This was written by Nathan Payne and shared here (with permission) because it illustrates how public space is under threat everywhere and our dear red caps are not the only petty beurocrats at work. and becuase it made me laugh
an interesting thing happened the other day, Andrew & i were playing on the street in Brooklyn, on Bedford & N. 7th streets, and we got a few songs off before the cops showed up, and while Andrew was playing "Cure For Pain" the cop summoned me to his car, and i walked over and he asked a couple questions, and no we didn't have a permit (do they ever get bored, asking the obvious?), then he said we could continue if we turned off the amp, and went on to explain that if he allowed us to play with amps, then pretty soon other people would show up with amps, then he went on to describe this really utopian-sounding situation in which people of all types and styles and genres would start coming out of the woodwork to perform on the street, except he used this utopian ideal as a justification for shutting us down.
as he was describing the situation i kept thinking, that sounds great! but he was taking the other track. if we let you guys bring some melody and beauty to the street, the normal garbage-truck and ambulance sounds would soon be drowned out by infinite varieties of street performers cultivating an interesting cultural center right in the middle of everybody, for its own sake and at no cost whatsoever to the surrounding community, bringing in thousands of dollars a year in added revenue and fostering a culture of artistic support, a situation as un-American as Castro. now come on guys, GET REAL, don't you have to GO TO WORK?
yes i do, officer, because these aren't skills you're witnessing here, anybody can do this, and why should i employ my personal skills at the service of my own hunger, when i can sit on a telephone for 40 hours a week or push boxes around in a warehouse? o yeah that's right, cuz you can't tax cash in my hand for work in your face.
America is a cop utopia.