March 20, 2010 by vinylburns
Dig on this for a moment.
In the early 80’s I was writing for a few evening TV shows in NYC, and during the day I would drift down to Washington Square Park to watch the performers and assist their future survival by recording and storing their jokes for future reference, should they be hit by a bus, or another busker, and forget their show. I didn’t tell anyone about it, because if word got out, that same busker might come and hit me, or run me down with a bus.
In any case, one of these fine young men was William “Master” Lee. Will had grown bored with managing his successful hotdog business, so began heading down to the park to speak his mind. “Hotdogs are a lot more complicated than you people think…” he would begin. “For instance, there’s the meat… no wait, I’m thinking of milkshakes…” Though suspicious, he was happily surprised at the laughter his stories evoked, and he set about making up total lies, in the belief that if his real life was funny, stuff that he makes up would surely kill. It’s hard to say for sure if he was right, but he’s been surfing the foamy crest of those white lies for three decades.
William is alive. Sometimes, when a man like me writes in this emotional way, people assume someone has died. Nobody has. Nobody I know. Nobody I know, who I’m talking about in this essay, has died, yet.
OK… lets move on.
Will was a young man in a hurry, keen and eager… a little to his detriment. I advised him to pace things a little more casually… “Make them wait…” I suggested, and slipped him a few of my own lines for his show. One such line “I will Blah Blah Blah…. But first… Blah Blah Blah…” became his signature move on the streets and stages of so many great festivals. I also suggested a move that was working for me at the time. I explained that he should tell the crowd he will perform 18 different stunts, but then only actually do 9 of them. He took the idea on board, but refined it down to a ratio of 7:3.
This was a smart move for the street, as my 18:9 ratio took a good 3 hours on the stage, and on the street, a busker simply can’t hold a crowd for more than two hours, without actually having a real accident… in which case, they’re with you for life! ie. they’ll stay till a dude dies.
Years later, a similarly powerful phrase was adopted by a young New Zealand performer who shared a month of festival dates with the legend. “That’s GOOD BABBA!” they would chime in unison, as they wolfed down the sponsors product, while waiting to perform at Halifax’s legendary “Baba Ghanoush” stage.
William was an inspiration to so many, so I was glad to hear of his latest project… Chink Floyd
It is, as the G-dog Kizzles sizzle “WAK” G.
Will is always the guy on the lookout for the next move… and there’s plenty of moves left in him.
So, as I was checking out his newest stuff with the band, I got thinking about an old clip that was floating around, and tracked it down.
I think it really captures the essence of the man… the moment… the miracle, of Master Lee.
Solid – VB