Unusual bookstore nuisance (or magnet): naked teens books

Strange news item from the Boston Globe out of the
Green Mountain State:

Law of nature prevails in Vermont
Brattleboro teens shed clothes with impunity
By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff  |  August 23, 2006

BRATTLEBORO -- Here on the banks of the Connecticut
River, in the busiest parking area of a downtown
peppered with bookstores and coffee shops, more is
meeting the eye than some people want.

A politely rebellious collection of teenagers passing
time in the Harmony Parking Lot this summer has taken
to disrobing. Seemingly on a whim, they shed clothes
and soak up the sun, nude.

What began as a lark or an ode to youthful exuberance
has now turned into a municipal quandary, because
public nudity is permissible in Brattleboro.

In the words of Town Manager Jerry Remillard, if
you're naked in public, and you're minding your
business, you're legal.

``We're quite a bit different than a lot of places,"
Remillard said.

Spurred by complaints, the town's Select Board will
consider changing that, although no changes are
expected soon. In the meantime, some pedestrians avert
their eyes. Some youths cheer on their naked friends,
and a few adults are so offended that they become
nearly hysterical.

If the two-dozen or so youths, 16 to 19 years old, are
seeking to make a social statement, the manifesto
needs some work.

``We just thought it'd be a little fun," said Charles
Corry, 19, who said he stripped to nature's own Friday
and hung out for about 45 minutes with five
like-minded friends as shoppers, diners, and walkers
made their bemused way through the lot. ``I don't see
it as a serious statement."

Serious or not, the teenagers have made nudity
something that can show its pale or sun-burned self
with no warning. Rachel Brooks, who works at
Everyone's Books, sees some of the action on the
sidewalk outside the shop's rear door.

``Personally, if I wanted to be naked, I wouldn't sit
around in a dirty parking lot," said Brooks, 22. ``I
wouldn't want to get cigarette butts on my butt."

The nudity began in earnest this year, Brooks said,
when one young woman decided she wanted to bare her
chest in public, just like her male friends.

Since then, the no-clothes fashion has gained
popularity and has expanded to include group bike
rides, skateboarding, hula-hoop contests, and a
grass-roots music event that the group dubbed the Brat

One girl even sat partially nude on a newspaper
vending box in the middle of downtown.

``I think most of Vermont wants Vermont to be nude,"
said Hannah Phillips, 15, who added that she has not
disrobed. ``People have a basic human right to be
naked if they want to."

Nearby, older teenagers sat on the sidewalk, fully
clothed, their backs propped against a brick wall,
munching on a pizza they found in its box. A car
belonging to one of the group was parked nearby, a
skull-and-crossbones on its hood and the words,
``Chaos Infiltration Squad," on a side door. On the
opposite side of the lot, the Back Side Cafe looked
down on the scene.

Although members of the group said they don't intend
to offend anyone, one woman has filed a complaint with
the Select Board.

But the wheels of legislation grind methodically here,
and the board must hold two public meetings, followed
by a waiting period of nearly a month before a ban on
public nudity can be implemented and enforced.

Vermont does not forbid public nudity, as
Massachusetts does, but some liberal communities in
the state have banned it. Remillard said that
outsiders should not begin to think of Brattleboro as
a haven for the behavior. It's just that Brattleboro
never had cause to ban nudity before.

``I would suspect that if it were OK, you'd see it in
Boston," he said.

Andrew Wdowiak, who works at Everyone's Books, said
that he's not put off by the nudity, but that the act
has become a little tired. ``I think it was more for
the shock value," he said. ``They weren't flagrant
about it."

But last week, when about a half-dozen naked teenagers
congregated outside the store, ``it was like they were
baking a cake, and they really frosted it," Wdowiak
said. ``All the men were naked, and the women were
topless. I needed about three drinks to erase that

One patron of the bookstore let loose with hysterics
of Academy Award proportions, he added.

If the town passes an ordinance this year, cool
weather will have begun to settle in this slice of the
North Country.

But Remillard, for one, doesn't think the bracing air
will accomplish what Brattleboro's laws have been so
far unable to do.

``That isn't necessarily going to bother this group of
people," he said of the cold.

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