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Back Bay vs. Fliers: Will Residents Eradicate Urban Staple?

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There's apparently a battle on between Back Bay property owners and people who plaster fliers. In a nutshell: The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay has encouraged members and supporters to report plasterers to the city, which can then fine them $300 an offense. There's even an app for that.

Matthew Wilding, a Boston comedy writer and performer, has published an open letter to this citizens patrol on his blog We Talk the Talk (hat tip: the Hub):

Is this Back Bay’s biggest problem? Personal trainers and shows at Great Scott? In the case of the personal trainer, the clandestine driver-to-the-airport, the renter-of-a-room/$685/non-smoking-please, we are seeing an organization of moneyed Bostonians attacking folks who are trying to make a little extra money and frankly can’t afford on-street or print advertising (it’s notable that the Courant itself sold half of the paper – not half of ad space, half of the whole paper – to real estate companies who sell million dollar-plus condos in the neighborhood in question). These are not flyers put up by Bank of America and AMC-Lowes Theaters.

The other example is that of the music/theater performance flyer. This most notorious of ad “graffiti” is so embedded in the culture of American cities, that to attack it seems wrong to me on principle. It’s legality notwithstanding, who does the city fine? The venue? Are city venues to be held responsible for every band they ever book from now on? Or are we going to spend more city resources tracking down the bassist of Monday night’s opening band at the Middle East or some comedy host who does open mics in a 2-star hotel bar/lobby?

... If you see an old flyer, tear it down and throw it away. If someone you know regularly puts up flyers and leaves the old ones up underneath, tell them to take them down and stop being a jerk. But don’t call the cops on them. Don’t take $300 out of a 23-year-old kid in a band, out of a broke comic, out of a struggling theater company, or out of a man with a van. These streets are for all of us, and so are these polls. Taking all the flyers down all the time makes it impossible for the really little guys to promote, and while it might make your streets a little cleaner, it also makes them more sleepy. You live in a city. There’s stuff going on in a city. Instead of trying to stop people from finding out about it, maybe try going to it? on the nights that you don’t have Back Bay Association meetings, of course. They are the 99 percent and a snitch ain't one.

· An open letter to the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay [We Talk the Talk]