For those about to rock, the city of Ojai salutes you.
“There is no city ordinance against playing air guitar in (Ojai) parks,” explained director of Public Works, Doug Breeze.
It’s a good thing, too — people were getting confused. Early last week, the city avoided what comic commentator Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report,” called, albeit in a different context, “Guitarmageddon” by tearing down a sign in Cluff Vista Park. The sign stated the simple rules of the park: No skating, no bicycling, no skateboarding, and ... no air guitar.
Kriston Rucker, co-founder of the annual U.S. Air Guitar Championships, said he was glad the city lifted its ban-by-signage. “Parks are public places,” said Rucker, whose organization is dedicated to bringing air guitar into the public eye, if not ear. “Air guitar couldn’t possibly be construed as a public nuisance, like, for instance, jogging. It’s much less dangerous to the public than Frisbee … Air guitar is not a crime.”
Breeze said that the sign — which listed air guitar as one of the banned activities in Cluff Vista Park — was removed because it was “inappropriate. We have no logic, other than that’s not the sign we ordered.”
But signmaker Allen Quigg of Woodcrafter Signs says he has a perfectly logical explanation for adding “air guitar” to the list of prohibitions. The previous sign, made out of foam by another signmaker, was torn down by vandals just weeks after its installation.
So Quigg decided to give the new sign a little extra security.
“My inspiration to do this was two-fold,” said Quigg. “One, to protect the sign from vandalism. I thought, if I put something up there that has some element of unique notoriety to it, then maybe locals would be more interested in protecting it. And two, to have it show that the city has a pretty unique sense of humor and knows how to get a good laugh.”
But there were few laughs around city hall after one city council member noticed the sign and complained to public works, Breeze said, so his employees pulled down the sign pending a final decision on whether or not to reinstall it.
Joe DeVito, another city council member, said he would not support a ban on air guitar, much to the relief of air guitarists across the valley.
“This is the first time I have ever heard of air guitar,” said DeVito, “but if anyone wants to sit around, anywhere, playing air guitar, I can’t imagine anyone denying them that right.”