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It’s time to fight back with Ethel Merman at full tilt

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POSTED February 18, 2013 12:56 a.m.

I was jogging down Van Ryn Road when I heard Mick Jagger belting out “Satisfaction”.

I looked in the direction of the noise and saw nothing on the almond huller property site to indicate where it was coming from yet it was getting louder and louder.

Seconds later, a motorcyclist went rumbling by westbound on the 120 Bypass with Jagger’s voice making his Harley sound as it if were a tricycle with a squeak.

No wonder 17 percent of Americans have some form of hearing loss.

Almost all of us have experienced walking down the street or shopping when someone walks by with an earbud attached to an iPad with the volume so loud you can hear the music from six feet away.

Then there are the thumper music CDs played on boom box systems that turn the host car and those around them into mobile earthquake simulators.

Not everyone obviously views such music as annoying since many are playing it at a volume known to drive Panama Gen. Manuel Noriega batty.

It is also true that one man’s annoyance is another’s pacifier.

I lived for three years at Laurel Glenn Apartments on Button Avenue in a second-story unit facing Highway 99 with just four redwoods as a screen. I slept with the window open year round. On hot summer nights, I’d sleep out on the balcony. The freeway noise - even the occasional sound of a truck’s Jake brake - became background noise that was as soothing as a babbling brook.

Yet someone six blocks away would complain about the freeway noise if they left their window open at night.

The same is true of trains. Growing up in Roseville we lived about four blocks from the railroad marshaling yards where they tore apart and assembled trains 24/7. The constant banging of the box cars was almost non-existent after awhile although visitors would complain non-stop. When we moved to Lincoln, we lived four blocks from the tracks but it took months to get use to the trains that would zip through town at 70 mph.

Yet there is something uniquely perverse about people generating annoying loud sounds - mostly music cranked up loud enough to trigger an avalanche 100 miles away.

It is the equivalent of getting in someone’s face.

But odds are the perpetrator wouldn’t view it as weird. Ever since retailers started mass marketing electronic devices with sound that can be amplified - strike that - distorted beyond what the sound’s creators’ intended - we’ve been besieged with people rocking out. They show little regard whether anyone within 30 yards shares their taste in music or their assault on peace and quiet.

It is little wonder that many people act as if they can’t hear since their ears have been subjected to sound levels that make jack hammers sound as soft as flyswatters.

Shout all you want to get their attention. It won’t work.

If you’ve had enough, you might want to treat them to a taste of heir own medicine. Get a Van Halen CD. Have it ready to pop into your car stereo system when a boom box car pulls up alongside you. Then, instead of rolling up your windows in a futile attempt to block the sound, crank your stereo all the way up and let the inhabitants of the vibrating car with the thumper music enjoy Van Halen screaming at full tilt.

Given that boom boxes are coming back in a much more compact form you can do the same with an iPod listener that believes they need their music cranked all the way up despite having an earbud in their ear.

Pop in an Ethel Merman CD, select her loud and boisterous rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” turn the volume all the way up, and let them have it.

If Ethel Merman distorted at 120 decibels doesn’t grate on their nerves, nothing else well.



This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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