As soon as I arrived in New York, I remembered why I’d been avoiding it after freshman year. I hate it. I can’t understand those who like it. All the rudeness and the grime others have an affinity to… I prefer my subways clean and air-conditioned, thank you. I checked with Richard where I might busk, and he suggested Central Park.
Today (6.2.10) was not a very lucrative day. I walked up to the MET and talked to a bassist setting up for a pitch there about the rules concerning busking in Central Park. He was very friendly. I started around 77th street, just inside the West edge of the park. While the passersby where very appreciative in their smiles and attention, they largely passed me up in terms of tips. Many couples and old people stopped and sat down on the benches nearby – the favorite spot for this seemed to be those benches at my peripheral, so that I might not catch them when they ran off. And I know they were listening to me because they were watching me or tapping their feet or left in a break between songs. Many listened for 20 minutes plus. It was frustrating.
I decided to check out the MET buskers – the bassist was simply the backing to a 4 piece vocal ensemble singing songs like In the Jungle and Stand By Me in tight harmonies, most in falsetto. I caught the tail end and searched for a bathroom to refill my water bottle. Upon returning to the MET area, I decided to try my luck north of the MET and passed an electric guitarist playing jazzy chords and asked for his advice. He was very encouraging – saying though he hadn’t heard me play not to lose hope. He pointed me up the street a bit, just past the Hotdog Stand on 82nd, facing fifth avenue, where I played to a much better audience.
I find it strange that audiences who pass quickly are more appreciative monetarily than those who can sit and listen – obviously its the ease factor – when I’m in the way people give and if they can listen without giving or feeling guilt they will. Location, location, location, eh?
A lot of children passed by this spot as I played. One little boy came back 5 or 6 times but his caretaker had nothing for me. Most of the children I entertained (another young girl hung around for 4 or 5 songs before her mother tugged her away) had ungenerous parents. Another funny observation – most of my donations came from women. I don’t know why? Also the way they gave followed a curious pattern. They’d notice the music, pass by slowly, stop just at the edge of my peripheral, listen a while, root for money with their back turned and then sheepishly and quickly run back to leave something before dashing off.
The best was one women who smiled as I sang her The Boxer. She “waited in line” for a hotdog which she didn’t buy as she got change, then doubled back and gave me a dollar, saying “How could I not?” smiling at me.
5th Ave pitch – deserted in late fall.
Song of the Day: The Boxer – Simon & Garfunkel