Memories of a saw-player (continued)

Shuttle, NYC subway (publicity photo for Music Under NY)

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To read blog entries from previous years and to see photos from previous years, please click here

January 15th, 2007 - Times Square
As I was playing a guy, who first stood by me listening and asked me some questions, proceeded to do a slow Kung-Fu form to my music. It was interesting because what he did fit the music well: both Kung-Fu and the saw can be seen as weapons, yet they both also make beauty (slow motion Kung-Fu excersises look like a beautiful dance).

January 12th, 2007 - 14th street
A gentleman told me how when he was a kid, between 1940 and 1950, he witnessed many clergymen playing the musical saw in Puerto-Rico. His father was a priest for the Baptist Church in Puerto-Rico. The church sent over priests from the USA to a seminary in Puerto-Rico. These men all played the saw and used it as a musical instrument in church services.

December31st, 2006, NEw Year's Eve at Times Square
Ending the year on a 'high note' - literally

December 18th, 2006 - Union Square
As I arrived at the spot there was a guy there playing a 6 string electric bass. Real nice guy, who usually plays on the 'L' train platform (but today there was somebody at his spot, so he came here). He told me that he had been playing for 2 hours and made...$1!!! that is real scary. He said this has not happened to him since the time he just started out to busk. He said he would go to play outdoors since it's such a nice day, but he is scared that he won't make any money and then won't even have enough to re-enter the subway. So, he went to look for another location in the subway. Change space - change luck.
As I was setting up a lady came to ask me where I bought my pants. that was a nice surprise. People like my attire :)
As I was playing a guy took some photos of me for his sister. Their Dad usded to play saw in Atlanta, GA. But he didn't use a bow - he played the saw with his thumbs. He could play full songs by hitting the blade with his thumbs. The guy who took the photos said he can play the saw that way too, but not full songs. His Dad could also make train whistle sounds by blowing into his clasped hands - he could play full songs that way, too.
Izmir, a clown from Mexico told me he plays saw in his act ('La Vie En Rose') and also a miniature saxophone.
A policeman told me to turn down my volume. Since he kept standing not far from me I felt too self-conscious, plus I was really tired, so I packed up my stuff at 2:50 - very early for me.

Times Square, December 11th, 2006, photographer - Sean

November 29th - 14th street
Today I felt tired, fuzzy, and I just didn't feel like smiling. I didn't really feel like being there today. I didn't get enough sleep last night. A homeless looking lady set on the bench to my left, and an oriental blind man was sitting on the bench to my right. They cheered me up a bit - I could feel them directing good energy my way. It helped a bit.
An African-American gentleman with some missing teeth said his friend used to play saw. I asked about the friend. His name was Persy and he lived in Jamaica, Queens. He said I would have been too young to meet him. Now this gentleman totally cheered me up! I then played 'Ave MAria' and decided to dedicate it in my mind to Persy. After all, most saw players play this piece, so in all likelyhood he did, too. As I was playing, in my mind's eye I thought I saw Persy looking down from Heaven at me, and I could hear him laugh with joy. It was wild - thereafter my mood totally changed, I felt a surge of energy and a wave of joy swept over me. I felt like smiling again.

November 25th, 2006 - 14th street
A somewhat scary moment: a guy planted a boombox by me and proceeded to connect a microphone to it. I was afraid he would start singing along... He told me not to worrie - that he wasn't going to disturb me. For a moment he tried singing (while I was playing some classical music), but wasn't very loud, and after a few seconds he gave up and left.
A guy pulled out a huge quarter out of his pocket and asked me if I remember him. Of course I did - he is the manufacturer of the 'American Mint' candy, who gave me a box of his candy in 2 different occasions (written about in this blog at previous years). He said he moved to CA and is visiting NYC for Thanksgiving. What a coinsidence he ran into me again. He said a friend of his did a search on line for 'American Mint' and found him on my blog. Well, now he might find it again :)
Now this is really cool: A lady who was listening to me came upto talk with me. She said I look so happy and I said that maybe it's on account of the vibrations of the sound the saw creates, which are very strong. Teh lady continued to listen to my playing and then said "The music has vibrations which go streight up". She went on to say "you played this instrument in a past life. You gained lots of karma and you are here in the subway to share your karma and spread your happinnes. I can tell your happinness is genuine."
Monze (singer from Haiiti) showed up for her spot. She told me how the last time she was at this spot she lost $9 to a scam. This is what happened: A guy walked up to her, told her that he wants to give her a dollar, but he only has a $10 bill, so would she give him $9 back. She did. Later, she tried to pay at the laundromat with tht bill and the machine rejected it. So, she took the bill to the grocery store, and the clerck there told her the bill was fake. He showed her how the marker test fails on it. Laundering money through steeling from a street performer is very ugly. Monze shoed me the fake bill, and indeed when I looked at it in the light there was no water mark on it. So, now we are spreading the word about this scam, so that other buskers won't get hurt. Luke (singer/songwriter) told me the same thing happened to him a few years ago, but with a larger currency bill. I have to keep this in mind and not fall for this scam.

November 24th, 2006 - Union Square
Mat was playing a lap-guitar at the spot when I arrived. Really nice guy - he comes all the way from Connecticot to play in the subway! Wow!
I was suprised to see some of my friends today - mostly it was tourists walking by and I thought all the New Yorkers have the day off so I won't be seeing the "regulars" - people who always pass by at the same time. But I did see the nice lady who always makes a point to stop and listen to a piece and asks me how I'm doing. Also, the nice gentleman who shows up at 2pm everyday, sits on a bench and clapps his hands after each piece I play - showed up. I was very happy to see him. He told me tommorrow he will be roler-blading in Central Park.
Mecca Bodega showed up at 2pm and read the Village Voice while waiting for his 3pm spot. I think he comes all the way from upstate NY to play in the subway! Wow!

November 23rd, 2006 - Thanksgiving Day, Times Square
Today is the first day of theseason I wear an elv's hat and play Christmas carols.
As I was setting up a lady came by and gave me a yellow sheet of paper with a Thanksgiving Day Sudoku on it. How nice!
I don't think there was a single New Yorker out today. Everybody seemed to be tourists.
Not far from me there was a guy behind a table collecting donations for the homeless. I haven't seen this done for a long time in the subway.

Times Square, Thanksgiving Day 2006, photographer: Paulo Fehlauer

November 22nd, 2006 - Union Square
The guy who carries around huge canvases and creates artwork on them with the help of the public came by. He had a brand new canvas. He is working towards having canvases made in each borrow. This one is going to be with a Queens motif. He needed to tape the edges of his canvas and he asked if I would mind if he did it by me. He is a really nice guy. Of course I said I wouldn't mind him doing this right by me.
As he was taping his canvas somehow he reached for something in a plastic bag which contained many matchbooks. He makes artwork out of matchbooks (cuts them in the shape of the NYC skyline). Somehow, unbeknonst to him, a match stroke something. I smelled smoke. I looked at the guy but he didn't seem to notice the smoke so I thought maybe it came from upstairs. But then he did notice it - there was a fire inside his bag! He put it out with his bare hands! He had to put the fire out quicly before it spread. He said this has never happened to him before. Quite a few of his match books got ruined.
A photographer from Shan-Hay was taking may photos of me from all angles. I told my friend how this annoys me, when people who are obviously professional photographers take a million photos of me without first asking my permission to do so. So, my friend called the photographer over and explained to him how it isn't righ for him to disturb me with his camera as I'm working, without asking my permission. That was great. The photographer reluctantly said he would e-mail me the photos...well, I hope he does, but unfortunately most photographers promise me to e-mail me their photos and they never do... I am really grateful to the few photographers who do fullfill their promise, and to those who ask my permission to take my picture. This is the correct way to behave. Otherwise it makes me feel as if they are steeling from me. It's very disturbing for me to have someone snap my photo without my permission - I can't consentrate on my music when they do that, so it ruins the experience not only for me but for anybody who might be listening at that time. Also, when they use flash, it really hurts my eyes and for a few minutes afterwards my eyes continue to hurt.

November 20th, 2006 - Times Square
While I was playing one of Scott's original pieces the guy stood by me ad libing a song of his own, in a booming voice. He was making the lyrics up as he went, singing stuff like "all I need is a thousand dollars", "by the sea", etc. I told him he has a nice voice (which he did) and he said "I'm joking. You like it?". It was interesting, but I didn't really want him to stick around any longer as he was scaring people away...fortunately he then said "have a nice day" and left.
The nice x-thief girl told me she will be singing in the trains until 10pm. She was wearing a red clown nose today! Made her look very cute. She is going to Las Vegas on Wednesday for the holiday weekend. Her uncle is a cheff in a hotel there.
The nice cleaning guy at Times Square will not be working on the holiday. So, I won't be seeing him there when next I play there.
Steve (the Michael Jackson guy) and Dwayn (hip hop dancer) hung by me for a while and then moved on to look for a spot. Times Square is there meet up place.
The nice singing guys who work the trains went by. They started at 11:30 today, which is late for them.
Clovia, the amazing homeless lady, went by. She got a new guitar a week ago. I hope it doesn't get stolen from her, like the previous guitar and keyboard she had did. She was wondering how come she hasn't seen me at Union Square for a while.
A guy gave me a paper swan (origami).
At 3pm Lenny of Drumm Zone showed for his spot. He is from Georgia but travels a lot. He even worked at Las Vegas as a stand-up comedian. Real nice guy, with a great sense of an act. He sets up his stuff in a decorative way. He told me how he found a plant one day that somebody threw out. He put it by him when playing in the subway and people commented on how much they like the 'atmosphere' he was creating. Then one day he put a red wagon by him, and that attracted people, too. I like Lenny - he knows what he is doing.

November 17th - Union Square
When I got to the spot Eunique was singing there. He sure has a velvety voice. I can totally see him doing big casino gigs.
A guy stopped to say he hasn't heard a saw played with such dexterity in 20 years. So, I asked him where he heard it 20 years ago. He said he was on his way to a Casino in a reservation, up-state NY, with his family. There were some people on the reservation playing a saw. He said he lost $2000 in the casino and that in stead of giving his money to the casino he should have given it to the saw players, because hearing them was the highlight of that trip for him.
It's been a long time since I saw the guy with the healing handshake. He passed by today, and as in the old days, offered to shake my hand. I was wondering if my hand will still feel good after he shook it, and indeed it did. In the past, at a time when my hand hurt a lot after a few hours of playing, this guy's handshake would take away the pain.
A guy started telling me about his life - been married for 9 years, divorsed, thinks of himself as a hopeless romantic, loves the song 'Funny Valentine",etc. Some people I guess are just so lonely they just want someone to listen to them.
The nicest thing that happened today:
A guy stopped by the column put down his bag and started to look for something in it. I thought he was looking for a camera. He took out a bunch of yellow envelopes. I thought that was strange. He was looking through the envelopes as if for a specific one. I thought "is he going to give me an envelope? Is it an advertisement for something?"
It turned out he took photos of me at Halloween, and he was carrying the photos with him, hoping he would run into me so he could give them to me! Isn't that amazingly nice of him?! The photos turned out to be gorgeous. He is a good photographer.
This guitar player who is in a wheel-chair passed by. I see him at this spot from time to time and he always used to just stop briefly to say 'hi'. Today, he turned out to be a bit annoying. He wanted my spot, so from about 2:15 on words he just hung out near by. Close to 3pm he said "I know you want to tkae a break". I didn't get tht he was thinking that I would finish playing at 3 so that he could take the spot over. So, I just said "no, I'm not looking to take a break" (I thought he just thought I was tired, which I wasn't). Then he asked me if I wasn't going to be done at 3pm. I said that I will play until the musicians scheduled to play at the spot after me will arrive. I happened to know that the twin brothers were scheduled after me, and they always show up. They never miss a spot, so I was sure they will be there any moment. The guitarist in the wheel-chair said to me "the guy who has the permit to play at 3 said I could play". Now I knew that was a lie, since no "guy" was scheduled after me. The wheel-chair guy made a call on his cell phone, and after he was done I said to him "maybe you are in the wrong spot. If you have a friend with a permit, that guy is not scheduled here". But the wheel chair guy pretended not to hear me. Realising I wasn't going to hand over the spot to him he started to pretend he has no where else to go play. Well, where was he playing every day before now?! I told him he could play at the other ends of the station. He was like "there's other places in the station?", like he didn't know that this station, where I see him often, is huge. So I motioned in 2 directions and told him people busk at these spots. He pretended not to know about the other spaces... Then he started to angrily accuse me saying "you have a home", implying but not specifcally saying that he didn't. Well, if he can afford a cell phone, thatn he sure is doing OK! I told him I know who is coming after me. He said he didn't know them. I told him he will see when they show up. The wheel chair guy left. Gimagua were uncharacteristically late they showed up at 3:10. I told them about the wheel chair guy and they laughed at his lying attempt to kick me out of the spot.

November 15th - Times Square
Juan and a friend were playing at the spot when I arrived. They asked me to watch over their stuff and said they will be back in an hour. I told them I was only going to be there until 3pm so they should make sure to be back before that. They said no, for sure they will be back way before 3pm (it was a bit after 12noon).
As I was playing 'Over the Rainbow' a guy danced to the music. He then came over to me, kissed my hand, and left.
then a lady walked by me, dancing to the music with oriental moves.
Two gentlemen were standing nearby for a while, then approached me. It turned out one of them was the owner of the newly built store right by our spot! I asked him what kind of store he is going to have and he said it will be an electronics store, and that it will open in a month. I hope he will not mind the musicians near his store...and that he won't be playing loud music in his store to attract potential custommers attention!He said he saw me on TV, so I felt like we got off on a good start.
I started displaying a clip board for people to sign my e-mail list. The x-thieve girl signed my e-mail list! She ws the 2nd person to sign it.
Danny, the head of the construction crew at Times Square walked by, so I asked him if he will be at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the Construction Union's party I was invited to play at. I was kind of sure he was the one who recommended me. To my surprise it turned out he belongs to a different union! So, he was not invited to the Waldorf...
Luke stopped by after playing at the shuttle. He told me about how he was hired to sing on a major movie that was filmed at the curve between my spot and the shuttle train. He said the film crew got permission to shut off the entire area. That is pretty amazing, considering it's one of the busiest places in the subway.
Lots of people today told me they saw me on TV or read about me in a newspaper. That was nice.
Mean while, it was getting to be 3pm and Juan and his friend were still not back to pick up their stuff. I was starting to worry. Yazz Band showed up for their 3pm spot. I explained to them about the stuff and asked them to keep an eye on it, explaining what Juan looked like. They said they will. But before I was finished packing up Juan and his friend showed up. They appologied for being late. They are now going to play on the street.
The twins came by to see if the spot was available, but since Yaz Band was there the twins were going to try Rosevelt Avenue.
As I was waiting for the elevator I met an oriental lady who paints name signs on the street. She was just on her way to starting her day. She will be painting by Rockefeller Center today.

November 6th, 2006 - Union Square
A man said to me while I was playing: "I'm so glad I SAW you!"

November 3rd, 2006 - Union Square
Theo was playing at the spot before me. He worned me about a lady sitting on the bench. He said she was there since 10am and that she is nuts and he had to put her in place. She was dancing in front of him as he was playing, talking about Jesus. So, Theo stopped playing, walked up to her had said into her face: "Calm the f--- down". And she did. She went to the bench and set down quietly.
It was a good thing Theo warned me about her, because sure enough, as soon as I started playing, she got up and, holding a big black book (Bible?) in her hands, started to approach people who were listening to my music. I couldn't hear what she was saying to them, but it was obvious the people didn't like it and either tried to shake her off, or just left. Of course this was bad for me, but what was worse was when I saw the lady pointing at me while talking to a lady in the crowd, as if saying she is part of what I'm doing, and then the lady in the crowed gave her her business card. I really didn't like that she pretended to be with me.
Then she started reading aloud from her book and singing hymns really loud, trying to out-loud my music. She was standing right by the benches, a few feet away from me. This was too much, and I knew I had to follow Theo's advice, or this lady would hog my space for the rest of the day. So, I got up, walked up to her and repeated Theo's sentence to her. The lady seemed genuinly surprised. In turn, so was I. She turned out to be nice, and said she didn't know she was disturbing me and that she was sorry that she was. I explianed I have a permit for the area for the next 3 hours, and that she is not being nice by trying to out-loud me. I suggested that if she wants to sing she can go further away in the station. The lady set quietly the rest of my 4 hours there.
After me Faustino's group played at the spot. I warned them about this lady and told them what happened with her and Theo and then me. They thanked me for the warning. I don't know what happened with her after I left, but I bet she jumped up and did her thing as soon as Faustino's group started playing...
A strange thing was said to me today, which I wish someone would explain to me what it meant:
While I was playing, a man approached me and with a smile on his face said: "Put a motor on it and take it to Texas". He obviously enjoyed my playing, and waved a 'thank you' as he walked away.
I didn't have a chance to ask him what he meant by that.

14st, Halloween 2006, photographer: a good samaritan who bothered to carry the photos with him and give them to me the following time he ran into me in the subway. If you tell me your name I'll give you the photography credit here... Anyway, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

14st, Halloween 2006, photographer: Lady Macabea

October 30th, 2006 - Union Square
As every year, today I played dressed as a witch. Isn't it common sence that if a witch's favorite mode of transportation is a broom, than a witch's favorite musical instrument is ...a saw?
I LOVE being a witch :)

Halloween Eve at Union Square, 2006

October 18th, 2006 - Times Square
8 policemen approached me as I was playing. I got a bit nervouse, thinking maybe they will tell me to move. "I got some 2 by 4, you want to cut for me?" said one of them, grinning...
A girl photographed me with a big letter 'Q' she placed by me. She said she is doing a project where every day she makes a different letter and photographs it all over town.
2 people with puppets on a string filmed the puppets dancing to my music.
All in all, it was quite an artistic day!
Somebody gave me a Russian coin - that goes into my foreign coins collection.

October 14th, 2006, Union Square, photographer: Yun Li

October 11th, 2006 - Times Square
As I arrived at the spot, I noticed there are new (greeninsh gray) tiles on the wall and column by our spot, but for some reason, not on "our" column, the column in front of which the musicians set up. I wonder if the construction workers just didn't get around to doing 'our' column, or if it is meant to stay white.
College kids were just setting up 2 voter registration tables at the station. The entire time I was playing they were walking about shouting 'register to vote'. I asked one of them if they are getting paid to do this. He said no, they volunteer because they love democracy and harrassing people...
There were a lot of firemen walking by today, dressed in festive uniform, walking in groups of about 10. There must have been some event going on today.
In mid song, a burly looking policeman came to stand right by me and stopped my playing. He was very tall and stern looking. I was thinking to myself 'oh, no - he is going to bust me for the CDs or tell me I can't play there for some reason'. He siad "I have been stationed at Times Square for 3 and 1/2 years, and you are the best act they got down here". I was floored. Here I thought he was going to chase me a way, and instead he just wanted to tell me he liked what I do! He asked me if I knew this hip-hop group. I said I do. He said 'I hate them'. He asked if I know the one man band guy. I said I do. He said 'I hate him'. He asked me if I know the girl who sings in some style. I said I don't know her. He said 'I hate her'. He said it's because she only has 3 songs in her repertoir and she sings them over and over. He understands that for the passers by it doesn't matter - they each only get to hear one song at a time. But for him, standing there for hours and having to hear the same 3 songs over and over - it drives him nuts. I can totally relate to that. He siad he never saw me before, and we figured it was because he is usually stationed in the evening and I usually play earlier in the day. I told him he 'made my day' and he said he was glad he did.
Cindy, the nice lady who always passes by and stops to say 'hi' walked by. It was nice talking with her, as usual. She requested I play 'Christmas Morning' - a track on my CD which is her favorite. She said she listens to it again and again.
Luke Ryan stopped by to say 'hi' after he finished playing at the Shuttle for 8 hours. He told Cindy she has a luminous face and that NYC should be filled with people like her.
Cezar, the singing pianist walked by. He told me he played once this past month because he is so busy with his delivery job. He is almost done with his drug rehabilitation program and he plans on getting his masters degree.
The thief girl came by. She was happy to see me. She is still searching for a job and wants to get a degree & get married. She said she is feeling weak and she needs to drink orange juice. She walked away. I started to play, and after about a little while she was back with an orange juice bottle, asking me to open it for her. She was too weak to open it.

October 6th, 2006 - 14th street
A guy asked me: 'do you cook?'
I said: 'no, I don't cook'.
Guy: 'you don't cook?'
Me: 'no. My husband cooks'.
Guy: 'Where is your husband?'
Me: 'he is at work'.
Guy: 'he is not here. I need someone to cook for me'.
Me (trying to get him to move on): 'maybe you could ask one of the people over there' (motioning to people sitting on benches about 10 feet away).
Guy: 'no, I don't want to walk that far'...

Another crazy guy wearing very big shoes stood close to me. He was making strange movements, as if miming that he is listening and looking at my stuff. All in very broad movements. I wasn't sure if he was acting or if he was just crazy. He was listening to my playing and he made his hand and arm tremble to the sound for a while, then stopped. While bowing to me he said "your majesty". Again and again. I couldn't play with him doing his act in my face, so I stopped playing. But he wouldn't go away. I tryed to play again, but it was quite annoying having him there, and he was blocking my view and people's view of me. So, I stopped playing and stood up to indicate I was taking a break. He still wouldn't go away. He kept muttering "she has an amazing aura.", "one mustn't touch her, only listen in awe", "an angel". I didn't know what to do with him, so I went over to the near by bench, where Clovia, a homeless lady was sitting with her overflowing shopping cart. She told me she had 11 guitars and keyboards stolen from her. She used to sing at Columbus Circle outside, and saw the Trump Building being built, and she also sang in the subway, but now she does art work. She showed me her hat, shoes and bag which she painted with colorfull splashes. It's very nice. She said she had made pants like that, but they got stolen. She still sings in the subway, and makes much more money at it than trying to sell her art work, but she doesn't enjoy singing any more, whereas she really enjoys selling her art work, even though she barely makes any money off of it. She said she is psychic and that I should play despite the crazy guy and everything will be fine. She said I will make more money. As we were talking, a lady came over to me and bought my CD - even though I wasn't playing and I wasn't even by my stuff!
Clovia told me how she always meets this guy, and when ever he sees her he gives her money - sometimes a $20 bill. He was just there before, talking with her (I saw them talking as I arrived at the spot). She said he appologized that he didn't have any money today and only gave her a couple of dollars.
The crazy guy was making (or pretending to make) a phone call at the pay phone. He then was about to walk out the station, but he was waving at the token booth clerck, so Clovia said he will be back (he is trying to get the token booth clerck to let him back in afterwords). He indeed left and immediately returned... Clovia said he wants to make another phone call. And he did. So, at this point it was about 40 minutes that I was waiting for him to leave. I decided to try playing a gain, even though he was still there. I played one song - and a person bought my CD! I felt a surge of good luck. Clovia was smiling at me. Every time a person stood looking at me, or talking with me and then they turned to walk away, Clovia would lift up her head and look at them. Immediately the people turned back and gave me a donnation.
The crazy guy stood motionless by the pay phone in a stride position, like a statue. He just stood there, frozen, for a long time. Then when I looked up, he was gone.
Clovia fell asleep. When Theo, the singer'songwriter/guitar player came for his permitted time slot, as I was talking to him, Clovia must have left, because when next I looked at the bench, she was gone.

October 2nd, 2006 - Times Square
A guy put a heart shaped pendant, with diamonds in it, in my donations box. This is going streight into my 'subway treasures' box!

Photographer: Oscar Durand, Union Square, summer 2005

September 29th, 2006 - 14th street
The guy who gave me the bracelet a few days ago walked by. He told me that he goes to the school of Audio Technology and that they just had a class about idiophones - and everybody at the class was talking about me! How cool is that?!
This girl saidto me: "I'm moving away from NY and I think you are one of the people in NYC I'm going to miss the most".
A guy said just yesterday he saw the movie 'Dummy'with me in it, and he was so excited to run into me live.
Another guy said "you always show up at the best times. Always when I'm depressed or something. You cheer me up".

September 27th, 2006 - Times Square
The day started with me finding a penny on the street. That set the tone for a nice day.
When I got to the spot at Times Square I was appoled to see they had construction workers fixing the cieling, righ tby our spot. the whole area in front of our spot was blocked off with yellow police tape, leaving just a narrow stretch of space by our spot. So, remembering how I got thrown out of Columbus Circle by the policemen who said music is not allowed near construction sites, I decided to set up by the column to the right of where the MUNY spot is, so that I won't be too near the construction site.
As I was setting up a homeless man asked me if I was starting or finishing my set. He said he had seen/heard me before and that he likes my music. He left to go, then came back to tell me he had also seen another person playing the saw there. Talking with the nice homeless man felt like the 2nd omen that this day was going to be nice. But I didn't quite know how it was going to be nice, as I was fretting I might be asked to move on account of the construction.
I played for a bit, and even though where I set up was only about 10 feet away from the usual spot - it sucked! Surprisingly, because I was actually closer to the traffic flow...
Don Witter, the guitar player who played at the spot before me (but wasn't there as I got there) came by to say 'hi'. He told me he set up at our usual spot and that it was fine. The construction work did not bother him, and the construction work is actually very quiet - they are just putting putty on the cieling. I'm glad they are fixing the cieling, because every time it rains outside, it rains inside the Times Square station righ tby our spot. Anyway, I stayed at the other location for a few more minutes, but as it continued to suck, I decided to move back to our spot.
I haven't played there for 5 minutes, and as I was talking with Frank, who plays guitar and sings on the 1,2,3 platform, a lady dressed in corporate attire approached me. She said she is with the General Contractors Association of NY and that they do all the construction work in the subway. I thought to myself that for sure she was going to throw me out. She then said that the construction association and the MTA are trying to do something together. I thought to myself 'oh, no, maybe they are trying to have a law against music near construction sites!". Then she said "maybe you already got notice about it - we've been looking for you for quite a while now". I was stumped. Huh, they've been looking for me?
She said that they have contacted the MTA a number of times, trying to find me, because a number of the construction workers recommended inviting me to perform at their association's annual party! That was so nice, and so funny - here I thought they were going to throw me out, when all the while they wanted to invite me to play!
A guy asked me where I've been - he said he missed seeing me around. He said he plays guitar and breaks his strings every once in a while. He thought I don't have that problem, so I told him about how I broke the saw once.
A Jewsih guy dressed like a religious man talked to me for a long time. He really liked the sound of the saw. I was hoping after talking with me for so long that he would at least give a donation, but when he didn't, Frank, the guitar playing singer said he never bothers with 'these people'. They never give a donation. Unfortunately, I know he is right... but I keep hoping one of them will turn out to be nice.
A lady said she remembers me playing 'Amazing Grace' at 14th street about a year ago. She said she was just telling a musician friend of hers about me last Sunday. She asked me to record 'Amazing Grace'. She liked my rendition of it so much, that a year later she was still raving about it.
A lady said she is from Westchester and that she is a breast cancer survivor. She told me she just encountered 2 people with bad energy on the train and that they almost caused an accident. She was happy to see me, "an angel", she said.
A girl from Seattle who is studying journalism at NYU interviewed me and 2 construction workers about my busking, for a class essignment. She promised to e-mail me her article.
The girl who works as a thief stopped by. I asked her how she was doing and told her I haven't seen her for a while. This reminded her that I know what she does, and I was hoping that would cause her not to try to steal from me again, which it did. She told me she is 28 years old, and that when she was 25, she returned home from doing "what she does" as she calls it, and her mother had her belongings packed and told her to leave. She spent the night at a shelter, and put her stuff in storage. She wants to get into university now, to study finance, and she wants to get a job - she is tired of doing "what she does". She also wants to get married and have kids. She told me of a friend of hers who left home at 17 because her step father abused her. She said that this girl joined a church and that later she got married a few times to people who abused her, but now she finally has a good husbnad and a good life. At a funeral for her sister who died of cancer this girl faced her step father and told him she forgives him for the bad things he did to her, but that it remains to be seen if God forgives him. The thief girl gave me a $1,000,000 bill advertising a church (I've gotten such a fake bill before. I keep meaning to past it inside my donnations bucket, because it looks nice, but I keep forgetting to do that). The guy who loves the song 'Hymn A L'Amour' walked by. He is so nice, always full of superlatives for my playing. By now we both know that whenever he shows up I have to play 'his song' for him.
Gimagua, the twin brothers who play guitars and sing, showed up on time for their permit, so that was theend of my day. It was a fun day.

September 25th, 2006 - Union Square
Today was my birthday! I decided that on my birthday I should do whatever makes me the happiest. Well, playing in the subway is what makes me the happiest, so that's exactly what I did.
I opened and closed the day by playing 'Happy Birthday', accapella on the saw.
Pretty much immediately after, a guy bought my CD, so that felt like a birthday present to me.
The nice oriental ballet dancer whom I see at this spot often gave me some cookies wrapped in a white napkin. After she did, I told her it was my birthday and she was happy she just gave me a present. I offered cookies to the cleaning lady at the station, but she said she just finished lunch. On my way home I gave cookies to the guy who walks the trains for money (the one with the diformed hand who asks people to smile. He said "nobody smiles on Mondays".
I also gave cookies to the guy who works at the post-office, who happend to run into me on the street, and to a kid neighbor. Everybody wished me a happy birthday, and it was fun.
A guy invited me to be the openning act for his band in November, at the Bowery Ballroom, a theater which houses about 800 people.
A guy who told me his name was Peter said he knows Sean Grissom, the cellist who also plays in the subway.
The guy who gave me a bracelet he made himself a few days back told me that that day he gave me the bracelet, he was so busy listening to my music that he got on the wrong train (the 'N' instead of the 'Q')...
A guy who goes to Riverside Church and who has seen me play about a year ago wants to recommend me to the music director at his church.
A girl gave me a glossy flyer advertising her performance and invited me to attend. the flyer says she is Mukamabano Marie Claudine "renowned Rwandan artist".

September 13th, 2006 - Union Square
So often people want to touch the saw. I never understood why. I don't see people wanting to touch other musical instruments people play, so what is it in the saw that makes people want to touch it?
Well, today, when a guy approached me asking if he may touch the saw, I finally had a chance to understand it a bit. After touching the saw the guy exclaimed "it's hard". So I asked him what he expected it to feel like. He said he expected it to feel soft, because the sound it makes is soft! I thought that was very interesting.

As part of the 'September Concert' - 9/11 tribute, Times Square, September 11th, 2006. Photographer: Tim

September 8th, 2006 - Columbus Circle
Today I was filmed for the doccumentary 'Buskers USA'. The Buskers USA film people were so nice! They first filmed me playing in the subway, then we went outside and did the interview in Central Park, and then they went back into the subway with me to film me setting up. The really cool thing is that I was recommended to them by Dingo the Clown from Portland, Oregon, and by Kirsten Anderson - a great busker in Seattle. So cool how buskers around the USA and the world are connected, sort of like a big family.
I was only sorry the film crew left when they did - about 10 minutes later, I wished they could have filmed what happened: 2 policemen stopped my playing and told me it's not allowed to play near a construction site. I told them the construction has been going on there for a month, and people have been playing (with permits) and the construction workers don't mind it (actually, they love it - they cheer me after I finish songs). And, in addition to that - there was no construction work going on there today at all - there was the construction site, blocked by wooden walls, but NO construction workers.
Still, the police insisted it's not allowed to play, not even at the other permitted spot at Columbus Circle, by the benches, because it's in porximity to the construction site... (even though it's a totally separate area...) Anyway - I was thinking the film guys would have probably been interested to film this and interview the policeman. There were lots of other police men walking by before hand, and on previous days, while construction was actually going on, and none of them thought it was illegal for me to play there...
Oh, and down on the platform below there were 2 South American guys playing using microphones and amps (which is not allowd on platforms), while construction was going on on the opposite platform - the police didn't stop them. That was strange.
So, now I can't go back to that spot, because if the same policemen would see me there, that would be bad.

September 6th, 2006 - Union Square
A Polish lady told me she remembers attending orchestra concerts of Polish composer Penderecki which included the musical saw! How cool is that?!
A Russian lady told me her suster's name is also Natalia, and that my name-day is September 8th. How cool is that?!
A young man stood by me for a while. then he searched through his bag for a while, presumebly looking for some money. When he couldn't find any, he put his hand into his pocket, took out a bracelet made of white string and clay/femo beeds and put it in my donnations bucket, saying "I made this necklace". If he only knew how happy he made me. I felt a searge of energy go through me. I was tired before, but after this incident, I gained my 2nd wind. I will still have this bracelet long after any money I got will be gone.
I got a couple of Japanese coins (I only know they are Japanese because the guy who gave them to me said he was from Japan). One of the coins has a hole in the middle.
Lester, (busker, member of Music Under NY) stopped by to say 'hi'. He now plays solo (used to busk with a band).
2 saw players ran into me today, one from Texas, one from Seattle - how cool is that?!

September 1st, 2006 - Columbus Circle
There is some major construction going on at this spot. Very noisy. And this is the noisiest station as it is, with the express trains passing by. Very difficult spot to play at. Not only did the construction add a lot of noise, but there was also this oriental air-hoo player who was even louder than the train and construction noise! He was not supposed to play where he did while a permitted musician (me) was there. A police man walked by. I asked him "may I ask for your help, please?" Without stopping his walk he said "no". I asked "why not?" He said "I'm busy" and dissappeared. I thought that was not only rude of him, but also, what if I had a real emergeancy?
The construction men were so nice. Every once in a while after I finished playing a piece they would cheer and call out "give a hand to the Saw Lady". That was so sweet.

Photographer: Oscar Durand, Times Square, summer 2005

July 10th, 2006 - Times Square
While playing at Times Square today I was photographed by Roberto Soares Gomes, a photographer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 'Photographer of the Year' contest of the Popular Photography Magazine. Roberto was one of the 3 finalists in this contest...and he won!

You can see his photos, including the one of me, and a video showing the contest, including a segment of when he photographed me, at The wole story will be published in the September issue of Popular Photography (on street stands in August).
Photos by Roberto Gomes:

The winning photo ----------------------------------- another good photo Roberto took

Photos from the photo session:

Roberto buying my CD:

July 7th, 2006 - Columbus Circle
The MUNY spot at Columbus Circle is right in front of a door. Inside this door sits a really nice guy who always leaves and locks the door by 2pm. Today he told me that he lives in PA and commutes to work in NYC (behind that door) every day. He has to leave his house at 4am to get to work!
On my way back home I stopped to chet with the Cagle Family who were at the Times Square MUNY spot. Not far was a slim blond girl selling hugs! that's new for NYC. Her sign said "Swedish hug for $1". Melody Cagle said this girl is actually doing really well. so, we watched for a while, and the strange thing is, it is mostly women who buy her hugs... These 2 ladies who bought a hug from her noticed we were watching, so when they passed by us they said to us "how cool that we can now say that we got a hug in Grand Central" - they were actually NOT in Grand Central but in Times Square...but they thought it was exciting to get a hug... The wiered thing is it was mostly women who bought hugs. Melody said the girl was motioning to guys to come and get their hugs, and that guys shyed off. May be it had to do with the guy who was standing not far from the blond hugger, acting as her shaperon. Melody Cagle said he was there with the girl from the time she started selling her hugs, so he obviously is her body guard. We were laughing and saying how we are in the wrong business - here we are working so hard playing music, and this girl all she does is stand there and give 1 second hugs...

Photographer: Oscar Durand, 59th street, summer 2005

July 5th, 2006 - 14th street
The trains were not working properly this morning, and I ended up sitting on the train for about 45 minutes, waiting for it to go...Despite the delay I finally made it to my spot at exactly 12noon, the time my permit starts. So, I lost the 15 minutes setting up time (which is why I like to get to my spot 15 to 30 minutes early).
No sooner did I start playing then a group of about 20 people all dressed in white T-shirts showed up. Their shirts said something like "Love God love people". One of them approached me so I asked him where they were from. He said they were from North Carolina and that I should visit there because there is a large artistic community there.
The group consisted of mostly kids, about 11 years old to end of high school I'm guessing, plus a few supervising adults. They set up a table by the elevator. Most of them scattered around the mezanine, brochures in hand. The kids were the ones doing the flyer handing work. The adults just watched, and told the kids when to change their spot.
One kid came over to me to tell me I am very talented. He then planted himself to my left in mid corridor, which was annoying since he was blocking theway for people to pay attention to me. I asked him if he could move, explaining to him that as he is standing so close to me, with his back to me, it's as if he is telling people that I'm a boring musician. He was nice and agreed to move.
It was interesting to watch their technique. Unlike most religion promoters I see in the subway who usually hand flyers to people whether people want the flyer or not, these people did not force themselves on anybody. They just stood there, not hoking their agenda, but just quietly stood there, not approaching shoving flyers in people's direction. They waited for people to approach them. Most of these kids were nice looking, blond, clean cut kids. People actually approached them! Their brochures looked nice and glossy and some booklets had the picture of the Mona Lisa's face on it (as from the movie 'The Da Vinci's Code").
I noticed their technique of placing their hand on the shoulder of the person they were talking to, to make the person feel as if they cared about him or they were his friend. At one pointa little blond girl who looked as if she might be 11 years old set on the bench. At the other end of the bench was an older guy who looked a bit dishevled. He was busy doing something which looked like he was cleaning a notebook. He looked like th etype of person who might not be totally clean or sane or friendly... The little girl was totally not intimidated by him. She sooted closer to him on the bench and started talking with him. I heard her say "are you from around here?" This little girl totally directed the conversation, but in a really nice way. In mid conversation she stood up and placed her hand on the guy's shoulder. She got him to express interest in recieving the brochures she was holding. She was amazing. The guy then bid her a polite farwell and left.
One of the supervising adults was making baloon animals and handing them to little children. It seemed as if the kids he gave the baloons to were not polite - I noticed a few of them didn't even say thank you.
The missionaries kept rotating their position, so that every one of them didn't stand in the same spot for more than about 20 minutes.
Towards 3pm most of the kids gathered in the corridor to my right and I could hear them singing songs like "This Little Light of Mine". One of them tried to film the whole event with a big video camera, but a police man quickly told him to stop. It's not allowed to film in the subway for security reasons.
By 3pm they all gathered by the far wall - they seemed to be having a talk. the next time I looked up - they were gone.
While all this commotion was going on, a well dressed musician came and set on the bench. I nodded 'hello' to him, the way I always do to all musicians I see - after all we are like a brotherhood of music makers. But this guy did not say 'hello' back. I knew he was a musician since he ad a cart with an amp on it and an instrument case as if for a keyboard.
The next time I looked up, he was gone. 5 minutes later I could hear him loud and clear, playing on the platform right bellow where I was sitting. Not only was this not nice of him - he should have had the ettiquet to set up a bit farther down the platform as to not to encroach on my sound space - but he actually crancked his amp up trying to out-loud me! It was very annoying. He caused me to have to cranck up my amp, which made me be too loud. His sound was mixing with mine and it wasn't pretty. I had a permit to play there. He didn't. I was on the mezanine, where it's leagal to use amplification. He was on the platform where it's illegal to use amplification. I was thinking how I would like to call the cops on him, but how I couldn't do that because that would not be nice. Not that what he was doing was nice! He was not following the un-written busker's code of showing respect to fellow buskers by not setting up on them.
Then, a police lady wearing shorts (first time I noticed cops had short pants as part of their uniform) appeared. I was playing 'Over the Rainbow'. Of course as soon as I see a cop, my thought is "Oh, no, they are going to bust me for selling CDs...". The next time I lloked up the lady cop was talking with a guy who was listening to me. I heard him say to her 'it's amazing - 'Over the Rainbow' played on a saw!" The police officer walked away and I sighed in relief, since she didn't bust me for the CDs. I thanked the guy (he didn't know the reason I was thanking him was that he made the police officer think I'm a desirable presence there). The guy approached to tell me that years ago he played an Aaron Copland piece titled "A Second Hurricane" in which there is a very small part for a musical saw. I didn't know of this piece and I found it very interesting to learn about it. While he was talking with me, the police officer approached... To my amazement she asked me "Is that musician down there bothering you?" I said yes, he was causing me to have to cranck up my sound. She said "there is too much music here. You have a permit to be here and he doesn't". She knew I had a permit on account of the MUNY banner hanging on the wall behind me. I asked her if she wants to see my permit. She said yes, took my permit and walked away. I thought it was a bit strange that she walked away with it, and I was a bit nervous as to what if she doen't return it to me - it has all my permits for the coming week and a half on it... But I shouldn't have worried. She returned the permit and said that that non-permitted musician is blocking the way, and that it's too much music. She said that she will ask him to leave. I thanked her profusely - she was like an angel sent from heaven. She told me that if this ever happens again I should just walk into the police station which is at the other end of the hallway and complain (my only problem would be worrying about what would happen to all my equipment while I was in the police station, and packing it all up to take allong with me, and then having to set it up again - that would waist about 1/2 an hour...). And all this time she didn't even look in the direction of my CDs!!! What a miracle.
A lady approached to tell me that thee is a guy at her church who plays the saw. I asked where her church was and she said in Brooklyn, so I said 'Oh, is that Moses?' She said no. I asked if it ws Irving. To my surprise, she said it wasn't. Apparently there is yet a 3rd saw player who playes at a church in Brooklyn! His name is Mr. Edmeade and he, like the other 2 Brooklyn sawyers, is from the Carribian (Monserat). She said he learned to play saw from his father. I asked her to give him my card as I would like to invite him to the annual saw players gathering at my house.
This guy I always see, mostly at Union Square, who has an art project came by to ask me if I would sign his canvas. Ever since 9/11 he has been carrying huge canvases around town, having people sign them and write little messages on them. Each canvase has a theme. The first one was 'I Love NY'. This one was his 40th canvas, and it'sw theme printed in large letters in mid canvas is 'I Love Union Square Park'. Both New Yorkers and tourists sign his canvases with the colorful markers he has hanging on the canvas. Also hanging on the canvas are match-books he cut in the shape of the Manhattan sky-line. He gave me such a match-book on 2 different occasions in the past. He sells them for $2 each, to help pay for the expense of the canvases.

I signed the canvas with 'In stead of using your saw to cut down trees with, use it to make music'. the artist photographed me doing so. He also photographed me playing by the canvas. He is going to publish a book with photos of the canvases, and also have an exibit in an art gallery. He has been working on this project for 4 years now. On this last canvas he has people who wrote the phrase 'I love NY' in Hebrew and in arabic. I noticed a Hebrew writing on the canvas saying 'Israelis are everywhere'... I thought that was kind of an arrogant thing for someone to write...
A nice gentleman who told me he was 75 years old and that he has seen/heard saw playing a number of times during his life told me that the visual of my performance is as wonderful as the sound. He said that I make the music visual. I thought that was a nice comment.
A lady who has lost manny teeth asked me questions about the saw. She told me that she gets school supplies and offers them to people for donnations. She can't carry to much at once, so she can's have much to offer at once, plus she doesn't have a table to set up her wares on for sale. But that's how she makes a living. She said she had seen me before and asked me to play the 'Maria' religious song.
'El Street Cafe', the south American group who was scheduled to play after me didn't show up, so I stayed an extra hour and enjoyed the peace and quite left behind after the rude busker and the nice miisionaries left.

Photographer: Oscar Durand, 59th street, summer 2005

July 3rd - Times Square
I met a nice lady dressed in beautiful African style garb. She turned out to be the star performer of the Broadway show 'The Lion King'! She bought my CD and expressed interest in having me perform at one of her theatrical performances.
A saw player from NJ and his wife came all the way from NJ especially to see me play. He usually works on Monday mornings, but this Monday he was off work on account of the holiday, so he grabbed the opportunity to come see me play. I was the first saw player he has ever seen. He has been practicing his saw playing for about 2 years I think he said, and he is doing so in secret from his children, as he wants to surprise them in their annual family talent show coming up in August. He thinks his grand father used to play saw. He was very observant, and I enjoyed talking saw technique with him. He noticed that I don't bow just in order to get the sound going, but that I use the bowing to accentuate and phrase the music. He also counted the number of notes I play with one stroke of the bow. It was really a pleasure having him there - a person who actually understood what I was doing and who could appreciate the more difficult phrases. He told me that a guy stood by him to listen. Teh guy told him that he can't hear the sound of the saw. All he could hear was my singing. The NJ saw player told him that my "singing" is the sound of the saw!
Manny people snap their cameras/cell phone cameras/video cameras at me. Some post their photos on Flickr and sometimes I run into these photos. Today a guy who took my photo actually had the courtasy of e-mailing to tell me that he placed the photo on Flickr. He totally made my day. What a nice person! Here is what his Flickr page says:

Natalia Paruz, musical saw virtuoso

Natalia Paruz was playing in the Times Square subway station. I was lucky enough to
get a chance to chat with her. Her website is
Photographer: Harris Graber

March 29th, 2006 - 14th Street
Today I was filmed for a student doccumentary.
A girl from Italy promised she'd e-mail me photos she took of me.
The street art guy walked by with his huge canvase. He gave me a match book he cut into the skyline of NYC. He told me about his plans for his canvases and how he aimes to market the art.
Lots of friends walked by, but the most amazing encounter was with Rinah - a friend of mine from 20 years ago! We haven't been in touch since we were basically kids at dance school. So cool that she recognized me after all these years and that she happened to walk by when I was there. If I wasn't playing in the subway I would have probably never seen her again.

Photographer: Pastor Church, Times Square, May 2006

March 27th, 2006 - Times Square
Today something amazing happened... I started the day by playing 5 songs, and no body was paying any attention to me. That is unusual. I was thinking about how strange this is. Don, the guitar player who played at the spot before me told me that it was a really slow day for him. Anyway, Gray Wolf's father in law (who I think is homeless) walked by and enthusastically waved 'Helo' to me. At that moment I felt a surge of energy, and immediately after, not one but 2 people rushed to me to buy my CD and other people gathered as well. It was amazing. It felt as if Gray-Wolf's father-in-law was Elisha the Profet or something... Anyway, from that moment on I had a great time.
This guy stood in front of me and started making up poetry about my music. It was cool. He was addressing thepassers by in a theatrical manner, making up poetry lines. Then he came over to talk and Luke the guitar player/singer who just finished playing at the shuttle came over to talk as well. The poetry guy wanted us all to collaborate, and he talked on and on... Then Chill & Bow and their friend came over and serenaded me with their beautiful 3-part harmony. Chill is recovering from some illness, so he was kind of weak. These guys are amazing. What an honor it is to have them sing just for me!
Finally Luke took the innitiative to break up the talk so I could resume playing.
The guy who does street art (he has huge canvases, each one with a different theme and he has people sign them and write whatever they want on them, to make a collective artistic statement) pased by with one of his canvases. He told me it is his 27th canvase. The theme of this one is 'I Love NY'.
Close to 3 pm a police officer came by to tell me it's not allowed not only to sell but even to just display a CD in the subway. That sucked. Luckily he didn't go any farther (ticket, confiscation, jail...).

14th street, May 2006, painter: Zina Saunders for her book Overlooked New York

March 24th, 2006 - 59th Street & Lex
Today at about 3pm the same cop who was there about 2 weeks ago came to tell me I can't use amplification on the platform. He was very nice, though, and didn't give me a ticket even though this was the 2nd time he told me about it... So, I packed up early and left. Unfortunately, I won't be able to play that spot (at least in the afternoon) anymore, because of that. I am sad about it because I really like this spot.

March 22nd, 2006 - 14th street
Today the small group of B-boyss showed up at about 2pm. They waited patiently, but it was hard to play while they were there. A little before 3pm I handed over the spot to them, but Faustinos group showed up at 3 - they were scheduled to play there. The B-boys gave them a hard time. The 3 guys from Faustinos group didn't have the actual permit - the leader of the group had it and he hasn't showed up yet. So, the B-boys started their show and Faustinos people couldn't do anything until the guy with the permit showed up. I don't know how it ended - I left before it got resolved.

Photo by Chibi Jax, May 3rd, 2006, Times Square

March 20th, 2006 - Times Square
When I got to the spot Faustinos group was playing. They are great, and such nice guys. At the end of their set Juan and another guy did a tune by themselves which wasn't an Andean tune like they usually play. It's cool how at theend of their set Juan introduced all the band members over the mic, just like at a club gig.
Juan and Gray Wolf asked me to watch their stuff for a couple of hours. Gray Wolf had a new guitar since his old one was stolen together with the rest of his stuff while he was sleeping. He suspects it was stolen by the guitar player who used to play in a duo with his singer wife (his wife threw him out...).
Construction started around my spot at Times Square today - they are doing something to the tiles on the pillars. It was kind of cool to hear their saws going along with mine. One of the construction workers even took pictures of me. (NOTE: The following day Don, the classical guitar player, was playing at this spot. The construction people were still there. They told him how they enjoyed my playing there the day before!)
At the end of my session Gray Wolf brought me an interesting Aloe drink he got in China town. He always brings me interesting ethnic foods. Like the cactus plant from South America.
Heth & Jed (guitar playing singers) came to take over the spot from me. I was glad they showed up on time because the brass band from Chicago was threatening to give me a hard time...

March 13th, 2006 - Times Square
Today I was tired in the morning, after not having slept much the night before. I was contemplating being lazy and not going to play today. But because Adam the film maker who is doing a doccumentary about people who play the musical saw was supposed to come film me in the subway today, I dragged myself out of the house. Then something micaculous happened: I kept getting all these little signes that it was a good thing I did go to play today:
First, a nice guy offered to help me carry my equipment up the stairs, and he ended up helping me with all 4 flights of stairs!
I didn't even sit down in the train and a guy came to me and bought my CD!
I got to the spot at Times Square, and to my amazement and relief there was no other musician there! Now that's a miracle, because usually at this spot I have to wait for my turn because there are always musicians there.
2 people patiently waited for me to finish setting up because they wanted to hear me play.
So, all these things made me feel glad I did show up to play today.
Luke, the guitar playing singer came by, having finished his set at the Shuttle. He really liked the piece I was playing, 'When I'm Alone'.
As everyday, the singing brothers went by having finished their set, only this time it was only the tall brother. He said his brother had to take care of some business.
A guy who plays guitar (I think on the trains) stopped by to tell me he loves me...
I had a nice discussion with Pedro, a journalist from Mexico about his 2 week visit to Israel.
Jim Bassi walked by me twice today - he is the "'Ave MAria' guy" - for some bizar reason every time he walks by me I happen to be playing 'Ave Maria'... Now, I usually only play this piece once every 2 hours, so the chances of somebody always walking by me as I play this particular piece are really small! Yet, it has been happening for many months now that whenever Jim walks by me I happen to be playing 'Ave Maria'...and today it happened twice!
I got a buch of people appologizing to me... one guy appologized saying he wants to give me a donation but he doesn't have any money. Another guy appologized he doesn't have a CD player...
The coolest thing today was when this guy told me that he saw me the other day at 59th street. He was inside a subway car, the doors opened and the sound of my music drifted into the subway car. He said that EVERYBODY in the subway car were cranking their necks trying to see where the sound was coming from. People were asking 'what is this sound?' so he announce to the whole subwya car: "It's the Saw Lady!" People marveled that he actually knew me, so he told them all to visit! I think that is so cool! It totally made my experience with the police on 59th street that day worth it - now I'm glad I was there.
This same guy told me he still sees my flyer all over town. I asked him where he sees it and he told me on 23rd Ave. So I said, 'wow - I put flyers there so long ago, in...' and he said 'December'. I was like - yeah, and it's still there? He told me the flyers are still there. Amazing.
Adam filmed me for a while for his doccumentary on saw players. I was happy he really liked the original music I was playing.
A lady who happened to walk by me twice today told me she thinks I should perform in the subway wearing a Scarlet O'Hara type dress. She suggested it would attract more attention. Of course, she is right, but I won't feel comfortable wearing such a dress. I explained to her about having to shlep equipment up and down stairs, and having to do battle with overpowering performers who want to kick me out of a spot and with the police, crazy people and thieves... doing all that in a dress is not a good idea. This is why there are so few women buskers who survive for more than a few times of performing in the subway (but I have been busking for over 10 years!). Anyway, I am totally not a dress type person. I very much enjoy wearing the Goth clothes I wear for playing in the subway.
Augustin Merchant came to NYC today from Texas. He is originally from Mexico. He is doing a doccumentary about immigrants in the USA. I was the first subway performer he saw, and he decided to include me in his film titled 'The Truth of the Planet'. He told me that in Maryland he saw a much better situation for immigrants than in NYC. Immigrants are organized in MD, there are educational classes for teaching immigrants English and a work skill, they have a website, etc., whereas in NYC he says there is no real organization of immigrants.
At 3:20 singer B.J. showed up and I gave the spot over to him.
It was a fun day today

Photographer: Diana Moon, Times Square, March 12th, 2006

March 10th, 2006 - 59th Street
Today a Policeman told me I can't have amplification on the platform and asked me to move. He suggested that I could try the area before the stairs down to the 4,5 trains down stairs. I've tried that space many years ago and it wasn't good at all - not many people there. I was tired anyway, so even though I only played for 2 hours I went home.

March 8th, 2006 - 14th Street
A duo from South America was playing at the spot when I got there, under Raices MUNY banner. I was happy to see my friend, whom I haven't seen in a long time - I think he is the best Andean player in the subway. His wife was there, too, selling the CDS. They gave the spot over to me at noon. They had a permit for the LIRR at 3pm.
This guy whom I've seen here before came by. Before, he just started dancing, which was a bit strange because I wasn't sure if he wanted something from me, but today he asked my permission to dance to my music, so I was like, 'OK'. It's not easy to dance to my music, but he did a good job, he sure has guts and a passion for movement. It was one of these unique moments. He was very nice, thanked me when he was done and walked on.
A young woman set on the bench listening for a while. She then came up to me and asked me about saws. She said she is a violinist who had picked up her father's saw and has figured out how to play but was having some issues. The really cool thing was when I asked her "who or where did you first see a saw player which caused you to want to learn to play the saw?" she answered "you"!

March 6th, 2006 - Times Square
Today started in a very humbling way: As I was setting up a homeless guy wearing a blue plastic bag on his head asked me where there is a shelter near by. I told him I was sorry but I didn't know. He insisted that I do know, saying that he has asked me about a food pantry before. I told him I think he is mistakening me with somebody else. He said - you play the guitar, right? I told him that I don't play guitar but the musical saw. He thought that was a new instrument for me, still thinking I am that guitar player he met before. I told him that no, I've been playing the saw for more than 10 years. He said 'but how can it be that that was a different person, I remember your smile!'...Anyway, he than said he would give me a donnation later, and went away. I finished setting up and started playing. A short while after, the guy returned, and put a dime in my bucket. I was so impressed and humbled - I mean, obviously he needs that dime way more than I do! He had such a positive disposition. About 3 hours later he walked by again, waving 'hello' to me, smiling. It felt like we were old friends. It was nice.
Of course, the two singing brothers went by and greeted me with a big hug, as always. No matter where I play, they always walk by me, mostly when they are done for the day. Today they said they were tierd. They sang on the trains for 2 & 1/2 hours, and now they were going to go eat. The shorter one said that actually he was going to drink his lunch... He is 63 years old, but in great shape.
A guy walking by told me he used to see a 90 year old man in his home town, who every day played the saw on the street. I asked him what his home town is, and when he said 'Santa Cruse' I immediately said - 'Tom Scribner! He used to play in front of the book store. There is a statue of him there now!' The guy acknowledged that indeed was the man.
This really nice older gentleman who kept covering his mouth (he told me he has bad teeth and couldn't leave home for a while because he felt it wasn't nice to walk around with such bad teeth. Now he is finally getting to having them fixed). He told me about his mother, how they were evicted by the city from their home, his mother went to a hospital, then to a nursing home, then she passed away. He said he wants to write a book revealing how the city mal-treats the poor. He said his name is Earl, and his aunt calls him 'early'... so cute.
When I got to the spot this morning my South American friend was playing there with his partner. I asked them if they are planing on auditioning for MUNY and I was happy to learn that they are. I hope they get in. It's not easy for Andean players to get in since there are so many of them auditioning. My friends gave me the spot and went to play on the street at Union Square. They returned after 3 hours saying it was cold up there. They played again at the spot after I let. They said they wanted to do another hour. They have a great amp that gives them reverb and delay. I's like to get such an amp some day.

Photographer: Diana Moon, Times Square, March 6th, 2006

March 1st, 2006 - 59th street
Today was pretty cold. The last hour was difficult on account of my frozen feet. I wasn't cold over all - it was just my feet and my fingers.

Photographer: Gus Dimino, 59th street, March 1st, 2006

February 24th, 2006 - Union Square
Today was rough - I had to endure a group of hip-hop dancers lurking about wanting my spot. I held out for an hour. They went away. Then the brass band from Chicago set up soemwhere in the vicinity. I couldn't see them but I could hear them loud and clear, which was disturbing. They told me that they had problems playing in the subway of Chicago, because buskers in subway stations down the line from the station they were playing at could hear them, and complained of the noise! That's how loud they are! So, when the group of B-boys returned, I was tired of doing battle and I let them have my spot.
It's not easy doing battle when there is only one of you and 10 of them...
Somebody gave me a token which says: 'sportsworld amusement park, rides, restaurent, arcade, no cash value'. I wonder where this amusement park is...
One person told me how much he loves my Christmas CD, how he read it cover to cover, loves the photos and everything. That was so nice to hear. Another guy who is an actor in the Broadway musical 'Wicked' told me he just watched the movie 'Dummy' last night, and recognized me in it. Cool.

February 20th,2006 - Times Square
Today was really cold - in the 20's! Gray Wolf passed by and asked that I watch over his stuff as he wanted to go upstairs to warm up. He said on account of the cold he couldn't play the flute. He later went in search of a warmer spot.
The 2 brothers (now + cousin) who sing in the trains said they are going home - it has been a very bad day for them.
Don, the guitar player actually had a better time than he thought he would, playing at Grand Central. I actually had a fun time, but I only lasted 2 and 1/2 hours before I couldn't take the cold any more.

February 14th, 2006 - Union Square
So many people walked by with flowers, heart shaped boxes, teddy-bears and baloons. That was nice to see.
A gentleman put a red carnation in my CD's desplay box. My friend, the girl who plays guitar and sings, put a Russell Stover caramel heart there.
Adam, the film-maker who wants to do a doccumentary about the musical saw stopped by twice.
It was nice to see the lady who always passes by at that spot and greets me, and the South-American guy who always wants me to play 'Hymn to Love'. Today it was a very appropriate song.

February 6th, 2006 - Times Square
The day started out strangely quiet for this spot. The air felt as if it was still. for a while I wasn't getting much attention, but I kept thinking "that's OK - I'm not here for the attention, I'm here to play good music". Then, a lady stood by me to listen. As I was playing the Bach/Gounod 'Ave Maria' I noticed her eyes were tearing and she was wiping tears away. After I was done she put something in my box and started to walk away. She then changed her mind, turned back to me and gave me a big hug. I got a good look of her eyes, and I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of pure love in her eyes. I then started to play the next piece, and I lowered my eyes for just a second to look at the saw. At that moment for some reason I thought of my mother. My mother passed away 10 years ago. She wasn't particularly on my mind today, but all of a sudden, I felt as if I just got reasurance from my mother that I was doing good. When I lifted my eyes again, the lady had vanished. I mean, I can see for very far at the station, and I always see people walking away from me. But this lady wasn't anywhere. She just disappeared in a second...! Was she an angel, a messanger from my mother? I continued to play with tears in my eyes. I was sad, and yet I felt so good. It is at that moment that I noticed the air wasn't quiet any more. The station had resumed its usual hussle & bussle. And I got a lot of attention from that moment onwards.

February 1st, 2006 - 14th street
A nice gentleman stopped by. He told me his mother was a singer with Lionel Hampton and that his whole family is musical. He then proceeded to sing a song for me. Wow - that was so cool, because he could really sing from his soul. I felt honored that he sang just for me.

59th street, 2005. Photographer: Demi

January 26th, 2006 - 59th street
I haven't played the saw for 3 weeks on account of my cowbells concert in Israel. I felt so rusty playing today. Of course, the fact that I was breaking in a new bow plus the fact that it was 30 degrees farenheit didn't help... I could actually hear the saw creek from the cold! I was scared it might break (like the saw that broke a few years ago when I was playing at 51st street). After 2 hours my feet were frozen and I was shivering. (Jeferson, the guy in charge of the garbedge, told me he tries to keep moving to stay warm). So, I went home.

To read blog entries from previous years and to see photos from previous years, please click here

Performing at Belmont Race Track, NY

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