John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Scandalous songs like "Sorry I Got You Pregnant" are banned from radio in Jakarta. Also, a British town restricts sidewalk solicitors; Fruita, Colo., drops its "WTF" tourist campaign; a New York city tells frackers to get drilled.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world:
• Indonesian officials have banned several popular dangdut songs from radio and TV in cities across the country, deeming them pornographic. The 10 outlawed tunes, typically performed against dangdut's catchy backdrop of tabla drums and sensuous synths, include Julia Perez’s "Jupe Paling Suka 69" ("Jupe Likes 69 Best"), which the singer delivers along with come-hither sighs and details about her favorite positions in bed. Other tunes Jakarta music fans will no longer groove to: "Maaf Kamu Hamil Duluan" ("Sorry I Got You Pregnant"), "Mobil Bergoyang" ("Rocking Car"), "Apa Aja Boleh" ("Anything Goes") and "Hamil Duluan" ("Accidentally Pregnant"), a title that sounds like the opposite of sexy. Top broadcasting official and total buzzkill Badrun A.M. said the government feared the graphic acts described in the lyrics would inspire copycat sex among Indonesians, telling the Jakarta Globe:
Singer Minawati Dewi’s “Wanita Lubang Buaya” (“A Woman’s Crocodile Hole”) and Rya Sakila’s “Ada Yang Panjang” (“Here’s Something Long”), Badrun added, were perhaps the worst as they made specific reference to genitalia.
“This is very vulgar, and completely inappropriate to be heard by our community. Not to mention 'Mucikari Cinta’ [‘Pimping Love’], which tells the story of a husband who sells his wife as a prostitute — this does not represent our Eastern culture,” he said.
A typical dangdut song.
• The English town of Burnley, north of Manchester, deserves some kind of giant gold medal for taking a stand against sidewalk solicitors, those starry-eyed, clipboard-wielding youths who aggressively solicit charitable donations from pedestrians. The "charity muggers" or "chuggers," as they're charmingly known across the ocean, are now only allowed to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the town center. Lobbying for the ban were local businesses, who complained that shoppers were avoiding the area because of the chuggers and their grating tactics, such as approaching a stranger (personal experience here) with the weirdo salutation, "Are you friendly?" The council of Burnley is the 42nd city government in England to enforce such an ordinance; 18 more councils are planning to.
• The bullying Facebook messages of a school-board member in Manchester, Connecticut, has gotten her banned from sitting on any city subcommittees. Merrill Kidd, a Republican, got in trouble after sending messages to Democratic board member Kelly Luxenberg such as, "Don't ever patronize me again by telling me I did a great job. GOT IT!" and "I will bulldoze you. Promise." Kidd is taking the censure in stride, saying she won't resign and that the messages were "prompted by Luxenberg's patronizing attitude."
• The Park Slope Food Coop is planning a ban of groceries from Israel to protest its policies against Palestine. It is the zillioninth such boycott passed by the social justice-dealing market, as documented in this historical timeline.
• The city hall in Wichita, Kansas, has forbidden Sharpie brand markers within its walls. Anybody attempting to enter for a government meeting will have their Sharpies removed by a security officer. The pen ban comes after at least 20 incidents since 2008 in which permanent markers were used to scrawl hate speech or anti-government messages on the building's walls.
• A state judge has given the OK for a town in upper New York to ban fracking, the almost-certainly harmful injection of water and chemicals into the ground to facilitate natural-gas extraction. A fracking company had sued Dryden after it passed a zoning law that prevented drilling within city limits. This court decision paves the way for other cities to also give frackers the boot, explains the Village Voice: "The judge's decision maintains that state law does not prevent a municipality from controlling land use via zoning — even if a township's decisions effect petroleum exploration."
• Tourism officials in Fruita, Colorado, will not be using the town's new advertising slogan on promotional materials because, well, it's titled "WTF." Pols in the scenic burg, located along the state's western edge, worried that the abbreviation of "Welcome to Fruita" might be confused with WTF's other meaning. This comical situation has led to all sorts of painful constructions in the local press, such as this graf from the Daily Sentinel: “But while WTF may cause many in Fruita and elsewhere in the Grand Valley to LOL, it doesn’t appear the hot commodity will become the Fruita City Council’s BFF anytime soon.”
In retrospect, WTF seems to be an apt motto for Fruita given its status as home to the legendary Miracle Mike. Townies celebrate every year with a festival for the "famous headless fowl," who survived for 19 months after a farmer cut off its head with an ax. The discombobulated poultry, sporting a rakish brain stem and jugular vein in place of a face, met its maker in a seedy motel after choking to death on mucus, but tourists from as far as Venezuela and Wales still flock to Fruita to pay tribute to Mike. WTF, indeed.
Top image from the YouTube's "JUPE PALING SUKA 69," sung by Julia Perez.