Sunday, July 01, 2007

Perform in the Subway Station? Get Ignored.
Perform in the Street? Get Busted.

A few months ago, I discussed the story of how the great classical violinist Joshua Bell started playing anonymously in a D.C. subway station during morning rush hour; he was largely ignored.

Now, here's the other side of that coin: Police in Philadelphia, responding to complaints about street musicians in one of its neighborhoods, arrested a classical flautist and a singer on consecutive days a few months ago for performing in the street; both were charged with "disorderly conduct." Now the flautist is suing the city.

Being a street musician would be a tough gig anyway, but being subject to arrest simply for playing is something that people would never expect when entering into that line of work. I hope a compromise can be worked out between all the parties involved--maybe limiting the performances to certain hours or something of that nature. And if the neighbors want complete and utter silence at all times, that's probably not realistic. I mean, this was classical flute, for crying out loud. What will they do next--bust the ice cream truck? (Now watch, someone will send me a link that says it's already happened.)

This will be an interesting story to follow; on the one hand, we have freedom of expression. Do we have freedom of silence, if the performances are taking place on public streets? Music is part of the rich tapestry of life (and yes, I'd say that even if it weren't my profession), but I know that not everyone shares that opinion. Is there a right or wrong here, and will the legal system come up with an answer that satisfies most people?

And now the instruments themselves are under suspicion: A Salt Lake City police robot blew up a trumpet that had been left outside a fast-food restaurant; authorities considered it a "suspicious package."

Getting all their ducks in a row: Fifteen years after they fell off a cargo ship, part of a flock of nearly 30,000 rubber ducks is arriving on British shores. They were lost in the Pacific Ocean, and scientists have been tracking them to learn more about ocean currents.

Thank you, come again: In preparation for the upcoming Simpsons movie later this month, nearly a dozen 7-Eleven stores are temporarliy turning into Kwik-E-Marts, and one of them is here in the Dallas area. One of the Slurpee flavors is even being rebranded as a "WooHoo! Blue Vanilla" Squishee for the month (but sorry, no Duff beer; the movie is PG-13, after all.). And the store in Vegas adds an extra touch of authenticity, as it's run by an Indian guy (who's perfectly OK with the joke).

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