Some folks love nothing more than a really vulgar, really loud, cacophonous performance. Others don’t. That juxtaposition apparently accounts for what happened last weekend at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg. The “Urban Car Show” tour, featuring rapper 50-Cent, was in concert. It is what it is.
A number of those not among the 5,300 attendees complained. Perhaps they had only themselves to blame. They were, after all, walking, driving, boating and living nearby. Anyway, the UCS was that loud and, apparently, that crude. By all accounts, the complaints were pretty loud too — many of which were aimed at city officials. As in never ever put something like this here again.
And those officials should have been chewed out. The city, whether it was clueless about rap or feckless about its fans, actually co-sponsored the event. Maybe officials were just amenable to authorizing anything that didn’t promise a public suicide.
Some, of course, are already characterizing this as a free speech/censorship issue. While an exercise in First Amendment parody might be more accurate, it needn’t come down to that. Nor is it about “dissing” somebody’s “art.”
This is a matter of responsible judgment — and lack thereof. It’s a matter of what a city will sponsor and what it will permit as a venue.
Its decision must be based on more than the preferences of sponsors and fans. Neighbors and passersby shouldn’t have to be hostage to assaultive entertainment. That’s not an acceptable trade-off. Vinoy Park, a jewel along downtown St. Pete’s waterfront, was not appropriate for a hip-hop performance headlined by 50-Cent. Not even close.
If the “Urban Car Show” couldn’t be accommodated in an enclosed concert venue, it should have been detoured somewhere else. Atlanta comes readily to mind.