Sunday, February 28, 2010

Athens' proposed noise ordinances: are we surprised?

photo courtesy of

Take a look at the above picture--maybe you're in it. If so, you might be part of the reason that Athens City Council is currently thinking of proposing changes to its noise ordinances in effort to reduce the number of embarrassing couch-burning spectacles that mar the city and school's reputation, last year's Palmer Fest being the most recent and pressing example.

As a fellow class blogger pointed out, the whole mess is currently being debated, and nothing is official just yet. But the proposals, according to the linked Athens News article, "are to amend the city’s noise ordinance to prohibit amplified sound 'intended directly or indirectly to be heard outside of the structure where the event is being held,'" which would cause serious detriment to the house shows that I and countless students enjoy so very much, as well as the hot-button spring fests.

The Angry Young Man in me is certainly incensed by the fact that this could mean that outdoor music in someone's yard could incur beyond-college-budget fines. Just another case of The Man bringing us down, you know? But there's no way it ought to come as a surprise that the city wants to do something. As students it's easy to forget that not everyone in town is a twentysomething booze hound, and that real-live families inhabit the area surrounding campus who might not appreciate ear-shattering noise-rock floating through their windows on a Thursday evening in spring. Just as well, Athens ought to be taking greater steps to keep the spring fests from degenerating into drunken orgies of violence. Every time a police horse gets pelted with a beer bottle, the baby Jesus weeps.

So what's to be done? Personally, I don't think forcing students to go through some kind of permit process to host a live show at their house is going to do much besides make everyone involved a lot angrier. I'm trying to think of where "Get proper permit" falls on the to-do list of a student planning to have a band play in his yard, but I'm guessing it falls somewhere far below "Decide between Natty or Keystone for the keg."

Might it be that we as students ought to be a bit more responsible during our ritualized spring revelries? Or perhaps be a little more respectful when a tenured professor walks down the sisdewalk in her nightgown asking the band playing on a Washington Street porch to turn it down a bit because her child is trying to sleep? (This may have happened to my band, once...) I'm thinking the answer is yes. As this Post editorial put it, "If we want the city to start respecting us, we could probably start by doing a better job of respecting the city."


1 comment:

  1. I would be very sad to see an end to the live music outdoors at the fests. I am not much of a "day drinking" fan, so going to fest to see performances is my main motivation. With out this, it would not be the same.