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?