Maybe Once in Every Two Centuries
At the Union Square subway station I took the elevator up from the platform with a lady who erroneously thought she was heading towards the ‘L’ train platform. I pointed her in the right direction.
As I started to play, Albert, the messenger guy, came by to tell me that he has a delivery to make and he will be back at 4pm.
Victor, a student who is doing a series of drawings of New York Subway musicians, came by to draw me. He showed me the drawings he made of Delta Dave, as well as a reggae-y guitarist called One Leg Chuck. His drawings are really good. When I told victor his drawings reminded me of “Where’s Waldo?” he said the Waldo books were his favorite.
A lady told me her name is Linda and that she works upstairs (meaning at Union Square above ground) at the Regal theater. She said I should come by on Tuesdays and she will let me in to see the movies for free.
A guy said to me: “Did you study physics?” He thought only through the study of physics would it be possible to figure out how to make music with a saw… He went on to say “I’m never gonna find anybody like you again. Maybe once in every two centuries”.
A guitar player carrying his guitar with no guitar case walked by.
A guitar player with his guitar in a case walked by.
The lady who used to work at this station as the sanitation person walked by. I haven’t seen her in a long time. She used to never smile. I always made a point of saying a cheerful ‘hello’ to her every morning, and she would grumble a retort. Today, she came to me and said hello, and – she smiled at me! I siad to her “I haven’t seen you in a long time!” She said: “I’m retired now”. Maybe that’s why now she smiles
The smell of steak wafted in from upstairs.
A guy carrying a saxophone stood in front of me and saluted.
Joe, the homeless man with a steel arm, sat on the bench. He then informed me that he will be right back, and he went downstairs. I thought it was interesting how the messenger guys and the homeless people tell me their schedules.
At 3pm Kosan Kazutaka, a Japanese musician, came with his permit for the spot. He plays what he describes as a three string Japanese “guitar” called a Sanshin. It actually sounds kind of like a banjo. Kosan had been with MUNY for 2 years.
As I was packing up, Joe, the homeless man, returned. He told me that he was in detox. He also got a new steel arm. His Medicare got cut off but now he has it back. Now he needs dentistry. He is terribly frightened of dentistry so he needs to be put to sleep for the dentist to work on his teeth (not just local anesthesia, but full body anesthesia!). His problem is that he is also scared of the anesthesia needle.
A guy told me that yesterday there was a violinist who played at the spot. He asked me if I knew who it was. I told him to describe the violinist to me. He said “long hair, played electric violin, played music from ‘Guns & Roses'”. I told him it sounds like Michael Schulman to me. The guy thanked me for the info. He said he is a fan of that violinist.
Albert, the messenger guy, returned. He was done working for today. He volunteered to take my stuff to the elevator. He took the elevator down with me, then continued down to the ‘L’ train. Albert lives in Brooklyn.
Photographer: © Aaron Porter