Carl Cimini is a documentary filmmaker and political activist who was working with colleagues Michael Solano-Mullins and Jerry Pearl at the G20 protests on Thursday September 24, 2009 down in Lawrenceville. In advance of the summit, he and his crew had begun working on a piece by conducting several “talking head” interviews with locals. On that Thursday, he was out with his mates shooting B-roll (or cut-away) footage for their documentary-in-progress at Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Park (in the neighborhood where Carl has his studio). When that protest wound down, they stopped to take were a break at a coffee house.
“We were on Butler, near 36th street or so. All of a sudden a police or military truck came up–I mean, we thought the protests were over. When we saw the truck, we knew something was happening, so I grabbed my camera and started rolling.” Carl told me he was approximately 30 feet behind the LRAD when he was capturing the footage containing the sound of this sonic weapon (that I used for this ringtone). “Michael got caught in the protest, and he ended up getting sick from either the LRAD or the tear gas–we’re not sure.”
Carl said he was disturbed to hear people on the streets saying, when the device went off, “That’s nothing–they’re just trying to scare people.” The Guardian.co.uk reported that “It is feared the sounds emitted are loud enough to damage eardrums and even cause fatal aneurysms.”
Several people I ran into the week after the G20 protests asked if I’d captured this distinct audio for a ringtone. Thanks to Carl, this tone is yet another response to this project’s focusing question, “What does Pittsburgh sound like?” [Why, on September 24, 2009, it sounded like the first time the sound cannon had been used publicly in the USA.]
Here’s Carl Cimini’s G20 LRAD (Long-Range Acoustic Device) Tone. If you’re interested in the editing deets, I dropped the audio level a bit, took one “firing” of the device from the original audio Carl shared with me and looped it together to make this short and piercing tone.
BTW, Pittsburghers weren’t the only folks to think of turning the sound of the LRAD into a ringtone. John Stewart joked about a sonic cannon ringtone on The Daily Show episode which aired on the eve of Monday September 28, 2009.
P.S. A local reporter told me that the strangest thing he perceived during his time covering the G20 summit and protests was the “pre-recorded police warning” (in English and Spanish) that was played to warn protesters before the firing of tear gas and/or the sonic canon. This G20 Cease & Desist Pre-Recorded Tone is for him.