Joyful noise


There are folks on Twitter who call them the “fun police” — those people who seem to complain when someone proposes something different and enjoyable in a town.

Last week, the fun police came to arrest a proposal in Oak Bluffs. 

Kathleen Cowley, Sofie Green, and Henry Wallace first proposed Jetty Jam at a select board meeting two weeks ago. The concept is to use the space near the Island Queen loading zone for two hours — 8 to 10 pm — each Wednesday night for live music and dancing under the stars, and against the backdrop of Oak Bluffs Harbor. During that first meeting, the select board correctly asked for more information, and invited abutters to weigh in.

The outcome was predictable. 

A few neighbors came out to harshly criticize the concept, calling the idea of amplified music a “horrible idea,” “a boneheaded idea,” and saying it would promote underage drinking that would lead to “expelling their bodily fluids.”

It’s disappointing, but not unexpected for neighbors and abutters to take things to the extreme. They went from zero to underage drinking and public urination quicker than a BMW can get to 60 mph.

These abutters live in a busy port and downtown area, where thousands of visitors like to come every summer. It’s akin to people who move into a neighborhood that abuts an airport and then complain about flight patterns and the sounds from jet engines.

That’s when you hope that leadership will step in and be the voice of reason. They weren’t. They could have offered some suggestions, like changing the hours, or allowing only acoustic music.

The select board essentially kicked the can. The board told organizers to get together with the neighbors and work out a compromise. Since the board doesn’t meet again until July 13, essentially if Jetty Jam got approved, then the first one would be July 21 — with just five Wednesdays left in the summer.

A better idea would have been to give organizers a test run to see how it went, with the understanding that town officials would be watching to see just how disruptive this event would be to the “peace” of Oak Bluffs Harbor area on a summer Wednesday night.

Let’s hope the painted piano at Up-Island Cronig’s doesn’t face a similar fate.

We were struck by Eunki Seonwoo’s story about the piano being twice turned away from other venues. In Chilmark, the select board denied a request to have it located at the Chilmark library. Later, in Edgartown, it was approved by that town’s select board for Rosewater, until a neighbor complained, and the piano’s keyboard went silent and was removed.

What’s wrong with people?

Music is good for the soul, and as one of our online commenters so aptly put it, “That piano idea has been going around the planet, and I love that it’s come to MV! More music = more JOY! Hoorah!”