Pure Connection

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January 8, 2008
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 4 Comments »

During the first half hour of my playing at the Music Under New York spot at the Union Square subway station people I always see there, such as the blond blind lady, two messengers, and the older gentleman with the big smile, all greeted me ‘hello’. People still said ‘Happy New Year’ to me today, 7 days into the new year, which is nice. When I play in the subway I come in direct contact with a lot of people I don’t really know. Being kind to strangers has a unique reward. These people and I have no history together, no lingering resentments, no expectations – it’s just pure connection on a light and happy level. It seems that’s exactly what many people need.


A guy named Jeff stood watching me, holding a huge orange ball. It turned out he is a clown who wants to learn to play the musical saw to add it to his clowning act. He was inspired by a Canadian clown who plays the musical saw. Jeff was on his way to performing on the ‘David Letterman Show’.

A guy told me his friend plays the musical saw. He said his friend doesn’t use a tip-handle to bend the saw. I explained that traditionally one doesn’t need to use a tip-handle, one can hold the blade directly. However, since I play four hours (sometimes longer) non-stop, it really hurts. So, the tip-handle helps prevent the pain. The guy said he understands, since he is a violinist, and he uses a shoulder rest because without it his neck hurts from holding the violin under his chin for a long time.


I noticed that there were no advertisements on the walls of the station – they were all removed and the walls were just plain white.

A guy said to me: “This is freaky.”
He then added: “I just shopped at ‘Whole Foods’ and everybody there was freaky. But this is even more freaky. Have a nice day. Happy New Year!”.

One of the guys from the singing acappella group I usually see at 59th street came up from the platform specially just to say ‘hi’ to me.

At 3:10 guitarist Don Witter came for his permitted time slot at the spot. We talked about how the same lady interviewed both of us (separately) for a thesis she is doing about subway musicians for her social anthropology class. We agreed that the Union Square spot is best for meeting interesting people. Don said last time he played here his old girlfriend from many years ago ran into him. He didn’t remember why they broke up – he only remembered how well they Disco danced together.

Don Witter

On my way home I saw Ilie Radu was playing the accordion on the platform, as usual.

Ilie Radu


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4 Responses to Pure Connection

  1. Bruce on January 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Today’s post, with the picture of Ilie Radu was interesting. His accordion looks to be a Hohner – pretty common – but not a design I’ve seen before. Kinda sixties pop-art with all those circles. Neat.

    You could tell him I though it was cool if you see him again. Where’s he from, does he have any recordings? We’d play them on our show. You could do a duet!

    peace bruce

  2. Saw Lady on January 9, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for the nice message!
    Ilie Radu is from from Moldavia, Russia. I don’t know if he has recordings… I’ll give him your message when I talk to him.
    By the way, accordion and saw sound great together :)

    All the best,


  3. Dave on January 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Natalia,
    Your blog is an interesting read. I think buskers are very brave, you sound great. I may be coming to Americe next year, we will come and see you play.
    Woy Woy

  4. mariam on January 13, 2008 at 2:09 am

    I have never seen or heard anything like it before! Thanks for sharing your special talent!

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