Noise: The Movie
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HENRY BEAN, DIRECTOR
Starting in the late ‘70s, in Los Angeles, I tried to try to strike back at the noises that assaulted me. When car alarms began going off for four and five hours at a stretch, I would let the air out of the car’s tires, “key” the paint job, rip off wipers, and, eventually, break into the car, pop the hood and disconnect the battery cables. When possible, I’d disconnect house alarms, as well. On moving to New York, in ’89, I began encountering whistling intercoms, store alarms, back-up beepers, and so forth. I did what I could, which wasn’t much, but better than nothing. Unlike other, more youthful lawbreaking, I experienced absolutely no guilt or shame for these “crimes.” Indeed, they lifted my spirits. To dismantle a mechanism that had been screaming in my ear for hours and sometimes days, to ignore its “property value” and treat it simply as the noxious thing that it was, an audile poison, a form of assault, restored a portion of the dignity that the noise – and my passivity before it – had cost me. I was reclaiming my life, my autonomy. It felt great. In the spring of 1991, I was arrested while disconnecting the alarm of a car parked at the corner of 97th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan. I spent the night in jail. Between legal fees and reimbursement to the car owner – I had to pay for the damage done by other neighbors who hadn’t been caught – the incident cost me close to three thousand dollars. At that point, I mostly stopped doing these things, and began to plan this movie. The movie is not the story of my own adventures, but of someone greater than myself. Someone who, having spent a night in jail and paid the money, does not stop. Someone who goes on, sacrificing “everything” for what he believes is right and eventually becomes a kind of minor urban legend. And in doing so he ultimately gives voice to the complaints of other people, of everyone. That is the purpose of this site: to create a place where we can name the indignities that contemporary life inflicts on each of us, and all of us. And can show what we have done in response, can even show ourselves doing it. The sight of someone refusing to be enslaved (in however small and “trivial” a way) announces that freedom is possible, that action is possible, that passive acquiescence is not, in fact, our inescapable fate. So show us what you’ve done. And tell us about it. We want to know. We need to hear it. Perhaps it’s the door through which we can leave this room.
© 2008, Henry Bean