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Bring on Noise.
October 24, 2007 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Director Henry Bean has written and directed a new movie, Noise. It's about the bad kind of noise: car alarms that won't stop going off, garbage trucks that wake you up, endless horns honking. You know the pain.

Turns out Bean used to run his own vigilante campaign against all things intolerably noisy, until he got arrested.

In the film, Tim Robbins plays Dave, a character who

becomes so obsessed with noise that he turns into a black-clad vigilante, "The Rectifier", waging his own crusade on those damn alarms shattering his quiet. After ending in jail and nearly sinking his marriage, he decides to try to go about his fight legally, collecting signatures for a petition which he hopes will get the issue on the ballot at an upcoming council election. The initiative is hugely popular but is blocked by the city's slimy mayor, played by William Hurt, forcing David to resort to an extreme strategy to make his point.

Perhaps some advocacy groups against noise pollution will be happy to see this.
posted by bassjump (48 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
...car alarms that won't stop going off, garbage trucks that wake you up, endless horns honking. You know the pain.

I know OF the pain.

He was so tired of constant noise around him and his home in New York...

There's your problem. NOTBLAMETHEVICTIMIST
posted by DU at 9:31 AM on October 24, 2007


Not to be confused with the excellent Australian film of the same name.
posted by mokolabs at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2007


Thanks, mokolabs. I'll have to check that out.
posted by bassjump at 9:59 AM on October 24, 2007


This morning, as I hopped up the stairs onto the bus to come to work, the bus horn suddenly blared in my ears. I jumped and almost fell back down the stairs. Since I'd been too tired to think about it, I stared dumbly at the bus driver. She looked at me sheepishly. "Sorry."

Since I didn't know what to make of it, I just went and sat down. As we pulled away, the horn kept blaring on and off: "HONK! HONK! honk-HONk-honk! ho-HONK!" Cars scattered, people walking through crosswalks were startled. About ten minutes into this, we stopped and a mechanic came on to fix the horn.

I don't know why, but I found it wildly hilarious. But I still feel like car alarms should be banned.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 AM on October 24, 2007


“I know OF the pain.”

*thumbs through Fowler's Usage, second edition*

Ah, here it is. On page 246 it says that “don't listen to DU, he's an idiot”.

I guess that settles it then. I don't know what I'd do without my Fowler within easy reach.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2007


On page 246 it says, that
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2007


But I still feel like car alarms should be banned.

Car alarms, the backup beep and leaf blowers. Oh, and assholes with 4000 watts of subwoofer stuffed into a Honda Civic (or an Escalade for that matter). I still want to make a surface to surface bass-seeking missile system.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


So, tapping your phone -- bad.
banning loud ring tones -- good.
posted by garlic at 10:45 AM on October 24, 2007


I know OF the pain.

Sure you do, because you read about it in bassjump's post. Now, bassjump knows the pain.

(I sure hope you weren't trying, ineptly, to "correct" bassjump, because in that case EB's strictures apply.)
posted by languagehat at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2007


Oh, don't get me started. I'm afraid to watch this video for fear of the Righteous Anger it'll raise in me. I live in Manhattan on 9th Avenue and the number of alarms, horns, and the constant high pitched squeals of breaks that obviously need some maintenance is insane-making. And then there are the asshats with their music.

One night at around 2 a.m. these two twenty-something fucktards pulled up across the street next to the bodega in their white BMW. They were shouting to be heard over their blaring crotch rock and laughing while they pissed next to the dumpster.

I tried to wait it out but they wouldn't leave. So I stomped into the kitchen, grabbed the three eggs left on the door, went back to the bedroom, whipped open the window and threw them one at a time at the car. I desperately wanted to get one in the open moon roof. I didn't, but I did hit the side of the car with two of the three eggs.

I hid right after throwing them, because I am a chickenshit, but they were gone in about 10 seconds.

I keep thinking that if I could band together our neighborhood in an "egg watch" we could pelt all noise transgressors and get the reputation as the street to avoid. "Stay off of 47th Street man... they'll throw shit at you!"
posted by papercake at 10:54 AM on October 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


I am intrigued...at the risk of going tangential...what about public use of cell phones? Is there a future in your metamind opinion that there will be legislation to inhibit non-emergency use of cell phones in the public arena? I suppose I am being to broad in my description but there is nothing like being at work hearing mundane and often loud conversations of others' intimate lives. I think one could argue certain privacy issues are at stake even in a public setting. But, then again, I am not remotely a lawyer (if you suprisingly couldn't tell).

Down with blaring horns and the such, excluding emergency needs such as ambulances. Viva La Resistance'!

Thanks for the interesting post, bassjump.
posted by snap_dragon at 10:59 AM on October 24, 2007


Is it just me, or does it seem car alarms going off isn't the problem it once was (like most shut off pretty quickly on their own now)?

Then again, whenever there is a motorcycle rally here, everyone's car alarm goes off.
posted by drezdn at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2007


Maybe it's because I live right beside my city's arguably busiest steet and almost directly below the airport's approach path, but I can usually tune all that crap out much more easily than I can people talking. Even if they're talking so softly as to be unintelligible, I can still hear the cadences of their speech and it drives my up the fucking wall more than construction or alarms. The definition of noise is very subjective.

Of course, that doesn't mean I endorse cement trucks filled with cats rolling through the streets at 3 AM, or cranking Metal Music Machine to 11 and blasting it through your apartment walls - gratuitous noise is a nuisance, but is part of a greater problem, the on-going lack of civility and consideration in our society. While it's possible the Noise Pollution movement is helping combat the over-reaching issue of an uncivil society, my impression is that they are missing the forest for the trees.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2007


Oh, and there's also an ambulance station up a block from where I'm typing this, as three passing sirens in the last four minutes reminded me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2007


If the assholes with modified pipes on their motorcycles don't stop driving around in front of my apartment at all hours of the night, I'm going to go Rectifier on them.
posted by sneakin at 11:05 AM on October 24, 2007


Is it just me, or does it seem car alarms going off isn't the problem it once was (like most shut off pretty quickly on their own now)?

Yeah, that's just you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:17 AM on October 24, 2007


(I sure hope you weren't trying, ineptly, to "correct" bassjump, because in that case EB's strictures apply.)

No.....is that what his comment was about? I was drawing a distinction between knowing the pain and having heard about it. Not living in the middle of Manhattan, I'm rarely woken up by garbage trucks at 3 am. More generally, noise pollution is, while not non-existent, fairly rare in ruralish areas.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on October 24, 2007


becomes so obsessed with noise that he turns into a black-clad vigilante,

I relate. But for me, it's light not sound. (Though I have had that urge as well.)

*holds up fingers a fraction of an inch apart*

This last summer I came this close to snapping and grabbing a pellet rifle to take out all high intensity yard lamps that people would leave on all night.

I fully understand having motion-sensitive lights for security reasons. But please, for the love of darkness, turn off the fucking light after you go to bed! Some of us like to look at the stars through our telescopes, and your need to potentially look at your yard at 3am interferes with that.

</rant>

The sound thing gets me as well, but less so.
posted by quin at 11:20 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


unfortunately i don't have access to youtube at work, cause a thread with this title deserves a link to anthrax and public enemy doing bring 'da noise.
posted by andywolf at 11:34 AM on October 24, 2007


Is it just me, or does it seem car alarms going off isn't the problem it once was

I've noticed this too. I used to hear alarms going off all night if there was a heavy rain. Now, not so much. Or maybe I've just moved to a more neighborly neighborhood. I used to lie awake fantasizing that the car keeping me up was actually being stolen.

Some proposals:

1) Mandate a pay per honk system.
2) Dance. (video)
posted by hydrophonic at 11:36 AM on October 24, 2007


The ubran soundscape is following its most likely path: chaos. More people in more spaces means less peace. (Unfortunately if you're an animal, sonic chaos could very well mean extinction.)

Acoustic ecology is a growing field, and urban soundscapes are a primary focus of attention among practicioners. Some people are working hard to keep the clutter down. Others think the answer is to counter "bad" sounds with "good" sounds.

Things will change only when cities understand the need to change -- when it's proven with cold hard facts that dollars or quality of life have gone down. It hasn't happened yet in related sensory media (visual chaos has given us meek signage standards in most cities; urban architectural standards usually focus not on aesthetics, but safety).

Hopefully some bright city out there will lead the way with some innovative work. Meanwhile, like paperwatch says, there's always eggs.
posted by diastematic at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2007


Yeah Quin, I have a back yard neighbor that leaves a 500 watt halogen pointed right at my back yard all night long. It's bright enough to read by in my back yard, and enough to light up the rear rooms of my house if I open the curtains. Finally some weed trees have grown up in the utility corridor between our yards to block it some, at least until the parish clears the ditch again.
posted by localroger at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2007


And rock music blares!

Blares! Blares! Blares!
posted by sourwookie at 11:54 AM on October 24, 2007


Wow, Ethereal Bligh completely misread what DU was trying to say there, and came off like a total condescending twat, in the bargain! Should his comment be flagged as ... noise?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:09 PM on October 24, 2007


gratuitous noise is a nuisance, but is part of a greater problem, the on-going lack of civility and consideration in our society. While it's possible the Noise Pollution movement is helping combat the over-reaching issue of an uncivil society, my impression is that they are missing the forest for the trees.
Alvy Ampersand mentions the exact reality behind all of this- it all comes down to courtesy and civility. Whether it is blaring stereos, loud cell phones, rude people on the bus, bad drivers, unruly teenagers, and so on... it is more about the loss of civilized society than anything else.

The noise issues are really just symptoms of the disease and not the cause.

(Pet peeve: the house-shaking rides that cruise past my house at night. It's not good when your stereo causes people in a 500 ft radius to feel their internal organs shake! Seriously, what's wrong with you people?)
posted by EricGjerde at 12:14 PM on October 24, 2007


...I can usually tune all that crap out much more easily than I can people talking...

True; and there seems to be even a finer distinction. If someone else is watching TV, it's much easier for me to tune out a drama (where the characters are talking to each other) than, say, the news, or Oprah (where they are talking to the viewer).
posted by kurumi at 12:16 PM on October 24, 2007


Yes, I misread it. And I apologize, DU. But if I hadn't misread it, then it would have been an appropriate response. Pissy prescriptionist corrections, as I thought that was, aren't exactly unusual around here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:27 PM on October 24, 2007


The only noise which bothers me are subwoofers. Maybe it's because I'm a drummer. But while I can tune everything else out, and sleep through all kinds of similar noise, subwoofers (or just being able to hear the deep bass of someone's stereo) drives me nuts. I can't ignore it. I always try and figure out what the beat is.

Otherwise, though, I'm pretty easy. Even car alarms don't upset me. In the apartment complex I'm living in, there's a bunch of teenagers. I've never gone out to look, but I'm pretty sure that a moderate number of them, at least six or more, hang out in the parking lot in front of my building late at night, often until 1AM or so. They talk and laugh and stuff. I always keep my window open, so I can always hear them, though not well enough to hear anything other than just the noise of people, no actual words.

Anyway, it doesn't bother me.

Oh, what does bother me, a lot, is not a persistent noise so it didn't come immediately to my mind, but is people slamming the doors, especially the immediate neighbors. Or, really, slamming anything. Drawers in the kitchen, whatever. That's only a problem when I'm living with someone. But the door thing is a problem with neighbors. My downstairs neighbor slams all his doors enough to make my apartment floor shake.

And why? Why slam things? I was brought up in a quiet house, no one ever slammed anything. And I realize that other people grew up in noise, slam-prone environments and to them it's no big deal. But a slammed door or drawer is really provocative to me, it sounds like aggression. Seriously. It feels like passive/aggressive agression in general, which only makes real sense when it's someone you live with. And even then, it's usually just a cultural difference. But a part of my brain just can't believe that the person slamming the door isn't aware that it's a loud, startling sound that other people will hear. And that part of my brain interprets that as being a sort of “fuck you” to everyone nearby by that person. I swear it really gets my blood going, my hackles raised. I want to get a baseball bat and hit the person in the stomach for it. Slamming is really, really provocative to me on a gut level.

But, in general, I don't have a problem with noise. I actually like to hear (low-level, just barely audible) noises of people around me. It's comforting. I like having people around me without having to interact with them. :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:27 PM on October 24, 2007


Like the new apartment complex groundskeeper that is absolutely fascinated by the leaf blower and revs it up like a motorcycle to chase leaves from one corner to another.

7am to 3pm every friggin day.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:39 PM on October 24, 2007


Doors slam!
People yell!
Children scream!
Sirens whine!
Trucks rumble and roar!
And rock music blares!

Is there ANY escape from noise?
posted by item at 12:40 PM on October 24, 2007


Earplugs and Jack Daniels.
posted by quin at 12:43 PM on October 24, 2007


And remember
Sound was used for centuries as a method of torture
Place someone's head in a bell
Ring it
Eventually, they'll go insane

(yeah, item beat me to it, but Negativland still rules.)
posted by Nelson at 12:44 PM on October 24, 2007


Fair enough, EB.

Living in an apartment, the noise that most drives me around the bend is people banging on my neighbors' doors. It happens constantly, sometimes with such force it rattles my walls. Knock with your knuckles, people! Pounding on doors with fists should be the sole reserve of cops and landlords.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:54 PM on October 24, 2007


Sometimes the charms of living in a small town, in a well-insulated house, are quite forcefully brought home to me. Such is the case now.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 1:17 PM on October 24, 2007


Sounds like an interesting film. You get used to a lot of noise in a big city, but I'm still not quite used to the piercing fire sirens at 3 a.m.
posted by agregoli at 1:27 PM on October 24, 2007


I hate noise. I hate noise so damned much. It's not the loud ones that get me, though. It's the little tiny noises. Coworkers slurping their lunch two desks down. The old guy in my former office (we relocated, thank GOD) who issued small burps constantly on the other side of my cube. People who tap their pens. Smack their gum. Grooooooan about what a long day it's been.

If it weren't for Tom Waits, I'd be happier deaf.
posted by katillathehun at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2007


But if I hadn't misread it, then it would have been an appropriate response. Pissy prescriptionist corrections, as I thought that was, aren't exactly unusual around here

Unusual? No. But appropriate? Also no.

On topic, moving out of NYC made me realize how much noise annoyance I'd been suppressing. Now that there's basically nothing to hear but birds and crickets outside, I think I'd go crazy if I had to go back to car alarms and blaring radios.
posted by languagehat at 2:59 PM on October 24, 2007


Mandate a pay per honk system.

I wish I hadn't seen Ricky! On the sidewalk!
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:31 PM on October 24, 2007


but is part of a greater problem, the on-going lack of civility and consideration in our society.

Exactly. I dont see how people who rent in an apartment building think "What I need is a 2,000 watt stereo system." Its just incredible that these people live only to give a big middle finger to all their neighbors.

I dont see why the noise sensitive and the excessive loud people cant just get off their asses and move to the suburbs/rurals and be done with it. I have a feeling they like the suffering and sadism, respectively. Who knew concentrated city living just brings out the worst in people? A little civility goes a long way, but that's just uncool and unamerican I guess.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:45 PM on October 24, 2007



And why? Why slam things?


I do it all the time. I use the same amount of force, but which way the wind is blowing and what window I have open makes all the difference when I try to close the door.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:48 PM on October 24, 2007


Alvy A. and kurumi: Thank you, reading your comments has made me feel less isolated with being bothered by TV watched in the next room when I'm trying to sleep. It's true that the speech cadences, especially if it's the attention-grabbing tones, are the worst. (RAGE against Ads especially...)

I have so many noise-induced Righteous Anger anecdotes that I refrain from writing... but GREAT POST!
Ok, maybe one anecdote... When staying in a youth hostel once a long time ago, same guy comes in late every night boozed-up, waking me and then snoring so loudly I can't go back to sleep again... Third night of this I suddenly snap, and without thinking lean out from my bunk (top) and hit the other guy's bunk long-range with big fluffy youth hostel pillow. BAM! He wakes up, going "Aargh" and flailing his arms around to fend off invisible attacker. I'm not this mean anymore, and have learned to always pack earplugs... and not to use candle wax for ear plugs when there is a proper rave going on in the house you just moved into on the same day, at 9 AM in a room awash with bass, neither having raved nor slept a wink...

top five worst noises:

1. A rave in your house (Gabba, and you're not in it)
2. People in the next room shagging for 6 hours on ecstasy with rock music a la The White Stripes from the room on other side.
3. Band rehearsing in your house. (Worst = Metal and Balkan music. Slightly better = Slow indie rock. Best = singer-songwriter)
4. Your musician flatmates practicing. (Best = surprisingly drums w. damper pads, Slightly better = Clarinet, Worst = Bagpipes)
5. TV in the next room, Ads or extreme sports

Somehow, Weed makes all this so much more bearable...
posted by yoHighness at 6:08 PM on October 24, 2007


What are your top five worst noises?
[this thread is fantastic]
posted by yoHighness at 6:09 PM on October 24, 2007


“Unusual? No. But appropriate? Also no.”

Well, I disagree. Pissy and/or snotty prescriptivists should be mocked quite mercilessly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:02 PM on October 24, 2007


The only that brings the hate is me is construction.

Mostly because sometime last year, the house right next to my bedroom window got torn down to be replaced with condos.

They FINALLY finished the vast majority of the work that I can hear a little while back... almost exactly the same time that the house two doors down on the other side was torn down to build what I can only assume will be more condos.

It's back to framing hammers, nail guns, and circular saws for me every morning!

It doesn't help that I work from 10:30ish-undeterminded later time than most people, so 8 am is ass early for me.

I'll even be in the market to buy something soon, and I like this neighborhood. If I had any interest in the condos that had been built, it might mitigate the pain somewhat. But -- unlike my current apartment -- they don't have private garages, and that's a deal breaker for me.
posted by flaterik at 8:25 PM on October 24, 2007


Comforting to know I'm not the only one tormented by what I call preternaturally acute peripheral hearing.

Well, I disagree. Pissy and/or snotty prescriptivists should be mocked quite mercilessly.

Pissy and/or snotty anythings should be mocked quite mercilessly.

So watch your backo, Jacko.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 PM on October 24, 2007


Cripes. All those pesky other people on the planet are pretty annoying, all right.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:35 PM on October 24, 2007


Reminds me of this.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:15 AM on October 25, 2007


I recall reading in Carfree Cities (in the section on human-density problems) that Dutch police have authority to confiscate any sound system that is used to violate the noise laws. When you've got as many people in as small a space as the Netherlands, you need some good strong don't-be-a-dick laws.

Anyone recall a little SF story called Silenzia?
posted by eritain at 11:44 PM on October 27, 2007


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