Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Characters of Times Square

Above is a picture posted on Instagram depicting a recent demonstration by costumed characters who pose for pictures in exchange for donations in New York's Times Square.  Their signs carry messages like "Let us work!" and "We have rights!" and "New York City Artists United."

Some of the characters had contacted an organization called La Fuente.  A spokeswoman for the group issued this statement:

"The workers understand that there have been bad actors within their collective and they also understand that the bad actors shouldn't shouldn't represent who they are as a collective."

Workers?  Collective?

This last week of summer likely will be the busiest of the season and the most contentious of the year in Times Square.  If you are visiting New York, you probably should avoid the area entirely.

Within the last few weeks, one Spider-Man told tourists he would not take dollar bills, only 5s, 10s and 20s. When a policeman told the family that this was not necessary, Spidey punched the cop. Another Spider-Man hit a woman who refused to give him a tip.  A third groped a woman.

And that's just the Spider-Man characters.

There are multiple Elmos, Mickey Mouses, Minnie Mouses, assorted super heroeds, two naked cowboys, a naked cowgirl, Hello Kittys, Statues of Liberty and others working the area.  Some grab children away from their parents, arrange themselves in poses and then demand payment.  A Cookie Monster reportedly shoved a toddler whose mother did not offer an appropriate "donation."

In fact, many other people troll Times Square for money.  The New York Post recently sent a team to canvass the range of hawkers.

It found 11 rap artists trying to sell CD demos for "donations." ("Don't you like black people?" one asked a man who declined the offer.)

Another 79 people were touting city bus tours. (Recently, one of the touts said he was stabbed in the face by a competitor from another company.  He said he lost two teeth, required stitches to treat the cut and is planning a lawsuit.  He and his alleged attacker are still working the street.)

In addition, recruiters for comedy clubs and theaters were trying bring in customers for stand-up shows and theatrical performances.

Long story short, walking through Times Square has become an ever more unpleasant experience with hordes of milling tourists and increasing numbers of people pestering you, often aggressively, for money.

Maybe after Labor Day, when grownups go back to work and children go back to school, the whole business will quiet down.

I would not count on it, though.

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