Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2010 – page 2

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Award of spoof medals for Olympic noise

The 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver–Whistler are now history. Much was said and written about them, including how much noise they generated in a variety of ways. Headlines in newspapers read, Opening with a bang; Sleep-deprived neighbours can’t find welcome for Irish House; or Fans’ fervour rattling some athletes.

Olympic officials: "Huge, roaring crowds may be throwing some contenders Off the Podium," and "It’s so loud at curling events, teams are using hand signals to communicate”. Another headline said Tune in, pump up, get psyched, below which Canadian cross-country skier Chandra Crawford was quoted as saying: “I get it. The louder, the better.” But next to her, Australian half-pipe gold-medallist Torah Bright said: “I don’t listen to music at all when I ride. I get quite distracted by it.

”Obviously, sound or noise, depending on perception, affects many people differently. Damian Inwood wrote in The Province, “The boisterous and deafening barrage of Maple Leaf support at Olympic venues may have thrown Canada’s athletes off their game, admit officials.”

In the Vancouver Sun, Francois Marchand wrote, “From old-timey pipe organs that used to blare at


hockey games to the national anthems that are the prelude for every type of team-based event, to today’s modern musical interludes that keep fans entertained via concert-worthy sound systems, music’s omnipresence in sports is nothing new. But to Peter Crocker, professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of B.C., what has changed in recent years is how athletes can now carry their own personalized soundtracks via portable devices, using music for training purposes and motivation.”

Our Olympic Noise Medals

Aside of the sport venues, there was plenty of other noise of Olympic proportion not merely deserving to be mentioned, but worthy of Olympic medals. After VANOC urged the public to make lots of noise last year, and Vancouver’s mayor and city council voted to relax the noise-control bylaw, very noisy winter games could be expected. This brought out the idea to possibly award virtual Olympic spoof medals to the loudest or quietest, venue, event, individuals etc. Society members and friends were asked to listen and submit their nominations.

Following below are some of them:

“As I won't be attending any other events that I know of, and even if I were, I doubt that anything could match the obscenely loud amplified screaming of the Coca Cola kids on the two trucks which preceded the Olympic torch relay down West 10th Avenue. Walking along the side-walk, only a few metres from the powerful speakers, I thought about how useful your noise-meter would have been, but my instinct to flee was even stronger. It was one of those rare occasions when the ears hurt for a few hours after the exposure, as sometimes happens when one mistakenly gets a fax signal from a telephone. Of course, a large cheering crowd might generate a greater volume at some venue, but the high intensity of those Coca Cola speakers at very close range deserves special condemnation.”

—Karl R.

“What a great idea that is! I work near Granville Island and was at the office late last night. There was a party somewhere nearby—pounding, pounding music and hollering—obviously from some 'official' stage. I am glad to say I am going to Hawaii for two weeks.”

—Laura A.

“I have one already: Day two of the Olympics (Feb. 13, 2010) – what appears to be an almost non stop helicopter activity over our homes here – guess they are busy looking for terrorists on our roofs. Interesting idea this one of yours! Also, I was walking in the UBC Forest and, for over 2 hours, two helicopters were flying low and circling over that area. Turns out that apparently ‘important’ people were being given aerial tours there. And since the aircraft had to take off repeatedly, most of the time they were really low, and the lovely park was one loud airport. So much for respecting any decent altitude or noise level!”

—Alice F.

“I watched the torch on West Broadway; impressive. Impressive in another way were the big trucks with dancers and VERY loud music, easily heard through my double glazing. So far, that's my vote for the noisiest. There were a couple of police motorcyclists, not too bad, and a lot of police cyclists, completely silent. So the cyclists get my vote for the quietest.”

—Norman C.


“I'll keep my ear to the ground. First vote is for the one minute of silence at BC Place on the opening evening of the Olympics. It shows that silence still has solemn purpose.”

—John M.

“I checked out the Torch Relay as it went through my neighbourhood on 4th Avenue. It was cool to see the torch go by. But the Coca Cola hype truck that preceded it was not cool. Loudspeakers on the truck blasted the crowd with a 150 db sonic assault of hip hop ish ‘music’. The operators were so numbed by their own noise that they couldn't tell they had turned it up into high distortion. What's the point of that? I was not impressed—although I did feel assaulted. The noise gave me an earache that stayed for 36 hours.”

—Gary L.

“I nominate the Irish pavilion as featured in Thursday's Metro.”

—Ann F.

“I didn't go to much, but your 'contest' gave me a purpose! Good idea. The 3 D movie in the BC pavilion at the Vancouver Art Gallery was loud. The beautiful images were accompanied by a loud soundtrack AND, to increase the noise effect, they had installed seats that gave one a vibration accompaniment.

Another one was the jolt of sound—a clang and an announcement—when the otherwise very pleasantly quiet ride on the new test streetcar—Granville Island to Cambie St.—came to an end. Much louder than I've ever experienced on the buses even.

I also went to see the torch go by at the end of my street. The two big Coke trucks with music blaring were ear splitting. They prompted me to cover my ears. Now the Quiet Games: On Friday, Feb 19, at UBC there were no hockey games scheduled; there were no students; and very much reduced traffic. It was heaven, especially with the perfect weather.”

—Lee P.

...Continued on page 3

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