Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Suburban Traditions: Number 10 – The Leaf Blower

I often complain that suburbia’s too quiet, even though the human desire for silence and inertia is the main reason that suburbia even exists. And just because it’s quite, that doesn’t mean it’s peaceful. In autumn especially, semi-urban dwellers seem able to tolerate a profoundly jarring kind of noise annoyance – the almost ever-present, soul-gnawing monotone of the leaf blower.

Yesterday, on a beautiful and still Sunday afternoon, and in a rare show of decadence, we were sitting in a friend’s hot-tub enjoying the end of the long weekend, casually chatting and, as it happened, quaffing Moet Chandon as the sky around us slowly changed colour behind the silhouettes of spindly, naked trees. It should have been perfect, but a couple of gardens away someone had decided to take out their anger and grief at another Redskins’ loss by clearing the garden of leaves. We got to enjoy his motorised penile extension’s buzz-saw growl and the olfactory consequence – wave after wave of gasoline wafting across the fence.


It wasn’t long before Mrs. Pop pointed out that my complaining was contributing just as much, if not more, to the noise nuisance as the blower itself. But even in her traditional marital role as She-Devil’s Advocate opposing all the good and sensible things that I say, she had to concede that these engine-packing monstrosities make no sense whatsoever. It’s not just that their noisome stink besmirches the atmosphere – there are lots of modern devices we all use every day that do just the same. It’s just that these particular machines are completely superfluous. Maybe that’s what makes their infuriatingly relentless drone all the more irksome.

A rake or a broom are just as quick. If you’re too unfit to use these, then suburbia’s packed with spoilt, inactive children who could be dragooned by rote into helping out their, erm, less active neighbours. They might even have some church-approved, old-fashioned fun by diving into the leaf-piles, if you hint that there's an Xbox 360 hidden at the bottom. And a kid whining about getting too much fresh air would be preferable to the single-note irritation of technology’s most useless advance since…

Well, the hot tub probably.

9 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

It when you start complaining about the shrieking children that you'll be a fully-fledged grumpy old fart. Complaining about leaf-blowers just makes you a promising apprentice.

Mark Sanderson said...

Apologies in advance, but there's something about hot tubs that scream swinger parties, to me at least.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Not when you're in there with the kids. You've been watching too many San Fernando Valley-based films, Mark.

Herr Bananas - no shrieking kids on our street, they're all indoors (mumbles on incoherently about "the kids of today" etc.)

No Good Boyo said...

Hot tub, Moet, conversation, America... Where did it all go wrong, Pop?

Mrs Boyo says "blower" (at least, that's what I think she said), I say "mulch". Let leaves lie, they stop the bastard grass from growing for one.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

This is nothing, Boyo. Next weekend I'm planning to buy a hot tub with gold spouts, fill it to the brim with Moet, then have a 'conversation' with the 27 registered swinging couples in our neighbourhood. In one afternoon I'll have fulfilled every facet (and faucet) of the American dream.

Anonymous said...

I want to invent a game for the Xbox or Wii or whatever.. where kids have to rake leaves, take out the trash, mow the lawn etc. Just to see fake outrage stories on local news and message boards.

nathan3e said...

There must be something wrong with our suburb. Granted, Edina is across the street from Minneapolis, but people in our neighborhood use rakes. My skateboard is usually the loudest thing on an autumn afternoon.

Jack Adam Weber said...

Indie pop...thanks for the anti-leaf blower article. Can I use the foto here "Leaf Blowers Suck" and credit you with its use? I am writing a blog on elephant journal about leaf blowers. Please let me know soon as i have to submit, thanks!

Thanks...

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

[blushes] Erm, well, I kind of just took that from somewhere on the internet without asking - do a google image search on leaf-blowers and you'll find it. And if you find out who the artist is then let me know, and I will duly credit them or delete it at their request. Thanks.