Teens sketching in the subway
As I was on the elevator from the platform to the mezzanine at the Times Square subway station, I could already hear music. It turned out it was Geovanni Suquillo playing guitar at the Music Under New York spot, accompanied by a Japanese guy drumming on a box. The drummer was sitting on the box and drumming on it with his hands (no sticks). He had special white coverings on his fingers to protect them.
There was a man sitting on the staircase to the 1/2/3/9 trains, and the owner of the about-to-be-opened record store next to our spot was working on getting his store ready.
Geovanni’s music made many people burst into dance movements as they walked past him.
As he gave the spot over to me Geovanni told me that earlier the store owner gave him a hard time, telling him to lower his volume. He even threatened to put speakers outside his store and out-loud the musicians… We are very nervous about what will happen when the store opens. We are scared we might lose what is everybody’s favorite spot to busk at.
A guy came over to me and asked me if he could take my picture. I said “of course”. He then just walked away without taking a picture… People are strange sometimes.
The three guys who sing on the trains (guy with a cane plus two partners who change from time to time) greeted me as they walked by.
A sanitation worker cleaning the station found a photo ID on the floor.
At 1pm Matt Nozzolio’s wife introduced herself to me. Matt plays lap-style guitar in the subway. They live in CT so he only comes to the subway about once a month. I think it’s admirable that he travels all the way from CT to busk in the NYC subway. Matt’s wife told me that he doesn’t like playing at Times Square – he prefers Union Square, which is where I always see him. It’s interesting how spots work out differently for different buskers.
A guy with a long white beard handed out flyers by the ATM machines. He then moved to do the same by the pillar next to the one the Music Under New York spot is at. Then he moved to the Shuttle area. I guess he was trying to figure out where the best spot to hand out flyers is.
At 1:30 Frankie the guitar player/singer/whistler was on his way home. He stopped to give me a whistling rendition of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. The tone of his whistle is really nice.
He told me how Tito Puente encouraged him to learn to play guitar. Frankie then tried to influence his little son to learn to play guitar but his son preferred trains to music. Today his son works with…trains (he is an MTA employee).
At 1:40 a lady with a big sign planted herself in the area to my left. I couldn’t see what her sign said, but I saw the word ‘Jesus’ so she must be a missionary. She was handing out flyers. She had a special back-pack which enabled her to mount the big sign on two sticks attached to the back-pack, with the big sign hanging above her head.
At 2pm Danny, the construction supervisor at the Times Square subway station, came to say ‘hi’. He has been working on renovating the subway station for at least 8 years now. He said he is now putting on finishing touches in order to get the full certificate of occupancy for the entire space.
At 2:10 a group of teen-agers sat down on the floor by the fence, drawing in sketch-books. Their high school art class has the subject of the subway this semester. Their assignment of the day was to draw people in motion. Their teacher told me the students are frustrated at the moment, as it is very difficult to draw the frenzy of people in the subway.
At 2:50 a member of the Hypnotic brass band was looking for a spot for his band to play. He asked me how long I was going to play for, then went to fetch his band. They were on tour for a while and are planning to go to Japan soon. As they took over the spot from me their conga player told me that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to go to Japan with them as he doesn’t have a passport…