Dave Chappelle has lived full-time in the tiny, idyllic Ohio town of Yellow Springs for more than 15 years; at this point, it’s as much a part of his personal brand as the everpresent cigarette. But as Tyler J. Kelley reports, Chappelle’s impact on Yellow Springs — including his many real estate purchases and a number of questionably zoned live shows — has become a point of contention among townspeople who fear the end of affordability and find themselves torn between pride and preservation.
Dozens spoke in favor of granting the variance, mostly touting the economic benefit of the shows. Despite her doubts, Parsons voted yes. The measure passed unanimously. “When push came to shove, we caved,” she says. “I felt so dirty afterwards.” She took the weekend to think it over, then quit the board. “If I haven’t got enough guts to stand up for what I believe, I’m not serving the people,” she says. The village has always been “weirdly dysfunctional,” she went on, but “now it’s not a fun dysfunction, and there’s people who are afraid.”
With the variance granted, the shows carried on until the end of the summer. In the village, the T-shirt shop sold more T-shirts, the restaurants sold more dinners, and the record store sold more comedy records. The celebrities arrived, the fans were happy, the jokes were funny. Meanwhile, the tensions of past years continued to bubble beneath the surface like sulfurous spring water.