Friday, May 15, 2009

Thumperboy Go Home

Well it’s that time of year again, when the first rites of Spring seem to include annoying as many people as possible by cruising with the windows down and the box up. You know the guys I’m talking about. The ones that rattle the windows in your house and set off car alarms as they go by. The obnoxiously relentless thump, thump, thump that threatens not only our sanity but our safety as well. So if anybody else out there is as fed up as I am with the mobile mega-bass army, then you might want to read on. Think I’m kidding? Think again. Ordinance 784 in Ocean Shores, Washington concludes that; " WHEREAS the increased sounds emitted from said equipment can constitute a traffic hazard, a health hazard, and can cause a public disturbance;" Nicely done Ocean Shores City Council. If you’re ready to dismiss my cause as some self-serving diatribe, just hang in there with me for a little bit and I think you’ll agree that these souped up subwoofers on steroids are more of a menace than you might have imagined. Loud music itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and we all like to rock out every now and then. But when you exceed safe dB levels on our streets and sidewalks, you pose a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike. Here’s the scene: A busy intersection near a mall and everyone is sitting behind the wheel yakking away or texting on their cell phones. As they wait for the light to change, from the other direction Benny the Boombox comes rolling along in his 10,000 watt Chevy. An approaching ambulance’s siren gets lost in the shuffle, resulting in the tragic death of an innocent bystander. Can we pin the loss on Benny? Should we? Depends on how you see it. Either way, it’s not too hard to connect the dots. The excessive volume of a highly amplified kicker box not only inhibits the driver from hearing important traffic and safety signals, it also limits others nearby from hearing and reacting to what may ultimately be a life saving warning. While it may be a way for some macho young men to publicly express their over active libidos, the only thing they are accomplishing is making themselves look like a bunch of idiots while they are endangering the rest of us. Even if they strike out with the girls they don’t care, and they can still enjoy the fact that they’ve pissed us off in the process. In fact, they often crave the negative attention their obvious disrespect garners. Road rage being what it is, few citizens care to confront these roving bass junkies in their iron clad SUV’s with darkened glass. In the unfortunate circumstance that we get stuck next to thumperboy, most of us just roll up our windows, turn up our stereos, and hope for traffic to start moving. We just sit there and take it, even the cops don’t do anything. Why do we put up with this crap? Are we so afraid that if we say something they’ll blow our heads off? Perhaps we are. And if that’s the case, then things are pretty sad indeed. I’ve managed to confront a few of these morons and my efforts were usually met with a raised middle finger or some similar gesture of intimidation. One guy even followed me for a few blocks before he decided I wasn’t worth his time. After living in Chicago for a long time, I became accustomed to the rumbling of nearby "L" trains and the constant parade of police and firefighters. I let things slide and tried not to get myself worked up, but in search of better schools and quieter neighborhoods, I eventually moved my little family to the suburbs a few years ago. Even though we live on a main street, it’s still pretty quiet except for rush hour. A city friend of mine likes to call it Mt. Pilot because it’s small, homogeneous, and boring. (For those of you who are too young to know where Mt. Pilot is, ask your parents.) I mention this only because the thump-a-thump- thump that was predominantly an urban phenomenon seems to have found its way out to the boonies. It must be spreading like a virus and fueling some sort of uncontrollable aural mutation destined to ruin us all.
Okay, so now that I’ve had my say, where do we go from here? Well believe it or not folks, there is something we can do about this if we get enough people on board. Our wise friends in Ocean Shores, Washington decided they had had enough and passed a local ordinance banning excessive automobile stereo noise. They even use the words " constant thumping of loud base (sic)" For ideas on how your community can do something similar, the entire ordinance can be found at
So call your alderman, write your representative and e-mail your congressman. If there isn’t any existing legislation we can use to fight these booming bass bullies, let’s enact some. It’s either that or some really good earplugs.