Saturday, May 21, 2005

Annoying Tuneless Flutist

Every year, like the swallows migrating to Capistrano, the Annoying Tuneless Flutist appears in front of Whole Foods and does his annoying, tuneless thing.

Annoying Tuneless Flutist is a thin, modest looking man. In typical Palo Alto fashion, he's just dishevled looking enough where he could either be homeless or an internet millionaire. His small wooden flute sounds homemade, or South American, it's tone kind of piercing, raw, and reedy. He sits by himself as he plays, sometimes accross the street from Whole Foods, sometimes just nearby. It doesnt really matter, since he can be heard a good block away.

He has only four or five notes. He plays them fiercely and fast, without any discernible tune, melody, tempo, or purpose. He just spits them out in random combination, over and over and over, sucking the music out of them so that they are just annoying, tuneless sounds. He could do so much more, by playing with the tempo and volume, holding some notes out long to let the flute really sing, changing it up so it sounds like a conversation, like a mournful wail, like human emotion. Anything but that spastic droning chatter.

Annoying Tuneless Flutist is calm as he does this, his demeanor friendly, and I think he really thinks he's making music. I've never noticed a tip plate, so maybe he isn't doing this for money, just for the joy he thinks he's bringing to the world. I can respect that, but you got to have the skills, too.

Maybe he really is a internet millionaire, desperately seeking a way to fill his days now that money is no object. Maybe I've got it all wrong and he's a homeless guy, a ramblin' man with only his flute as a companion. Or maybe he's a defective music android from the future, sent back in time to annoy us all. One of these days, before I pass into Whole Foods for an overpriced lunch, I will ask him about it. No, really I wont. I'll just continue to ignore him, hoping he'll go away.

Here are some beautiful (and beautiful sounding) flutes

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