Archive for June 2010

Union Square Proves Interesting Again

June 12, 2010

I haven’t been putting up any posts for a while.  A lot of it is burnout and a lot of it is “been-there-done-that”.  To be a little more complete, I’ve explored a lot of Manhattan and seen a lot of stuff.  My old favorite place, Union Square, became very boring over the past year or so when it became nothing more than a farmers market and all the strange stuff was just pushed away.  I’ve said before that “there’s always something going on in Union Square”, but that hasn’t really been the truth for a while.  It got boring…at least for me.

Something new happened today though.  Small, but just wonderful.

I went down there just to get out of my place and saw that the farmers market had been pushed back to its old area on the west and north side of the square.  That was pleasant.  In its place were a lot of artists selling their wares (pretty much the standard of before) and a really nice jazz combo.  I looked around for a while, but ultimately didn’t see anything that grabbed my attention.  The music was pleasant, but the art was same-old, same-old.  But then, I’m not much of an afficianado and there could be a dozen new Van Goghs and I wouldn’t know the difference.

But after I circled the square, I found a real treasure that I could appreciate fully and wholly and I didn’t stop smiling for half an hour.

On the east side of the square, right next to about a dozen garbage bags awaiting pickup was a very pleasant and young Japanese fellow (I discovered his nationality later).  He was dressed…unconventionally.  Okay, he was dressed in a way that you do see on the streets of NYC a bit, but not often.  He was wearing a kilt (not too unusual), he was wearing very bright gold sneakers (pretty unusual), and he was dressed with all he needed to be a one-man-didgeridoo band!  Yes!  Uniqueness at long-last!

You know the didgeridoo:  the long horn played by Australian Aborigines.  It has a very deep and haunting sound.

This guy’s playing wasn’t haunting; it was joyful.  It was wonderful. He wasn’t playing any music you’d recognize, more along the lines of just playing a beat and freestyling it.  And he wasn’t limited to his long, brightly sequined (yes, worthy of playing alongside Liberace), hand-made horn.  In addition, he had a 5-gallon paint bucket for drumming, two tin cans for also drumming, one metal bowl for drumming, a can filled with rocks for castanets-type-action, bells attached around his ankle, and (most perfectly) a rubber duck.  Okay, it was three rubber ducks but he only played one of them to squeak at just the right times.

Okay, I’m going to add a second picture at a worse angle, but you can see the rubber ducks better.

I was so delighted by it, I called Cuz’n Cathy and let her hear a bit of him. I stood around with a crowd that varied from about 4 to about 20 listeners.

The guy had lungs of steel! He went on for at least 10 minutes, probably almost 20 minutes. Didn’t stop, barely seemed to inhale. At the end of it, he was peppered with questions including where he was from and where he got the didgeridoo. He said he made it himself and he just likes playing the didgeridoo. I don’t know what he’s doing in Union Square (other than playing some really nice music), but I figure he’s a student at either NYC or maybe Julliard. But, then, I usually only have seen the Julliard guys playing in Central Park. Hey, in either case he shouldn’t just be learning, he should also teach this instrument. I don’t think I’d mind seeing this kind of playing a lot more often.

As for myself, I just learned that Union Square can still be interesting.

-H

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