New Horizons in Performance Art | Letters | Chicago Reader

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New Horizons in Performance Art


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To the editors:

I am incredibly angry over Matt Besser's letter to the editor in the July 7th Reader, in which he portrays himself as a victim of "taunts and threats of drunken sports fanatics." I did not know Mr. Besser by name until the printing of his letter, but I did know him from numerous encounters where I, my fiancee, and other Cubs fans were "taunted" by him. Mr. Besser's "street performing" consists of supposed "playlets" performed outside Wrigley Field that he claims are inspired by Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. He performs them by providing idiotic voices for two plastic skulls that protrude from a black box. He uses two or three lines from Beckett's masterpiece (I know, because this sports fanatic happens to be educated and has read WFG) to get started and then begins to mock the Cubs and their fans, having the plastic skulls address passing fans saying things like "I'm a bonehead, let's go watch the Cubs lose" and "I can't read, I'm a jerk, let's go drink warm beer and pump our fists." These are very close to exact quotations. He has specifically mocked my girlfriend's use of makeup, hairstyle, and her attire.

It infuriates me that he would dare portray himself as an artist and a victim. He is neither. He is a disturbed young man with an ax to grind against sports fans, I know not why. The one thing Besser is not lying about is that he has been assaulted. I have seen him assaulted on three separate occasions, and he deserved everything he got. Unfortunately it is the assaulter who is arrested, and the smug Besser is allowed to continue with his harassing trash, because (I am told by the police) he has a "street performer's license."

The city of Chicago should have agents who secretly review street performers' shows and revoke the licenses of the performers who are using them as a permit to legally harass people.

As far as Mr. Besser's having a major beer company sponsor his playlets during baseball games, it is obvious that he has misrepresented himself to this beer company. Beer companies provide a service for sports patrons and would never sponsor someone whose purpose is to insult and ridicule fans. Besser gives a bad name to all street performers, most of whom provide a pleasant distraction from our daily grind. Shame on you, Besser!

Ian Roberts


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