Secondhand Exposure: The Bombardment of Sounds and Images

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The prevalence of tobacco smoke in our noses and lungs has been replaced by the bombardment of sounds and images into our ears and brains – and our minds. These “secondhand” sounds and images – think of CNN playing loudly, thoughtlessly in the pre-dawn hours as you wait for your plane – constitute a physiological assault on those – a majority, I’m convinced – who don’t wish to be exposed to it. Sound familiar?

Last week I awoke at 4 a.m. in order to be able to call my wife in a different time zone. I went up to the open decks of the cruise ship to get a coffee. The sky over Tahitian waters was beginning to quickly change from jet-black to blue. The only sound was the ship cutting through the open sea, ocean breezes passing over the open deck and Nancy Sinatra’s rendition of “These Boots Were Made For Walkin'” playing over the loudspeaker.

Who is this imaginary customer whose view of the sun slowly setting behind the lush mountains of Moorea would be spoiled without Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” blaring through the PA?

We’ve become inured to the bombardment of sounds and images. What could be more delightful than heading to the hotel gym with only sounds are the rhythm of weights and pulleys – or whatever podcast you’ve been listening to on your iPhone – instead of the thump-thump of European house music?

Maybe I’m getting old.

Return to or watch me attempt to impress my daughter by kicking a coin into my eye socket.

Istanbul, Turkey

My critics say that performing my music while painted in a thick coat of silver is just a gimmick. Where do they get such crazy ideas? After all, if I was merely silver and played no music, would I get any notice? All right, maybe I would. But the truth is, the silver compliments the music, it’s not just there in order to make pedestrians pause long enough to toss a euro into my box (which is also silver). Such a crazy idea would never have occurred to me!