In our neighorhood of San Polo in Venice, we've noticed several times a trio of roaming musicians - accordian, fiddle and guitar - playing outside cafes and bars for tourists; playing near the gondola stops, playing in the wide campi. Sometimes the music is corny - "Carnival of Venice," perhaps, or the theme from the Godfather. Other times it's charming - and yet other times it's incongruous, like American country-western tunes.
But the other day near All' Arco, they strolled up just as we were leaving, playing "My Way". I liked the way they looked near the outdoor tables, and my camera was already in my hand, so I just snapped a quick photo.
I know better than this. I know that when I see the silver-painted statue-dancer on the Third Street Promenade not to make eye contact. I never snap a photo of the guy with the snake twined around him in Palisades Park. I avoid all the countless Spidermen and Sponge Bobs on Hollywood Boulevard, the plastic bucket drummers, the CD sellers down on Ocean Front Walk, the 3-card monte players in Times Square, and I actually don't care if that little kid on Bourbon Street can tell me where I got my shoes at.
I know that interaction, particularly with the sound of a shutter clicking, is a transaction.
I've actually paid some of these guys willingly - once with a visitor friend who wanted a photo with Darth Vader in front of the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard - but never without having small change at the ready. Let me emphasize - small change.
But here in Venice I screwed up. They spotted me immediately, and moved in. We were backed into a corner under the sotoportego, my hand frantically fumbling in my bag for a couple of coins. "No change!" I said, "Sorry!"
|Here's where we were trapped!|
Although to be fair, they did play us an entire rendition of "C'est Si Bon" with a fine flourish at the end. But I was so embarrassed I didn't even take the photographs I'd dearly paid for.
Throughout the rest of the day, we continued to hear them playing in nearby streets. I was torn by the desire to run away from embarrassment, and the thought that maybe I should go get more of my money's worth.