Kept Abreast

A woman's fight for topless equality.

crazy Ohio laws topless women Cleveland police Rock Hall Kiss winning writers
The Rock Hall ignored Kiss once again, but it did nominate  the Ventures, who were '50s crooners apparently fond of  the Middle School Science Teacher Look. - Getty Images
The Rock Hall ignored Kiss once again, but it did nominate the Ventures, who were '50s crooners apparently fond of the Middle School Science Teacher Look.
Lorien Bourne has a jones for protest, be the topic racism or mega-farms. She's also served vegetarian chow to the homeless. So you might say she's not the kind who shrinks when exposed to injustice -- even if it means exposing herself.

Two years ago, she was walking in a Bowling Green park when she passed a pair of less-than-alluring men -- "DD-boobed, hairy-backed," as she describes them -- who'd stripped off their shirts to beat the heat. Bourne was horrified. "Theirs were bigger than mine," she says.

So in an act of civil disobedience -- or perhaps just as an icebreaker -- she ditched her own shirt, only to be nabbed by police. They lectured her about modesty, then cited her for indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

Bourne paid her fines. But when she researched park rules, she discovered they also required men to wear shirts. So she returned with a couple of friends, a vegetarian picnic basket, and a sign-up sheet for the "Titty Committee," her legal-defense fund.

Police cited her again. But rather than cough up another $250, Bourne appealed. Now she's waiting for an appeals court to decide if her rights to free expression and equal protection were violated. "If I win, I will have set a precedent," says Bourne. "You won't be allowed to cite women for this."

Not exactly, says Bowling Green prosecutor Steve Callejas, who doesn't see any constitutional nobility in her gesture. "It's not a political statement," he says. "It's just attention-getting. It's a nuisance."

Rodney Fleming, Bourne's lawyer, naturally disagrees, though he admits that his client may be overreaching on the import of her case. "This will not have far-reaching effects on our society," he says.

Bourne now lives in Portland, Oregon, and is reveling in the more live-and-let-live vibe of her new home. She's already seen a few ladyfolk strolling topless. "People will only look at you funny if it's winter," she says.

Cleveland's Unluckiest Man
Advice: When you hear the chimes of an ice-cream truck coming your way, run. It could be driven by William Isaac. His bad luck may be contagious.

First, Isaac was busted on felony possession charges. Though he was acquitted, bureaucratic follies kept the charges on his record.

Then, while driving his ice-cream truck last year, he witnessed a man robbing his boss at gunpoint. So he testified against the gunman, Reuben Rankin, thus making himself a new enemy. Rankin took revenge by arranging for crack to be planted on Isaac's truck, then having his mom tip off the cops.

His trifecta of ill fate was complete when Daniel Jopek arrived on the scene. After shooting an unarmed man in 2004, the good officer apparently hadn't learned that the limelight is best left to Hollywood guys. So he called Channel 19 reporter Ed Gallek to tip him on the Epic Ice Cream Bust, then waited two hours for the news crew to show. When Isaac finally went to jail, Channel 19 went to his mother's house and grilled her for bad parenting.

Just another day in the fast-paced news business, boys and girls.

When Isaac was acquitted a second time, he complained to police brass about Jopek's lust for publicity. The good officer denied calling Channel 19, but seemed to be unaware of something called "basic investigatory methods." Cell-phone records quickly proved he was lying. In June, the Police Review Board ruled that Jopek and his partner, Hanz Turner, had acted unprofessionally, and recommended 10-day suspensions.

Isaac is now hoping to pawn off his bad luck on another -- namely Jopek. "I'm not going to give up till I get Jopek's badge."

The envelope, please
In June, Scene pondered the dilemma of the Rock Hall as it begins to cull inductees from a newer era of music, when the definition of "rock" wasn't so clear ["Rock the Vote," June 20]. Would the committee opt for big-selling pop acts like Madonna over true rock innovators like Dinosaur Jr.? Would disco be blacklisted, while hip-hop reigned supreme?

The hall answered on September 27 with its list of 2008 nominees. Despite never writing a rock song in her life, Madonna is up for her first nomination. The Beastie Boys also received their first nod, despite the fact that dozens of earlier hip-hop innovators -- everyone from NWA to Public Enemy -- are still waiting.

Donna Summer and Chic were also nominated, proving that the hall won't be forsaking rock's traditional nemesis, disco. And sorry, Kiss fans, but your heroes aren't on the list. You'll just have to be content to rock and roll all night, and party every day.

Of the nine nominees, less than half can be vaguely described as rockers. Among the remaining inductees were the Dave Clark Five, '50s crooners the Ventures, balladeer Leonard Cohen, and the poet laureate of Indiana, John Mellencamp. While it isn't a horrible sampling, most people believe the Ventures are a discontinued Chevy minivan.

Shameless self-promotion
Last week, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists decided to suspend all critical judgment, presenting Scene with nine awards for alleged journalistic excellence.

Our humble rag was once again named Ohio's best weekly -- narrowly edging out Maurice Clarett's Guide to Not Getting Shanked -- and even won more awards than The Plain Dealer (six), despite their being way better looking than we are. The winners:

- Lisa Rab, first place, newsmaker profile; second place, environmental coverage

- Denise Grollmus, first place, arts reporting

- Elaine Cicora, first place, arts profile

- Erich Burnett, first place, headline writing

- Joe Tone, first place, sports coverage

- Rebecca Meiser, second place, medical/science reporting

- Jared Klaus, second place, children's issues.

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