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« "Where do they think the salt comes from?" | Main | The authenticity and energy and "beauty in unexpected places" of Everyday Urbanscapes »

June 22, 2008

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I love the organic, natural noise of almost any space, from the birdcalls and babbling brooks of the rural countryside, to the crash of the waves at the beach, to the machinery, clash and chaos of a big city.

In fact, after 12+ years of living in New York City, a few blocks away from one of the city's biggest hospitals, an ambulance siren rocks me to sleep like a lullaby, and when I'm down in North Carolina, I have to have a radio on in the background to get to sleep. :-)

But I absolutely share your contempt for packaged audio in public places... and now, video, too. New York City recently hit a new low, installing television screens in taxicabs, spewing ads and happy-talk local news segments... thankfully, there's still an off button on the damned contraption.

I too have always hated musak. The ever-present music in retail stores drives me nuts. Perhaps it's there so we will be in a hurry to get away from and not consider our purchases carefully, comparing prices, ingredients, size, etc.

Being a musician, I always thought it was just my inability to "tune out" the music and my internal criticism of its value. It seemed like everybody else liked it.

I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone.

Muzak, bad as it is, is fundamentally Background Noise, albeit subtly designed to elicit certain behaviors: Big Brother writ on a musical staff.

Far more annoying to me is the subsonic thud-thud-thud of someone driving by in a car with a 3000 watt sound system, playing a song the bass line of which is intended to loosen the teeth in their sockets.

Out on the streets of Washington, D.C. there is a spirit of isolationism exemplified by at least 90% of those walking around insulated within their cocoon of iPod- or MP3-ism. Why interact with your fellow humans when you can do long term damage to your hearing (if I can hear the head-banging sounds - then it's too doggone loud, kids)?!

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