Unpermitted erections

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Yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m. local time, in five cities around the U.S., the anarchist collective INDECLINE erected five copies of a nude polychrome statue of Donald Trump. The New York City copy went up in Union Square, but was removed after about two hours by the Parks Department, whose spokesman Sam Biederman explained that "NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small".

In Los Angeles, the statue was placed on the sidewalk at Hollywood Boulevard and Rodney drive. When the city tried to cart it away, the proprietor of a gift shop called "Soap Plant and Wacko" intervened and moved the statue to the shop's front steps — there are on-going discussions about whether it needs to be moved indoors for reasons of obscenity.

In Cleveland, the statue that appeared on the corner of Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Heights was removed within an hour:

Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg said it violated a city ordinance.  

"According to the ordinances of Cleveland Heights, it is prohibited to place or leave any article on public property, including public sidewalks," Mecklenberg said. "Therefore the statue of Donald Trump, since it was placed on a public sidewalk, was impounded until the owner comes to retrieve it.  We will make attempts to contact the owner and provide them the opportunity to retrieve their property."

In San Francisco, a copy of the statue was placed at the corner of Market, Castro and 17th:

On Thursday night, Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro on the Board of Supervisors, tweeted that the statue was to be removed overnight, but that he was “working to save him so SF can be reminded of his ridiculousness thru election.” Lefty O’Doul’s has offered to take the statue, according to spokesman Lee Houskeeper.

The Seattle copy of the statue appeared on the corner of 11th and Pike in the Capitol Hill neighborhood:

Seattle’s Trump statue and his tiny part gets to stand in all its nakeditity because local business owners took matters into their own hands today and wisked the statue away and its tiny part before it was to be impounded by the Seattle Dept. of Transportation around 4:30pm this afternoon. The statue had previously been standing with its tiny part on the sidewalk on the corner of 11th and Pike in Seattle’s neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Why SDOT would think a crowd on a sidewalk corner in pedestrian friendly Pike / Pine area would be a safety concern is still a mystery.   …

Billy Hutchinson who owns “No Parking on Pike” stated he and local business owner Dave Meinart had contacted the Mayor’s office and tried to get special dispensation or exemption for the statue but admitted they were grabbing for straws.  They ended up contacting the artist and informing that the sculpture was about to be impounded and the artist said “grab it” – so that is just what they did – they grabbed the Trump statue with its tiny part.  Billy stated the statue “will be here for a while” although he would like to see it at MOMA Museum of Modern Art. Either way, the statue at its temporary location is drawing major media attention, hundreds of visitors into the area and even travel bloggers such as “We are Waterproof“

INDECLINE posted a video on YouTube showing how the statues were made:

The statues are similar in spirit to the well-established institution of hostile caricatures in political cartooning, but the naked realism of the statues and their guerilla-theater placement seem like a new development.


  1. Mara K said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

    The Seattle article uses the word "nakeditity," which I've never heard before. What does this coinage bring to the discussion that "nakedness" or "nudity" would not?

  2. Tom Parmenter said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 2:20 pm

    It sounds silly, that's what it adds.

  3. billr said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

    Seeing some backlash now, people saying if it were Hillary's likeness there'd be a Liberal shitstorm of reaction.

    I still think it's amusing.

  4. DaveK said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

    It "was removed after about two hours". Of course, after four hours, any erection, permitted or not, should be taken to the nearest emergency room.

  5. Mara K said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 3:27 pm

    @billr If it were Hillary's likeness, we'd have to deal with all the issues surrounding naked women in the media. It's nice to not have to do that for a while.

  6. Chris C. said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

    @Mara — Cpl. Radar O'Reilly once used "nakeditity" on an episode of MASH, in a plainly humorous context.

  7. Mara K said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

    @Chris Have I made the rest of the Language Log readership feel old yet? :P

  8. JPL said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 5:01 pm

    billr @ 8.19.16 2:27

    There is no "left- right" symmetry, and people should not think that there is. (I know the media think that, but they are mistaken.) Why are the few right wing comedians so unfunny? On the left there is "people power" on the model of Ghandi and MLK; on the right you have the Bundy ranch crew and "second amendment remedies". It is a deeper question, and involves the role of ethical principles in the justification of action.

    "nakeditity": I like how they added the meaningless stem- forming segment -it- in order to avoid shifting the stress pattern on "naked".

  9. Rubrick said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

    Sam Biederman is my new hero. That was brilliant.

  10. cameron said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

    "Nakeditity" is the sort of thing you hear people with titles like Detective Sergeant say when they're speaking into a microphone. It's the kind of word people unfamiliar with formal registers of English come up with when striving for formality.

  11. Ellen K. said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 8:23 pm

    Regarding "nakeditity", I would find "nakedity" unremarkable (though perhaps it's more common in speech than writing), and indeed read it as that initially, until reading the first comment.

    The incorrectly duplicated "it" in the spelling of the word probably comes from the word as spoken (by Americans) having the same syllable twice (well, depending on how you divide the syllables).

  12. Sally said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 12:46 am

    "Nakeditity" sounds like a word that might be used in the Broadway musical Wicked, especially by (but not limited to) the character named Glinda/Galinda. Some excerpts from the play:

    "That's a good question; one that many people find confusifying."
    "Madame… a training wand… How can I ever express my graditution?
    "Oh, thank Oz you're alive! Only you shouldn't have come. If anyone discoverates you …"
    "So! What's the most swankified place in town?"
    "Poor Galinda forced to reside/with someone so disgustificied/we just want to tell you/we're all on your siiiiiide!"

  13. Graeme said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 3:45 am

    Melbourne (Australia) has lived through an anti-Hillary art imbroglio.
    To avoid a fine (and maximise publicity) the artist painted a niqab over the original figure.


  14. Lameen said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 4:12 am

    Oddly enough, I have heard jocular uses of "nakedidity", in the DC area. The Seattle article suggests that the term is more widely used than I would have assumed.

  15. MattF said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 7:44 am

    I'll note for the record that 'permitted' presumablely means 'without the required 'display of an obscene statue' permit from the NYC Parks Department' rather than just 'allowed'.

  16. DaveK said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 8:06 am

    Matt F:
    That depends on whether the stress is on the first or second syllable, doesn't it?

  17. MattF said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 8:12 am


    Right, but the context matters. I expect the NYC Parks Department to be concerned with 'permitting' rather than, e.g., 'permission'.

  18. Robert said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 9:45 am

    So where does one apply to get a permit for an erection?

    [(myl) Under one or another of the categories listed here.]

  19. Victor Mair said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

    "11 photos of NYC’s naked Trump statue:

    As much Trump as you can handle"

  20. L said,

    August 22, 2016 @ 8:51 am

    So there's at least one nakeditity apiece in LA, Seattle, SF, NYC, and Cleveland, but no nakedititties right here in Detroit?

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