John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also recently banned in cities around the world: yobbos terrorizing a London suburb, "cruel" live-chicken art and the public roasting of whole cows in Phnom Penh.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world:
• Aficionados of poultry-based art in Lawrence, Kansas, will not get to experience Amber Hansen's “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution," because city officials just banned it for being cruel to animals. Hansen had planned to move a few cooped-up fowl around town so that members of the public could "have the opportunity to build a relationship with the birds." Then she'd get a farmer to kill them in front an audience and a local chef to serve them in a potluck dinner. The idea, the artist explains, is that "the project will transform the contemporary view of chickens as merely 'livestock' to the beautiful and unique creatures they are, while promoting alternative and healthy processes of caring for them." But this point was taken the exact opposite way by Lawrence's frowning elders, who noted that she could be fined $1,000 and get six months in jail if convicted of cruelty.
• After enduring several incidents of car vandalism and seeing a traffic camera set on fire, the U.K. town of Marlow has banned yobs from certain streets. Yobs – back slang for boys – will no longer be allowed to walk within a temporary "dispersal zone" in a residential area of Marlow, near yobbo-generator London. Hoodlums who stumble into the zone will be vaporized in a puff of white smoke by industrial lasers...or actually, just put in jail for three months. The issue of yobs was put on the forefront of the city council's agenda after loutish behavior, like car racing and getting "a load of mouth [from] a large group of drunk teenage boys," was noted by the Neighbourhood Action Group, or NAG. Police now have the power of disbanding any group of suspicious youngsters that numbers two or more people.
• The rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" has been cast out of playhouses in the Belarussian cities of Minsk, Brest, Mogilyov and Gomel. Was it a particularly off-key rendition of the iconic musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1971? Actually, church officials are objecting to content that they view as "blasphemous and anti-Christian," as they complained in a letter to the authorities, because "it paints Judas in a sympathetic light and because Jesus Christ is no superstar artist." (For the latter point, church leaders get to collect 1,000,000 Obvious Points.) Complaints from Christians have also led to the banning of this show in South Africa and the Russian city of Pskov.
• The city council of Temecula, Texas, has banned any new business from selling hard liquor. The unusual move (in Texas, anyway) prompted the Iraqi-American owners of a convenience store to cry foul, saying that a friend who applied for a liquor license while accompanied by a white associate got it approved, no problem. "This is a very clear case of discrimination," said the store's spokesman, who we're willing to bet is especially sensitive to possible acts of racism given that his name is Sami Jihad.
• There will be no more roastings of entire cows in the streets of Phnom Penh, under an order from prime minister Hun Sen. This is the second time the country has attempted to tackle public cow cookery, which offends Buddhist monks. Restaurants are still allowed to spit-roast the animals in their back rooms, out of sight.
• Here's an advertising slogan you won't be reading in London newspapers: Our prices are "Sofa King low!" Say it aloud and you'll understand why.
• Also in England, this inflatable bendy man has to go. The North Somerset Council deemed it "very garish, even in this seaside context.... This is exacerbated by the propensity of inflatable adverts to sway or move in windy conditions which will further draw attention to it and detract from the attractive architecture behind."
• Panhandlers in Ohio have been on a great migration ever since Dayton banned the practice last year. It seems that as soon as they move to a city that allows the practice, elected leaders ban it and force them to hump it to a new town. Most recently, Centerville outlawed begging after its police information officer noted a 400 percent increase in panhandling complaints – from four to 17.
Photo of Jesus Christ Superstar by *Stiletto*.