When Aesthetes Attack

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Down in Lauderhill, Florida, some homeowner had the nerve to paint his house purple and gold, the colors of his college fraternity. The neighbors weren't having it, and so tonight the local city council is voting on an ordinance that will force every resident to conform to Lauderhill's new "color palette" within three years (five, if they can show financial hardship), or face fines. Funniest (and scariest) quote from the Sun-Sentinel article:

"I've been in the color business for 20 years, and I've never known of anyone painting a house athletic royal purple," said [Margaret] Walch, director of the New York-based Color Association of the United States, which forecasts color trends in fashion and interior design. "Doing a house in purple is outrageous."

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  1. Something is outrageous, that is for sure.

    Why do I have the feeling that this is the aesthete’s way of getting revenge on the athlete who beat him up in high school?

  2. I thought bashing frat boys was libertarian

  3. Bashing frat boys is leftist.

    Minding your own business is libertarian.

  4. I guess the city council isn’t familiar with classic literature:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1930900155/reasonmagazinea-20/

    It’s the story of one man’s quest to define himself as an individual.

  5. The design show Trading Spaces recently had a professional designer painting a poor homeowner’s living room “athletic royal purple” (actually it looked like the color of grape gum). But that was in Western New York, not Florida.

  6. i dunno..beating up fratboys and taking mommy and daddy’s checks is a pretty good way to spend your college years.

  7. Go to some of the Latino communities in Florida or Arizona (and probably other states I haven’t lived in) and you’ll see houses painted anything from turqoise to light pink. I wonder if an latino living in one of these neighbor hoods could claim racism or something if they tried to force him/her to conform to Anglo color schemes. They probably have ways of making sure the “right people” live there though….

  8. I posted the following to Hold The Mayo on Nov. 13

    According to a World Net Daily report

    The city of Lauderhill, Fla., passed a new law that controls the colors residents can paint their home

    The specific target of the measure is a man who had painted his house purple and gold ? the colors of his college fraternity.

    I could go on at length about the absurdity of painting your house the colors of your college fraternity. Or I could rant about the psychological implications of a lack of maturity that leads one to cling to portions of their youth too tightly. And quite frankly I would have preferred it if he had painted his house purple and gold just to piss off his busy body neighbors ? which he has succeeded in doing.

    But what really bothered me about this story was this:

    a consultant will help the city create a color palette with hundreds of shades from which homeowners can choose. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the palette in January.

    I tried a number of different searches on Google to try to determine how many possible paint colors you could choose from at a typical paint store or home improvement store. The closest I got to a number was ?infinite.? I did come across and interesting discussion about the range of the visible electromagnetic spectrum the author of which concluded that somewhere there are probably around 300 trillion possible colors.

    From this palette of 300 trillion visible colors the City Commissars of Lauderhill, FLA are going to vote on which few hundreds residents will be allowed to paint THEIR OWN HOUSES.

    If I had the capital to fund a fantastically quixotic gesture against the stupidity and the intrusiveness of this law, I would buy a house in Lauderhill, and paint it a patchwork of every color the commissars approve.

  9. What I would like some lawyer to explain to me how the ‘public health/safety/welfare’ rules by which we base most planning and zoning decisions on gets so legally diluted that paint color is an acceptable thing for local government to regulate.

    This isn’t even a small condo or co-op where you buy into a unit with the knowledge that they can control some aesthetic qualities. This is a city government.

  10. Should I begin to worry about my car which has too many bumper stickers?

  11. Yes, Ruthless, you’re trooper bait.

  12. the simple solution is to paint the house 10 or 20 different colors from within the palette. 10 or 20 very painfully mismatched colors, of course.

    if people insist on being busybody fucktards, you might as well take as many opportunities as possible to punish them for it.

    i assume the gentleman in question is pursuing legal action against the town?

  13. mmmmm….. purple

  14. I assume the reason they’re doing this is property values – they’re afraid that their house will be worth less because their neighbor’s house is “ugly”. To me this seems like a similar excuse often given for much safety legislation, that if your stupidity causes you to get hurt and you don’t have insurance, then I have to pay higher rates. Basically it boils down to “what you’re doing may, in some way, cost me some amount of money, so I have a right to prevent you from doing it”. It’s pure BS, but it seems like it’s been a winning argument for quite a while. I know there has to be a sweet refutation of this nonsense out there somewhere – can someone point me at it?

  15. When I was a kid in New Jersey, the architect dad of one of my friends painted his office/house, a lovely restored Victorian, about four shades of purple. A nice medium-light purple for the base, and various darker shades for shutters and millwork. Weird but tastefully done, kind of like navy hair with a navy suit.

  16. A couple of years ago, a woman in my area put a few samples in an inconspicuous place on the side of her house, as she and her husband tried to decide what color to paint in the spring. A couple of months later, husband splits, and neighbors start leaving nasty notes about the multicolored exterior wall. She gets a gallon of the gaudiest color she can find, and paints on the front of the house what amounts to a giant ‘FUCK YOU!’ to the busybody neighbors. My kinda woman.

  17. I thought the preservation of local color was supposed to be a GOOD thing.

  18. So what’s the bigg deal about painting your house a certain color?? Here in Pasco County (north of Tampa Bay area), dude was cited after being seen speaking to two neighbors in his front yard. Seems this violates the ‘social gathering’ rule, which mandates gatherings of three or more must take place INDOORS only…

    LMAO…here’s the link:

    http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sptimes/index.html?ts=1069714214

  19. The purple house MAY bring down property values, but it also MAY raise property values. Regardless, it WILL cost the taxpayers money to hire the color consultant and draft and enforce legislation. The idea that something that is not yours, may affect the value of what is yours is unavoidable. If I own a pizza place down the street from a movie theater and the theater decides to close, my business will likely be affected, but that doesn’t mean I should be able to legislate what the other business owner should do. Otherwise, we should just all turn our property over to one owner who can best design the most beneifit for the populace as a whole.

    If they pass this legislation, here’s what he should do. Get a bunch of the colors and then allow a local bunch of kindergartners, blind kids or mentally retarded kids to paint murals all around the outside. Anyone who complains after that can be lambasted as anti-child or anti-handicapped.

    As for his colors he loves so dear, that’s what his lawn, car, driveway, etc. are for. Heck, if they have a nice black asphault street, give all the neighborhood kids free purple and gold chalk for Halloween or anyday they want it. Purple and gold filters for a bunch of outdoor lighting could aslo be a nice touch.

    With regard to the “appropriate colors”. What happens when colors fade due to weathering? Can he demand his bitchy neighbors repaint whenever they begin to fade into unapproved colors?

  20. I smell First Amendment challenge. If painting your own freaking house isn’t an expressive activity, I don’t know what is.

  21. That New Yorker is just plain ignorant.

    Over in Baton Rouge, LA, some homeowners (or college-age sons/daughters of the homeowners, with their permission) did paint a house purple and gold. Those are the colors of Louisiana State University. It was in a neighborhood not far from campus that attracts predominantly families, not college students (possibly Spanish Town, although I will be shocked it that means anything to anyone). Some people complained, but to the best of my knowledge, none too stringently. I certainly don’t remember the city council getting involved.

  22. Even if you assume that City Council does have the right to legislate house color, wouldn’t there also be a “grandfather clause” to the effect that anyone who painted their house before the law could keep their paint job?

  23. Seriously, WTF is wrong with Florida? Getting cited for talking to two neighbors in your own front yard, city council telling you what color you can paint your house, and sending a guy to the pen for a year for refusing to clean his yard???!?!?!

    Perhaps Bugs Bunny was on to something when he sawed off the “Sunshine State,” and let it drift off into the Atlantic.

    PS This story reminded me of the obscure line from the obscure college flick, Party Animal, “Why am I purple?”

  24. The homeowner should seek legal representation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Houses.

  25. This is no different from historic districts – over which control is asserted on everything from architecture to paint colors – and neighborhoods with covenents that disallow such things as leaving your garage door open.

    That is not to say I agree with this nonsense, just that it has ample precedent.

  26. Back before congress decided that Freedom of Religion included inscribing “In God We Trust” on our national currency, Benjamin Franklin and his peers had the first U.S. penny inscribed with the words: “Mind Your Own Business”. How far we have come.

  27. David Boaz might suggest that the homeowner sell his house and move to an area where the city council actually has more important things to do with its time.

  28. Lauderhill in the past decade or so has been undergoing a demographic shift. An aging, mostly white town has become a younger, diverse one, with a very large influx of Caribbean immigrants among others. The Trinidadian consulate has donated money to build a cricket park.

    The Sun-Sentinel and other local media have danced around the race angle, dropping clues here and there like the name of the homeowner’s (black) fraternity.

    The homeowner, for his part, has refused to speak to the media or appear on camera, beyond an early statement that he paid quite a bit of money to paint his house purple and gold.

    Complaining about garishly-painted houses usually crosses racial and class lines, and I’d like to think this incident was provked by paint alone, but I’m not convinced it would have led to a city paint-color ordinance if a white retiree had painted his house in Marlins teal and black. Lord knows there are enough strip malls and bungalows around here painted in Dolphins/U Miami teal-and-orange.

  29. I believe the penny said “mind your business”, which means something very different than “mind your own business”. I agree with your sentiment, but I think you, like many others, have the facts wrong.

  30. Here’s the text of the Too Many Men on the Field ruling by the HO Association Referees:

    Copyright Times Publishing Co. Nov 18, 2003

    Raymond Pemburn, an 89-year-old widower, says he is blessed with friends. They call him in the morning, take him to lunch, or stop to chat if they see him outside. Sometimes, they gather for dinner at his home.

    He never imagined a handful of visitors would get him in trouble with his condominium association.

    Today, the Pointe West Condominium Association board of directors will consider fining Pemburn for violating its new ban on front yard “social gatherings.”

    The rule, passed by the condo board Nov. 5, requires residents to keep their socializing inside condos, screened porches or back yards – not in the front yard, where gatherings can become “street parties.”

    “The board of directors enacted a rule to prevent basically what they call street parties from going on,” said Jack Smith, manager of the 425-unit adult condominium complex in the Summertree development off State Road 52. “All they ask is for them to do it in their back yard.”

    He declined to say how many people would constitute a “social gathering” or to comment further.

    Pemburn admitted he sometimes chats outside with a friend or two, but said it’s a far cry from a street party.

    “We’re not boisterous,” said the retired business insurance salesman, who moved here from Fort Lauderdale two years ago. “We’re not rowdy. We mind our own business.”

    Pemburn said he spent about a half-hour last Thursday afternoon talking outside to a friend, 52-year-old construction worker Victor Novak, about the leaky roof in Pemburn’s Florida room. His neighbor, retired New York City police officer John DiDiego, 67, walked across the street to join them.

    Later that evening, Novak prepared chicken divan for a half- dozen friends coming to Pemburn’s for dinner. Novak went outside to smoke a cigarette shortly before the last two guests arrived.

    Novak said he spoke for less than a minute with the two women before they all went inside.

    “She walked across the street and said, ‘Hello,’ ” Novak said. “That was it.”

    The next day, Pemburn got a letter from Smith describing the latter episode as a “violation of the new ‘social gathering’ rule.”

    “Being as this gathering occurred at your unit, you are the responsible party,” Smith told Pemburn in the letter.

    “They don’t want you to live. They want to treat you like it’s a communist camp,” Pemburn said. “Where does it say I can’t stand outside and talk to two people?”

    Under Florida law, condominium associations have broad powers to enact “reasonable rules” about the use of common areas, said Ross Fleetwood, director of the state Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes.

    “Of course, you say, ‘What’s reasonable?’ ” Fleetwood said. “That’s always up for debate.”

    The condo board passed the “social gathering” rule Nov. 5 as a temporary measure. It remains in effect until a permanent version of the rule goes before condo owners for a vote at the annual meeting in February.

    A letter posted on community bulletin boards said the temporary rule was passed “due to the volume of complaints received by the condo office regarding ‘street parties.’ ”

    Then, the Nov. 5 letter quotes from a Community Associations Institute brochure: “The purpose of rules is to ‘prevent nuisance problems and preserve aesthetic harmony.’ Also, ‘reasonable restrictions consistently enforced over time preserve property values and maintain a high quality of life for residents.’ ”

    But several residents say the rule could ruin their quality of life by snuffing out the friendly socializing in each other’s front yards.

    “That’s why we came here to live, so we’d have friends and someone to talk to in our old age,” said Novak’s 85-year-old mother, Caroline Novak.

    DiDiego, the neighbor who lives across the street from Pemburn, shakes his head.

    “This is really nonsense.”

  31. Brother Carson,

    No, you do not have to answer any of the cop’s questions. He’s free to ask, but you’re free to not answer. And he can not hold you without charge for 48 hours. Long enough to write a ticket, long enough to be sure you’re not John Dillinger or whoever else he’s looking for driving a car with a Wobbly sticker, but not for 48 hours without a charge.

    Now if your bong is some ugly color, we might have a law against that…

  32. Brother Carson,

    No, you do not have to answer any of the cop’s questions. He’s free to ask, but you’re free to not answer. And he can not hold you without charge for 48 hours. Long enough to write a ticket, long enough to be sure you’re not John Dillinger or whoever else he’s looking for driving a car with a Wobbly sticker, but not for 48 hours without a charge.

    Now if your bong is some ugly color, we might have a law against that…

  33. I’m in the color business and I’m here to help.

  34. My bong’s clear glass — very plain and tasteful, not impugnable on aesthetic grounds. Martha would approve. Lord knows there are some criminally ugly (and expensive) smoking apparatuses in head shops.

  35. I had a friend who bought a house in one of these contolled communities. There were something like a dozen colors to choose from for exteriors. She chose all twelve. It looked hideous: horizontal siding with vertical stripes. Two years later the corp. cried uncle and that provision was tossed. Then she moved. After repainting, of course

  36. What is this, some kind of Queer Eye show for real estate?

  37. Don’t paint the outside. Build a house with brick outside, and keep the paint — and the rifles and cigars — inside.

  38. Isn’t “your own” redundant?

    Gotta agree with koppelman here. No color is more headache inducing than teal.

  39. Build a house out of brick, then paint each brick a different, approved, color.

  40. I love that our best defenses thus far against this insanity are:

    1. It violates political-correctness.
    2. It might contain elements of latent racism.

    Will our use of the enemies tools result in our eventual downfall?

    Wait… we’re already down…

  41. Freaking sunbelt suburbs. sm, I should have seen that coming a mile away. $50 says his neighbors don’t like the smell of his food cooking, either.

  42. What in the name of Jeebus is “the color business” and who in their right mind would boast about being in it for 20 years?

    I used to sell paint in the hardware department at Montgomery Wards. I wish someone had told me I was “in the color business” and not just some dumb kid mixing paint.

  43. Paint and dye are pretty common and boring today, but for centuries they were was complex, valuable, and rare (except for a few colors in each region).

  44. Ruthless,

    You are indeed trooper bait. I was stopped by a local pig in Springdale, Ark. because of the stickers on my car. Most of them were in the back window, but they were close enough to the edge I couldn’t even see them in the rear-view mirror. The cop told me it was a violation to have stickers more than 3 inches from the edge. He added, helpfully, that I was the first person he ever stopped for that, and that most cops didn’t make a big deal over it. Lucky me!

    He asked me a long string of questions about where I lived, where I worked, and where I was going. Not to mention whether I had any “contraband–you know a bong or anything?” (I guess I should mention that the stickers were Wobbly, anarchist, pro-gun, anti-WalMart, and pro-Bob Marley). Gosh, do you think he might have been motivated by the CONTENT of the stickers rather than the safety issue?

    I’m pretty sure you’re not legally obligated to answer the kinds of questions he asked me–license, registration and insurance is all you have to provide–but the cops have a legal right to hold you 48 hours without charge. And being the kind of person who actually exercises the rights your ancestors fought and died for since 1215, I’m sure, is enough to get you taken in as “one of them smart-ass ACLU types.”

    And BTW, after 9-11 I saw several troopers with American flag stickers smack-dab in the middle of the back window. I wonder of Officer Fife stopped them for “safety violations”?

  45. SteveInClearwater that link about the Florida man cited for talking with his two neighbors outdoors doesn’t work. Could you cut ‘n’ paste the story here for me? Thanks.

  46. Gene, that’s revolting. And this is coming from somebody who believes in the appropriateness of using eminent domain to combat blight – real blight, not “less than three bedrooms or two baths.”

    Arbitrary and capricious use of the law.

  47. Very inspiring, thankyou! Good luck to you in the future. 🙂

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