, Salem, MA

Local News

October 26, 2012

Heard Around Town: It’s a long way from Pakistan to Salem


It would be one thing if he played in the privacy of his own home, but he has an official street performer license and entertains in the downtown.

Last year, the city got complaints about someone continually playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” There were a couple of attorneys on the Essex Street pedestrian mall who were contemplating a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 80,000 eardrums in the city.

Last May, the Licensing Board actually considered banning saxophones from the downtown because of the complaints. Fortunately, reason prevailed and the National Enquirer lost a headline: “Music-hating city bans saxophone.” The commissioners reluctantly granted a new license to Horatio Hornblower on the promise he would drop those two ditties and expand his repertoire.

All went well until last week, when City Hall received a drumbeat of new complaints.

Someone from the city actually grabbed the poor guy’s license, which was held until he appeared Monday night before the Licensing Board for a revocation hearing.

After hearing the man’s polite, heartfelt appeal to keep his license, which he needs in order to make a few bucks, the board gave him one last chance. Actually, it was Chairman Robert St. Pierre whose heartstrings were tugged.

“The quality of mercy is not strained,” the former police chief said at the meeting, quoting from “The Merchant of Venice.” This may be the first time an officer of the law in Witch City has publicly, and correctly, quoted Shakespeare. If St. Pierre keeps this up, they may have to take his name down from police headquarters and slap it on 90 Lafayette St., home of the Salem Theatre Company.

Anyway, Don’t-Call-Me-Charlie-Parker is back playing, this time with something called a “mute” on his saxophone. If you see him, drop a dollar in his case and offer a kind word.

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