Barry Manilow’s music is being enlisted as the weapon of choice in a psychological warfare against Australian youths who are revving the engines of their souped-up cars and playing ground-thumping music at a neighborhood parking lot. Officials are hoping the crooner’s tunes are just as repulsive to them as Bing Crosby’s “My Heart Is Taking Lessons” was to mall-going teenagers. General Noriega and the Vatican might appreciate the effects of music from loudspeakers.
The City of Rockdale, just south of Sydney, will install loudspeakers at Hasham parking lot and pump Barry Manilow songs and some classical music to drive out the car “hoons” (hooligans). The city made the decision after owners of the Cyprus Hellene Club complained to the city council, claiming these “hoons” are deterring customers who are too afraid to park there.

In 1999, the Warrawong Shopping Center in Wallongong, further south of Sydney, said it
successfully used the 1938 Bing Crosby song to keep teenagers at bay. The mall also used pink fluorescent lights, believing that the color makes pimples stand out more.

One of the more famous use of music in psychological operations was during the 1989 U.S. Operation Just Cause to remove and arrest General Manuel Noriega from Panama. When the quirky general was holed up at the Apostolic Nunciature (of The Holy See), the U.S. military blasted rock music through loudspeakers for days. A Vatican complaint ended that tactic around Christmas. And the general surrendered a few days later. The music also helped shield the U.S.-Vatican talks from the media at the embassy gate.

Back in Rockdale, Barry Manilow may be able to chase these “hoons” from that specific parking lot. But the city councilors, who may have hung out only at adult-approved spots in their youths, should think twice before they make the policy permanent. The “hoons” could as easily move to a new part of town as they can hang out at the parking lot.