Wednesday, 3/7/02: Honku Sweeps the Nation

What an exciting week of honku. It started this weekend with a piece on NPR's The Next Big Thing. And it continues in The LampPost Brooklyn Bulletin Board where my Uncle Michael has written the world's first yiddish honku. In fact, this may be the world's first yiddish haiku, period. Way to go, Uncle Mike.

I thought the NPR piece came out pretty nicely, but the interview was a bit annoying. It became immediately clear to me that Dean Olsher, the host of The Next Big Thing, wanted to portray me as the Angry White Man of Brooklyn, holed up in his apartment chucking eggs at cars. Now, I am the first to admit that this portrayal of me as an Angry White Egg-Chucker is not entirely inaccurate. However, I don't think it's the most interesting story. Especially when Dean was asking me questions like: "Are you an 'Angry White Man?' (Journalism 101: Don't just come out and tell your interview subject what character you want him to play in your piece. If you dislike the guy, get him to tighten the noose around his own neck.)

So, Dean got all hung up on the morality of egg-throwing. He wanted me to defend egg-throwing as being more moral than horn-honking but I really didn't want to do that on-air. The whole point of my story was that, after my experience with the Insane Honker, I felt that egg-throwing was bad and was only continuing the cycle of Clinton Street traffic frustration and violence. And that I was now channeling my rage into the writing and posting of honku's. And in doing so, I discovered that there were lots of other people in the neighborhood who also don't appreciate what motorists are doing to Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. And that, the motorists themselves are victims of lousy traffic patterns too. We're all pretty much on the same side, when it comes down to it.

Dean's whole discussion about which side -- the honkers or the egg-throwers -- is more morally correct didn't seem right to me. If, however, I am forced to discuss it, I will definitely defend the morality of egg-throwing versus horn-honking. Blasting your horn in a residential neighborhood (when you're not in danger of a car accident or anything) is an act of physical violence against any number of people who may be walking their dogs, pushing strollers or peacefully reading the morning paper in their apartments. In our culture, environmental pollution usually isn't considered to be a form of violence, but it really is. The jarring, loud noise of a Lincoln Continental or S.U.V. horn blast enters the body of a human being and wrecks all kinds of havoc there. There are studies that prove it. Often times, the victim of this violence is not even aware of it because, living in our highly mechanized society, lots of different kinds of environmental degradation has become invisible to us. Tossing an egg on a honker's car, at worst, is an act of minor vandalism. It makes a temporary mess but doesn't really hurt anyone. Both acts are illegal on the corner of Clinton and Pacific Streets, so I don't advocate doing either.

You know what the ironic bit of all this is? The rabbi that Dean interviewed about the morality of egg-tossing is actually going to marry my cousin, Uncle Michael's son, later this summer! Isn't that crazy?