The Great Morgani, aka Frank Lima, Gets Squeezed Out of Downtown Santa Cruz

Trails of Turquoise by The Great Morgani

Trails of Turquoise by The Great Morgani.

On Tuesday, February 18, The Great Morgani announced he will no longer be performing in downtown Santa Cruz “due to the recent strict enforcement of current ordinances” passed by the Santa Cruz City Council.

Joe Rose, an excellent illustrator and painter who regularly displays his artwork on Pacific Avenue, reports that on Sunday afternoon, he witnessed two Santa Cruz Police officers hassling The Great Morgani on Pacific Ave. Joe wrote, “there were 2 cops that stopped him playing when he had a crowd of about a dozen people watching.”

The Great Morgani, aka Frank Lima, is a longtime street performer and performance artist from Santa Cruz, recognized as one of city’s most interesting characters. He plays the accordion and dresses in homemade, seasonally relevant costumes which sometimes take up to 100 hours of work. He usually performs on the east side of Pacific Avenue on the El Palomar block.

He authored a book, The Great Morgani: The Creative Madness of a Middle-Aged Stock Broker Turned Street Musician, which is described as a “photo-illustrated story of one of the United States’ most flamboyant and unusual street musicians.” He also has a website, TheGreatMorgani.com.

On the evening of Tuesday, February 18, news broke on the I Love The Great Morgani! Facebook page that he will no longer be performing in downtown Santa Cruz due to the enforcement of unconstitutional ordinances passed by the Santa Cruz City Council which infringe on first amendment activities, including street performance by The Great Morgani.

Frank Lima’s Announcement

By Frank Lima, The Great Morgani

After 17 years of entertaining/performing, downtown Santa Cruz, “THE GREAT MORGANI”, has lost his “GREATNESS” status. Due to the recent strict enforcement of current ordinances, I am considered in violation of where i have performed for the past 10 years, even with written permission from the business owners. During these years, i have never been confronted by the police, downtown association, downtown hosts, business owners, or even city council members and mayors. The alternative performance areas, are so constrained & rigid, that they are not compatible to any type of performance. Rather than accept a hefty $300 ticket, or worse yet, spend a night in jail(in one of my costumes???), i will be quietly leaving the downtown scene. Thank you, EVERYONE, for you support and smiles, along the years. I will miss you all. ………….The “GREAT ONE” has left the avenue.


The Great Morgani Interrupted by Santa Cruz Police Officers

Photo by Aaron Whiting. The Great Morgani as Gene Shalit. February 16, 2014.

Photo by Aaron Whiting. The Great Morgani as Gene Shalit. February 16, 2014.

The Great Morgani, performing on Pacific Avenue dressed as Gene Shalit, was interrupted by Santa Cruz Police officers on Sunday, February 16. The officers told The Great Morgani, with the threat of a $300 ticket, that he was in violation of the downtown ordinances for performing with his back against a building, and for performing within 14 feet of a building.

Photo by Bradley Allen. Tom Noddy at India Joze. July 1, 2012.

Photo by Bradley Allen. Tom Noddy at India Joze. July 1, 2012.

Tom Noddy of Bubble Magic fame, and a longtime friend of The Great Morgani, says “The Great Morgani has been entertaining in town for 17 years now and he always sets himself against a neutral-colored backdrop. He looks better that way.”

Tom Noddy also wrote, “It is my hope that no one even considers the idea of asking that the police provide selective enforcement and allow Frank but no one else to perform with their back against a building.”

Public Outcry on Facebook

I’ve already seen so much outcry on Facebook, that’s it hard for me to believe that this aggression will stand. This might be one of those tipping point moments where all factions unite to say ¡Ya basta! — enough is enough!

The following immediate reactions to The Great Morgani’s sudden announcement reflect the overall sentiment in Santa Cruz:

 

“This is just horrible! You are an ICON in downtown Santa Cruz, Frank!!! I think we need to protest!”

“You will be missed. What a shame.”

“Noooo!!! This is very upsetting. You are the best of Santa Cruz.”

“Fascist bastards, won’t be happy until they squelch all outward signs of spontaneous creativity.”

“This is crushing to the cultural experience we have enjoyed in downtown!”

“Baa humbug! You are the best of downtown Santa Cruz!”

“Thank you for being there for the last decade and a half that I lived in Santa Cruz. I always loved watching you entertain and LOVE the incredibly creative costumes.”

“This goes against our “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” motto. The Great One is an essential part of Santa Cruz’s weirdness.”

“I hope there’s something the Santa Cruz community can do to reverse this decision.”

“Ordinance and restrictions have now restricted the very uniqueness right out of Santa Cruz.”

“let’s ….Save The Great Morgani!!”

“Inconceivable! Tom Scribner’s saw weeps tonight…”

“My 2 year old daughter and I always stop to dance to your music.”


See also: Santa Cruz Wiki || Wikipedia || TheGreatMorgani.com

One Response to The Great Morgani, aka Frank Lima, Gets Squeezed Out of Downtown Santa Cruz

  1. Tom Noddy February 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Thanks for helping to amplify this. Frank is a long time friend of mine and when I met with him today he indicated that he would like to go back to Pacific Avenue but before he would agree to do so he would need to be assured that he could do what he has been allowed to do for the past 17 years … perform with his back against a building. That has been technically illegal for a long time now but it has not been enforced

    Frank was clear that the police officers involved were polite and were enforcing the law as written.

    It is my hope that no one even considers the idea of asking that the police provide selective enforcement and allow Frank but no one else to perform with their back against a building.

    There is no benefit to anyone to make that illegal. When popular acts like Frank are put out at the curb their audiences will gather in front of the shop windows while they turn away from the display and face, instead, the performer.

    When lesser acts are always set at the curb to play … they will play in the direction of the OPEN DOOR of the businesses. It is almost NEVER a good idea to put the performers on the curb side. It only sounds like something that the downtown merchants should want but everytime this explanation was considered by the Downtown Association they decided against the curbside-only rule. It was rushed through a while back only because the conversation did not take place that time. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed afterwards and no one ever enforced this mistake (except selectively when they specifically wanted to move a performer they disliked). Frank and many other performers have done unmolested until this past weekend … but let me repeat … the officers that spoke to Frank were doing their job correctly. They didn’t make the law, that was a mistake made by a previous council … they simply enforced it … their job.

    Change the law … it’s really rather easy. Let’s ask the downtown merchants if they want to perpetuate this mistake despite the disadvantage to their own interests. If so … then ,.. well, I don’t think that they will. I think that the downtown merchants will join us in calling for a repeal of that portion of the many many rules.

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