I have had this thought before, but never chronicled it. I have to ask if it is possible that people get paid to go around neighborhoods asking for directions to certain places. I was just approached by a woman walking the other direction with what I assume were her two kids, a young daughter and an infant in a stroller. The woman seemed perfectly sane (whatever it means to look sane) as she asked me if I knew where the Museum of the Moving Image was. I gave her proper directions, saying to go back to 35th Avenue and take a left to 36th Street. We were on 29th Street. She seemed to understand, said thanks, then walked on ahead of me at a slightly crisper gait.

She turned left at 35th Avenue and I crossed 35th Avenue where I turned left. So she and her kids were across the street and slightly ahead of me. I assumed they would keep going that way, to the museum, and in fact I anticipated taking a small amount of pride in watching the results of my helpful handiwork. I got here where she was going, I was ready to think.

But the trio stopped at 30th Street, I thought to tend to the infant or whatever, and they stood there for several seconds before turning left onto 30th Street. Had she forgotten my instructions? Why did she ask for directions to the MoMI if she had no intention of going there? Furthermore, at the risk of forwarding a potentially biased stereotype, she just did not look like someone who was heading to a museum, not so much because she had the school-aged girl with her but because of the infant in the stroller. Of course she might have been going to the MoMI to work or for any number of other reasons, such as meeting up with someone. But then she was not going the museum at all, as far as I could tell.

So my theory is that the MoMI hires people to wander around the area, asking for directions to the museum and keeping a tally on how many people know, how many do not, etc. It would be a way to measure the museum’s reputation or recognition in the area.

Or maybe the woman was just nuts after all. I don’t know, and will not put more thought into this critical matter.

My friend David is a virtuoso oboist and says he will try and put together a simple version of the ice cream jingle with what he called “baroque flourishes”. He knows all about my little project since I told him about it when he was in town, coincidentally on the day of the first Gothamist story. He said he started practicing on it this AM but didn’t get far because he couldn’t help laughing. This is a dude with 5 advanced degrees, one of them a PhD in oboe performance, and here he is working on a fucking ice cream song.

I will attempt to write something myself at the piano, but I’m afraid the neighbors will hear it and, assuming at least someone in the building has heard or read about the kiosk shenanigan, I would not want to reveal to them that I’m the one behind it by letting them overhear me playing that fucking song over and over. Obviously I could wear headphones, and I will attempt that, but I’ve never had a good experience using headphones at the piano. But in the interest of discretion in this highly confidential matter I might make the sacrifice. First world problems…

Word is out about this little project. It’s on the street, and if I keep at it it will forever be a part of the Smart City storyline. A few nights ago I had rare occasion to pass by a kiosk as it was making its noise. Someone asked “wtf” or whatever, to which someone else quickly responded  that someone’s going around calling a phone number. Just an offhand response as if it was just at the tip of his thinking. But I find that however often I set a kiosk on fire I don’t think anyone will ever see me at one of those stations and have any reason to think I’m summoning the jingle or to even make the connection between someone standing at one of these things (while it is silent) and assuming I have anything to do with the noise which erupts only when I am long gone. I mean for that kind of connection to happen the word on the street or the chatter would have to be at a level as if there was a serial killer on the loose, and that’s never going to happen. It’s that damned Magic Minute that makes this a magical piece of street theater.

Something that dawned on me a few days ago: I once contacted Gothamist to see if they had any interest in me writing stories for them about (what else?) payphones. They took several months to respond, during which time I heard from numerous people in the know that writing for that website is one of the worst gigs ever. The money was shit but more importantly the staff was said to be a bunch of hypersnarks, which would seem to reflect itself in the character of the writing there. But I’m OK with them now! Hah. They did sound interested when they finally responded but by then I didn’t care anymore.