Noise

Tim Robbins in Noise

Via illicit channels I stumbled upon a yet unreleased movie about the thesis subject of a fellow web-logger. I downloaded it, burned it onto a CD-ROM and gave it to her. And since I had it on my hard drive I decided to watch it.

“Noise” is about a man (Tim Robbins) who can’t stand the noise in New York, especially the blaring car alarms, and he decides to do something about it. I won’t give away the whole plot here, but it involves breaking car windows and cutting battery cables.

Now is this a subject that lies close to my heart. During my last years in the Netherlands I was kind of obsessed with cars. I didn’t mind their noise that much, but I couldn’t stand them driving through red lights, not giving priority to pedestrians and bicycles on crosswalks and generally breaking traffic rules. So I actually had more of a gripe with their drivers than with the cars themselves. But since they were hiding in the sacred cows it was easier to hate cars, period. This all originated to a few incidents I had where I told (or gestured) some cars that they shouldn’t drive over my toes and was subsequently assaulted and beaten up by the driver. And this, instead of making me more timid and restrained, made me even more vocal and focussed on car’s errors. I once threw my bike in front of a car to stop it from entering the one-way street I lived in from the wrong direction (this happened a lot because it was a huge shortcut between two main streets). And I could get totally worked up when I saw cars jumping red lights, even when they were far away from me. I was a totally self-righteous asshole, stopping for every red pedrestian stop light, even in the middle of the night when there was no traffic at all. If I followed the rules I could critique everybody else who didn’t.

This happened only when I was riding my bike or was a pedestrian. When I drove a car myself I could stand traffic violations much better. So for a while I drove to my studio, even though that actually took more time and was a hassle with parking.

During the worst period I couldn’t even watch out of my window, in fear of getting totally worked up over cars running in the wrong direction. There were days I couldn’t leave the house. I suffered from a special case of agoraphobia. During the nights I was plotting evil plans involving setting cars ablaze that were parked illegally and acquiring a rocket launcher to, as in Doom, blow cars into pieces. Just the thought that I couldn’t afford being apprehended because it would affect my immigration process, withheld me from actually doing these things in reality.

When I was visiting Montréal I had none of these symptoms, probably because I didn’t have to “defend” my territory, because I was a visitor. But even now, when I’m not a visitor anymore, I only rarely have the urge to fight cars. I even jaywalk sometimes!

Anyway, the movie wasn’t a masterpiece but watching it brought back a lot of not so nice memories. Not so much that I started to hyperventilate, but enough to cause a slightly elevated heartbeat. But I was also relieved that this period was over, that I was “normal” again.

When we paused the movie we heard the neighbours dogs barking very loudly and we started to laugh about the coincidence.

It became even more hilarious when two of our tenants came down and rang our doorbell complaining about our dogs. I pointed them to the neighbours house and had to close the door fast because I couldn’t hold in my laughter.