Thursday, March 31, 2005

Whenever I miss New York, I try to remind myself not to glorify my time there. Yes, I had lots of fun living in Manhattan, but the city was freezing in winter, muggy in summer and dirty & dismal all year. Driving in LA traffic now is just as bad as commuting on subways then. At least here I’m in my own car, away from all those crazy people. But when I think back, I miss those NY nutjobs, too.

Like that guy who squeezed onto the crowded westside local and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention, please?!”

We all barely looked over. Just another pan-handler. He was wearing a baseball cap with googly antennae attached to it, and he carried a dented, rusty saxophone.

“I’m from Mars! My spaceship crashed here and I need get it fixed so I can go home. I will play you my planet’s national anthem until you give me some money to pay for the repairs.”

Gotta give the guy credit -- it was an original schtick.

“And I’m warning you: Martian music is terrible!”

He wasn’t kidding -- SQUAWWK! BLAPPPT! -- It was awful.

And we loved it. Everybody was cracking up. The visual was great, too, seeing this space alien about to burst a blood vessel blowing into this broken-old horn. KWEEESSCCH!

We all started to give him money -- compensating him for the entertainment, if not the flying saucer refurbishing -- when at the next stop, a transit cop came onto the train.

Nothing needed to be said. The guy backed off, stepping out of the subway car onto the platform. All the commuters groaned -- normally we’d appreciate not being solicited, but we had been enjoying this. Didn’t the officer have a sense of humor?

Just before the doors closed on our ear-splitting extra-terrestrial, the cop said to him, “Come back when you learn some Coltrane.”


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