Diary of a Street Performer

July 22, 2007

I think I have decided to become a "street performer", though I'm not going to say I am a street performer until I actually go out there and perform. So right now I'm not a street performer. I'm just a dude who says he wants to go and play some handrums in Boston and hope to make some money doing it.

The plan is all set, though. I currently have access to a drum that is small and easy to carry around, yet very versatile in terms of its pitches and sounds. I can use my fist and get a cool sound, my fingers and get another one, my palm and get yet another one. My plan is to also have a kazoo in my mouth the whole time I'm playing to add some harmony to the beats. Otherwise it would just be a dude playing a drum with his hands, which I feel will be cool in itself (the way I do it, that is), though I think the kazoo can add some interesting accents to what I'm doing. It will spice it up a bit. And if that all isn't enough I can do some cool stuff on my actual physical body as well: that is, my body will be another drum, all the parts (e.g. knees, chest, cheeks) having very cool, unique sounds.

I ran the idea by my parents and they thought it was a very bad idea. They threw out all these BS reasons why, but the main reason (and they didn't admit it) is that they just don't like the thought of their son performing in the "streets" of Boston. It's what they think bums do. I told them the "streets" is the only proper venue for my performance, because I can only be entertaining to the same audience for so long. In the streets you have a new audience every few minutes or so, because the people move onto wherever their destination is. My parents didn't really get that any other audience would get bored eventually.

This is always something I've wanted to do. And you don't live forever so I might as well do it. I would like to please people like my parents but at the same time I realize that living your life to please your parents is living a life of shit. My only concern is the possibility that I need a permit in order to do this. I know you need one in order to do subways. But I can't find anything that says I need one for something like the Boston Common or Faneuil Hall. I guess the worst that happens is that I'm told to stop by somebody. I don't think I would get arrested unless a cop was being a total dick!

We'll see if I actually have the balls to go somewhere and just start playing. Then I can officially call myself a street performer.

July 25, 2007

I am officially a street performer. After a couple days of hesitation, I went into the Boston Common today and just started playing. And, to be honest with you...it SUCKED!

First of all, I didn't make a whole lot of money. I may have made ten dollars, but about seventy-five percent of those earnings were from me (I put some money in the jar beforehand to make it look like I was good) and from my friend Jeremy, who threw in four dollars during his lunch break. The rest came from some foreigners who actually seem to appreciate street performers. The Americans didn't really appreciate it much at all. All I got from most of the people were weird looks, if I even got a look at all. Most people walked by pretending I wasn't even there.

Overall, I felt like a total bum, mainly because I was treated as one. The little kids really liked what they heard, though…oh, and a group of mentally retarded folks. The "normal" grownies probably did, too, but didn't want to admit it or show it, because I was "below" them. A scumbag. A bum.

But money, dirty looks and cold shoulders weren't what made this day totally suck. In fact, things were going pretty good up until some black accordionist with long snarly dreadlocks came and set up shop somewhat close to me. A little too close...

I was taking a break when he came, but had all my equipment in plain view. "Here's the sketchy accordionist," Jeremy commented, whom I was chatting with at the time. "Dude, that guy totally just came into my territory!" I muttered under my breath. "Don't worry, you'll drown him out," Jeremy assured me.

And that I did. After Jeremy went back to work I started to play again. Very well. And relatively loud. About ten or fifteen minutes into my routine, I noticed the black accordionist in the corner of my eye, walking towards me. To be honest with you, I thought he was going to say something nice to me, like, "hey, sounds good!" But he didn't say anything. All he did was…um…boot my bucket of money about fifty feet down the Common walkway!!!

Yes, that's right...he kicked my bucket of money. I was totally shocked. I couldn't register what was happening. I couldn't move or say anything. All I could do was watch the wack-job accordionist walk fifty feet down the walkway and boot the bucket again - another fifty feet down the walkway! My money, of course, went everywhere, especially the change.

I finally came to my senses. "Thanks a lot!" I yelled to him. No response. "I WAS HERE FIRST, BUDDY!!!" But he still didn't say anything or turn around. He just kept walking.

Apparently this asshole thought I had invaded his territory. I didn't know territory in the Boston Common could be claimed. Hell, maybe if he had just said something to me in a civilized manner I would have agreed to move down a bit. But, nope, he just kicked my bucket of fuckin’ money, which I then had to pick up from the ground, coin-by-coin, while everyone in the vicinity looked on in fascination.

I kept playing afterwards. And made a little more money. But after a half hour or so I started getting worried that the black accordionist wacko from douche-bag-ville would come back with a gun or a gang or something. I packed up shop and got the hell out of there.

So that's that. Welcome to the world of street performing, I guess. How ignorant it was of me to invade this guy's territory. But I was ten times better than him. In fact, he sucked. And I think that's partially why he kicked my bucket: because he was jealous.

Anyway, if I ever do this again (and I'm not sure if I will) I'm probably going to play in Faneuil Hall because there's saner people in that area. And I should probably mention that I did get a free Red Bull from two cute girls who saw that I was busting my balls. That was kind of a good thing. But then some flamboyantly gay guy walked up to my bench and proceeded to eyeball-fuck me (no lie). That wasn't a very good thing.

The video below gives you a good impression of what my 'street performance' was like:


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