Saturday, 5/18/02: Honk History & TV Mini-Series Ideas

I found an entertaining little essay on the history of the automobile horn called The Tyranny of the Horn (you'll need to install Adobe Acrobat on your computer if you want to read it). It's from a newsletter called Essays of an Information Scientist published in 1983 by a guy named Dr. Eugene Garfield. Dr. Garfield sounds like an interesting guy who developed some early innovations in "information recovery" back in the '50s and '60s. It's kind of ironic that I found this great old article he wrote 20 years ago messing around on Google, the ultimate in information recovery. I was digging around for information about cars that used to have two different types of horns in them -- city horns and country horns. Apparently, when automobiles were first being introduced into the dense urban landscape, there was a great deal of concern about the noise and danger that they would produce.

The essay offers up all kinds of great bits, including this one:

"At the turn of the century, motorists could choose from a variety of signaling devices, including bells, whistles, and small, hand-squeezed 'bulb horns.' In America, most chose bells. Despite the noise made by these devices, the automobile was viewed as a quiet alternative to the horse and carriage. The clatter of horses' hooves and the bouncing of metal carriage wheels over cobblestones were great contributors to urban noise in those days. Autos, with their pneumatic tires riding over asphalt surfaces, were considered by some to be a panacea. In endorsing the auto, Scientific American pointed out, "Specialists have many times expressed an opinion that the nervous disorders which exist in the city are aggravated, if not caused, in many cases by the city's great traffic."

I wonder if there was a guy living on my corner of Brooklyn around 1903, a few years after my brownstone building was erected, pelting horse carriages with eggs? Today, I'd be glad to trade this century's sharp, random blasts of automobile horn for last century's horseshoe clip clops.

Hey... Nice new honku story in the LA Times this morning. I can't believe they're still interested. But now that Honku has gone Hollywood, I'm hoping I'll get some calls for a TV mini-series deal. I'm thinking Tom Hanks plays me, Joe Pesci plays the guy in the blue sedan who threatened my life, and Catherine Keener is my girlfriend, Joanne. If Pesci won't do it, maybe we get Danny DeVito instead and go for more of a comedic thing.

If anyone has some good Los Angeles road rage haiku, put it up on the Lamppost. Agressive soccer mom steal your parking spot? Senior citizen driving too slowly on the on-ramp? Convertible man tossed his cigarette butt into your window? These are all honku-worthy incidents that must happen every day in LA.

--Aaron