Learning About People From Their Garbage

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I haven’t played at the Music Under New York spot at 59th street & Lexington for so long!

Lexington & 59th street subway

When I got to the spot there were 3 guys singing ‘Great Pretender’ with a keyboard on the other platform across the tracks. I called out to them and appologized because I was about to encroach on their sound space, explaining that I had a permit until 4pm. They were really nice and totally understood (they did not have a permit).

59th & Lex subway

The garbageman in charge of the station’s sanitation was happy to see me. He said it’s been almost a year since I was last there. He told me that there are no other musicians who play at this spot, only me… I wonder why, I think it’s a good spot (if you can deal with the train noise).

I had an interesting conversation with the garbageman about how one can learn a lot about people from their garbage. He said the garbage differed from place to place within the station. Downstairs there was Chinese food and oriental newspapers. Upstairs there were newspapers like the ‘Wall Street Journal’. It’s interesting how different crowds go on different routes.

59th & Lex train

A guy told me his wife just got into MUNY and was at a press conference Arts For Transit set up to introduce the new musicians who had recently passed the audition for the subway permit program. He recognized me from the MUNY audition where I was manning the ‘welcome desk’. Small world…
As a veteran busker in the NYC subway it is interesting to observe the shift in the characters who inhabit this under-world. Musicians, mimes, dancers, sanitation people, station personnel, police officers, homeless people, pan handlers, illegal food or DVD vendors, pick pockets, drunks… Some come and go, but those who stay over time are like one big family. It makes the city seem smaller, because everywhere you go you know people. It’s a nice feeling knowing the streets from the inside, being an integral part of the city scape and not just a passer-by.

Lex & 59th st


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by Scott R Munson