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Nuz of the Weird

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Nuz of the Weird

<www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/12.18.02/nuz-0251.html>

12/18/02

Fodor’s 2002 described Santa Cruz as “a
haven for those opting out of the rat
race” and “a bastion of 1960s-style
counterculture.”
But since housing prices aren’t stuck in a
‘60s time warp, who can opt out of even
the hamster wheel of life?
And with the City Council set to regulate
that holiest cow of Santa Cruz
counterculturethe street performerswill
Fodor have to classify SC as “no longer
nearly so weird?”
Not if BOOKSHOP SANTA CRUZ owner
NEAL COONERTY can help it. Coonerty,
who says the current council’s decision to
reduce limits from 14 feet to 10 feet “is a
fairly good compromise,” is selling “Keep
Santa Cruz Weird” T-shirts and stickers at
his bookstore.
“People can perform anywhere they want,
if they aren’t asking for donations, and if
they are, they have a fair corridor to do
their thing while sharing the sidewalk,”
said the bearlike shop owner.
But street performer ANGELA MARIE says
the media has misrepresented the
council’s decision as being a compromise.
“The 10-foot limit still means you have to
play music intoinstead of away froma
store. And the
one-hour-and-then-you-move-along
notion is a bad idea, since performers
often help the merchants. It would be
better to make it one hour from being
asked to move along on a
complaint-driven basis,” says Marie, who
performs with KUZUNGA MARIMBA, a local
band that often plays downtown.
As for the continuing possibility of
exemption zones, Marie says this would
have all performers clustered in front of a
few stores, leaving other businesses out
of the loop.
“I don’t know if the council doesn’t care or
doesn’t understand, but if they pass
these ordinances, they’ll be throwing
away something of tremendous valuethe
voluntary guidelines that Tom Noddy and
35 other performers developed 25 years
ago to avoid being legislated,” says
Marie, who belongs to the fledgling
BUSKERS GUILD.
“The council’s decision to ignore the
recommendations of the Downtown
Commission was a slap in the face that
left performers feeling betrayed. And now
we’re worried the council is going to come
up with a solution that nobody’s happy
with.”
A small ray of hope exists that the council
won’t move forward with any version of
the proposed ordinances.
“The council has asked the guild to come
back with a concrete proposal,” says
Marie, who hopes the council will give the
group more time, since the holiday
season is coming and January is hardly
prime performing time.
“But it’s an illusion to think you can write
laws and still have people working for
free on voluntary guidelines. When you
write laws and give police hammers to
work with, then you lose the community
and consensus building that was and is
happening.”
Several hours before the council discussed
the performers’ fate, the city became one
of only four groups in the state to receive
an INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
INNOVATOR AWARD for reducing
pesticide use in parks, golf courses and
mediansan award that got
Councilmember SCOTT KENNEDY joking
that “all the city is trying to do with its
ordinances is to manage pests
downtown.”
Lest he be accused of equating
performers with pests, Kennedy adds he
likes the idea of mediation, “because the
city is the ham-fisted beast that poisons
the process, once involved. So, I
encourage the buskers to find a way to
make their voluntary guidelines work. And
if after six months, their system is
working, then fine, we’ll pull the
ordinances.”
Meanwhile, Coonerty says that $2 per
shirt and $1 per sticker sold will be put
into a fund to support street performers.
“We’ll figure out how to give it to people
after Jan. 1,” said a much slimmed down
Coonerty, modeling one of his “weird”
black T-shirts.
 
 


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