Man Sues to Exhibit Graffiti as Art

Sunday, May 7, 2006

There was graffiti on the house -- no question about that. And so the Miami Beach housing inspector issued a citation and the threat of fines.

But to urban clothing entrepreneur Seth Gerszberg, who owns the house in one of the city's posh neighborhoods, that paint was "graffiti art." He says the city's graffiti rules violate his First Amendment rights.

"Graffiti art has grown from its roots in inner-city street culture into a recognized and even mainstream art form," according to a lawsuit filed recently in federal court.

Although he has removed the first offending graffito, Gerszberg is preparing plans for another graffiti-style work for his home that ties graffiti to patriotism, combining images of the U.S. flag, the Statue of Liberty and an empty spray-paint can. The work is labeled "These Colors Don't Run."

-- Peter Whoriskey

Movie Promotion Turns Into Its Own Drama

Film promoters in Los Angeles go to great lengths to grab the attention of media-saturated locals. Here's a new twist: How about little devices in newspaper boxes that play the theme to "Mission: Impossible III" when customers buy a paper?

Well, if the devices look like plastic rectangles with wires springing out of them, maybe it's not such a great idea. When such a promotion rolled out recently, the Los Angeles County sheriff's arson squad was the first to hear about it. They blew up a Los Angeles Times box in an upscale suburb before the newspaper and Paramount Pictures explained the gadgets weren't bombs.

Later that day, the sheriff's department knew the score, but people buying newspapers from 4,500 boxes promoting the movie were still in the dark. More than 50 patients and dozens of staff at the Veteran's Administration hospital in West L.A. were evacuated for two hours after a clerk bought a newspaper inside the hospital.

"It caused so much chaos," said Beverly Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center. "Employees coming for the night shift couldn't come in. Surgeons coming in had to wait."

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