- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

When a pair of nationally syndicated shock jocks complain about society's boorish behavior, it might be time for some cultural self-examination.
Don Geronimo of "The Don and Mike Show" fame and Howard Stern took time away from their bawdy shenanigans in recent weeks to vent about people chattering through a Wolf Trap concert and the latest "Star Wars" film, respectively.
Their reflections didn't fall on deaf ears here.
Going to a movie or concert these days is a gamble with odds no Las Vegas bookie would touch. Never mind the quality of the performance or film. Will the goateed guy in front of you keep quiet about his "Spider-Man" refrigerator-magnet collection? Will the stocky woman behind you warble along, loud and off-key, to every song sung?
Mr. Stern's tirade, heard locally on WJFK-FM (106.7), involved a chatty mother and son at a screening of "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones." Apparently, the toddler needed plenty explained to him. The mother obliged, oblivious to the racket the two were creating.
After Mr. Stern's lengthy on-air tirade, the woman in question called the radio show. Rather than be cowed by the national tongue-lashing by the king of all potty mouths, she stood her ground, unwilling to admit she might have trampled on others' enjoyment of the film.
Mr. Geronimo's harangue, also airing on the all-boys network known as WJFK-FM, came after the June 11 Chicago concert at Wolf Trap in Vienna. Three middle-aged women babbled on cell phones, clinked their wineglasses alcohol is forbidden in Wolf Trap's ticketed seats and somehow made themselves heard over the rock-music din.
If the radio play-by-play is to be believed, Mr. Geronimo and his son courteously asked them to pipe down with little satisfaction.
I have come across a legion of people who chat in movie theaters as if they were lounging on their living room couches.
The credit reader must announce the names of everyone in the film, followed by some inspired commentary.
"Hmmm, Charlie Sheen he's in that delightful 'Spin Cycle' show, ain't he?"
The laugher chortles way too loudly at every joke, often a good beat or two after the punch line. The gags must take a few seconds to pierce his Cro-Magnon skull.
Recently, I attended a comedian's traveling Broadway show at the Warner Theatre and found myself seated in front of a radio disc jockey. How did I know his stock in trade? Before the show, the baritone-voiced barbarian told his seat neighbors his job description in a volume that could be heard throughout Northwest Washington and possibly as far as the Greater Rockville area.
Once the show began, the boor put on a performance of his own, emitting blast after blast of forced guffaws whenever the mood struck. My friend couldn't stand the assault and began mocking the oaf.
That helped. The man's faux laughter subsided but that solution could have landed the two of us in the nearest emergency room, minus a filling or two, if the man's bite had been as problematic as his bark.
Despite the hardships, I haven't given up on seeing events in public. My father, however, threw in the towel decades ago.
Dad explained his retirement from such gatherings to me sometime around the early 1980s. He said that whenever he went to the movies as a child the people around him would be eating oranges and he could hear and smell them being unraveled. Even as a youngster, I recognized how flimsy that sounded. Pungent oranges were nothing compared with the damage a Sno-Cap could do if hurled at the proper speed.
Today, my Pa wouldn't go anywhere near the local cineplex, let alone a concert venue, especially because it's unlikely that delightful Mickey Rooney has any new films ready for release.
He also won't be found listening to any shock-jock broadcast.
Say what you will about the pre-pubescent ramblings of Mr. Geronimo and Mr. Stern. At least their shows come with an "off" switch, which is more than can be said of the yokels preparing to ruin your next theatrical experience.


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