The saga is over! An official pamphlet of the MTA Rules of Conduct can be obtained in Brooklyn at 29 Gallatin Place, 3rd floor, on the rack outside the elevator. (This is, I’m told, the same place one goes to contest a summons).
By the way, you can take as many as you’d like. That’s precisely what I did:
I’ll be delivering these while making the rounds, so that we don’t each have to hike out to Brooklyn. (Speaking of which, I gave out the first two t-shirts today. Find me soon to get yours!)
Things have been quiet here for the last week, both because we’ve been hard at work with the Kickstarter, and because I was as sick as a horse all weekend. Also, the whole of last week was above 90° — and that’s a no-go for performing!
But, we’ve been using the time off to good ends. For instance, BuskNY now has a mandolin:
Granted, it sounds like a cheapo instrument. But that’s great — it is, in fact, an ultra-cheapo instrument!
It went through a trial by fire yesterday when I busked with my pal Hannah, who I used to play with in the Annandale Ramblers, at the 57th St F station. We were out informally — finished with the workday and volunteer-two-hours, respectively, and we had an hour to kill before the Scottish session at the Iona. That meant that we had no stools, which led to logistical difficulties with the mando. (It’s really hard to pin it against your body while picking — especially when you start sweating!)
Nonetheless, we had a blast. I got to work on my chording, which is a work in progress — but the audience really enjoyed it. Whether for the music or for the sense of humor, we don’t know! But in any case, we made good money, even à deux, and certainly had good fun. To be repeated!
Busking was funny and kind of slow this past weekend, maybe because of the rain. I spent a lot of time looking for a spot to play, and then giving up good spots to other buskers in solidarity or common courtesy. I think I also got a little bored of myself and made some rather drastic breaks from my regular routine that, while titillating, weren’t really doing me any favors in the long run… [insert clip of american orca whale train party here]
I got heckled and almost attacked by a couple of bros, but also (and probably more relevantly to this project) had to field the weird problem of the Very Polite Police Officer. Apparently, there had been a theft at the Bedford L stop and the cops were surveilling for the suspect and needed full platform visibility, and as a result this basically very sweet, respectful, seemingly understanding policeman kept asking if I could move to the other side of the bench a little further down the platform so the onlookers wouldn’t block his line of sight. I kept trying different places, but in busking, like in hitchhiking, 15 feet can make a huge different, and (besides the unfortunate faux pas of my accidentally pouring a full plate of rice into my suitcase) it really wasn’t happening. It’s hard for me to get belligerent with sweetly tempered people who aren’t being jerks. What to do in this quandary?
I hope it’s not an ill omen that my first blog post for buskny recounts a day of botched performances. It’s been a long hop and a skip since the last day I went to work and only actually made $1. But I’m going to count this as one of those penitential days you have to pay to get the sucking out of your system in preparation for torrential landslide success… and I do generally share the suspicion that if I go out to warm up on Thursday, even if I don’t do that well, I’ll play better on Friday.
Anyways, after a seemingly endless and fruitless search for a pitch, I set up my little box on the far end of a platform this evening wearing my regular collage of burlap and pink rags, and did a few new “puppet shows”. Excerpts from the captions scrawled on my chalkboard include “I understand everything,” “horrible ontology family tree,” and “P03xx1mM0Gft7x0LN28”. A new addition, the Gutted Dolphin Hat, happily bobbed beside my regular pacha mama tiger, and most of my onlookers seemed generally interested, but distracted. Say Lah Vee. There really is no math in this line of work.
I did however reconnect with several old friends and compatriots underground, with whom I shared information about buskny, and also landed a flier for the upcoming NYC Busker’s Ball on the 24th, which portentous happening oozed auspicious coincidence (let’s go there). Nice to meet you!
A big welcome to Kalan Sherrard!
I met Kalan last month on the Union Square L platform. I was waiting for a train, and he was in the process of being removed by a cop. I hurried over with my copy of the rules, but alas: the rule of law just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He did manage to give me his card on the way out — and now here we are!
Kalan brings a wealth of experience in busking, and, importantly, an angle on non-musical performance. (It’s hard to sum up his show in a few words, but you can see excerpts on his site). And although this project is focused on issues local to New York, it’ll be great to have perspective from him on the larger picture of busking and arts advocacy.
He’ll be posting regularly on the blog, as well as contributing to flyer and t-shirt distribution underground. So keep your eyes peeled!
Today, I met a guy playing guitar at the 57th St F station. He said that he’s been kicked out countless times — illegally — by the police. He’s showed the officers the MTA rules, submitted complaints to the Civilian Review Board, and gone to the stationhouse to complain. But surprise: nothing’s changed.
I asked if he’s ever refused to leave. Nope, he said. He doesn’t have the time for an arrest, he doesn’t want the hassle, and he doesn’t want an arrest record. Can you blame him?
I’ve just written a new page for the 57th St guitar guy and everyone in his situation, to show what we have to gain by refusing to leave our stations. After all, if we’re going to end the rule-breaking, it means lawsuits — and that’ll mean finding the time to go to jail.
So there you have it — the pro arguments in a nutshell. Game, anyone?