A blog of general comment by one of L.A.'s best known commentator/essayists. Humor, drama, pathos, satire and, well, everything else.
To those who know San Francisco it should come as no surprise that certain of its citizens are rising up to fight a proposed ordinance that would regulate public nudity.
The law would not say that you cannot stroll down Market Street naked or that you cannot ride your bicycle through Golden Gate Park wearing only the skin that God gave you.
It only says that you must have on clothes to dine in one of the city’s restaurants and that you must put down a towel or something similar before sitting naked on public benches.
Naturally these kinds of restrictions have everyone upset, especially in the Castro District from whence most peculiar resentments emerge. So what did they do in protest to the proposed law? They took off their clothes.
I cannot imagine a city of naked people riding cable cars, hailing taxes, visiting art museums, shopping for food and clothing or dragging their bare-assed little children through Fisherman’s Wharf or to matinee features of naked penguins and dolphins.
But some of them apparently did to maintain their right to display their rolls of fat and hairy bodies in public if they want to.
This, I am pleased to say, could never happen in Los Angeles County. We have no tolerance for nudity except under certain conditions, such as showering or sleeping, although we do allow a good deal of leeway with whom you sleep or shower.
Our laws, once fairly lax on nudity at certain beaches, now forbid public exposure of one’s “genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic symphysis, pubic hair, buttocks, natal cleft, perineum” and so on. They similarly forbid women from exposing their breasts “at or below the upper edge of the areola.”
I mentioned this to a friend and he said he didn’t think he had a perineum. He recalled that it had become infected and was removed during a surgical procedure some years before. He must have been thinking about his gall bladder or appendix because the perineum is generally not removable. I can’t get too specific here but it is located, well, down there, where permanency abides.
Additionally, If there’s a danger of exposing your symphysis or areola you might want to look them up first.
Most among my acquaintances dismissed the hullabaloo as being typically San Francisco and unworthy of discussion, while some shuddered at the idea of school rooms filled with naked teenagers. One or two would not like to see ugly nude people sashaying about because it would be offensive or naked beautiful people because it would make them jealous.
I have removed most of my clothing while writing this column in order to convey a kind of existential essence of nudity, although I continue to wear a T-shirt and gym socks against the morning chill. I must say there’s a certain freedom of expression to be thus unencumbered with underwear and Levis, but not to worry. I’ll never leave the house without my shoes.
Al Martinez is a Pulitzer Prize winning essayist, former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, author of a dozen books, an Emmy-nominated creator of prime time television shows, a travel writer, humorist and general hell-raiser. Try him. He's addictive.
Joanne Cinelli Martinez is composed of artist, poet, gourmet chef, interior decorator, photographer, volunteer, and all around intelligent person; also the life long partner and care taker of the simple but happy little man who runs the blog. She views him with suspicion and uncertainty. It is a cautionary love story.