Funding Friday: I Will Never Give Up

I backed this project earlier this week.

As the narrator says in the video “How is this guy, with this voice, still in the subway?”

I’m a fan of busking. I always drop some change in the basket. A little entertainment underground goes a long way with me.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    As am I Fred.On train especially.There is nothing like a show of talent and passion to connect the diversity of people riding the train. It is what makes the fabric of NY so diverse.What i miss is the graffiti (call me crazy!).The old story of how Haring and buddies use to meet at a bar on the east side, split up the spray cans of paint then head out on the trains cross the city and keep going till they ran out of paint or were arrested makes me smile at the image of myself living in a walkup on Ave A and 2nd Street back when.Had to look up ‘busking’ so a big thanks for a new word in my quiver.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I had to look it up too!!! You beat me to the punch.

      1. JamesHRH

        seems amazing that you are unfamiliar with the term.

    2. LE

      (call me crazy!)Grafitti is destructive and it is not a good thing in any way when it happens to your or the public’s property. Not to mention that many if not most people don’t find it visually appealing.

      1. awaldstein

        Without graffiti we would not have Haring or basquiet or others.Predictably disagree

        1. LE

          I had it on trucks that I owned but glad you got to enjoy some art as a result.

        2. PhilipSugar

          I don’t know. I met Keith Haring when my fraternity little brother invited me to an art show in Soho in around 1987 and bought the line drawing of a person with a clock in one hand and cash in the other. His family was a very large Patron of the arts and it was some ridiculous price to me like $5k IIRC. They were the first sponsor of Dale Chihuly.He was most famous for chalk line art on unused advertising posters in the subways. Hardly destructive graffiti. There are places that are designated for “graffiti” I am fine with that.But I can see LE’s point. When your shit gets vandalized it’s not “cool” or “hip” ton of graffiti is just gang marking or ignorant activity.But you said you used to go to Singapore……funny story about that:I am at dinner in London. My phone goes off twice. Now you don’t answer the phone but everyone knows twice in a row and you better answer. I say this is my wife calling me twice I need to take this. She is really upset, they can hear that. I calm her down say we can discuss more when we get home, I am at dinner.The head of the British office says is everything ok at home. I say yes, He says are you sure? I say yes. He says look if you need to go you know your wife is really important. Everyone at the table is agreeing.I say ok look, here is what happened. My son’s art teacher was showing graffiti art. My son says that is not art it is graffiti. She says no it is art. He says no it is graffiti and my Dad goes to Singapore and they will break your butt for doing that. The whole class explodes and he gets sent to the principal and gets a two hour detention for being disrespectful in class (it is a very strict school former Naval Academy Prep) Also Google Image Singapore Graffiti Punishment.She is upset about that.British colleague dryly says: Well they do….Our head of the Singapore Office says: Most certainly, he knows the rules. Everyone is in agreement and goes back to dinner.

          1. awaldstein

            I am sitting under two of Keith’s pop shops–Barking Dogs and Man Walking on Water. They make me happy to this day some 20 years after I bought them.I was reporting into Singapore during the height of the caning days. Gum, graffiti, whatever and was there every month so remember the big mishigas in the media about it well.There is no debate or sides as what I wrote was not what was responded to.I didn’t say that i want graffiti back for all the issues surrounding it. Takes no imagination to list the negatives nor was that particularly germane to the topic I was expressing.I said I missed it, and its impact as the canvas for NY artists I love and collect and to the person I was back then.Simple expression.

          2. PhilipSugar

            I think it’s great to have designated areas. Some cities do. Maybe I’m sensitive like LE because when your stuff gets “marked” and you have to pay to clean it up, you know image is important.You steam at the money you pay that could go into product or people.

          3. awaldstein

            That was then, this is now.Different times and while the arts are seriously in jeopardy and underfunded, there are lots of good ideas on how to encourage expression of which in the example of Haring, that is what it was.

          4. PhilipSugar

            I do not think they are in jeopardy. I do not think my tax money should go to fund the NEA or NPR. Not a conservative view. A libertarian view. I do think government bureaucrats have threatened the arts at the school level by having bloated administrations and testing.I do not believe in that certain groups get preference.I do not believe in the bias (and unless you are blind) to one party or group over the other.I don’t care if I agree with both. That is not the place of the government.It causes the divisiveness that has happened. Simple Judo. Push-Pull.People don’t see the responsibility for where we are, is because of everybody.Seriously.

          5. awaldstein

            I’m not being clear it seems.Who said anything about government? About funding for the arts?I think that arts are certainly in jeopardy for neither of those reasons.The growth of income, the change in how we work should by definition drive to a multidisciplinary basis for eduction, technical education as well.I’m a huge proponent of the Black Mountain Approach btw.Black Mountain College–a visionary paradigm of learning

          6. PhilipSugar

            I don’t know. I live in a small blue collar county. You could not define it more. You work in a GoreTex Plant, An ATK (gunpowder and ammunition) plant, a distribution center, or many other small plants or serve those plants. You drive a pickup truck, you hunt, you crab.When you go the barber shop (I did yesterday) they finish up with hot foam and a straight razor. You talk about “man” things. The drug store still has a soda fountain.Art is THRIVING.http://www.cecilcountyartschttp://www.elktonalliance.o

          7. awaldstein

            I learn from these discussion so I thank you.

          8. PhilipSugar

            Look at this picture my daughter drew. I don’t know where the talent came from. The art teacher says the arms are out of proportion and she is right, my daughter says she can’t look at it. All I do is look at it and feel happiness.She does not go to the Arts School: http://www.cabcallowayschoo…She goes to hard core school that used to feed the Naval Academy.They push these kids on arts. Hard. They do a three hour class after school once a week. This is a school where the pickup line is literally the pickup line as every mom drives a pickup. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          9. PhilipSugar

            No issue. 14 Galleries in a county of maybe 100k. Rural.

          10. LE

            She says no it is art. He says no it is graffitiIn the 80’s I realized that art was what you learned to appreciate. Hence anything that you can appreciate and understand can be thought of as art. To your brain. Both of us can probably think of many examples. [1]An example is the steel shelving story. In the 80’s I bought some really awesome steel shelving for the warehouse. There was at the time an artist (girl from a wealthy family) Diane Green [2] living upstairs. (Later kicked her out because we needed the space). She is in NYC now. I was really happy and proud of that shelving. To me it looked good and it was the right tool for the job. When you make things you always are pleased when you have that tool. You know this.Anyway you can see the type of artist she is. I took her to the basement and I showed her the steel shelving and pointed out what was great about it. The thickness of the metal, the wood laying over, the bolts, the way we had it arranged and so on. My brain was happy with it to the extreme. She lit up and she understood. Once I pointed out what I liked about it. I am sure she might possibly not look at shelving the same way again. And yes it was a genuine reaction I am good at reading faces and emotions.My sister was an artist and studied in Rome against my Dad’s wishes.. She had a painting that hung in a public space that was stolen. Story on Action News and the newspaper. After the story was found in some wealthy person’s basement. They returned it.[1] On vacation my wife and I rented a Lincoln Navigator. My wife was oblivious to the shitty interior finishing until I pointed out a few things that separate that Ford pos from, say, one of your finer cars. The fit and finish. Just look at the AC vents and go from there. Terrible mass injection molding process. If you understand it you can appreciate it. If not it’s a blur. That said some things are disturbing visually (like a third eye kills symmetry).[2] This is Diane Green, she is in NYC now.https://www.dianegreenpaint

    3. JamesHRH

      seems amazing that you are unfamiliar with the term.What is the NYC term?

      1. awaldstein

        cool to find words that i don’t know. doesn’t happen that often.there is no ny specific term. street performers is what they well as essential pieces of the fabric of life.biggest challenge is that i never have cash.

  2. jason wright

    i had a minor contretemps with a busker inside my bank earlier this week. he wasn’t playing (he wasn’t queueing either, hence the issue), he was banking his takings. every space is just there for the taking it seems. pushy little fucker he was.

    1. LE

      Sounds like quite a wanker, eh?

      1. jason wright

        hey, a native accent ;)he was. to not queue in England is a cultural no no, and a major transgression of social etiquette. “tut-tut” and wagging finger time.

        1. LE

          I learned it from you.

          1. jason wright

            my corrupting influence LOL 🙂

  3. Dan Nathan

    thanks for sharing this!

  4. kenberger

    Union Square Station is the Madison Square Garden for buskers.Union Square Ventures is the Madison Square Garden for startups.

    1. Salt Shaker

      True. Talent at Union Square Station often stops me in my tracks. Pun unintended.

  5. Jeremy Shatan

    The stories of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones should be an inspiration to him!

  6. mikenolan99

    When I was in Melbourne, a classmate invited me out with his 9 year old son. The son was learning violin, and his dad would take him busking at a public park. Watching the son perfect his craft, and witnessing the joy the audience felt was a wonderful experience. And, the son got to keep the money – he was so proud!

  7. DJL

    This reminds me of a blind fellow that used to sing on Newbury Street back in Boston. He had a bucket and a dog and a $20 amp. Crowds of 100+ would gather every time. But I never knew his name or his story. This is really cool.

  8. Jeremy Robinson

    Very heart warming story and talented, talented singer. Thanks for posting. In some way, reminds me of the Rodriguez story about the guy who got “discovered” in South Africa, and then they made that movie “Searching for Sugar Man.” I love these stories of talented people down on their luck who get discovered and the power of altruism. Breaking news: our brains are wired to be social. This means that if our civilization is to have a future we need to continue to be altruistic. It doesn’t hurt that giving to others feels like the best thing we can ever do in life.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Indeed. I saw Rodriguez live last year. Amazing lyricist.

    1. JamesHRH

      these guys have moments that are more than a little eerie.

  9. Erin

    Daaaamn! That voice.

  10. Richard

    Let’s do this for graffiti artists and get them off the streets and onto canvas

  11. LE

    “How is this guy, with this voice in the subway still?”Question for music people out there. What is the potential for a man with a good voice that is not writing his own lyrics and songs? How does that roll out exactly? And what is the potential to release what is a album (if that is the case) of essentially cover songs?Why isn’t he getting work as a session musician? Or doing Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and that circuit of work? [1] You can do better than $40 a day doing that (more for 1 weekend of work).And finally why is it always about hitting the big time. If this guy is living in the projects (and apparently the worst one) and needs to support his family why swing for the fences? Why not just go a route where he can earn a better living. Maybe that is why at 58 he is doing this. Because instead of taking advantage of lesser opportunities he would rather dream an unreachable goal. (Hey Charlie Crystal had a record deal but did tech and is baking bread now as many of us know http://www.thelancasterfood… ).Understand that isn’t the point of the kickstarter project so apologize but have to say this.[1] My brother in law (very talented opera singer (written up in the NYT)) can’t get enough solid gigs (whims of creative directors apparently) so he gives music lessons and sings at both churches and synagogues (on Park avenue no less) for holidays. In one case we saw him perform at an old age home and he made $1000 for a few hours of work. Ditto for his wife (who also gives yoga lessons to supplement income). These are people with both looks and talent and from the right side of the tracks. But realistically there is more talent than demand so you do what you have to do.

  12. Dan T

    i’m guessing that the reason he is in the subway is that what seems really obvious and easy to AVC readers about how he could “do better” is elusive to him and he likely can’t see the path, or understand how to make his way down the path. For the same reason that singing is easy to him and I can’t sing at all.

  13. BillMcNeely

    I have a brother in law Marcus Hernandez who was a minor star about 10 years ago before joining the Marine Corps. We are trying to get him access to his royalties so he can get back on his feet after a don’t ask don’t tell situation led to confinement in a Marine/Federal Prison for 4 years. If anybody can point us to someone knowledgeable and will not rip him off that would be awesome.

  14. Rick Mason

    Here’s a favorite of mine, Moon Hooch, performing in the NY subway where they got their start. It was only when I retrieved this clip I found out it was recorded in Union Square!

  15. Vasudev Ram

    AVCers:As @creativegroup might say: Off topic alert:Just saw this today.The poetry of programming | Linda Liukas | TEDxCERN…Apart from the interesting topic, her style of talking is just too cool!Also check out her hairstyle 🙂

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Also saw this:…Excerpt:[When she was 23, she once again became interested in the web. She co-founded Rails Girls, a site designed to help women learn basic programming. Thanks to her involvement, the approach has become a worldwide success, leading to workshops in over 160 cities.[2] Liukas also works with the online training platform Codecademy which provides courses free of charge.[3]Liukas also started to learn the programming language Ruby but encountered a number of difficulties. She sorted them out by drawing pictures featuring a little girl called Ruby: “Whenever I ran into a problem that I didn’t understand, I’d think ‘how would Ruby explain this?’.”[4] Initially Ruby was a side-line Liukas created for herself drawing sketches of the little red-haired girl encountering a snow leopard or sorting out problems with penguins and green robots. When Liukas showed her approach to her friends, they encouraged her to publish the illustrations and explanations in book form.[2] In 2014, Liukas launched a Kickstarter campaign for the book and raised $380,000, becoming the platform’s most highly funded children’s book.[5][6] After a number of revisions and improvements, the book, Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding, was published on 6 October 2015.[7]]

  16. PhilipSugar

    My favorite is the concert violinist that played in the Subway. Nobody notices. He makes $12.17 except for the person that recognizes him and says I saw you play at the Library of Congress, you are amazing.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Let me guess: He starts playing a chord, open D string, open A string, and F on the E string. So, he’s playing the D minor chord. Later he changes to D major then back to D minor and ends on D played in unison on the G string and the open D string.Do I have that about right?

    2. sigmaalgebra

      So, it’s Bell. Yup, he’s good. He was a J. Gingold student. Another Gingold student gave me my first violin lesson. Shockingly I had to play for Gingold — some years later when I had some music to play, okay, but not when I did have to!

  17. CerterisParibus

    Thanks for this great post. I’m contributing!

  18. bijan

    donated, thanks for the heads up!