Friday, May 12, 2006

8 hours of street-singing...

Over 2 days that is. I finally got a breather after submitting my paper on "3D stress simulation on FinFET mobility" (don't know what it means? me neither!) and since the saxophone animation project has more or less wrapped up, I decided it's high time to have some fun. So I ended up street-singing for 5 hours in Berkeley and 3 hours in San Francisco and here's a list of interesting/bizarre things that happened:

1. I've had more "interactions' with police officers over the past 2 days than my entire life thus far. Funny thing is they never ask me to stop singing or leave, instead their "requests" is always something really petty. Some samples:

"Please turn your speaker 10 degrees to the right..."
"You have to be situated at least 10 feet from any property...and yes, it includes this dustbin over here..."
"You can't sing here, you have to sing here.." (while pointing at a place barely 3 feet away from where I was standing)

2. Berkeley is not really a street-singing paradice, so there's little spacial competition among street musicians, thou it's definitely not the case in SF. I was initially singing at the Powell Street Cable Car station, until this tap dancing dude came around and tell me that it is his "spot"...

3. I've earned over $60 these 2 days, of which none of it came from a Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan-wannabes/'s usually old folks, working adults, occasionally students and yes, the homeless too!

4. When you're part of the "street life", you do get a lot more chance to interact with the homeless. I've had a homeless guy who kept requesting and eventually hijacked my PA system to sing a tune (and finally saying that I'm jealous of his talents when I took back my PA system and continued singing), another guy who placed his bucket/cup right next to mine and another homeless dude who's really against all stereotypes of a homeless person (he's chinese, he's around my age, and he's from Hong Kong). All in all, it's been interesting talking to these folks, and I've on accasions given some of my "earnings" to them to get something from the hot dog stand nearby.

5. Surprisingly, the Americans seem to enjoy it when I sing Chinese songs.

6. You get the most random questions from passers-by...such as:

"dude, where can you buy a harmonica?" (I almost wanted to tell him you can only get it from China)
"Hey, are you a Korean?" (I was asked this question 3 times the past 2 days)
"I love that song by the Beatles!" (after I sung "Desperado" by The Eagles)

7. But most of all, the greatest thing about singing on the streets is the connection with the occasional passers-by who seems "touched" by the music; those moments definitely make my day! Some highlights:

- I was singing "Redemption Song/ Song of Freedom" by Bob Marley and this black woman started singing to the top of her voice (actualy more like howling since she wasn't singing in pitch at all) with me. Let me just say that at that moment, I can relate to those prisoners in "Shawshank Redemption" when they heard the uplifting voice of the Italian singers coming thro the PA.
- Fan notes and gifts...including a "Falun Gong" VCD...I have no idea why the girl give it to me, thou she did include $5 too..
- And the one that really made my day, "Young man, you've found your voice"

Conclusion: I'm totally gonna continue doing this when I'm back in good o' Singapore!


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