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The Metro Transit system is playing classical music in the covered lobby's of Lake Street light rail station in hope of discouraging loiterers.

Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Music to tame the LRT attacker

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • February 4, 2012 - 7:07 PM

Best story of the week: To deter the rough element from knocking down people at light-rail stations and taking their iPods, the authorities are considering ... playing Beethoven on the loudspeakers!

Apparently, members of the hooligan community react to Beethoven as if someone blew a freight-truck air horn 6 inches from their heads:

"No! The smoothly rolling melodies, with their sense of inevitable destiny, the muscular orchestration, the paradigm-breaking introduction of a chorus in the final movement -- from what alien world do these some arise? I must flee!"

We assume it's because criminals are so stoopid they cannot linger in an environment that isn't pumping loud, sullen, bass-heavy thunder-junk. But perhaps it's more subtle than that.

Perhaps studies will show Beethoven is so compelling that criminals become confused:

"I was all set to knock the guy out, when suddenly the slow movement from the Seventh comes on. Ruined my timing. It's like that time I was beating up a guy and Debussy came on. You just can't fight to Debussy. You feel like a faun in a forest, caught in a ray of sunlight. I tell you, if they start playing Stravinsky, it's over; the jarring harmonies and unconventional time signatures will make everyone on the platform on their guard."

But, hey: If it works, it works.

This could mean, of course, that people with a home-alarm system can cancel it and keep the classical music station on all day.

Or you could use this information to deter an iPod/smartphone robber: If someone steals your phone, just yell "IT'S CRAMMED FULL OF BACH!" or "THE RINGTONE IS A PURCELL SACKBUT CONCERTO!" and they'll drop it fast. (Note: I have no idea if Purcell wrote a Sackbut concerto, but it's a word I've been wanting to get in the paper for a long time.)

I await the day a criminal tells such an anecdote: He was sneaking up on a guy, braving the classical onslaught, when the music became quiet and soft, and the crook coughed.

Yet the victim didn't notice or turn around. Odd, man.

Really? Go to any concert. It's practically expected.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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