Posts Tagged ‘sound addiction’

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A nice sunday with lots of sun and people enjoying the outside calm of town, or letting some of the outside world in through opening their windows, should be a peaceful and enjoyable thing, where it not for the endemic (*) Buzz Bikers driving their purposely loudest possible  roaring motorbikes (**) through the inner town – especially – to ventilate themselves and their ego’s.

My mind game is imagining the BuzzSwat in action, applied with the same mercy urbanised humans tend to have for an annoying buzz-fly:  SWATTT!

The local police is invisible – seems to enjoy football matches on television in their stations – and something like an ‘Anti-Bikers-Buzz-Squat’ has never been thought of in this permissive city, once home of the bicycle-beer-café with peddling drunken tourists having a good drink and shout (***). Bikers, also,  can freely van their egos around here in Amsterdam.

This message will also be send to our burgomaster who is the first mayor of this town in decades who shows some – hesitant – concern of how “his” city sounds…

We do have all the technology needed to pick these ‘guys’ (no noisy girls on bikes as far as I can see, some but only on the back seat) from the road: sound sensors, fast cameras, helicopters, name it. I am not a biker so I do not know if these bikes have one or modes of operation, within the official noise limit, and outside these limits. If the exhaust system of these bikes have been tampered with, a kind of ‘art of noise’ tuning, to produce maximum effect, the motorbikes are in an illegal state and should be taken off the road on the spot. If the noise production can be hidden at one moment and still be produced at another, a combined system of instant sound and image capture could be used, to collect the needed proof for prosecution and seizure.

I think it will be necessary to also check the motorbike trade for selling and altering such “leisure” products. Motorbikes purposely made noisy, that has no other sense than produce the joy some people must feel, to terrorise their fellow citizens, by temporarily possessing the space and time that is shared with others with the noise they make.

The BUZZ Bikers are criminals stealing the civility of public space.

The poetics of noise, a picture I made March 11. posted on my Facebook page (seems to have vanished there thanks mr. Zucker…) this year when we had a few days of softer weather announcing a spring that was – in hindsight – slow to come. First nice sunday of the year… forget about listening to the birds, “roarrrrr” the bikers take their monsters out for a ride.

Picture I made May 22. when we had a first nice summer temperature evening… and it was spoiled by a constant parade of these motor devils… (posted on that day on The Limping Messenger)

(*) Endemic (as in “disease”) n. : a disease that is constantly present to a greater or lesser degree in people of a certain class or in people living in a particular location

(**) The police of the city of Amsterdam do have special actions and brigades against the disturbance of young scooter drivers, being both a danger because of wild driving and a nuisance because of the noise produced. Also scooters are so high on the wish-list of youngsters that the ones that are not fortunate enough, will steal them. I have witnessed these squads several times and noticed that especially young Moroccan guys were singled out as they seem to excel in breaching a few laws while driving these fancy scooters (though a xenophobic bias can be not excluded at the same time). I asked an officer of such a squad once why they did not also target the noise of the more affluent big motorbike drivers and the hellish noise they produce, as well as super high speed traversing through the inner town, often passing several police stations without any counter action. I was told, that this was “not a priority.”

(***) After years of complaints, beer-bike-cafés have been – almost – forbidden since after a whole series of court cases. The discussion was whether or not a bicycle-beer-bar was still a bicycle or not. A court decided that the maximum width of a bicycle or tricycle was 1,50 meter. Most of the versions going around where more than this measure limit, though inventive entrepreneurs did develop a beer-cycle-bar that stays within the law-limit.

See also my two earlier articles on
– 25/5/2009: ‘Cycling Cafes’: Cycling Cafes and Drunken Skippers in Party City Amsterdam
3/6/2009: Cycling Cafes down the hill in Amsterdam

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How to do a poll on the level of appreciation of animals of human loud music festivals in public parks and if needed to take appropriate measures? As policy change can be slow, I just designed a set of earmuffs for the rabbits of the Amsterdam Oosterpark (as they have an extreme sensitive hearing apparatus)

When human city culture gets in the red level the park rabbits will be handed out specially adapted earmuffs.

When human city culture gets in the red decibel-zone the park rabbits will be handed out specially adapted earmuffs.

The ‘partying nation’ Holland will not fail to use any occasion to throw a public manifestation of leisurely fun which, since  ubiquitous cheap electronic sound amplifying devices have become available, means lots of noise enhanced by  lots of drinks. One of the favorite venues for these undertakings is the Amsterdam Oosterpark which recently hosted a festival called ‘Appelsap‘ (apple juice) organized by a bunch of  friends, all hip hop aficionados, which was certainly not non-alcoholic, with Heineken as one of the main sponsors. “THE best) Dutch hiphop-events. In the beautiful Oosterpark we take hiphop back to its roots”, reads their web site. Lots of fun for sure: out, proud & loud … but what about  … the roots of the park and what makes up its  innate beauty?

This a one of the many Youtube renderings of the recent Appelsap hiphop event in the Oosterpark, the sound must have been so loud and/or the recording equipment may have had no special dimming switch, because the sound track  is totally overmodulated, so rejoice the noise….

A triptiche of chance in original intend and actual usage of the musique kiosk/dome at the Amsterdam Oosterpark.

Change of original design intend and actual usage of the musique kiosk/dome at the Amsterdam Oosterpark; both options could coexist but when one takes in account the frequency of such loud events the question can be raised if animals and vegetation of our city parks can cope with the crowd and its noise. I also found some web-traces of a Christian evangelic organization that used the same music temple for their 2009 Pentecost praise-the-lord meeting... so who knows what paradisal scenes could have been observed at that other instant of park life.

This spring a local city councilman Martin Verbeet (of the social-democrat party/PvdA) made an attempt at restoring the park to its “historic function” by banning all alcohol usage within the park confines. This measure was aimed primary at full-time  alcoholics, a species that traditionally congregrates in public parks (can be seen all over the world). In fact the alcohol-habit people disturb not too much and even give a certain security by their daylong presence on the park benches  withholding  more badly inclined park visitors from trespassing upon non-assertive park dwellers. Side effect of this zealous municipal policy was that local inhabitants who like to have a nice drink with their picnic  would also fall under the new alcohol ban. Apart from the feared diaspora of debased alcoholics onto the doorsteps of the neighboring streets, the new regulation had a surprising exception paragraph for major events like Queens-day (the 30th of April, a Dionysian national bacchanal in the Netherlands). Who knows if  beer-multinational Heineken has been lobbying, or it could have been the feared loss of votes from the partying minded masses,  within a few weeks the zero-alcohol-in-the-park campaign was withdrawn by the local council. Some park visitors regret this sudden retreat and signal that the group of drinkers can get so big that certain people feel menaced and do not dare to pass the drinkers benches….

The official Amsterdam city sign that makes many people, not just tourists, wonder what this could mean and next to it a make shift bar during the Appelsap (apple juice) festival which had more than just soft drinks.

The official Amsterdam city sign that makes many people, not just tourists, wonder what this could mean and next to it a make shift bar during the Appelsap (apple juice) festival which had more than just soft drinks.

Fellow councillors of other parties have been mocking the zero-alcohol measures of their colleague Verbeet (chairman of the local council), some (D66 party members) even have held an illegal demonstrative drinking party, the local daily newspaper Het Parool wrote negatively about the alcohol ban, and members of  Verbeet his own party choose  not to support him on this topic. A personal démasqué for Martin Verbeet, but maybe some of the good intentions of the councillor may have been overlooked.  In november last year the local party fraction of the social democrats made a research on the functioning of the Oosterpark (102 respondents, 81 on-line inquiry, 21 written reactions/ street interviews) and it must have been upon the outcome of this small research that the zero-alcohol measures have been decided.

-Alcoholics -Drug addicts -Children -Adolescents -Sporters -Picnicers -Other
-Alcoholics -Drug addicts -Children -Adolescents -Sporters -Picnickers -Other issues

There is a lot of moaning in the bare 13 pages of this report from gays that frequent the bushes for back to nature outdoor sex, to the obligatory complaints about dog shit, befouling humans, public toilets, unleashed dogs and dog fights, mopeds and bicycles on pedestrian ways … Surprising is that – apart from dogs – animals are hardly mentioned in the report, or it must be the escaped or freed green parakeets that some  people hold to be a nuisance and of course the arch enemies of any human: the rats who criss cross the park at will. Geese, moor-hens, swans and herons are taken for granted, rabbits remain unnoticed and I am sure that a tiny corner of the arch of Noah should be reserved for other more discrete park inhabitants that have managed to escape our attention.

Noise nuisance, sound pollution if you want, is mentioned by several interviewees, especially late night drumming, screaming and  other forms of  rambunctious behavior. There is also a positive approach to the park, an attempt to formulate what it can or should be, as shown in the following statistic.

-Green lung for the town -Play=area for children -Sporting area - Oasis of tranquility -Hang-out spot for youngsters -Art stage -Other

-Green lung for the town -Play area for children -Sporting area - Oasis of tranquility -Hang-out spot for youngsters -Art stage -Other functions: tai chi spot; picnic and party; garden architecture; café, terrace environment (...)

Again animals are only implicitly represented in the report as part of the “green lung of the town” or the “oasis of tranquility”, though tranquility may for some people exclude even the communication of birds. There are known instances of deportations – organized by a team of city-biologists – of whole troops of geese whose claxoning was found to be unbearable by human city dwellers. Which tempts me to deviate to the somewhat reversed subject of birds dialoguing with the city sounds of ambulances and car alarms (I do have at times whistling conversations with birds that reside in the tree across my kitchen window). This to emphasis that an insight in the animal experience of human sound production and its cornucopia of amplifying devices is very much needed. What are they doing when there is an influx of a rock, hiphop or jembee drums? Are they fleeing? Hiding? Creeping deep in a hole safely below the roots of a tree? Do they leave the park forever after yet another blast-out?  Just play the Appelsap Youtube video once again and let your imagination work. When the hiphoppers speak about roots, let me do so so as well:

What then,was the idea of having a city park? Bringing nature -in an organized human format – into the city? Giving the experience of a garden to those who did not have one? Breathing fresh air? A practicing ground for civic behavior? A place to show yourself and  your family if you were wealthy enough? A way to get some understanding of nature – for alienated city dwellers? Or is all that totally out of fashion and should we better think about  a dropping-ground for children, a jogging parcours,  a skaters circuit, a music esplanade, a juvenile hang-out, a cruising area,  a chill-out spot? Is there any possibility to fuse modern city culture with its apparent need for loud sounds and mass audiences with an ecological attitude that can be branded ‘modern’ as well?  Can these two practices  be reconciled at all? Might it be an idea to get as aware of people’s “noise habits” as we are of  people’s “drinking habits?”


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