Hello, Neighbor - here's your New Jersey salute!
Darren Wood is building a new home in Riverton, Utah. He's installed a custom vent cover on his house, and says that it's a cactus design.
Sounds like a pleasant style for a desert theme, but his neighbor disagrees. Stan Torgersen lives directly behind Wood's new home, and when he looks out his windows, he sees the symbol a hand giving him the finger.
Darreen Wood claims that the gesture in question is art. He said, "It speaks for itself, really. It's such beautiful art. It's a cactus."
It seems that things have not gone well between Mr. Wood and some of his new neighbors. They've complained about the height of his house and other issues for awhile. The problems began last fall, when Wood's lot was excavated. Neighbor Torgersen was worried that the excavation might damage his home's foundation, so he and another neighbor asked the city to intervene.
Officials in ordered a soil test, which Wood said had been done by the previous owner. He said that the new test would cost $3,000 and delay the construction of his new home by four months.
Recently, the Torgersens and another neighbor complained to the city that the home exceeded the height allowed by code.
"We used to have a view of the mountains," Janet Torgersen told The Salt Lake Tribune recently. "He didn't have to take everyone's view."
Wood noted that the city approved the house plan. regarding his neighbors' grievances he said, "I think the bottom line is harassment. They will find another issue to complain about."
Wood said that he might be willing to change his air vent cover if he received an apology from his neighbors.
Maybe it's all a matter of perception, or beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The vent cover design could be viewed as someone giving another giving the finger, but it could also be an abstract cactus.
Jeroen Arendsen says it well when he asks if this a camouflaged insult or a case of extreme sensitivity? Perhaps even both. Because his neighbours are so sensitive, Mr. Wood effectively manages to insult them and deny it to anyone else. See A Nice Gesture: The Perception of Insults.
In some area, flipping someone the bird can be considered quite an insult, and can even be illegal. In other areas, the "New Jersey Salute" (see #20) is considered a common, everyday occurance. President Bush has done it on video. It's all a metter of one's individual interpretation of the gesture.
Latest indications are that a peaceful resolution has been reached, and that Darren Wood is having the controversial "art" removed.
The lexidiem is art.