I’m sick and tired of these Johnny-come-latelies complaining about noise in this city when I’ve been complaining about it for decades.
I mean, if these Downtown “stop-the-chop-ers” really wanted to get something done about the loud helicopters flying overhead, you know who they should have called first? Yours truly!
Look, you all know I’ve made a name for myself making noise. I’m the Big Screecher, for crying out loud! And what I’m constantly yelling and screaming about always makes perfect sense. So you’ll excuse me if I tell you that there is, in fact, a lot of unnecessary noise out there that makes me want to scream even louder — and it’s not just copters.
In fact, the vast majority of 911 calls in this city are complaints about noise! Of course, I’ve known this for years. The Screecher is always ahead of the curve!
About 30 years ago, I started screeching about the annoying screech that constantly emanates from the West End Line (for all you hipsters and doofuses out there, that’s the subway that rides above ground on the elevated railroad tracks on New Utrecht Avenue and 86th Street). So, one night I’m screeching about it in a bar on 86th Street when this guy butts in. He had some weird English accent and a bit too many, but he starts blabbing my ear off about some noted noise scientist who says something can be done about the blasted screeching.
Turns out I was talking (barely) with New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy — you know, the guy that hosted “A Current Affair” on channel 5. So I said to him, alright, hot shot, what do I do next?
He told me you’ve gotta get organized, or people will think you’re a nut.
I say, well, it’s too late to stop that nut thing (I mean, c’mon! Was there any other postal worker who yelled and screamed and taught the cha-cha?), but there’s no reason I couldn’t get organized.
So I did. And it wasn’t that hard.
Look, there’s something like a quarter of a bazillion people living within a football-field-and-a-half of an elevated train here in Brooklyn. So finding people upset with all the noise those blasted things make was easy.
I reached out to schools, churches, synagogues, civic groups, elected officials and even professional sound experts, including Dr. Arline Bronzaft and Dr. Thomas Fay, and we all got together.
So much for the lone-nut theory!
Together, we screeched about the screeching in the pages of the Brooklyn Graphic and, before long, Channel 7 picked up the story. The Big Screechers were born — and, boy did we ever get things done!
We prided ourselves on getting the “Transit Noise Code” law passed, forcing the Transit Authority to find ways to quiet things down. We were offered a desk at the Council on the Environment of New York City!
So look, you won’t mind if I toot my own horn by saying we were ahead of the curve when it came to noise pollution in this city. But if you don’t believe me, take a look at this: there’s a new book out on the problem (here comes this week’s shameless plug!), and our own Dr. Bronzaft has played a big role in it. Make that huge.
The title of the new book says it all: “Why Noise Matters, a Worldwide Perspective on the Problems, Policies and Solutions,” so I don’t have to say much else. But I will, anyway!
Arline tells me that the book argues that noise is the most neglected green issue of our day. She says that it uses evidence from all over the world to prove that there are policies and strategies that work to decrease noise pollution.
So believe me you, something can be done.
Like Dunleavy taught me way back when, you just gotta get organized!
And make a lot of noise!
Screech at you next week!