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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

Sgt. Harms Reportedly Issues Ultimatum to the Downtown Drum Circle
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 28th, 2010 10:54 PM
Escalating pressure on street performers is in the news. Wes Modes faces possible jail for supporting the DIY Last Night New Year's Parade some years ago (yet he was cited for this year's, in which he wasn't involved). Becky Johnson was fined $250 for singing the homeless version of "Downtown" in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz. Two ACLU canvassers were given trespass citations and driven away from the parking lot adjoining Trader Jo's in March. Now as follow-up to the exclusionary Farmer's Market expansion, the SCPD is moving on the Drum Circle refugees.
Escalating pressure on street performers is in the news. Wes Modes faces possible jail for supporting the DIY Last Night New Year's Parade some years ago (yet he was cited for this year's, in which he wasn't involved). Becky Johnson was fined $250 for singing the homeless version of "Downtown" in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz. Two ACLU canvassers were given trespass citations and driven away from the parking lot adjoining Trader Jo's in March.
Now as follow-up to the exclusionary Farmer's Market expansion, the SCPD is moving on the Drum Circle refugees.
The weekly Wednesday Drum Circle moved to Cedar and Lincoln in the small dirt area surrounding one of the trees adjacent to the Cedar St. sidewalk across from Jack's restaurant. The Drum Circle was preempted and supplanted by for-profit businesses last week (apparently intentionally since they took over the former Drum Circle space, rather than using the side aisles). (See "Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Expands: Is the Drum Circle Finally Over" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/22/18645414.php).

Dave reported today that early in the afternoon Sgt. Harms arrived, double-parked his squad car, and then began to harass one of the drummers, whose vehicle was a red van, demanding registration and other information.

In spite of the police pressure, 6-12 drummers were gathered when I drove by around 3:30 pm. Folks providing coffee showed up as I left. Ronee Curry, who is working to establish a street ministry of young folks, also showed up later in the afternoon and stayed for a subsequent confrontation with police.

At 6;30 PM, I received a call from Drummer Dave, who'd been drumming through the afternoon at the new location of the Wednesday Drum Circle. He reported that Sgt. Harms gave them an ultimatum that he'd received 12-15 complaints and wanted the drummers to leave and not return.

"Big Drum" Brent Adams, who plays a 50 gallon white plastic drum, reported last week that he and other performers had faced increased harassment from police supposedly acting on "private person complaints". Both performers and onlookers have been subject to authoritarian and illegal "move along" orders from cops as well as outright assault and false arrest (See "Azua Assault" in the comment "Drum Circle Moved" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/21/18645349.php?show_comments=1#18645392).

Brent engaged in negotiations with Harms last year and wrote up a series of voluntary suggested rules of conduct for the Drum Circle, which were regularly draped around one of the trees on the days the Drum Circle played. (See "No More Fences at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market Drum Circle at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/04/03/18585727.php). Many credit Brent with a combination of public pressure and negotiating skills that encouraged Sgt. Harms to back off the Drum Circle and the city to stop putting up the green mesh fences which were regularly taken down by performers.

Today, Dave reported, Brent engaged in extended discussion with Harms, and stayed (along with Ronee) until Harms and two other police officers in s squad car left. Dave suggested the cops left because the merchants across the street who had complained about the drumming had already closed up shop, making the issue moot.

Dave said that Harms did threaten to return next Wednesday to ticket everyone who was there. Supposedly to convey "citizen complaint" tickets. Dave says he'll be there to resist this latest attempt to destroy the remnants of the Drum Circle.

Brent volunteered to serve as spokesperson for the Street Performers Guild last summer, but then unaccountably held no further meetings of the group, When present, he speaks up vocally and articulately, but unified action from the Street Performers Guild has been frozen, awaiting action (either a meeting or a resignation) from Brent. (See "Santa Cruz Street Performers Guild 'Big Tent' Meeting" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06_/22/18603397.php)

Recently Becky Johnson was convicted of "unreasonably disturbing noise" for singing political songs with a keyboard between 2 and 3 PM on a Wednesday afternoon in January in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz in the Free Speech Zone next to the Scribner statue. Because it disturbed a sleeping resident on the floor above who had his window open. The case, she says, will be appealed. (See "Notes on a Sinister Sidewalk Singing Trial" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/22/18645414.php)

Two other "unreasonably disturbing noise" cases from the same January 6th incident--mine and Robert "Blindbear" Facer's have been postponed to July 20 10:30 AM in Dept. 10.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) activists have tentatively scheduled a Singing Tour of Shame for next Wednesday afternoon, where they will serenade the community at different spots on the sidewalk to memorialize spots where homeless people and street performers have been harassed or achieved historical victories.

Drummer Dave is calling for a public showing of support to keep public spaces open to traditional cultural and musical activities. The latest expansion of the Farmer's Market was taken without any discussion with the drummers and seems to be part of the Downtown Association/SCPD's on-going war on street culture.

A severe reduction in public assembly spots is planned when the new "Panhandling Meters" are put in--tentatively scheduled to ban assembly near Borders and New Leaf as well as other places. (http://64.175.136.240/sirepub/cache/2/rltjok4500xlzrnw0yal3uj5/229218904282010105121385.PDF)

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kim Philby
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 4:20 AM
Brent is probably a double-agent, on the SCPD payroll. He probably volunteered to lead the Street Performers Guild so no one else could do it. Then he deliberately didn't do anything, to ensure the destruction of the Guild. Either that, or he's one lazyass mofo.
by Street Performers of Yore (posted by Norse)
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 7:30 AM
Tom Noddy, who with Jan Lubbe and numerous street performers put together the Guidelines in 1980, referred me to http://www.buskersadvocates.org/saalegalSantaCruzGuide.html and I reprint them below.

Tom and I talked about Street Performers in Santa Cruz (as well as the Scott Creek Bluff vandwellers) on two radio shows archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100418.mp3 and http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100425.mp3 (3/4 of the way through each file).



"Here they are as amended once (mid-ninties, after the earthquake in 89 smashed the downtown they rebuilt and opeed new senior housing downtown ... there were new conflicts having to do with nighttime performances ... we added a bit to make the new incoming performers aware of the old folks sleeping on the upper floors of some of the buildings)"

Tom Noddy

SANTA CRUZ STREET PERFORMERS

Dear performer,

This paper was designed by and agreed to by your fellow performers. We are making them available to merchants, and city officials, so that everybody knows the agreement. It might be handed to you by one of them but it comes from many of us.

In 1980, thirty-five Santa Cruz street performers met to address a proposal by city officials to pass laws that would ban or severely restrict street performing in Santa Cruz. In an effort to avoid inflexible laws, the performers proposed instead, to come to an agreement that recognized the rights of performers, people working in the businesses, downtown residents, and others who use the downtown. 35 street performers came to consensus on those guidelines and agreement was reached with merchants, the Downtown Neighbors' Association, the City Council and other interested parties. A few times since, performers met with representatives of the Downtown Association, city officials, and others to update the agreement.

The following list of voluntary guidelines represent that agreement. We believe that these guidelines reflect the unwritten rules that street performers have worked with for centuries (street performing is at least as old as stores).

HOURLY ROTATION

It is recognized that one performer or act monopolizing an area for a long time can make it difficult for other performers and for the people working in the downtown businesses. One hour rotation is thought to be reasonable. It is also recognized that the performances take place in front of businesses and that the people working in that business may ask a performer to relocate after one hour if they are experiencing a problem. While it is agreed that the public streets belong to no one, it is suggested that talking with people working in the stores will many times help to prevent misunderstandings.

BLOCKING PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC

Gathering a crowd so large that they block the sidewalk can create a problem for people trying to pass by. The performer is usually in the best position to address the audience and help to keep a clear passage on the sidewalk and through doorways. It is also recognized that performances taking place in front of business doorways and windows can be problematic, and that people working in these businesses have a right to request that performers move aside to prevent that problem.

SPACING

It is recognized that too many performers on one block combine to create a sound that is disturbing to all, including the workers and passers-by (the audience). It is suggested that musicians be sensitive to their instruments (the sound of bagpipes or conga drums carry further than that of a dulcimer).

DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS

It is also recognized that we share the downtown area with downtown residents. When he was still alive and active on behalf of the rights of street performers, Tom Scribner , (the street performer whose statue still entertains on Pacific Avenue) asked that we respect his and other residents' need for sleep. The city has a curfew on noise disturbance. From 10:00pm till 8:00am musicians are in danger of being cited under this ordinance.

CONTRIBUTIONS

Contributions from satisfied listeners is the only financial support afforded to a sidewalk entertainer. Offensive vocal solicitation is not only rude behavior that works against all street performers but is not very good for tips either. An open instrument case or other receptacle is considered appropriate.

YOUR COOPERATION AND RESPECT FOR OUR NEIGHBORS IS APPRECIATED
by drummin drake
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 8:19 AM
Why blame Brent? None of this is his fault. He has been consistent and effective in his leadership. Robert, do you even attend SPG meetings?
by Stanley Philby
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 9:23 AM
Robert can't be everywhere all the time. He's busy. No, he doesn't go to SPG meetings. He trusted that Brent would do his job. He feels betrayed that Brent has let him down. He's disappointed after all the trust he placed in Brent.

Robert has a tough job leading the struggle. Cut him some slack people.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 9:33 AM
We're all trying to be effective. Yes, I attend SPG meetings (the last one was last summer).

I have a lot of respect for many of the things Brent has done--and this isn't about him. Brent is out there on the streets working on this issue, calling in to the radio about it, and trying to deal with Sgt. Harms. More credit to him for doing that.

However it's also true that he's not followed up on the June 2009 Street Performers Guild meeting that he was committed to do. To his credit, Brent acknowledges this.

A number of people have suffered because we haven't gotten together to effectively resist the on-going crackdown. It's time we did that. That's the point. I don't believe in pussyfooting around here. 9 months in too long a time to go without a meeting.

The issue, however, is the SCPD crackdown and the Farmer's Market's disrespectful expansion. These are part and parcel of a general constriction of the right to be in public spaces and attacks on activists. The Drum Circle was the one regular event that held out against the Coonerty Parking Lot Panic law--which criminalizes public assembly in all public parking lots and garages.

Even now police are clearly reluctant to use this absurd law (MC 9.64 at http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz/ ) and are falling back on the vaguer MC 9.36.020.

I encourage people to show up in solidarity with the drummers next Wednesday.
by Razer
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 11:27 AM
This is a shout out to ALL Santa Cruz locals, including Santa Cruz Veterans recently displaced from their county usurped and operated meeting hall under spurious and suspicious circumstances.

Y' all come on down to the Farmers Market next Wednesday for donuts and coffee, music and merriment. Bring a drum, bang a gong. Let's get it on!

Due to the expansion of the Wednesday Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market, the traditional drum circle has been forced to moved away from it's spot as of last week to avoid confrontation with the police and market. The location picked is a parking lot across the street, nearer the street and away from the market.

Yesterday, a police supervisor stopped by to discuss noise complaints numbering 12 (but perhaps 12 calls by one or two businesses).

The compromise offered by the city and police... "Move away from here".

If this sounds familiar, it's the same rejoinder used by the White settlers in discussion with the Native Americans. Paraphrased by a native as "We move and we move, but you (the settlers) continue to say "You are too close, move farther away".

The police supervisor suggested "The Beach", or a local park that has been a source of noise complaints for 30 years even when children play, due to senior citizen housing across the street, or at the town clock... In the middle of the heaviest vehicular traffic part of Santa Cruz.

None of these sites are acceptable. An unofficial counter-offer was made offering time constraints... No response from the police supervisor who undoubtedly is promulgating an ultimatum as compromise.

The Drummers will be at the same site next week despite the possibility of police action.

Slide show: http://s233.photobucket.com/albums/ee241/photobastard/DC_100429/?action=view&current=587e8109.pbw
by Razer
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 11:37 AM
Robert, you're a joke.

Brent is an opportunistic narcissistic putz with a similar coterie of followers... Just like you, and has NO BUSINESS representing the people at the drum circle. A circle he rarely even attends.

As far as the SSSPG, it hasn't existed for years in any functional way and under the current circumstances would be irrelevant, the city is NOT interested in compromise, flushed the voluntary guidelines years ago, and the word is ou, from the city and police department's mouths...

Move Away

So what are ya gonna do Robert? Send emails?
by Robert Norse
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 4:47 PM
I second Razor's "shout out" to come on down next Wednesday.

It might also be helpful to poll Farmer's Market stall-keepers to ask them if they'd object to leaving the original drum circle area open and instead use the edges of the parking lot, some of which were vacant on last Wednesday.

I did this about a year ago when city politicians, police, and DTA mouthpieces were insisting that the drummers were disturbing the market-teers and driving away people. There were a few who felt that way, but by no means a majority, not even a plurality.

No media except Indybay and the Cabrillo Voice are carrying the story of the extinction of the downtown Drum Circle, as far as I've seen The current Voice has an interesting article.
by where's the community love?
Thursday Apr 29th, 2010 4:49 PM
There wouldn't even be a drum circle as long as there was if Robert hadn't sent out e-mails to other activists. That's when the Raging Grannies and Trash Orchestra came to the call and helped to defend the Drum Circle. Those activists don't drum there either, but they came to support them.
Only when the Trash Orchestra pulled down the fences and played anyway. THAT's when the drummers continued and stayed to fight. They had run with their tails beneath their legs before Robert and the others stepped in.
This is a town that has a community of people who care about the rights to assemble and if they don't drum there on Wednesday doesn't mean they don't care what happens to the drummers.

So before you go on judging Robert, why don't you think how little you support him and his fights for being able to have basic civil rights in this town that are slowly being stolen from us right in front of our nose.
Do we care about our fellow community members and like that they support us? Or are we just going to treat them like Shit!
Some community feeling you are putting out, Razer. How about a little solidarity here? Or are you just an over-righteous finger pointer?
by Dave
Friday Apr 30th, 2010 6:56 PM
Look, I'll be the first to admit that Robert not only can be, but usually is, a complete asswipe. I can think of few people with so few redeeming qualities. But you've got to hand it to him that he is the only reason we still have a drum circle at all. No one else cared about the thing except for a small circle of drummers, until Robert came along and screamed bloody murder when the pigs came to get us. And here we still are, sticking it to the man all these years later. So thanks Robert. You really might be a dick, but you did good on the drum circle.

Back off Razer.
by Seriously arrogant
Saturday May 1st, 2010 4:36 PM
Razer, are you kidding me? Comparing the drummers plight to that of Native Americans? I suspect various tribes are rolling over in their respective communal graves in disgust.


You posted: "Move away from here". "If this sounds familiar, it's the same rejoinder used by the White settlers in discussion with the Native Americans."

Puh-Leeze! Don't fluff yourself by riding the coattails of a true oppression.

It would be just as valid for me to go in the other direction and say that "move away from here" is the same thing that schools say to child molesters, or picnickers to the vomiting drunk who crashes on the lawn next to them.

Seriously....arrogant.
by post May day
Monday May 3rd, 2010 8:28 AM
This is a perfect "time capsule" thread. A slice of life before the May Day riot for all radicals to look back and laugh at how big a deal this was. Now it will be over. Drum circle gone. Subrosa will be shut down. You guys have gone too far this time...

by brent adams
Monday May 3rd, 2010 12:41 PM
As a volunteer mediator for the Farmer's Market Drum Circle i met many times with the management of the market and spoke with most of the farmers and vendors. In doing this I became very conflicted because I found that none of them liked the drumming and many said lots of customers had stopped coming to the market explicitly because of the scruffy sometimes rude vibe that hangs around the drumming area. I drummed at that place for 5 years but not much over the past year because it is often hard on the ears.. there are some core drummers and quite a few regulars who really hold it down but the random visitors banging metal on metal out of time or those who just don't have an intention to make rhythm TOGETHER often ruin the sound for me. I'll now circulate and visit the market and then I come check in the drummers and see how things are going.
The self policing guidelines that I drew up are still being hung from the tree. These were the agreements that had settled the police's concerns (drugsales, alcohol use, poo & pee etc) even though they were baseless.
Last wednesday I was at the drum circle's new location when Sgt. Harms came to inform that there were numerous complaints (most likely just one). We all saw the woman across the street who made a complaint to him. The sgt. informed us that there will be a response in the near future. As mediator, I met with the remaining drummers who considered 3 options:
1. stay and confront the police
2. move to another location
3. go to the original space yet one a different day
There was a decision to wait for the following wednesday to make the decision.
So I'm sad to see Robert make a call out for supporters to confront police on wednesday when the drummers themselves have yet to make the decision to do that.

As for my not calling for Santa Cruz Street Performer's Guild meetings...
I agree, it has been inactive over the past many months but I disagree that the singing political songs in front of the BookShop even IS street performing.. but I don't think they should've received tickets. The main problem facing street musicians downtown is the improper policing.. I encounter it every week as a performer as I did yesterday. The legal tool used is the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise Ordinance.. which I feel is a just law and that we need something like that but I don't agree that it includes street performers as it is written. The Street Performer's Guild and myself came to the conclusion that to fight this law someone would have to intentionally get ticketed and fight it head on.. the political protest singers (not being buskers) did get ticketed using this law and are in court and one has been prosecuted already. I agree that this would have been a good time for the guild to meet and support those who were cited and we didn't. We are planning the next meeting as I write this.
I am grateful for all the tireless work that Robert Norse does on these issues and for his constant encouragement of myself and others to stay in the mix.. sometimes it requires more time than a part-time job to do so.. this is time I'll start devoting.
by Todd Brown
Wednesday May 5th, 2010 4:41 PM

As a drum teacher and missionary to jamaica,I have found the circle is its own baby musically.If you are ready to express yourself without needing others to understand....you can do that.
As an experienced drummer,I allow for all the other stuff,and you can tell that there is an expression brought out that is a positive thing.
The city at the same time needs to realize that people need to gather,and can't always afford the market prices.It will never be perfect,and maybe thats not the best spot anyway,so if someone can tell me where the other spot is,I will be there.
Today was just booths......I didn't know what was going on !
by Rose Shasta
Sunday May 23rd, 2010 8:59 PM
I have made numerous calls to the police and signed citations when necessary. People LIVE downtown, and the drumming is often disruptive in our homes. The drumming is louder than the nightclubs, the street and traffic noise, and other performers. The drumming is so loud and obnoxious, and Brent is the absolute worst. Seriously dude, you are pounding on a garbage can with hammers. What is wrong with you, were you dropped on the head as a child? Downtown is a center of commerce, not a stage for your public tantrums. Go make noise somewhere more privately.

""Big Drum" Brent Adams, who plays a 50 gallon white plastic drum, reported last week that he and other performers had faced increased harassment from police supposedly acting on "private person complaints". Both performers and onlookers have been subject to authoritarian and illegal "move along" orders from cops. "
by Rose Shasta
Sunday May 23rd, 2010 9:20 PM
Brent, just wanted to add that one of my neighbors downtown has measured the noise you generate with your absurd "drum" and hammers, using a high quality decibel counter. You measure upwards of 90 decibels, dude. Go look that up. Not cool.

Maybe you can tell us where you live and work, so we can come beat something with hammer while you are trying to concentrate/sleep/relax/watch TV/eat/talk/etc etc etc...

You don't sound like an unreasonable person here in your comments. (You look like a lunatic on the street.) Maybe you will hear me out. There are a TON of people who live in apartments downtown, who cannot stand the noise the drums make. We call the police ALL THE TIME. We are willing to sign citations and go to court if necessary. The noise is disturbing and we would like you to please find another place where there are not HOMES and BUSINESSES to make your noise.

This is not an unreasonable request. If you just want to make noise, then go to the beach or a forest (eg: Wilder). If what you truly desire is an AUDIENCE, then perhaps you should rent a suitable venue and perform. But forcing people who are living or working or simply shopping to be subject to your trashcan and hammer is just inconsiderate.

Thank you.

by Daisy Fresh
Wednesday May 26th, 2010 6:50 PM
Rose...

Where are these citations you have signed? Why didn't anyone receive a citation that you signed?

I hear that you are upset. Have you ever tried to talk to Brent? He's a reasonable fellow. Stop hiding behind a bs exterior and try to work a compromise.

And, by the way, his band HAS played in conventional venues. Music, as is all art, is subjective. One man's trash is another man's symphony.
Ms. Rose,
I do take your comments seriously as well as your encouragement.
But I won't be moving and I'll tell you why.
My art is based solidly in my creative inspiration to add my positive spin to the vibe downtown.
While it is possible that I'm deluded and narcissistic beyond normal levels, I can tell you that the reflection I've gotten overwhelmingly is that people enjoy it. They dance and give us money and let their children hangout for long lengths of time. We have friends who work in New Leaf who love it and we've been told when someone at the cash register doesn't like it. We legally have 1 hour to play no matter how good or bad we are.. and frankly loudness doesn't legally come into play until those people around us listening become irritated by it. Have you not read the wording of the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise Ordinance? That our act and our music and our volume do not apply. After an hour of play though, we are required to move at least 100' down the street. If you'd like to write an enforceable ticket then I encourage you to focus on that. The Street Performer Ordinances were written by business owners themselves for their protection while ensuring the free right to expression of the performers too. I believe you may live high atop the Border's Building 4 floors up and set back so line of sight visibility isn't possible nor is the audio wave line of site in within your reach. You have the right to close your double pane storm windows up there if you like. Where do I live? I live in the Beach Flats next to the Boardwalk which keeps the Giant Dipper open in the summer as late at `12AM because they have a noise curfew exemption. My act doesn't like the idea that anyone within hearing is not enjoying the music.. we've put a great deal of work into our vocabulary of rhythms. Yes I play with felt dampened hammers on plastic barrel and I do specifically because it is a very low bass tone with a round sound. It sounds very good to us and 99.5% of the folks we've spoken. The sound is especially good in a downtown setting because it bounces off the sidewalk and the walls of the buildings creating an echo affect that we find pleasing. In 2002 after 9/11, I noticed that creative expression had suffered on Pacific Avenue. The compassion fatigue from our collective tragedy had taken its toll on the acceptable level of perceived acceptance within the status quo to make music or do anything besides shop downtown. I felt that pressure to fall in line too but I had to challenge myself to wake up. I set the intention to be a light of love and inspiration to my family and my community. One of the surprising manifestations of this was my beginning to play a barrel on pacific ave. I realized quickly that there were dwellings there where folks lived, so I was careful to find the places that were far away from the St. George, the Palimar & the El Centro
We play at Cooper St. and in front of New Leaf on the corner of Soquel exclusively. Only 2 spots for us to play downtown and we do that out of compassion for you and the other tenants downtown. We play for our legal hour and then move or go home. But after we play for 10 minutes and a cop comes and tells us we have 1 complaint from the 4th floor from a chronic complainer who has an abnormal senitiveness, and yet there are little kids dancing around while we gather a crowd and a hat full of dollar bills and we get frustrated with the cop and you too. And yes, I do expect we'll meet one of these days in court where I pray the letter of the law is upheld. Not just the intollerance of someone who chose to live on the corner of a downtown street where Groups of Harley Davidsons roar by all day long. I don't know if you'll remember when the people voted to keep Border's Books from locating themselves in the spot they're in now but we did and the response was over-whelming. But it turns out that the City of Santa Cruz and we the people didn't have the right to keep them from coming... and there they've been all these years. Why? The letter of the law was upheld and just because some folks didn't want to see it there, it didn't give them the legal right to have it removed. Much like you wanting to limit my rights to free speech in a public forum where I'm protected by specific Street Performer Laws, which I follow to the letter.
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by Rose Shasta
Monday May 31st, 2010 8:39 PM
Brent, if you were actually *speaking* when you exercised your right to free speech, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But you’re not. You’re banging, loudly.

Yes, I understand that you receive positive feedback from people on the street. But there’s a lot of negative feedback too - it just never reaches your ears. Did it ever occur to you that people who do not enjoy the noise are not going to come out and tell you this? First, you look kind of violent and scary with your hammers and trashcan. Second, most people are not that rude. I can guarantee you that the number of people who do not enjoy the noise are at *least* equal the number who do. You are well known to the local businessowners and residents, and not with fondness unfortunately.

You legally have one hour to play as long as no one complains about the noise being unreasonably disturbing. I argue that the noise generated is indeed unreasonably disturbing. I do choose to live downtown, and I live in a very noisy area. Do I call the police and complain about any of the myriad of noises that I’m exposed to all day and night? No, I only call about the drumming. Because the drumming lasts longer and exceeds levels of noise that are comfortable. Trust me, if I could just simply shut my window and block out the noise, I would. But it is impossible. I’ve tried shutting windows, I’ve tried generating white noise by turning up the fan, I’ve tried wearing earplugs. The drumming penetrates all of these.

One of my neighbors had to leave her apartment in tears because she was being driven to distraction by the drumming. Another neighbor bought a decibel meter and measured the sound output from you, specifically. You generate around 90 decibels with each swing of your hammers. Do you know how loud that is? Here’s a comparison:

“A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels. Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 decibels. According to the EPA, this level of noise actuallly degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure.”

Did you know that the leaf blowers are so noisy that some counties have outlawed them? You make more noise than leaf blowers, Brent! How is that not unreasonably disturbing?

And it’s not just the level of noise. It’s the repetition. Look, here’s an example:

See BANG how BANG hard BANG it BANG is BANG to BANG think BANG or BANG talk BANG with BANG this BANG going BANG on? BANG How BANG about BANG you BANG try BANG to BANG relax BANG at BANG home BANG with BANG this BANG going BANG on BANG outside?

Contrast this with the sound of traffic, the occasional shriek, the sax player with his tuneless melody, the occasional Harley crowd that passes within 5 minutes, the lone guitar player & singer, the late night clubbing and drunken hooting... none of these noises lead me to call the police. None of these noises are unreasonably LOUD and DISTURBING enough. Ironically that echo effect that you find so pleasing is also what no doubt amplifies the drumming sound and makes it so disturbing.

I hear the good intentions in your response and I appreciate it. I hear that you have made efforts to not play near where people live, out of compassion. That is kind indeed. But the corner you have chosen to play on (exclusively) is next to both businesses and apartments, so your words do not add up.

I understand from one of your supporters that you have played in conventional venues. I encourage you to continue doing so. Please do not force those of us who do not want to listen to the banging to be subject to it. I do not want to meet you in court someday. I would like to wish you the best and hope that you find a place where no one lives or works to play your music/free speech/self-expression. It is simply too loud, too unreasonably disturbing, for an area directly next to where people are attempting to live, work, or relax after a hard day’s work.
by Sam
Wednesday Jun 9th, 2010 6:23 AM
Brent, you obviously are just seeking attention.....you look like a fool and the sound coming from your barrel is awful. I really feel sorry for all the poor souls who are subjected to your pounding....hey why not get a job hammering nails? Seriously dude, you're a joke.....you're spending your life doing this? Go volunteer doing something useful......
by Sean Reilly
Saturday Sep 25th, 2010 12:26 PM
I'm so sorry Rose- I feel your pain. My name is Sean, I live in the St. George apartments above Book Shop SC. I have been dealing with "Street Musicians" there for 3 years. I have had to deal with all sorts. I've been VERY, VERY fortunate that I've been able to get the drummers to move on after an hour, usually once I explain to them I'm on the 2nd floor, 15 feet away from where they're playing. I haven't had to ticket (sign a complaint) against any drummers yet. After the trial with Robert Norse and company which I'll explain shortly, I bought a decibel meter, and after showing most drummers that in my apartment they're measuring 110 to 115 (a gunshot- .45 caliber, at 5-6 feet is 130-140; I actually did that test myself, with my own gun and decibel meter), they usually just agree to move along, or play much quieter. I feel so bad for you that you're suffering so much, as I SOOOO know just how insanely irritating the repeated "noise" -sorry, but its NOT music, no matter how many dirty bum yahoo's may enjoy it- can be firsthand! They also can just get up and leave at ANY point! How are we supposed to move our apartment? And the argument about maybe I shouldn't be living on Pac Ave if I don't like the "noise" is null and void, first off its all I can afford at this particular time, and I only involve the police in the most EXTREME circumstances. I'm not speaking of the ambient noises of traffic and people in general, I'm speaking about the UN-NATURAL banging and screaming (some people call it singing) noises. I like you have an air conditioner which I turn on, a TV that I turn on, a window I shut and ear plugs I frequently wear all in an effort to drown out the banging. None of it works with a drum, they're TOO base-ish (not sure that's actually a word, oh well). That's why they used them for thousands of years to communicate over long distances!! Anyway, my point was I feel your pain. And I would strongly encourage you to keep calling the police, that is their job after all! And keep filling out tickets- eventually they'll get the hint, or they just won't be able to afford to stay in that spot, as each ticket ca run from 250-500 dollars each.


And about the trial I mentioned earlier with Robert Norse and company- on 1/6/10 at about 11:30 a.m. I heard at least 5-6 people singing and playing guitars, bongo drums and an electric keyboard VERY loudly. This went on for 3.5 hours with only a few 3-4 minute intervals during this whole time, before I finally called at 3pm. At one point, around 2pm, I looked out my window and noticed it was Robert Norse, Becky Johnson and Robert Facer, Facer I didn't know but I learned his identity through the trial process. Robert and Becky I only knew because I had seen their faces around town, I learned their names through the trial process as well. But when I looked out at 2pm, those 3 were there, among others as well, but they were the 3 I saw "singing" the most, croaking out incredibly loudly. By 3pm my patience was gone, so I called the PD. I told the dispatcher that I just wanted them to quiet down, they didn't have to move, just QUIET down. Rather than comply when approached by the PD, they become very antagonistic and grew even louder, this I witnessed as well, as previously mentioned my window is 15 feet from the sidewalk. I knew, on my own at that point the only way I was gonna get them to stop from screaming their heads off (like I said, they call it singing, me and all my neighbors call it screaming and croaking) was going to be through a citizen based complaint, or a ticket. It wasn't my first choice, nor did I really want to, but sometimes people are, for whatever reason, unreasonable, and ya gotta do what ya gotta do! After a long set of trials, in which I was accused of many things, NONE of which are true, I won! On all three tickets issued. There was a fourth ticket given, but I NEVER received a request to appear or anything about it. It didn't mean she was innocent, like I've heard Norse and Johnson repeatedly say, it simply meant I never got a chance to show up, so I guess it got dropped. I saw the fourth person there "singing", and wouldve been happy to testify to that effect, however I was never given the chance to. One thing you can take from my story is that sticking to your guns, and to what you know in your heart is right can pay off! They said several times that I was cutting off their first amendment rights. To that I would respond by saying that with a great right like the first amendment comes great responsibility as well. They had other options at their disposal to get their message out that day, one of which was playing more QUIETLY, and that wouldn't have bothered anyone. Other options such as handing out fliers, leaflets, gathering signatures, all of which they successfully did and could have continued. The choice not to continue the other options was and is their choice, not mine! I'm in no way suggesting that protesting somehow be limited to silent activities, but if you do stage a protest in a partially residential area, you have to take neighbors into account. The burden is and should be on them to not bother ME, not on me not to bother THEM. After all, I do have to live there!! They also mentioned that they chose that area with the specific intent of sending a message to the Coonerty family members working there at the time. That means they would have to be fairly loud as to not be drowned out by the regular street noise. How could they then NOT imagine they might bother/ annoy someone living nearby in an apartment building that goes back at least 90 plus years. You also have to bear in mind MY right to exist peacefully in my own apartment/home. Regardless of what task I was undertaking at the time. I happen to have been trying to sleep that day because I work a night-shift. But that's really irrelevant. I would have called even if I hadn't had to work that night or not. The noise was unbearable!! I also wasn't the ONLY one who felt that way as many of my neighbors agreed with me and my assertion. Several of which called and spoke to police that day, they just didn't file complaints because I assured them I would. I mention that because they (Norse and Company) falsely and repeatedly claimed in court, and elsewhere, that I was the only one bothered by that days events. The opposite is really true as I was just the only one with the balls to stand up to them and have them cited.

I tell you this long story Rose, in the hopes that if you or others are truly bothered by the Norse/Johnson group, or ANYONE for that matter, don't be afraid to call the police! You DO NOT have to go down and speak to them directly. I sometimes do, I didn't that day (1/6/10) given the size of the group. I also just had a feeling they wouldn't be very receptive to me, and I proved to be totally correct in my feelings- look at how well they treated a cop!! Why would I, a normal person be treated ANY better, why would they be any more receptive to my wishes? Answer- they more than likely wouldve been far worse to me. As I'm not a person who takes very kindly to people being antagonistic and incredibly rude (as they were with the cop), I probably would've not responded very well to their barrage of endless questions, to which many of them had no practical answer, and the other questions could be answered them selves with a little COMMON SENSE (how loud is too loud). Well let's see, the volume you're at now is TOO loud, try singing quieter than where you just were! Why not give that a whirl? I'm not saying it would've for sure worked, but if they REALLY cared so much about being able to sing, they could've at least tried! That's what most people I've seen in that similar situation do. Had they done something similar, it might've showed they were actually interested in a real compromise, rather than a confrontation with police which Norse and Johnson actually seem to enjoy!! Anyway, as I was saying before- I MIGHT have done something I would later come to regret!! I say that not because I'm a bully, but because I was rather annoyed by the "singing" and their noise by that point (almost 4 hrs straight of it, with only minor few minute breaks in between). It just wouldn't have been a good idea for me to go down there. Besides, that's what police officers are for.

I hope my response helps you Rose. Sorry it's so late after your initial comments, I've just recently discovered that this site exists. I also apologize for my many run-on sentences, as well as the piss poor sentence structure. I'm writing this on a cell phone during a road trip. Anywho- take care and good luck fighting a good fight!!