For a few years, director John Waters and I were once neighbors.
Waters lives in the Tuscany-Canterbury section of Baltimore. In this leafy enclave of Tudor-style homes inhabited by white yuppies, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a crime-plagued, drug-infested mess of a city that gave rise to HBO’s The Wire. My alma mater, The Johns Hopkins University, is a short walk away.
My Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house was also in Tuscany-Canterbury, but I never saw Waters in the neighborhood. In fact, one of my regrets in life is I never went trick-or-treating at the Waters home, which was just a few doors down.
Still, I felt a certain kinship. He made films with dog-poop eating drag queens and my frat brothers and I behaved pretty much like you would expect a fraternity to behave. We were both neighborhood outcasts.
The neighborhood finally had its revenge on Phi Psi last year. Neighbors got the city council to ban the fraternity from the house on a zoning technicality. Then, last month, the neighborhood association amended its rules so that the private Calvert School next door could raze the building and build more facilities for the elementary students whose parents pay $19,000 a year to send them there.
That was too much for Waters. He wrote a letter to the Tuscany-Canterbury neighbohood association saying that the project would be “construction noise hell. In the letter, Waters also threatened to drive to Calvert Headmaster Andrew Martire’s house and honk his car horn each morning at 6:30 a.m. in revenge for the noise in the neighborhood. “I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again,” Waters wrote.
Thanks John, for being a good neighbor.