Sending ‘Love Letters’ on My Pants

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November 20, 2008
By Posted in Times Square Subway Station | 1 Comment »

When I got to the Music Under New York busking spot at the Times Square subway station there was a cup and spilt coffee on the floor… As I was setting up to play a sanitation lady came to clean the cup away, but the spilt coffee was left on the floor next to me.
There was loud noise coming from the music store next to our spot, and passers by were stopping to watch the sports video projected on the screen in the store’s window right next to the busking spot. The store owner’s tactics of placing the video screen next to the official city permitted busking spot in order to make buskers go away was, unfortunately, a clever one… Since the store can’t get rid of buskers legally they are trying to hit us bellow the belt.

Music Store

Frankie, the guitar player/singer/whistler, showed me the two CDs he made for sale. He said “Louis” Castillo (the mandolin player) made 100 copies of them for him. Strange that Frankie calls him ‘Louis’ – I know him as ‘Juan’…


A guy told me his Dad in Ohio tried to play the musical saw. He could only make a few notes.
A lady from the Bronx told me that she is homeless. She asked me: “if I give you 25 cents would you give me your card?” I told her that I am giving it to her for free. She then said that she wants to show it to a lot of people and promote me.

An older gentleman told me that he heard me on the radio on ‘Prairie Home Companion’. He just moved to the Bronx after 35 years of living in the heart of the village, on Bleeker Street, in a 2nd floor walk-up apartment. He paid $500 a month there. For the past 10 years he was talking about moving because it wasn’t fun living in the Village any more – the neighborhood got to be too noisy and young, with TV sets in every bar playing sports and bad music everywhere. It’s gotten “yupified”, he said.

Times Square subway station

A homeless guy asked for my card. He told me someone he knows is back in town and they might want to hire me to play. “I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try”, he said.

A guy named Jay told me that he is homeless and he is on his way to pick up a check. He is a performer – he does dance with a group on the Lower East Side and he put on a show with “throwing light”. He also told me that Tex Ritter (1905 – 1974) – a Western cowboy, played the musical saw.

Tex Ritter

A group of kids told me of their church, called the ‘Rock Church’ where everybody can audition to perform.

At 2pm Frankie was done busking for the day. He didn’t sell any CDs today. He needs to go pick up the mail for a friend in Brooklyn who is away.

The store owner arrived late at the store today. I told him he looks nice. He said it’s because he is coming back from Schul. He doesn’t usually go there, but he said “at least once a year…”.

Graywolf, the homeless Andean musician, told me his birthday was last Sunday and his daughter, who is 11 years old, celebrated her birthday yesterday. This was the first time he didn’t have a present for her birthday. A few years ago he gave her a lizard, who is now about 3 feet long. Graywolf used to have a pup-wolf, but when the pup grew he had to release him in Montana. He had a fat cat, too, which he kept separate from the wolf. When he had to move out of the apartment he had to get the wolf through the door of the room where the cat was, and he was afraid that the wolf would attack the cat. But because both the wolf and the cat used to rub against Graywolf’s legs, they each knew the smell of the other, so when Graywolf opened the door, the wolf and cat ran to one another, licked one another and were happy to see each other. They were best friends ever since – they ate together and slept together. “They were sending ‘love letters’ on my pants to each other”, Graywolf said of how the cat and wolf got to know each other while they were each confined to their own room.


As I was packing up my busking gear, the store owner said I could stay longer (!). I told him my throat hurts from my allergy. He told me that he used to have bad allergies but working in the subway cured him, because there is no pollen inside the subway. He said the air in the subway is cleaner than the air on the street because most pollution comes from busses.


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One Response to Sending ‘Love Letters’ on My Pants

  1. Jenni on November 22, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Natalia
    I SO enjoyed your music. You probably don’t remember but I stopped for a brief chat because I play harpsichord and you were playing some Bach beautifully and unexpectedly in that echoey, busy place…
    Thanks for a great NY experience on my brief trip from the west coast.

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