The Economic Adventures of a Transborder Street Musician

Heading down south for the big Pesos.

The Anti-cruisers November 20, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ramonalvarado @ 2:52 am
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Today was the day that the anti-cruisers busted the busker at a busy border town street.  There was a moment or two when I couldn’t stop myself from trying to reason in legal terms with the commerce authorities that were informing me of their need for my removal, but then I remembered that I was in Juarez, and that I’ve tried that before, and that it has never directly worked. So I ceased and desisted to pursuit that logical path with the anti-cruisers of the day and resorted to a much more usefull gag in this part of the world: the emotional (slightly dusted with a freckle of reason) plea. “But surely, we can all look the other way and treat this as a bureaucratic advisory, right? I only have about an hour to go anyway, you shouldn’t worry, we’ll all see this as a fair warning and I’ll resolve it by leaving at 1:30 pm, I promise I won’t be here tomorrow” I said (I don’t do Tuesdays anyway). 

I don’t need to say that it didn’t work, do I? So the conversation continued and they said something about “El Jefe”. Now, when that word is mentioned in Mexico you know that you are talking to an authority figure, or at least to its volition hologram being conveyed by the actual flesh zombie in front of you. When I asked what the reason was the agents bluntly responded that they didn’t know and that they couldn’t accept my beautifully crafted offer of letting me stay for another hour because “El Jefe” had already seen me. Another interesting paradox of this gracious, small giant town, I thought: they usually don’t know how to pragmatically enforce any  law, and when they finally decide to enforce one they don’t really know how they came about it, but I guess using “El Jefe” is as good an explanation as one will ever get. So I told the first couple of agents that courteously informed me of my aparent infringement that I still had a few minutes to go and that by the time they were finished with their round of harassment at the end of the block I would be gone. About 10 minutes after that another couple of them showed up and nicely waited until I finished up a song to repeat the same message. I asked the same question. This time I got what some people could call an answer: The commerce department happened to be “sweeping” the streets and “cleaning” them from any “ambulantes” ahead of the Nov.20 th parade.  Because I was on a public space that the city wanted free of street vendors (los ambulantes) and other street blenders I was an off-sort of street blend to them and therefore I had to vacate the premises. Or the sidewalk, actually. I just used the word premise so that my forced exiting would somehow sound a little more pompous.

You see, what I am thinking is this. I don’t really think that these commerce agents have been trained or informed about the vital historical and cultural value of the street performer. I am not sure they know about the ancient troubadours or the reed flute Sufis of the eastern tradition. If they had, maybe they could have persuaded their “Jefe” to the idea that it is a good thing to have people like me there. Anyway, before them, the day went thus:

Day 4

Amount of money made: $3.23

Border crossing: .65c

Time played: 35 min.

Actual gain: $2.58

I know I’m doing something wrong, money wise, and I’ll think about fixing it, but the best part is that I felt and have been feeling happy as I walk away from my pitch every afternoon…that must count for something, don’t you think so?

PS. If you don’t know what an Anti-cruiser is, then you should play close attention to this video, it explains what The Cruise is, then you’ll understand. Maybe I should bring it next time and see if “El jefe” wants to take a look at it.


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