I even watched once as this
taunting sent Quarter Guy into a manic fit of Kung Fu kicks, while
shouting: "You can't take my shadow away!" -The only other
words I've ever heard spoken by Quarter Guy.
This is the story
of Quarter Guy.
For at least 20
years to get pants (as far back as Bob Crawford can recall) there's been a
guy in New York City asking everybody for a quarter.
With a deadpan mumble and an open palm, "Quarter Guy" has
taken a theory and turned it into a full time job... No, a
way of life. Perhaps even some absolute conquest of the quarter
For someone so
utterly obsessed with change (quarters), it's ironic how completely
free of change (to alter, revise, transform) Quarter Guy has
been. A die-hard fan of the Canadian tuxedo, Quarter Guy has
sported the same frosted knots, blue VH1 fan pin, and catch
phrase: "Gotta quarter?" for as long as anyone can remember.
I first became
aware of Quarter Guy back in the summer of 2003 at Union Square
(before I'd even met Bob C). I was asked of a quarter by him,
then upon my refusal, he asked the person next to me, then
next to her, and so on, and so on. Then, as Quarter Guy exited
Union Square, a barrage of cat calls came from the crowd (but
mainly Skater Bob) "Hey! Gotta Quarter?! Hey Quarter Guy!
Photograph by Bob Crawford
The general consensus
is, most people hate Quarter Guy. They hate his style, his attitude,
his approach and just him in general. Bob C. and I love him. His
obsession has become our obsession, and our obsession has morphed
into capturing the ultimate photo of Quarter Guy. You see, Quarter
Guy poses for no one. Some even claim that he is unphotographable!
For the longest time Bob C. and I found this to be true. Again and
again Quarter guy would foil our attempts, twisting, turning and
dodging out of the cross hairs while he blocked our shots with his
We soon learned
the flaw in our game. We weren't playing by Quarter Guy's
rules. So Bob C. and I upped the anti, waiting for him to
actually approach us for his quarter and responding with "Yeah,
I gotta quarter". We'd then rummage through our bags.
But instead of producing a coin, we produced a camera and
snapped it in his face. But even at point blank Quarter Guy
proved to be quicker. His technique was almost poetic; ducking
and spinning while his hand flailed at the camera, like a
discount ballet to the beat of snapping camera shutters.
So we raised the stakes
again, following him out into the streets, chasing him through crowds
and traffic. But his hand blocked our every shot, much like how
Superman could catch bullets with great ease.
maintain our spirits we had to lay claim to the small victories,
one being that we had Quarter Guy asking for quarters with his hands
up at the sides of his face, shielding it from unwanted snap shots
by nosey assholes.
January 26th, 2004
Coming out of Tower Records on Broadway, Bob C. and I stepped out
onto the sidewalk and began walking north. Bob whispered to me,
panicked: "Getcha camera! Getcha camera! Getcha camera!"
I had no idea what he was so excited about. I looked over my shoulder,
and saw nothing of any interest. Bob continued his delirious whimper.
I knew there was only one thing that would cause Bob to behave in
such a way. And in the same moment that the name passed through
my mind I saw to my left, we were side by side, walking with Quarter
"When I count to 3,
start taking pictures." Bob instructed.
Walking north towards 6th Street we nonchalantly worked ourselves
onto either side of Quarter Guy, each of us with a camera in hand.
Then Bob quietly counted, "1... 2... 3." .
At that moment,
what followed was what I now refer to as "QUARTER GUY STROBE
ATTACK 2004." The quiet, selfish world of Quarter Guy was
besieged in an array of paparazzi flash bulbs that'd put Princess
Di's attackers to shame. We danced a silent waltz around Quarter
Guy, like flies on a gazelle's ass. We hovered, then land
a shot, hover, land a shot. And our attack matured quickly
as we began posing in shots with him, and switching cameras
between us. He strutted sternly forward, hopelessly trying
to block cameras at every angle. The battle was surreal. The
people around us seized their conversations trying to figure
out what was happening. Bob and I hardly spoke at all either,
each of us knowing this was the battle of the century. And
the Quarter Guy played his defense without one mention of
the quarter he wanted.
Our fight went
to the bitter end when the batteries on my camera died and
Quarter Guy ducked into Kinkos. Our celebration could be heard
from the highest buildings in lower Manhattan.
Normal Bob trying to hand this article to Quarter Guy
Bob and I spent the next
several hours reminiscing our war story and gloating in our victory
over tea at Starbucks.
But the war is not over.
No, my friend. It has only just begun. And this war will be referred
to from this day forward as "QUARTER GUY TORMENTING 2004 SHOCK AND
by Normal Bob Smith
Photographs by Bob Crawford & Normal Bob Smith