Monday, July 22, 2024

In the words of the Zeitgeist Gallery’s Alan Nidle, “We live to fight another day.”

Last week’s hearing over whether the gallery can legally hold performances resulted in what sounds like, as Nidle described it, a very odd and dissatisfying compromise for everyone involved: The city says the Zeitgeist can go on doing what it wants for a year, but it will be monitored. At the end of the year, the city will decide what to do.

What’s interesting about this compromise is that Nidle doesn’t intend to do anything differently at the gallery, and the city knows it.

The gallery goes on irritating the city. The city goes on threatening the gallery. It’s something like the cartoon relationship between the sheepdog and the wolf who call off their life-and-death battle at the end of the workday.

Perhaps the decision makes sense considering only one gallery neighbor came to the hearing to complain that its performances were a bother — but not much of one. Usually, the neighbor returned home only after performances were over. Nidle thought the neighbor seemed like a pretty nice guy.

(This is something of a trend. Gus Rancatore, who is about to be pushed out of his Someday Cafe location in Davis Square, has pretty nice things to say about Peter Creyf, whose Mr. Crepe would be the replacement. It seems like only in the greater Cambridge area would business owners seem so phlegmatically resigned to acknowledge the finer points of the people ruining their lives — although in each case, these are just stalking horses. Nidle is really threatened by a voraciously officious, officiously voracious city government; Rancatore is falling victim to disingenuously rapacious, rapaciously disingenuous landlord Richard Fraiman.)

It’s unlikely to matter. By the time the city again takes up the matter of the Zeitgeist, the gallery will probably already be on the move to Central Square. Nidle has his eye on the old Skippy White’s space at 538 Massachusetts Ave., where he will add to an already vibrant square but hardly do himself a favor in the “I’m not a club” perception.