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Apr 29 2010

South Street Seaport Auditions 2010 ~

Hi guys – I wanna share yesterday’s adventures & we’ll use good ‘ol Facebook for now ’til’ Jason the web guy’ gets the gallery up and running ūüôā

It was a freeeeezing day to be out there – but fun, none the less : )

Enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=166157&id=673319476&l=9c76e10cae Read more »

Apr 25 2010

Quote of the Week ~

“They act like we’re doin’ somethin’ so wrong and it’s only so so right”

Friend & fellow street performer, Tylon Moore, who I met after police shut him down, dispersing a crowd of over 250 onlookers¬† in Union Square this Spring – Hip Hop Acrobat, NYC NY –

Tylon Moore - Hip Hop Acrobat - NYC NY

Apr 22 2010

The ‘Verdict’…

First of all, I had to get up way earlier than I or any musician should have to just to get to this stupid hearing for singing in the NYC subways. That in and of itself was enough disruption to make me a tad grumpy, not to mention what I had to show up for. I got up early & I got myself up to the 18th Pricinct on 54th & 8th. I just prayed that it’d be over quickly and that I wouldn’t say or do anything to make matters worse for myself. Those were my two hopes walkin’ up to court.

18th Precinct/Courthouse on W54th where I, and a million others, spent the morning

I walked in, there were more cops standing in that narrow hallway than any hallway should hold. It looked like the DMV except everyone was dressed in blue. Most of them were lined up, backs lazily leaning against the window that faced the street,¬† leaving just enough room for the stream¬† of, well, ‘us’ to pass through. I was told to put my stuff on the conveyor belt to be scanned and to walk through a metal¬† detector just like the kind in the airports. I beeped for some reason so I had to spread my arms and stand there like a scare crow while yes, another cop waved his magic wand over my back and front.

‘Wow, isn’t this fun?’ I thought to myself.

“Do you have a camera in here?” the cop behind the conveyor belt asked.

“Yeah”

“We’re gonna have to take that ’till you’re done”

‘Great…that no cool shots for me…’ I thought. “Ok” I answered. “But I’ll forget it when I leave. I just know it”

“No, you won’t forget it, we give you this piece of paper, just hang onto it to get¬† your camera back.” And the cop handed me a whisper thin piece of yellow tinted paper that had my name, ticket number¬† and the item listed on it.

“So what are you here for?” One of the cops lined up like a pigeon against inside of the glass¬† asked, his¬† left leg bent up behind him as if he were outside a bar, smoking a cigarette.

“Singing” I¬† turned my head around to answer him.

“For what?”

“Singing, in the trains”

“Unbelievable”¬† the cop shook his head back and forth, still holding onto his ‘bar stance’, “Unbelievable”

“Yeah, pretty rediculous, right? Your tax dollars at work” The cop just kept shaking his head back and forth in disgust.Well, at least one of the ‘pigeons’ was on my side.

“So, how long does this stuff usually take?” I asked as I gathered up my, fully x-rayed belongings.

“Hours” the x-ray cop said

“Days” the wand cop said

“Weeks” the cop at the door entrance added

“This is not the place ya wanna be if you’ve got somethin’ to do” The talking pigeon cop confirmed

Even though I felt as if I were in the middle of a well-rehearsed three Stooges movie with all the rapid fire banter coming at me, I continued with my quest to try and find out when I’d be out of the place,¬† “Oh, great,¬† I’ve got a show today. If it takes too long can I re-schedule it?”

“Nope” The x-ray cop chimed in again, “Well, you can but you’d have a warrant out until the next hearing”

“Super, that’s what I need” I spouted off as I pulled the industrial door to the courtroom open to take my place in line.

“They’re goin’ pretty fast today, so you might not be there that long” the pigeon cop encouraged as I walked through the door.

The court room had the same laid back, overly bored vibe as the hallway had. Too many cops and not enough to do was my first impression. It was a medium sized room, low¬† ceilings, about the size of a middle school lunch room with rows of wooden benches for ‘us’ to sit in, side to side all lined up in a row. All this lining up and protocol was making me very uncomfortable, but I complied. We were not allowed to sit in the first two rows.¬† Each of us learned that as we walked in,¬† saw completely empty seats and attempted to sit down. There was one large female cop sitting right in front of the empty benches whose only job was to say to each and every person who tried to land on the roomy wooden seats, “Not in the first two rows”, which was predictably misinterpreted each and every time as “First two rows”, like an instruction to sit there. Consequently,¬† every single time she’d have to repeat herself when the person continued to sit in the off limit area. With each repetition of the instructions she would add more hand gestures to make her point until the plaintiff finally got it and moved back to sit with the masses in rows three and higher.¬† After watching this movie about 15 – 20 times I kept thinking, there’s just gotta be a more efficient system here. A sign, a rope, something…

I found a seat, in the third row and tried to ‘blend in’. Almost immediately my name was called and I followed some man in a dark suite up a few stairs onto a landing where the man explained that he had looked over the ticket and he felt it was not written correctly so he was going to move to¬† have the matter dismissed.¬† “I feel we have a good chance to get this dismissed .” he said proudly referring to his ‘loophole’ discovery.

‘Ah, he’s¬† the lawyer…ok’

“Well…” I said, not wanting to offend the ego of the one person, besides the ‘pigeon cop’ of course, who was supposedly on my side,¬†¬† “Well, I don’t want to seem rude or anything, but would¬† you mind taking this letter I have from MUNY just in case, you know, just in case your plan…which I like a lot, doesn’t work?”

“I don’t need any letters”

“Well, I know, but would you mind holding onto it…just in case?”

“Well, let me see it” I handed Tim’s letter to him.

“You’re part of MUNY?”

“Yeah”

“Well, I’ll hold onto it, sure and we’ll use it. As a back up, but we probably won’t need it.” and he continued barely taking a breath,¬† “So, here’s¬† what you can expect. If it’s dismissed of course that’s clear, you get to leave. He might though put a stay on it and as long as you stay out of trouble for the nest six months, you’ll be ok after that.”

‘Six months, six months…there’s no way I can guarantee this won’t happen again for the next six months’ I thought to myself, and stammered, “But they do this to us all the time, that’s gonna be almost impossible for six months…you know, underground, with the cops and all…”

“Well, don’t worry about that yet.” The lawyer continued, (‘Easier said than done, you’re not the one with the ticket.’, My brain ruminated.) “Now, the other route the judge may advise is ‘Quality Of Life Training”‘

I snapped out of¬† daydreaming¬† about how a subway musician guarantees no ‘trouble’ for a full six months, “Are you kidding me? There’s¬† actually something called Quality of Life Training? Wow, I’m gonna have a real¬† hard time not laughing when I get up there with that one.”

“Oh, no, don’t do that. Don’t laugh. The Judge doesn’t like laughing”

“I’ll try” I promised, still giggling under my breath, “But seriously, who came up with this stuff?” The lawyer shook his head, trying to stay focused. “Wow, lotta good my College Education did me if I end up in need of “Quality of Life Training.” The lawyer finally broke and laughed as well.¬† “I’ll do my best on not giggling, but I guarantee¬† you it’s gonna be tough.” And I walked back to my seat on the third bench.

Well, after that conversation I had enough food for thought to keep me busy for¬† a while. I mulled over the¬† ironic fact that I’d auditioned and was hired by MUNY to actually improve the quality of life in the trains, yet there I sat, on a hard wooden bench that was about as comfy as a straight jacket, waiting to see what verdict the city would have on the matter. As I ruminated over irony I noticed that only three to five minutes were given to each person causing the cases to run by in rapid fire succession. ‘Gosh, I wonder if the judge ever makes a mistake running this fast through the cases…’¬† Above our heads was a large flat screen TV with each person’s name on it, the alleged ‘crime’ they were there for; crimes ranging from prostitution to panhandling and everything in between, as well as the attorney representing them for the day. ‘Wow, ya come to New York with the goal¬† of seeing your name up on a large flat screen at some point in time, but , God, not like this!’

As I sat there I was¬† kept surprisingly boredom-free. Between watching cases get tried in rapid fire succession, the oversized flat screen flashing name after name, the coming and going of the accused and still trying my best to digest the logical basis for “Quality Of Life Training” (that was still a most rediculous comical quandry¬† to me) – I was kept surprisingly entertained.

Then the judge took a ‘break’.

‘A break? Really? A break? Are you kidding me? You guys don’t get a break with a room full of accused prostitutes, thieves, bootleggers, ‘aggressive panhandlers’ and me. That’s unacceptable.’ I thought to myself. ‘Ugh, I wonder how long this ‘break’ is gonna be’

As the pace of the room ground to a halt, I became antsy and wished to God I was done and back¬† out on the streets of Manhattan, in the sunshine. Just then more of ‘us’ came in. In a steady stream person after person filed into the court room ’til every seat on the benches (except the first two of course) were filled.

I soon found myself sandwiched between a meticulously dressed black guy who kept brushing off his suit and brief case, on my right and a Turkish guy on my left, both holding the same piece of paper in their hands. I was curious why they had a paper and I did not. I snuk a peek at the Turkish guy’s paper when he was busy chatting with his Turkish buddy he’d brought along for moral support. To my surprise the top of the paper read, “Quality Of Life Agreement”. No way! It’s for real! Wow.

During a break in the Turkish chit chat and giggling of my left hand Quality Of Life Candidate guy, he turned to me and asked, “So what are¬† you here for?”

“Oh, singing. Singing in the subways” this seemed a bit too confusing for the Turk so I saved him any more confusion and switched the focus to him. “How about you? What are you here for?”

“Peeing in the street” He answered very matter of factly with a thick Turkish accent.

I finally laughed out loud, suddenly giving the “not in the first two rows” cop an additional job; to glare at me. I put my hand over my mouth and grinned widely under my palm. “Really? Are you really here for that? That’s funny”

“It’s booolsheet” the guy responded, “I did not even know. In my country, it is not illegal.”

“Ha¬† ha,¬† well welcome to New York where¬† the oddest things seem to be illegal.” I said, still looking at the QOL contract in his lap and hoping to God I’d not have to sign one of those.

Then it hit on me, I was flanked by two guys who pee in the street. ‘Great, this is so not where I¬† wanna be on a Tuesday morning’

Half an hour passed and the court room started up again, case after case was tried, the accused stood in front of the judge, (each language with it’s own interpreter), cops peppered the room, continuing to look bored enough to¬† fall over, and people came and went depending on what their verdict was.

At one point the judge declared one guy, who’d been there 17 times before for selling bootleg¬† parefanalia, was to go to jail. Suddenly some garbled words were half shouted by one cop as she scooted right up to the side of the bootlegger. She immediately looked over to her collegue who, up ’till now,¬† had been doing paperwork, and waved him over with a circular motion of her wrist. The paper cop, pointed to himself and mouthed “me?”, the female cop nodded. Up bolted the paper cop and almost in one leap landed at her side, his hand grabbing tight to his handcuffs still attached to his belt. The words “jail” were whispered here and there in between the cops¬† and they seemed¬† to snap, all of a sudden out of their never ending stupors, now awake, almost overly excited.

‘So this is what these guys get a thrill out of? This is the high point of their day? This is what makes them feel important? And this is what they’ll tell their buddies at the bar about later tonight? “Yeah, dude, you shouldda seen it, I almost got to use my cuffs on a guy goin’ to Rikers, but the judge let him off’. But I was right there, ready to use ’em.” Gimme a break.’

Then the judge, who appeared to be more fond of spouting lessons than of incarcerating people, revoked his former decision of sending him to ‘the island’ which I assume was Rikers, and let the dude go for the 18th time. He let him go with a substantial lecture which all had to be translated, but, yeah, he let him go.

As the now free man walked out of the court room, proud and with a bounce, pulling his cap low over his eyes to look extra bad, the cops who had formerly flanked him in excitement, dispersed, bodies now limp and bored again, the ‘paper cop’ flicking his handcuffs so they made that intimidating ‘drrrrrrrrrrrrrlck’ as he sauntered back to his papers. Awe, the rookie cop didn’t get to play with his handcuffs today. Poor baby.

Then suddenly I heard my name. I scooted over the street-pee’r to my right and off the third bench to stand beside the lawyer. Facing the judge, I noticed how¬† surprisingly friendly he looked up close. The lawyer presented his well thought out case with the utmost of pride.We waited.

Silence.

More silence.

The judge wasn’t buying it.

Shit.

“And your honour, I have here a letter. Heidi is part of MUNY”

“Let me see the letter” the judge calmly said.

I waited as he read the letter Tim had written on my behalf, feeling so glad I’d pushed for the lawyer to hold onto it, you know…’just in case’.

The judge looked up, and I swear he was half grinning as he said, “Dismissed”

‘Yeah, right? This whole thing is tupid, right?’ was all that was running through my mind.

I picked up my bag and thanked the lawyer.

“Thank the judge” the lawyer instructed me.

“Oh, thank you!”¬† I said with a smile of gratitude as I walked out, following in the exact path recently made by Mr ‘arrested 17 times and I’m still a free man’.

I scooted out of the courtroom, courthouse and out onto the street, more than glad to be in the fresh air and sunshine again. I walked home looking toward my gig up in Harlem in a few hours and realized as I reached my¬† apartment that in fact, yes I’d left my camera up at court. ‘Damn! I knew I’d do that, see? I wonder how many free cameras those cops end up with each day?’ I mulled as I changed into my gig clothes and put my gear together, figuring I’d just swing by the court house on my way up to sing in Harlem. I fumbled around in my bag, found the thin yellow paper the cop had given me as a guarantee to not forget my camera,¬† and stuck it in my pocket as I walked out the door to make some more “Unreasonable Noise”

Keep on rockin’ the Underground!

Apr 20 2010

Court Tomorrow for ‘Unreasonable Noise’…can you say “Waste of time”???

Yeah, lookin’ forward to tomorrow – not-so-much…One good thing on my side is a very strong letter Tim Higgenbotham has written on my behalf. I’m not psyched about going up there and wasting my hours in a friggin’ Midtown Court Room. Send thoughts it’s quick and painless & many thanks Tim! It’s a new feeling to have someone on my side whose got my back : )

On an unrelated note – I know most, if not all of¬† you have had issue w/ the password set up here – I’ve finally, after much arm twisting, gotten the web guy to make it more user friendly.¬† But for those of you who are still lost w/ yours – you can either:

*Go to Profile Edit and change password yourself

OR

*Email me at info@thesubwaydiaries.com and let me know what you want it changed to & I’ll do it for you! ūüôā

Ciao,

Heidi ~

Apr 18 2010

Quote of the week ~

Voice Mail:

“Hey, Heidi, it’s Jim…ummm..remember, I gave you a dollar today up in Harlem, when you were singing and took your card…remember? So, ummmm…yeah, so, ya wanna go out?”

~ Some guy named Jim, apparently up in Harlem ūüôā

Apr 15 2010

Crossing the Hudson ~

Hi guys! Hope your week’s going superbly. The flowers and sun are both out in full force here on the crazy Isle of Manhattan. This week I happened to be booked to sing on Staten Island so my friend Katy and I took the Ferry across the River. It was a perfect Spring day for a boat ride and the Ferry was as magical as ever; providing a rare distance to the hustle and bustle of the city,¬† perspective that makes one forget temporarily all the news stories of crime, greed & corruption and allows one, for the ten minutes it takes to cross the river, to feel that all is, in fact, right in the world.

Enjoy the view as we did!

View from Staten Isalnd Ferry

Ms Liberty & I

A tune grooves & so does Katy holding the camera - but I kinda like the blurrrrr ūüôā

Peace, art and Springtime to all…

Heidi ~

Apr 14 2010

Dig This Real Book Review

The Subway Diaries was reviewed by Barry A. Farber in issue 15 of Dig This Real.

Dig This Real

Apr 10 2010

Quote of the Week ~

“Hello Folks,
I am sorry for never showing up on April 1st. I apologize to anyone that came to my last show at K&M bar April 1st and found me absent. No, it was not an April fools-day joke.
I was arrested on Thursday April 1 at noon for singing, I was held for 24 hrs Sorry I couldn’t perform.
GO BUSK!”

Posted by fellow NYC busker, Theo Eastwind – TheoEastwind.com

Apr 09 2010

Today Underground ~

I was lucky enough to spend the day being filmed & interviewed Underground by Record International TV,  the second largest TV station in Brazil.

The reporter and cameraman were both super sweet. Makes me wanna hop a plane immediately & fly off to Rio!

Record International

http://www.rederecord.com.br/Internacional/

Once it airs – I’ll be posting footage : )

Happy & creative weekend everyone!

Apr 09 2010

Cathy Grier & I Doin’ a very impromptu version of my tune, “It Goes Back To You” @ Divas Day : )

There was a break in performers on Divas Day so even though we’d just¬† met, Cathy & I decided to ‘fill the air’ w/ an impromptu jam on my tune “It Goes Back To You” – sound was low – but rhythm funky