aside


This past weekend I realized what the true harbinger of summer is in this fine city. No, I’m not talking about enjoying the gorgeous, sunny weather, or smelling barbecue after barbecue as you traverse the neighborhood, or watching all your neighbors re-emerge and take to their roofdecks, or fighting the crowds in the gardens behind your favorite restaurants and bars. Sure, I did all of those things over the last several days, and sure, they do suggest that summer is coming. But it only really hit me that summer is here when, walking briskly through Midtown, I looked down to find a healthy, energetic roach strutting down the sidewalk right next to me. If that’s not a sign of the season changing, I don’t know what is. Take that, Punxsutawney Phil!

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I’m referring, of course, not to health care, but to the volume of TV commercials. This is an issue near and dear to my heart as both an overly sensitive tinnitus sufferer and a prematurely crotchety old man.

I was thinking about this most recently while watching an episode of Ace of Cakes (Food Network being by far the most frequently watched channel in our household). One second I’m cranking up the volume to try to understand why in the world anyone would order a cake based on the movie Independence Day for their wedding, and the next, with the remote having sunk irretrievably into the couch cushions, I’m shielding my ears from Guy Fieri promoting the next episode of his godawful show at about 140 decibels. By the time I get up and lower the volume, of course, the show is back on and Duff is whispering something about buying fireworks for some purpose I can’t quite make out over the dull hum of the dishwasher’s rinse cycle in the next room. Super, super irritating, right?!

Fortunately, Representative Ann Eshoo (D-CA) feels my pain and has introduced the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. Yes, the CALM Act would forbid commercials from being broadcast more loudly than the program they accompany. And it appears that the House Communications Subcommittee has passed the bill and referred it to the full Energy and Commerce Committee. Take that, all you cynics complaining about Congressional inaction.

And Congress, if you’re reading–if you can pass only one landmark piece of legislation this term, PLEASE make it the CALM Act.