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Thursday, April 14, 2005

RB4: With a Vengeance

Couldn't find a computer to post a blog entry in the Bahamas ...ok, who am I kidding? I was in the friggin' Bahamas, you think I had nothing better to do than blog?

Last Wednesday, I drove down to NYC from Ithaca. I drove the car straight into Manhattan, met up with my friend Carmine, and we headed for a local tex-mex place. A couple margaritas later, we grabbed our doumbeks (Turkish drums), and headed for Union Square. We found a random French guy playing guitar and singing, so Carmine asked if we could join him. We played along for a couple of songs, then moved on. As we were getting up, a bunch of kids were walking by - kinda punk-looking kids - the kind you'd figure are up to no good. They asked us about our drums, so we started chatting with them. It turned out they were part of a group called the "underground church," and were out in Union Square to give food to the homeless and help them find places to stay. We jammed nearby for a while as the kids passed out food.

When the kids left, we went to another corner of the square and ran into a guy with glowsticks. Yes, glowsticks; he was twirling them on strings, and he was actually really good. We played while he did his thing, and I took the opportunity to do a little people-watching. It was about midnight, but there were a ton of people out on the square, including a cute girl sitting near us, a bunch of guys break-dancing behind us, and a guy who wanted to organize a symphony of street musicians. We talked to the symphony guy for a while, then I played some more for Zane (the glowstick guy) while Carmine explained to the symphony guy that the randomness and independence that makes street music work for individuals doesn't lend itself well to organization.

After a while, the break-dancing guys called us over to play for them. Carmine started busting out the hip-hop rhythms, while I did my best to keep up. The break-dancers were taking turns in the middle of the ring, doing some cool handstands, spins, etc, and then something weird happened: I looked up, and suddenly, the cute girl I had seen earlier was in the middle of the ring - belly-dancing! Carmine had been mixing some Turkish rhythms in with the hip-hop stuff, and I guess she heard one that worked for her, and she went for it. She was good, too! After an hour or so of playing for the break-dancers, the belly dancer, and Zane (who also took his turn in the break-dancing ring), we finally called it a night. Carmine and I talked with Ariel (the belly dancer) for a little bit (she was looking for advice from Carmine on how to get some performing gigs in the city; it turned out they knew some of the same people; I guess there's a sort of belly dancing sub-culture here), then went home, thoroughly satisfied.

I caught about 2 hours of sleep before getting up to catch my plane to the Bahamas.


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