Saturday, October 13, 2007

Metro printed my letter to the editor yesterday.

Well, let me clarify: Metro printed a hatchet job of my letter to the editor yesterday. I wrote all the sentences that appeared, but they were in a different order, and there were transitions.

I suppose this is what I get for being optimistic that they'd publish it as an editorial; I should have sent a 100-word version as well.

Anyway, here is the original text of my letter:

I am a busker, a street musician. Like many other musicians in Boston, I spend a great deal of my time playing on subway platforms. Sure, it’s physically and mentally tiring playing an instrument for six to eight hours a day, but I’m happy to be able to brighten the T stations with my music.

Apparently, the management of the MBTA does not consider the subway performers to be sufficient entertainment. They have piloted a program called T-Radio, which will play constant music, news, sports and commercials at T riders, and they will pilot it at two of the most popular stations for subway musicians, North Station and South Station.

The buskers have been blindsided. None of us were informed of this, much less consulted for our opinion. Since we all have paid permits, the MBTA has a record of everyone’s name and address to contact us.

Musicians can’t perform while the radio is playing. Winter is coming, so I can’t go outside. T-Radio will remove a substantial portion of my income that I need for luxuries like food.

And yet, the financial aspect isn’t the worst of it. The worst thing about T-Radio is that it continues the dehumanization of riding the subway. T-Radio won’t smile at you in the morning. T-Radio will never remember you, no matter how many times you listen to it. T-Radio won’t play “Pop Goes the Weasel” for your child. T-Radio won’t take requests, won’t answer questions about its music, and you can’t hire it for your wedding. I do all these things and more.

Dan Grabauskas was quoted in Metro as saying, “"I think the performers in our stations add life, color and richness to the MBTA system." Mr. Grabauskas, I couldn't agree more. But if that's really how you feel, why are you drowning us out? I would like to issue you an invitation spend even an hour with me watching your subway riders and their reactions to my music. I’ve seen the grouchiest-looking people crack a smile and wave to me. I don't think people are going to be smiling and waving at T-Radio.

T riders, please support live music and local artists. Call the MBTA customer service line at (617) 222-3200; go to the MBTA website to send feedback; let the T know that you want to keep your subway musicians.


This is a much stronger letter. Anybody have any thoughts on how I can get more eyeballs on it?

Also, we all know the T feedback system is iffy at best. Please consider writing/e-mailing the papers (Globe, Herald, Metro, BostonNOW); contact your legislators (if appropriate); if you see a petition, sign it; just talk to people and help spread the word. Work is being done feverishly behind the scenes right now, but we need to keep this in people's minds from now until Thanksgiving, when the final decision will be made.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! The fact that they printed it at all (even if altered) is wonderful in itself.
Well done.

All the best,

'Saw Lady'

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I'm liking the T-radio. I walk through North Station every day and have yet to hear a musician that doesn't make me cringe. Out of tune, playing the same music over and over and over and over. There's a violinist and a flute player (floutist?) in particular that just make me cringe when I see them because I know it's going to be the same tune repeated endlessly. The flute player especially, omg just awful.

I'm not alone in this either; other riders have commented as well.

Fiddler said...

Thanks, Saw Lady!

Anon #2, I won't comment on other buskers, because it would be unprofessional, but I'm guessing I'm the violinist you see. If so, I apologize for my intonation, but I can assure you, I have an extensive enough repertoire that I can (and do) play for over an hour before repeating anything. Now, if you're at the station every day at the same time, you may hear the same music from me once or twice a week; I play my sets in a certain order so I can make sure I don't repeat myself often.

Even if you don't like buskers, and I know not everybody does, the truth is that the T sanctioned the Subway Performers Program, and the T did not consult with the people it's putting out of work to implement the radio.

May I ask how you make your living?