The X-Pick-Pocket-Girl and the Homeless Man

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My amp battery died… so today I had to use the old ‘Mouse’ amplifier which has a muffled sound…
When I got to the Music Under New York spot at Times Square an Andean group was playing there.
The pan flute player from the group gave me the info of a good place in China Town that repairs amplifiers. Many subway musicians use their services.
He also gave me dry sage which he ordered from New Mexico. He told me that it gives off a nice smell if you burn it like incense. Especially if you put it by an open window after it rains. Well, it’s supposed to rain tonight :)

Andean musicians

The guy who sings on the trains walked by with his two partners – they all greeted me cheerfully.

As I was playing the Schubert ‘Ave Maria’ (click on the link in my store to hear it) a lady stopped by and first whistled along, then sang along with my playing.

A man and a woman stopped to listen. The man told me that the woman visited my website and discovered that I performed on ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ with Garrison Keillor. I told him that indeed I did perform on that show, twice. He told me he is the trombonist on that radio show – he has been playing on it for years. He said he will give Garrison Keillor my regards :)

Garrison Keillor

A homeless looking guy (he resides in a shelter) whom I see often at Times Square walked by. He was holding his t-shirt in his hand. He said to me: “I’ll give you a dollar for a t-shirt”.
I don’t know why he thought I might have a spare t-shirt on me, and I don’t know why he wasn’t wearing the t-shirt in his hand…
He then moved on and I heard him asking the construction guy working on the new record store in the station if he has a t-shirt he could give him. The construction guy didn’t have a spare t-shirt on him either…

It was really hot today. My forehead was dripping sweat.

A Pakistani reporter in the USA asked me questions about the musical saw. He told me that he is a descendent of one of the lost 12 tribes of Israel. There is an area in Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan where the residents have a long tradition telling the story of how one of the Israeli tribes wondered until they discovered this mountainous region that had water and grapes, and settled down there. Until today their customs are similar to those of the Jews.

The guy who walks with a cane and sings on the trains stopped by with his two singing partners. They sang me what they designated to be “my song”: ‘Pretty Little Girl’. Every time they pass me by they stop and take their time singing me this song. They don’t want any money – they just want to share the joy of a beautiful song amongst friends.

singers on train

A lady from CA who reads my blog (Hi Kathy :) ) was visiting her parents in NJ and came to the Times Square subway station with her family especially to see me! That was so nice. I think it’s so amazing that I met her through my blog!
Thank you for coming to see me, Kathy!

Danny, the tall guy in charge of the entire construction in the Times Square subway station was checking out the development of the construction of the record store next to the MUNY site. I’ve known him for so many years now. The construction project in the station is pretty extensive – he told me years ago that it would take years to complete.

As I was playing the Bach/Gounod ‘Ave Maria’ (please click the link in my store to hear me play this song) a thin gentleman with graying hair did Ballet moves to it, as he was walking towards the escalators.

At 2:15 the “shoeless guitar player” walked to his spot on the N/R/W platform, pushing his big cart. Of course, he was still wearing his sandals at this point, but I know he will take them off before starting to play.

shoeless guitar player

A guy told me about an Indian musical instrument which is similar to the musical saw in the ability to bend pitches.

The girl who used to be a pick-pocket in the subway and now begs for money on the trains came to tell me that she will be going to Spain next spring to teach English for a semester at a university. It’s part of her college studies. She plans to spend Easter in London with friends.
She told me she speaks four languages: English, Spanish, a bit of Chinese and Arabic.
She was born in 1981 in Hong Kong but grew up in Florida. Her mother didn’t want her but her grandmother, who is Catholic, wouldn’t let her daughter get an abortion. Her mother tried to choke her with a pillow when she was three years old. Her father died shortly after that. Her parents only got married because of the pregnancy.
When she was 17 years old her mother threw her out of the house. She lived in shelters for a while. Then she was in & out of hospitals (she is diabetic).
She supported herself by stealing from people. That’s how I met her – she stole a few dollars out of my donations bucket. When that happened I ran after her. I didn’t get my money back (she needed it more than I did), but I did talk to her. I explained to her I know what she is doing and that it’s not cool to do it to me – all the people working in the subway are like a family. We don’t hurt one another.
She never stole from me since.
Then her friend took her to church and that changed her life. She joined the church (she is Coptic) and she stopped being a pick-pocket. She now sings and begs on the trains.
She asked me if I ever get harassed in the subway and we talked about people who take their own frustrations out on subway musicians, because we happen to be on their way and they percieve us as weaker then they are. I told her that these people are not worth her attention.

The homeless guy who was looking for a t-shirt before walked by. This time he was wearing the gray t-shirt which before he was holding in his hand. I said to him “Did you find a t-shirt?”
“No”, he replied, “I redesigned my t-shirt”. He told me he wants a California beach t-shirt.
He again asked me if I have a t-shirt for him. I turned to the X-pick-pocket-girl and asked her if she has a t-shirt for him. She said she will bring him a t-shirt and leave it with me for him. I said I’m not going to be there tomorrow, but that she could leave it on the floor by the MUNY spot and the homeless guy could pick it up. But the homeless guy didn’t like that arrangement – he said there are people who would take the shirt and sell it to shelters…

The X-pick-pocket-girl asked the homeless guy to throw away her empty ice-tea bottle for her. He refused.

The homeless guy departed and as I was done packing up my gear the X-pick-pocket-girl and I headed towards the shuttle to Grand Central Station. She told me that she was raped in the shelter where she lived and now she is suing the city for it. She said the city wants to settle with her and that she will get a couple of million dollars for it…

She went on the shuttle to resume her singing and I took the elevator down to the platform, heading home.

Shuttle platform

July 13th.


One Response to The X-Pick-Pocket-Girl and the Homeless Man

  1. Yuki on July 20, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    That’s so sad, her life has been rough, I could understand why she would steal.. I’m glad that you made a step to helping her out, just your words..

    Then, she gets raped, which is pretty upsetting to hear. That reminds me of this article a girl wrote.. There is a law in NY where you could be fined 25 dollars for flirting, the second offense is a set of blinders over your eyes..

    Honestly, that would be entertaining to see, and would make women/girls feel a bit safer in NY.

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