Page 2                                                                            October 1973


(Article by N. Whetstone in City Magazine, August 22, 1973)


Ray Jason, the Union Street Juggler and probably the most unique entertainer on the streets of San Francisco was arrested last week on a charge of begging. Mr. Jason has been amusing and amazing residents and visitors alike in San Fran­cisco since October 13, 1972.


Mr. Jason blocks no sidewalk. He performs on a platform in front of a shop whose owner has given him permission to do so. His performance is accomplished, his patter light and playful. The response of his crowds of onlookers makes it clear that he is well-beloved by tourists and residents alike. It is, considering one only gives him money if one wishes, the best show in town. He does not "beg" or ask for "spare change."


The harassment of Mr. Jason and his arrest by the local police is an insult to the spirit of San Francisco and to the thousands of people who have watched him perform, applauded and been entertained. Somewhere in the city someone was being robbed, another was being beaten, houses were being burglarized, and numerous other crimes that bring pain and loss to citizens were being carried out successfully. The police, having nothing better to do with their time and with the money which we pay them to buy clothes, food, automobiles and the necessities of daily living, were out arresting a man whose only crime was to bring a little authentic gaiety to the streets of a city whose nightlife becomes more mundane and pallid with each passing year.


The motives of the police could be several: (1) Two officers acting on their own initiative decided that they didn't like Jason's act (shades of Lenny Bruce!); (2) Someone in the police department has decided that now that summer is waning and the tourists are leaving they could garner a few feathers by showing the "forthright" citizens that they were cleaning up the streets; (3) This is only the beginning of a drive by local politicians to control, tax and ghettoize artistic activity in San Francisco. (Recall that the street artists are having legal battles, congo drummers on Market Street have also been arrested.) In any case, it bodes ill for San Francisco to arrest its artists, especially since the genuine ones are few and far between.

A POLITICAL CARTOON from a Committee of Resistance handbill.

A POLITICAL CARTOON from a Committee of Resistance handbill.



Juggling's no sin, for we must have victual;


Nature allows us to bait for the fool.


Holding one's own makes us juggle no little;


But, to increase it, hard juggling's the rule.


You that are sneering at my profession,


Haven't you juggled a vast amount?


There's the Prime Minister, in one session,


Juggles more games than my sins'll count.


--GEORGE MEREDITH   "Juggling Jerry"   (verse five)

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