Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Questionable Art Now Subject to City Council Approval and $175 Special Permit!

Wow! Where to begin? You all have read my initial post on this topic, and if you have not, you need to...  just to see how ridiculous it is that we even need to be here talking about this in the first place. The poor Lynn Restaurant Association was forced to make a public statement in support of this ordinance all because Phelan basically slammed them in the press.

Tonight, was just the beginning of a new voice at City Hall. I'm sure it's a voice we may be seeing in the courts sometime soon. Fighting the very ordinance that was just put in place at City Hall.

It's the voice of the artist.

It's a voice that was heard....somewhat. It just wasn't understood.

It's a voice that spoke in favor of the ordinance (restrict location, time of operations, and other aspects of adult business in Lynn) but wanted an amendment to exempt the arts. They didn't get it.

This was made evident by their questions to the city's lawyer after the public hearing.

I'm beginning to see how the public hearing setup works. Let people speak in favor or against (no neutral stances or questions), then let the councilors ask questions that show that they don't get what the public just said, don't allow any public followup, then vote. Not good.

Several questions came from the city council to the city solicitor.

When Phelan asked the city solicitor if historical books of art with pictures from artists like Michelangelo were in a bookstore, would those be considered adult entertainment? The answer was no.  My follow up would have been, "Where is the cutoff historically?" Can I have a bookstore where 11% of the books are modern art books with nudes?  Do you know any other artists except Michelangelo?

The solicitor's response was also quite disturbing. Something to the effect of .... if 90% of your bookstore was Shakespeare or Hamlet or Shakespeare, (Yes, he could only come up with one author and one play by the same author as a list of examples), then you are OK.  Well that's a very well defined line. Thanks for the clarification.

While I reserve the right to be mad at Crighton for not being tougher with his colleagues and making the arts an all out exemption, he did get the fee for the special permit reduced from $2500 to $175. That makes producing Equus a little bit less cost prohibitive. If I produce Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune, I'll just have the actors face the back wall the whole time and put some sort of censor circle over their buttocks so I don't have to go to City Hall to explain the artistic integrity of the piece.

It's still up to City Hall to decide whether or not you get to produce the artistic expression, but at least there's the option, if you're willing to pay for it.

They certainly stopped strip clubs tonight. They also put a pastie on the art scene Downtown. I say, we do everything in our power, to rip that thing off!!! They won't enforce this anyway!

And let us all remember, that we NEVER had this problem to begin with in Lynn, MA.




  1. was having issues this morning so I was unable to post the council video, even though it uploaded and converted just fine. Hopefully, I'll be able to post it sometime late this afternoon.

    What happened last night is both disturbing and kind of embarrassing, given the naivety under which it happened. And I wonder what would have happened had Councilor Cahill been present. He's usually a little more in touch with where laws and reality intersect.

    And I also share your frustration with the process. In the smaller towns I covered in the past, residents were not forced to divide themselves into two camps on an issue, the For's following the Against's. They were allowed to speak in any order, and in shades of gray.

    It's also frustrating when our councilors do not fully realize the nuances of what people saying. One doesn't need a background in the arts to have enough understanding of the concerns being raised. Besides, a background in American history and law ought to have been enough. From under which rocks did they crawl?

  2. Yeah I was upset to see Cahill not there as well. He would have added some logic and helped Crighton with the good fight.

    Lucky for us, these things seem to go on the books and remained ignored. No doubt it would be dusted off if a strip club came to town, but I doubt they even know what Equus is, never mind that there is nudity in it. Most of them are never present at Downtown events. I don't think I've ever seen Phelan Downtown and at the premiere Downtown event, Meet Me Downtown, I only noticed Crighton in attendance.

  3. I understand it isn't likely to be enforced, but that doesn't comfort me. Just the fact that something like this will sit on the books in some city within the United States is disturbing enough. Can you imagine the License Commission, which meets just once a month, trying to wade through this if it should ever come up? At least Hair and Equus have an established history. New works won't have a leg to stand on. And if it ever came down to it, the ACLU would probably provide a lawyer for free.

  4. What's even more disturbing is that the city's "lawyers" don't seem to know some very basic things about the law. How else do you explain these crazy ordinances even making it to public hearing? According to the Item, one of them seems to think MacBeth is an author!


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