Boobs at the DOJ

It’s been big news, so you’ve probably read about it already.

According to the BBC report:

A pair of risque Art Deco statues at the US Justice Department has been quietly put back on uncensored display, three years after a mysterious cover-up.

Majesty of Justice and Spirit of Justice depict a partially nude man and a woman with one breast fully exposed.

The two sculptures, in the building’s famous Great Hall, were covered during the tenure of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a devout Christian.

BBC: Curtains up on risque US statues

Of course, no one could manage to get Ashcroft to come out and take responsibility for the cover-up, which cost taxpayers about $8000.

According to the Washington Post:

Justice officials long insisted that the curtains were put up to improve the room’s use as a television backdrop and that Ashcroft had nothing to do with it.

But because internal e-mails referred to “hiding the statues” — and because the room was rarely used for media events in recent years — the episode was quickly seized upon by pundits and satirists as a symbol of Ashcroft’s allegedly puritanical and censorious bearing

Washington Post: Sculpted Bodies And a Strip Act At Justice Dept.

Reportedly, the current assistant attorney general for administration recommended, after Ashcroft’s departure, that the drapery be dispensed with, and current AG Alberto Gonzales approved the recommendation. After becoming AG in February Gonzales was often asked by reporters whether he planned to make any changes regarding the drapes. But he always evaded the question, saying he had more important issues to deal with. This is understandable, as coming up with legal justifications for the U. S. policies that allow torture and prison camps must be pretty hard work.

Perhaps the most famous photos of the statues involved the Reagan-era AG Edwin Meese, whose most significant contribution to the Republic was his chairmanship of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. The commission report promptly sank into well-deserved oblivion after Meese was photographed at a press conference in 1986 touting it, with the semi-nude statue of the Spirit of Justice in the background.

Additional reports…

Reuters: here, here, here, and here.

AP: here, here, and here

Blogs: Americablog, Talkleft, Daily Kos

Originally posted June 26, 2005

Everybody loves a parade

But what if people in the parade are “parading around naked”?

If Seattle’s Fremont Solstice Parade is any indication, people love the parade just as much, perhaps even more. This year’s version of the annual event took place Saturday, June 18. (Today, June 21, after all, is the actual date of the Summer Solstice, which ought to be a national holiday, if the U. S. had any sense). These these photos will give you some idea what the parade was like, in case you weren’t so fortunate as to be able to attend.

Naked and mostly colorfully painted cyclists have been a favorite part of the parade for a number of years. Others choose to parade in fanciful costumes, such as this pink penis.

When will people in other parts of the country, such as stuffy Middletown, CT, be able to have this much fun? Probably not for a long time.

Seattle seems to be more receptive than average to clothes-free fun. You’ll recall that the city had one of the largest contingents for the WNBR just last week. A significant reason for Seattle’s nude tolerance could be organizations of local activists, such as the Seattle-based Body Freedom Collaborative.

Originally published June 21, 2005

Running of the Nudes

Here’s a great excuse to visit Spain and get out of your clothes for a good cause. PETA is sponsoring its annual protest of “bullfighting” at Pamplona’s “running of the bulls”. Participants are encouraged to be naked or lightly clad, so the protest is called the Running of the Nudes.

The protest will be on July 5 in Pamplona, which is two days before the actual bull runs begin. Spain has liberal attitudes towards nudity, and a number of fine naturist beaches and resort areas on the coast, so you could make this part of a memorable naturist vacation.

Originally published June 19, 2005

New Zealand National Nude Day

This may be a bit out of the way for most readers, but it’s a neat idea. New Zealand will be having a National Nude Day on October 8 this year. That’s spring down there, remember. At least you have plenty of time to plan.

Can’t vouch for this personally, but it is claimed that on this day people can and will enjoy public nudity in many locations — in addition to places where it is already accepted and common, such as many New Zealand beaches.

If nothing else, you might want to consider buying their Nude Day T-shirt. Its connection with New Zealand is subtle and not obvious, so it should make a good conversation starter…

Originally published June 19, 2005

Canadian naturist festival

North America has three national naturist organizations: the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN), the Naturist Society (TNS), and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).

Each has its pluses and minuses. Membership in any one of the three is open to naturists regardless of country of residence. Many U. S. naturists actually prefer to belong to the FCN for various reasons, even though it’s the smallest of the three. One reason, at least in my opinion, is that it has the best publication: Going Natural.

All three organizations sponsor “gatherings” and “festivals” for their members to get together with other naturists outside their local area. The FCN added this feature only last year. Their second annual festival will be August 4-7 at a naturist club in the Montreal area. U. S. naturists, especially in the northeast, should give this one serious consideration, perhaps as an opportunity to visit Quebec and get to know its naturist resorts and locations better.

Originally published June 19, 2005

Americans lose their holiday inhibitions

Well, it’s a nice piece of PR from the AANR.

But forgive me, AANR, for I have been cynical, and still am.

To begin with, why is the woman in this image at the top of the AANR home page holding a large hat in front of herself, as if she’s ashamed of something? Is that the message you want to send?

Now for some comments on the PR article itself. First of all, congratulations on getting it picked up by some of the news media. You do that pretty well.

It is called a vacation “au naturel,” using a French expression as a fig leaf to cover up its more common name of naturism.

I’m trying to understand why someone thought the provenance of the term needed to be pointed out. Maybe because the article was carried by the French news service AFP? Perhaps not realizing that the term was appropriated by English long ago. (Wonder whether they’ve heard of the term “euphemism”)

The United States is a deeply conservative country

Got that right! Unfortunately.

Americans are starting to flock to beaches and country parks reserved for nudists, especially at the luxury end of the market.

Of course, the number of beaches officially “reserved” for naturists is very small, actual number depending on one’s interpretation of “official”. And “country parks”? Evidently someone means “private parks”, as there are no public parks at all (apart from the handful of beaches on public land where naturism is tolerated, tenuously). And what would “luxury end of the market” mean in relation to either a beach or “country park”?

The AANR estimates that naturist clubs and beaches for those who soak up the sun “au naturel” earn about 500 million dollars a year now, against 200 million dollars in 1992.

Nice, but to put that number in perspective it is, per capita, less than one gallon of gasoline per person. Or less than one fourth of an average movie ticket per person.

“The interest has been increasing over the last 10 years,” said Carrie Schultz, marketing director for the Caliente Resort, an upmarket nudist colony near Tampa

Nudist colony“? Aauggggh! Wash your mouth out with soap.

“Shields are coming off. We are not afraid to run TV commercials

My, how brave!

Caliente is family oriented, with a children’s playground and events for kids. In terms of luxury accommodations, we are off the scale.”

Whose scale?

Caliente highlights how naturism in the United States has become more sophisticated to reach its market.

If they think this PR-speak is sophistication, it’s no wonder naturism is advancing so slowly…

“Americans are a little spoiled

Now there’s an understatement, but without any hint of irony.

The AANR has listed 270 naturist organizations in the United States, including 18 created in the past year.

AANR habitually makes this claim, but without mentioning that over half the number are “non-landed” social clubs that own no facilities, but meet in members’ homes or at landed clubs.

On its map of “au naturel” beaches are a large number in Florida, with its year-round sunshine. Haulover, near Miami, and Apollo Beach, near the Kennedy Space Center, are among the best known.

In fact, there is exactly one other “au naturel” beach in Florida (Playalinda), which is part of the same National Park System unit as Apollo. Since when is three a “large number”?

Why am I so grumpy today? I don’t know. Maybe because of reading yet another media report that’s so out of touch with reality. Who actually draws a salary for writing this sort of stuff?

The article was evidently written by an AFP staffer, so it can’t all be blamed on AANR. But AANR is to blame for stuff like the very misleading “270 naturist organizations” claim.

Originally published June 18, 2005