Wednesday, April 26, 2006


So the Peoria City Council voted to pass this ordinance allowing cops to impound the cars of people whose car radios are audible more than 75 feet away. There's plenty of good commentary on the appropriateness and legality of this ordinance on other blogs (linked on the left there). I'm more concerned about the noise.

Now, granted, Eyebrows has bat ears. In the winter, when windows are closed, I can hear the phones of my neighbors on either side when they ring. In the summer, with windows open, I can often hear the phones two doors down. When I'm on the first floor, I can hear if the television in the basement has been left on with the black screen - like after you turn off the DVD player but forget the TV - just by the electricity noise than an "on" television makes. So there are an AWFUL LOT of things I can hear from 75 feet away and Peoria's lucky I'm not in charge of determining what's audible at 75 feet. (I once picked out music - everyone else thought I was crazy - at 3/4 of a mile, and identified it as a violin, live, not canned -- over the city traffic of St. Petersburg, Russia. Indeed, 3/4 of a mile later, there was our violinist.)

I live near two schools, and I can hear the school bells ring at both, and the children outside at recess, from substantially more than 75 feet away. Normal people without bat ears can, too. But the sound of children playing isn't stressful; the heavy bass beat of a boomcar usually IS. It gets your heart pounding. It's hard to relegate to the background of your consciousness. So I sort-of get why a boomcar is illegal, but shrieking children and school bells aren't.

Boomcars don't strike me as particularly more rude than other things, and I know this is because I have bat hearing. Yes, they drive me crazy, and yes, it's terminally rude to force your music onto others that way. On the other hand, the roofers across the street were listening to a boom box at a totally reasonable volume last week when re-roofing my neighbor's house, and that drove me crazy ALL. DAY. LONG.

So I guess my real question is, How loud is too loud? Being able to hear something from 75 feet doesn't mean much. I can hear bugs having silent bug sex from that distance, I swear. ("No, baby, I promise, I'll stick around after the eggs hatch!") Mr. McGee sometimes can't hear the telephone when he's sitting right next to it. Boomcars are rude, because they're inflicting their music on other people. But were the roofers rude? I don't think they were, and they certainly didn't mean to be. They were just enjoying some music at a reasonable volume while working outdoors. They didn't mean to drive me batshit. Some boomcar drivers probably don't MEAN to annoy others either, just to enjoy their music. (Although how one can enjoy music at a volume that causes hearing damage is beyond me. My ears hurt just thinking about it.)

But I was pleased to learn, from C.J. Summers, that there already is a law about loud "pipes" on motorcycles. Memo to 26-year-old guy down the street who is unemployed and still living with his parents: NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR YOU REV YOUR BIKE. Having "boomeranged" myself before going out on my own, I don't really have a problem with people living with their parents. This guy has just moved from boomerang child to life-long leech. He doesn't work, so he can't afford to move out, but he can miraculously afford a variety of hobby bikes, all of them EXTREMELY NOISY and all of which he feels an apparently irresistable urge to ride up and down the street at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

Which is ironic, because you wouldn't think someone that dedicated to slacking would be up that early.

When I first read what C.J. said about laws about those bikes, my immediate reaction was, "Oh, I am SO calling the cops." I posted as much. But I probably won't, because it's a friendly and tight-knit block, and I don't want to be the person who's the cop-calling troublemaker. I never used to give in to peer pressure when I was a kid. Now that I'm a homeowner, I'M SUCH A SUCKER FOR IT!

And while we're on the topic of noises that should be banned, someone needs to teach a class at all the local high schools informing them that pulling into the driveway and honking for your friend to come out is the HEIGHT of rudeness. Mom McGee would actually not let us go out to the cars of people who honked. We would have to sit there in the front window writhing in an agony of embarassment until they figured out they were going to have to come knock on the door. This was pre-cell-phones, so we couldn't even call them to say, "Hey, dumbass, honking repeatedly isn't getting you anywhere." There are several teenagers on the block who always honk when picking up their friends, and, yeah, it's possibly the most annoying thing on the planet to the neighbors.

I sort-of want to put a big sign in the front yard that says "Honk if you have sex with sheep!"

I bet that would solve the problem.

1 comment:

brian said...

That electricty whine atctually resides at 15.7 khz. Though some people only hear the sub harmonic at 7.5khz.
But don't worry odds are by the time you are forty your hearing will have degraded enough so you can't hear it any more, especially with bike boy!