonna get Phil round for the party right? I have also asked a cuppla fifteen year old sluts to come over and they will drug his drink with five hits of acid. So when it looks like the acid is hitting him, they tell him they want to suck his cock in the next room. When they have him in the next room, I will kick in the door and – POW!” I punched into my hand right near her face. I just assumed that by making up such an outlandish story (who says things like “15 year old sluts”!?) that she would be all taken aback and shit. The complete opposite happened.

“I would like to kick the homo bastard in the face when you are finished with him!” She stomped down her foot with hatred.

So I was committed – I had to host a “Fuck Phil Party.” I told Phil about it and he said he would come along and we could work something out.

On the big night, the guitarist (who was 18) from my band Riot99 turned up with his mate and their girlfriends (who were 15 and definitely not sluts) I explained the situation to them and they were delighted to participate.

So Jabsy almost doesn’t make it up the stairwell due to her girth but before long we are all sitting in the kitchen together. I am acting ‘crazy like the wolf’ – head butting the fridge, sporadically screaming out how much I fuckin’ hate that Nazi poof Phil and the rest of it.

I keep doing lines (oxy) and offer Jabsy some – telling her that it is PCP and that it really gives you an ‘edge’. The kids are pissed on 40s and are messing around on the couch, pashing off and laughing etc. I turn to Jabsy and shake my head, “Kids just can’t handle their acid these days eh?” She concurs with a disdainful expression.

Then I fly into a paroxysm of rage and grab a keyboard (everyone has these in their kitchens right?) and smash it over my head, screaming about Phil’s crimes against humanity. A few minutes later, I am sitting across the kitchen from Jabsy, when I ask her with quiet menace, “Judy, why the fuck did you smash the keyboard over my head?” She starts stammering out that she didn’t do it and the rest of it. I stand up and start screaming, “YOU SMASHED THE FUCKIN KEYBOARD OVER MY HEAD! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? DID PHIL PUT YOU UP TO THIS?!?”

The kids intervene (like we planned), pretending to calm me down and stuff and Jabsy is fairly shitting herself. Anyways, she left soon after and Phil never showed up so there is no climax to this story unfortunately. But I often wonder what the scene in the kitchen would have looked like to a fly on the wall.

When I came back to Australia I continued to send Jabsy postcards for a few years. Usually ones with pictures of men’s arses with sand on them and a caption on top that said, “Bronzed Aussie Butts.” I would fill the back in with indecipherable gibberish, the only words that could be made out were “gay” and “nazi”.