Guy Mowed Over My Stuff!
I got to the Music Under New York spot at Times Square at 11:30am to find Don Witter playing jazz guitar there. He was wearing the Music Under NY shirt and displaying the MUNY tote bag, so he looked very official
While I was waiting for Don to finish his set the singer who walks with a cane came by with his two singing partners. As usual, he greeted me by singing a phrase from the song “Pretty Little Girl”. He told me they have been singing since 9am today. Sometimes he sings from 7am to 6pm, 7 days a week!
I told him he has strong vocal chords.
He said that him and his partner have the loudest voices in the subway.
We discussed how playing in the subway is the best school for musicians – it forces you to learn how to sing/play loud, for long durations of time non-stop, without hurting yourself, and you have a constant audience to practice performing in front of. The audience is ever changing, so you can play/sing the same song over and over if you want to until you get really good at it. Just like in the days of Vaudeville – those vaudevillians got to be really good because they could do the same act over and over in front of an audience (unlike today’s performers who do an act once, on TV, and they can’t do it again because the entire nation saw it already), and they too had to project into large spaces with no amplification.
The 3rd singing partner said to me “I’ve come out of retirement to sing in the subway” (he is young – he meant he hadn’t sang in a while).
The singers went down the elevator to the uptown ‘N’ train to continue their route.
As Don was packing up and I was setting up we discussed the intrusion of mimes setting up next to our spot. Don is a morning performer, so he doesn’t get many mimes setting up on him (most mimes start working later in the day) but he gets preachers posting themselves next to him, trying to steal his audience, making him seem as if he is working with them (which he is totally not).
The new record store by our spot has a new, empty sign in the window. they were supposed to open in the spring, then in August, but – thank goodness – they still haven’t opened. All the Times Square buskers are scared of what might happen when it opens – they might play loud music which would drown us out. Don thinks by the look of the store it won’t open until next year.
I told Don about the two new subway stations being constructed on the 7 line. I expressed my view that a smart MTA would have the architect include special spots for musicians in the design of the new subway stations. You know there will be musicians setting up there any way, so why not make life better for not only the musicians but the commuters and station personnel by having special, convenient spots prepared for music in advance? Don thought it was a good idea.
The young guy who dances with a doll, who was a student of THE guy who dances with a doll in the subway (Julio Diaz, with his doll Lupita) walked by and gave me a hug. He always has a camera with him and he takes pictures of everybody he talks with. He likes to document his life…
The guy who likes M&Ms gave me a ‘high 5’. He is always either on his way to or from buying M&Ms
An opera singer told me he is semi retired. He is a Verdi baritone and sang with the Metropolitan Opera and NYC Opera. He said he thinks he went to college, in CA, with composer Phillip Glass, but oddly enough he remembers his name as being ‘Paul’ Glass…
I suggested he could check on-line whether Phillip Glass went to the same college he did. He thought it was a good idea.
The guy who always says “Saw Lady, Saw Lady, she’s so happy, she’s so happy, Saw Lady…” when he sees me, walked by and said his usual line.
Lorenzo LaRock, who plays electric violin, and his wife and daughter came to say ‘hi’. His daughter will be 3 years old in December, and they are expecting another baby in February.
A Chinese lady told me that she is 82 years old and that she is looking for a hobby. She was thinking of ceramics or painting but now she wants to learn to play the musical saw… She told me that she was in the hospital – she had a hip operation and was in pain. The operation succeeded and that made her believe in G-d. Her husband passed away and she doesn’t want to just stay home doing nothing, so she is looking to study something. Quite an amazing lady.
Today something happened to me which has never happened to me in the 12 years or so that I’ve been playing in the NYC subway: while I was playing, a guy pushing a shopping cart full of stuff (there was a cat carrier on top of it – I didn’t notice if there was an animal inside) mowed over my stuff with his cart! I cried “stop” but he didn’t. His cart pushed my CD display, knocked over my cards, the sign-up sheets for people who want to be on my e-mail list, etc. It took me by surprised – such a thing has never happened to me before and it was a bit shocking. I got up and physically stopped the guy. People watching me play came forward to help me. I guess the guy felt bad – he said “sorry”. After he walked away a little bit he came back and gave me a donation.
A lady who was listening to my playing and witnessed this whole ordeal asked me to pray for her friend who is in the hospital. So, I played ‘Ave Maria’ in prayer for her friend.
A European lady took photos of me. The homeless guy whom I often see at Times Square approached and asked her “you have some change for me?” She gave him some change. As he walked passed me he said to me “good bye, friend”. When a homeless person considers you their friend – that’s an honor!
Black Wolf, the “wizard of Central Park” told me he is going to see the ‘Naked Cowboy’ who works “upstairs” (on the street, as opposed to me who is in the subway). He told me the ‘Naked Cowboy’ disappears every time MTV shoots at Times Square (for a show titled something like ‘TLR’) – he doesn’t want to be on this show, so he vanishes from the area and waits for the camera-men to go away.
Musical Saw Joke of the Day (actually – this one is original):
Two guys walked by, pushing a cart. I was arranging my CD display at the time. One of them said to me “it’s about time you cut a CD” (it did take me a lot of time to get my CD done). Then he added, motioning at the saw “is that how you CUT the CD?”
The guy who plays guitar shoeless walked by on his way to the ‘N’ train platform (his usual spot), pushing his cart. He nodded ‘hello’ to me! I’ve seen him many, many times, but he never acknowledged my presence before.
At 3pm Yaz Band showed up with their permit to the spot. They are all Japanese (saxophone, drums, electric base) except for their keyboard player who is African American. I asked him if he has learned Japanese yet… he said no… the base player said Japanese is very difficult to learn. I suggested he teaches the keyboardist one Japanese word a day…
Delta Dave waved to me. He navigates the subway in a wheel chair – no simple task.He just finished playing at the Mezzanine of Grand Central Station.
As I waited for the train down on the platform I saw the “shoeless” guitar player. He wasn’t playing (he was reading a newspaper), so he had his shoes on (he only takes them off for performing. I don’t know why…).
The sign on his donations box says “Pearl solutions for life problems: the right prayers – take, use, be blessed!”
He walked over to me, smiled and asked me “who’s up there now?” I told him it was Yaz Band. He didn’t know them so I described them to him.
He said goodbye to me and went up the elevator. I said “have a nice weekend’. I have a new friend.