It seems like whenever it happens, Brian Forde is tending bar with his head down at Taphouse Pub & Eatery on Main Street. Or talking with a table of customers.
An attention-needy motorcyclist suffers a throttle-wrist seizure outside. Forde jumps out of his skin. Beer glasses explode across Downtown Boise. Plaster rains from ceilings. Children weep.
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“You’re sitting there chilling, having a nice time enjoying the weather, and someone comes by,” Forde says. “It’s so startling. So deafening. And everyone in the restaurant turns and looks and makes a funny face at each other. Like, ‘Screw that guy!’
“They’re already moving. They don’t need to rev their engine. They do it seemingly to disturb everyone else’s good time. That bugs me.
“But,” Forde adds, “I’ve never complained.”
Somebody else has, though. After meeting with business owners and residents Downtown, Boise Police issued a news release last week warning that “officers will be looking for loud stereos, modified mufflers and other forms of excessive noise.”
The goal is not to eliminate fun. Because let’s face it, being loud and obnoxious is totally fun, particularly when you’re not a boring grown-up.
“We want to find a balance,” Boise Police Chief Bill Bones tells me.
“We would much rather educate than enforce,” he adds gently.
But, “For those people that don’t choose to heed the warnings, then we will give those citations.”
Get off my lawn. I’m all for it. Thoughtless jackwagons with jet-engine mufflers and window-rattling “boom car” stereos should just grab a megaphone and squeal, “Look at me! I’m insecure!”
Forde says he has only endured the motorcycle-muffler assaults a dozen times or so in the four years since he opened Taphouse, which has a garage-door front and a sidewalk patio.
Still, “When it happens, it’s so startling that you remember it,” he says.
So true. I vividly recall sitting on the patio at Sun Ray Cafe in Hyde Park years ago when a couple of Sons of Anarchy wannabes rolled down 13th Street gunning their throttles. If I didn’t love pepperoni so much, I would have thrown a slice of pizza.
A North End noise sting will have to wait. Police are focusing on Downtown, targeting Main, Idaho, 13th and 14th streets on Fridays and Saturdays. These streets are part of “the cruise,” a loop that provides endless vehicular entertainment for the youthful segment of the Treasure Valley. (Ever notice all the 2C plates?) If you’re under 21 and unable to enjoy all those bars you’re cruising past, there isn’t much else to do in Boise, right? (Not that this city is uncool. Ahem.)
Cranking tunes is part of growing up.
“We’ve all been there as a kid,” Bones says with a chuckle. “We like to listen to our music a little louder. We don’t want to curtail that completely ...”
A handful of knuckleheads simply take street noise too far. “It’s a very small percentage of drivers and motorcycle riders that do it,” Bones says. “but it has a very large effect on everybody in the area.”
Hey, Michael: Loud pipes save lives! Nice try, Harley dudes. So do helmets, which I often see missing. Either way, you boys need to unleash some Jax-Teller-style initiation action on your throttle-spastic, modified-muffler brethren.
“Those people cannot pass a bar without woo-ing,” Forde says, chuckling.
Isn’t that illegal? “It’s got to be amplified,” Bones says.
(Have you heard those grinning fools, Chief? Alcohol amplifies everything.)
Anyway, Bones hopes that educating Downtown about noise will take weeks rather than months. Getting cited will cost lawbreakers anywhere from $65 to hundreds of bucks.
Hmmm. When you consider how much those trash-can-lid-size speakers cost in boom cars, that fine doesn’t exactly sound like a fingernail chewer, does it?
Then again, cruisers with high-dollar noise arsenals “are mostly young kids,” Forde reminds me. “They’re already neck deep in debt!”
More uncool things about Boise: Readers sound off
Idahoans had plenty to say about last week’s tongue-in-cheek column, “12 uncool things about Boise.” Some folks got the humor. Some folks didn’t. Either way, enjoy some of the friendly and not-so-friendly reader reaction — plus more “uncool” Boise ideas from readers — in a follow-up column Sunday in the Idaho Statesman. Or check it out now on my blog: idahostatesman.com/words-deeds.