by Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald’s Blog

June 2, 2008

Noise Free America, a group opposed to noise pollution and the doofuses that make it, has placed Stockton on its monthly Noisy Dozen list because of the city’s “boom car thugs.”

Boom cars—you know this–are outfitted with insanely powerful sound systems. Systems that vibrate the pavement and make you cringe.

Stockton won, “for tolerating constant pounding from boom cars,” the announcement reads. “In Stockton, the boom car punks have no fear of the police.”

Stockton was not selected based on scientific data or national rankings, but on the nomination of one cheesed-off citizen, Jim Tarantino.

“I think it’s just unnecessary intrusion into people’s lives,” said Tarantino, who had his encounter with a boom car thug at March Lane near the malls.

“They’re just loud and obnoxious. They set off car alarms. I don’t mind people listening to their music in their car—but this bass pounding, the subwoofers, and the giant, hundreds-of-watts-worth of amplification. It’s just unnecessary.”

Tarantino said police told him boom car thugs aren’t a priority. Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, has a counter to that.

“Going after boom car violators is one of the most effective ways of finding people involved in other crimes,” Rueter contended. “New York several years ago issued 7,000 (boom car) citations. From that they caught 1,000 wanted felons.”

Rueter went on, “To me it’s just amazing from a logical point of view that the cops ignore this. It’s like the boom car thugs are advertising the fact they’re antisocial and they don’t care what the laws are.”

I think he’s right. Maybe boom cars are the sonic equivalent of the broken window in the Broken Window Theory that has so much credence nowadays. According to that theory, one broken window sends a neighborhood a signal that the rules don’t apply. Worse crimes follow.

Maybe thundering music sends the same signal. If so, it’s time—as Noise Free America concludes in a well-turned phrase–“to lower the boom in Stockton.”