Friday, July 1, 2011

Dog-Eat-Dog and Dark Thoughts in Buskerville: An Essay on Vendor Venting

It seemed the perfect morning to join my familiar fellows at the Wednesday morning Buskerville -- the local farmers’ market. I had imagined myself to be setting up among the usual benevolent and welcoming vendors, A Fudge Above, Sacred Earth Soaps, and Outreach Plants. I had imagined having a calm and kibitzing kind of a busking day. The sky was bright and blue, the wind was warm and dry, the market a mere five minute walk from my door. It seemed the perfect morning – until I arrived.

Right off the hop, my usual buskspot was not to be for me. It so happened that Jacob Hornblower was set up on the far west side of the market square where Fiddler Dave always sets up (first come first serve, the early bird catches the worm). Fiddler Dave had grudgingly relocated his pitch to the middle of the square. Choosing not to be the interloper, I rambled around to find a not-so-familiar and a not-to-interfere pitch elsewhere.

I strolled up the sidewalk along the north-east side. With a frantic wave-along exchange, a grumpy male vendor selling veggies scowled at me and motioned for me to keep going as I approached. Not finding any particular place that seemed attractive enough for a pitch, I changed direction, 180 degrees, and sauntered south-east until I found a pleasant little sward situated amid three vendors.

All three acknowledged it would be okay for me to perform there. It was during my very first song, when the forty-something hippie Pasture Lady, who had just a moment ago given her consent for me to set up screeched, Is that thing tuned? She was shaking her head in disapproval as the sarcasm dripped from her lips. I walked over to her and asked if she had any song requests.

I just really hate banjos, was her response.

Within minutes, the ever affable and accommodating market executive director, not coincidentally, happened by.

I’ve had a complaint from one of the vendors near you. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to find another spot. There are some excellent grassy spots just up the way. She pointed to whence I had just been.

Instead of returning there, I headed straight across the middle of the square and noticed that not one, but two other buskers had set up between Jacob Hornblower and Fiddler Dave. Fiddler Dave was furious. See that guy, he said to me. He’s too close! He’s too noisy!

Up the north-west corner of the square I discovered what I thought would be an okay pitch. Again, I sought permission from the nearest vendors.

Of course, said the first as he smiled in his response.

The response of the other vendor, a blue-haired Puppy Lady was not so kind. You can’t play here for that organization! She pointed to my CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION sign. You need a permit. You have to see the director for a license. No, no, no! You can’t play here! Go over there somewhere! The whole time she hollered she gesticulated at me whilst at the same time chatting to someone else on her cell phone.

Feeling deflated, I decided to pack it in. As I strolled out of the market immature thoughts entered my head. This makes perfect sense; I thought to myself, since both these vendors sell dog food, they ought to get together and have the logo: Biscuits for Bitches -- Made by Bitches!

I must assure the reader that in Psychology, such ruminations are not considered to be unhealthy, and that all of us have dark and dirty thoughts on occasion. We humans tend to spend considerable chunks of time thinking thoughts we'd rather not have. Fortunately, only very few of us ever act on such forbidden mind flavors, for being so consumed by such notions would certainly signal momentary mental instabilities. Ah, the creative powers of the mind, subjecting us to an endless fascination with our thoughtful selves, making us essentially -- human!

Whilst exiting the market, I bought a bar of soap from the always cordial and kindly Jordan, of Sacred Earth Soaps. (Jordan has covered my pitch, to the extent of even playing my banjitar on occasion.) To him I disclosed my morning discontent.

When all the other F*&#ing buskers are gone, that is the time to busk, I always say, was his comedic reply.

Having Jordan somewhat uplift my spirits, I decided to redeem my crappy morning and busk in the shopping mall parking lot over the soon-to-be noon hour. I’d like to report that my day ended in sunshine, but sadly it did not. In forty minutes I made just two dollars.

Reflecting upon that day I’ve decided that Wednesday is not a good Farmers’ Market scene for busking. I think that most of the Wednesday market consumers are downtown work drones just taking a bit of time to do some quick shopping, in contrast to those members of the Saturday throng who actually drive to make a positive event of their morning market experience.

Perhaps the day was just too hot; perhaps the crowd was just too thin. In retrospect, these two vendors had no doubt put considerable effort into producing and marketing their wares. Do I forgive them? Yes! And I thank them, especially, for providing such an enervating experience of psychological kibbles and bits for me to bark about in my blog!

Meanwhile back at the shopping mall parking lot. And this disappointment, too, can be explained. During the weekday noon hours, grocery shoppers are likely on a one hour work break, driving to the store in a dither and dashing in and out, and just getting back to a workplace in the nick of time. Generally, this is quite in contrast to the evening shopper who has finished work, happy that the work day is over, and taking some leisurely time to shop for an evening dinner. (Typically, I am a supper busker, and after a couple of noon hour busks, shall continue to be a supper busker.)

To conclude, this blog entry as every other can be a catharsis of sorts, even though, fellow buskers, we know:

A bad day busking is better than a good day at the office -- except during those times when we allow our self worth to be determined by the caustic comments of others.


  1. Don't let miserable people spoil a good busk. Remember, busking isn't a job, it ïs a passion. At least for you.

  2. I think next Wed. would be a great day for coffee Neil as the weather will have improved by then. We can go for walk with Atlantis coffee in hand and chat with the dog and pony show...What say you?

  3. It is somewhat hard to post a comment as there is an extra step in the process which discourages comments. (Word verification)