It is impossible to exaggerate how much the world I found on arriving in New York City in 1974 was a radical departure from anything I had known before. I was – and in many ways still am – a Southern California kid whose upbringing was almost precisely recreated in the ABC-TV series The Wonder Years. But when the Carey Bus dropped me off in Times Square I never looked back, and was immediately captured and captivated by almost every new sensory experience.
I still remember how closely people stood next to each other in the subway and how that meant touching people by circumstance rather than choice. I remember the strangeness of people speaking more loudly and more assertively in public places than I had ever heard before. And I remember seeing my first street performers. (Think back to every episode you ever saw of The Wonder Years and tell me if you ever saw a street performer.)
Which leads to George “Mr. Spoons” Gully, who I first saw perform beneath ground at the Times Square stop of the #1 IRT train. I loved his act, his personality, and the idea that silverware could become a symphony in his hands.
Over the intervening 35+ years, I have intermittently checked to see what he has been up to, and – moments ago – I Googled his name and discovered that George passed away on November 9, 2010. This web site will tell you more about this amazing man.
I think that only now – years later – do I understand why I was drawn to Mr. Spoons. Arriving in New York, and having been a fairly cloistered son of the SoCal Burbs, I almost immediately began to wonder how in the world I would be able to define “cool” or “cutting edge” when so much was happening and changing so quickly. And when I was feeling so completely “uncool” in the midst of it all.
George “Mr. Spoons” Gully was immediate evidence that the wild ride that would be my life in New York City would include everything — the conventional to the bizarre, the sacred to the profane, the reactionary to the subversive — and that I had even found a place where – as Professor Huey Lewis once noted – it could even be “hip to be square.”