Some People Are Diamond And Some People Are Coal


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A guy passed me by as I was lugging my busking gear up the stairs at the subway station. He then retraced his steps and came back to help me, saying: “I thought someone was with you – that’s why I didn’t stop to help”. That someone he thought was with me was a younger guy who was climbing the stairs behind the nice guy. (He didn’t offer any help). The nice guy ended up helping me with all four flights of stairs. Some people are diamond and some people are coal…

There was nobody playing at the Music Under New York spot on the platform.
A guy told me that the first time he saw a musical saw was in 1977 in Santa Cruz, CA. He left his home in Boston and went to look for a career as a comedian. He said there are lots of clubs in Santa Cruz, which is why he went there. He met Tom Scribner there when Tom was playing the musical saw in the town square. I have read about Tom and have seen photos and a video of him – he was very instrumental in the revival of the musical saw in CA. The guy said I am the 2nd musical saw player he has ever seen.

Tom Scribner

Bob of the Astoria Historical Society stopped to say ‘hi’. I told him that I read his article in the newspaper about Mr. Steinway (of Steinway & Sons, the piano company) passing away. Bob said they might start a music performance series at the Steinway factory. That would be cool.

Sleepy Lester, the chromatic harmonica player, stopped to say ‘hi’. In all the many years he has been busking he has never played in this spot.

Sleepy Lester

As I was playing ‘Misty’ a guy told me that he is a choir director at a church at 132nd Street. His choir just had a concert and they sang ‘Misty’ – so that’s why he had to stop and listen to me, he said. He knows Moses, another musical saw player – Moses was his guitar teacher in Gayana where they are both from.

Norwegian coin

I got a coin that says: 50 ORE – Norec 1996. On the other side of the coin there is a picture of a crown. Turns out it is a coin from Norway. This is going straight into my coin collection! I love it when people put foreign coins in my donations bucket. I guess if I ever go to Norway again I might spend this coin, but until then – I’m just enjoying it.

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4 Responses to Some People Are Diamond And Some People Are Coal

  1. Tim Acott on December 9, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Hi. I was just looking over your blog and saw a picture of Tom Scribner, the old saw player. I met him once, years ago. Real nice guy. I had just joined the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), this was 1978, and I took a trip down the west coast (from Portland, my home) to meet fellow members and see what I could learn. Found Tom playing on the street and we talked a bit, went up to his hotel room nearby. He was a logger back in the teens, and a union organizer for the IWW. Later joined the Communist Party, got burnt by them, and eventually settled in CA playing the saw for tips and dying of lung cancer and emphysema. Smoked like a chimney and coughed a lot. Stubborn. Lots of good stories about the old union days. Utah Phillips, traveling musician and IWW member (also now deceased), had found him and got him back into the IWW, along with a lot of other old timers. There’s a statue of Tom on the pedestrian mall, a couple blocks from the hotel he lived in. When the city fathers found out they’d agreed to a statue of an old IWW member and commie they tried to take it down, but he was so popular they were unable to do so. He was a great old guy, and played very well. It was a treat to meet him and get to know him a little. Anyways, I thought you’d maybe like to hear a bit about him. All the best to you – Tim Acott

  2. Saw Lady on December 9, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for telling me of how you met Tom Scribner! He was an amazing guy – I wish I could have met him… He sure is one of the “fathers” of the musical saw community. Through your comment I was “taken back in time” a bit to “meet” with Tom – thank you for that!

    All the best,

    Natalia

  3. marghe mcmahon on November 13, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Hi Tim and Natalia,

    Thank you for your comments! I am the sculptor who created the sculpture of Tom, and it is probably the signature piece I ever did or ever will do. I fought like a demon for it, hoodwinked the City, faced alot of threats, but now it’s been inducted into the Smithsonian…who would have guessed!

    I am currently working on a book about this crazy experience. (Sorry to hear about Utah Phillips…I have to work fast since quite a few folks who helped are already gone).

    Regards, Marghe McMahon

    • The Saw Lady on November 21, 2011 at 12:30 am

      Hi Marghe,
      I am so honored that you left a comment on my blog! Your statue is a staple in the musical saw world – thank you so much for creating it! I am not at all surprised that it has been inducted into the Smithsonian – well deserved!
      I’m glad you are now writing a book about the experience of creating the statue – I would be interested to read it.

      All the best,

      Natalia

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