A BCer in Toronto put me onto this Globe story:
Local councils in Britain have been given a list of uncool music selections that will disperse obnoxious teenagers. The central Local Government Association (LGA) calls for the councils to launch "pilot projects for the Manilow method," referring to experiments in Sydney, Australia, where strains of Copacabana and Mandy were piped into a car park to disperse congregations of young hoodlums. The 20 selections suggested by the LGA include such songs as: Release Me (Engelbert Humperdinck), Achy Breaky Heart (Billy Ray Cyrus); Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen (Neil Sedaka); Bridge Over Troubled Water (Gene Pitney); (They Long to Be) Close to You (The Carpenters); Uptown Girl (Billy Joel). However, some local officials "fear that the songs on the Manilow method list could inadvertently become cool and even enjoyed by the young people they are supposed to deter," says The Independent on Sunday.
Ironically, BCer does not realize that this particular "punk dispersal" tactic, which is now commonly employed throughout the U.S. and Canada, was invented in British Columbia in the early 1980s. In fact, it was invented by the Petro-Canada Station at the corner of Millstream and Goldstream Road in Langford, British Columbia, and a much younger version of your own BigCityLib was one of the very first punks they were trying to drive away. Now if you look at this Google Earth image, the Petro Canada station would have been (because I thinks its been torn down) on the top left corner of the intersection at the bottom of the picture, facing the street running more or less vertically (Millstream Road). It served as a meeting place for the local teenagers. You'd gas up your car there (if you owned one) and find out where all the bush parties were happening. Or you'd sit on the curb and drink slushies and wait for kids with cars to show up.
Moving left thourgh the picture, and across to the other side of the intersection (Goldstream Avenue), you will see a number of buildings. I think the little square one was the arcade where we would buy dime bags of weed for about $10, or buy joints for $2 apiece. The police came by twice a night, and the local dealers would fly out the back door and make a dash for the wood around the railway tracks (not visible in this picture).
In any case, I guess around the summer of 1980/81 the station began piping classical music out into the parking lot. And the weird thing is, I don't recall its being much of a deterrent. Langford teens didn't get up to much, criminally speaking, beyond a few DUIs and possession charges. We were, for the most part, a bunch of long-haired, jean-clad, semi-rural rocker kids. The drugs of choice, other than weed, were little magic mushrooms you could pick from under cow patties in the field behind Belmont Highschool. So if anything the music they used might have turned a few people onto Beethoven that would otherwise have spent their lives thinking Pink Floyd was the height of the art form.
On the other hand, if they had played Manilow, that might have got the kids running. I know for a fact that Copacabana has been responsible for any number of bad acid trips.
It was only later that I discovered that Langford's teenage population was the first in the world to have this tactic employed upon them (from The Globe and Mail, oddly enough). As I say, I'm not sure if it worked. I think we all just grew up, bought cars, and stopped buying weed off the street. And the younger kids, my brother's age, simply gravitated to the new Mall across from Belmont High, which was a better place to hang out anyway because it was under a roof).
Anyway, today's story brings back a lot of old memories.