It's true. They're the worst.
|Oct 17||Public post|
Since there’s so little news, you will be pleased to discover that there is absolutely nothing topical in this newsletter.
Except there’s an article about geese being assholes. There are lots of assholes in the news these days.
So there’s one topical thing.
This Week in Our Dumb World
The earliest noise complaint in history also concerns a bad night’s sleep. The 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh recounts how one of the gods, unable to sleep through humanity’s racket and presumably a little cranky, opts “to exterminate mankind.”
I had to put that up front because it’s an amazing summary of the history of noise complaints. The world’s oldest story begins with a noise complaint.
I’m not overly sensitive to background noise. I actually prefer to work in a relatively noisy environment because it gives me something to tune out as part of the process of focusing. So, I’m not consciously a person overly concerned with noise.
But have you ever stopped and actually tried to listen to the background noise in a city? Between traffic, airplanes, and general life there is a truly horrifying level of noise that we absorb as part of our day to day. Just because we have all learned not to listen doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist doing low level damage to us.
I have been two places where I have actually noticed the quiet.
The first was a trip to Venice when I was in my 20s. I was walking around and I was moderately spooked by some nameless void. Suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks at the realization that I couldn’t hear car traffic. Car traffic has become so deeply internalized in my brain that it was almost physically jarring when I noticed it’s absence.
The second is my favorite place in the world. It’s on a lake in New Hampshire and there isn’t another house for a hundred yards in any direction. It is quiet the way nothing is quiet. I have been going there my whole life and it has always been my favorite place. Now, this I largely down to the fact that its filled with childhood memories and provides me with an important connection to my past selves. But when I read things like this, I have to believe some of the perpetual sense of peace and calm is down to the fact that it’s quiet there the way no other place is quiet.
Nor must noises be heard in order to harm. Earplugs may dull the whine of motorcycles chugging outside your bedroom, but they’re useless against the engines’ low-frequency rumble, which vibrates the windows, floors, and your chest, and is the type of sound that’s largely ignored in most official noise calculations. (Harley-Davidson, which considers that thudding a point of pride, tried to trademark the sound of its V-twin motorcycle engine, which its lawyer translated as “potato potato potato” said very fast.) When regulatory officials evaluate environmental noise—to determine, say, whether to soundproof schools near airport runways—their calculations emphasize the mid-frequency sounds to which our ears are most sensitive and discount the low-frequency sounds (think wind turbines, washing machines, kids galloping upstairs) that have been shown to travel farther and trigger stronger stress responses. “If you actually measured sound using the right metric, you’ll see that you’re harming a lot more people than you think you are,” says Walker, the environmental-health researcher, who is working with communities near flight paths and freeways to rethink how noise is quantified.
Years ago, the staff of a medical-equipment company became spooked by recurring sightings of a gray, spectral figure haunting their lab. One night, an engineer working late alone felt a chill pass through the room and, out of the corner of his eye, saw a soundless figure hovering beside him. When he wheeled around, no one was there. The next day, while adjusting one of the machines in the lab, he began to feel the same creeping unease. The poltergeist? A vibrating extractor fan, he realized. He published a paper on his ghost-busting, which concluded that the machine was emitting low-frequency sound waves: pulses of energy too low in frequency to be heard by humans, yet powerful enough to affect our bodies—comparable, he found, to the inaudible vibrations in a supposedly haunted cellar and in the long, windy hallways that appear in scary stories. In addition to causing shivering, sweating, difficulty breathing, and blurry vision as a result of vibrating eyeballs, low-frequency sounds can also, apparently, produce ghosts.
I have scalped tickets to multiple sporting events and only had to deal with potential/actual physical violence on one occasion. It was very very stupid and also pretty fun. It’s not a very interesting story.
On the other hand, this is the story of a group of mormon ticket scalpers who moved millions of dollars of tickets all around the world and it is every bit as good as it sounds. It’s absolutely spellbinding.
A sign beside the window read, “Limit 2 Tickets per Person.” But I figured Darryl had given me four thousand for a reason. In a shy Kentucky drawl, I asked, “Can I get two more? For my mom and brother?”
She gave me a kind look and slid me two more tickets.
Redd materialized and grabbed them from me. “Holy shit, you got four together on mid-court,” he said, rubber-banding them to his own stack.
Darryl appeared. “What are you doing with my tickets?”
“The kid’s selling them to me. How much, son?” Redd asked.
Darryl didn’t back down. “So you’re telling me if a kid buys tickets with my money, I have to give you the tickets?”
“He just gave me the tickets.” Redd said. “Besides, you owe me. Remember that four-pack I delivered at the Marriott? What about that, you sonofabitch?”
“Do I need to put you down?” he shot back. “Because I will destroyyou.”
Redd peeled four tickets off his two-inch stack and tossed them at him, disgusted. It wasn’t an admission of wrongdoing. “I gotta pay my bills, asshole.”
Darryl didn’t bat an eye. He turned to me and held out the tickets. “This what you bought?”
Without a word, Darryl stormed back into the crowd. I walked down the street to a hotel restaurant and sat at a table. I still had $1,800 in my pocket.
In Sunday School, we were encouraged to imagine ourselves in different situations and ask: What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do if he saw someone stranded on the road? What if he saw someone crying alone? What if he were 14 years old and a guy as big and mean and exciting as Darryl slipped him $4,000 to buy half-court seats to sell illegally?
The waitress came over and asked me what I wanted. I’d never been to a restaurant by myself before. I grinned and ordered a Coke.
I often change the headline on these stories. Sometimes it’s because I think of something slightly more opaque and provocative and sometimes just for fun.
I did not consider changing this headline for even one second.
It’s a story that’s 100% Florida in ways that are equal parts fun and horrible. As all things Florida are.
And don’t tell anyone, but it’s also the story of people trying to survive on the margins of society.
Which is also a traditional Florida story.
Cindy Gray, of Purrfect 10 Wiener Wagon, told a Tampa Tribune reporter she had been slinging dogs on U.S. Highway 19 for months. Cindy left for a week to get her cart repaired. She returned to find Hala Salaman’s girls set up on her spot.
Hala claimed a vendor for her business, Hala’s Wild Wieners, had been there for several weeks. Both refused to leave. After three tense days, a fight broke out.
Cindy said she hit Hala in self defense. Hala accused Cindy of dragging her by the hair. Hala’s younger sister Sahar ended up in the fray, and the three tussled on the ground until Kathleen Cook, one of Hala’s employees, sprayed all three of the women with mace.
Officers came to break up the fight. But that was just the beginning of the brawl.
Justice would be served a month later.
“Hala the Hardbody” and “Sizzling Cindy” agreed to face off on July 5 outside of the Yucatan Liquor Stand on the corner of Westshore and Cypress. They would wrestle in mud. A $500 cash prize was on the line. And Valerie was squarely on the side of Team Cindy.
DJs from Q105 Radio would host the television broadcast on Q Morning Zoo. The event was known as “Wienermania I.” (There would not be a Wienermania II.)
And unlike other wildlife one might enjoy seeing from a distance and in its proper context — a deer frolicking through a meadow, a squirrel scrambling up an oak tree with a tiny acorn in its puffed-out cheek — geese barge into spaces intended solely for humans. Do you know who loves a bland corporate office park, a sprawling golf course, or a cookie-cutter subdivision with a modest water feature even more than middle-class Americans do? Geese, motherfuckers.
“People have created housing developments with lots of mowed lawns and water retention ponds, and anytime you'd have mowed turf coming down to the water's edge somewhere, that's just ideal habitat for geese,” says Curtis. “We created that over and over again on school grounds, corporate parks, all sorts of public parks around the country. Golf courses all have just outstanding geese habitat.”
For an animal that eats grass and hides from predators in bodies of water, these environments are the goose’s HGTV Dream Home. We keep building them, so they keep coming. Can we even be mad?
Goddamn, but if that isn’t the best name for a group ever. I don’t even care that it won’t fit on a t-shirt.
And yes, of course it was founded by a Russian Tsar.