Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Sound of Silencio

Here's some low quality video we shot out this morning of a gas truck parked in front of the living quarters at Burro Hall Enterprises S.A. There's a couple of different companies (this is GasExpress) that sell propane and propane accessories, and they all play their individual company jingle through a loudspeaker that appears to run automatically whenever the engine is turned on. (This video doesn't really capture the volume, unfortunately. So keep in mind three things: it's twice as loud in real life; it was there for over 20 minutes; it's 8AM.)


This is just in keeping with the general level of cacophony here and, more importantly, Mexicans' utter obliviousness to it. We lived for 16 years in New York City - not exactly a refuge of peace and tranquility - and after 15 minutes of this we're crazed enough to be standing in the doorway in a pair of boxer shorts filming a parked truck. The guy behind the wheel, however, has been listening to this jingle on a continuous loop, eight hours a day, six days a week, probably for years, yet his hands do not appear to be shaking, nor are tears streaming down his face. What's more, remember that the truck is loaded with propane - it's explosively flammable - yet the driver is comfortable parking it repeatedly in a residential neighborhood, because he has no fear that anyone would become incensed enough to, say, hurl a lit road flare into the bed. (Our own car/road flares were around the block at this point.) That's because - our researchers are convinced this is true - no one but us can hear these things.

We tend to think that Mexico is noisier than the US, but it really isn't. Instead - and we hate to throw our lot with the eugenicists, but go ahead and prove otherwise - we think Mexicans simply have a smaller, less-efficient hammer/anvil/stirrup setup than the rest of humanity. That's why stores holding sales will play Reggeton music through a Marshall stack-sized speaker cranked so high it distorts into nothing but static, and people will actually come in and browse; they can't hear it. We were in a restaurant this weekend and a young boy sitting with his parents was loudly and repeatedly clanging his fork against his spoon. His parents, who seemed basically decent and not overly-indulgent - they actually shushed him when he tried to interject into their conversation - didn't even flinch, let alone stop him. Because they couldn't hear it. The list is endless.

When we were kids, we used to watch The Bionic Woman every week, and always imagined that, in real life, her super-powerful ear would have driven her completely batty, since everyone speaking above a whisper within a half-mile radius would echo through her head like a megaphone. We can now report with some confidence that this is, in fact, the case.

7 comments:

radosh said...

That's pretty catchy. What are the lyrics?

Burro Hall said...

Damned if I know. The video doesn't adequately relay the volume, but the incomprehensible distortion is in the original. What I don't hear are the words "Gas Express," which does make me wonder what the point is in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I guess that I shouldn't really complain about the obviously hearing impaired clowns that drive all over town, in the summer, in the ice cream trucks, playing anoying, loud music, huh?

M

Burro Hall said...

Oh, no, go ahead. It's just, here's the difference: the ice cream truck plays that annoying jingle so people will know he ice cream truck is here, and they'll run out and buy ice cream. But people aren't running out of their houses on an impulese and grabbing themselves a 6-foot tall tank full of propane.

Anonymous said...

You'd prefer maybe the way my gas man announced his presence in DF -- with his leather-lunged cry of "GAZ!"... or maybe the way it was in Zacatecas. Besides el grito de GAZ! the gas truck had a couple of chains hanging from the back bumper clanking (and sparking) away.

ANd, yeah... if you ever ran out of hot water while taking a shower,you do run out in the street to buy a 6 foot cylinder of explosives!

Mex Files guy (http://mexfiles.wordpress.com)

snowyco said...

Carnaval has officially started in Merida!

How can one tell? It's quiet here at 11:00 AM. No vendors tinkling, tooting, shouting, or ringing our doorbell, substituted instead with music blaring from the neighbors till 3:00 AM. (I guess we won't be eating fresh pigeon tonight. *sigh*)

Plus, the Desfile de Infantiles (Parade of Little Children = Pre-escolars) is this afternoon. Woo Hoo! 2 hours of 70 trucks with massive speakers cranked at least 3 clicks past distortion.

'Eddie Willers' said...

LOL!
Aural torture - it makes my ears bleed! The Marshall Stacks outside stores with the bass cranked all the way up past "11" - I would say that it renders the term 'music' moot as all that can be heard (or felt) is the slammin' bass...but then, I think the 'music' they play is just bass thump anyway.

The taqueria in front of our store cranks up the bass so loud the glass on our shelves vibrates in sympathy. The patrons scarfing down their tacos scant feet from the bassthumpin' behemoth just don't hear nothin'...

Give me La Chica Dorada anyday - even if she has murdered 'Ni Una Solo Palabra' by doing a banda version...