Sunday, July 22, 2012

GD Clarinet Guy.

Holy Effing Christ.

At the Box Office at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, we have a parasite problem. We've had the same problem for years.

Clarinet Guy is back.

He's a busker. He plays clarinet. Loudly. And shrilly. And interminably. 

At 10:35 this morning, 10:35 am on a Sunday morning in downtown Charlottetown, this guy was out there. My co-workers and I heard the first shrill refrain, looked at each other and groaned. "Really? So early? Today?"

He stands outside our theatre, driving us absolutely nutty, feeding off the traffic in and out of our doors. People throw him a quarter, or a loonie, and go on with their lives and forget about him, but for those of us who are a trapped audience, it's agony.

The Box Office is at the bottom of a concrete stairwell leading down from the street. He perches at the top of the stairs, and the concrete bounces his caterwauling back and forth until it is amplified and funnelled through the doors to our last raw nerves.

I don't claim to have an especially trained ear, but I think I can generally tell when something is good or not. The thing is, all the bullshit improvisation and glissandi make it sound like he's skilled, but I tend to think of it as all flourish and little technique.

Right now, he's out there playing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" for the 4,000th time this year.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. He plays three songs. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and "La Vie En Rose." He stretches out each song to about 12 minutes. Three to four hours a day, three songs, five or six times a day... ok, I'm clearly exaggerating, but still! A lot!

I've been told he's the only busker to hold a licence in Charlottetown, and it's specifically for our corner. I've also been told he has chased off other buskers in the past. I assume complaining to the City of Charlottetown will be fruitless if he is licenced. There was an awesome banjo player there last fall, and Clarinet Guy ran him off. Bah.

So, in closing, residents and visitors of Charlottetown, I implore you: please don't throw change in his hat. It only encourages him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Body Movin'.

In the last couple of years, much to my glee, Charlottetown has installed some roundabouts. You might know them as rotaries or traffic circles. Like my post on revolving doors, there are practical and environmental implications.

I flippin' love roundabouts. I am a big fan. Nothing moves traffic like a roundabout. They cut down on idling, unlike traffic lights. Charlottetown is notorious for having a surfeit of traffic lights. I've heard that truckers hate the city, because they have so many gears, and it takes forever to get back up to speed.

(I am convinced that in about ten years' time, a scandal will come to light showing that politicians on PEI held stock in a traffic light production company. They're lining their pockets as we speak, punctuating our streets, all under the guise of traffic safety. Mark my words.)

I learned how to use roundabouts when I lived in England. Driving all backwardsy, of course. Anyhow, here on the Island, I just have to scream at people who cannot seem to understand how to use them.

Here are the only rules:

*When you're in the circle, you have the right-of-way.
*When you're entering the circle, yield to those in the circle, because THEY HAVE THE RIGHT-OF-WAY!!!

Something Prince Edward Island drivers have not cottoned on to is that you have to treat roundabouts like any other intersection and indicate your intention. If you're turning left or right at the roundabout, let the drivers around you know with your indicators, and also indicate when you're leaving the roundabout, too. Wikipedia has a great animated use-of-roundabout guide, complete with indicator use.