The Messenger is Alive

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October 20, 2008
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | No Comments »

As I was climbing the stairs up to the subway platform I could hear the train approaching, so I rushed up the stairs with all my busking gear. I succeeded in catching the train but then had to catch my breath.

Luke Ryan, the singer/songwriter/guitar player, was at the Music Under New York spot at Union Square when I got there.

Luke Ryan

Silk, the guy who used to sing in the subway but now plays buckets, told me that a Spanish guitar player on the platform was talking with him. As the guitar player started to demonstrate some music on the guitar to Silk in the course of their conversation (the guitar player was not busking at that moment – he was just talking with Silk), two cops came and arrested him. Silk was furious and frustrated. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to go into the police station and make a fuss but I managed to dissuade him from that. It wouldn’t have helped – it would have only made things worse. I suggested that Silk could contact Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and City Lore for help in dealing with the situation legally. Yelling and beating up policemen would not be productive, I explained to Silk. Battling the issue in court might be.

Natalia at Union Square
Photographer: © Aaron Porter

As I was talking with Silk a lady gave us both flyers and asked us if we want to make thousands of dollars in six months. Both Silk and I have been on the street for many years (silk for seven years more than me, which means he has been performing in the subway for 21 years) so we are not easily impressed… It turned out to be a pyramid scheme selling reduced price electronics.

Albert, the messenger, showed up and said he is in a hurry to do a delivery, so he can’t stay to chat. I asked him where he disappeared to – we (other messengers and me) were all so worried about him when he didn’t show up at his usual hangout at the 14th street subway station, he didn’t show up to work and he didn’t answer his phone for two months. He said “I’ll tell you when I get back from the delivery”.

Photographer: © Aaron Porter

Ricardo, the photographer who is married to Maria who used to sing and play guitar in the subway, came to say ‘hi’. Maria doesn’t sing in the subway any more. She is now doing her 4th year at Queens College, learning speech therapy. She doesn’t have time to sing…

A lady put a religious flyer in my donations box. The flyer was titled “does G-D Love You?”
Albert the messenger wasn’t back by the time I packed up my gear to go, so I still don’t know what caused his disappearance these past two months. But at least I know he is alive…


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by Scott R Munson