Crutch Master
Monday, June 4, 2012 at 10:20AM
Elena Taurke in Crip People, Dance, Disability, Outsider, People of Color, Racism

Gales of laughter in the bus as he gets the first reaction--people on the street in some kind of shock and awe at a man using crutches to skateboard through the streets of New York.   He is known as the Crutch Master, and the mastery is evident and spectacular.   We are in the bus as the audience to his performance.  Hooked up to cameras, a DJ, and a major sound system, it feels like a combination of a hip dance party and a sting operation. "Wall Stall" Shannon Technique 2010 

So we are in the bus to watch the watchers.   We desperately want to see people on the street react to our Crutch Master.  We want their "Huh?"  We want to see them dislodged from their complacency.   We are hungry for it.    Many of us standing, craning necks from window to monitor display, aching to see a bystander get shook up.  Crutch Master is doing his best to deliver.  Here he is bumming a cigarette from a Wall Street Trader.  There he goes doing a jig for a tourist bus.  We see the people try to resist, turn their backs, shake their heads.  In the bus, we are cracking up, laughing forcefully at how people try to just keep going, how they can't recognize a true phenomenon, how they miss what is right before their eyes.  

Before my eyes is a hungry mob, and I am part of it.  I too want to see the assault upon the bystander.  And yet I'm queasy with the certain knowledge that I am comfortable being comfortable.  My neighbor on the bus says, "It's like being the ultimate voyeur."   We know it, even as we play our part.

Perhaps the most interesting encounter was a serendipitous reunion with another skater, a black man selling his CDs.   They had played together on the streets before, and this time the black skater tailed the Crutch Master, occasionally stopping to sell a CD or to watch the action.   He joined the Q&A in the lobby after we got off the bus.   We learned that his name is Mike, and that even when he tells people he is selling a CD about Black History, people respond:  "No thanks, I don't listen to that kind of music."

So, WHAT'S UP with THAT?    

I GET that we're all stuck.   I REALLY GET IT.   Thank you Crutch Master.  Thank you Mike.    I GET that our expectations make us blind to what is before us.  I GET that we decline to interact spontaneously to favor the pursuit our predetermined path.    I GET that we do not recognize our position of privilege.  

But how do we transform this thing from an entertainment spectacle to an act of healing?   I didn't buy Mike's CD either.  I had only 6 dollars in my wallet, and according to our budget, that was supposed to last till Friday.  I left the Q&A without commenting on my reaction to being in the bus because I had to get uptown to walk my dog.    So, I didn't change.   I want to be changed, but it seems I have to do the changing.   Is it too late to start now?

June 2010

Article originally appeared on PsychoZen (
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