Ever since 1994's now-infamous "poster ban" effectively silenced part of the city's voice, Seattleites have sought some sort of viable alternative, albeit without much success. Kiosks, lauded by the city as the next best thing to staples and tape and utility poles--and recently appearing on Capitol Hill as the latest sign of hope--have recently run into a series of bureaucratic snafus. Of the two new kiosks installed in Capitol Hill's Pike-Pine corridor, one in front of Le Frock has already been slated for relocation at city expense [In Arts News, March 15]. Moreover, kiosks in general are still technically illegal under 1993's billboard ordinance, which effectively bars all new "advertising signs," be they fliers for lost kittens or 30-foot billboards for new sport-utility vehicles.

Then there is the problem of so-called "poster Nazi" Jeff Haven, whose Keep Posted company effectively monopolizes business wall space throughout the city, charging artists and arts organizations a fee to put posters up. As part of Keep Posted's contracts with businesses, Haven also reserves the right to remove non-compliant posters. You can put them up, but he'll take them down.

So, with kiosks relegated to the slow track and business wall space hard to come by, those citizens with lost cats, guitar-teaching skills, or backroom rock shows to promote are practically shut out of the civic dialogue. That is, if they continue to (in the words of Andre the Giant, our most famous poster-ban transgressor, circa 1998) "OBEY."

Thankfully, a few brave rebels seem to have had all they can take. Earlier this week, plastered all over telephone poles and lampposts up and down Pike Street were some lovely, screen-printed art nouveau posters for an upcoming show (Nymph, by the Degenerate Art Ensemble). The show's producer, Joshua Kohl, takes an emboldened view. "The [poster ban] situation strikes me as so nauseating. No one is willing to put up posters. Why?" he asks. Kohl points out that if people really went nuts, there is no way the city could effectively police all utility poles, and he blames Seattle's strange will toward restraint for making the problem seem worse than it is.

Kohl maintains that he is unconcerned about the possible ramifications of his transgression. "It's almost our civic duty to make beautiful posters and put them up," he says. "If the posters go, it makes it look like no one lives here."