Monday, November 21, 2005

The Suburban National Anthem

It’s almost winter, and that means it’s time once again for the sounds of the Suburban National Anthem.

What’s that? If you live in the suburbs, you already know.

If not: it’s the “sound” of a thousand lawn blowers blowing.

From early morning until late at night, comes The Song, the Anthem.

It’s a catchy little tune, hard to describe in words. You really have to hear it to appreciate it.

But it’s usually something like this:


At top volume.

The lawn blower is a simple musical instrument, very much like early hornpipes or pan flutes.

And because of that, these instruments can be tuned.

Simply changing the diameter of the opening will go a long way.

And for the truly ambitious, holes can be punched at various spots along the tubes, allowing them to be played like clarinets or saxophones.

Arrange a dozen or so of these on a suburban street and the musical possibilities are endless.

Throw in an electric can opener or two, and you get some hard-to-hear but pleasant background hum.

Now, what’s with the proliferation of leaf blowers in the first place?

Well, first, technology has again outstripped philosophy.

In olden days, one had to rake leaves.

Same as you had to open cans by hand.

But modern life is different.

When we raked the leaves, we put ‘em in a pile at the curb and burned them.


And, as Ronald Reagan taught us, trees cause more pollution than cars.

Hence, burning tree effluvia must be even worse.

Modern technology has saved our polluting bacon once again.

And, not incidentally, philosophy has once again caught up with the technos by supplying reasons.

And, finally, The Law has caught up with both technology and philosophy by forbidding us to burn leaves at the curb, or anywhere else on what passes for “our” property.

Goodness! The politicians/lawyers have to protect the pristine and vulnerable lungs of our young and our old, the former for “Tha Fyoooocha,” for which we’re always being cautioned is at risk, and the latter for our “poor doddering seniors,” who might get sick and cost the municipal medical system a few grand more than it can pay – especially when it’s paying five bucks a pop for aspirin tablets at a Select Hospital Near You.

While we’re on a late fall cleaning binge, here’s how you can get even with the morons who post garage sale signs on your trees and utility poles and don’t take them down when the sale’s over.

Remove the sign. Wrap it. Bring it to the address that’s on it and leave it on the offender’s doorstep.

Even better, go around the neighborhood and collect all the signs from that sale and then, in the dark of night, post them on the seller’s tree or utility pole.

Then, next morning, go out to the street with you handy cassette recorder (do they still make those?) record The Suburban National Anthem, and e-mail them an iPod downloadable version.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2005

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