No more nudes please

I had to smile when I saw John Curran’s story on Brattleboro’s nude problem on the front page of the Times Argus this morning.

You see, I also saw that naked 68-year-old man walking down Main Street.

Earlier this month, my girlfriend and I spent a Friday afternoon and evening in the lovely southern Vermont town for her birthday. And the first thing we saw when pulled onto Main Street was that elderly man, wearing nothing more than a fanny pack and a pair of sneakers, walking past the American Legion building.

This was the second time that I had returned to Brattleboro since moving to Montpelier that I saw an older man walking around nude. During the four years I lived in Brattleboro, I never once saw a naked person walking around the town (It is common to find naked people at the swimming holes though).

Unfortunately, I never got an interview with the mysterious nude walker. But everyone in town was talking about him that day. It seems he spent the afternoon strolling up and down and up Main Street.

Some people may scoff at Brattleboro – which rightfully has a reputation as one of Vermont’s hippie kingdoms – passing a local ordinance banning nudity in public areas. And last year, when a few teenagers decided to get some attention by disrobing downtown, I did too.

But it seems like Brattleboro is getting another reputation and that is of a lawless town where clothes are optional.

You see, during our trip this month to Brattleboro my girlfriend and I also gleefully shopped. I found a rare book I needed for one dollar at one of the thrift stores. We drank organic shakes from the co-op. For dinner we ate at the Top of the Hill Grille on Putney Road, an eatery that resembles the ewok village from "Return of the Jedi."

After dinner we stumbled upon a mass pillow fight in the Harmony Parking Lot, the spot that was notorious last year for the naked kids. Pillow feathers covered the lot and stuck to the ground, still wet from that day’s rain.

Finally, we drank a few beers with friends at Metropolis, the town’s downtown wine bar, while watching two contortionists perform. As we were leaving, a DJ was setting up his equipment for a night of dancing.

These are the things that I think of when I think of Brattleboro.

Unfortunately, they may soon be overshadowed by a different reputation.

-Dan Barlow

2 Responses to No more nudes please

  1. patagonianomore

    Dan,
    It’s patagonianomore! Missed you at the BBQ!
    Talked to Dora Bouboulis on the Brattleboro SB and they expect Tuesday night’s SB meeting to turn into a food fight re: the nudity ordinance!
    Looks like you left Brattleboro too soon! Check the papers Wednesday am !

  2. Primarily, within the Vermont Statutes Annotated and the Vermont Reports are given citations of many cases dealing with criminal offences. References are made to the Vermont Statutes of 1947, Public Laws (1933), General Laws (1917), Public Statutes (1906) and General Statutes (1862). Reading the cases as a whole helps the public to navigate through what conduct is constitutional and to avoid the dangers of antisocial conduct or psychopathic personality disorderly conduct that is not protected at all.
    Secondly, the intent of the General Assembly is an important consideration when the State exercises the authority to prevent or abate nuisances and to provide for their suppression. Since many laws were derived from common law it is also helpful to know the history and heritage.
    “AN ACT ADOPTING THE COMMON LAW OF ENGLAND
    November 9th, 1796
    Whereas, from the peculiar situation of this State as a new formed government it is difficult at once to provide a system of maxims and precedents, which may in all cases be necessary as a guide and direction to the several courts of justice within this State, and for producing a uniformity of decisions in the same; and whereas the inhabitants have been accustomed to conform their manner to the laws of England:
    It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, that so much of the common law of England as is not repugnant to the constitution, or to any act of the Legislature of this State, be, and hereby is adopted law within this State; and all courts are to take notice thereof, and govern themselves accordingly.” (State Papers of Vermont, Volume XVI)
    Next, the Supreme Court has recognized a definition of common law pertaining to indecent exposure as involving intentionally exposing one’s private parts in a manner that same could reasonably have been seen by members of the public.
    See Black’s Law Dictionary (4th ed., 1951).
    “Indecent exposure. Exposure to sight of the private parts of the body in a lewd or indecent manner in a public place. It is an indictable offence at common law, and by statute in many of the states.”
    “Exposure of person. In criminal law. Such an intentional exposure, in a public place, of the naked body or the private parts as is calculated to shock the feelings of chastity or to corrupt the morals of the community.”
    Lastly, the adjudication history over the first amendment constitutional law gives the court’s understanding of approved standards of conduct.