May 30, 2010

Montreal Organ Grinder

(Montreal, QC) Though in some parts of the world an organ grinder might be vilified, I took a moment to listen to the music and singing of the street musician pictured on your left. I also found intriguing the musician's attempt at a period costume, resembling as he did the sort of busker one might find in fin de siècle Paris or London.

Unfortunately, before I walked back across the street to talk with the organ grinder, an annoying woman with a New York accent interrupted him. She insisted on a picture with the organ grinder, which her husband took, and then chatted with him before I grew weary of waiting for her to finish yakking.

Best part: she sucked up five minutes of his time and didn't even toss him a quarter: Gimme, gimme, gimme, then "see ya!"

And we wonder why Americans sometimes have a negative reputation around the world. Some of us can't even toss a humble hurdy-gurdy performer some change after making use of his services.


microdot said...

Do you get to go to Quebec City?
It's pretty funny to hear the Quebecois accent parodied here in France. I'm even getting the hang of it.
I spent a lot of time in Quebec City in the early 1980's playing for 2 week gigs for 3 summers in a bar in the old city.
The only time I ever really spent in Montreal was for the Worlds Fair when I was uhhh, 15? I can't rememeber what year it was exactly.

microdot said...

Oh yeah, one of my fondest memories of the Qubecois country side is the proliferation of Frite wagons at every remote rural intersection with funky signs proclaiming "Le Roi des Frites!"..ou La Reine....

Mad Jack said...

On an old hotel sign: Organ Grinders to sleep in the wash house.

Back in the early 1970s a fellow I knew sold his gas station and became an organ grinder, complete with monkey. The trouble was that the monkey was not friendly and tended to bite, so he finally had to get rid of it and got a different breed of monkey.

Organ Grinders (Hurdy Gurdy), tinkers and razor grinders were a rough crowd. My grandfather would have to deal with them from time to time, and my father knew a few of them.

historymike said...


No, just Montreal. Quebec City will be a future trip, though.

historymike said...


I knew little about the sordid history of organ grinders until your comment, which sent me into a rewarding-but-time-sucking flurry of research.