She Has Three Cell Phones

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Getting up the four flights of stairs to the subway platform was hard for me today because I am recovering from having strained a muscle in my back. I was hoping somebody would offer to help me bring my busking gear up the stairs, but everybody just walked on past me :(

While on the train, three MTA track repair workers entered the car I was in. One of them asked me: “Are you going to play at 59th street?” I told him that today I am playing at Times Square. He asked me how my CD sales are going. The other MTA guy said: “Today is a nice day for busking”. The 3rd guy has never seen me play. Talking with these guys put me in a good mood. I needed that after the hardship of climbing the stairs.

MTA track repairmen

There was a sax player at the 59th street station. I remember the days when the majority of subway buskers were sax players. Then there got to be too many of them and they started to do really bad because people were tired of the sound (which was practically at every subway station). So sax players stopped busking in the subway and for a while there were no sax players in the subway at all. Now they are back, in moderation.

Sax player

A guy collecting donations on the train for the homeless greeted me as he passed by me. I felt honored to be recognized.

An older couple bought my CD and the guy told me that he hasn’t heard musical saw playing since he was a kid. Evangelists in Nebraska and Kansas used to play the musical saw back then, he said.

The girl who used to be a pickpocket was transferring from the 1/2/3 trains to the 4/5/6 trains. She told me the police threw her off the train (she panhandles). She is planning to file a complaint against the cops. She walks the trains begging, telling people that she is a single mother with two kids… it makes for a good story.

Saw Lady at Times Square
Photographer: hoimoi

The guy who restores old bars (as in drinking spots) came to say ‘hi’. He told me the police gave his neighbors a visit this morning, looking for somebody. I told him “as long as they were not looking for you!”
He is on his way to sort out the paperwork for shipping a restored bar to Greenpoint.

A cop came to tell me that he’s never heard the musical saw before and he asked me how long I’ve been playing. He was nice.

The X-pickpocket girl walked by me again and told me about a transvestite guy who panhandles on the trains. He is collecting money for a sex change operation. He was just arrested by some police officers who called him demeaning names as they were arresting him. I never know how much of this girl’s stories is true and how much she makes up… She said the transvestite called her from jail and told her that they put him with men (he expected to be put with women).

The cop who talked with me before saluted to me as he left his shift with some other cops.

Somebody put a Falun Dafa fbrochure in my donations box.
Someone put a small booklet of the visual artist Mladen Stropnik in my donations box.

At 3pm Andy Friedberg, the jazz guitarist also known as “New York Express”, came for his permitted spot. He told me that his cut-off temperature for playing in the subway is 40 degrees. Mine is 35.

Andy Friedberg

Geo Suquillo (who usually plays solo guitar in the subway) was playing with Edgar of Raices Group (Andean music) at the Music Under New York busking spot by the record store. Geo was in Ecuador since Christmas. He said it was a nice place to recharge his batteries.


Clovia, the homeless lady who always carries a guitar with her, was dressed beautifully in an all coordinated ensemble she painted in her famous dots pattern. She told me that the free apartment offered her didn’t work out – the guy wanted something she couldn’t give him…
She won $2,500 in the lottery and bought herself all the stuff she ever wanted and it all got stolen, except for a DVD player. She is now on her way to buy cords for it, to replace the stolen ones, so that she could watch movies. She also has three cell phones – one was given to her, one she bought and when she thought she lost it she bought another one, then found the old one.

On the train home a group of Nortenos were playing.


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4 Responses to She Has Three Cell Phones

  1. Emily on April 14, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Next time I am in the city I have to find you and have a listen… the stuff you have on the site sounds pretty cool!

  2. mladen stropnik on November 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

    hi !

    i was on residence in NY
    i have put brochure in box
    i desided that i will come closer with people
    that play music that i like to hear

    all best
    mladen stropnik

  3. Ben A. on March 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Hi, Natalia. Is Clovia still around, and do you have any pictures of her? I’m wondering if she’s the Clovia I knew who sang in the subway 20 years ago; I think she used a tape-recorded soundtrack back then. She was black and looked younger than she was.

  4. The Saw Lady on March 31, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Ben,

    It sounds like we are talking about the same person. I haven’t seen her in along time, though, and I don’t have any pictures of her.

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