Cantabrigians Oppose T-TV

Street Musicians Say Monitors in T-Stops Hurt Their Trade

Street musicians and Cambridge residents within the last month have forced opposition to the upcoming installation of television monitors at some Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway stops.

"We have enough printed acts at the T," said Vivian Kurkjian, a Cambridge resident who wrote a rap song protesting the proposed placement of monitors in the subway, known as the T. "These monitors are an intrusion in our lives," Kurkjian said.

The monitors will be used to post MBTA information such as subway delays and scheduling information, readily accessible to the hearing-impaired.

Other news and advertising will also be featured on the screens.

Kurkjian said she agrees with other MBTA users who protested last month in front of the Harvard T-stop, holding placards that raised objections and expressed fears that "Big Brother is Watching You."


A street musician, who identified himself as Bumblebee, said he fears that the television monitors, dubbed "T-TV," will also intrude on musicians' right to play at T-stops.

"It's a shitty deal," said Bumblebee, a veteran Boston street musician since the 1960's. "This might be the first step for losing our constitutional right to play here."

Jim Ball, MBTA director of communications, did not return repeated phone calls since last Thursday.

Bumblebee said street musicians have fought hard to earn the right to play in T-stops, and they won't give up that right easily.

Bumblebee, who plays some songs by Hank Williams Jr., said he was arrested once in the 1960's for playing music. Only as a result of a "hard-fought battle" by the Street Musicians Guild were musicians allowed to play at the T-stops.

Kurkjian said she prefers the street musicians over television monitors because "it gives them a chance" to make a living.

"The T-TV's will be distracting," Kurkjian said. "[The musicians] won't be able to perform."

Bumblebee said he would have no objections to the monitors if musicians could continue to play unhindered.

"I wouldn't have a problem as long as it won't make it hard on musicians," said Bumblebee. "I hope that the problem can be ironed out."

Another Cambridge resident who identified herself as Stacy said the monitors will "diminish the quality of life."

"The T.V.'s are going to take away the Boston culture," Stacy said.