A Handsome Bergen for a Busker, Day 5

I’ve been living in a very Blanche Dubois style: off the kindness of strangers. In Oslo I depended on Bengt and Tone’s kindness – they even gave me sheets and a new journal before I left. Bergen has been no different. I had an excellent second pitch and perhaps should have remained for the cashflow, but my spontaneity netted me a watch. And Ragnvald insisted on bequeathing me his spare camera, as mine had given up long ago and he thought it quite a travesty to travel the world without a camera.

Let’s start with the first pitch of the day (7.12.10). Total fail. I didn’t get out till the afternoon as I missed two busses in a row (typing up blog posts) and by the time I reached the magical tunnel I found it taken. The man spoke only Romanian but I was able to communicate haltingly with Spanish. He was not a very amiable man. I arrived at around 1400 and he indicated he’d remain until 1800. When I told him he needed 1. a permit to play and 2. had to move on after an hour, by law, he just shrugged as if to say, sucks to be you. To top it all off, he was absolutely terrible. I passed by a few times because I used the tunnel to get to the bookstore within Bergen Stor Sentral, and everytime he was playing a particularly lousy rendition of the Chicken Dance. Everything in his demeanor and playing felt lazy and impositional. Pissed me off and I didnt quite recover till much later.

As such I was forced to the Marken pitch, which hadnt looked promising. I played for only twenty minutes before moving on: I got only two real tips – one from an young Asian (Californian from the style) couple and one from a mother with a insistent child. I returned at 1750 to find the Romanian gone and a young Didgeridoo player in his place. This guy was much friendlier and happily gave up his spot after five minutes. I recommended him a few spots and we had a good chat. He played well, with a strange style that included whooping shrieks he made during his circular breathing.

It was a particularly cold pitch, with the outside temperature dipping into single digits (I’d guess) and a healthy breeze blowing through the tunnel. I fidgetted a lot to stay warm. There was an odd vibe such that every time someone tipped me today, I was ending a song. This came to a head when I was finishing up Country Roads. A pair of friends was passing at that moment and the girl remarked caustically to the guy “It’s just ‘Take me home’ over and over.” I finished when they were dead ahead of me and told them that no, it wasn’t, but they happened to pass at the very end. I think they were surprised I heard and responded (a live busker!) and stopped, suspiciously defending themselves with “Well that’s what we heard, we’re listening now.” I decided to go one further and offered that they choose a song from my list – and here is where the interaction became suddenly warm.

“Sunday Morning! Oh my God he know’s Sunday Morning. We kind of have to tip him if he’s singing us Sunday Morning!” Then I sang them Flume. Then Here Comes the Sun. They wished me the best of luck and told me my list was brilliant but sorely missing: Bright Eyes, Neutral Milk Hotel, Dresden Dolls. (You can get a picture of their taste, here, rather similar to Ben’s or Darell’s – hi!) A little later the young man who’d passed me many times before came by once again, and this time happily tipped me. Then the same girl who’d passed before – blushing a little less and smiling a little more. Even Hotel California went over well with a stodgy looking couple.

I was interrupted after about forty minutes by the return of the girl who’d requested Sunday Morning. She invited me to a nearby bar to have some free wine with her and some friends – noting that I looked like I could use some warmth – and I acquiesced. I was freezing. I ended up staying for the better part of three hours. It was a fun bunch and very entertaining for me, though I was, of course, a bit taciturn. Mostly I enjoyed listening to the philosophies and beliefs and bohemian-ness they were espousing, and on asking their age finding out they were all younger than me.

I found it a very strange experience – like listening to bits of my past selves just talk without restraint about how age doesn’t mean anything, or how taking photos of graffiti kills the beauty of its transience (they were all artists), or how they believe in free love, or in the telling of tales of squatting and destitution, or in the proclamation that Denmark is the Scandinavian country with the best future because there’s a revolution there! The two girls, chiefly, went at it for most the time and I felt warm and happy just observing. Near the end, one of the guys gave me his watch (as I had asked the time and admitted I had no way to tell it). I felt strangely (and probably falsely) knowing or mature when I left, sort of that infuriating “you’re so young but you’ll see” that I used to get so often. I quenched it as best I could but when I returned to Ragnvald’s I couldn’t myself from a short rant. That night I stayed up typing more blog posts and rewatching Stardust.

Earnings: 189 NOK + a watch + a camera, 1 hour
Song of the Day: Sunday Morning – Velvet Underground

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