Saturday, December 26, 2009

HERE THEY GO AGAIN

YOU'RE SUCH A LOVELY AUDIENCE

I don't know who this "Roundtable" is. Seems pretty square to me.

I'm talking about Tom Sharpe's story in today's New Mexican about the panel of downtown merchants and others wanting to move some events off the Plaza.

Here's the part that made me pig-bitin' mad:

On Monday, the roundtable mulled over the idea of meeting early next year with leaders of the eight major annual Plaza events — plus Outside In, the organization that sponsors free music on the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand during the summer — to see if some of the events might be moved to the Santa Fe Railyard, the Santa Fe Community Convention Center or other venues.

(Merchant H.C.) Potter said the first question they should be asked is, "Is it necessary to have your event on the Plaza?"

I'm prejudiced here, because I usually catch several Santa Fe Bandstand shows during the summer and I love seeing the Plaza come alive with activity at night. The crowd usually is predominantly local, but you see lots of tourists enjoying themselves in the crowd as well. (The above photo was taken at The Gourds' July 2008 show.)

Of course, I'm just a local and not the type who drops big cash bucks in the galleries and boutiques, so who cares what I like, right?

This issue of what should and shouldn't be allowed on the Plaza has been around since at least the early '80s when I started my career as a journalist. The truth is, some -- not all -- downtown merchants just wish locals would stay away.

When I was covering City Hall for the Journal North in the mid-80s, one of the burning issues of the day was the scourge of street musicians and food vendors in the downtown area, which according to some of the merchants of the day were gauche and offensive in the eyes of the nice people who spent money in the galleries. Not only that, these musicians and street sellers were unfair competition for the tourist dollar, some shopkeeps contended.

"Gee, I'd like to buy that $5,000 painting, but I just spent all my money on a hotdog and a tip for a guy singing Dylan songs ... "

A few years later, working for The New Mexican, I covered a concerned merchants gripe session at City Hall about the very topic of "too much activity" on the Plaza. One newly-shop owner stood up and said he wished they'd get rid of Fiesta, or at least hold it somewhere other than downtown. This guy called me the next day aghast that I'd quoted him. Some of my readers apparently were upset about the idea of moving Fiesta and called him up and told him so.

If they get serious about moving the Bandstand series, I hope local music fans do the same.

And with city elections coming up, maybe we should get some bumper stickers saying "I like Santa Fe Bandstand AND I VOTE!"

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