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le pire 05-16-04 01:41 AM

I just wanted to do a little "shout out" about the great complicity between the performers on the Harvard Square pitch here in Cambridge. Big thanks goes to Lucky for getting everyone together before the season began so we could all agree on some simple rules and from there on out it has been smooth, fun and animosity free. From little things like we all use the same rope to designate a pitch, to lending mics or batterys when a system goes dead. There's a great feeling of comradery and friendship that has been missing on too many other pitches around the world. Thanks guys.


randomguy 05-16-04 08:49 AM

It sounds like Mark isn't working there anymore.

le pire 05-16-04 09:12 AM

He hasn't shown up yet... I heard he got a real job that pays better than busking.


pablo 05-16-04 12:37 PM

A REAL JOB?????!!!!!!!!!

The horror... the horror...

Mark Wessels 05-16-04 10:06 PM

sad to hear Mark's not around. Any rules i should know before I start heading to the pitch?


Mr.Taxi Trix 05-16-04 10:20 PM

crossed wire.
Easy on Marko there, lad. He's a street performer's street performer, writes original material, challenges his audiences on more levels than most shows, and shows respect when it is shown him.

le pire 05-16-04 10:47 PM

I've never met Mark, and you'll notice that "randomguy" has quite deliberately remained annonymous.

Rules-- all names go in a hat at 6:00. Draw for the following slots:


no more than 5 performers.

Don't go over the 45 minute limit or everyone will gang up on you.


randomguy 05-17-04 12:01 AM

Re: crossed wire.

Originally posted by Mr.Taxi Trix
Easy on Marko there, lad. He's a street performer's street performer, writes original material, challenges his audiences on more levels than most shows, and shows respect when it is shown him.

Allow me to explain. I don't dispute anything written above, and I was not slagging Mark. I was merely stating that if Mark was first on the pitch there would be no 'complicity' as Etienne puts it. Mark is very clear about the rules he plays by and he has every right to be (when he's first on the pitch.)

The 'rules' that people are talking about here are only good if the first man on the pitch agrees with them. Anyone can show up first on any given day and tell the rest of the acts to take a hike. The 'rules' of the city are 'first come, first served.' If performers want to play nice and share the spot with different rules, that's just great... until Mark shows up first and sets his own rules. And again, he has every right to do this and probably will.

Random Guy

le pire 05-17-04 09:23 PM

I wasn't slagging Mark off either, for the record, merely stating the facts that he has not been there and that everyone is getting along very well. Like I said, I've never met Mark. It has been enjoyable out on the pitch this early in the season, and I for one would like to see that continue.

As far as Mark goes, I've heard that he was the first person to turn Harvard Square into an actual pitch 15 years ago, so yes, thank you Mark.

I disagree with Randomguy that the first guy out on the pitch suddenly gets to change all the rules. Look, the reason we met in the first place was to have an amicable season and not see the pitch reduced to jungle law like it has been in the past (from what I've heard).

But Hell, if that's what you want, I'll just go out there at 5 am on Fridays and Saturdays, set up shop and say piss off to everyone else, including Mark, 'cause I got there first.

I find this senseless, however.

I would personally prefer to spend my time sleeping in, improving my show, and enjoy the company of talented people than playing pointless territorial games like a school yard bully who decides that he owns the sandbox.

I have great respect for those who came before me, but I have greater respect for people who choose to work well with others for the benefit of the art of street performing itself.


Mark Wessels 05-17-04 10:53 PM

Firstly, Mark had always been kind and generous to me. Sorry if others have had different experiences.
These rules all sound reasonable to me but I can understand how certain people would feel that they were exempt from them. This agreement is not a law, and it is by no means the only way to go about things. It was also only agreed upon by the people who happened to be at your meeting. I assume I am not the only one who plans to work HS this summer who was not invited. Granted, I am have been a sporatic player in the past.
I think it is great that you and some of your friends have come up with this agreement and I happen to like it. In fact, if I was the first on the pitch, I would go with this agreement myself.
The fact that a bunch of you got together before hand and agreed on it does not, however, make it any more valid or fair than another system. The first person on the pitch makes the rules. If they are obnoxious about it, the next person is likely to be obnoxious to them.
The agreement you have in place seems to work out and you can expect me to uphold it if I am the first on the spot. I hope that we can all keep communicating and have a good summer.

See you this weekend,
(i hope)


le pire 05-17-04 11:27 PM


Sorry you weren't told about the meeting, it was certainly not meant to be "invitation only" or exclusionary in any way (they told me about it, after all). No one was exempt or expressly left out, merely everyone that we knew who had expressed interest in working the pitch was told. Of those 12 people, only 5 have thus far showed up to work the pitch.

The rules are set up to give everyone a fair chance. Sometimes you get the good time slot, sometimes the crappy one. Sometimes you don't get to go on. No big deal. I have gotten lucky the last two times and had good time slots, but a week ago I showed up 10 minutes late and missed the draw. Hey, my bad, no problem. I expect I'll get the 6:15 slot many times before the season is over.

It will be great seeing you out on the pitch and I look forward to working with you this summer!


GlassHarper 05-18-04 12:33 PM

Harvard Square
I assume you guys are talking about the Brattle Square circle show pitch. For a number of years early in my new career I played Harvard Square in front of the Holyoke Center. It was a great learning experience and (by-in-large) the performers I met were friendly, respectful and helpful.

I stopped coming to Cambridge a couple of years ago because of the din of uncontrolled amplification on the square. Although (theoretically) the license fee was supposed to allow the Arts Council to provide monitors, they slowly became ineffective because of disrespect and bullying by a small minority of acts that felt they could take over thru intimidation. Indeed one of the monitors told me he had actually gotten a death threat from one of the more egregiously twisted performers.

Self control/regulation is the ONLY way street performance on crowded pitches can exist for the benefit of the community as well as of the community of performers. Any move toward that end is vitally important to the health of the pitch. Cranking up the volume and cranking up the rhetoric is self defeating.

Good luck, guys and girls. I’ll be playing the Yankee Homecoming in Newburyport this summer and Burlington. At some point I hope to contribute my pound of flesh to the Arts Council for the privilege of putting my unamplified glass harmonica up against the concert-style amplification of Harvard Square for a few days.

Hope, as they say, springs eternal…not to mention summers and falls!

charlatan_mudo 05-22-04 03:05 PM

Okay, so I am in a town and have been there for a while. Therefore I´ve found a pitch in this street where I like to do my act. Suddenly one morning upon arrival I find somebody else there already. Solution? Find a different spot for the day and get up earlier the next morning. Soon after I began performing I shaped the idea that who has a pitch first "owns" it for as long as (s)he wants... and see if you´re that lucky again tomorrow. In which case the history repeats itself, obviously.

jugglermatt1 05-31-04 07:12 AM

So according to your new rules , does a performer with a 15 minute show get 3 slots ? Probably not Id say .And so this comfy little mafia that youve created is all in your favour no ?So If I was to turn up first and say that all the shows have to be 15mins long , that would be ok ?

le pire 05-31-04 04:44 PM


It's an attitude like that which can ruin the positive atmosphere amongst performers that we have at Harvard Square.

If you have only 15 minutes of material, fine do three shows in that one slot, just don't go over 45 minutes. The rules that have been set up are there to allow as many people who want to work to work, certainly not for exclusionary purposes.

It's not in anybody's favor because we all draw for time slots. If you show up & want to be in the draw, you're in. I don't see how this favors anyone.

I would like to point out that if you only have 15 minutes of material, maybe you should consider rehearsing a bit more or work the smaller pitches to develop your act. Then when you feel you are ready, to come to the main pitch and join the party.

Yes, yes, we know that most pitches work on the "me first!" principle which is fine if you all want to hate each other. Most of the performers on this pitch live in this town so we see a lot of each other. We prefer to get along and work together instead of playing pointless territorial games which do nothing to improve the quality of shows. Playing nice is just as important to us as making a living on the streets.

If a group of performers working together for the betterment of everyone and the art of street performing itself is your definition of a mafia, then I think you need a new dictionary.

The system you describe-- me first, everything my way, rules change on a whim-- that's what I would call a dictatorship.

So if you would like to come on down to Harvard Square, and declare yourself monarch of the pitch, fine. I only ask that you make it July 14, Bastille Day, so I can be sure to have my guillotine on hand.


jugglermatt1 06-01-04 05:06 AM

Maybe staying in a city with at least 20 workeable pitches has made me self righteous . Over there in the USA ive heard theres less than 20 pitches in the whole country , whichnis a little sad no ?
And when was the last time you saw a child or anyone with a concentration longer than 5 mins ? If you pull a good crowd , then hammer anyne who leaves , Its easy to go on for 45mins , you can spent 20 of them talking about money , the other 20 introducing your "big finish " , then hat forcefully , and job done no ? But how many people in the audience actually had fun for all of those 45 mins of show ?
Longer shows mean less shows , which means you have to make good money on every show you do .
If a group of performers get together to allow things to run smoothly then Ok , but it goes against one of the golden rules of the street "first come first served " . And with so few street rules , we should all stick together and abide by them no ?

Mr.Taxi Trix 06-01-04 08:16 AM

Jugglermatt, you're whining, no? Shut up, yes?

jugglermatt1 06-02-04 05:08 AM

Who me ? Whining , and since when was whining banned on PNet ?Or do I have to be super positive and give out good warm feelings all the time ? If someone tells me to go to school and look up mafia in the dictionary then I have a right to say .... OOps , whining again , sorry all

harmonicakev 04-11-05 02:24 AM

"As far as Mark goes, I've heard that he was the first person to turn Harvard Square into an actual pitch 15 years ago... " Le Pire, 5/04

That would be 1989?

So what were Peter Sosna, Fantasy Jugglers, Locomotion, Slaphappy, Kalonymous and others doing between 1978 and 1988?

Perhaps I too need a dictionary/street performing glossary?

gav 04-11-05 08:45 AM


Originally posted by jugglermatt1

If a group of performers get together to allow things to run smoothly then Ok , but it goes against one of the golden rules of the street "first come first served " . And with so few street rules , we should all stick together and abide by them no ?

That's got to be the most outdated 'golden rule' of the street I've ever heard of !
There was a time when there were very few street performers in this world. When I started in Australia in the early 90s, you could count them on 2 hands. At that time, that 'golden rule worked just fine. Now there are at least 15 street performers in each city in Australia, and I'm sure it's a similar situation all around the world. The rule no longer works. If there are a number of people working a particular pitch, it is far better to work out some kind of draw system such as the one that Etienne mentioned.

Doctor Eric 04-12-05 04:42 AM

That's the same way that the circle works here in San Francisco, although we don't have "time slots" we just bitch at each other when shows start going over 1:30 unnecessarily (here, you might have to build a crowd for 45 minutes on a slow day). And "first come, first served" is not only a ridiculous rule, it's also not very true in a city where the robot guys might ambush you with a lead pipe. The only golden rule when you are talking about the streets is "Survival of the Fittest", whether that be stronger or smarter. The streets are chaos, imposing a little bit of order is exactly the right thing to do, and a draw or coin toss is completely fair. And if anyone shows up thinking they're going to do 3 15 minute shows on the only pitch in town large enough for circle shows, we just point out all of the smaller spots on the wharf where a small show can play, there isn't much time on the circle (from 6pm til when the people leave) so having little shows burning the pitch for no reason just isn't feasible.

worldwidese 04-30-05 02:04 AM

I was wondering....

you might have to build a crowd for 45 minutes on a slow day).

thinking they're going to do 3 15 minute shows
Three 15 minute shows equals 45 minutes so doesn't that mean that both types of shows are "burning the pitch for no reason?"
Especially regarding the quality of what the punters are watching.

Doctor Eric 04-30-05 05:31 AM

"Three 15 minute shows equals 45 minutes so doesn't that mean that both types of shows are 'burning the pitch for no reason?'"

No, as a matter of fact, your argument makes no sense at all.

Let me explain it another way worldwide.

There is ONE and only ONE spot in San Francisco where a large circle show (200 - 400 people) can work. That spot, due to pitch politics, is already given up for most of the day to the robot guys (YOU come down here and argue with them). We get it for a few hours a night, enough for 2 -4 shows, 5 on the best night in the summer. We all share it. A 15 minute show on the other hand, draws a crow of 20 to 45 people, and therefore can work a myriad of spots. It is unfair, greedy, and most of all, stupid, to do a small show on a big spot with limted time slots, the rest of us can't really work anywhere else, what would be the point?

"Especially regarding the quality of what the punters are watching."

Isn't "punters" a derogatory term? I love my audience.
And no, this argument ALSO makes no sense. The whole reason that I CAN build a crowd for 45 minutes is that people are laughing their asses off. I've had people that had to leave tip me $20 (on numerous occasions) just watching me build a crowd and tell jokes, so no, I don't think that your (misconcieved) judgement of "quality"(as if any of this shit was worth anything, it's not like you can eat it, or heat a house with it.) has anything to do with whether or not they install zippers on bananas. But thanks for playing.

UCO 04-30-05 11:17 AM

Here in Monty the almost the same things happens, A constant battle of the first come fuck off lineups. I mean you would think that grown adults could share a concrete slab. for the day, over the past few years I have been there the draw was set up this year lasted two days. Hows is that for democracy. We are not heaps of players here but enough to make a bitch.
One of the players told me that we should run the pitch like a corporation and that senior members would get the slots they wanted and make the others wait all day so they could get the opportune moment. I responded by
F*#k your senority senor. You don't get my respect that easily, We are not going to do shows or have to wait because you have been here for 20 years.
"And when was the last time you saw a child or anyone with a concentration longer than 5 mins ? If you pull a good crowd , then hammer anyne who leaves "
I guess I am confused on this statement you are doing 15 min shows with good crowds and then bitch at them when they leave?
Umm??? That sucks:

Butterfly Man 04-30-05 02:52 PM

I got it in the book ... you got your car here? Follow me!
According to my recollection Harvard Square "opened up" circa 1972 with Al Shakespeare (of the Shakespeare Bros.) ... Loco, Fantasy et al followed soon thereafter.

P.S. Al also was "instrumental" in starting the program at Faneuil Hall.

Trivia question: Where were the acts performing just prior to the "opening" of Harvard Sq. and what made them move.

The Pretty Good 05-01-05 10:15 AM

Mark has been credited with the brattle square pitch. Not all busking at Harvard square. But that is a good question. Does anyone know?

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