John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, California cities binge on foie gras before it's banned; Boston knocks down satellite dishes; you can't dress up like Tinker Bell at Disney World; a British city welcomes back meter maids.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
FOIE GRAS, IN LOS ANGELES
The fat lady is singing loudly for foie gras in California, as a statewide embargo against the fattiest of liverfoods goes into effect July 1. Not surprisingly, restaurants have prepared intricate tasting menus so diners can cram every last gram of the controversial food into their bodies before it becomes illegal. In Los Angeles, the chic Petrossian is offering a $100 five-course meal featuring a berry gazpacho with poached goose liver and pickled beets, a flat-iron steak with foie "meat butter" and an ice cream infused with the unctuous organ. Japanese joint N/NAKA is serving foie sushi in a $180 tasting, with kanpachi covered in a dried-liver snow. Over in San Francisco, Mélisse has a $185 "Foie for All" menu with truffled foie-gras agnolotti, foie-gras flan with hazelnut foam and blood orange gelee and "of Course, Something Sweet with Foie." The chef behind these delicacies told USA Today that "30 percent of our guests are ordering foie gras."
GAY PARADES, IN MOSCOW
The city court in Russia's capital has upheld a law banning gay-pride parades for the coming century. For years, LGBT supporters have been barred by Moscow's government from holding such events; when they do participate, they often face violence or arrest or both. But activists thought they found a loophole in the law last year, and flooded the mayor's office with more than a hundred requests to march. They got form letters instead quoting the law, and thus a civil case was born. Nikolay Alekseyev, an organizer of the annually banned Moscow Pride parade and a "famous gay in Moscow," at least according to Wikipedia, vowed to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights. The Moscow ruling, which follows a new ordinance in St. Petersburg forbidding the promotion of "gay lifestyles," expires in May 2112.
RATCHET-AZZ SATELLITE DISHES, IN BOSTON
Addressing a "serious quality-of-life issue," on Wednesday Boston councilman Matt O'Malley helped pass a ban on satellite dishes that have become eyesores. The new regulation forbids residents from mounting the dishes on the fronts of buildings or near fire escapes, ending the era when Bostonites could just load up a lone wall with seven of the things. People who already have dishes in front are grandfathered in, but everybody else will have to remove them from public sight by 2015. If that means suffering a poor signal, the customer can petition the city for the right to display a dish in a better location. City councilman Salvatore LaMattina had earlier compared the devices to litter, saying, “Certainly landlords should be held accountable for letting their property become covered in something that makes the neighborhood look terrible."
COSPLAYING, IN ORLANDO
Want to dress up like Tinker Bell and go to Disney World? Too bad! Disney security will eject you from the park faster than the bullet that killed Frau Bambi. The amusement destination has a rule against adults dressing up like Disney characters, as 15-year-old April Spielman found out recently when officials ordered her to change her clothes immediately. Metro.us reports that Spielman was happily exploring the park in full-fairy regalia with her boyfriend – who was dressed up like Peter Pan, for what it's worth – when "the happiest place on Earth took a dark, dark, turn":
Security guards asked Spielman and her boyfriend to change before entering the Animal Kingdom, telling them Disney World has a policy against "adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character," so as not to confuse children hoping to meet real Disney characters, as stated on its website....
"They were talking about little girls, how it ruins their dreams," April said as she choked back tears. "But it ruined my dream, because I just wanted to be Tinker Bell."
HAHAHAHA! Oh, sorry. What a sad story. Everybody wish upon a star that Disney changes this unfair policy soon.
AND IN UNBANNING NEWS.... A TOWN WELCOMES BACK ITS PARKING ENFORCERS
Last May, the southwest-U.K. town of Aberystwyth (gesundheit) fired all its traffic cops due to budget cuts, effectively banning parking enforcement. The hamlet's elders planned to find a cheaper contractor, but it turned out to be harder than they thought. In the year that passed since the layoffs, Aberystwyth has seen a level of traffic hell rarely seen outside of a surprise blizzard in the peak of rush hour. The town's descent into madness was chronicled by the local Cambrian News, which regularly ran stories with headlines like "At least another year of chaos," "8 more months of parking chaos ahead," "Parking chaos for quite some time to come," and "Chaos on the streets must not continue a year." A survey by NCP found it to be the worst place in the U.K. to find parking spaces, and a study in 2006 unvealed that about a third of the drivers on the road at any given time were simply looking for a spot to park.
But the massive headache for drivers has finally abated, with the town hiring back a parking-enforcement team that is twice as big as the original. The eulogy on the mess was penned by the Cambrian News, which opined:
The last year has been an interesting “experiment”, if only because it has shown the majority of residents that [parking] wardens are in fact a “necessary evil”. Without people to enforce laws, it has become clear that anarchy will rule.
Top photo of gay-rights activist Nikolai Alekseev being detained by police at the 2009 Slavic Pride parade taken by Alekseev. The "bride" is a trans activist from Belarus.