The pipes of peace

I’ve said it before, but New York is a city packed full of people who just don’t know when to stop. As the old Chinese proverb says, “Start argument with New Yorker on Tuesday, kiss goodbye to weekend.” And if a New Yorker fails at something, expect them to keep trying until they’ve finally achieved it. Or at least until they’ve died trying.

The lack of limits extends to the workplace too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the New York branch of Workaholics Anonymous resembles HarrodsMacy’s on the first day of the January sales. I know plenty of people who spend more time at their offices than at home, and it can’t just be because of the way that that woman in accounts/man in the postmail room looks at them.

The fact is that New Yorkers play hard, but work much harder. It’s probably the only city in America where employees complain about getting ten days off work per year because it’s twice as many as they ever intend to take. Some people wonder how the city supports so many fast food outlets, but frankly if it wasn’t for lawyers and architects ordering in chicken parmigiana at 10pm, half of the Italian places in New York would close down.

Given the level of commitment to work, the buskerstreet musician on the L platform at 14th Street/Union Square is a refreshing breath of fresh air. Masquerading as a guitar twiddling, pan pipe blowing Peruvian, Manuel Pugo (I’ve occasionally had the misfortune to get up close, and have seen his CDs) is the antithesis of a New Yorker. Despite the fact that his music is blasting out every morning (generally covers of much loved classics such as ‘The Sound Of Silence’), I have yet to see him blow his pan pipes in anger, or give more than an occasional strum. It’s almost as if he’s on doctor’s orders not to perform for more than three minutes a day, for fear that further exertion will cause him to spontaneously combust.

He mimes along quite happily, and occasionally gives a muted yelp into the microphone. But mostly he talks to commuters, and gives me the kind of look that says “you’ve been coming to this platform for six months now and you’ve not put money in my guitar case once.”

Clearly I give him a withering stare in return. If he hasn’t managed to work it out yet, the aforementioned look roughly translates as “pick up your sodding instrument and use it, and I might consider giving you some cash.”

I think my money’s perfectly safe, sadly.

12 thoughts on “The pipes of peace

  1. IanB

    Hang on a sec; working until 10pm, not going home, grumpy work-aholics. Sorry, just give me a minute while I write down something on my list of places not to live or work:


    There, right.. Buskers that mime? Good grief! A word for a busker that doesn’t busk is: “beggar”. Another (two) word(s) is (are): “trip hazard”. On the plus side he has a cool-sounding name although does sound like the Spanish for “my husband does not have problems with his bowels”. Read it, you’ll get it.. 😉

    p.s. Sorry, it’s early – I ought to wake up a bit before commenting.

  2. Silverback

    Mr ‘dodgy bowels’ Pugo must’ve split from his boy band as I’ve usually seen a bunch of them everywhere from Toronto to San Francisco, from London to Paris. Ok, admittedly that’s as far as my travels have taken me. I used to wonder if it was the same group as, after all, throw a thin but colourful rug over your shoulders, add a big ethnic hat and slip on some moon boots and you’ll look kosher Peruvian to me.

    At least the group DID play their instruments. I think. Hard to tell after the 500th rendition of ‘Guantanamera.’ Maybe Pugo went solo but was the talentless one that every boy band has.

  3. Melanie

    I LOVE plan flute guy! One of my old colleagues who moved to New York used to text me every time he played My Heart Will Go On at precisely 8:36 every morning.

  4. Dylan

    To be fair to the guy, I’m sure he’s very talented and that the music blasting out from his amp is music that he recorded himself. But this morning he was wandering around as the music played, smiling at commuters and generally ignoring the pan pipes/pan flute for all he was worth.

    Melanie – there is no excuse for My Heart Will Go On at any time of the day, but ESPECIALLY at 8.36am…

  5. Brooklyn

    Don’t jump to conclusions. Pan flute music in a low ceiling, hard surfaced, busy subway station at rush hour is not the same as a pan flute in a park on a Sunday afternoon.

  6. Marjie

    New York is such a fast-paced city that most of us from somewhere else is still trying to keep up. Arizona is still praying for good public transportation. Lord knows the best bus schedule here runs every 30 minutes. And yes, my friend, that’s the best it could get.

    The perks override the citizen’s rudeness, in my opinion. I’d argue with someone anytime of the day if I could flag a cab to go anywhere whenever I want.

    Please, wave hello to NY for me 🙂

  7. Silverback

    Sooo spooky. Just settled down to watch South Park from last week and what’s it all about ?..the pan pipe playing groups that pop up everywhere. The kids reckon it’s an easy way to make money so form their own Peruvian band.

    Now that’s what I call co-inky-dink.

  8. Pingback: A Brit Out Of Water » Blog Archive » Important pan pipe update

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