(This column is dedicated to my now deceased best friend and brother, Frank Vargas, who succumb to cancer a little over a year ago.)
Okay, today's b*tch is being presented to you by the Idiot Council (Because we need a *Council* of Idiots to get the job done.).
My complaint is a simple one. It's more about common sense, really.
My friend Coyote plays blues-slide guitar and sings in front of the B.A.R.T. station in beautiful downtown Berkeley, California. This guy has chops, too. He usually gathers a large crowd and gets paid for his efforts, because he is so damned talented at his craft; Coyote makes people happy. Coyote is also an expectant father, so he could use the (tax-free) cash-flow.
Well, one day I watched as the city of Berkeley's "Code Enforcement Officer" and two Berkeley Police Officers discussed about how they could ticket the aforementioned blues guitarist. They weren't paying me any mind, which worked out for me. I love eavesdropping on these clowns. Listening to their plan was nauseating and shows me these folks work on very little (if any) imagination, whatsoever. Instead of actually looking for and fighting real crime, (like local government being usurped by land-developing scum-bags) they plotted away on how to stop a Berkeley Original Artist from making everyone's day.
So I then follow the two police officers, as they approached my friend. They told him he had to turn off his amplifier, because "amplified sound is against the law"... wait for it... wait. for. it.:
..."without a 'permit.'"
Yeah, money makes this "crime" go away.
Can you "taste" my cynicism, DBA?
So the police officer gave Coyote a ticket, for playing beautiful blues-slide guitar... and vocals, to-boot. A man creating... a man using his discipline... his craft... his art, to please others as well as himself, and he's systematically targeted for harassment of this "ordinance"?
And here is where I get to the part where I explain to everyone why this ordinance is chickenshit, and how it's merely another tool in the city's already crooked tool box, to extort money from folks... from artists. Artists they claim to support? Wrong. The city is attempting to "get rid of 'them,'" once again. This is a common theme with the DBA and city hall, using the poor, hard-working folks of Block By Block to spy and report to their superiors of any "suspicious activity," when they are not qualified to even know what that entails. Besides, we out here on the streets "hold it down." We self-regulate, and we do so with very little accommodation, if any.
Violent crime dropped 17% in the downtown area last year, and I expect those numbers to stay the same this year, if not drop even more. I have been out on these streets for most of this past year, and I have seen very little violent crime occur in the downtown area. And, when I did see any sort of violent crime, it was usually being perpetrated on these very same street artists (and homeless in general), by those the DBA wants you to believe is good for this city. Black is white. Up is down. If the DBA tells you it's not going to rain, you better check for yourself anyway, because they want you to believe it's raining. It's not, though. Even burglaries on the campus of UC Berkeley have dropped. Something the DBA will not want you to know, because it does not fit their agenda or scapegoat campaign against the homeless of Berkeley, California.
Back to the car alarms and blues playing: the lynch pin in my complaint is this: car alarms go off in the downtown area, all day long. I hear about fifteen to twenty a day, easily. Tell me something... is this not "amplified sound"? If so, why are these people not ticketed for making us all have to listen to that ugly sound?
So, let me get this straight... the city of Berkeley is ticketing an artist who makes patrons of the B.A.R.T. and every-day, average citizens, happy, through his blues playing (and singing), but letting the sound of nails driving through my right-temple go on... that's o kay?!
The systematic harassment of all the artists in downtown Berkeley and up on Telegraph is ap palling. It's scapegoating 101, is what it is. It's also extortion. It's also uneven application of the law. Something we will see more and more of, apparently, as the Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA) doesn't seem to want to stop being Fascist-Nazis, so I guess we will see more and more of this type behavior from them and the city of Berkeley... who are in bed with the DBA, oh by the way.