Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Noise Could Doom Sidewalk Café

Preliminary plans to demolish the H Street Connection and re-build a retail and residential building were unveiled yesterday. Early plans include potential sidewalk cafés on each corner of the two-block redevelopment.

Architects envisioned one outdoor eatery at the corner of H and 8th Streets NE--directly in the firing line from several groups' amplified loudspeakers.

The buses and pedestrian traffic already create a bustling corner. The amplifiers—with no legal limit on volume for non-commercial speech between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.—will spoil anyone’s appetite. The proprietor of any sidewalk café located in that space would never survive under D.C.’s current noise law.

My theory is bolstered by the results of two amplified experiments in Georgetown and Adams Morgan.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Police Sirens Rumble Through Noisier City

As the city gets noisier, so do emergency vehicles in order to be effectively heard--or, in this case, felt.

Borrowing a page from window-rattling car stereo afficianados, the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department is using a new device to get the attention of motorists. It's a low-frequency "bass" siren, reports the Washington Post.

The "Rumbler" is necessary because "police departments complained that, increasingly, motorists weren't responding to traditional lights and sirens," according to the Post.

And why is that?

"The basic idea is we become more insulated in our vehicles with stereos, iPods and telephones," says one expert quoted in the story. "...Being near it is like standing next to a car that is blaring bass-heavy music."

All 767 marked D.C. police cars will have the device within four years.

Click here for the complete story.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nearly Empty Sidewalks, but Still Screaming Amplifier

Photo of southeast corner of H and 8th St NE made on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006. (Photo Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

It's Saturday, 5:57 p.m. ET. The sun is down. The streetlights are on. Five people wait at the bus stop for the next ride home.

And after four hours, one group of idiots continues to blast its amplifier at an outrageous volume. The powered screams echo throughout the residential neighborhood, piercing inside the privacy of those trying to go about their business.

Two hours earlier, this same ISUPK group was engaged in a full verbal battle with some hapless, unamplified person. It apparently became so boisterous that three police officers soon descended on the scene.

But now, the sidewalks are nearly empty. The hustle and bustle of H Street has subsided. So what purpose does such volume serve now?

My guess simply is legal harassment of the residents and businesses of the H Street community.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Art Imitates Life: The Noise Movie Coming Soon

Poo Poo and Arthur Delaney both emailed me about an upcoming movie with Tim Robbins. He plays a guy named "David" who is driven crazy by unwanted noise in New York City--in this case, car alarms earn his ire.

This pushes him to becomes a one-man vigilante in his quest, even calling himself "The Rectifier." Check out this quote from director Henry Bean, which appeared in this Reuters story (I can totally relate):
Despite his own personal battle against car alarms, which according to Bean "should be totally illegal", the director said his film was, above all, about the disconnect that he feels exists between those in power and their citizens.

"For me, noise becomes a metaphor for power. The noise that I have to listen to, that I have no control over, that invades my house, my ears, my thoughts... in a way that's how our governments are," he said.
As far as noise driving someone should hear what I just bought on eBay. (I hope my wife isn't reading this.) In the meantime, watch the trailer: