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gaddy
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This past weekend, while working down on the wharf I was taking a short break. Just drinking coffee and listening to a young, good looking, dreadlock sporting, punker-type girl playing her fiddle with a bucket in front of her. She was extremely talented, and really didn't seem to be hustling or mugging it for the pikers. I'd never seen her out before, I guess she was traveling -or at least she had that sort of look about her.

A well dressed elderly woman holding a doggie bag walked by her and stopped to listen. After a few moments she holds up the bag and asks the girl, in all seriousness: "Do you want these?"

Shocked and appalled, was I.

The girl didn't even stop playing, but just said no and turned away from the old woman, who momentarily turned and walked off.

I could tell there was a slight hint of contempt in her eyes and in her voice as she rebuked the old woman's generous offer. But my jaw was totally on the ground over this! I probably wouldn't have held it together as well as she did. I've gotten plenty of contempt and insults thrown my way as a busker -and you learn to let that kind of stuff roll off your back... But for some reason this patronizing act of generosity, miserliness and total cluelessness -all rolled into one, really made my blood boil.

Just goes to show that it doesn't matter how good you are, or how talented you are, or even how well you entertain your audience... When you're on the street, people perceive you as something totally different that what you are.

I firmly believe that goes for me, you and anyone else out there. You can take pains to minimize this, but unless there's a sign over your head that says "SPONSORED BY PEPSI" or some other such shyte, that's just how it is.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
mmreed
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I would think that the generation gap had something to do with it too...

you mention the girl wasnt a "normal looking" girl but rather a punker with dreds... and the spec was an older classy woman...

to the older classy woman, the girls looks were probably indicative of poverty in her mind....

But that still doesn't excuse the cheapness of "hey want some leftovers?"
Mark Reed
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David Pitts
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Now if it had been donuts, that'd be different. Donuts are good.
David Pitts
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gaddy
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Quote:
On 2009-01-10 23:37, mmreed wrote:
I would think that the generation gap had something to do with it too...

you mention the girl wasnt a "normal looking" girl but rather a punker with dreds... and the spec was an older classy woman...

to the older classy woman, the girls looks were probably indicative of poverty in her mind....

But that still doesn't excuse the cheapness of "hey want some leftovers?"


No offense, Mark, but I don't think you're getting what I'm trying to say...

I doubt anyone is working the streets because they are rich dilettantes indulging a kooky fantasy, so poverty is par for the course... and a guy in a clown costume riding a unicycle twisting balloons isn't very "normal" looking either...

But c'mon... trying to foist off your uneaten garbage on someone? You give table scraps to a dog, man, not to a busker trying to make a living. That's way beyond cheap... I don't even know what that is.

Are Americans so stupid they cannot see the difference between a street performer and a stray animal?

Apparently so...

Anyhow, I'm just venting about something that really, REALLY bugged me, so take it for what it's worth, this rant of mine.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2009-01-11 01:11, gaddy wrote:
so poverty is par for the course...


Not for everyone. Most of the street and festival workers I know own homes, have 401Ks, and drive New cars. It always amazes me when people say things like poverty is par for the course. If that were true I never would have bothered with it. Why would anyone intentionally wallow in poverty? Some people even sound proud of the fact that they can not make a living street performing. That makes no sense to me at all. At some point if I could not make a living I might think that another vocation might make more sense for me. This is just such a weird statement to me as I have ONLY seen it uttered on internet forums and NEVER by guys on the pitch. I can honestly say I have never met a street performer who said, "You know being poor is par for the course so you are going to have to get used to it."

I have seen guys who have said, "I want you all to put five dollars in my hat because I need gas for my Alfa Romeo." It gets a big laugh but an even bigger one is when he drives by the pitch in his spider and toots to the crowd after the show!

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
gaddy
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Quote:
On 2009-01-11 10:59, Danny Hustle wrote:
Quote:
On 2009-01-11 01:11, gaddy wrote:
so poverty is par for the course...


Not for everyone. Most of the street and festival workers I know own homes, have 401Ks, and drive New cars. It always amazes me when people say things like poverty is par for the course. If that were true I never would have bothered with it......


It's true many people shoot over par. Somewhere close to 50% I'd imagine... Smile

I guess it's just a majority of street performers in SF I'm specifically targeting here. And the majority that I see here while working on the streets of my city appear poor, and I don't make a ton of money out there either to be perfectly honest. Maybe they're all parking their sports cars on the other side of the wharf, I don't know -I keep my distance for the most part.

I'm certainly not 100% supporting myself by my street performing, and my lifestyle would be a hell of a lot leaner if I was. Maybe my opinion isn't valid after all? Fine by me, if you think so... But I'm just calling it like I see it on the streets of the city where I work. This isn't just the idle blather of an internet sock puppet.

By all means, please come to San Francisco and teach me how it's done. I'd certainly be glad of the lesson. I can use all the help I can get.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
gaddy
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...last statement wasn't a come-on or trying to bait you at all, I mean it!
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
mmreed
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What I was saying is that I know older "high brow" type people that no matter what the circumstance, if they see a person that does not look "high brow normal" to them, they see them as less. Im not talking clowns - those state "Im in costume".. but a punker with dredlocks isn't a costume - its likey the natural state of that person, and I know many high brow snobs that see that "alternate look" as a sign of lack of education and poverty.

that's no excuse for the lack of class to offer a half eaten meal. that's just tacky and who knows - the lady may have been half senile.

What Im saying is that many "upper class" view street workers different than you and I.

I am by no means an expert in the streets, Im new to all of this myself.. but I know many high brow snob types and they all seem out of touch with the real world when it comes to things like this.
Mark Reed
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David Pitts
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"many high brow snobs that see that "alternate look" as a sign of lack of education and poverty"

Well, yes, exactly. Could there be any other reason that some cities discourage street performance/busking on the basis that it can be confused with panhandling? The difference is ridiculously obvious to US, but in the eyes of some that's the only reason a person would be performing on the street.. desperation, a lack of any other means of supporting oneself. This is actually one of the reasons I wear a costume that leaves no doubt that I am a performer. It's shorthand for 'not a homeless panhandler'. It's too bad that many judge so quickly (and their initial judgement is often their ONLY judgement), but they do, that's the world we live in. I direct much of my performance toward children. If I were to walk up to a child and initiate a conversation or ask them a question, get them laughing etc, and NOT look like a professional performer, the response of most parents would be wariness, at best. It's understandable in this culture of fear. In any case, yep, that was insulting to offer table scraps to a clearly accomplished musician. And while I'm not saying that the girl should have expected that because she was dressed casually, I am saying that as performers we choose to put ourselves in front of all kinds of people for their assessment. We have all kinds of choices to make as performers, and they all affect the way the public, our audience, responds to us.
David Pitts
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montymagi
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Are Americans so stupid they cannot see the difference between a street performer and a stray animal? "quote"

so you are going to lump all Americans into one class because one old woman thought she was doing a good thing but was actually insulting? How many other countries have you been to? For that matter how many other states? I have been to several and let me inform you it is not just Americans and it is not by any streach of the imagination all Americans. We have some awsome buskers here in New Orleans and it is seen as an art form by most, misunderstood by some. I find your sterotypeing of "Americans" insulting, even if you are one.
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2009-01-13 11:39, spacecop wrote:
so you are going to lump all Americans into one class because one old woman thought she was doing a good thing but was actually insulting?


Well...yes, that's the American way! Smile

I'll tell you a funny story. A couple of weeks ago I was working pre game for the Boston Celtics. there was a HUGE group of Japanese girls that I called over to see a card trick. I said, "HI" They all said "HI" I asked if they were enjoying the game and they all said, "Yes, very much" they said ALL of this without a hint of a hesitation or accent so I ASSUMED they might be American college kids.

Well, I start doing card to pocket and it becomes fairly obvious that I have a HUGE language barrier. As a guy who grew up in a multi cultural neighborhood and a guy who started his street performing career at a multicultural tourist mecca this wasn't a huge deal.

I say to the group, "No matter how bad your English is, it is MUCH better than my Japanese. To this they all started clapping and laughing. They got it. I then said, "So together I think we can have some fun are you ready? " They all said, "Yeah!"

And so I took a very professional position and said, "Konbanwa" (good evening) and they laughed hysterically. With just a few words, holding out the deck and saying, "Dozo" (please take one) and "Wakarimasu Ka" (Do you understand). I was able to do a 15 minute set for these kids that they loved. As a matter of fact, a pretty big crowd gathered and when I would say, "Warkarimasu Ka?" the girls would ALL respond with, "Warkarimasu!" (I understand!). By the end of the show the rest of teh audience were calling it out as well like it was the magic word.

After the show they all came up and thanked me and took pictures with me, etc ( I even got a couple of kisses on the cheek thankyouverymuchdon'ttellmywife! Smile )

After they all walked off teh woman who hired me came up and said, I didn't know you spoke Japanese? I said, "I don't! I know like four words. but they are the right four words! Smile )

Now you may be wondering why I bring this cute little story up... Let's put the shoe on the other foot and a group of American Tourists are in Canada and a French speaking performer is doing his show and realizes that he has an American speaking crowd and tries to pull off a show using the only four or five words of English he knows to bring them along for the ride. Within moments 99% of the people in the croud are going to think he's stupid because he doesn't speak english. When he mispronounces something he will be corrected like he is an idiot, and before too long they will become bored and move along. I've seen it happen.

How many times have you been standing in line to buy something and a person from another country is in front of you trying to make a purchase and is having problems but is really trying with the language. The cashier will often be frustrated and talking to that person like they are a moron when no matter how badly that person speaks english it is 1000 times better than the cashier speaks the other persons language. Now this person in line is probably NOT stupid. For all we know they may be a rocket scientist in their own country. Americans have no patience, a lot of ignorance, and tons of arrogance. It's the reason why a lot of other countries love us so much. Smile

I may be totally off base here but I see it all the time, this is just my personal experience. YMMV

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
montymagi
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Wow I don’t know weather to start with the ignorance or arrogance. I have lived in several foreign countries and visited others. I have spent time abroad with other Americans and have never found this to be the case. For one person to say that he knows that 99% of people, in a crowd that he has never met, will think a certain way is amazing.
Are there rude, stupid and insensitive people in America? Sure. Just like every other country I have been. Are there polite, sensitive and intelligent people in America? You bet; Danny himself is one judging by his story. Furthermore it is my experience that these people are the vast majority. That is the American way. It floors me that the people that would never stereotype people from another country or culture would so quickly stereotype Americans. When you insult Americans you insult me because I am an American, my children are mostly American (one is a duel citizen) and most the people I love are Americans. I’m sorry if this is seen as flaming but I believe it is still on the original topic. Was the woman unknowingly insulting, yes. Was the other 100 people that past by that day insulting? It does not sound like it.
gaddy
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Quote:
On 2009-01-13 11:39, spacecop wrote:
Are Americans so stupid they cannot see the difference between a street performer and a stray animal? "quote"

so you are going to lump all Americans into one class because one old woman thought she was doing a good thing but was actually insulting? How many other countries have you been to? For that matter how many other states? I have been to several and let me inform you it is not just Americans and it is not by any streach of the imagination all Americans. We have some awsome buskers here in New Orleans and it is seen as an art form by most, misunderstood by some. I find your sterotypeing of "Americans" insulting, even if you are one.


How's that righteous indignation working out for you? Getting you any air time on the talk radio shows?

"all americans" was your phrase, not mine.

Incidentally when I lived and worked Jackson Square in New Orleans I could count the number of times I went to Slidell on one finger, so I hope you make it into the city more than I made it out...
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
montymagi
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I come to New Orleans every day. I work here.

"Quote"

Are Americans so stupid they cannot see the difference between a street performer and a stray animal?

Apparently so...

If a person makes a statement about gays or bartenders or Americans it is taken that they are refrenceing all of them.
John Bowlin
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Making cultural generalizations is never usually a good thing, nor is it very accurate. We are a world of individuals with all our faults and splendor displayed in every form imaginable in every country of the world. If WE choose to see the world( or just America) with cynicism, comtempt or through rose colored glasses then that is the world WE live in.

I may say or do something stupid on fairly regular occasion. If I do it in Boston I may be a stupid southerner, if I do it in Alabama I may be an arrogant Yank. To err is human..to forgive is to actually have a clue. I doubt anyone in here has the level of perfection to be casting stones at any individual for having a moment of insensitivity or lapse in judgement.

One story comes to mind for me. I walked into a bank and noticed the teller looked as though she might be due to give birth in a month or so. I looked at her...smiled and said...when are you due? I just wanted to acknowledge what I thought was a joyous and anticipated event. She turned bright red and in a very angry voice said.."I'm not pregnant". All I could say was "oh..I'm sorry". On the way out I could see her break into tears as she went off about me to her co-workers. I could not have felt more horrible or stupid at that moment. Did I wish I could say or do something to make that woman feel better, of course. Did I learn from that little incident...you bet! Had I been from somewhere and displayed some trait that pideonholed me I would probably have ruined an entire country of people for that woman. Look for reasons to find disdain in anything and chances are you will find it. It is actually possible to have a positive attitude and yet see the world as it truly is.
The Burnaby Kid
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Quote:
On 2009-01-13 13:29, Danny Hustle wrote:
Quote:
On 2009-01-13 11:39, spacecop wrote:
so you are going to lump all Americans into one class because one old woman thought she was doing a good thing but was actually insulting?


Well...yes, that's the American way! Smile

I'll tell you a funny story. A couple of weeks ago I was working pre game for the Boston Celtics. there was a HUGE group of Japanese girls that I called over to see a card trick. I said, "HI" They all said "HI" I asked if they were enjoying the game and they all said, "Yes, very much" they said ALL of this without a hint of a hesitation or accent so I ASSUMED they might be American college kids.

Well, I start doing card to pocket and it becomes fairly obvious that I have a HUGE language barrier. As a guy who grew up in a multi cultural neighborhood and a guy who started his street performing career at a multicultural tourist mecca this wasn't a huge deal.

I say to the group, "No matter how bad your English is, it is MUCH better than my Japanese. To this they all started clapping and laughing. They got it. I then said, "So together I think we can have some fun are you ready? " They all said, "Yeah!"

And so I took a very professional position and said, "Konbanwa" (good evening) and they laughed hysterically. With just a few words, holding out the deck and saying, "Dozo" (please take one) and "Wakarimasu Ka" (Do you understand). I was able to do a 15 minute set for these kids that they loved. As a matter of fact, a pretty big crowd gathered and when I would say, "Warkarimasu Ka?" the girls would ALL respond with, "Warkarimasu!" (I understand!). By the end of the show the rest of teh audience were calling it out as well like it was the magic word.

After the show they all came up and thanked me and took pictures with me, etc ( I even got a couple of kisses on the cheek thankyouverymuchdon'ttellmywife! Smile )

After they all walked off teh woman who hired me came up and said, I didn't know you spoke Japanese? I said, "I don't! I know like four words. but they are the right four words! Smile )

Now you may be wondering why I bring this cute little story up... Let's put the shoe on the other foot and a group of American Tourists are in Canada and a French speaking performer is doing his show and realizes that he has an American speaking crowd and tries to pull off a show using the only four or five words of English he knows to bring them along for the ride. Within moments 99% of the people in the croud are going to think he's stupid because he doesn't speak english. When he mispronounces something he will be corrected like he is an idiot, and before too long they will become bored and move along. I've seen it happen.

How many times have you been standing in line to buy something and a person from another country is in front of you trying to make a purchase and is having problems but is really trying with the language. The cashier will often be frustrated and talking to that person like they are a moron when no matter how badly that person speaks english it is 1000 times better than the cashier speaks the other persons language. Now this person in line is probably NOT stupid. For all we know they may be a rocket scientist in their own country. Americans have no patience, a lot of ignorance, and tons of arrogance. It's the reason why a lot of other countries love us so much. Smile

I may be totally off base here but I see it all the time, this is just my personal experience. YMMV

Best,

Dan-


Great story Dan, and one I can identify with. I am consistently complimented on my Korean, by Koreans whose English is far better than my Korean will ever be. The difference between the West and the East in that regard gives me some shame. You spoke about Americans lacking patience, but we get the same problems up here in Canada.

Incidentally, learning how to say "like this" in another language has saved my hide plenty of times, since you can just say "I Ro Kay" (or whatever) and mime whatever actions you need, such as shuffling or touching a card.
JACK, the Jolly Almanac of Card Knavery, a free card magic resource for beginners.
MagiCol
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It seems like it wouldnt go astray, depending on cirucmstances, when we are likely to perform for people of another language for us to learn a few foreign phrases to accompany our particular routines. Or be great mimes. Smiles and cheerful attitudes, I think, are universal messages.
The presentation makes the magic.
Bill Palmer
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Getting back to the original post, though. The old woman was treating the violinist like a beggar. In fact, she was treating the violinist worse than a beggar. If a beggar actually wants food, most of us who would feed him or her would at least buy that beggar a decent meal, not a bag of leftovers.

I understand Gaddy's (and the violinist's) point. My father, who was a musician, thought that when I busked, I was begging. Then he saw me do it and realized that there was a different side to busking, one that he had never even imagined.

A lot of people are strongly prejudiced against buskers.

During the Great Folk Music Scare of the 1960's, I told a friend of mine that I had met and played for Lightnin' Hopkins, who was one of the great blues guitar players of that era. Her remark was, "We don't think much of him, because he played on the street."
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pepka
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Remember the story that was posted here a year or so ago? Joshua Bell, world renowned violinist participated in an experiment by playing in a busy subway in Washington D.C. Very few people stopped to notice, even fewer dropped anything in his case. One person recognized him. He was relatively surprised at the money he did make. He felt that if he had to, he could almost make a meek living by doing this. (He makes about $100 a minute when he plays with symphonies all over the world.) In my city, the closest we get to buskers is a drunk with an out of tune guitar missing a string strumming one chord and making up his own lyrics. I usually toss in a few bucks hoping he'll stop and just go get a beer.
John Bowlin
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I remember the violinist experiment. He also stated that most to all of the money dropped in his case seemed out of pity as opposed to appreciation of his music and talent. The majority that dropped money in didn't even stop to listen. I wonder if we could get Copperfield to go for a busking experiment.
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