My most favourite Subway maintenance worker came up to me today on the platform &, his words clothed in his thick Eastern European accent, said; “You. You were in the paper”
“What?” I said.
“You were in the paper.” He said, pointing at me.”The newspaper you know? The New York Post. I think not more than15 days ago”
“Ummm, I don’t think I was, really…”
“No, you were. I saw. Hold on’s…I be right back. I go upstairs”
“Ok” I said as I went back to my singing. Not more than five minutes passed & he was back, newspaper in hand.
“Here, see, it’s you” he said as he held up & pocked at the crinkled newspaper picture of …..Katy Couric. Omg,who knew Katie busked? It just goes to show, how we see ourselves is SO not how others see us #peoplearefunny
“Heidi, I thought we had an agreement? You wouldn’t sing & I wouldn’t bother¬†you?”
“Oh that that First Amendment thing again, we’ve heard of that, it doesn’t matter, you’re still getting a ticket”
(Lean in & Whispered) “This platform is actually a terrorist target”
“Technically you’re not doing anything illegal, but you still can’t do it”
“I’m gonna give you a ticket ’cause my supervisor wants to see I’m doing something useful, but once I”m gone you can start singing again”
“Have you ever thought of conforming?”¬†#seriously?
I’ve always known intrinsically that everything is energy, everything has a vibration no matter the variations in speed. But sometimes that fact of physics & ascension hits me broadside in a manner that’s impossible to deny. Today was one of those days.
The whole NYPD thing over the past few month plus the upcoming hearing I have been preparing for daily for weeks now, s finally got to me not only emotionally but physically as well; the stress manifesting itself in crazy, mind numbing headaches, upset stomach, snot sleeping or sleeping too much & weird pains all over. Though I rarely if ever go to a Dr, I finally went – just to rule out everything else ¬†t (even though I knew it was all most likely due to the non stop harassment & how I was attempting to process it on a day to day basis). After a gazillion tests, some chatting about life, and my Dr asking if he could play my guitar which I’d brought with me in the hopes I’d magically find the energy somewhere in the Dr’s office to go busk on the way home, ¬†he looked down at his clipboard and said:¬†“Well we’ll wait and see how all these tests come back ¬†but between you, me & your guitar here I think you actually do have a ‘touch’ of PTSD from all these encounters ¬†with the cops that you’ve been experiencing” ¬†A ‘touch’ of PTSD? I thought to myself…is that like a ‘touch’ of pregnancy’?
Home I went, and¬†in an attempt to hold myself together & try to keep distracted ¬†I forced myself under daily, despite the knot in my stomach and fear it elicited each time I did. But even if I did get to sing, my vibration was not clear, I was 1/2 present & 1/2 keeping an eye out for which officer I might have to deal with next. People noticed. I made no money.
Then two days ago, in the middle of my third tune one of my guitar strings snapped. I started to change it on the platform when the tuning peg also snapped. Not having a spare peg with me I had to abort & spent the next hour & a half digging an oddly jammed peg out of the bridge of the guitar. It appeared almost glued in there. Finally I dislodged it & too the opportunity to re-string my entire ax. I felt so happy & grateful I’d repaired it & that now my dear ax (who I just know ‘feels’ was all re-strung with a shiny new set of strings. I fell asleep looking forward to the next day & hoping both my physical & emotional symptoms would have diminished & that my newly strung guitar & I could find our respective & joint grooves together.
The next day I walked across town to play in a more distant spot, hoping I’d avoid the cops. The walk was long but I felt it was the smartest thing to do & that it would be worth it once I was there & busking. I set up on the East Side & my guitar, my newly strung guitar….she simply would not play! It was insane. I sat there on the bench of the subway platform trying everything I could think of to stop the twanging, the buzzing, the tinny insane noise that was emanating from my normally full sounding ax.
Again, I went home, stumped on what was up & spent the next 2 1/2 hours taking the entire thing apart, bridge, nut, tuning pegs, truss rod etc. All to no avail, she still wouldn’t play.
Then it hit me – she too has a ‘touch of PTSD’ & does not want to go under. She too has been ‘traumatized’ but the multiple cop encounters. I called my friend who is a master guitar tech upstate to see when he could help her & placed my dear guitar in her stand & went to sleep.
That brings me to today, Memorial Day. I decided I’d skip busking, although I was missing it terribly. I just could not see how I was to play with a guitar which was adamantly, staunchly not into it. “sigh’ I accepted an invite to go to the beach,thinking it’d perhaps do me good to do something different & ¬†took the train downtown &¬†was promptly stood up.
There I was, on the Subway platform beach bag, towel, sunblock in tow, not quite knowing what to do or where to turn next. At my back was the downtown train I just hopped off, paralleled but the uptown at the Fulton St Station. I stood there in a mini daze, letting a few trains scream by, finally deciding to head back home in the hopes of¬†figuring something ¬†productive out for the rest of the day once there.
I hopped on the next A” train going uptown & as I looked around for a place to sit & saw a $1 bill just laying there on the seat right in front of me. A sign? Perhaps, but whatever it was or meant, decision made, that’s where I sat as I hosied the seat $ stuffed the dollar bill in my unused beach bag. One stop later a tall, thin, black guy boarded the train with an electric keyboard hanging form his neck & a Christmas red gift bag taped to the side of the instrument. He sat down perpendicular to me & after a few beats I spoke; “Excuse me, how’s it been? Busking – are the cops ok today?
The guy smiled a huge toothy white grin & said “Yeah, they’ve been rough as of late but no problems yet today, thank God”. ¬†He introduced himself as “Keys” & said “Yeah, I’ve seen you around. You play the Uptown A C E right? The platforms?” We continued chatting about art, music, life, moving a soul, being granted a smile or a pat on the heart & the pure magic that is the world of a busker.
Keys hopped off at 14th St as his batteries had died & he need to replace them to keep on working – more technical difficulties He turned around back towards the “A” & shouted “Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ Heidi. Don’t ever stop” And the doors closed.
“Ok”, that’s it. Between the lone dollar on the subway seat & meeting / chatting with Keys I’d decided, I was going to try one more time to coax my poor ax back to work.
Once home I spent another hour and a half dismantling over & over my guitar. I asked her what she needed, I listened & coaxed. I tightened this, propped that, replaced that thing over there & once I knew I’d done all I knew how to do I went back under, my still very odd-sounding guitar as a reluctant participant.
I put two capos on the fourth fret in the hopes it would muffle slightly the insane squeaking & buzzing. It kind of, sort of, barely made a difference but I made a ‘deal’ with my ax anyway : “We’re gonna do this, ok?” I conveyed to my stubborn instrument. “We’re gonna be ok & we’re gonna find our groove again. I promise” And I sang.
The platforms were packed. People were happy, sunburned & smiley faced. It was a holiday & the air was oddly relaxed & easy for NYC. The crowd responded with smiles & donations & soon their energy won out over the odd sounds emanating from my guitar. As one bass player said: “Yeah, it doesn’t really bother me, it just sounds like you have a small percussive instrument, like a drum or a symbol playing at the same time”
I sighed but kept on playing, focusing on the happy people. ONe guy threw in a $5 after a song he liked particularly well. Then a few songs later he came back & threw in another $5 after, I guess, was another song he fancied. I looked at the guy at the end of the bench who had watched the repeat donator’s actions & I said : “There are a lot of angels down here” The guy nodded, grinned & I added: “Sometimes they’re good tippers sometimes they’re homeless, but there are always angels in these subways” The guy looked up at me & smiled as he thought about what I’d just shared.
I kept playing. There were tons of kids on the platform being a holiday and all. And I watched as they bugged their parents for something to put into my case & took such pleasure in dropping the donations in. Then I noticed a little boy to my left who was waving his hands wildly in the air up towards me & I realized he wanted to touch the guitar, so I leaned down & held it for him while I watched him run his fingers over her strings. As I watched this tiny person somehow know how to strum a guitar I asked his mom: “How old is he?””He’s two” she responded.”Two – wow. You know your son’s got a gift. You need to get him some kind of instrument, any instrument…” And she chimed in;”Oh he has a karaoke machine” his mom informed me, to which I responded:”Well karaoke is ok but you need to encourage him with an instrument to make his own music, not just sing someone else’s as he has something magical inside & he will share it if you give him a few tools. I promise.” And as we were talking the little boy began to add his wordless singing to the strumming. I was mesmerized. You could tell he just ‘knew’ what to do with a guitar & with music & probably with most any instrument ¬†you put in front of him. I watched him as I held the guitar in front of him to ‘create’ on & asked “What’s his name? “Socrates’ his mom informed me. ‘Fitting’ I thought to myself as his mom quickly leaned over and whispered “Thank you” and they hopped on the train, the little boy’s arms waving wildly towards my ax as the train doors closed.
I continued singing, knowing even if I stopped right there that I’d done s bit of what I love – move energy & been moved right back in the best possible way. Plus, my ax was finally beginning to sound a bit more normal’. Maybe she just needed a little TLC from angels like Socrates
A few songs more & the E pulled up, the crowd flooded off ¬†& started up the two sets of stairs of the platform. ¬†One guy in a kind of casual business suit thing, stopped, looked back ¬†and stood there for a few seconds while I sang. He then walked back down the stairs, found a seat on the bench closest to me & sat there while I sang. I finished the song, leaned down to pick up my tuner when a hand holding a $20 appeared in my guitar case. I looked up. It was the man, He got it, he really got it, he got what I was saying in the song & was moved. As he dropped the twenty he did that ‘thing’ where an appreciative audience member will touch their heart with their hand & nod a few times in recognition. Then he went back to what he had begun 3 minutes prior, ascending the stairs out of the trains.
By now I did not even notice my guitar’s ‘twang’s’. In fact, for the most part, they had disappeared, along with the headache & the tummy ache – all the ‘glitches’ just fading into, being dispersed by all the love that was shared & exchanged underground tonight. We had gotten a good number of busking hours in & no one with a gun ¬†or a billy club bothered us. For all of that, we were happy.
Everything is indeed energy
And over in London ~ “Police Spokesman: “Unlicensed street performing” contributes to “anti-social behaviour and is a driver of crime” …. ¬†He’s got to be hobnobbing with Bratton to come up with this kind of bs ~