As I pass my second anniversary of living in Brooklyn, I think back to all the wonderful benefits of not living in Manhattan. Things are less expensive, the subway is closer, the air is cleaner (the list goes on). This chain of thought also leads me to the one thing that is not so pleasant about living in Brooklyn: unnecessarily loud car stereos.

I’ve been studying the concept for some time. Regardless of season, temperature, or time of day (although there seems to be a particular bias toward sleeping hours), it is very popular in my neighborhood to drive around blasting up tempo music from your vehicle. Just to be clear, we are not talking about slightly louder than normal volume music, what I’m referencing is music that is so loud that it reaches people several blocks away, most of whom will probably wonder about the hearing damage being inflicted on vehicle occupants. A very special honor is saved for those stereos that are so loud that they set off the car alarms of the parked vehicles lining the street like a baseball player high-fiving a line of cheering teammates as he takes the field.

But why? What would motivate someone to play music at this volume? I can’t imagine that ear-piercing volume enhances listening pleasure. Also – in cold temperatures, or in the rain, driving with windows down must be especially unpleasant for the driver and passengers. Why not just drive and privately enjoy your music like everyone else?

I think it comes down to influencing people around you. Just like the crazy man on the subway who relentlessly babbles away just so people can hear him – playing loud music is a way to force your influence on other people. And influence of the people around you (on the street, just as in business) is the cornerstone of Power.

I can picture the temptation now – driving down the street in Brooklyn, socio-economic dichotomies abound, slowly succumbing to the seduction of Power – and cranking the stereo up past 11.

Unnecessarily Loud Car Stereos
  • Karen

    I like the new crotchety old man attitude that has taken over your blogging.

  • Dadio

    I reserve the rights to the “crotchety old man” attitude in this family and I’m not ready to relinquish it to Drew just yet. I think you nailed the topic in this post. The next question you must consider is; what are you going to do about it? There are so many different types of distractions that have the potential to annoy one or otherwise impact ones ability to enjoy a peaceful environment. Noise polution is hard to ignore but what about the crying baby on an airplane or in a restaurant? Grammy Mim told me, when I was much younger than you are now, that one must learn to tune out distractions in order to be able to concentrate effectively. The applications for “tuning out” distractions are too numerous to mention here but the value of developing the technique is worth a mention. How is it accomplished? I think each individual does it differently. Should it be something taught in school? I’m sure you had to develop this ability in order to effectively study in college where other students had a different agenda than you did. Is that a valid comparison? Do you have a place inside yourself where you can go and where the outside noise can’t reach you? Can you embrace the noise pollution as a blessing provided to help you practice this valuable technique?

  • Andrew_Eifler

    Good points – and I think having a “special place” where you can go an tune out the outside world is an essential to sanity (especially when living in New York City). Some people spend much of their time finding ways to “tune out” (e.g. Buddhist monks). However, rather than tuning the annoyances out, I’ve found it’s best to embrace them – take in the crying babies and loud stereos, the homeless man yelling in the train station, the screaming children – because all of these things are part what makes life so diverse and beautiful.