As a teenager I liked to blast the family stereo. Strangely enough, my parents never complained, which is saying a lot since my favorite music growing up was Punk and Hardcore. Maybe "Too Drunk To Fuck" brought back memories of their own errant youth. The only time my mother ever complained about the noise was one afternoon when I played The Who's Quadrophrenia for the first time. There's a section that is made up of the ominous roar of the ocean surf. My mother came running down the stairs with a look of fear: She thought the sound was that of an airplane about to hit the house. Aside from this false alarm, though, my mother and father never asked me to lower the stereo.
As I approach middle age, I find I lack my parents' insouciance. I've become a crotchety old man, angrily denouncing disturbances to my peace and quiet.
Amplified sound is a detriment to the good of man.
Let us examine, in detail, the abuses and injuries caused by thumping speakers.
A simple walk in the park is no longer an assured respite of tranquility. Perhaps there will be some outdoor concert of some mediocre band. Just last week, I chose to avail myself of the sylvan pleasures of Central Park. There had been a triathlon that morning and to help ruin the entire event, the organizers chose to have a very loud band play a lot of Hootie and the Blowfish covers. The area around the stage was empty. The runners congregated around the finish line, far from the concert, basking in sweetness of the spent exhilaration.
They had declined to boogie down to bad music. But because the music was played so loudly (this, dear reader, is the important part) they could not escape the noise but had to suffer it. As did I, trying to read my Sunday Times in what would otherwise have been pleasant dale.
Amplified music is impertinent. That someone should choose to ruin his eardrums is his hardship. That I should be forced to suffer with him is a crime.
There is nothing clever in turning up the volume of a speaker. There is no accomplishment in the act. Yet down every street drives some young idiot, thumping his bass as a peacock spreads his plumage, announcing himself to every hen. Urban fashion dictates that his music be confrontational, with a sense of misplaced empowerment in the face of an exploitive and antagonistic world.
I, for one, wouldn't be so damned antagonistic and exploitive if you would just turn down the goddamned bass.
When I moved into my current apartment, I bought a new stereo. It really wasn't so much for myself, I had a serviceable small one already. I needed it to drown out the stereos around me.
I understand my neighbors may wish to relax after work, but I object when their so doing involves releasing a sonic wave of torture through my walls. It's an invasion, a forced entry, a breach in my perimeter. Against my best efforts, I'm forced to share my apartment with the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd.
Just as noise may be an unexpected intrusion, foisted upon us unwillingly, so is it an annoyance, endured by us, grudgingly. For example:
Walk into a bar. Let it be a non-descript pub, an upscale tavern, or, following some conceit of atmospheric decoration, a bar styled as a library or airport or Communist revolutionary's hideout (more on that later). No matter what the bar's theme, it is assured that music is blaring. Sustained conversation, if not impossible, is a painful effort. One is left to drink and stare about oneself, or scream out inanities to one's companions. What is so amusing (and this is the "more" I promised earlier) is that even bars cherishing intellectual pretensions effectively drown out all intelligent discourse.
What discourages is that many people seem to seek this mind-numbing din.
I bring to mind a recent visit to a bar to hear a friend's band play. They played too loudly, to the detriment the finer points of their music. Only when they finished, and the room fell quiet, could one speak rather than scream to be heard. And one hungered for conversation, because the overly loud amplification of the performance had turned the bands melancholy country melodies into second-rate pseudo-punk. One looks forward to speaking with one's friends, perhaps making new acquaintances, as the evening that has been previously suffused with noise resolves itself into the pleasant sound of the naked human voice.
Such anticipation was wrecked as a woman rushed to the jukebox, determined that a blare of amplified noise should reign unabated.
I pity this young woman, who so feared her own thoughts that she needed her sensibilities pounded with incessant raucous noise.