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Edik Baghdasaryan

Of Political Party Pins and Sleepless Nights on Northern Avenue

“Jungle” Karaoke Bar Blares Music; Tenants All Stressed Out Years ago, my Armenia friend from the diaspora decided to relocate to Armenia. Three years ago he purchased an apartment on Northern Avenue in downtown Yerevan. A year ago, he took the plunge. He left his business in the States and moved to Armenia; hopefully for good. The apt he had bought, and where he now lives, is on the seventh floor of one of the new buildings overlooking Northern Avenue. There’s a karaoke club called the “Jungle” on the first floor of the building. My friend tells me that you can hear the music from the club six floors below in his apartment; the music is that loud. He says you can hear the reverberations from early in the day to late at night in that so-called “elite” apt. It’s no place to live, he says. He wonders what the tenants on the lower floors must be going through. Ear deafening decibels shake the walls All the tenants who reside above that accursed karaoke bar have been complaining about the loud music for months, but it’s still cranked out at ear-deafening decibels. I told my friend that Hetq had written about this problem several times but that the press coverage had been for naught. It seems that club and bar owners were being tipped off in advance to any monitoring visits by the Ministry of Health to record the decibel levels of the music emanating from their places of business. The officials would arrive only to find the music being played within acceptable parameters. The same thing happened at the Karaoke club. Monitors arrived and found the music at acceptable levels. No violation was filed. But my friend stood his ground. He brought a special device from the U.S. to record the decibel levels of the music from the karaoke club. He wanted to taking recordings at different times, videotape the process and put it all on youtube.com In Armenia, the law operates selectively My friend went down to lodge a complaint with the club operator who, it turns out, works in the National Assembly. This individual can always be seen sporting a Republican Party pin on his suit lapel. (The Republican Party is the ruling government party). When I heard this bit of news, I told my friend he was in for a long and difficult fight. But my friend was adamant in the justness of his cause. His was a principled cause, he responded. Jokingly, I advised him to sell the apartment and move somewhere else. He looked at me aghast and asked why he should be the one to sell out. “The club owner’s at fault. He should be managing the club according to the law”, was my friend’s correct, but somewhat naïve, reaction. I told him that here in Armenia the law is selectively applied and rarely for those who proudly display the insignia of the powers that be. Adamant as ever, my friend said that the club owner is obliged to follow the law, just like everyone else. The other building tenants, buoyed by my friend’s unending resolve, sent a second letter of complaint to the Yerevan Mayor Beglaryan. Irate tenants petition Mayor Beglaryan…once again In the letter, the tenants write that they were disappointed with the reply of the mayor dated February 18, 2010 and thus were forced to write again. The tenants said that this time they expected the mayor to take all steps necessary to resolve the noise problem emanating from the “Jungle” karaoke bar located at 6 Northern Avenue. In part the letter drafted by the aggrieved tenants reads: “We do not agree with the results of the noise measurements taken by officials of the Ministry of Health issues on February 1 and 5, since the owners of the karaoke bar had turned off the bass subwoofers and lowered the volume of the music on those two days. This was done to mask the actual volume of the music that is played on a daily basis and which we, the tenants of 6 Northern Avenue are subjected to every evening.” In their letter addressed to Mayor Beglaryan, the tenants state that their apartment walls reverberate from the music played by the karaoke bar and that the sound resembles the beating of drums. See it all on youtube.com They claim that based on independent decibel measurements taken of the music at volumes it is normally played, the owners are in violation of exceeding residential noise levels. As proof, the tenants provide the following “you tube” address and urge Mayor Beglaryan to see the reality of the problem for himself. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWZMtxZGVs4) Tenants of 6 Northern Boulevard claim that from 4 in the afternoon to late at night, the noise and thumping is so audible and palpable that they can neither relax after a day’s work and are subject to mental stress and fatigue. In a word, their health is going to pot. “Tenants and building management have constantly petitioned the owners of the leased premises to operate the karaoke bar within the legally defined norms, to lower the music, but all our demands continue to be neglected.” The irate tenants write that they have contacted the Mayor’s Office on several occasions during the day to complain and have called the police during evening hours to put a stop to the ear-piercing music. Tenants say that the police show up, take a few notes and leave. Once the cops have gone, the music is once again turned up to unacceptable levels. Some of the tenants are Armenians who have relocated to Armenia and others are foreigners who work here. They are amazed that the authorities permit such a karaoke bar to operate in a residential building, clearly flouting the laws on the books. All their protests have proved futile and the karaoke bar continues doing business as usual. Put yourself in our shoes and close the club The tenants conclude their complaint by expressing serious doubts as to whether the management of the karaoke club can operate normally and in a civilized manner on their own accord. Thus, the tenants are fearful that the problem will continue and their protests will continue to be ignored, as has been the case to date. “Consequently, put yourself in our shoes and put an end to the noise issue by shutting down the offending night club and ensure the right of the tenants to enjoy some peace and calm in their own apartments.” The tenants also point out that in the summer of 2009 they had voiced similar complaints against the “Iceberg” karaoke club that was operating in the same location. “Iceberg” eventually packed up and relocated to a non-residential space. “We are certain that you, Mr. Mayor, wouldn’t last a day in such conditions. We would never wish to see your family members wind up in a situation similar to that which we experience daily. All of our family members, young and old, are eagerly awaiting a satisfactory resolution of the issue at hand.”