Saturday 21 January 2012: Kirk the Busker
I used to see Kirk downtown playing his trumpet - and not very well, back then. He always wore a white suit and Mickey Mouse ears. You certainly couldn't miss him. Then I started seeing him in the Hawthorne neighborhood, near where I live, still playing his trumpet, still wearing the ears, still not very good, but always smiling and laughing.
A few years later, I saw him on one of the on-ramps to Portland's busiest bridge, the Hawthorne. He'd given up the ears, but added a few things to his repertoire - he was juggling, playing with toys and puppets and rubber chickens, blowing bubbles, honking horns - all manner of entertainment for commuters stuck in traffic or, mostly, whizzing by. I'm not sure how he made much money, but he must have gotten by OK. He was out there every day rain or shine for years.
Today he was on Hawthorne again, at the busiest intersection, still up to his amusements. I scooted up to him and asked if I could photograph him - of course, he obliged. I asked him to play his trumpet for me, he asked for requests; I said, "Do you know 'Take the A Train'?" "Yeah," he said, "but I can't play it very well." He did some magic tricks for Liza and me. He wasn't very good, but he sure was smiling and laughing.