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Ukulele "gangsters" descend upon the TTC

Posted by Derek Flack / April 17, 2013

Ukulele TTC flashmobThe TTC system, or at least parts of it, got a bit more cheery this morning as a troupe of ukulele-wielding self-described gangsters put on an impromptu show for commuters. Dubbed the Project Ukulele Gangsterism," the lighthearted intervention was reminiscent of some of the projects organized by Improv Toronto like the No Pants Subway Ride.

Local photographer Jason Cook stumbled on the scene at around 8:00 a.m. "A flashmob of 30-odd people with ukuleles were singing a very sweet song to morning commuters on the TTC," he explains. "It was a lovely mood booster, and everyone left with big smiles."

Organized by Adil Dhalla, who I happen to know is a big Toronto booster, the event was supported by the first CSI Awesome grant, which is a spin-off from the local branch of the Awesome Foundation. Fittingly, the song the group played this morning is titled "Have an Awesome Day." In putting the event together, Dhalla and company were able to accomplish two modest but noble goals: to shakeup the monotony of the commute and get people in a good mood on their way to work.

Nicely done, everyone.


Project Ukulele GangsterismProject Ukulele GangsterismProject Ukulele GangsterismProject Ukulele GangsterismProject Ukulele GangsterismProject Ukulele GangsterismPhotos by Jason Cook



J*town / April 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm
Strange but amazing.
Al / April 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm
Look at me! Look at me!! LOOK AT ME!!!
TWT / April 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm
if there was ever a time to record/post a video...
Torontonian / April 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm
I LOVE when people put in time and effort solely to try and make other people smile. Kudos PUG!
alan / April 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm
i didn't see this but would have loved to...thank you for a great big positive to the day...
Googlefriend / April 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm
user-pic for the practice session of them learning the song.
GG Allin / April 17, 2013 at 01:11 pm
I have filed this article under "Hipsters with nothing to do on a Wednesday".
Hey GG ... replying to a comment from GG Allin / April 17, 2013 at 01:21 pm
Shouldn't you be somewhere smearing excrement on yourself right now?
GG Allin replying to a comment from Hey GG ... / April 17, 2013 at 01:24 pm
Maybe I could get a flash mob and we could all do it on the TTC?
Francesco / April 17, 2013 at 01:32 pm
The girl in the purple in the 1st picture and the girl in the middle in the last picture look like they have been fucked in a good 15 years.
Welshgrrl / April 17, 2013 at 01:46 pm
Looks fun. Cue the sneering comments of course :P
Frank White / April 17, 2013 at 01:49 pm
You stay classy Francesco you piece of trash.
kasual / April 17, 2013 at 01:49 pm
Honestly, if taking the TTC for your morning commute isn't grating enough. Nobody needs a bunch of underemployed hipsters forcing their questionable musical tastes on you at that hour. It's bad enough when someone has their headphones on too loud, these people are taking that experience to a new place. Apparently this got people in a "good mood" on their morning commute, that's debatable. Even worse, someone gave a grant for this. How could this need a grant?

Why I ride my bike.
justacomment replying to a comment from Francesco / April 17, 2013 at 01:50 pm
You're a pathetic excuse for a human-being.
LovefromVan replying to a comment from Francesco / April 17, 2013 at 01:51 pm
Clearly you needed their love more than anyone, Francesco. What pleasure do you get from writing that? I hope you have an awesome YEAR; the world deserves better from you.
Salomon / April 17, 2013 at 01:55 pm
I think these guys need to look into the personal car -

I get they are trying to do something nice, but what about people who don't want to listen to their music?
Anthony replying to a comment from Salomon / April 17, 2013 at 02:00 pm
Yea, what if people hate music....
LovefromVan / April 17, 2013 at 02:03 pm
"If you're not getting criticized, you're not doing anything at all."

Hardworking social entrepreneurs step up. Way to go gangsters, mad respect from East Van. We could use some of this in my neighbourhood.
Rich / April 17, 2013 at 03:00 pm
Another group of people who think everyone else give a shit as to what they're up to. Why not do it with your pants off, dance around the car and record it, etc....

Torontogirl / April 17, 2013 at 03:13 pm
Laughing at these comments. I love when people make snap judgements about something and people they know nothing about. I happen to know of a few people who partook in this ridiculously awesome event and "unemployed" and "hipsters" they are not (although this whole hatred for hipsters has gone on for far too long). Some of the people are the city's brightest and up and coming entrepreneurs who work hard day in and day out to bring about positive change into this city. So get off your high horses, and SMILE a little!
Todd replying to a comment from kasual / April 17, 2013 at 03:16 pm
Exactly. Have some respect for the commuting process and don't get in people's faces. We want to get where we need to go quickly and safely and that's hard enough to do as it is.
Fantomex replying to a comment from kasual / April 17, 2013 at 03:19 pm
Who give a shit about a sour POS like you? Stick to being an old man before your time.
angry / April 17, 2013 at 03:24 pm
Knows some of these people / April 17, 2013 at 03:27 pm
I, in fact know some of these "gangsters".
and they are, in fact, happily unemployed and hipsters!
Harry Block / April 17, 2013 at 03:57 pm
First off all these people do not look like hipsters. More like frumpy drama school students and amateur philosophers. Secondly to all the people complaining about noise on their morning commute, STOP WHINING. Get a car if you want your own quite trip to work. Now, having said that, I think that playing these little guitars on the subway is a bit too close for comfort, keep it to the platforms please.
K-Borg / April 17, 2013 at 04:28 pm
This looks realllllllly irritating.
Salomon replying to a comment from Harry Block / April 17, 2013 at 06:04 pm
So if I decide I want to play death metal on the subway, people should just deal with it? yeah, that seems reasonable.....
Al / April 17, 2013 at 06:23 pm
The only people smiling in those pictures are the people playing. Everybody else seems like they are tying to avoid them.
laughed so hard when I read this replying to a comment from Hey GG ... / April 17, 2013 at 06:33 pm
ALL trolls should be "burned" so hilariously!

Francisco's Mom... replying to a comment from Francesco / April 17, 2013 at 06:37 pm
...also had the same problem as those ladies.

But don't worry, Francesco...I visited your Mom last night and gave her something nice to remember for the *next* 15 years.
Sharon / April 17, 2013 at 06:57 pm
David, I see you!!
David / April 17, 2013 at 07:12 pm
Francesco's comments are rude but true
Lorne Gould / April 17, 2013 at 07:13 pm
A great musical offering to the world! Every note we offer to the universe raises the consciousness of everyone everywhere. Enough of this and we will all be enlightened!
Luska / April 17, 2013 at 07:17 pm
I also know some of these people and they are amazing. If the world had more people like them who are innovators in business, work hard night and day AND think of fun ideas to inspire other people this would be a better world to live in. Adil, the creator is an amazing guy. This may not have needed a grant, but I can tell you the people involved do lots of volunteering and pour their own money into lots of projects for the greater good, why not give back to them for once? It would be great instead of complaining, if the people reading this article thought of some positive change they could make happen.
Jim replying to a comment from Francesco / April 17, 2013 at 08:20 pm
I don't understand what you're trying to say Francesco. This statement makes no sense. Did you read it over before posting it? If you plan on expressing ignorant opinions, at least proof read. Did you perhaps mean, "...haven't been..."?
CJ / April 17, 2013 at 08:25 pm
Saw this at Yonge and Bloor this morning! SO cute! Loved it!!
Didn't have time to stop and make a quick video to show my friends at work but the cheery song was stuck in my head and it was a really great idea!
More mornings like this please!! :)
Bobo / April 17, 2013 at 09:23 pm
HIPSTERS ON A SUBWAY!!! I would suggest they just stick to Bellwoods Park or somewhere else in hipsterville... oh wait; I guess they wouldn't want to annoy their d-bag hipster friends.
Real Gangsta / April 17, 2013 at 09:27 pm
Don't call them gangstas. Whitey ain't no gangsta.
lovesit / April 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm
Wow! Can't believe how many people are upset by this! In line with many of the comments above, most of the people participating are entrepreneurs who volunteered because they felt inspired. As far as I can tell (and I saw them at Bloor station) they were staying out of the way and spread some smiles and music. Loads of people stopped to listen and record it on their phones. Shame on the "ukulele gangsters" for trying to make the TTC a happier place. Really awful behaviour on their way to work. Much better to keep to the pushy, grumpy commute we all experience every morning than to try and improve the experience.
Mommy replying to a comment from kasual / April 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm
A Grant? Jesus, pathetic. Of course if they call it 'àrt`, no one is allowed to complain.
Mommy replying to a comment from Salomon / April 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm
Especially if you get a grant and say it's 'art'.
Mommy replying to a comment from Lorne Gould / April 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm
Yes, I think tomorrow I will burp the national Anthem on the subway and also enlighten everyone with my joy.
Kashakaman / April 18, 2013 at 12:10 am
The "grant" was an awesome grant given out from the centre for social innovation where most of Project Ukelele Gangsters rent shared office space. The money received purchased ukeleles, and was donated by fellow social entrepreneurs to the most amazing & awesome idea. What is more awesome than getting a bunch of hard working people to donate their time to learn a new skill solely for the purpose of helping make the commute a little brighter? Full disclosure - I'm a proud member of PUG, and we made a point to not stand in people's way, and every time we played the song (which was dozens of times), people stopped, smiled, pulled out numerous cell phones to record and share with their friends, and applauded and thanked us. Every time. Lots of people rushed by and gave us a quick and bewildered look, and several who were listening to their headphones missed out entirely as they rushed by, oblivious to the world around them. Their loss, but their choice, and their right to do so. If people didn't want to appreciate what was happening, they didn't have to, but a large number of people did, and that made my day. We'll be back to help brighten the commute for you too! Have an awesome day.
Bay Street Boss / April 18, 2013 at 12:45 am
These gangsters need an extreme makeover
Josh / April 18, 2013 at 01:20 am
Now presenting the fuglys on ukuleles
dftba / April 18, 2013 at 01:45 am
This is so cool, I want to be in on the project!
megr / April 18, 2013 at 07:47 am
soooooo freakin lame. annoying left wing performance 'artists'.
Rich / April 18, 2013 at 08:41 am
"Next stop, patchouli station"
Chris / April 18, 2013 at 09:51 am
They were playing at Bloor station when I was on my way to work. They had great energy and the song was cute but, me being a cynical urbanite, I assumed it was being done as a promotion (they sounded like a 6/49 commercial) and I shrugged it off. A lost opportunity. They should keep it up.
8ETTY / April 18, 2013 at 10:05 am
I was one of those on the subway car trying to avoid the ukuleles and at first I was a bit irritated by the group piling into the car but in the end it got me to smile and clap. Unfortunately my day was not awesome, just average.
Todd / April 18, 2013 at 10:22 am
Interesting to learn that some jackasses are apparently "contributing to the world" by cramming an already overstuffed and stressful morning commute for, well, just about everyone.

If you're not going to work or school or coming home from work or school and you're traveling rush hour, I immediately hate you. I know I'm not alone in this.
Kevin / April 18, 2013 at 01:23 pm
Wow, I can't believe the hateful whining from some people in this forum towards a few fun and creative people wanting to brighten an otherwise dull and predictable transit trip. Sad to think of what living with the addled grey minds of these curmudgeons must be like. With everything going on in the world, this is what you have to moan about?!? Thankfully these cranks are a minority in Toronto (if not on BlogTo) - or we'd have nothing but strip malls to look at and Muzak to listen to. Keep on playin' gangsters! People like you help make this city great! My transit trip was, sadly, predictable and uneventful (apparently, like some people really want it to be). I'm sorry I missed you.
Samantha / April 18, 2013 at 03:20 pm
I'm sure the guys would like it a lot better if it was hotter girls
TTC Rider / April 18, 2013 at 08:53 pm
I happened to be in the subway when they started singing, and this was just fantastic! It made my day! And everyone around me had a huge smile on their faces! Please people enjoy your life!!! Stop whining!
Karma / April 19, 2013 at 05:02 pm
Toronto - City of closet haters.

it's only a bit of fun.

and Fransesco - pretty low.
Think for a second about other people's feelings you dick.
opensource1111 / April 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Sounds like fun, and I would probably have enjoyed it if I were there. However, I am not one to push my own preferences upon others, so I think the players should have stayed on the platform. That way, if you don't like it, you can move to another section of the platform, away from the music. That's not an option on the train. It is, in the end, about taste - there are people, I am sure, who found this music grating. That's their right not to to have to listen, and playing on in the train robs them of that right. I'm sure TTC management would take it seriously of someone activated the customer assistance alarm. Don't laugh, it could happen.
Andrew Williams / April 25, 2013 at 08:49 pm
What a great idea. All the stupid, negative comments remind me of why I don't live in a big city anymore. Heaven forbid that those grumpy Torontians should be "forced" to listen to some cheery music in the morning. Better to keep your headset on, text message and not acknowledge that there are real people sitting next to you! Grow up.
Jenny / May 2, 2013 at 02:56 pm
Haters gonna hate. Fuel for their intrinsic need to bitch about something.

I for one wish I had witnessed this. This is freeking awesome, and i wish we had more things like this pop up in the city. Even if it lit up the days of a few people it was worth it.

Nicely done!!
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