It's interesting what people get into an uproar about. There are few jobs, companies going bankrupt and homes going into foreclosure. The citizens of my hometown of Chicago however are apparently not upset enough at this. Rather than tackle the state of the economy, they decided that "noise pollution" is an issue that the city's politicians must deal with.
Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd District of our fair city has decided to initiate a "Jack Webb" kind of enforcement that would make it easier for The Windy City to sweep away those pesky street performers. The tactic? A proposed ordinance that would if have two, instead of three, violations on your record and take away your license to perform. If you are louder than the opening minutes of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song", then you lose your license after the first strike.
The Bucket Boys, a group of young kids who bang on buckets to make music, are one set of street performers who will victims of this new ordinance should it pass. Some have commented that these kids, who really don't do any harm, should be in school rather than out on the street performing music. Given the violence in Chicago's Public School System these days, that would be like throwing them from the frying pan directly into the fire.
I don't know the story of most people who perform on the streets. I do know that whatever these street performers are doing, at least it doesn't involve robbing someone of their hard-earned money. R. Kelly certainly laid the groundwork for future stardom during his days of being a street performer. Imagine if this ordinance was really enforced back in his early days? We the people of the Chi would miss out on the "brilliance" that is the "Trapped In The Closet" saga.
I recognize that people would like to be able to work, have conversations and take in all of the sights of of Chicago. I do think it is worth pointing out that this is however a city, not a suburb. A city is made up of a massive group of people who all brings their different lives and personalities. Street performers are a characteristic of a city, especially one such as Chicago.
In another context, street performers are characteristic of the variety of Chicago's population. They are are a diverse mixture of different cultural backgrounds and musical styles.
I can certainly see Alderman Reilly's point about bringing down the noise level in his district, which consists of the Loop and the Near North side. I just find it disturbing that the people who live in Chicago who choose to work and play in a busy area of the city would actually be bothered by the noise of a certain group of people. Some of these individuals who take issue with street performers should really be taking more issue with the annoying habit of people carrying on stupid conversations on their cell phones in public, and loudly.
If you are bothered by noise, a city isn't for you. Let people, short of beating you over the head and harming you, live how they wanna live.