Rocker and guitar-shredder Ted Nugent has uttered an infinite amount of nonsense over his years in the (fading) spotlight, but one quote attributed to him would seem to be spot-on: “If it's too loud, you're too old,” he said.

Rocker and guitar-shredder Ted Nugent has uttered an infinite amount of nonsense over his years in the (fading) spotlight, but one quote attributed to him would seem to be spot-on: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old,” he said.

    But I’m going to have to take issue at least partly with Nugent’s notion, because I still play music as loud as I ever have, maybe louder. Why have nice audio equipment if you’re going to let it stretch its legs?

    Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that my decades spent blasting music in the living room and in my vehicles and all of those concerts I’ve attended have taken their toll. I say “What?” a lot because I think people are mumbling, and people who often share my company say that I TALK LOUD.

    But many of the other sounds and noises I come in contact with in my life are in fact too loud. Everything is getting louder and more in your face, and I find myself almost getting angry when it confronts me with the subtlety of a hammer to the temple.

    It seems that with the passage of time, or as various things in pop culture stand the test of time, they feel like they have to get louder in order to keep our attention.

    Watching “Spongebob Squarepants” was a daily ritual in our house when the boys were young, and the episodes from those first few years were funny, cute and at the same time full of positive messages that kids could learn from. But as the Spongebob phenomenon grew, it got louder. Soon, most episodes, while still trying to teach little lessons here and there, became screaming, shouting, yelling, crying and bawling-fests. The title character, along with Patrick, Squidward and Mr. Krabs, were infinitely louder than the show’s earlier, quieter days. Soon, we stopped tuning in.

    “Seinfeld” might go down as the funniest, most clever half-hour sitcom in television history, but it felt victim to a similar fate by the time it reached the end of its epic run. Watch some of the earliest episodes and you won’t believe how quiet it is; you won’t believe the stretches of simple silence between lines of dialogue. Scenes had an opportunity to breathe.

    But as the “Seinfeld” phenomenon spread, the show got louder. Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and George’s parents shouted more with each passing season.

    Is it a natural reaction to make things louder and more obnoxious to compensate for what one feels might be an increasing lack of originality and creativity? Does more noise compensate for shortcomings?

    Maybe the answer was crystal clear in one of the best, early Spongebob Squarepants episodes of all, when Squidward’s marching band of misfits from the town of Bikini Bottom is somehow selected to play the halftime show of the equivalent of the ocean-bottom Super Bowl. The band is terrible and rehearsals led by Squidward are a disaster. So he cooks up a strategy that will have the band simply playing as loud as it possibly can, and Squidward looks to Bikini Bottom’s constant (failing) antagonist, yet most microscopic in stature resident, Plankton, for an endorsement of his plan.

    “I have a theory, people talk loud when they want to act smart, right?” Squidward inquires.

    The camera cuts to tiny Plankton, who screams, “CORRECT!!!”

    With increasing frequency and intensity these days, all this constant noise has me squirming in my chair and wondering if I am alone in my decibel-driven despair.

    I find myself concluding that the commercials for the Ford F-150 pickup, with actor and comedian Denis Leary providing the voice-over, sum up my current, possibly mentally-ill state. Listen closely the next time you’re watching a Twins game on TV and one of these commercials comes on. While Leary’s obnoxious voice says the F-150 hauls “Big things to big places, BIG TIME!” you hear engine revving sounds in the background that don’t sound much like a Ford pickup, and you hear other unrelated, unnecessary sounds like a semi tractor-trailer laying on its horn, an eagle or hawk shrieking, an automated ratchet, trumpets blaring, and perhaps an elephant bellowing. It’s just non-stop…not one millisecond of silence. And it’s loud, like just about every other TV commercial that’s louder that the various shows they periodically interrupt.

    It all adds up to leave me in stunned silence, which actually isn’t half bad.