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.