by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
Over the years there have been some books, television shows and movies that have referred to noisy neighbors, but I don’t believe they resulted in movements to reduce noise pollution. However, I always thought that fiction could be used to educate people to the dangers of noise pollution and even wrote a novel, unpublished and sitting on my bookshelf, that focused on noise. Thus, I was delighted to learn that the reboot of “Sex and the City” will be dealing with noisy neighbors.
“Carrie’s Noisy Neighbors Are the First Realistic Part of ‘Sex and the City Reboot,’” states Louisa Ballhaus in her recent article. Ballhaus notes that this week’s episode will “ring true with nearly all New Yorkers.” The “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ episode has Carrie dealing with a neighbor who parties late into the night while screaming and carrying on with her friends on the front stoop. The episode has Carrie confronting her neighbor about the noise who apologizes, but the next night the noise can once again be heard loud and clear.
To many New Yorkers, this episode most certainly rings a bell. One finally complains about the noise, an apology follows, and the noise returns. I have spoken with many people who are bothered by neighbor noise in New York City and elsewhere. While many do indeed give up complaining, more and more people are saying “We won’t take this anymore” and have used the “warranty of habitability” clause of their leases to demand reasonable quiet in their homes. Let’s hope that this episode will stir people to demand some quiet in their homes.
Interestingly, two fictional books with noise as the central theme have been recently published. John Stewart, a leading anti-noise campaigner in London, who is the lead author of the book Why Noise Matters, has now turned to fiction to speak out against noise. His book, The Organization Leaves No Traces, consists of six short crime stories with noise prominently featured. Meanwhile, Alan Tongret, a novelist and playwright, having experienced an intrusive noisy neighbor, has written Revolt of the Moles, which deals with unwanted and disturbing noises in a neighborhood.
I know that John Stewart has written his book to advance his anti-noise activities and after several conversations with Alan Tongret, I believe he will speak out more against the harmful effects of noise as he promotes his book.