“Run like the wind, Wylie… I’ll buy you some time…” (Art by Scott Kingsnorth)
by Buff Cruster
A journey into the insidious, fucked up tyranny of the Nextdoor.com Coyote
In recent times, technology has proven apt to create outlets for poorly directed rage.But there are few corners of the web where this is more apparent than on Nextdoor.com. Consider if you will, an ap that plugs you into a digital cross section of your own neighbourhood where you shall find it engaged in a perpetual text-based Thunderdome over a raft of issues including… Whether the loud bangs are fireworks or gunshots or both at the same time (I assume a highly asymmetrical gang war of some kind). Then there’s dogs that go out, dogs that don’t, dogs that do therapy, dog crap, dog grooming and of course, the homeless who are not being referred to by your neighbour as ‘people experiencing homelessness’ because they live in the crawl space under his garage and his only available act of resistance is to eschew the latest PC terminology.
Imagine the above but added to it the fact that you may also be trying to purchase this person’s couch, at almost full price… because it once came from West Elm and they didn’t disclose the unidentified stains that you’re now seeing up close. You’re starting to believe that they’re probably the liquid manifestation of this guy’s personality. Yes, there is rage here. This is the angry, paranoid heart of the urban suburban. But all of this pales in comparison to the real villain of the piece.
Friends, I give you the Nextdoor Coyote. Some say he lives on the 7th hole of the Penmar Golf Course, which is of course ridiculous as we all know that coyotes hate golf and golfers as much as the rest of us. Depending on whose account you believe, he (For it is always assumed he is a he, even by ardent feminists) is as big as a Doberman, “black or possibly very dark brown” and is capable of feats of barely imagined depravity.
I have travelled across the globe in relentless pursuit of personal glory and phenomenal pastries. I have lived in many great cities, but I struggle to remember a more unsympathetic selection of neighbourhood dogs than in my current subsection of Los Angeles. These dogs are invariably small, highly bred, highly strung and low on the qualities that one would readily seek out in a canine companion. Many of them routinely wear human clothes and the choice appears to be consensual. Their only redeeming quality is the ease with which you can fit them in a woman’s handbag for an Instagram shot. Even speaking as a cat person, I struggle to see them as anything other than a problem to which the Nextdoor Coyote may be the immediate and permanent solution.
Suffice to say, no sooner does one of these inbred, recessive, pocket poodles disappear than the name of the Nextdoor Coyote is invoked, torches are lit, pitchforks sharpened. Sightings are beamed in from across the narrowly defined boundaries of the Nextdoor community. Massage therapists forge unlikely alliances with actor/baristas and the under-occupied wives of commercial bankers in an insatiable quest for blood. These determined and concerned residents grab their guns and fireworks and take to the streets. White ladies named Karen call the cops (For that is what they do), others call animal control, but no coyote is ever apprehended.
Perhaps, this is because this black coyote is nothing more than a figment of the mostly white, froofy-dog-owning imagination. Maybe he’s a manifestation of a desire for excitement in the lives of the marooned middle class. My own theory is that the coyote has figured out how to take advantage of the federal structure of the different nextdoor.com communities. I’m sure he’s crossing state lines into different aps, from Mar Vista into Venice Beach, laying low then swinging up to Brentwood to eat an unsuspecting Persian cat sunning itself too close to the edge of the sill before ambling down to Santa Monica to steal the back wheel of someone’s bike and let off some fireworks.
Just as the helicopter is the only natural predator of the billionaire, so too, the coyote is the born antagonist of the Nextdoor community. He’s an uncontainable mischief making native spirit. Truth be told, he doesn’t give a fuck how expensive the dog he just ate was at the upstate breeder. He defecates where he pleases, gives no shakes for the concerns of his neighbors and their judgement only serves to make him stronger. He may be harboring mange or rabies, but to him, those are badges of honor. They are the symbols of a freedom he alone can understand. He is Butch and Sundance, Bonnie and Clyde with fleas… He’s a true Gonzo.
So, as much as it may pain the denizens of this fragment of West Los Angeles as it weakly battles gentrification like an octogenarian porn baron succumbing to incurable prostate cancer, the tragedy of this story is not the untimely demise of Maybelline the Schnauzer. It is rather that the Nextdoor Coyote is the last of his kind… He is untamable. He cannot and will not conform, even as the rules corporations create for our digital lives leap the virtual divide into our physical communities. Eventually, they will create the kind of perfect societal bubble that even this last agent of canine chaos can no longer penetrate.
And only when he’s gone will we realise, we needed that fucking coyote. Because destroying him for the collective good of the neighbourhood was the last thing about which we could all agree. In exposing the folly of our perfect bubble, he allowed it to exist. Without him, we are trapped, adrift behind the physical and digital walls of our own making, with no one to fear, dehumanise and destroy…
…Except our all too human Nextdoor neighbor.
Buff Cruster is a writer of many hues, mediocre tennis player and parched Scotsman abroad who exists at the unholy intersection of screenwriting and journalism. He lives in Los Angeles with Kamilah, the love of his life and harshest critic after the gods saw fit to embody both these qualities in one unsurpassable human.