April 5th , 2013
Last night I got 3 kisses, 2 hugs, and a grope and I came this close to getting arrested. It was a pretty good night. I went back to Coffee Road and sat in front of the real estate office like I had said I would. I really try to keep my word, even to wierdos, the real estate office owner. He never showed up it turned out, but that was ok afterall. It was about 9 pm when I finally got set up. I guess that was a factor in my success, it was later and also it was Friday night. I was a little worried about the rather open bar, Lucky Strike, across the street and whether they would object to my playing.
Around 9:45, a 30 something woman staggered out of the bar. She heard my music like a deer sniffing the air and picking up a scent. She stumbled this way and that, defying laws of gravity along the way and took a long circuitous route and finally ended up swaying next to me. She tried to sit down next to me on the ledge but missed and landed on the sidewalk. I dragged her up to my level and tried to stabilize her. She mumbled something in heavily accented but decent English about loving the music, and that it was wonderful. And suddenly she was staring close right into my face and it was clear she wanted to kiss me. I looked around and saw no one else around or looking. She was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist that pose. And I kissed her and she gave me a sweet kiss back. Suddenly it was as if she wasn’t drunk anymore. She seemed just like a beautiful woman that was in love with me. She kissed me again and again and then put her hand on my leg. Before I knew what was happening, she was caressing me THERE and how I wished that this was real, and I had a real beautiful girlfriend. How I missed this, how I had missed it for so long. Suddenly I came to my senses. What are you doing? “Where are your friends?”
“My boyfriend is in the bar.”
“ That’s him coming out.”
I saw a older looking overweight unattractive man with glasses in a business suit with a red tie. He had a cell phone “attatched” to his ear. I pulled the girl off me and made a little distance between us. She instantly slumped down onto the sidewalk. The man was watching us but he didn’t seem upset at all. I wasn’t taking any chances though. He might be calling his high school friends to come and beat me up. I helped her up to the ledge and she was on me again. She pushed her face close to mine and I was tempted to kiss her again, she wanted me to, but that would have been crazy. “Listen to the music, “ I commanded and she did for about 5 seconds and then she staggered away. It seemed that she was concerned about her age and wanted to get married. She had decided that this guy might be a good guy to support her and give her security. She was very pretty and getting older and maybe she figured this was a good chance. It was their second date. She wasn’t off to a very good start, but then again, good looks forgive many shortcomings. For the next hour or so I often saw the frumpy guy wandering around looking for his staggering potential mate.
Its always a problem, what to do when the music stops. Often times we have this great connection, the audience and I, but when I stop, they often just stare at me, probably because they don’t feel comfortable speaking English, and if I speak Korean they won’t understand me. I’m always trying to think of new ways to break the ice. Its nice to meet and chat with the audience a bit between songs. Here’s some things I came up with recently. When the background tape (sounds like a jazz band) ends, I just hold out the last note. The audience knows the song is over, but since I keep playing they don’t know what to do. If they clap, I pretend to get angry and yell, “I’m not finished yet.” Usually they get it’s a joke and start laughing. If I see a really fashionable guy, I will say something like , “aju moshiosoyo” which means, “very cool looking”. I only do this if I really admire his fashion. A lot of Korean guys have great fashion, like from magazine. Then I will look at his girlfriend (usually she is gorgeous and say, “not bad”. That usually gets a big laugh, as beautiful women aren’t used to that and its unexpected. A similar joke is when I ask to take a picture of a couple because they are really beautiful together, cute, or well dressed. When they start to pose together, I will pull the camera down and say with sorrow, “not you and wave her away with my hand.” A lot of guys want to take a picture of me and their beautiful girlfriend. I don’t mind at all. I usually start playing a song and extend my right crooked elbow and the woman knows to put her arm in there. Usually they want me to pose and look at the camera, and sometimes I do, but at other times I will just look at her in the eyes. This is quite an exciting or maybe scary adventure for the woman. After the picture, sometimes I will hold on tight and motion to the guy , “You go.” It’s all in good fun and they always laugh. Sometimes I motion for the girl to sit on my lap and unbelievably they do sometimes and the boyfriend seems to like it. I’ve even pushed it and asked for a kiss on the cheek and gotten it. Even asked for a kiss on the mouth but never got that, at least not from a sober woman (see above). Usually I keep it simple.
You know Koreans are the best audiences. When they get in a group they love to have a good time and their intelligence reverts to about that of a 4 year old. They love to cheer, wave their arms in rhythm, and hoot. I really love it when they hoot. Hooting is way better than clapping.
Met 2 nice women, Haylee and Hyun-Ji. It’s always a problem getting names in Korean. So as she was giving me the name I wrote it in English letters, just like it is above. Haylee looked over my shoulder and said, No its spelled Hali. In mock anger I started yelling at her, “Hey you don’t tell me how to spell it in English, as long as I say it correctly, don’t complain. Of course it’s better if they write it in Korean letters because the Korean alphabet is phonetic. By the way, isn’t it weird that “phonetic” isn’t phonetic. Shouldn’t it be?
Sometimes little toddlers will come up and be hypnotized by the music. When that happens, their little minds just stop and they are like zombies. They are completely feeling the music. I can tell too because when I feel something from the music, I can see that they feel the same thing. That sharing breaks down any fear that they have (although sometimes it scares them and makes them cry). Usually though the ice has been broken. I often ask them for a kiss (po po) and often they give me one. So that was my third kiss of the night.
I asked a guy to take a picture of meand a fan. I gave him my phone and he held it in such a beautiful way, holding thumb and index finger on both ends of the phone. It was beautiful, like some strange bird. I told him I wanted to take a picture of that, but it was impossible to get this idea across, and I will have to be satisfied with describing it here.
Sometimes if there is a large crowd, I will say, “Hey let’s take a picture.” This is really funny if there are more than 100 people (it happens sometimes). Many people start to crowd together before they realize it’s a joke. Of course it’s really nice of them to even try.
You know what I hate the most is when people come up and ask me, “What is that instrument?” “Saxophone”. They shake their heads, “No. It cant be,; a saxophone is curved.” Then they start arguing with me, because the conception in their mind is so strong. Saxophone= curved metal thing.
Met an older couple. They were clearly older but nice looking and interesting. After talking for a while I quickly took their picture. They could barely speak English. They really got upset when I took it. He said in barely understandable English. “We are married ….not. No picture. We……lovers. She other husband. No pictures.” When I looked at the picture later, I could see the man’s face clearly but all I could see of the woman’s face, was her big hand in front of it, which was maybe better than a regular picture. He asked me to play “I Don’t Know How to Love You” from Jesus Christ Superstar, but I think he did.
Sometimes bad things happen, especially with drunks. Sometimes drunks want to take a picture with me, which is ok, but it’s not ok when they want to touch me, because sometimes they will consciously or unconsciously hurt me. Around 10:30 I was playing with my eyes closed and suddenly I felt like I was being attacked. Some really drunk guy came up and kissed me quite hard on the check. Not cool when I have an instrument in my mouth. I started yelling at him. He backed off and his friends came up and apologized a lot, but they were also drunk. “He’s drunk, “ they said. “He likes your music”. I was supposed to feel honored that a very drunk guy liked my music enough to attack me or something. “Look if your friend is so drunk, its up to you to control him like you would control a bad dog.” They just didn’t get it. In Korea, being drunk is almost always excused. Even the police won’t arrest a guy who is drunk even if he a danger to other people. That’s one thing I don’t like about Korea, all the drunks. But I didn’t let this experience, ruin my evening.
A little later a nice woman came up on a bike. Sometimes you meet people like this in Seoul. They ride their bikes all around. It shows a certain independence that I must say I admire. These people are usually quite unconventional. I think sometimes that I am unconventional too. She had an old-fashioned horn on her bike, you know the kind with a rubber bulb at the end that you squeeze and that forces air out of the horn makes a unique sound. Well of course that gave me the idea for an old-fashioned-bike-horn and saxophone duet. She was happy to go along with it. At first she just played a steady beat and I improvised around it. Later I suggested that she play with a little more freedom. When she did it was amazing that at times it really sounded like we were playing music. Amazing. I had to get a couple of videos of that. Later she gave me a hug.
Later a guy walked by with a couple of saxophones. I could pretty much guess he was a pro. We talked for a few minutes. He was going to a rehearsal at the Jazzda just a few doors down. He was super nice. “Hey man, would you mind watching my stuff for a minute while I go pee.” He was pretty gracious about it. I sped around the corner and did my business. We talked a little more then he had to go to his rehearsal.
Around 12 am some people from the bar across the street , The Lucky Strike, started coming over. I had been worried that they would complain, but no they actually seemed to like it. That was great. One woman bought me a drink, another a coffee, a third a fresh orange juice. I drank the juice then the coffee….Didn’t get to the drink, but I promised to come over and visit when I was finished which was going to be soon because my hands and mouth were getting tired about playing about 4 hours straight. I was playing my last song when Ju-Young, a guy I had never met , walked up with his beautiful lady friend. He put some money in my hat and really listened well. I finished the song and started packing up, but Ju-Young objected. “Hey play one more song, I payed you.” He was kind of being a jerk, but I liked him anyway. “Ok one more then I really have to go visit the people in the bar.” So I played one more song. It was about 12:50 am by then. I was about halfway through the song when a police car pulled up with its lights on. The policeman who was driving got out and started yelling at me. Ju Young, who spoke perfect English started translating, “If you don’t leave here immediately, I am going to arrest you he says. Don’t argue or try to resist it will be all the worse for you.” I didn’t know why he said that, because as soon as I saw the policeman I started packing. I guess he wanted a show of force or something. The young (and cute) policewoman in the front seat was laughing at all of it. I looked at Ju-young. “Hey asshole, see what you’ve done?” “What? It’s not my fault.” But in a way it was. I just hope I can play at that spot again. The cop didn’t say never come back. Next time I will stop at 12. Ju-Young and I talked a bit. He was a pretty cool guy who was getting a masters in electronic music and he was with a beautiful woman who didn’t say anything or seem to mind that he wasn’t talking to her at all. He waited while I went to the bar and spoke to the people who bought me drinks. Some were really drunk and I didn’t want to hang around them much. The beautiful woman who bought me a drink immediately mentioned her boyfriend. I wondered why she had been flirting with me then. I gathered Ju-Young and his lady friend and we walked about 30 meters to the jazz club called Jazzda. It was closed but the band was rehearsing. The owner, a trumpet player who had been there before when I played with the Cuban band welcomed me and my friends in and said we could watch the rehearsal. The band was great. I couldn’t believe how good. All original compositions or arrangements with a trumpet and sax so there was harmony. The arrangements were very nice. It turned out that 3 of the 5 members had studied at Queens College in New York. That was great. I got to talk to the band members, they all spoke English very well after living in New York for 4 years. By the time that was over, it was almost 2 am. I asked Ju-Young and friend if he wanted to go to yet another place. We walked about 7 minutes to the Blue Star where my friend Julie ran a small music club where people could play or listen to live music. It was very small and when we got there, Julie said not to come in because it was full and she was closing down soon anyway. Ju-Young and I talked for about a half hour and then Juli came out. He said he was tired and wanted to go home. Why? It was only 3 am. I went out to late dinner with Julie and was in bed by 4 am. It had been a pretty good night. 160