Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nothing Better to Do?

I remember one day long ago when the Herb and Skills group got ticketed by the Athens-Clarke County police department outside either the 40 Watt Club or Tasty World. Their crime? Putting band advertisements on telephone poles.

While technically illegal - it is clearly against the rules to put fliers anywhere other than approved spaces in the ACC - if you've ever been to Athens, walked around Athens, played in a band in Athens or watched a band in Athens, you know that plenty folks put their band fliers all over everything you can touch with a staplegun and duct tape. Now, I'm not the "everybody else is doing something wrong, so why can't we" types, but I am one of those "if you're going to enforce the law against one person who violates it, you have to (at least) make the attempt to enforce the law against all people who violate it." What is good for the goose is good for the gander, is what I'm sayin'. You can't just pick and choose who to go after and expect to keep a whole lot of credibility.

Now, I haven't lived in Athens Town for quite some while, and if that particular night was the first prong of a band flier offensive by the ACCPD, then that's OK. I just remember at the time never having heard of any other group being ticketed for band fliers in the wrong places. I had been in Athens for seven years at that point, and had been pals with more than a few folks in bands. That seemed a little odd to me. I was thinking words like "selective" and "prosecution."

I also remember the innocuous "Copyright 1976" graffitti that popped up around Athens back in the day. Oh, to be young again, and not in my 30's.

Fast forward to today, and I'm down in New Orleans, and Dangerblond and Toulouse Street point me over to this crazy news in the art community. (That last link even quotes one of my past coworkers at the Burrito Stand...)

Long story short (though, you should take some time to go read that story and associated links), some guy with grey paint is going after some homegrown artist type and has the NOPD all up in the middle. In a total departure from rational reality, the guy with the grey paint gets to paint over graffitti wherever he sees it in town, and has now locked up the homegrown artist, who makes inspirational and removable pieces for residents of the town to display, with citations from the police that could total over $50,000.

My problem with this exists on many levels, including but not limited to:
-If we have a quality of life division of the city government anywhere, could we please work on the potholes a little more seriously?
-That a city government strapped for funds is actually covering some dude's grey paint budget for a pet project of any kind.
-That the police can apparently get all the paperwork done to cite an inspirational local artist while the same department is having an awful time enforcing the local 'do not murder' ordinance.
-That the police are spending time with something like this while National Guard are still patrolling neighborhoods.
-That volunteer groups are still helping paint our schools.
-That the city's streets are in serious need of lane markers.

In short, homeboy should not have time to go around worrying his head silly over some inspirational guy. This city has far bigger fish to fry

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