Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Piano Saga Reviewed

    As the end of September draws near, I've begun counting the days until the removal of the damnable piano which, on top of the ever-present, ambient street noises one expects in a city, has been a source of vexatious intrusion of unwanted sounds from morning until night and, at times, into the wee hours of the morning.

    After numerous police calls which yielded no results, I learned the police are under strict instructions to NOT enforce the noise ordinance because the mayor finds the street corner pianos throughout the city to be elevating the city's culture quotient and that they bring much-needed money to the city.

    Failing that solution, I sought out the principals responsible for the placement of the piano and pleaded with them to remove the offending instrument. I received, after several back and forth, good faith communications an assurance that the piano would be removed by the end of September. A separate email from one of those principals [copy included, with my comments] dated August 8, said 50 days or less which places the removal date on or before September 26.

        Aug. 8, 2013

        I am sorry they were playing late last night when you returned home at 2:30. Man, you keep late hours! [True but not pertinent and not anybody else's business.]

        I have been really struggling with what to do with the piano. Finding the proper, balanced response has not been easy.

        I have discussed the issue with at least 30 people, including the MFE [Music For Everyone] board. And to be quite frank, not a single one of them advised me to move the piano. I know that is easy for them to say as they do not hear the piano at late hours. [Hear, hear.]

               But they also said that thousands of people enjoy that piano where it is. 
[Thousands? I'd like to see that list and know where they live and what time of the day or night they enjoyed this piano and how much money they brought to the city solely because of the pianos, specifically the piano at the Prince street parking garage which has troubled me all summer long.]

        Here are the reasons they provided:

        We have placed a note on the piano, urging people not to play after 10:00.
        [The noise ordinance states 9:00 PM as the time limit.]

        While that certainly has not eliminated all of the “knuckleheads” who can’t or refuse to be courteous, it surely has cut it down a good deal.
        [For a little while until one of the aforementioned knuckleheads ripped it off and discarded it.]

        Also, this exhibit will not be there forever. It will be removed in less than 50 days. [August 8 plus 50 days is September 26. That's tomorrow.]

        Most significant, every person I asked, felt that this is a case of balancing the interests of the vast majority versus one individual. In some cases, when it comes to such “community events", sometimes the individual has to cede his or her individual comfort for the good of the whole community.

        [I did not cede my individual comfort. It was unceremoniously robbed from me, however, I did cede my individual comfort for the good of the nation by serving four years honorably in the United  States Navy but that doesn't count. I'm only one person against the vast majority. Vast majority? Much more than 50%? I doubt it.]

        Also, many felt that such “disturbances” are simply a part of living on the city. And that most citizens,at some point, have to endure certain “discomforts” of  city living, as that is simply a part of the deal.

[You are referring to the sounds of your pianos as "disturbances"? Disturbances are the reason cities have noise ordinances. Disturbances are NOT simply a part of living in the city.  Horns honking, tires screeching, stereos blasting, loud one-sided cell phone conversations and loud face-to-face conversations between pedestrians as they walk past are street noises which though objectionable are ambient. But are they NOT "discomforts" I've endured on a daily basis? They go away. Street corner pianos are anything but ambient. I have lived in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Boston, Minneapolis and San Francisco. I resent being talked down to as though I am some country bumpkin just in from the farm. To date, Lancaster with its perpetual construction projects with jack-hammers and concrete saws and gas-powered generators to light warning signs and pianos is, by far, the noisiest city I have ever lived in. Have any of the members of the board ever endured "certain discomforts" for the good of the whole community? Have any of the members of the board ever suffered ANY discomforts? Their specious reasoning sounds well-grounded in the elitism which is pandemic among the moneyed class.]

        While I want to do what we can to meet your need, we’re going to have to ask you to be patient and understanding. We’ll move the piano at the end of September, as scheduled.

        Again, I am terribly sorry. I assure you that your complaint was not taken lightly. [Words are cheap.]

        I truly struggled with what to do, but believe that, on balance, this is the correct course of action. [Which has been no action at all. Maintain the status quo. Dismiss the old vet as an irrelevant piece of chaff. After all, he's only one person, one voice crying out in the wilderness.]


Signed by one of the MFE (Music For Everyone) principals

It's been said many times over the years that "It's an ill wind that blows no good". In this case the good is that I have learned more about pianos and their usual three pedals. The left pedal played with the left foot is called the Una Corda (One cord or piano string instead of all three) and has acquired the label "Soft" pedal.

The middle pedal, if installed, played with the right foot is called the Sostenuto and is referred to as the "tone sustaining" pedal.

The right pedal also played with the right foot is the Damper pedal. When it is depressed, it lifts the dampers on all the strings and has thusly become known as the "Loud" pedal.

The players of this piano seemed always to find only the "Loud" pedal.
#  #  #

1 comment:

  1. At this very moment I looked out my window and discovered that the piano in question which was played vigorously just a few short hours ago has been removed. And now, you have the rest of the story. Thank you MFE. Thank you, John.