Posted by
Brendan Donnelly
• 12.14.12 09:00 am

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.”

  1. vinnie says:


  2. Kennedy says:

    True on the cash-only local places. I lunched at a fucking “juice bar” place the other day. The over educated lesbian waitress was terrible and my meal cost $3.75 more(ATM).

  3. Your Mama says:

    Live music hates you too

  4. Gulf Coast sez 'sup fags says:

    Mariachi is the only acceptable form of busking because living stereotypes/enormous guitars + (possibly enormous) moustaches are always funny.

  5. charles in charge says:

    Buskers are basically marginally talented bums. You want to know the worst kind? Parents busking with their kids. These are the lowest form of showbiz parents.

  6. zbow says:

    Anyone differentiating the “norms” from his/herself should be caned, and the author needs to lay off the adderall (or at least edit before posting). That said, spot-on re: females w/ acoustic guitars.

  7. raymi says:

    As usual ahahaha.

  8. gramma says:

    I put “busking” and “radiohead fans” in two different categories. One is the category of present tense verbs and the other is in the category of plural nouns.

    But yeah, busking is pretty awful.

  9. Crazznapper says:

    Your nanny?

  10. Colombo says:

    I’ve got two words to back up your side of the argument: Moxy Fruvous.

  11. Edward Look Nohands says:

    I think the author needs to slaapa hez own bass and get the fuck over hating people that live to weave a magical tapestry of sonic colour throughout our dynamic and ‘worldly’ cities for the benefit of the people.

    The only thing worse than a busker is a busker that makes it big. See ‘John Butler’. This dirty bum played around a smelly port town just south of the Western Australian capital for years until the music gods descended and made him a star. Now he is the richest hippie in Australia and sparks up inthe media about environmentalism and shit like that just as frequently as he sparks a doobie of shitty weed. His hair looks like a nest of flies and shit.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This article is shooting fish a barrel. Is anyone here gonna defend busking?

  13. Zlur says:

    I will for money!

  14. Brock Samson says:

    Internet busking for social capital.

  15. tit says:

    all this from a guy named brendan, fucking brendan

  16. Anonymous says:

    Do you know the accordian girl who busks at the 3rd ave L stop a lot? I used to do coje with and hook up with her

  17. greg says:


    pics of accordian girl, please

  18. carlen says:

    love this! views on “busking” and especially jazz are spot on.
    ps i had never heard the term “busking” before
    i thought it was just called “homeless singing”
    you learn something new every friggin day…
    thanks Brendan!

  19. Javier says:

    i like Radiohead! They got a lot to offer. their rhythms for one. the vibe and feel of the music (especially when you listen with headphones; try it…). fun harmonic/chord choices… fun interesting time signatures & timings…

  20. Javier says:

    isn’t kinda nice, though, to see pathetic-ness publicly displayed? just to have these guys just lay themselves all out there, not realizing how potentially idiotic and pathetic they might be making themselves look.

    and it’s just a clever risk; maybe not clever, but it sounded right…

  21. Javier says:

    touche` on the UPDATE. i love the idea of this one exception, eliciting you to storm in those offices and yell for the presses to stop.

  22. Dave says:

    well, first off, why are all you mororns associating buskers with being homeless, they are far from. although there are some buskers who completely suck and are annoying, there are some great ones, if you hate live music, fine, but people who harbor so much hate are definitely lacking in some way or another, hence the over aggressive anger and contempt for anyone who appears to be happy with their own lives, buskers for example, while you play your puppet roles, doing exactly what you are told and told how much you are worth by your wealthy corporate bosses thinking you are living your life, knowing you hate your job and situations and always kissing ass to move up in whatever your field may be, buskers take another route, they aren’t bound like you, so don’t hate them because you have no talents and all you can do is sit on the sidelines and comment, while they are living life your just watching and blogging, really? youre sooo cool, Not!!!

  23. Andrew says:

    I should have stopped reading after he said he didn’t like Radiohead; clearly this is written by a douche with no musical talent.

  24. Wallace says:

    You people have no talent, desire, dreams. You probably wish you could busk and could learn but you are afraid all your friends that think like you will make fun and laugh. Play it safe and criticize others because you can and can’t at the same time.

  25. Michal says:

    Busking has 4 kinds

    Homeless who needs to live somehow so he grabs guitar and starts playing so it doesnt seem like he begs

    Talented man who didn’t succeed in living, and so he shares his amazing talent with people to get money to live

    Normal-stable living person who wants to make few couple bucks in free time so he goes and plays on street even though its not great

    Talented-person who loves music more than anything else, who plays his heart out in the streets with as covers then original music as well, since he wants to see peoples reaction, make couple bucks, and as I wants his music to be out there even when not listened

    there are some bad and amazing buskers .. what purpose they do it for should be totally not important to you (judging is what I hate about being busker-student-with income from teaching professionals guitar- and working 8 hours everyday … I have a good state of living but still I love busking … and why should you be pissed ? you pass me for 10 seconds and im gone, my music isnt anything you would die from how it is bad … and whether you throw me something or stop by is your choice and I don’t expect it from you – i don’t judge you if you don’t …

    So please stop hating busking, because entertainment is one of the things that I appreciate so much in life

  26. Andy says:

    How sad to spend time and energy sharing your miserable and depressing opinions online. You could try getting some help for your problem but then you probably hate therapists too.

  27. Wanker says:

    Wow what a miserable pathetic little looser you are

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