‘The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs’


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When I got to the ‘Music Under New York’ spot at Times Square Juan Castillo was playing the mandolin there. He is a very dedicated and gifted musician who plays classical music as well as popular tunes on the mandolin.

Juan

As I waited for him to finish I noticed Lydia from ‘Arts For Transit’ (the MTA program in charge of art and music in the subway) was conducting a tour for a group of people in the subway (showing the subway’s art work, I’m guessing). Each person in the group carried a folder and they were followed by a camera crew of ‘Transit Transit’, the MTA’s TV show.

Art work at Times Square station

As Juan was packing up and I was setting up we discussed glasses, contact lenses and corrective lenses one wears while sleeping.
We also talked about how worried we are that when the record store scheduled to open near our spot opens, it might play loud music and we would lose our spot. Both Juan and I agreed that this spot is our most favorite spot to play at.
Juan asked me to watch over his stuff for a while so he won’t have to lug it around with him as he went on errands.

Favorite spot: Times Square mezanine

About 5 minutes later William, the statue guy who is dressed/painted all white and acts like a butler showed up. He dusts people off whenever they drop a coin in his box. People get a kick out of it. He told me he invented his dusting act because he can’t do precise movement like the Ballerina statue lady. I told him I think his act is very clever.
I asked him if he would mind moving 3 feet away from me (to where he was standing last week) because that way I won’t be able to see him. If I’m able to see him it really distructs me from concentrating on my music. William was very nice about it and was happy to help me out by moving a little to the left. Really nice guy. He told me he works next to a lot of musicians, and usually their music makes him feel like leaving after an hour, because he doesn’t like their music…but he really enjoys my music :)

Giovanni Suquillo, the mandolin/guitar player, walked by. He left Ecuador for the USA four years ago to make it as a musician. His goal is to own his own record label and succeed as a composer. He was just recently accepted into the MUNY program of permits for subway musicians, after a long time in which he had been freelancing in the subway. Yesterday he was invited to participate in the press conference which introduced the new members of MUNY to the press. As a result Giovanni’s name was in a few newspapers, which made him happy: there was a full article about him in Hoy, a Spanish newspaper, and there was an interview with him in the Daily News, which I actually read but Giovanni couldn’t find :(

Giovanni

The make-up artist from Austria who did my make up when I played at the MTV show ‘Oddville MTV’ many years ago walked by with his son and stopped to say ‘hi’.

At 2pm Frank, the guitar player/whistler, a veteran subway musician, was on his way home. He had a good day.

Frank

A nice lady and her daughter visiting NYC from Connecticut stopped in amazement to watch me – they had just read the book ‘The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs’ which mentions saw playing. They were amazed to see me because they thought playing music on a saw was a fictional invention of the author of the book…:)

In this book, set in 1923 (incidentally – the time when saw playing was at it’s most popular in the USA), a boy discovers wonders all around him, including an old saw that, when played, allows its player to grow more food than anyone around. (This concept is also interesting – a saw player from India, who was the guest of honor at the last saw players gathering I organized in NYC, claims his tomatoe plants grow significantly larger when he plays the saw near them!).
I think I’m going to buy this book.
Anyway, the lady and her daughter who stopped on their tracks when they saw me playing a saw in the subway video-taped me in order to show it to their book club. I sure am curious to know the reaction of the book club.

Saw Lady

The Dianetics people walked by carrying their tables, and towards 3pm Agua Clara, the Andean band, showed up. I was surprised to see them at this hour, as they usually play the morning shift at this spot. They said they were indeed supposed to play the morning shift but changed their schedule.

Agua Clara

As I was packing up and Agua Clara were setting up (and waiting for their drummer, Oscar, who was unusually late) the guy who plays guitar barefoot on the N/R/W/Q platform walked out of the station. It’s unusual for him to be done this early. Naturally, he had his shoes on – he only takes them off to play.

Barefoot guitar player

Dwyane’s hip-hop dancers congragated behind the pole at the spot. Steven Clarck, the “Michael Jackson” dancer joined them, as usual. I told them Spivy, the dancer, was there earlier looking for them. He showed up a minute later. They will all have to go scout a different location to perform today.

Hip Hop dancers

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