Sunday, April 23, 2006
Ahh, spring! I can open my windows, listen to the birds sing and hear children playing outside. Feel the breeze blowing and hear the leaves rustle in the trees. Oops, I almost got to that point, except that, coming down the street is some jerk with subwoofers rattling the bolts off the frame of his car and a bass rumbling so loud that our canary has just vibrated off his perch. I can no longer hear my husband, and he’s sitting next to me. Ahh, spring! Mind you, I love music. That is, music defined by the dictionary as “the art of producing significant arrangements of sounds, usually with reference to rhythm, pitch and tone color, especially if pleasing to the ear.” I think that means songs excluding heavy breathing and phrases that begin with, “Oh baby.” And it means excluding that 4-letter word beginning with the letter “F” and phrases about rotten women, telling how “real men” put them in their place. I don’t want to preach and sound like somebody’s mother (even though I am somebody’s mother), but come on! Yes, everyone has a right to listen to music. However, that doesn’t mean that when you’re in your yard, I have to listen to your music – when your yard is half a block from mine. And it doesn’t mean that when you’re driving up the street, I have to listen to your radio. Don’t even tell me “if it’s too loud, you’re too old.” I’m 48. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I had those battles with my parents about turning down the record-player and the radio. So anyhow, when you’re driving and those speakers are blaring, how the heck do you hear anything else? And do you care that by the time you’re in your mid-30’s you probably won’t be able to hear anything? I read about a visiting assistant professor from Tulane University in New Orleans who founded an organization called Noise Free America (www.noisefree.org). What a concept! We’re bombarded by noise during our every waking hour. Do you realize that from the moment we awaken, we’re virtually assaulted by noise? We get up to an alarm or clock-radio, we turn on the stereo or TV and our day starts. We drive to work or commute on public transportation. We work in noisy environments. Then we go home to our after-work chaos. Most of us live in suburban areas and don’t even realize what a truly quiet night is. The problem with all of this noise is that if we try to tell someone we’re bothered, whether by a loud stereo or an obnoxious cell phone conversation, we’re seen as the aggressor. Yes, my neighbor’s noise may bother me, but might their reaction bother me more? What a pity we’ve lost the sense of community we once had. And how sad that we’ve lost our manners. What happened to a sincere, “Oh, I’m sorry I was bothering you?” Instead, we hear, “Get lost, *^&%.” Maybe, instead of Noise Free America, we should start an organization called “Bring Back Courteous Americans.” For a while a few years ago, we were all very nice to each other. As a sign of normalcy returning, we seem to be getting back to our old selves. What a shame.