Yelling to the reverberate hills

As the first back-to school weekend approaches, I'm relieved to say: it's now illegal to shout on The Hill. As a Hill resident, I should probably praise Boulder County Lawmakers for delivering us unto the promised land of peaceful slumber. Boy, am I glad they finally put an end to that. Because we all know how effective legislation is at ending persistent social problems (the effectiveness of underage drinking laws provides a great example). The problem is, I'm pretty sure I heard yelling last weekend, and I'm fairly certain I'll hear more of it this weekend. But what do I know?

Well, I've lived on The Hill for six years... in the same house... as a renter. In this transient community, I deserve an award. Few people can make this claim. I consider myself a part of the community and a good neighbor. So I think I'm entitled to weigh in on the new noise ordinance.

First let me say that the allegations are true. People yell on The Hill - nightly. Regularly. You can set your watch to it. It's as certain as Bush tax cuts for the rich and corporate cronyism. Yelling on the Hill is the stuff of legend. It's such an established fact in this community that whenever people learn my address they ask, "how do you stand the noise?"

And, as I straddle the precipice between youth and adulthood, I've wondered: Is it time to move on? Rent elsewhere? I was beginning to think so. But The University Hill Neighborhood Association might just have me thinking otherwise. They've got a very unique perspective on the matter. It's a defiant stance and it sounds a little like this: "who do all these students think they are anyway, being out in public, a block away from their campus, and so young all the time!" And so far, this approach is working for this watchdog group of community vigilantes. Businesses, lawmakers, and police are bending to its will.

You've got to give them credit though, for unadulterated, boldfaced temerity. After all, they must have known they were moving to University Hill? Right? Or maybe, like Ronald Reagan and those pesky Iran Contras, they just "didn't know."

If that's the case, it makes me wonder what crafty, conniving, underhanded methods of subterfuge realtors are using to hoodwink prospective homeowners into buying on the Hill. Are they hanging massive drop cloths, painted with picturesque neighborhood landscapes to obscure the view of campus from all Hill properties? If so, I can imagine the frustration of the poor sucker who buys a home only to discover too late that - hidden all along - was a massive college campus just two blocks away.

Maybe I'm being too hard on Hill property owners. After all, they're just trying to protect their investments. And there comes a time for protecting what's ya's.
Admittedly, in the time I've been here, I have been witness to five separate, property-damaging riots. And I've been tear-gassed multiple times simply for walking through my neighborhood. I am totally opposed to rioting. Riots are dangerous and worse, riots are dumb. They never achieve any end aside from creating chaos.

That said, I have to confess, there's something primitively appealing about a four-couch fire in the middle of the street. And I have to say that at least one of these riots probably wouldn't have occurred had law enforcement left certain parties alone rather than dumping a bunch of drunks into the street with nowhere to go.

Nevertheless, riots were a problem and they needed to be addressed. So what was Boulder's answer? Was it to loosen enforcement of underage drinking laws? Was it to give the kids a place to go and celebrate once they'd finished the semester? Nope. The answer was to outlaw outdoor couches. COUCHES! And they did it. And now the city that outlawed couches has just outlawed yelling. So much for Boulder as a liberal stronghold of free-minded individuality.

Once again, Boulder has directed legislation against the wrong target. As far as I can figure it's not so much that these kids yell, it's that they seldom yell anything worth listening to. After a while, ever popular colloquialisms like, "Dude, f%#*in DUDE!" and "yaragagahhh!" sort of lose their charm.

No, the problem with the new no-yelling ordinance is, it leaves very little room for creative interpretation and - as is usually the case with totalitarian edicts that border on fascism - the new law lacks finesse. So if you're out on the Hill this weekend, in the unfortunate position of being young in a college town, you may find yourself suddenly moved to holler. If you do, try yelling something interesting, something with literary merit - like a well-crafted monologue, or perhaps a sonnet, maybe a really good joke. Then, when you get ticketed, you can pretend you're being persecuted for your art, and not just for your age.

Ukulele Loki, aka Aaron Johnson, is a Boulder resident and the co-host of Radio 1190's "Route 78 West."


(back to Author)