Face it, the Harvard Square stringed instrument guy sucks

If you’ve been to Harvard Square in the past two years you know who I’m talking about. He’s the asian guy who saws manaically at his bowed, one-stringed instrument (which I don’t know the name of; probably one of these) while staring off crazily into the distance.

At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He’s simply a virtuoso whose art simply sounds cacophonous to my untrained Western ears. But the more I saw him there, with his Kleenex box for donations, I came to a hypothesis that, no, he’s just some crazy guy sawing manaically at his one-stringed instrument.

The hypothesis was more or less confirmed during our recent trip to San Francisco where we saw probably a half dozen guys playing similar instruments on various Chinatown street corners. When they played, it sounded, you know, like music.

The thing I don’t get is that the guy in Harvard Square doesn’t seem to be displaying one of those Cambridge street artist licenses that all the other buskers in the square have. What’s up with that?

The other thing that drives me bonkers: he seems to beĀ  always there, right in front of the Coop. Even those damnable Andean pan flute bands seem to sleep sometimes.

7 thoughts on “Face it, the Harvard Square stringed instrument guy sucks”

  1. I was just having a similar conversation with my partner the other day… I never assumed he was a virtuoso when I first heard him a few years ago, I just assumed he was completely untrained, but that he’d master it eventually. Two years of aural molestation have removed such hopes.

  2. I still love the stringed instrument guy for his persistence, for the misplaced cultural sensitivity that shields him from criticism, and for his far-off look, which reminds me of someone. I try to think of him as a performance artist rather than as a musician.

    My ranking:

    1) Crazy string instrument guy
    –big step down–
    2) Trup
    –big step down–
    3) Andean Flutes

  3. I always thought that instrument was known as the annoyolin. I guess I’ve only heard it played by the guy in Harvard square.

  4. Maybe he was once brilliant, but years of playing bare-handed in sub-freezing weather have tragically numbed his fingers, and he has the delusion that he’s playing as well as he used to.

    Or maybe those Californians are all sell-outs.

    If nothing else, I’m in awe of his fortitude.

  5. Apologies to everybody whose comments have been sitting in moderation the last couple of days!

    Sam, I can’t let that Trup dig slide! Even if you are not a fan, even if you find him annoying, I can’t buy that he’s the most annoying sportscaster out there. I mean he’s not even at the top of the list for people who cover the Red Sox. Joe Buck? Tim McGarver? Hazel Freakin’ Mae?

  6. Ezra, for clarity, I should have included a cardinal scale to my ranking. As it is, it comes out looking like a bigger dig than I intended. But as stated, I like the erhu guy, while Trup falls slightly below even for me. I would not equate him to McCarver fer sure (he ranks below the flautists). But my exposure to the games comes mostly through WEEI, so I hope Trup’s departure nets us someone better. Unfortunately there is no guarantee of that. I think the odds favor an improvement, but that’s open do debate I suppose.

Comments are closed.