This one goes out to Stormin' Norman... and 311 February 27, 2009 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Reading the recent story of Norman Van Lier's death reminded me of the "Dead neighbor, or overactive imagination?" AskMe thread from over the holidays.

I just checked and there was no follow-up in the thread, despite the fact that it's still open. So... Dead sewer rat? X-Mas time suicide? New Jersey manufacturing death smells? 40+ inquiring minds want(ed) to know hermitosis...
posted by togdon to MetaFilter-Related at 7:58 AM (18 comments total)

From hermitosis in that thread:

For those of you who are really looking forward to a follow-up, I wouldn't hold your breath. Even if they found something, it's not likely that I'll be around to witness it or will even hear about it from anyone else. We don't really know any of our neighbors, and being on the top floor, not a lot of people pass through here.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not at all convinced that there's anything to be found. The more I poked around in the building, the more I got the sense that the two smells weren't actually related, and now tonight I can barely smell the downstairs smell at all anymore. But sure, it's harmless to call someone and check on it.


I didn't intend to kick up a huge fuss here, I thought I made it pretty clear from the outset that I was far from certain what the situation really was, and I think some people's imaginations really ran away with them. It's like you wanted there to be a body.


So in short, togdon, can you please leave our christmas memories alone? Sometimes it's all that gets us through the season.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2009

Well, hermitosis's story reminded me of this one.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:51 AM on February 27, 2009

Police said an autopsy by the Alameda County coroner's office found no obvious signs of trauma, but said the woman did suffer from an unspecified medical condition.

I.e. mummification.
posted by DU at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2009

Sorry I haven't followed up. My lawyer has let me know that at this time it would be incredibly unwise to make any public statements about events on or around the night of December 21st, 2008...

Honestly, the smell went away after a few days, I never saw/heard anything indicating that I'm missing a neighbor, so there has been nothing to report. This was supposed to be more of a "What would I really be expected to do in such a situation?" kind of post, but it really took off and I'm a little surprised that the police and local news weren't called for me. I was really grateful for the wide range of perspective offered by my friends in the green, though.

Let's just chalk this up to my learning another valuable lesson both from and about AskMe.
posted by hermitosis at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Weird that Johnny "Red" Kerr also died yesterday. Random.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2009

In college, my now-wife had the top bunk and her roommate had the bottom. One night my wife rolled out of bed and landed on the concrete floor on her back. Her roommate opened her eyes and saw my wife lying unmoving on the floor. She thought to herself "she's not moving, so she must be OK" and went back to sleep.

With that anecdote in mind, I invite you to re-read this sentence: Honestly, the smell went away after a few days, I never saw/heard anything indicating that I'm missing a neighbor, so there has been nothing to report.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2009

I invite you to re-read this sentence...

Great galloping gods of war, this is too much. Look, people, I am here, in the real world, in my building, where I see and know things that you can't see or know. I am here every day -- in fact, I live here! So no offense, but I think that I'm in a better position from which to judge the situation. No matter how smart or intuitive you may be, and no matter how many charming and nearly-relevant anecdotes you have at your disposal, you are ultimately going to have to accept that I (and nearly all question-askers) am ultimately a lot more aware of the facts pertaining to my situation than you are.

I myself am guilty of forgetting this when it comes to AskMe, and so are a lot of the people who hang out there, and these are reasons why I don't post or comment there nearly as much as I used to. I don't think it's good for people to cultivate a illusion of their own "rightness," after a while they start believing that their own gut reactions really do have a bearing on others' reality. I can't tell you how much well-meant bad advice I've politely accepted during tough times, from both strangers and close friends; asking for advice means being open to truly accepting what you hear, but it also means being able to jettison what you've heard if you know that it doesn't fit your situation.

So with all due respect, drop it.
posted by hermitosis at 12:07 PM on February 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

Whoa whoa whoa--I'm just being offhandedly amusing (probably only to myself). "The smell went away so I guess everything is A-OK!" just sounded like famous last words to me.
posted by DU at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2009

Oh. Sorry, I guess it's not just my nose that's sensitive...

I felt really piled on in that last thread, when I read your comment I thought it was starting all over again.
posted by hermitosis at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2009

Just to be clear, my point wasn't to egg hermitosis on... I was just sort of curious if anything came of it, and I probably wouldn't have ever thought about it again if I hadn't read about Norman's passing, and the fact that they busted down his door after a call to 311.

Personally I figured it was a dead sewer rat... those things smell awful for a week or so, building in intensity until they magically stop smelling. The New Jersey factory making dead smells was a close second. Random dead person was a distant third...
posted by togdon at 1:50 PM on February 27, 2009

I can only conclude that hermitosis has slowly discovered that his building is actually a secret enclave of cannibals.

At first he thought he was just being paranoid. What with the smells. And the nieghbors always partaking of home made dried meats.

And then later, after weeks of dark tension and eerie coincidences, while he was preparing to confront them at the yearly building BBQ he discovered that he to HAD THE TASTE FOR HUMAN FLESH. It was useless to fight it.

And then they all chanted "ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US."
posted by tkchrist at 1:54 PM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not to keep you in suspense but my wife really WAS fine. Except for the voices. And fires.
posted by DU at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2009

Any chance we can change this to a Bulls' announcer thread? I mean, Red's voice was basketball to me. Sure, you've got your national voices out there, but Red had opinions, Red, like all the best local announcers, knew the players, and they knew him. He wasn't afraid (particularly post-Jordan) to get openly frustrated with the poor play of the team. And to lose Norm Van Lier on the same day (and Bill Holm, for that matter), it's been a bit of a rough day.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:51 PM on February 27, 2009

Oh god, I can't believe hermitosis STILL hasn't cleared out that dead neighbor yet. Some people. You give advice and it's like talking into the void.
posted by taz at 3:40 PM on February 27, 2009

"Don't fucking Jimmy me, Joules! Don't fucking Jimmy me!"
posted by dawson at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2009

All this talk about dead bodies reminds me of that one time I found a dead body, and poked it with a stick, and the stick went right through.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:37 PM on February 27, 2009

Did your doctor tell you to keep your fingerstick out of there?
posted by DU at 5:16 PM on February 27, 2009

I actually do have a dead neighbor story.

Once you have smelled death you recognize it anywhere. Last summer, my daughter and I took the dog for a short walk. I say short walk because it a July afternoon in The South-- hot, humid, close. We walked down our street and then I started smelling that smell. Sometimes it is a dead bird or squirrel or even a mouse in the bushes, but this was a large smell. We turned right at the end of the street and saw several parked police cars and paramedics going into the little house on the corner. At the house next door a couple were sitting on their porch steps watching. I asked if they knew what was going on. They told me the little old lady who lived there had died. Usually she was out in her front garden in the mornings, but they hadn't seen her for several days. Then today they noticed the smell. The poor thing didn't have any family nearby to check up on her-- just a sister who lived out of state. If her house had been a little more air tight she might have laid there for a much longer time.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:38 PM on February 27, 2009

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