14 Oct Festivus 2013: Prepare for the Airing of Grievances!
Out in Deerfield Beach, on a piece of government-owned property, an 8.5-foot-tall tower of beer cans is looming over baby Jesus. No, this isn’t some rogue Art Basel installation that crossed the county line. It’s Chaz Stevens’ salute to the holiday season.
Since the end of November, Stevens has been frothing at the mouth with Christmas delight. The 48-year-old self-proclaimed attention whore and “rabid atheist” whom New Times deemed Gadfly of the Year in 2010, was ready and willing to do battle with the Deerfield Beach City Commission over holiday decorations.
His beef? A nativity scene and Menorah placed on the front lawn of a city firehouse at the corner of Hillsboro Boulevard and Federal Highway.
“I would like permission to place an ‘anti-religious’ display this coming holiday season, on the fire department’s property,” Stevens wrote in an email to Deerfield Mayor Peggy Noland, who didn’t return numerous calls for comment, and a handful of other city officials. “I wish for my display to be located next to the (ever present) manger and menorah.”
Stevens had the ACLU and the city attorney on speed dial. Much to his surprise, the city acquiesced.
Then came the hard part: figuring out what holiday icon to erect.
Waist-high block letters reading “WTF” in candy-cane stripes would be hard to sell as being in the holiday spirit and could be deemed offensive. A Flying Spaghetti Monster was too esoteric and not the easiest thing to build. Stevens found his answer in a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
“I think the Festivus pole is perfect,” says Barry Butin, co-legal chair of the Broward ACLU, who reviewed Stevens’ argument. “It does have some religious or holiday symbolism, but it’s from a comedy.”
For those who think stacking up 24 beers cans and plopping the resulting Seinfeld-inspired eyesore among religious icons and illuminated reindeer, Stevens has one thing to say: “Ba-f***ing-humbug.”