April 8, 2007

Pot, Kettle: Washington Post Discovers It's In A Culture Free Zone

Back in January, the Washington Post got virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell to perform at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro stop during the morning commute. The response was, well, I still don't know. I mean, who has time to read a long article like that when there's work to be done?

The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

The kid almost always stops by the street and subway musicians near us. In NYC, it's usually kids from the nearby music school, Julliard. The sax player between our DC place and the Metro even starts playing her songs when he sees her coming. Alas, he's no Ornette Coleman, or even Joshua Bell.

What a dickheadline: Pearls Before Breakfast [washpost]

1 Comment

There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog: www.SawLady.com/blog
She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters... I thought you might find it interesting.

[Thanks for the headsup, I was gonna mention the Saw Lady. we're fans, and I think she's right: "...A busker is someone who can turn any place into a stage. Obviously, Joshua Bell needs an actual stage. As a busker one needs to interact with those around, break walls of personal space, and lure people into a collective and spontaneous group experience on the street, in the moment, with you..." . -ed.]

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