Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The rasta in the West 4th Street station is playing a drum now, not a guitar. A single snare, strapped over his shoulders and resting on his belly. He plays it softly, near the edge. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat. No accents, no rhythm. Just quiet, mindless beats forever. The equivalent of the single, droning chord he used to strum. I wondered what was going on in his head. Did he just want to make a gesture toward music, without caring about it, so he’d be perceived as more than just a panhandler? Or is this what music is to him? Does he think he’s playing? Then I got to thinking about the phenomenon of New York City characters. Did he invent himself? Did he find an open space to occupy? Is he the rasta with the drum, or the Rasta With the Drum? Formerly the Rasta With the Guitar? Do people talk about him? Is someone else writing about him right now? Is he somebody?