March-18th-2009, 05:35 PM
Bob Dylan's Idiot Wind
LOS ANGELES TIMES
MALIBU, Calif. – How sweet is life when you live next to a celebrity in Malibu?
Outside Bob Dylan's house, the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
That's what some of the singer-songwriter's neighbours are charging in an increasingly onerous dispute over a portable toilet at his ocean-view estate.
Residents contend that the nighttime sea breeze sends a noxious odour wafting into their homes. The stench has made members of one family ill and forced them to abandon their bedrooms on warm nights, they say.
For more than six months, Dylan, 67, has ignored their pleas to remove the outhouse, the downwind neighbours say.
"It's a scandal – 'Mr. Civil Rights' is killing our civil rights," said David Emminger, whose home is directly behind the toilet – which apparently is intended for use by employees of the entertainer, best known for 1960s-era protest songs.
Emminger and his wife have installed five industrial-sized fans in their front yard in an attempt to blow the odour back at Dylan. They say the fans are no match for the ocean breeze that sweeps across the singer's land, however.
Dylan, who has lived at his Point Dume compound for more than two decades, did not respond to inquiries about the toilet. Neither did his New York-based attorney.
Malibu officials said they were investigating the complaint. Because of that, they said, they were unable to discuss the issue.
Dylan's neighbours have plenty to say about the odour.
"It started in September. I'd go into the front yard and get nauseous," said Cindy Emminger, 42. "I couldn't figure out at first where the smell was coming from."
Her 8-year-old son, David Jr., was sickened by the stench, she said. Then she became ill, too.
"We both have allergies and are sensitive to chemicals," Emminger said. "I finally noticed that they had moved the porta-potty directly in front of my front door. I figured out that the smell was coming from that."
She called her husband, a 52-year-old international bond trader who at the time was on the East Coast addressing a group of city and county managers. He suggested she contact Malibu's municipal officials.
By some accounts, the city's response has been sluggish.
In January, one inspector reported that a city code-enforcement officer was turned away by Dylan's security staff and told that he was trespassing. "He said they were going to sue the city," the inspector said.
Guards who staff a security shack near the edge of Dylan's compound around the clock are among those who use the toilet, neighbours say.
Although Malibu's municipal laws apparently do not directly address the issue of permanent use of a portable toilet, one code section states that temporary structures for authorized construction projects must be removed upon completion of the project.
Another municipal law prohibits objectionable odour "in excess of what is normally found in the neighbourhood."
"I drove by one time and couldn't locate the porta-potty or smell anything. I called the rental company on her behalf to find out what chemicals they use and forwarded that information to her," Malibu city manager Jim Thorsen said.
Emminger said one of the chemicals is 2-bromo-2-nitro-1, 3-propanediol, which is considered toxic by the EPA.