YOUR OPINION: Do you think nudity is a basic human right?
Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Small town Vermont Street Culture would make Cleveland more interesting
Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 09/05/2006 - 19:22.
An interesting street culture gaining popularity in small-town Brattleboro, Vermont (population 15,000) may have some potential for NEO... teens are taking their clothes off and hanging out naked in public. The town officials call it a form of rebellion. This would offer a nice change from the sagging pants urban street culture and the exposed butt-crack fat plumber suburban culture popular in NEO today, and public nudity would certainly increase tourism and make more people want to live here. In fact, the Spencer Tunick Naked NEO shoot (below) brought around 10,000 (correction, 3,000) people together in Cleveland (on a freezing morning) to get naked and real about our communiity, so I know this concept has potential. What do you think, PD?
More on the latest street culture in Vermont below... this from the the Boston Globe:
Kristen Podsiedlik (left) and Hannah Phillips said they feel strongly about having the freedom to go unclothed, while Andrew Wdowiak, who works at Everyone’s Books, said he’s grown tired of the display of public nudity by local teenagers this summer. (Photos by Dominic Chavez/ Globe Staff)
Law of nature prevails in Vermont Boston Globe BRATTLEBORO -- Here on the banks of the Connecticut River, in the busiest parking area of a downtown peppered with bookstores and coffee shops, more is meeting the eye than some people want. Brian MacQuarrie August 23, 2006 -->
BRATTLEBORO -- Here on the banks of the Connecticut River, in the busiest parking area of a downtown peppered with bookstores and coffee shops, more is meeting the eye than some people want.
A politely rebellious collection of teenagers passing time in the Harmony Parking Lot this summer has taken to disrobing. Seemingly on a whim, they shed clothes and soak up the sun, nude.
What began as a lark or an ode to youthful exuberance has now turned into a municipal quandary, because public nudity is permissible in Brattleboro.
In the words of Town Manager Jerry Remillard, if you're naked in public, and you're minding your business, you're legal.
``We're quite a bit different than a lot of places," Remillard said.
Spurred by complaints, the town's Select Board will consider changing that, although no changes are expected soon. In the meantime, some pedestrians avert their eyes. Some youths cheer on their naked friends, and a few adults are so offended that they become nearly hysterical.
If the two-dozen or so youths, 16 to 19 years old, are seeking to make a social statement, the manifesto needs some work.
``We just thought it'd be a little fun," said Charles Corry, 19, who said he stripped to nature's own Friday and hung out for about 45 minutes with five like-minded friends as shoppers, diners, and walkers made their bemused way through the lot. ``I don't see it as a serious statement."
Serious or not, the teenagers have made nudity something that can show its pale or sun-burned self with no warning. Rachel Brooks, who works at Everyone's Books, sees some of the action on the sidewalk outside the shop's rear door.
``Personally, if I wanted to be naked, I wouldn't sit around in a dirty parking lot," said Brooks, 22. ``I wouldn't want to get cigarette butts on my butt."
The nudity began in earnest this year, Brooks said, when one young woman decided she wanted to bare her chest in public, just like her male friends.
Since then, the no-clothes fashion has gained popularity and has expanded to include group bike rides, skateboarding, hula-hoop contests, and a grass-roots music event that the group dubbed the Brat Fest.
One girl even sat partially nude on a newspaper vending box in the middle of downtown.
``I think most of Vermont wants Vermont to be nude," said Hannah Phillips, 15, who added that she has not disrobed. ``People have a basic human right to be naked if they want to."
Nearby, older teenagers sat on the sidewalk, fully clothed, their backs propped against a brick wall, munching on a pizza they found in its box. A car belonging to one of the group was parked nearby, a skull-and-crossbones on its hood and the words, ``Chaos Infiltration Squad," on a side door. On the opposite side of the lot, the Back Side Cafe looked down on the scene.
Although members of the group said they don't intend to offend anyone, one woman has filed a complaint with the Select Board.
But the wheels of legislation grind methodically here, and the board must hold two public meetings, followed by a waiting period of nearly a month before a ban on public nudity can be implemented and enforced.
Vermont does not forbid public nudity, as Massachusetts does, but some liberal communities in the state have banned it. Remillard said that outsiders should not begin to think of Brattleboro as a haven for the behavior. It's just that Brattleboro never had cause to ban nudity before.
``I would suspect that if it were OK, you'd see it in Boston," he said.
Andrew Wdowiak, who works at Everyone's Books, said that he's not put off by the nudity, but that the act has become a little tired. ``I think it was more for the shock value," he said. ``They weren't flagrant about it."
But last week, when about a half-dozen naked teenagers congregated outside the store, ``it was like they were baking a cake, and they really frosted it," Wdowiak said. ``All the men were naked, and the women were topless. I needed about three drinks to erase that vision."
One patron of the bookstore let loose with hysterics of Academy Award proportions, he added.
If the town passes an ordinance this year, cool weather will have begun to settle in this slice of the North Country.
But Remillard, for one, doesn't think the bracing air will accomplish what Brattleboro's laws have been so far unable to do.
``That isn't necessarily going to bother this group of people," he said of the cold.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.