Una Cruz Al Cuello

I never intended to insinuate that riding the train is the only part of the commute worth mentioning.

I know at least one of you was wondering about this. And judging me.

In addition to the 90 minute train ride, I also enjoy a 20 minute walk from the train station to my office. And the weirdness is not limited to the train.

When you are a creature of habit, you can develop a major sense of deja vu. The same weirdos on the train. The same fast-talkers trying to foist a RedEye into your tightly clenched, pre-dawn fist. The same bearded buskers playing Wagon Wheel. The same homeless with varying degrees of believability.

And in my case, the same flamenco guitar player. The World’s Worst Flamenco Guitarist.

Ever seen a musician that becomes one with the instrument? And with tightly closed eyes and a look of bewildered near-pain, uses that instrument as an extension of his/her own voice, completely lost in the sound. The music becomes a portal to another dimension, one in which music is king. The kind of artful expression that brings tears to your eyes. The kind of thing that moves you, quite literally. Sometimes it will make you have to use the restroom. And what you do there is no one’s business but your own.

The World’s Worst Flamenco Guitarist thinks that he is that kind of virtuoso. And upon closing his eyes, his minimal guitar skill turns to outright bumbling. Fumbling his way across the frets, his salt and pepper mustache twitching in time. The sheen of sweat emerges on his middle-aged, bald skull. And he, too, is transported. But not to that vibrant land of sound waves and tasty guitar. He exists in some kind of drug-addled, slow motion Misirlou by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones universe (listen to it, you know it).

And his guitar playing is a reflection of that universe. The WWFG plays the same note for up to 30 seconds before switching to another note or strumming a dissonant chord, not dexterous enough to pluck the string at the rate required of a notable surf guitarist. The result is the most alarming and comical version of Yesterday ever heard, which he plays each day at 3:40 pm.

Rather than a lovingly worn, hollow-body dream-machine, he uses a fake Fender Stratocaster. One of those guitars that is conceived in a triangle box that you see stacked near the checkout in a K-Mart. A guitar in bad need of tuning. One that should be in the grubby hands of a 14 year old that just learned Enter Sandman and is content to play it at a sedate pace and disturbing volume without end until his face clears.

But it doesn’t stop there. The WWFG uses a drum machine. I have heard innumerable quality guitarists sap their street cred and alienate listeners with a drum machine. Even an expensive drum machine that is fully programmable will ruin the most sultry version of Entre Dos Aguas.

The WWFG? He has a 44 key Casio. The one with the built in Bossa Nova groove. The one you and your cousin found with missing keys and laughed at how bad it sounded when you were 8 years old at your Uncle’s 4th of July party. The one that you bought as a joke in ’02 at a garage sale for a dollar and then threw away because you realized it wasn’t even good to be used as a joke gift for an old friend that you don’t keep in touch with anymore and you didn’t know where to get D batteries.

The WWFG balances a mason jar on his knee and, eyes closed, plays the following song:

Be dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee

CHORD

Be dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee

CHORD

And I sing along: “Yesterday…all my troubles seemed so far away. To avoid the WWFG I started using the pedway.”

I had to smash the syllables a bit.

Then the WWFG appeared in the pedway. And ruined it with his frantic and arrhythmic plucking. He recognizes me. And track my movements. Even though he plays with his eyes closed.

He wants me to put money in his mason jar. But I won’t. Because he doesn’t know Cuestiones De Querer and, regardless of quality, I do not support the use of drum machines.

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