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Northern Harrier

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Classical Gas

A 7-11 owner in Texas has been using classical music to drive the homeless people away from his three stores in the Austin area.

For the past two weeks, a speaker atop Patel’s store has blasted the likes of Beethoven, Bach and Mozart 24/7. So far, it appears to be working, said Patel, who owns three 7-Eleven franchises in the Austin area. Employees have reported seeing fewer homeless people hanging around, and the number of customers coming in at night has rebounded to normal levels.

Patel acknowledged that the nonstop music probably makes it tough for homeless people to sleep at night. He said he feels bad about piling on people who are down on their luck, especially since they are also his customers. “Studies have shown that the classical music is annoying. Opera is annoying, and I’m assuming they are correct because it’s working,” he told KTBC.

Well, he is right on that point, or maybe you just have to be in the right mood.

This isn't the first time that this tactic has been used, with good results. I would like to get all agey and huffy and tell you that the homeless in my day were more refined, and would have enjoyed a little Prokofiev with their maddog, but I'm not sure it is true.

I did think this was funny.

Eric Tars, legal director at the National Homelessness Law Center, told The Washington Post that weaponizing classical music is but one example of the “hostile architecture” that government officials, church leaders and business owners use to drive homeless people out of public view. Others include public benches with armrests that block people from lying down, spikes on flat surfaces to achieve a similar end and boulders in green spaces to prevent camping.

Eric, let me know how you feel about "hostile architecture" when they start shitting at your back door and leaving their buttwipe there for you as a present, like they do at the building I own. Perhaps you will fire up your own victrola.

But I got to thinking, wouldn't this be a perfect teaching moment?  Classical music is admittedly down right now. Rather than stay an object of scorn, classical musicians can use this moment as an opportunity to share and educate. Send the brass section to a homeless camp in the morning with a rousing Brandenburg concerto. Woodwinds could be dispatched to city parks and string quartets could prowl the streets for flash interactions with panhandlers and window washers. Everybody will be humming along with Mozart before you know it.

Or buy them all tickets to Lincoln Center or the Met. They used to have brownbag concerts when I was a kid so that people didn't think classical was merely for the well heeled. A win for both teams!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I continue to think that the cultural shift seen in the demise of the phrase, ‘poor but honest’ is part of the current very difficult homelessness situation in America

Blue Heron said...

No harm in being poor and my heart goes out to those that lose a job and are thrown out on the street. But many of the homeless I see have contributed much to their own self destruction.