Dependable Erection

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's magic

I was in Bull McCabe's last night having a beer with a couple of folks. We had the first table on the left when you walk in the door, and i was watching the rain fall as much as i was taking part in the conversation.

And then this guy walked by, made eye contact, and proceeded to do a sleight of hand show with me as his sole audience.

I didn't get a chance to talk to him. He vanished in a flash. But it was as interesting as the time, my first summer in Durham, that a young man stopped my on Ninth St., explaining that he was a free lance philosopher, and for only five bucks he would help me draw up a philosophy of life on the spot.

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  • What exactly did he do?

    Could he make the McCabe's cheesy book collections disappear? How about their even cheesier fake church window lights? I'd gladly pay him a few dollars for that.

    By Blogger Phil, at 1:38 AM  

  • What? You mean you don't like to read the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of War and Peace while you quaff a brew?

    By Anonymous cd, at 8:04 AM  

  • Mostly disappearing handkerchief stuff.

    The reason why it's so appealing to me is the utter lack of fascinating street performers in Durham. Granted we're a small city, but there are some amazingly talented people in town and you never see any of them out busking or even just showing off.

    A couple of instances from my time in NYC stand out in memory.

    one - outside a building being renovated in the West Village, in one of those long low dumpsters that collect building materials to be recycled, a well groomed man in an embroidered cowboy shirt and ten gallon hat, standing on top of a pile of trash, strumming a guitar and singing an original composition explaining why he had chosen that particular venue to perform in, with the chorus "Because i like the smell, i like the smell."

    two - at South Ferry one fall afternoon. My kids and their grandparents had missed the return boat from Ellis Island, so i was sitting on a bench for half an hour waiting for them watching a skate board artist set up a series of ramps and trash cans and do an Evel Knievel impression. His best trick was taking about two dozen aluminum cans, ripping them in half, and setting them up with the jagged edges facing upwards along the rims of three garbage cans, then leaping over them and landing on a second board he had parked behind them and continuing his ride. And yes, he cleaned up after himself and replaced all of the trash and receptacles.

    three - late one night near Cooper Union, on the same stretch of sidewalk that part of King Missile's "Detachable Penis" video was shot, a man in a doorway playing an obviously custom made guitar like instrument. The neck was a nearly three foot long piece of 1" solid steel. Welded to it at intervals corresponding to frets were tubes of stainless steel similar to what blues players slide onto their pinkies. There was some arrangement that functioned as a bridge to anchor the strings, a couple of pickups, and tuning pegs up at the other end. The sound that came out of the Pignose was like nothing so much as church bells on an early Sunday morning (Johnny B. Goode, anyone?) The man playing the guitar was in his late 30s/early 40s, an obviously accomplished musician and, taken at face value, a "successful" one. The only person i've heard on recordings get a sound similar to that was Michael Brook, and for all i know, that's who i listened to that night.

    We spend a lot of time talking about how to deal with panhandlers in Durham. Perhaps if we encouraged a more vibrant street performers scene, the competition would discourage those whose sole act is shaking a cup full of change.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 10:28 AM  

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