Lax, Stockholm, and Two Smoking Buskers, Day 2

The busking today was absolute rubbish (6.23.10), mostly because I didn’t feel quite right. Asthma, allergies, a failing voice… I realized also that I need to earn rather a lot more here if I’m to actually see Stockholm: busking takes a lot out of me and I spend a lot of time resting – and my guitar weighs a ton so it’s a pain to lug about the city. Happily I found myself quite the geek paradise close to my pitch, a little further west down Västerlånggatan near an Apoteket. In the interim between pitches and after my second pitch I stayed at the Science Fiction Bokhandeln, a three story edifice of geekgasm, where I read a couple of books and a few graphic novels – I had all my things with me since I’d left Pontus’ place and couldnt get to Cristophe’s till later (both people I was couchsurfing with).

So a little interlude on Pontus. An absolutely incredible guy who’s studying to become an opera singer. He sings the most beautiful french songs and is very gifted with languages and impressions. Should you hear his Johnny Cash or his Elvis with your eyes closed, you’d likely think it was a record. I stayed with him a couple nights with two Asian Australian (if that’s the correct nomenclature) girls. I cooked some random stir fry one night, with too much sugar. But best of all the time I spent was the first night, when we went into the city to spend some time with the young handicapped man he takes out to the city for his job. We went to a bar near the Slussen T-bane, being frustrated often by the lack of wheelchair accessible places. Björn, the young man, is extremely intelligent and though his head lolls about and he hardly retains much control over his spastic motions manages to navigate and speak very clearly. In english, also! The time I spent with the both of them, despite the exorbitant 54 SEK price of the beer, really showed me Pontus’ heart.

So the first pitch lasted about forty minutes before I decided to rest my voice. This time there were tons of people snapping photos of me, but hardly any tips. One aggravating man set up a videocamera on a tripod and filmed me for a good ten minutes before walking back the way he’d come. I think I got most of my earnings of the day from this one nice arabic man and his family. He stayed for a few songs, then dropped me 10 SEK for each photo he took with each family member (3). That was wonderful. One woman asked if I was headed to Norway and gave me 10 NOK when I answered in the affirmative. But aside from that – slim pickings. And really, I’m bloody tired of tourists. They gawk and point and laugh and I have to sing happy stuff for them. Feh.

Falling Slowly was again a hit, with one lady telling me I did it well, coming back when I got to the chorus and tipping me handsomely. I played Ue Wo Muite for a large group of Japanese tourists… who just smiled and half bowed at me. One passing Spanish couple looked into my case, noting “Un veinte…” and were surprised when I looked up and smiled at them, off guardedly saying “Hola!?” Traveling and playing alone is getting increasingly lonely, and I had a long conversation with Pontus about how frustrating it is that this way of living has nothing to do with talent. The street was full of horrid players – tooting idly on trumpets and saxophones, playing scales on violins, “soloing” on electric guitars by playing a pentatonic scale up and down to an amplified recording. These people can play all day. And they seem to do decently well.

What saved the day was the nice Australian busker I met just before I took the second pitch, again by the 7/11. I asked him when he’d finish and when I came back we sang a few songs together – Falling Slowly and I’m Yours. He gave me some nice tips on where I might play next: Drottninggattan, the nearby Square, and wished me luck. It’s that kind of interaction and that kind of busker I wish was more prevalent.

Earnings: 125 SEK + 10 NOK + €3 + $1, 1.5 hours
Song of the Day: I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

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