William Faulkner’s classic 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury had nothing to do with the unbearably loud noises on the streets of our fair city. It was just too good a title to not use in a column about the brain-busting noise on our streets that I have to listen to all day and night at the Inn on the Alameda.
It is not only hurting the hotels and motels all over town, it’s also gradually deteriorating the quality of life of our local citizens.
In 1929, Henry Ford’s Model T thankfully had no access to modified mufflers, oversize tires and noisy engines, nor could it peel out and burn rubber. The tin lizzie could only terrify, upset, startle and annoy mules and horses.
The Model T must have frightened and annoyed these beasts of burden to a similar degree as today’s scofflaws. This annoying practice today does not differentiate between race, color or creed when it comes to creating as much noise as possible for the sheer enjoyment of getting attention.
Is this what our Founding Fathers considered free speech — to constitutionally be protected to express your presence with a loudness of a foghorn or train whistle? Or does such inconsiderate behavior constitute disturbing the peace and domestic tranquility?
Advertisements from the late 1920s frequently depict an older, well-dressed couple driving a car. Today, they would run the risk of being run off the road or having a coronary incident from the noise of a roaring engine, burning rubber, glasspack mufflers and deafening music 12 times the legal decibel limit.
Here’s how crazy I am about it. I bought a decibel reader and stood outside the inn, pointing it at every loud vehicle. That evening, a friend called to inform me it looked like I was pointing a gun at these scofflaws, so I ceased and desisted.
The following week, I saw a motorcycle roar up Paseo de Peralta, so I chased this person down to the Plaza to inform him he was breaking the law. I can only guess who he thought I was, and if he had shot me dead, it could have been ruled justifiable homicide. So, who did the police pull over, lights flashing, for reckless driving? Who do you think?
My options are few. I could commit myself to a sanatorium or pray on bended knees to the gods of governance to realize the severity of this destruction of our rightful peace of mind.
My guests are startled daily by motorcycles, trucks and cars roaring and intentionally frightening our patrons on the sidewalk or walking to their rooms.
No politics intended, but we the people need to see immediate, effective enforcement of the noise ordinance to stop this citywide degradation of our quality of life. That, or let’s start getting fitted for hearing aids and stocking up on anxiety medication. Kaboom!