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Tracking a Path Across the Globe to Interview, Photograph,

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“Busking the System” follows the real-life journeys of three talented young singer/songwriter guitarists who come from around the U.S. to pursue their passion as “buskers” – or street performers – in the bustling New York City subway system. Film by Connecticut director/producer Justin Michael Morales, Coolhand Pictures http://www.coolhandpictures.com.

Santa Fe City Council proposes new time restrictions on Busking February 2014

Santa Cruz begins crackdown on street performers February 2014

New Orleans City Council considers new Noise Ordinance that would reduce sound level to 60 dB that would ban music in public spaces Dec 2013 then withdraw ordinance January 16, 2014

Two Performers with support from ACLU of Eastern Missouri  Challenge the Audition System, High Permit Fees and Performance Location Restrictions in Saint Louis, MO May 2013

New York City Curtails Street Performers and Street Artists in City Parks 2010-2011

Arrest and legal actions of Chris Drew for selling art on streets of Chicago December 2009. ACLU challenges Illinois eavesdropping act - Lawsuit cites cases of people charged with breaking the law for making audio recordings of police in action August 2010

Spokane Legal Battle Won January 11, 2010 and November 24, 2008

Ninth Circuit Appeals Federal Court Case won 8-3 Berger vs. Seattle June 24, 2009

Glen Hansard, a former Dublin busker, with singer Marketa Irglova win the 2008 Oscar and Grammy for the best song Falling Slowly

Wilmington, North Carolina, Law and Enforcement Practices Ruled Unconstitutional November 3, 2008

Boston Crack Down on Street Performers and Artists August 2008

MBTA-Radio Threatens Subway Performances Oct 2007

Jakarta, Indonesia bans donations to buskers September 2007

Kansas City Council attempts to ban street performances February 2007

The History and Cultural Impact

of Street Performing in America

by Stephen Baird Stephen Baird 2014


Santa Cruz, California


Tom Noddy sent me these emails and documents about his recent civil disobedience act of being arrested for juggling on the streets of Santa Cruz on June 26, 2003. Please read all the documents for complete understanding of the issues. The short outline is:


UPDATE February 23. 2014 - Tom Noddy
Santa Cruz city officials just seem to be unable to stop the string of insults they are offering the performers who grace our downtown.

In this clip the City Attorney claims that long time performer, Frank Lima, "thought that he was entitled to special treatment and the message that we had to deliver to him was that, no, the law applies equally to everyone."

This was from the man who fashioned this law and allowed it, as he says, "for twenty years"! to be selectively enforced. Did the city attorney just now discover that fact?

Frank has been here for seventeen of those years and no one has ever informed him that he couldn't do what he does. Frank is a wonderful entertainer but Mr. Barisone is the city's lawyer ... who, here, has failed at their job?

I've heard that some people might show up at the City Council meeting at 5pm on Tuesday to express their opinion about the way the City officials are treating the performers. Mr Barisone will be there giving legal advice to the people who vote to make our town's laws ... they are the same people who can vote to amend those laws.



UPDATE 5/17/09 from Tom Noddy
Hello Stephen. I've been in and out of Santa Cruz a lot since the city abrogated our longtime agreement regarding street performer guidelines vs. laws.  I had made it a condition of the agreement in 1981 that we would encourage performers to be cooperative and that we would work to encourage them to follow respectful Guidelines only as long as merchants and city officials granted us the respect of not passing performer-specific laws. In 2002 a small group of merchants and a couple of council members had a better idea ... no cooperation, laws. I haven't been around to encourage performers one way or the other but somehow it doesn't seem to have solved all of the merchant problems. Now a younger performer is setting up meetings with the merchant group and council members. I like his whole approach from his initiating it with sweetness and light to his willingness (even eagerness) to take a bust and make an event of it. He contacted me to learn the history and to invite me to the meeting
Hard to do this stuff out in the wind ... you should know that I have hardly performed on the streets for the past twenty years ... my act moved more toward the Bubble Magic and then it became impossible to do outdoors.


I started street performing in NYC in 1973 with a show called Tom Noddy and the Travelin' Puppets ... Political, social, and spiritual satire with puppets.

In 1975 I moved out to San Francisco where the scene at the Wharf and the college campuses were still hot but the wind kept me from doing much with the part of my act that was getting strongest, Bubble Magic.

I organized indoor venues and emceed variety shows that I eventually called New Vaudeville. I came to discover that others were doing the same up North. I went to Seattle and Oregon to see about combining efforts to build a New Vaudeville circuit. The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Avner the Eccentric, Jan Luby, Moz Wright, Artis the Spoonman, and others combined our talents for years. We never made money as a group but we did many benefits and had spectacular shows.

Tim Furst (Fyodor Karamazov), Howard Patterson (Ivan Karamazov), Paul Magid (Dimitri Karamazov) ... and (now a departed member of the group) Sam are pictured here in an old poster of theirs.
August 19, 2003


I'm not sure how much you remember about the Santa Cruz street performing scene from the spotty communications that I have put out in your direction over the years.

In 1979 the police chief suggested a ban and that helped me and Jan Luby to launch an organizing effort here. The end result of that was an organization, the Santa Cruz Street Performers' Guild; a bank account in that name, several successful shows to generate money and support for the performers, an open mic that ran for many years, and ... the voluntary guidelines which then received the endorsement of the Downtown Neighbors Association, several local newspapers, some local arts groups, the Downtown Association (business group), and the City Council. That not only defeated the ban proposal but it forestalled efforts by the "progressives" to put in place various permit proposals or forms of overregulation.

The truth is, I WISH our scene here was so successful that it required that level of regulation. As it is, the downtown sidewalks are wider than just a residential street but not wide enough to allow the gathering of the large crowds that would attract the really successful acts.

We have lots of solo guitar players ... some are excellent. We also have other interesting performers who stay here for extnded periods and the intermittent appearance of some spectacular passing artists. I have fought for the rights of the former and that has allowed the existence of a venue for the others when they appear. My premise is that our protecton comes from the First Amendment and that only shields the good stuff if it also shields the bad stuff. Anyway, neither you nor I nor any merchant or government body is equipped to know where the next interesting thing is going to come from ... good acts come from bad acts.

Well ... back in 1980 we did, I think, the best thing that we could do for this town consdering the circumstances. We made a deal ... the deal was that we would devise this list of voluntary guidelines that spelled out to current and future performers just what the rights of the other performers and the neighbors (people in the shops, people in the hotels and offices, passersby) were. We gained consencus from 35 performers on the guidelines and we called on future performers to respect that. We printed the guidelines and then provided the police, the merchants, and anyone who wanted it with a copy. In effect we gave them the pwer of our peer pressure to wield. The deal was that we would do that and in exchange we asked that they not pass any street performer specific laws ... none.

It worked ... for many years. Rather than fight for all of our legal rights to be ensrined in the law books we had an agreement. We took the SC Street Performers' Guild out of existence. We were worried about two things ... that the Guild would become a focus group for the locals to bend things in a way that favored them and disfavored the itinerant performers (I've seen that happen) and we didn't want them to have a solid thing to grasp if they ever sought to fight against street performing again.

For 23 years the deal was the voluntary guidelines (though they broke the deal after 14 years when they passed some new downtown ordinances and declared that the performers could be regulated via a law that governed "display devices" for "noncommercial use" ... but when they then didn't enforce that law against the performers we acted as though the agreement was still in effect and we continued to distribute the voluntary guidelines.

Last year they went nutty again and in a fear driven campaign they passed amendments to the downtown ordinances and called for "rigorous enforcement" of all such laws. Performers were hassled, they organized, they fought a political campaign but in the end the Council passed some real restrictions. [I was overseas most of the time and participated via email only].

This spring/summer I waited for a good issue to use to pry open the matter again. When the police applied an anti-hackysack law to a downtown juggler I was delighted. This was an issue that I would win and it was one that would put their effort to mess with performers into a light that the mass of the community would see as un-Santa Cruz.

I conducted a campaign, got some press, and then ... got busted for juggling. Thirteen hours in jail for juggling three lemons. When I got out I wrote it all up and sent it out to the Council, the press, andto several jugglers. The Flying Karamazov Brothers (they started on the sidewalk in Santa Cruz and are well loved here) announced that they would come back to town to juggle with me downtown and said that they would bring hundreds or thousands of jugglers with them.

The city set aside lesser matters (budget crisis, school closures, political upeaval in the state, war-footing for the country) and passed an "emergency resolution" that re-legalized juggling downtown Santa Cruz.

On September 5 & 6 we are going to produce two shows "In Celebration of Santa Cruz Street Performing". The Friday show will feature the Karamazovs and many local current perrformers. The Saturday show will feature Bob Brozman and Frank Olivier (both very successful performers who began as on the streets. I will emcee both shows and put the matter-at-hand on the table ...

Stephen, I appreciate your years of work and enjoy reading your words and those said about you. Maybe we'll sit down and chat some time.

Tom Noddy

August 20, 2003


Permission granted ... readily.

Let me be clear though. The city administration allowed their anti-juggling ordinance to stand when they realized that it was that ... but ... they did not intend to pass an anti-juggling law, they were just in such a hurry to get laws on the books that they foolishly allowed it to go through without a careful effort to check into the consequences.

Then, when they didn't move to undo it when the police enforced it against a juggler, I went out on the sidewalk with the intent of being arrested. They tried to ignore me but I wanted the test case and I wanted it soon and I wanted it to be me. I sought out the officer and when requested to sign the citation I refused, the judge encouraged me to sign it to avoid jail and I refused. I wanted a ruling from the judge indicating that they did not have probable cause to enforce that ordinance against jugglers. The judge did not allow that argument.

That part is a bit complicated. When the City Council was about to vote on the second reading of the law I asked the then mayor to ask the City Attorney aloud in at the meeting on the record whether that law would outlaw juggling. I knew that it would have to, there was no other way to read the law they were about to pass. I also thought that they would balk at going that far ... they somehow thought that they could restrict the enforcement of the law to activity that clearly posed a danger to unwary passersby. Maybe they could ... but not with that law.

My real goal was to slow down the train that they were rushing through on. If they understood that they were on the verge of outlawing juggling then I think that I would have had the four votes that I needed to stop this train (I'm certain that I had three votes ... if only the City Attorney would answer that "Yes, the law as proposed would outlaw juggling". The mayor asked the City Attorney "Would these ordinances outlaw juggling on Pacific Avenue?" and the City Attorney answered "No."


It was absurd but it was also the end of the discussion of that law ... it was passed as is and I missed my chance to slow the damn train down. But, at least I would have the consolation prize ... they could not now apply this anti-hackysack law against jugglers, the legislative intent was firmly established. If they had intended to outlaw juggling they would have had to amend the law ... at least that was so according to their legal advisor.

When they then ... one year later ... stopped a juggler and threatened him with a ticket under that exact ordinance I knew that I had a case that I would win. But instead of rushing to court with it I gave them a chance to straighten out their mistaken police. They declined. The City Attorney denied knowing what I was talking about. He reread the law as passed and it seemed to him that it clearly outlawed juggling. Two City Council members were less sure and they did seem to remember something like what I was saying ... but they dawdled.

I went to the library and listened to hours of audio tape from the meeting and found the part where the mayor asked and the City Attorney answered. It was unambiguous.

Mayor: "Would these ordinances outlaw juggling on Pacific Avenue?"

City Attorney: "No."

This was followed by a poetic 18 seconds of silence (I suppose that it was paper-shuffling time ... but on the tape it is time for the message to sink in).

I copied the tape and played it for one Councilmember and the new mayor (who was a councilmember at that time a year before). I made a transcript of it and sent it to all of the City Councilmembers.

The mayor assured me that this would change everything. This was Friday, she said that it would take till Monday for the word to reach the police on the beat. I waited till Monday, I waited till Tuesday, I waited till Wednesday ... then I checked with the downtown police. They told me that they had just received new word from the City Attorney ... juggling was definitely illegal.

It was then that I took my juggling stuff out to the street.

Stephen, you should know ... I am not a juggler. I can keep a few things aloft for a while but I can't really entertain anybody while doing it. At some point I took three copies of the law that I had printed and I juggled those, that was probably the most entertaining part. That plus the cassette player playing the loop of the City Attorney/Mayor dialogue at the meeting where they passed the law.

This was the tape that I hoped to play for the judge once they issued me a ticket. That judge could have ruled on the lack of probable cause then and there (unlikely) but if not, what I needed was not a stinking ticket that they would let go once it got to court ... I needed attention paid to the point, hence the need for the trip to jail. The jailing is supposed to be a book-and-release situation but they let me sit there for a good thirteen hours just because they could. Still, that was just what I needed, an outrage. It set off the Karamazovs and their threat was the real catalyst for quick change on the part of the City Council.

I am now acting as though their decision to "clarify" that law is the beginning of a new approach to street performers by this council who were all in a fever last year but are now our friends.

I am meeting with them and have hope to believe that they will now consider withdrawing the 10' restriction. This would have all "display devices" (open guitar cases, information tables, upturned hats, etc.) and the people identified with them (performers) set back a minimum of 10' from every building, cross walk, vending cart, drinking fountain, bench, kiosk. Mostly this means curbside-only performing ... which is stupid. It had been proposed at least a dozen times over the past 23 years and each time I was able to get the merchants to reconsider the idea by explaining that it means that the good acts would gather crowds that would block their display windows and the bad acts would sing into their open doors. This time they passed the stupid thing too quick to consider anything. But for that reason, I think that I can get four votes to repeal this.

That would only leave the one-hour restriction. There are some performers who hate that idea (marimba bands take so long to set up that it is not worth it to do it for a one hour performance) but it is not only a provision that they could get a court to go along with but ... it is also a provision that the performers had agreed to in our own voluntary guidelines. I think that if they cool off and only enforce it when there is a dispute it is something that we can live with ... and if they get good again then maybe we could trust their permit process to allow longer performances for some special situations ... we'll see. For now I don't trust them enough for me to agree to any damn permits. But I could be wooed.

Stephen, feel free to publish or share any of my writing to you.

I will try to get you some of the other stuff that you asked about but I am afraid that the daily newspaper ignored my juggle bust ... the weekly spoke about it in the aftermath ... I'll send something.

Tom Noddy


August 20, 2003


I just reread a letter that I sent to another out of town street performer a little while back. It may be a better synopsis of the story than the jumble that I have communicated to you in pieces ... up to you

You might also be interested in seeing the letter that I sent out to several performers and supporters who worked against the City Council's restrictions last winter. I wanted to be able to act to produce a show and use street performer money for the purpose ... the letter explains the context. We are now in the midst of producing that show and I am hoping that the group that is coming together for that purpose will go forward in some form to being the nucleus of a street performer organization for a while. I dont think that an organization is a necessity or even desirable all the time ... but there are times when nothing else will do.


Dear ,,,

I know that you came to Santa Cruz a while back and you and I communicated about the way that the city addresses street performing. As you may remember, I haven't performed on the streets for a long time myself (a bit of wind and I can't perform Bubble Magic ... and this coastal town is always windy). But you may also remember that I had helped to organize street performers and to help the city in an effort to maximize the possibilities and minimize the interference with that art form.

For 23 years we had a wonderful agreement to avoid performer-specific laws and deal with problems through a method of voluntary guidelines and mutual respect. Unfortunately, last year in a post 9/11 frenzy fed by fear of a depressed economy and more than a bit of scapegoating some merchants demanded laws to make non-shoppers downtown feel uncomfortable. Our City Council obliged and made restrictions on panhandlers, young people playing hackysack, and ... street performers.

It wasn't a ban, just harassment laws ... 10' from this and 10' from that and time limits. But the police got the idea that the merchants and the City Council intended that they make performers uncomfortable and they went out of their way to use whatever restriction they could find in the law books. When the police applied the new anti-hackysack law to stop a downtown juggler I hollered about it. I latched on to this anti-juggling law to show the public how absurd things had gotten. I was sure that common sense would return to the politicians and they would fix this problem (and maybe the others while they were at it). Instead they kept the anti-juggling law around long enough for me to go down there with juggling objects, receive my citation, decline the invitation to sign it, and go to jail for juggling.

I juggled three lemons and spent thirteen hours in jail for it. When I wrote to the City Council to relate that experience (and included copies of the letter to the press and to several jugglers I know) the Flying Karamazov Brothers responded and told the Council that they would return to this, their former hometown, to join me in illegal juggling. They also indicated that they would call on jugglers at the IJA to join them.

The Council passed an "emergency resolution" to "clarify" the law. It is now legal again to juggle downtown in Santa Cruz. Yesterday I went down there to do Bubble Magic (my real act) in celebration of this return to sanity. Now the conversation has reopened regarding the other new restrictions ... and the beat goes on.

Tom Noddy


Subj: Street Performers account 

Date: 8/1/2003 4:55:13 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: TNoddy

BCC: cdouglas@cruzio.com, Angela M, kido@baymoon.com, TFurst, scpc@onebox.com, cruzduo@pacbell.net, mstrue1@earthlink.net, sacredgrove@onebox.com, justinm@cruzio.com, shelly@cruzio.com


I am writing to several of the people who were part of the street performer email discussions last winter. There is no organization that can speak for the street performers in town right now and so I am using you as the first proxy group for me to spell out the details of the financial transactions as this begins. Feel free to share the information.

The History

In 1979 when the street performers organized for the purpose of addressing the Police Chief's suggestion that street performing be banned downtown we formed the Santa Cruz Street Performers' Guild. When we formed we agreed that we did not want to have an ongoing organization because we thought that itinerant performers could not be fairly represented by a permanent local organization. We agreed instead to stay together long enough to bring into being the voluntary guidelines that would express our sense of fellowship and our agreement to call on future performers to abide by reasonable guidelines and to resolve disputes through a process that called for mutual respect. We then agreed that we should go out of existence and reform with future performers whenever that became necessary. It did become necessary a couple of times as we amended the guidelines to address changing circumstances and as we set up and then closed down a weekly open mic program.

In addition to the open mic we produced several benefit shows. We opened an account at the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union to hold the funds generated and to make them available to future performers in case of interest or emergency.

That account had several signers through the years: Steve Bennett, Chuck Borsos, Carolyn Saso, and Tom (Noddy) McAllister. Now the only one of those people still tuned into the subject is Tom Noddy. Tom has also been the one to receive monthly statements from the Credit Union about the account.

But for many years the statements were all the same. The account is a "Rose" savings account. This means that it receives no interest (it was done this way to keep from having to file tax statements for the puny amounts of interest that would be added). The total sum over those years had been in the range of $340 (some from money left over from a benefit that Tom organized years ago and some from donations that Tom made to it years ago). Last year Tom made a simultaneous donation and withdrawal into and out of the account of $50. This worked to keep the account active (if it is inactive long enough the Credit Union needs to close the account and send the money to the government). Recently, in response to press reports of Tom's arrest for juggling downtown Shelly D'Amour made a donation of $25. Those were the only bits of activity for the past 15 years.

This brought the total to $362.49. Today Tom authorized the opening of a checking account in anticipation of the need to spend money to produce two shows on September 5 & 6, 2003 at the Louden Nelson Center. There was a charge of $10 for checks. Now the savings account holds $262.49, one hundred dollars was put into checking but the check fee of $10 was deducted so now there is $90 in checking and $262.49 in savings.

I am spelling this all out to you all because, as you may have read in the Sentinel story of July 26, 2003 (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/July/26/local/stories/02local.htm), Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz is prepared to contribute $3,363 to the account (Neal tells me that the money will arrive in the account by August 15, 2003). That is money that comes from the proceeds of sales of "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" T-shirts and bumper stickers.

I am spending my own money right now to set up the shows with the expectation of being reimbursed from account funds so that the performers' account is the real financial producer of the shows. I and others are volunteering our time and work to produce the show and we will receive no financial compensation for that work. We will, however, hire lights/sound and other tech help and we will spend money on publicity.

We have a volunteer to design and make camera-ready the posters and tickets and another volunteer is working on the possibility of getting some or all of the poster printing donated as well. Tandy Beal dance company has agreed to shelter us with their nonprofit status. This will cut a lot of money out of the costs of the room rental and other costs as well.

I am acting as though I have full authorization to spend and produce this show. My actual "authorization" was given by a group that no longer exists The Street Performers Guild. No one has been authorized since but that doesn't mean that no one will ...

My expectation is that the show will more or less pay for itself and allow us to be generous with comp tickets to all of the performers in the show while paying for professional quality tech. Naturally, any money that comes in will go first to paying off the expenses and then any additional money will go into the account.

If the activity involved in bringing a show together results in the performers offering ideas about additional uses for the money we can take up that matter with those who show themselves to be interested.

Circumstances have left me as the only one who is a signer on to the street performers' account at a time that it is coming into money. My own advice to the performers would be to be in no hurry to spend the money ... but I do not intend that I remain the only one signing nor deciding about using the money. If a group of actual street performers comes together and they wish to launch a project to benefit the scene here in Santa Cruz (legal fees, shows, open mic ... ) I will happily make way for that to happen.

I will give a full accounting of the money in and money out at the end of this weekend of shows (or even while the show organizing is in-process if anyone wants to know). Meanwhile, I will answer any questions and be as open as I know how in dealing with the money in the account now and in the future. Feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions.

Tom Noddy


831 423 1021

PS I believe that there will be room in the shows for any street performer who shows an interest. If you know of anyone in th.at catagory please give them my contact info.

Santa Cruz Municipal Code

Letter sequence from Tom Noddy to the City Council and others to follow a separate letter ... Stephen, you should know that copies of all of these letters went to many people ... the press, friends who follow these kinds of matters, other jugglers that I know, ... but I have edited out those addresses rather than seek their permision to pass them on. Feel free yourself to edit any of this material to tell the story within whatever limits of space that you have ... I know that I can trust you to aim at truth and understanding.

For Tom Scribner statue picture:


For the Santa Cruz Street Performers' Guidelines that were part of the city policy instead of laws from 1980 to 2002 (when I ripped a copy at a City Council meeting in response to their decision to regulate performing by "unambiguous laws" instead):

I will send a copy by another letter

For the Santa Cruz Municipal Code:

http://nt2.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=103763&infobase=procode-1&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg but, you won't find street performing mentioned as a listing. There is one mention under Solicitation that specifically says that street performers are NOT solicitors for the purpose of that code section. The juggling thing came in under 9.50.020. Here you will see it as now amended ... they added section (e) and had to move a few words around for that to make sense. Here it is as it passed in July 2002 (note the bubble blower exemption, how insulting is that? like the work that I have done for over 20 years was so that I could do my act ... sheesh):



No person, after having been notified by a law enforcement officer that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, shall:


(d)        In the C-C Community Commercial, C-N Neighborhood Commercial, C-B Commercial Beach, CBD Central Business District, and R-T Tourist Residential zone districts, intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill, any solid object (including but not limited to footballs, hackysacks, baseballs, beachballs, Frisbees, or other similar devices) or liquid substance (with the exception of bubble street performers who otherwise comply with all applicable statutes and ordinances) or otherwise cause any objsct or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled or to become airborne.

as amended:


No person, after having been notified by a law enforcement officer that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, shall:

(d)In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill any solid object (including but not limited to footballs, hackysacks, baseballs, beach balls, Frisbees, or other similar devices) or liquid substance or otherwise cause any object or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled or to become airborne.

(e)Notwithstanding subsection (d), individual bubble street performers and individual jugglers who otherwise comply with all applicable statutes and ordinances are authorized to blow bubbles and juggle in the C-C, C-N, C-B, CBD and R-T zoning districts. When in the judgment of the director of parks and recreation or the police chief, or their respective designees, said bubble-blowing or juggling activity will materially interfere with pedestrian use of the sidewalk or attract crowds which will create such interference, the city may require a bubble street performer or juggler to obtain a non-commercial event permit from the city as a condition to continuing or undertaking a bubble or juggling performance. This subsection shall not be construed to authorize hackysack activity in the referenced zone districts.


But Stephen, this juggling thing was really a useful distraction ... useful in that I knew the moment that I saw them hassle the juggler that this was an issue that the community would understand and that I would win this one ... the real problem for the day to day performers here is the change in 5.43.020.

It is used to keep performers 10' from every damn thing ... but most importantly, from the buildings. This means curbside-only performaces. They wouldn't hear me wen I tried to talk to them last year about this because everyone was hollering (the homeless activists were really mad about much more severe restrictions for panhandlers and all of this was being discussed within that context ... the Council chambers were filled with irate people). They assumed that I was trying to tell them that street performers were First Amedment protected and they kept responding that they may make reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. The new Councilmembers were leading this thing and they think that we are all still in kindergarten on this issue because they are.

What I was really trying to say to them was ... whether or not they can get court approval for 10' restrictions (I believe that they can) they shouldn't ... for their own sake. That is ... for the sake of the merchants whom they are trying to represent. Curbside-only means good acts at the curb with their crowds gathered in front of the show windows and bad acts at the curb singing into the open doors of the businesses ... dummys.

So ... I think that I can win this now that the hollering has stopped. And if that happens then the only changes will be that the one hour limit that we had in our guidelines will now be on their lawbooks instead.

The other change is that there will no longer be a body of voluntary guidelines to use to help merchants and performers to resolve disputes through "mutual respect". They will have cops and "Hosts" (untrained quasi-cops) instead.

Then I will take the gigs in Germany that I get so may of and leave town in October and come home nine months later (!)

Tom Noddy

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)

Santa Cruz Street Prformance Voluntary Guidelines


Letters from Tom Noddy to the Santa Cruz City Council and Karamazovs and others and then Karamazov responses and Tom's responses

Subj: Street Performing ordinances 

Date: 6/7/2003 9:32:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us

CC: TFurst, MAGID, hjpatterson@earthlink.net


June 7, 2003

City Council:

While walking down Pacific Avenue today I stopped to see a young clown, Coire Langham (readycoire@hotmail.com), set up to perform on the wide sidewalk across the street from Cinema 9. He wore bright multicolored pants and a big red nose. Juggling clubs, juggling balls, and his unicycle were laid out. He had a music stand ready to be balanced on his chin and a bright purple rope laid out on the ground to simulate a tightrope act through pantomime. There were musicians accompanying him and he soon gathered a crowd ... mostly parents and kids (at one point I counted 19 children).

Somehow the beautiful day, the smiles on the faces of the audience and the innocence of the scene made me think that the police might come along any time now to stop this.

Ten minutes into his performance a Downtown Host (Avery) stood at the back of the crowd and watched for a bit and then left. Ten minutes after that (I really did note the times, I really did think that something might happen to interfere with this joyful scene) police officer Pam Bachtel interrupted the performance to speak to the clown. I stood close enough to overhear all of the conversation.

Officer Bachtel explained that it is against the law to juggle on Pacific Avenue, it is against the law to balance the music stand on the chin of a clown, it is against the law to ride a unicycle on the sidewalk, it is against the law to do tricks on a unicycle on the street. The clown asked the police officer if she had a complaint and she said that she did (the complainant was the Downtown Host, Avery). She didn't cite the clown for his violations of Santa Cruz law but she did warn him that he would be cited if he was spotted juggling or riding his unicycle or balancing his music stand on his chin again. She did indicate that she believed that it was not against the law to pantomime tightrope walking on a silk rope laid on the ground.

When the officer left I introduced myself to the clown and asked his name. He indicated to me that he would now have to leave Santa Cruz since it is against the law for him to perform here.

I should add that the officer was not unkind or impolite in any way. And she did correctly refer to the text of the following City Ordinance:



No person, after having been notified by a law enforcement officer that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, shall:

(d)        In the C-C Community Commercial, C-N Neighborhood Commercial, C-B Commercial Beach, CBD Central Business District, and R-T Tourist Residential zone districts, intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill, any solid object (including but not limited to footballs, hackysacks, baseballs, beachballs, Frisbees, or other similar devices) or liquid substance (with the exception of bubble street performers who otherwise comply with all applicable statutes and ordinances) or otherwise cause any objsct or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled or to become airborne.

[emphasis, my own]


Coire Langham is not the only performer who has been adversely affected by the application of the new laws that are intended to regulate or prohibit street performers from practicing their art on the downtown sidewalks. When the new laws were being considered, the Councilmembers assured one and all that the performer's concerns were misplaced. The Council rejected the community agreement between performers and merchants that had been in place for 23 years downtown and replaced it with "more easily understood" firm, unambiguous laws.

Performers are being moved out of alcoves of unoccupied shops without complaints by the owners (either in person, by posted notice or letter on file with the police). Some performers are being told that they must stand 14 feet away from buildings or various structures. Other performers are being left alone in those same places. Others are told that it is 10 feet, not 14 feet. Some are told that it is legal unless a merchant complains. Some are being told that any complaint by anyone, including the Downtown Hosts whose complaints can serve when no one else has a problem is sufficient to bring police action and citations. They are being told that the name of the complainant need not be told to them or anyone.

City Council members, this is what some performers believed that you intended at the time that you passed the new laws that are now being enforced. Now the police officers are agreeing that it is your intent. Is it?

Tom Noddy



(831) 423 1021

PS. I am sending blind copies to several other interested parties.


Subj: Flip Flop 

Date: 6/26/2003 12:14:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us <mailto:citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us> CC: TFurst, MAGID, hjpatterson@earthlink.net,

City Council,

This is foolish.

In July, 2002 you were rushing to pass laws before you considered the consequences. You were even on the verge of outlawing juggling and didn't know it.

When I pointed that out you responded that I was overreacting ... that I was being absurd, that I was claiming that the police and Council were anti-performer and it simply wasn't true.

I asked the Mayor to ask the City Attorney if the anti-hackysack law would outlaw juggling. If he admitted that it could be read that way I might have been able to persuade four Councilmembers to wait and not rush these laws through. He denied it and my chance to stop you failed.

It was certainly bad law but ... it was a clever political maneuver at the moment. No delay, no rethinking, pass all of those laws fast, no time to talk or think, done.

The only consolation prize we got was an assurance that no matter what the silly law said ... juggling would not be illegal

But then the police changed that. They read the law to mean that the clown could not juggle and the City Attorney has reportedly responded by agreeing with the police rather than with himself.

... sigh ...

You know that it isn't right ... I do sometimes wonder just how much you know about all of the extralegal activity that is being used to push this downtown cultural battle.

Tom Noddy

I'll go down to Pacific Avenue on Thursday to juggle.


Subj: Jailed for Juggling 

Date: 6/27/2003 7:11:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.usCC: TFurst, MAGID, hjpatterson@earthlink.net,

Yes, remarkable but true. The Assistant City Manager called to tell me that it was official, the City Attorney had indeed reversed his legal advice and now declared that the City Council had outlawed juggling on July 24, 2002 in Santa Cruz.

I believe that the intent of the legislators might still matter to a court. To allow a relatively quick ruling by a court on that question I announced the the press that I would be going to juggle on Pacific Avenue at 2:00pm yesterday, June 26, 2003. I brought bubbles, puppets, juggling balls, juggling pins, lemons, and fliers explaining to passersby and to the press just why it was that a less-than-professional juggler like myself was offering my meager skills to the public on the downtown sidewalk.

The cameras were rolling, the print media was represented ... but the police avoided the area (in front of the Dowtown Hosts/police sub-station on Pacific Avenue). Two hours later, when all of the press was gone I juggled in front of a police officer and she checked with her supervisor, he checked with the City Attorney's office and the wrote me a citation.

I decline to sign the citation and I was brought before a magistrate who disallowed any discussion of why ... he ordered me to sign or be booked. I was booked into the County jail facility between 4:30 & 5:00pm June 26. A bit more than thirteen hours later, at six o'clock this morning I was released. I have a court date of July 17.

Juggling is illegal in Santa Cruz, California ... and it is punished.

I'll write more after I have had a chance to sleep. (and after I track down my car which was towed and impounded)


Tom Noddy

Subj: Re: Jailed for Juggling 

Date: 6/27/2003 10:30:15 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: MAGID@aol.com

To: TNoddy@aol.com

CC: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us, hjpatterson@earthlink.net, TFurst@aol.com



You are my hero.  As soon as I can I'm coming to Santa Cruz and do a street show.  

Paul aka Dmitri Karamazov.


Subj: Re: Jailed for Juggling 

Date: 6/27/2003 10:42:06 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: hjpatterson@earthlink.net

To: MAGID@aol.com

CC: TNoddy@aol.com, citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us, TFurst@aol.com,

Sent from the Internet (Details)


Me, too!  Lets bring thousands of jugglers to Santa Cruz!  Like Gandhi

to the sea to make salt!     We'll

overwhelm the system.  Hooray, Tom Noddy-ji! 


howard aka Ivan Karamazov 


Subj: Re: Jailed for Juggling 

Date: 6/27/2003 03:12 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TFurst@aol.com

To: TNoddy@aol.com

CC: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us, hjpatterson@earthlink.net, MAGID@aol.com

Indeed, sounds like it is time for the Flying Karamazov Brothers to go back (and take back) the streets/sidewalks of Santa Cruz. I'm in. I'll also be at the International Jugglers Association Convention in a few weeks, and will pass the word . . .

Tim Furst (aka Fyodor Karamazov)


Subj: Re: Jailed for Juggling 

Date: 6/28/2003 9:43:56 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: MAGID@aol.com

To: TNoddy@aol.com

CC: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us, hjpatterson@earthlink.net, TFurst@aol.com

I know this is a long way off - but I think it's a plan.   The FKB will be in California around Sept. 6th anyway.  Maybe Friday Sept. 5th is J-Day on the mall at Santa Cruz.  The FKB will be there and let's invite every juggler from the planet who wants to come.  And you know what - they will.

It'll be fun and who knows maybe we'll make enough money to have a solid meal at India Joze before heading off to jail at the S.C. convention center (which, natch, will have to be made available for several thousand jailed juggling volunteers).

Or maybe they'll just change the law by Sept. 5th.

Either way -


Paul aka Dmitri Karamazov

Subj: Karamazovs and Santa Cruz 

Date: 6/28/2003 1:08:05 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: MAGID, TFurst, hjpatterson@earthlink.net

CC: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us


Some things are just so natural that they are meant to happen.

Listen, I'm not a real juggler (though I play one on tv). The City Attorney says that the city of Santa Cruz and you jugglers have some business to address ... he says that the City Council has outlawed your art as it has been practiced for decades in this, your old hometown.

I'm glad that I could help to create enough of a focus on the topic that you all feel inspired to communicate with each other using your own arts as the medium of communication. The Council are experts at making laws, the City Attorney is an expert at understanding their meaning and you are juggling experts. If there are to be laws about juggling we are fortunate to have the experts engaged so closely on the topic and each doing their own part of the work.

September 5 works out well, I think. I knew that Karamazovs would be in California then and I was hoping to get you to commit to some kind of Karamazov presence in a planned Celebration of Street Performing show that I have scheduled for that evening. Juggling downtown to help plug the nighttime event is a natural.

If it's legal then it'll be a fun afternoon event to help the show. If it's illegal then it might mean that it becomes the main event and overshadows the gig that it's plugging ... but that may not be something that we can control.

Some of them thought that I was exaggerating the effect that this would have. They thought that I was making a big deal out of a little thing. Personally I thought that I was giving them a chance to correct their mistake before it got to be a big hot topic. I was/am relatively calm about it ... but then, I'm not a juggler and they specifically exempted my art in the same law. Let them outlaw musical spoons and see if they get as mellow a response as they have thus far.

You should know that the last time the Karamazovs were in Santa Cruz doing the benefit for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, City Attorney Barisone sat in a seat in the row in front of mine. There was at least one Councilmember in attendance as well ... I have seen others at other shows of yours and mine. Several of these folks like what we do ... but they have, I think, lost their way and allowed some downtown merchants to make large general legal principles out of small complaints.

Telling other jugglers at the IJA convention and elsewhere is simply unavoidable. Telling them that you intend to challenge the law when you come to town is also unavoidable (not telling them would be rude).

For my part, if you guys will take over the juggling then I expect that I will focus on my bubble blowing duties. I will also be producing the street performer show. I'll have several performers on in a show similar to the ones that we do together up in Oregon ... lots of acts doing very short spots and a focus for a Karamazov finale.

Oh boy ... this is going to be fun.

Tom Noddy

PS Paul, you might want to talk to Tim, the local Karamazov, about the recent effort by the City to improvise a permit system that would replace spontaneous street juggling. They are having closed meetings now to figure out how to do it, so far it sounds like them charging us for us to perform for free and some fairly odious restrictions. If they were our pals and we were looking for ways to help each other there might be room for permits to add something to the mix downtown but that isn't the case just now.


and then came the news story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel ... I was out of town for a gig when I heard that the city passed an "emergency resolution" to "clarify" the status of juggling downtown.

July 9, 2003

City Council OKs juggling downtown


Sentinel staff writerSANTA CRUZ &emdash; In a vote that might seem bizarre in any city except Santa Cruz, the City Council unanimously clarified that juggling is, in fact, legal downtown.

On Tuesday, council members said they needed to reaffirm that juggling is permissible downtown so long as jugglers abide by other city codes and are not blocking a sidewalk.

There was some confusion and anger &emdash; particularly among political activists &emdash; about the legality of juggling because the city, as part of a set of revised downtown ordinances last year, banned various "street sports" involving projectiles such as footbags, along with the throwing or spilling of various objects or liquids downtown.

The downtown rule revisions were passed in response to many complaints about panhandling, crowding, harassment and people feeling uncomfortable working or visiting downtown.

Among other things, those downtown rules included a total ban on after-dark begging, and expanded space restrictions that apply to panhandlers, political tablers and street performers seeking donations.

Activists said it appeared Santa Cruz had banned juggling, along with the other "sports."

However, Councilman Mike Rotkin said the intent behind the no street-sports rule was to stop Hackey Sack players on crowded sidewalks from knocking people over.

"It wasn't meant to include juggling," Rotkin said. "We never intended to outlaw juggling in downtown Santa Cruz."

An audience member at Tuesday's meeting asked if the law would differentiate between professional or amateur jugglers. Rotkin insisted it would not, but that the law would be clear enough so people who were warned or cited for Hackey Sack "couldn't say, 'I wasn't playing Hackey Sack, I was juggling the Hackey Sacks.' ''

Tom Noddy, who's performed his bubble act around the world, has argued that a fuzzy rule on juggling is an example of hassles and needless restrictions on street acts busking downtown.

Last week he staged a press conference complete with press packets, juggling pins and handmade puppets. Noddy later juggled some lemons in front of a cop, refused to stop juggling, was cited, and then refused to sign the citation, either in front of the cop or in front of a Superior Court magistrate. He was then arrested.

After his release from jail, Noddy insisted he never wanted to be arrested but wanted "street performers to perform without harassment" downtown. He has high-profile support from a famous former Santa Cruz street act, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, whose members have said they'd love to take part in a juggling-related protest or celebration in Santa Cruz.

Noddy was also protesting an incident in which a juggler with a unicycle reportedly was told by police that juggling was illegal downtown.

Activists scolded the council after the vote because they said it did not go far enough.

''You'll keep all the other laws you forced on us but we can juggle?" said Becky Johnson. "Gee, thanks."

Activist Sherry Conable welcomed the clarification, but said the rules remained inconsistent because "if someone loses control of a juggling pin, it's a much greater potential danger than (losing control) of a Hackey Sack."

Councilman Ed Porter, in response to a comment about bouncing balls and other activities banned downtown, said it was silly to insist on doing those things on streets full of pedestrians when Santa Cruz has many parks, beaches and other places for sports to take place.

"If people think they should have a volleyball game in front of a store, they should be warned that it is not a good idea," he said.

Subj: legal juggling 

Date: 7/18/2003 12:30:43 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: TNoddy

To: citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us

CC: TFurst, MAGID, hjpatterson@earthlink.net,

Dear Councilmembers:

I have heard that you passed an emergency resolution on July 9 to correct the City Attorney's misimpression regarding the legality of juggling on the downtown streets in Santa Cruz.

I do think that last year's rush to make laws while everyone was still feeling angry contributed to that and other errors but I'm glad to hear that my community will not allow the word to go out that we no longer welcome the art of spontaneous clowning here. This is not the time for a progressive community to turn its back on that ancient art ... it may be the time for us to more closely embrace it.

I had previously announced that I would be going back out onto Pacific Avenue on Saturday, July 19, to juggle. The City Attorney had indicated that he was dropping the charges against me for the June 26th juggling arrest and I had hoped to get a case before a judge if neither the City Attorney, City Manager's office, nor City Council was prepared to correct the mistake. Now that juggling is known to be legal I will go again to Pacific Avenue but this time in celebration.

I'll bring some juggling objects and again I'll have bubbles and see if I can use my art to bring some smiles to the downtown. I think that last year's announcement of downtown battle plans have contributed to the hard feelings that are still evident in Santa Cruz. I hope that we can begin again and this time avoid the temptation to add to the cultural divisions that split our community.

Tom Noddy

September 6, 2003


Thank you ... it looks great! Actually, the scheduled performances are/were September 5 & 6, 2003 ... meaning that we did one benefit last night and another tonight. Both events sold out and last nght's was spectacular. The first half of the show featured current street performers doing short turns and Tom Noddy acting as MC Tom and the indivdual performers introduced elements of the street performers' view point on various issues but mostly is was a celebration ... a show!

The second half featured the former Santa Cruz street artists - the Flying Karamazov Brothers. The artists were happy to share the comraderie and the audience shared that same atmosphere.

Tonight we will do it again, this time with Frank Olivier, Bob Brozman, and a new cast of current street performers. I honestly believe that we are reshaping the political landscape for these issues.

Thanks again for including our story here on your site Stephen.

Front page article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel

September 6, 2003

Unique acts highlight 'Only in Santa Cruz' busker show



Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ &emdash; Musicians thumped marimbas. Jugglers flipped a cleaver, a prop fish and other odds and ends through the air while yelling "Wee," "Ooh," and "Wow."

Friday's sold-out "Only In Santa Cruz" show was exactly that &emdash; a reminder that this city is strikingly different from anywhere else on earth.

It was a variety show, but not of the "Lawrence Welk Show" era. There was an accordion, but the man who played it, Frank "The Great Morgani" Lima, was dressed in a spiky, glowing, full-body costume.

Two marimba bands, Sadza and Kuzanga, opened the show with their big, bright sounds. Both ensembles are familiar to downtown residents and visitors, who hear them playing for free on Pacific Avenue.

The show, organized and emceed by bubble artist Tom Noddy, was intended to draw attention to local street musicians, while celebrating former local buskers who went on to fame: among them, Friday's headliners, the Flying Karamazov Brothers. The night also featured choreographer and performer Tandy Beal.

Noddy said the show is a celebration, and also intended to raise awareness of buskers who are concerned about 10-foot space setbacks placed on them as part of a revised set of downtown ordinances. Several acts made pointed references to the rules.

Tonight, the 8 p.m. show at the Louden Nelson Center will feature Bob Brozman, Frank Olivier and Noddy, whose bubble sculptures include a smoky white cube suspended in a cluster of soapy spheres and a "galaxy" bubble containing several smaller bubbles rolling around inside it.

Noddy told the packed house that "we don't have to do too much to keep this town weird."

People who walked in to look at the Karamazov Brothers' practice session, several hours before the Friday show, were in for a startling sight: Randy "Alyosha" Nelson, Paul "Dimitri" Magid, Tim "Fyodor" Furst and Mark "Alexei" Ettinger standing on the stage, tossing and flipping a real cleaver, a pan and an unreasonable number of juggling pins.

The juggling troupe went over their act carefully, reviewing an inventory of all the objects they'd be flinging through the air, including a bottle of Andre champagne, a raw egg and a bunch of sickles.

The big names shared the spotlight with locally known acts like Deuces Wild, Y Swami Y, dobro picker Cal Harris, C.J. Stock and many others.

Many acts, which play on sidewalks and in some cases, on the edges of parking garages, looked pleased to have a crowd of about 220 watching them.

Noddy said assembling a roster of street performers for this show was no mean feat. Sometimes getting in contact wasn't easy. "My contact would tell me, I'm usually at the coffee shop in the morning and in my usual spot downtown," Noddy said.

Bookshop Santa Cruz kicked in $3,200 to fund the show, donating a portion of the sales of its "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" shirts and stickers to a local busker's guild.


Street Arts and Buskers Advocates

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