Times Square, July 12, 2011

Times Square is still there.  Ventured out last night with a minimal setup.  Didn't get there till after 1:am, so I wasn't expecting much, especially on a Monday night.  Sure enough, it was very quiet.  The caricaturists almost outnumbered the people with only a couple drawing here and there.  I stayed 2 hours and didn't get a nibble.  I did get to wiggle eyebrows with a lot of Chinese acquaintances.  It's been at least 5 years and I still recognized every artist I saw. 

I set up a quarter block from the largest cluster of artists, sat down and lit my pipe.  It wasn't two minutes before a chinese guy I remembered being one of the best came and set up 10 feet from me.  He nodded guardedly, producing a cigarette.  I gave a nod back that said, "I got no issues, I remember the code." with a flickered smile of "It's good to see you again."  These guys are not expressive characters and I try not to jangle with their composure.  I stared off down the block.

"You got light?"  He was approaching me.

"Yeah."  I stood up fumbling in my pocket.  This was a good sign.  I didn't expect him to be anything but indifferent to me, but here he was, honoring me with a chance to be the provider.  I handed him a lime green bic.  "Long time, no see!" I said cheerfully.  He half nodded and then set to lighting his cigarette.  "Must be about 5 years." I added.  This was too much.  He put one hand up and if to ward off anything else I might say and gave back the lighter with the other.  Then backed up nodding and went and sat down.  On reflection I should have held my peace until he'd gotten a good puff and then waited some more to see if he'd initiate some conversation.  Call me Mr. Eager.

We sat awkwardly for 10 minutes.  Till a lot of noise came from a small crowd across the street and this guy packed up and zipped over.  Emboldened by our interchange I carried my set up to the middle of the nearest cluster and took my place as 'one of the gang'.