Playing in 33 Degrees

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December 19, 2007
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | No Comments »

Today was really cold in New York City – high temp of 33 degrees. When I left my house in the morning it was well below freezing.
At the Music Under New York spot at the 14th street subway station two Andean musicians were playing pan flute and wood flute. It was Louis from Ecuador and his friend. Louis is Alberto’s brother. Alberto also plays Andean flutes in the subway, but he is studying to be a lawyer in Ecuador, and went back home. The good news is he is coming back to New York in January, with a 5 year visa!
Louis spent 8 years busking in France. He has been in New York for a year and a half now, and he wants to go to Germany and Switzerland.
Louis and his friend have been playing at the spot for one hour today and they said it’s cold. In their homeland of Ecuador it is always spring – it never gets cold. Isn’t that perfect?

Louis and friend

There was a homeless guy sleeping on the bench. On the bench opposite him was an oriental guy reading a newspaper. There seem to be more homeless people in the subway this winter.

Homeless guy sleeping

Pat, the painter, said he will be starting to exhibit his paintings outside at Union Square again. He has been doing it for 6 years but took a little break from it lately. We discussed the cold weather in regards to exhibiting art outdoors and playing in the subway and he said “it can’t be any colder than previous winters” (meaning: we did it before, we can do it again).

Union Square

Theo Eastwind, the guitar player/singer/songwriter who has been playing in the subway about as long as I have, told me he has played at the Washington DC subway. He said it’s nice playing there, and now that the Washington Metro system has finally accepted musicians to play there, it should make things easier to perform there.

Theo Eastwind

While talking with Theo, Paul, another guitar player/singer/songwriter who performs in the New York City subway walked by on his way to playing at 23rd street. Paul has been playing in the subway since 2000.

Albert, the messenger guy who always passes through the Union Square subway station on his way to and from making deliveries, walked by. He said he is on his way to make a delivery and asked if I would still be at the spot in an hour. I said I would. He said he will see me on his way back, then.

A subway sanitation guy I’ve known for many years walked by. He now works at the Union Square station only on Mondays and Tuesdays. Other days he works at the 34th street subway station, which is why I don’t see him as much these days.

A Santa went by and said ‘Ho Ho Ho’ to me.

Santa in NYC

Before going home I stopped by the bench to say ‘hi’ to Albert, the messenger. Next to him was sitting another guy, who complained how come I never say ‘hi’ to him… Apparently he is a “regular” at this subway station, too. He said he passed by me many times and he even knows my name… I assured him I will be saying ‘hi’ to him too, from now on :)

On my way home I changed trains at Times Square. There was a lady singing acappella Christmas carols on the platform there. She had a trained voice and could sing both in a high operatic soprano voice as well as a low pop-voice. Her backpack said “The New School”.


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by Scott R Munson