Like every porno worth the name, most city council meetings have their money shot. Sometimes it's former Huntington Beach mayor/current felon Dave Garofalo coronating himself—and yes, that is what the kids are calling it these days. Other times, it's two Santa Ana councilmen cross-checking each other like Marty McSorleyuntil one big baby presses charges. (Yes, Brett Franklin, I'm talking to you.)
In this case, the main event is elegant in its simple-mindedness: Koo's Art Caf, wishing to offer life-drawing classes in addition to music, poetry and all manner of starry-eyed, good-for-you things, double-checked the city of Long Beach's nudity ordinance (one has to be proactive when one's art space is already crawling with undercover Vice) and discovered they would need an "adult entertainment" license like they were some 700-cc's-of-silicone slut. There is, as always, a sticking point: even if they'd gone for the adult-entertainment license, they would be ineligible, as they've got residential units within 300 feet of them. How could the parochial embarrassment of the city's prudery be shed?
Would the Long Beach City Council revise its nudity ordinance to permit scrappy Koo's to hold life-drawing classes—in the nude? Backed by Second District Councilman Dan Baker and opposed by the sinister Councilman Val Lerch and Vice Mayor Frank Colonna, would Koo's win the good fight to un-ridiculize this ordinance?
Sort of. But you would have had to wait an awfully long time—and be gifted with a deputy city attorney's parsing skills—to find that out.
At a marathon meeting on June 22—a thrilling highlight of which was a vote on expanding preferred parking (that is, residential parking passes) for folks living near Long Beach City College, complete with hysterical housewives complaining of death threats after they'd called the cops to ticket the students who'd parked in front of their homes—the council unanimously approved a measure to send it on to the planning commission with a recommendation to work with the city attorney to rezone. Both, actually. The parking and the nudeness. Ifuckin' love city council meetings.
Oh, Commie Girl, you sigh. (You do that.) Are you really going to blow-by-blow a freakingcouncil meeting? Don't you want to regale us with tales ofFahrenheit 9/11 and the poignant Saturday wedding of theDibs' Chris Hanlin and his lovelyKelly O(henceforth referred to as theO'Hanlins) instead? And some bars maybe, and your weekly humiliations in our names? We like bars! And humiliation!
No. We've more important things to discuss. Like naked people what got no clothes! I will leave out, though, the utter crazies and the DARE guy. You're welcome.
Now, the reason (we found out after more than two hours, when the matter was finally brought to the floor) one needs an adult-entertainment license when one offers life drawing is that unseemly peoples might exploit this life-drawing loophole, offering lechy old pervs a sketch pad and a crayon, busting out the hookers and calling it "art." In fact, Lerch addressed just this possibility. He was for art, he said; he just wanted to make sure they didn't create a loophole for the adult-entertainment industry. There might even be, he said, a room at the Flamingo called the "art room."
I say giving lechy old pervs a sketch pad and a crayon would probably give them some heretofore unimagined direction in life and have all kinds of wonderful consequences, but really nobody should listen to me anyway. I have bad thoughts.
Then Councilwoman Jackie Kell, who had previously been almost retardedly slow and ponderous on the parking-permit issue, asked twinklingly what kind of lewd shenanigans were going on up in Lerch's district. She also mentioned The Da Vinci Code, Vetruvian Man and Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who didn't know much about porn, but he knew what he liked. And that's why there should be life drawing! Perhaps this good woman was less retarded than she at first had seemed. Perhaps.
Witness after witness—including a dashing gray-haired woman who's earned a good living as a life-drawing model for 22 years—came forth to speak on art and how easy it is to tell it from obscenity.
Art isn't bawdy, lascivious, suggestive dancing for $1 bills. If it were those things, or indeed "adult entertainment," art prof Greg Navarro's parents wouldn't have sent him to the classes, oh, these decades ago, when he was 13.
"My parents are not hippies," he clarified.
No. They're Satanists!
The funniest of the speakers noted that as late as the 19th century, a French art critic was warning pregnant women to stay away from the spectacle of Manet's Olympia (I think it was Olympia, as I wasn't listening anymore), lest they miscarry. The council chortled. It's not that they're Philistines or John Ashcroft! They just want to make sure it's worded properly, this zoning matter to allow nonprofit art spaces to have nudeness perpetrating. That's all! Shortly thereafter, some motion or other was sent to direct the city attorney to figure a way out of this mess—shades of further study—to be brought before the council at a later date. Applause!
I know I won't help matters any with this. I really never do. But what's to stop the council from determining what art is and isn't? I moved away from Long Beach because people were waving guns in the street in front of my house while my son was outside playing—and the City Council's fretting lest a pecker go up?
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Now, I'm not your average nudist, with her fat fatting out all over. I don't even like my roommate ambling around the house with his shirt off. (It's really kind of tacky.) But all art should be nude all the time, and you shouldn't have to be a nonprofit to take your clothes off and orchestrate some undoubtedly vapid (and excruciating) performance piece. When I lived in New York, a law was passed to allow women to walk topless; the ban on bosoms but not on men's pecs was seen as discriminatory. You know what? No women went topless, even though they could. And the Empire did not fall.
So SnoopTown City Council? Don't get caught up in validating the truly artistic pursuits. Let everybody hang out. And get back to interminably legislating parking passes, like you're supposed to.
Oh, and knock off the pray time at the beginnings of all your meetings. It makes me totally wanna sue.