I thought that it was interesting to hear the views of the shoe shine woman from Brazil, Edna Souza.
"If something like this happened in Brazil, everyone would stand around to see. Not here."
I've spoken with other folks from south of the border and the other side of the pond who have made similar comments about the reactions of people in those countries to music and musicians who busk. Emillio, a fellow busker at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, has engaged me in conversation on more than one occasion about the differences between Americans and his fellow countrymen. He makes the same point regarding how well musicians are treated in his country. He's dismayed at how little attention is paid to those who offer entertainment via busking in the U.S. He told me that he revisits his country to be with his own people periodically. He said he does this as a means to rediscover himself when he finds that his soul has been negatively altered by his time he has spent living in America.
It made me wonder why this woman was so anti-music in this country. I wondered if her soul had been irrevocably altered by the time she spent here. Perhaps she needed to revisit her country to reacquaint herself with the spirit of her people.
Edna Souza is from Brazil. She's been shining shoes at L'Enfant Plaza for six years, and she's had her fill of street musicians there; when they play, she can't hear her customers, and that's bad for business. So she fights.
Souza points to the dividing line between the Metro property, at the top of the escalator, and the arcade, which is under control of the management company that runs the mall. Sometimes, Souza says, a musician will stand on the Metro side, sometimes on the mall side. Either way, she's got him. On her speed dial, she has phone numbers for both the mall cops and the Metro cops. The musicians seldom last long.
What about Joshua Bell?
He was too loud, too, Souza says...
I was very disturbed by the fact that this woman was calling the authorities and getting musicians tossed out of the area. It sounds like this action used as a means of monopolizing the area for her shine business. An immigrant squelching the opportunities of those who are in this country trying to create a living for themselves. It's odd that this woman would come to this country seeking opportunities to better herself and in the process actively engage in denying others of the same opportunity.
Musicians still show up from time to time, and they still tick off Edna Souza.
It sounds like this woman needs to find another line of work, or at least needs to migrate to a place with her shoe shine business where buskers are not going to disturb her. This whole scene about the complaining business person is something that I've had to confront for years while trying to busk. Whether the volume factor is really an issue or not, there are many like this woman who seek to use buskers as their own personal scapegoats for everything that is wrong in their lives. They eagerly point their fingers in our direction whenever something isn't going their way and proclaim our attempts at providing entertainment in this manner is the source of all of their unpleasant circumstances and misery. It's an old saw.