Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Does the Music Annoy You?

Let me just say that I am an avid fan of The Brian Lehrer Show. He's even my friend on Facebook. Really. But I think that Brian Lehrer had a slow day yesterday. He had a decently long segment based on one of his friend's complaints (a friend who happens to live in Sunset Park!) about the holiday music that the Sunset Park BID has been playing on 5th Avenue since Thanksgiving.

Considering that the Sunset Park BID is not alone in piping holiday music along a shopping avenue, and considering that it also happened last year, it's not really news. However, since I always have WNYC on in the background when I am able, my attention was consumed by the "drama." Of course, there wasn't much drama. Some callers (mainly NOT from Sunset Park) complained about holiday music in general and whether or not it was even legal for the BID to pipe religious music (like Presley's "Blue Christmas") into a public area.

According to Ms. Giordano, of the Sunset Park BID, the music is shared with the shopping community for seven hours a day, and the BID is trying to be sensitive about the volume. I have no idea when it starts or stops, but I'm sure it's not too early or late to be aggravating to late-risers or early-to-bedders.

One caller, a Sunset resident who lives half a block from 5th Avenue, said that it's too loud and she can hear it from her living room. Granted, that would be annoying. And with some warmer weather coming this week, windows might be opening. I also live half a block from 5th Avenue, and I've never heard it from my apartment. (Full disclosure: Some people - like my students and my husband - think I might be hard-of-hearing.)

Is it really that annoying or offensive to hear holiday music in the streets for a month? Personally, I'm not particularly religious. I go to services on Christmas Eve because I like the candles and because my parents appreciate it. I do look forward to hearing The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" every year, but I have had quite enough of "Dominick the Donkey." Okay, maybe once or twice a season, even a few "Hee Haws" are okay. I love hearing the first Adam Sandler "Hanukkah Song," but I think the next couple of versions are poor sequels. Would it make a difference if the songs were completely secular? Does "Jingle Bells" count as a non-religious song? How about "Deck the Halls" or "Frosty the Snowman" or "Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer"? Hmmm. That mentions Christmas Eve, so maybe not.

It could be that just the additional sound on the street is what aggravates those who want the music stopped. But aren't the guys with amps who share their views on Jesu Cristo more aggravating? Those guys I DO hear from my half a block away from 5th Avenue apartment.

I wonder if the Sunset Park BID could get Joni Mitchell's "River" piped in. I'd defend hearing JM to anyone, even Brian Lehrer.

Does anyone else have real opinions about this?


Anonymous said...

I love to hear holiday music. I especially like to hear the music on 5th. Screw the bah humbug people! I don't care if the music is about Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or Christmas. For me, the music invokes memories of when I was a child. Maybe these people didn't get what they wanted for their holiday.

:0 )

KyleH said...

I love holiday music. But then, I have really fond memories of the holidays as a kid and some people don't, so maybe they try to ignore this season. This is definitely one of those things where you're just not going to please everyone. You mentioned they play it for seven hours during the day and that it probably wouldn't affect early to bedders or late risers, but what about people who work til 4, 5 in the morning? If that music woke me up at 11am and I'd only been asleep for five hours I'd be pissed.

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show you that it is next to impossible to please everyone in NYC. Gotta love it!

DKM said...

I was walking down Fifth Avenue a few days ago, singing a song to myself (in my head) when I realized that not only had I all of a sudden forgotten what the song was, but there was another song, a recorded one, invading my thoughts, coming, apparently, out of the sky. It disturbed me a bit.

First of all, the music is not in an enclosed space, such as a store, it's out in the open air, where, I would have hoped at least, we would be free from being sold on someone else's idea of culture. If there were live singers standing on a corner, singing their hearts out about how they love Jesus and Mary, I'd be delighted. I'd probably stop and watch them, and throw a buck their way, but this is just air pollution.

It's not as if we have a lot of "nature" in this city, and I specifically don't walk around with music plugged into my ears in order to enjoy the "natural" sounds of the city. Pre-recorded music is nothing but mind-numbing blandness.

Aren't there any choral groups out there?

As for "non-secular" "holiday" music, for Christ's sake, it's CHRISTmas season. As a non-Christian, I'm all for keeping the Christ in Christmas. The holiday should be about celebrating what's great about the religion (and yes, family is a big part of that). Trying to make the early winter "holiday season" is nothing but a marketing ploy designed to make every aspect of life (even more) about spending money, and (even less) about spiritual fulfillment.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a bit invasive. But hey this is Brooklyn which is a borough famous for its Christmas decorations, so I guess it goes with the territory.

Anonymous said...

It has nothing on the car stereos of the guys who live next door. (Which I sometimes secretly enjoy, if it's not 3 a.m.)