too much typing—since 2003


Yeah? I got one for ya: self-indulgent bloggers! Waddaya think of that, wise guy?

I've been trying to figure out why some things are annoying. This one was spurred on by being irked at this guy I always see around town who's constantly juggling and always wears a derby hat and a long black coat, along with his black plastic glasses, long hair, and Jesus beard. Anyway, the specific types of annoyances under examination are: jugglers, unicyclists, and free-range harmonica players (particularly when they play their horrifying version of "blues": Mr. Kurtz would feel just dandy in comparison).

My theory is that my annoyance comes from these guys' (almost always guys) combination of extreme look-at-me-ism with the activities' amateur-day-at-the-circus feel (circuses are intrinsically creepy, of course). The look-at-me bit is that, essentially, these guys are demanding my attention, creating a distraction in my visual atmosphere - but they're not doing anything to earn that attention. For all the interest in their activities, they might as well be merely jumping up and down and waving their arms in the air shouting.

And I do think the boring unoriginality of the performances themselves (and just how can one be original juggling things?) is the key factor. Some guy wandering around pretending to be soulful on his hideous harmonica is annoying; some guy trying to play Bartók on the harmonica is at least unusual. Similarly, a unicyclist is annoying - what, we're supposed to thrill at his stunning feats of balance? - but if instead of riding around in broken circles like a drunken bumblebee, he'd mounted his cycle on a platform over a cello and replaced the bicycle chain with the horsehair from a cello bow in order to create a drone on the cello, while playing a melody on a series of tuned bicycle bells mounted on his handlebars and percussion on the unicycle itself - well, that would be interesting.

Now, it occurred to me that perhaps there's something therapeutic for these folks in publicly doing their thing: for all I know, for instance, Juggling Guy has some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and if it weren't for his juggling, he'd be slashing his flesh with razors or trying to rip out his own tongue. (Man, I've got to get my neighbor to stop playing those Nine Inch Nails records all day long.)

On second thought, there shall be no amateur public harmonica performances, period.

(NB: I have, from some residual sense of decency, omitted any discussion of mimes. As Oz said, "Nobody deserves a mime." Except perhaps those harmonica guys.)


velvet lane said...

I like jugglers--I like all circus acts and acrobats, and think they are the pinnacle of human achievement. I mean, juggling is a skill, and not only is it entertaining (for some folks), it makes us aware of the what hand-eye-coordination-magic we are all capable of...

Now, saxophone players in subways, that's another story.

Aaron said...

Every once in a while you baffle me, Jeff. The originality comes in choreographing or improvising a juggling routine just like with other physical performance. A lot of street jugglers might not know enough tricks (or be graceful enough) to put together an interesting show, but-- well, dance is an art, no matter how dull that guy on the corner who just moonwalks back and forth for hours is.

But the jugglers I know are much more interested in finding other jugglers to do cool passing patterns with than showing off for people who don't care.

2fs said...

Ah - then I've succeeded in my Aaron-Baffling goals. The thing about this guy is, he's not actually performing so much as he is "practicing" by constantly juggling a couple-three juggling sticks (they probably have a technical name). So at the same time that he's not actively setting himself up as "performer," the public nature of his practicing ensures that everyone around him is aware of his juggling abilities. But hey - this is my little hangup about public display of minor talents. I might even be more inclined to be impressed if he were doing something spectacular. As it is, he's neither a newbie trying to learn the skill (I've seen him doing this for years) nor someone actually impressing me with the precision architecture of his juggling skillz.