Retail down? Try getting rid of those pesky groups of teenagers


Barry Manilow has a new mission with his music --driving teenagers crazy. A mall in the New Zealand town of Christchurch is making plans to pipe in the mellow-musicman's tunes as a way to rid its public area of teens who are unruly and intimidating its patrons, which is in turn hurting its sales.

I suppose any excuse in a storm.

"The intention is to change the environment in a positive nobody feels threatened or intimidated," Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale told the Associated Press. "I did not say Barry Manilow is a weapon of mass destruction."

It's not the first time people have wanted a humane way to rid a public area of teens. One British company, CSS Ltd, makes a device that emits a high-pitched whine at a frequency only people under 25 can hear. (That makes me freel just great.) The tone is so annoying to teens that groups of them will disperse within minutes. Apparently it doesn't bother dogs, though, who can also hear it. Guess they're not as picky about noise? And lest you think the company goes for sublety, the product is proudly named, "Mosquito Teen Deterrent."

I wonder which device teens themselves would prefer? Aren't the '80s back in vogue now? Wouldn't kids listen to "Copacabana," in the spirit of high camp? Hey, we loved that song back in the day...

Ironically, some point out that few teens, born in the '90s long after Barry Manilow songs played on the radio, even know who the once popular crooner is, and so may well just tune his music out completely, while their 40-something parents writhe in agony. I know I'd only be able to stand a few refrains of "My Eyes Adored you," or 'Mandy" before I ran out of the mall screaming. My 'tween daughter, meanwhile, would simply tune it out with her iPod earbuds. Somehow I don't think that's what the mall intended -- driving out the moms and dads with their checkbooks in tow.