Recently, my husband was surprised to read in the Wall Street Journal that his California hometown is fighting crime using calming sounds and music. He was so surprised that he *had* to interrupt my writing to tell me about it. This interruption caused me to forget a crucial detail in my sure-to-be published blockbuster novel thus losing out on what inevitably would have been Agatha, Macavity and Edgar awards for this future bestseller. But I digress.
Located about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, the desert community of Lancaster is best known for playing an important role in the space shuttle program. In fact, one major road renamed “Challenger Way,” had its street signs shortened so the shuttle wings could pass over them as it was towed from the factory to nearby Edwards Air Force Base.
It’s also known for a musical road that was originally made by Honda for a TV commercial. The asphalt is grooved causing vibrations that sound like the William Tell Overture when driven over at a certain speed.
In the spirit of continuing innovation, The City of Lancaster now plays musical notes, bird song and sounds of splashing water on 70 speakers along the city’s major boulevard. Mayor Parris, who is also a practicing personal-injury attorney, believes that the sounds soothe the locals and create a safer environment by fine tuning their brain chemicals of cortisol and adrenaline. He told The Wall Street Journal, “Everyone is in a better mood, a better place.” The police captain agrees and claims that the calmness is being brought back by people to their own neighborhoods. (I guess happiness is contagious.)
This creative method of fighting crime seems to have begun in the mid-1980s when a 7-Eleven convenience store blasted classical music to disperse teens congregating in its parking lot. It worked so well that various forms of behavior modifying noises are now used in the U.S. and around the world.
For example, Doha, Qatar’s Aspire Park uses recorded bird song to help modulate visitor behavior. Public transportation systems from Sydney, Australia to Portland Oregon play classical music to combat crime. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery--much like the early 7-Eleven--plays classical music at night to prevent kids from hanging out in front of the building.
England doesn’t take teen bad behavior lightly either. One company in the U.K. sells a device that emits a high frequency pulsing sound to repel loitering teenagers that neither adults nor dogs can hear. There is even a school that punishes misbehaving students by forcing them to listen to classical music for an hour. (Oh, the inhumanity!)
So, if soothing sounds send criminals to their happy place and classical music scares off disaffected youths, is there a sound that will banish people who continually interrupt writers? I envision a foghorn that booms when an interloper interrupts with, “Where’s my…” (FOGHORN), “Have you seen my…” (FOGHORN), “Since you’re not busy, could you…” (FOGHORN).
Do you use calming sounds and music to go to your happy place? Or, play obnoxious noises to repel an intruder?
WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Sasscer Hill on 5/18 and Carolyn Mulford on 5/25. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at email@example.com.