I put “busking” and Radiohead fans in the same category: average, normal people who have a shitty taste in music.
I think “busking” is completely intrusive and annoying. New York (and all other cities) should worry less about trying to put a ban on soda for fat kids and put more emphasis on banning “busking” altogether.
Thanks to Woody Allen, Edward Burns movies, and the show Friends, the “norms” and tourists have romanticized about walking through central park in the fall time while some old black jazz cat in fingerless gloves and a beret is playing some sax on the corner, or even walking through Washington Square while some authentic Jamaicans are banging away on steel drums. In reality after a long day the LAST thing you want to hear on a subway platform is some plant hoarding, Emerson grad, play her rendition of a Coldplay song.
Never tip a busker. They’re like homeless people but with a dream. Please don’t encourage.
Here are other reasons why I hate busking:
• There’s nothing more depressing than seeing a grown man on a subway platform playing his “original music” on acoustic guitar and selling his homemade music on a CD he burned at home.
• No one in his or her right mind wants to hear tribal drumming. Ever. Especially when it’s played on some old barrels from Home Depot. Unless you’re at Burning Man or in Africa and you’re about to slaughter a virgin or raise the dead in a ceremony, these are the only times when tribal drumming is socially acceptable.
• The holidays are stressful and crowded enough in NYC. Do we really need to add more white noise and clogged walkways in the subway stations with an old-timey jug band that looks like mixologists playing Christmas tunes or a guy dancing with a blow-up doll to salsa music? No. Never. Bah, humbug!
• There’s absolutely nothing sexy about a woman strumming an acoustic guitar. When men see this we automatically think of whiny feminists with Ani Difranco’s dirty dreads, hairy bushes, liberalism, cats, food allergies, tapestries, and having an assortment of flavored teas in their cabinets. For women they see the opposite. They see a badass, free-spirit, modern-day Joan Baez with a message to be strong and independent, which is obviously the funniest thing in the world to a man. Acoustic guitar only solves one problem for a woman—making it easier to tell their parents they’re lesbian (again).
• The guy slapping da bass on 14th Street L platform. This was cool the first time I saw it because I thought he was the missing member of Living Colour minus the neon wetsuit. Then I got angry because his music was so loud that I could barely finish my conversation with my friend.
• When I see someone playing violin, I never think how beautiful and romantic the song is they’re playing. I instantly think about over-demanding parents, isolation, their sexual insecurities, and the idea that they’re planning to kill their parents. No one “stumbles” into playing violin to meet chicks like they do with electric guitars. It’s overachieving parents who force the violin on their kid, who is just waiting for the right time to crack.
• The saxophone. I’m convinced this instrument was created by a black devil slave who came back from the dead and created this instrument to seek revenge on white people (me) for the years of torture and slavery he was put through and now everyone (me) must suffer through. I grew up in a house where all types of jazz and creole jazz played around the clock, because my dad is a grown white man with white guilt, and old white men love jazz. I fucking hate it. When I hear a saxophone I revert to being a 13-year-old asshole. I slam doors and punch walls. Jazz is the main reason why I can’t step into a Starbucks, although I have to because I don’t support local cafes that don’t take credit cards. It’s never a fun moment for me in Starbucks.
• Squatters are squatters, not musicians. Take the washboards and banjos back to your middle-class suburban bedrooms and practice more before you hit the rails and hit the heroin. Feels like I’m on of The Wild Whites of West Virginia when I see a bunch of hobos collecting money for their next fix.
• Comedy busking/irony busking. If I see one more guy trying to do that 80s saxophone skit or some white guy with a Casio singing about his cat, I’m shoving the sax up their asshole, breaking the Casio, and stealing his friend’s camcorder. We get it, you took a few classes at UCB or dropped out of NYU film, and you and your buddies do a Web series and think you’ll get signed to do a takeoff of Portlandia called Brooklandia. Not gonna happen. You’re annoying the rest of us who have shit to do.
• Freestyle rap/black guys doing gymnastics in a subway car. This is an all-time low for black achievement and an all-time high for white girls that go to Pratt. Whenever I see a 21-year-old black guy doing gymnastics with his crew, I want to slap some white gloves and a top hat on them, have bourbon, and compliment the “boys,” but we live in PC America and unfortunately times have changed. White girls love this shit, though. Epically white girls attending art school. They might have hooked up with the one black guy in their suburban high school, but now there’s a flock of horny black dudes preying on her because smart women who have lived in the city longer than a year know these guys are dancing for dollars (so they’re basically clothes strippers) and have maybe $12 in their pocket and a bag of shitty weed.
• As much as I hate Mexican music, I do like when a bunch of high-spirited, sombrero-wearing Mexicans come through a subway car playing their tunes. Not because I like the music, but because I laugh at the fact they look like the Mexicans in the cartoons I grew up watching with my nanny, and that’s how I picture all Mexicans looking.
• Finally, I just fucking hate live music.
UPDATE: Brendan just stormed in our office screaming STOP THE PRESSES! He considers it an emergency that he forgot to mention those weird South Americans with the funny flutes so he insists we get this in…
“Peruvian flute music: I actually like this form of busking because it’s soothing, reminds me of being in a massage parlor, they wear funny outfits, and one of my favorite South Park episodes was about these traveling gypsies. Plus the CD packaging usually has a cool mountain top with clouds, not some creepy old white guy in a leather jacket smiling with smokers teeth and holding a guitar.”