It was in pleasant, civilized San Diego that I got a glimpse of an unpleasant future.
It is a future that recalls the decaying ’70s, when civilization started to come under attack by hordes of self-centered dullards who lugged boomboxes on their shoulders, speakers firing out to assault productive members of society on the street, subway or bus.
These shoulder-fired weapons were a great business for quite a while, but I’m glad headphones, cassette and CD players, then MP3 players and smartphones, rose up to quiet down our public spaces.
Or have they?
The ’70s and mid-80s might be making an unwelcome comeback, thanks to powerful handheld Bluetooth speakers. As I rode a hotel elevator near Petco Park, three louts entered. One played loud (and relatively distortion-free) music through a Bluetooth speaker, apparently in a failed attempt to bolster his self-esteem. Not only did the music shatter what was a pleasant day, but so did his dancing, which shook the elevator as we descended.
I flashed back to New York City’s subways in the ’70s and mid-80s. Graffiti appeared on the elevator walls. I saw Spock execute the Vulcan nerve pinch on a boombox-wielding punk rocker in “Start Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
Today’s Class D amplification delivers a lot of output from a small package, and powerful Bluetooth speakers are a lot easier to tote around than a boombox. Will Bluetooth be the enabler of another audio assault by the barbarians on our public spaces after decades of relative calm?
I, for one, am worried. What say you?