Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2003 / 4 Shevat, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Coughing as an art form | SARASOTA, Fla. In a stunning development that suggests the United States has ceded the cultural high ground to the Netherlands, a Dutch art director has launched a national campaign to stop people from coughing and sneezing during concerts.

Carl Wilson is art director of an Eindhoven concert hall, the Eindhovense Muziekcentrum Frits Philips.

"It is so irritating finding your neighbor coughing all the time during a concert while you're trying to enjoy the music," Wilson told the Dutch newspaper Gazetvanantwerpen. "People should realize they should stay at home when they get a cold," he added. "And when they feel their throat tickling, they had better take a tablet."

I'm betting that Wilson's problem is not nearly as bad as the problem we have in Sarasota, which attracts coughers and sneezers the way Hinckley, Ohio, attracts vultures.

My experience suggests that people here don't go to a concert or a movie unless they have TB, pneumonia or some other dire upper respiratory infection that causes them to make the kind of sounds one usually associates with walruses in heat. We are talking about hackers who began coughing when they moved here from Michigan 20 years ago and haven't stopped since.

And if you like to sneeze, Florida is definitely the destination for you. About 50 bazillion things here cause allergies, including trees, plants, mold and possibly orange construction cones.

I'm not sure there is a solution, short of giving everybody a powerful antihistamine when he comes through the door, resulting in everybody falling asleep before the orchestra gets tuned up.

But then you'd have the snoring problem, which is another matter entirely.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune