Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Sayonara Shinjuku Music? (So Soon?)"

I went by Shinjuku again this evening and checked out a couple of street bands. Then as I was walking off in search of a third band (going down the outside escalator from the South Exit area - heading towards the East Exit area), I glided past a team of four police officers walking up the stairs going in the other direction. At first I just thought "Ah... better be careful with the camera - they probably don't want their pictures taken", but as soon as I had gone past them, it suddenly occurred to me that they might be on the march looking for street musicians....

So I did a U-turn at the bottom of the escalator and rushed back up the stairs (up and down escalators separated by wide staircase) just in time to see the four police officers walking up to the band and the band stop playing. They began talking; one of the band members pulled out a card, handed it to main police officer, who then handed it to another police officer, who called somewhere and talked into the phone as he looked at the card the musician had handed over. While the other band members started putting away their gear, the main police officer handed a clipboard to the head musician, and the musician was writing something down on it as I walked off disappointed - wondering what the police were asking the musician to write down. Suddenly the excitement of a Shinjuku night was fading away, and it was becoming an ordinary boring evening again.

I'm all for law & order, but I don't see any harm being done by these street musicians. They're not obstructing traffic, they're not over-amplified; most of them sound good, and they're not political (at least not the ones I've seen)... once winter sets in, it'll be too cold for them to be outside (not for long anyway), so why not just let them play now, while the weather is nice? In these days of doom & gloom on the news, a little live music on the streets doesn't seem like a such a bad idea to me.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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