The Economic Adventures of a Transborder Street Musician

Heading down south for the big Pesos.

Cheers. December 31, 2007

Filed under: the people — ramonalvarado @ 8:13 pm
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img_0116.jpgjuarez avenue crowdulisesimg_0114.jpgchavillosimg_0135.jpgsotoimg_0208.jpgfranquicia tamborablurry downtownimg_0177.jpgLa morenazanew hatalcranesmata-chinesBK brothers

I haven’t actually busked these past days, busy holiday schedules from the corporate side of the anti-cruisers have kept me from the streets, but today something interesting happened. I had some business to attend in downtown El Paso and as I was forming a line I recognized the gentleman in front of me.

He came and talked to me the first day I busked at the Museum pitch. When he first approached me I thought that he wasn’t all there, but as we spoke he struck me as an extremely lucid person only a little weird, but aren’t we all? He spoke four languages perfectly and a little french. That time he told me all about his home town in Jalisco. I happen to have been to that little town more than three times in my hitch hiking adventures, so we got to talk and he showed me some pictures and stuff. Anyway, I never saw him again until today, in front of me in this line. So I just told him: “You came from Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, right?” And he seemed taken aback, so he remained silent and then turned and said: “When did I mentioned that?” I told him how we had met in Juarez and stuff and he recalled the occasion. He didn’t say much though, it was his turn at the window and he went about his business. When he was done he just said good luck and took off. As I was talking to the lady at the window he approached me and asked: “Are you still playing there?” I told him that I still did at least twice a week, so he reached into his pocket and told me: “Here’s a little tip for next time.” He gave me 75 cents. It was the last tip of the year, or the first of the new one? Since it was given to me as a tip for next time I play and the next time will be next year… I’ll have to ask him next time I see him. 

Great endings but better beginnings to all.

img_0079.jpgHe plays the violin tooimg_0093.jpgimg_0075.jpgAlacran (native scorpion) man.img_0097.jpgimg_0063.jpgEl Mysticoimg_0063.jpgrutacathedraltambora franchiseandinoscalleblurry downtownLa morena


Eye for and eye and ear drum for ear drum… December 22, 2007

blurry downtown 

I know things get a little crazy in this season but I still fail to understand how does common sense, a very intricate but very real organic and intuitive ability with which we humans pride ourselves, could just take a vacation and refuse to intervene even in the most urgently absurd matters of daily life. Maybe I am being over dramatic but I just couldn’t understand what kind of reasoning was behind the PA system bombardment of the Juarez downtown area. Front to front, shops where just waring each other with loudspeakers. “Death by volume…” they seemed to say, “to all!” I mean, there is only so much a huge speaker can achieve in terms of attracting shoppers, after that it’ll just literally blow them away. I did try to busk there though, I guess my common sense decided to join the manager’s of these stores. It didn’t work. I couldn’t even hear myself.

So I went to my usual spot at the museum. I was only bothered by having to repeat my set at the same spot but I was determined to busk. When I got there, lo and behold: municipal street workers drilling the sidewalk at the corner. I figured that they where using the jackhammer in an already dug ditch so the ground would muffle the sound, plus it wasn’t that big of a jackhammer, nothing was going to stop me. I just had to smile it off, otherwise I would have felt really disappointed about not busking at all. So I did, I busked and I laughed at the jackhammer and it worked fine.

A lady did tell me that I needed a mic with all that noise, but I say screw the noise, I can deal with noise, motorcycles, over polluting public transportation, crazy ladies screaming while walking, kids crying, everything, even attempted kicks, I can deal with everything. It’s just those damn PA systems, I mean, talk about Kryptonite to a busker and he’ll tell you the chemical equation of sound acidity… “Yamaha 300 portable version, Peavey sound blaster 2000, Kustom deluxe Earcrusher…(insert a silent gulp)…add a shoe or Latin music store and…oh, the horror.”

Day 14


Amount of money made (BC subtracted): $11.69 (I see a settling trend)

Time played: 1h 30m

Currency exchange rate: $11.10 pesos/dollar


 When I was first walking towards the downtown area through the main downtown strip the exchange rate was between 11.19 to 11.25 pesos/dollar, so when I was coming back and I saw the 11.10 rate I was surprised. I didn’t even look further as I usually do. Coming to find out, the dollar had dropped by .17 Mexican cents while I busked. My regular money exchange place was selling it for 11.08. Talk about a volatile market.