Moisés Rosas is an organ grinder in Mexico City. According to Azam Ahmed at the NY Times, Rosas’s art is not as popular with the public as it used to be, and that makes some folks wistful.
“ ‘This is a dying art,’ Mr. Rosas said as he turned the dull metal lever of his instrument, wrenching out a troubled squawk. ‘The youth don’t really value us.’
“So it goes for Mexico City’s organ grinders, among the city’s more curious class of street performers. For years, they were beloved by residents, but now they are in a gloomy mood, convinced that their art — and a central part of the city’s culture — is fading away. …
“They are losing fans. Many young people, forced to listen to their music while out at a restaurant or in a square, pay them to leave. The ranks of older patrons, who recall the organ grinders with nostalgia, are thinning.
“Then there is the competition, which has multiplied in recent years. There are break dancers, mimes, movie characters, musicians, artisans and the afflicted, all vying for spare change.
“Worse, there are the superheroes.
“ ‘Don’t even get me started on them,’ [Luis Román Dichi Lara, the head of the organ players’ union], said. ‘You place yourself in the perfect spot, start your music and, boom, here come Thor, Batman and Spider-Man.’
” ‘They intimidate us,’ he said. ‘There’s like 15 of them. They just kick you out.’ ”
But people who want to preserve the culture are supportive, Ahmed reports.
“On a recent evening, Carlos Martínez dropped a few coins in the hat of Sergio Pérez, an organist midway through his evening shift.
“ ‘Not many people help them,’ said Mr. Martínez, 44, an office worker. ‘I don’t really like to listen to them that much, but if no one gives them money, they won’t survive.’ ”
Barrel organ player in the Zocalo Mexico City.