This is a Bad Idea

Apparently, WJLA is reporting that "Metro officials are proposing a new program to bring musical acts, theater and possibly circus performers into the transit system."

First, big hat tip to DCist for directing me to this. I think that's my first ever "h/t." I feel like such a blogger.

Naturally, as the DCist gang is wont to do, they seem pretty excited about this potential change. Here's what DCist Martin (my fave of the gang) had to say:

"If this plan proceeds forward, gone will be the days when Metro stations both looked and felt like cathedrals. In its place will be a transit system that has become just a little bit more lively, a little more inspiring for those of us making the daily slog to and from work."

Everyone knows I am incredibly quick to criticize Metro for their general ineptitude and fuck-uppery. But I don't think that throwing a street musician into the tunnels of West Falls Church is a positive development.

Alright, children, let's really consider the consequences of having musical acts in our subway stations. If you're stumbling home from a happy hour or begrudgingly taking the train at 8am to get to work, are you really going to be in the mood for some unemployed nitwits performing an amateur version of Stomp? If someone is banging a trashcan in my general vicinity at 8am I am going to murder their family.

Do we really want our stations filled with 20-year-old singer-songwriters that sound like John Mayer-lite fishing for their big break?

And theatre? What kind of theatre can you perform for an audience that won't be sticking around for any longer than five minutes?

I present to you the Metro version of the hit play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead:

Rosencrantz: What the Hell is wrong with this coin?

*Please stand clear of the doors. Thank you.*


This is stupid. Is there really a demand for senseless noise pollution in our Metro stations? Really? Is there anyone out there who honestly believes that Metro would be super-awesome if they had circus performers?

For the love of God, can't I just have my precious silence?


  1. AnonymousJune 14, 2006

    Metro thinks they can distract us from thier crappy service. Focus on making the damn trains work!

  2. DC MoveOnJune 14, 2006

    There ARE no tunnels at West Falls Church, genius. Don't let the facts get in the way of the snarkiness, though.

  3. John Mayer WannabeJune 14, 2006

    ...but Rusty, New York has performers in the Subway, and New York is so much better than DC, so shouldn't you be beside yourself with joy?

    Gosh - if they had performers in the T in Boston, and not just stanky, stale donuts and coffee, you'd be complaining they hadn't done it sooner!

  4. The T does have performers John Mayer. And I used to love them. They were great. Esp the ones at the Harvard stop.

  5. John Mayer WannabeJune 14, 2006

    Good Lord! Is Rusty saying that he likes the atmosphere in a Metro station better than the atmosphere in a T station??

  6. I'm with Rusty here -- leave me in peace to be as anti-social on the Metro as I want to be. Besides, when I want to be entertained, I have my iPod and a good paperback. Regardless of my anti-social tendencies, I think this is one of the dumbest ideas *ever* for one primary reason: crime. I guarantee you will see a spike in crime as pickpocketers take advantage of crowds and the drones (i.e., tourists) that will inevitably be sucked in by these "performers." Thanks, but no thanks. It's like Metro wants to give an open invitiation to criminals. Just brilliant . . . effing idiots.

  7. 1. Re West Falls Church: D'oh!!

    2. The only thing I really like about the NY Subway is that it's basically everywhere and you can get a train on the weekends. I hate the noise and the heat and the dirtiness. And I have NEVER defended the T.

  8. dc_heat_winJune 14, 2006

    In theory this could be a good idea. I highly doubt there would be performances going on during the AM/PM rush since it’s already so packed. Since it doesn’t seem to be geared toward commuters I’d imagine the entertainment would only be during the weekends and possibly weekday afternoons during the summer. I don’t think a sharp rise in the tourist pick pocketing rate will be a problem either as nearly everyone single one of them wears a fanny pack. But the plan does have one fatal flaw. The acoustics in a cavernous metro station would be horrendous!!! Any loud music would just reverberate around the entire station and be annoying as fuck. Having musicians is a nice idea but I think it’s a non-starter.

  9. AnonymousJune 14, 2006

    I whole heartedly support doing anything to make the Metro look more like the grand ol' New York City subway system.

    I would ask the city to hire more buskers and feaux homeless-crazy people (as extras) to harass us on the train--it's just way to sanitary. I never even feel like I'm in any danger.

    Would it be too much for someone to at least TRY to steal my iPod once in a while? I can't even remember the last time I was assaulted.

    You call this living?

  10. AnonymousJune 14, 2006

    Oh, thanks for the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern reference. After your mid-twenties, that high school English class fades into memory....

    Taking me back.

    I think we must have some thespians on our city council.

  11. Thank you, I totally agree. Plus, let's think of the tourists. The Metro is already unbearable enough with mobs of clueless tourists milling around like sheep. Do we really need to throw in another distraction to make them even more confused, and the walkways even more congested? Just say no to subway performers.

  12. Here's the problem with the whole performers thing. Instead of street musicians (like New York or San Francisco, oh man I miss the guy in the tutu, playing the violin and singing opera, although last I saw him he was in Central Park -- he got a movie deal) is that this is going to be typical Washington. Someone who has no idea what the f*ck they're doing is going to appoint some board, who's going to be the arbiters of taste -- nothing to controversial (see man in tutu), no current music. It will be in every way as over regulated and drained of all life as the rest of this swamp. In a phrase: bleached out.

  13. Exactly. We've got enough vibrant city life festering at the Tenleytown station as is. All those middle-school and high-school kids would create a mime tartare in no time flat.

  14. AnonymousJune 15, 2006

    although i think that it's a pretty neat idea to put some artists & musicians on stipend, i'd much rather be allowed to eat an early morning egg sandwich on the train.

  15. We just don't need any "performers" in the Metro system. That's it: we don't need that. It's already crowded and noisy and frenetic enough. And if "performers" are going to be allowed---CHARGE THEM! After all, it's a public utility, in a sense, and any use of that public space should be paid for. And they should have to apply for a permit. That's it: permits and fees. Let's see how many "performers" sign up then.

  16. Point blank: Metro doesn't need "performers" crowding the system. It's already too noisy, too crowded and too frenetic. And if, for some wayward reason, Metro does allow this ridiculousness: CHARGE THEM! Metro is a public utility, and anyone crowded the space "performing" should have to pay a fee. And get a permit. So: permits and fees should regulate any "performer." But I would guess that most Metro riders do NOT want "performers" mucking up the system.

  17. I feel like having some performers in the station wouldn't be so bad, it may even add some (God forbid) soul to this completely soul-less city. I was just in NYC and it was refreshing to be in a city that felt like, well, a city. No it wasn't the naked cowboy in his underwear playing the guitar that really did it for me, but atleast you could tell there was a pulse, a heartbeat to that city.

    Everybody in this awful city just walks around like zombies and the metro system is a perfect example of how boring and chracter-less this city is. Everyone with their head phones on, dressed the same, reading the same thing.....really a few street performers wouldn't be so bad to spice things up a bit.

  18. Right so... I am a thespian, and a metro rider, and I just want to know who I have to call to express my utter disgust at the idea of musicians in the metro station.
    I live near the baseball stadium. It's hard enough for me to get the crowds of suburban morons who come in for games and don't know how to behave on metro. I can't imagaine maneuvering around a 'street musician' as well. Esp in the morning. On game days, the stadium armory metro has acquired a pretty crappy saxophone player, who only plays when people come up the steps... and I don't see this as entertaining. I see this 80 instances where I have refrain from kicking a total stranger because he's made my commuter headache worse. I like the silence. I like my ipod. I don't like crowds (in my case, defined as more than 4 people within 10 feet of me), I don't like noise, and I don't like strolling musicians that jam up the tube and NYC's subway. I vote for quiet.

  19. DMC in DCJune 15, 2006

    "For the love of God, can't I just have my precious silence?"

    DITTO!!!! We've already got the tourist family's kids screaming and yelling, the loud and obnoxious cell phone users, and the people with headphones on that don't even seem to really have headphones on... do we really need any more useless noise polluting the metro?

  20. jen "intern" turnerJune 16, 2006

    a) It's my impression that this is merely lifting the pre-existing, over-arching ban on performers - which would not realistically yield an overnight barrage of, like, acrobats and circus clowns at the Farragut North platform. I personally think this is not the end of the world. This perspective may change the first time I hear a Jack Johnson serenade on the Orange line though.
    b) In Berlin, I believe they have it set up that each street performer has to pay 6 euros for a weekly permit, which gives them claims to a specific location for the duration of that week, also during particular "performance hours." The bottomfeeders wind up competing for top spots, which in turn renders others commercially void. It's a system that actually seems to work and keeps it from getting too hectic.
    c) I'm reading your blog! Wtf!

  21. AnonymousJune 17, 2006

    If there were any talented musicians in DC, it would almost be worthwhile. But the idiots who play outside the stations are a recommendation against permitting musicians.

  22. Bottom line: I find it ironic that for a system that has a sign on every train warning that any portable music player MUST HAVE headphones as not to disturb the public is now wanting to force music en masse to their customers. Thanks but no thanks. I have an iPod for a reason; so I don't have to listen to obnoxious kids, clueless tourists and trite conversations on cellphones. This is a BAD idea. The acoustics for the station would make the music unbearable. I don't need to force my taste of music on anyone during my train ride. I shouldn't have to tolerate anyone else's tastes on my peaceful commute either.

  23. AnonymousJune 24, 2006

    Newsflash: a real city has things you don't want to encounter. It's NOT a place where you travel in peaceful, silent coccoons. It's not just NYC, but Paris and London and SF whose public transportation has such life.

    For chrissakes, you're whining because you can't travel IN A CITY in self-imposed isolation? If you want isolation, live somewhere else.

  24. If they are going to be putting the "theater and possibly circus performers" on the Metro, of what use will Capitol Hill be anymore?

  25. you don't want performers in the metro?!?! what is your problem? you complain about DC and then you oppose something that would make DC a little less like DC? the metro here is awful. it's like walking into a bathroom. anything that would even slightly change that is welcome. i suppose you also like the "no chewing your last bite of candy bar while going down the metro escalator" laws, too?