But I Still Love You
As I was riding the train towards my busking spot, a guy with a tape-recorder in his hands boarded the train at the 59th street subway station. He asked me if I was going to 14th street. I told him that today I’m playing at the Grand Central Station’s Shuttle to Times Square.
Man: “But a couple of months ago you were at 14th street”.
Saw Lady: “That’s true, and I’ll be there again on Friday”.
He then said “Your instrument is not easy to play”, and he turned on his tape recorder and started singing “It’s a Wonderful World”.
When he was done singing I congratulated him on his beautiful voice and said “I didn’t know you sing!”, to which he answered “That was a surprise 😉 ” and he moved on to the next subway car.
On my way to the Shuttle I saw Amy from Arts for Transit showing the artwork in the station to a group of people.
At the Music Under New York spot Salieu Suso was playing the kora. He told me a cop videotaped him. So, Salieu stopped playing. The cop showed him a police badge and asked for Salieu’s permit. Naturally Salieu’s papers were in order.
As Salieu was packing up and I was setting up my busking gear, a mother and a little daughter (elementary school age), both holding violin cases, asked if we were “coming or going”. I explained that Salieu was “going” and I was “coming”. The ladies moved on to look for a busking spot elsewhere.
Photographer: © Steve Maginnis
An MTA worker told me that he works at the Shuttle every day. His name is Genady but here people call him Henry, because it’s easier to pronounce. He is from the Ukraine but has been in NYC for over 15 years.
A guy apologized that he can’t give me anything. He told me that twenty something years ago he saw two people playing the musical saw together in Trinidad & Tobago.
A guy named James and his mother are visiting NYC from England. James told me that there is a musical saw player in Brighton, playing at a small cafe on the sea-shore.
A guy told me that they used to play the musical saw in Main, but they didn’t have a bow – they just hit the saw and twisted it.
Photographer: © Aaron Porter
Mr. Moskovitch, the Times Square subway station’s music store owner, walked by and came to say ‘hi’. I explained to him how sad I am the I can’t play by his store anymore and how his tricks for getting rid of buskers made me cry last time I was at that spot. He places loud speakers outside his store’s door and blasts music in order to drown out the buskers and he placed huge video screens right by the buskers spot, in order to cause people to stand in the buskers spot, with their backs to the buskers and watch the screens. He constantly shows wrestling videos on these screens in order to attract loud cheering men who cause an unpleasant scene for the buskers who get trampled over by the crowd that faces away from them.
Mr. Moskovitch explained to me that it’s unpleasant for his store’s employees to work while listening to music all day long.
Ironically – it’s a MUSIC store… I said it was sad for me to lose that busking spot – it was the main busking spot in NYC for decades. He said it’s not his fault that the MTA moved his store from the lower mezzanine to the middle one, where the busking spot it. “I can’t tell the MTA that I’m not moving because my store has been on the lower mezzanine for 40 years”, he said.
I started to play in order to end the conversation which wasn’t going anywhere. He walked away. After a minute he came back just to say to me: “But I still love you”.