Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tic and Tac

I've been thinking a lot about Washington Square Park lately. Maybe because I spent a fair part of my summer vacation taking pictures there, but also because I go a long way back with the park. Maybe not as long as some, but I realized something recently. With the exception of Tic and Tac (pictured above), there are no longer any entertainers plying their trade in the park.

Sure, there are plenty of buskers. Too many buskers if you ask me. There's usually at least two different jazz bands playing on either side of the fountain (on the Washington Place axis), and on weekends a Dixieland combo shows up with stand-up bass and trombones in hand. There's also any number of solo guitar players, cellists, and a doo-wop band that materializes underneath the arch to utilize the echo.

I'm not saying these people/combos aren't bad at what they do, but they're just playing. They're not entertaining the crowd. They're not putting on a show. Now hold onto your hats while I go into a, "back in my day," rant.

Back in MY day, we had people who actually cared about entertaining the crowd. Who could forget Joey Joey swallowing swords atop his unicycle? Or Master Lee who would break those three flaming boards in half with his bare hands..."BUT FIRST!" There was this guy whose name I never knew, but he wore a dress shirt, tie, and suit vest and would jump his skateboard over ten garbage cans. For some reason I was more entertained by his preparation, dragging all the garbage cans from where they were supposed to be into a big long line. There was even a homeless standup comedian, and god knows who else I'm forgetting.

There was a camaraderie between them all (at least it seemed that way to me), as they took turns using the fountain (empty of course), to entertain whoever was there.

But that's all gone now. It's all about, "watch us play, be impressed that we're young white kids playing old-timey jazz and being ironic and give us money."

Except for Tic and Tac.

I feel like I've watched them grow up, and in a way I have. They're 34 now (twins, of course), and have been working the park since they're teenagers. They're acrobats, comedians, and definitely take the effort to make sure the crowd is engaged and involved (especially if they pick you to be a "volunteer" for their finale).

Some party poopers might ask, "if they're so great, how come they're working the park?" I say just go and see their show. Allow yourself to have a laugh and be impressed. If one thing is evident to anyone, it's that they are clearly enjoying what they do.

How many of us can say that?

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