Thursday, June 7, 2012

Boulder 3

Do not be afraid to stand right in the middle of the ped mall, a few steps from the Beans & Co. food cart. It is overcast, and many of Boulder's buskers are not out today. This could also mean fewer pedestrians, but give it some time. Within the hour you will have a sweaty upper lip, a pile of dollars in your case, and a guitar that's losing its tune in the afternoon sun. The clouds in Colorado do not last long.

Notice the kids again. They are drawn to you, even if they sometimes have a perplexed look. One will approach with a dollar and then shyly run back behind his grandmother's knee. She is coaxing him closer and closer to the case. Even after he drops the buck and runs, she sends him back—motioning to put the bill under the rock so it will not blow away. And although he cannot be more than five, you belt the chorus of Teenagers Kick Our Butts, because one day he might remember it.

Do not underestimate how lucrative an original song can be. "Robert Pirsig" is like a beacon, and by the time you close your eyes and sing the words "motorcycle maintenance" to the heavens, three different potbellied white men have approached with money, their pony tails blowing in the wind. One of them drops a wad and you know there are at least two folded bills. Keep singing.

You sing your originals differently, better perhaps, and you are puzzled and thrilled when a family drops a dollar in during General Things. There is no better encouragement for your songwriting. Don't overdo it, but know that when you say "Liz Phair," at least one person will look back behind himself (even if he doesn't toss in any cash).

Men give more than women, and the women who do give are all much older or have babies in their arms. No one who looks like you will give money. Young women in packs pass by, maybe even shouting "Hippy!" but they need their dollars for other things. Businessmen in pairs will walk past, but it is only the solo, maudlin entrepreneur, not late for a meeting yet, who lifts the rock in your case to add his 100 cents. People, after all, have places to go, things to do.

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