This is one of those bitchy, bloggy posts that I try not to write. But heck, I’ll make an exception.
I’ve started listening to a lot of audio books. Because Lord knows that I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts, I listen to my iPod whenever I leave my apartment on foot.
As it turns out, you have to listen a lot more carefully to the spoken word than you do to music. If you miss five or ten seconds of the bridge of, say, Madonna’s “Holiday”, it’s no great loss.
Miss ten seconds of Aristotle’s Poetics, on the other hand, and you’re hosed.
As such, I’ve become more sensitive to urban noise. Harley Davidson motorcycles are among the worst perpetrators. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize until a few years ago (I think somebody pointed it out on this site) that they don’t have to make that much noise. The Harley rider is intentionally making a spectacle (and thus an asshole) of himself.
It’s a little ironic that Harleys are associated with being tough and thuggish, when really they scream “please, everybody, look at me! I’m desperate to be the centre of attention!” When I see Harley Davidsons on the weekend, I always assume that the drivers are, in fact, accountants and lawyers playing their own peculiar and expensive game of dress-up. It’s really only another small step to full-on drag.
I was walking home tonight, and a Hummer drove passed, followed soon after by a Harley. It made me wonder, who’s worse? On the one hand, the Hummer is an eyesore, occupies an absurd amount of road, and consumes gasoline like an F-18. On the other hand, the Harley fractures eardrums for several city blocks.
Who do you think is the bigger asshat? And, incidentally, does “Holiday” actually have a bridge?
UPDATE: A commenter points to a couple of interesting articles on ‘the noise level saves lives’ issue: “Loud Pipes Save Lives” or The Madness Behind the Myth and Loud Pipes MAY Save Lives – Another View. Here’s a quote that makes my point better than I can, apparently from a motorcycling enthusiast:
I have to wonder how many others, like myself, really enjoy hearing those cars with the mega-bass audio systems turned up so loud that our stomachs churn or the sound of trash trucks emptying the dumpster at 6 in the morning? Noise pollution effects everyone. Saying “I’m just doing my thing” just doesn’t cut it, not when “doing your thing” violates others right to peace and quiet, there is no right to make excessive noise! And what about the image that excessively loud motorcycles project? When the actions of others have a negative impact on my rights to enjoy motorcycling, that gets my goat up and it should get yours up too.
And a quote from the second, which is a reply on the other side of the argument:
. A policeman’s widow says her motorcycle cop husband talked about how the use of lights and sirens did not stop people from “missing” him. How would he know if the sirens worked – what did he see (or not see)? Many riders with loud pipes can recall instances where drivers made “near misses”. But all this does not refute the idea that loud pipes may have averted accidents. What do you measure or see when a driver does NOT make a lane change, or NOT pull out from a driveway in traffic, or NOT open a door into a rider and his ride — because he/she heard loud pipes? We cannot measure in these cases what does NOT happen – but this does not change the reality that it did NOT happen.