Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Unusual Power of Music, Revisited

I've discussed the use of classical music as a deterrent to crime in a previous post, but I wanted to revisit the subject for a second. Yesterday, I heard a feature story on the radio about a judge in Miami Beach who's found an innovative way to do a similar thing: Give noise-ordinance violators the chance to listen to a few hours of opera in lieu of paying a fine.

He's been doing it for a few years already; while researching this post, I found this story from a few years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Michael Carreras didn't think his stereo was that loud.

After all, it was only the stock radio in his Jaguar, not a custom job with subwoofers in the trunk.

But one night in last month, he and some friends were cruising Collins Avenue at 5 a.m. on a Sunday, checking out girls and chatting about the nightclubs. The sunroof was open, the windows were down and they were listening to rapper 50 Cent on the CD player.

Next thing he knew, a police officer was handing him a ticket for violating the city's strict noise ordinance. In Miami Beach, if cops can hear your stereo from 100 feet away, they can charge you.

The officer told Carreras he would have a choice: pay a $500 fine, or listen to opera.

"Opera?" Carreras wondered. No way, he thought.

But it was no joke.

Last week, the 32-year-old club promoter found himself listening to La Traviata in Judge Jeffrey Swartz's chambers.

It was opera as punishment, for 21/2 hours.

"You impose your music on me, and I'm going to impose my music on you," Swartz told Carreras.
Like in the earlier story, I'm sure that some musicologist out there might get his/her panties in a wad about using classical music as punishment, but let's give the judge some props for originality. Having to have a style of music that you don't like imposed on you might very well drive the point home that it's no good to do that to others as well. (Besides, after two-and-a-half hours, who knows--the opera might even grow on the listener and build a new fan in the process.) And in the radio report, done by KRLD's always-entertaining Mike Rogers, the judge noted that if someone actually got cited for playing their opera too loud in the car, they would be sentenced to listen to several hours of gangsta rap. It works both ways. (And read the earlier post linked above for my thoughts on "used music.")

She's not glad they had this time together: Carol Burnett is suing the producers of Family Guy for the use of her "charwoman" character in a 2006 episode. You'd think that a comedian would be familiar with the concept of satire...

Weird headline of the past few days: Malaysian Police Detain 'Midget' Gang. Evidently, the smallest gang members were chosen to slide through small spaces in order to gain entry into houses.

What do the following items have in common: Dentures, a bowling ball, an amplifier, musical instruments, a prosthetic leg, a pet goldfish...a daughter? Answer: They're all items which have been found on buses and trains in big cities.

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