Andrew – John Street


Andrew, 20 years old, is a young busker from British Columbia. He plays harmonium or guitar as he panhandles on the street with his dog and benefits from the subsidized housing program of the municipality of Toronto. He thoroughly enjoys his style of life, and  has many friends with a similar life to his own.

“Homelessness is all out there, You see it everywhere, is like paying attention and looking for it. They give money for karmacy, “not to become like that”. Give some money so that they don’t end up in the same spot or they don’t feel guilty. The crazy thing about all this stuff is that even though everyone is walking around with the life they have bought from the store, they still are people. The people are still fucking people, no matter what. Is like when you meet somebody on the street who is a f# bastard…

One person on 30 people, will give me money because I am a buskers, but all the other because they think something else about me. And mostly is: “ I see people begging for money all the time and I don’t care anymore” Maybe they think I am on drugs, maybe they don’t know and they don’t care, or they are afraid just to step out of their shell and to talk to someone. How many times I have seen people give me money and don’t look at me, in my face, because they are afraid to acknowledge who I am but they give me money because they are just so afraid to feel like person with me, to reclaim their humanity. You can usually tell who is taking the money for do drugs, to buy cracks, math,  but most people don’t, they use money to buy food, food for dogs and so on…

Like yesterday: my banjo was stolen and I was asking money to get change… and I asked people, “yo man do you have some change to fix my violin” “people just completely ignore you, blantly” “people just  would look at you and smile or not, just to give you a recognition of your existence.”

The reason because people are doing this all the time is because they don’t have energy, they don’t because this world breaks you down. Breaks you down so much for all this alienation that is going on, people would put somebody under the shoes just to (…) All this fucking rich motherfucker but they are fucking tired.. and is not even the time and the type of the work, is more like lying to yourselves. Is like sitting outside in the cold, it takes yours energy, and is the same thing with all this people walking to some office building – instantly everybody is fake – no one is talking honestly to each other… some they would say: “How is going George?” “Oh don’t bad”. While the things are really fucked up.  They don’t really care, this is a way of pretending to be human that they should, is almost a currency. It is completely meaningless. Is completely weird, nobody really cares but they are have to say that otherwise they are going to think they are assholes.

In the supermarket. Check this out: I had to go to a meeting and the guy asking me: “How are you doing, bro?” “I am fucking bad. things are horrible”. “Holy crap, I hope it gets better!”. This lifestyle is structured in this way, this is how society is structured, I don’t know even know this person and we don’t have communities outside to have a relationship. World is crazy too big.  When you are dealing with milions and milions of people is no more about community… is crowd control.  There is no time for anyone. In supermarket people have just time to say blabla.  In a village that is different… in the supermarket people actually know each other. Here there is just too many people for a community. Why should it be millions of people crowded in such a small area?

I live in Weston.. there are lots of Black there. Everybody don’t really know each other. Is just out of ease, there are always gonna be racial prejudice. People don’t go over with what they feel comfortable with what they found comfortable, they found comfortable what they know. so if somebody is from Haiti, I will want to go there. They are like Subculture. subculture are not communities, they share interest andlook (style ndr) but they still don’t care there is nothing to make them care. They don’t care about each other.

And that’s what’s sad about it,  If you break it down: if you take somebody on the street and you don’t really ask him about anything but you simple start talking like they are really human being  they become human again. So it is about how you look at people. When you treat someone like a human, they are going to respond like a human back. They will still try. Is rare to find people than don’t do that.

Sometimes is hard to find people that can do that. Like cops, they are just so ingrained, like business people. I remember once just asking people about what time is it… nobody answered me for 20 minutes. Everybody is rushing everywhere but they are not going anywhere. People is always in rush but they are tired. People cannot just say, “relax, I don’t want to pretend anymore. I can just be myself” but they don’t know how…  That’s why there is a tv in any single house!”. Everybody plays videogames and go over computer. The only time in which people really want to be with each other. The only time you find people going together is usually a party. Alcohol is an amazing things, brings out your feelings.

I prefer somebody trying to fight (like all the animals do) me than treating me as an idea of something, people thinks to people as a concept, as an idea. Everyone has to buy a life and pretend to be the person in that life. (…)that’s what I talk about people being emasculated. People thinks to other as concept or ideas, if everybody do not have a life, everybody pretends to have a life and that means they have to pretend they are the. Fighting poses a threat to a society. (…)

F: What would you change of the society?

A: “I would change the city. I would just have villages.” (…)“I don’t have a job, I usually don’t even have a house. I have not to do anything. I live on the street, I am sleeping outside and I am happy with it like, like everyone in this country. I don’t care, I got rid of the distress and all this stuff… I do find thought that when I am on the street and I am playing music with my friend, everybody is passing they know, they fell what we are doing and they like it. I think that’s how I make my money: I don’t make money because I am a cool musician, I am funny or I am cleaver… I make money because I make people feel good, and so they feel to join me. I give them back their humanity. You cannot ignore five people playing music loudly and yelling on the street for two feet in front of you. You have to notice that: is going to snap it down from their little robot head. And make the people say: “there are people around doing what they love! Cool!”.


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