World-class violinist performs in Wash. subway at rush-hour

Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.

This sounds like just a cute little interest-piece, but it’s actually a fascinating article. My favorite observation:

Paul McCartney did that once: … ssion.html

That’s a terrific article, Vay. Thanks a lot. Long, but very interesting and well written.

The key issue is:

It struck a nerve with me in part because I was wandering around Covent Garden yesterday, a great area of London, next to theaters and opera houses, where lots of street performers are out doing there acts for spare change – painted gold and silver robot men, jugglers, musicians, magicians, clowns, etc – and I was thinking similar thoughts. Many of the entertainers there are very talented and you want to stop and look, listen, take a picture, but you know if you do you have a moral obligation to give some spare change. The people I saw probably weren’t of Josh Bell’s caliber (or maybe they were, I don’t know), but I was wondering how good they were.

Of course, it’s not that the passerbys in the article you linked didn’t notice that he was a great violinst. Many of them surely did. It’s just that they are accustomed to rushing to and from work and accustomed to performers and beggars asking for money and accustomed to quickly rushing past to avoid eye contact or avoid giving the appearance that they enjoyed the music, because then they’d be obliged to stop and throw in some dough. We are creatures of habit.

As for the above philosophical debate, I agree with the article’s author that Kant is correct.

I really liked the part about the young black kid craning his neck to watch, but his mom hurrying past, dragging him by the hand and cutting him off from view with her body. Poor kid. I hope someone buys him a $100 ticket to see Bell perform.

That’s amazing. In London. Even with a disguise it would seem that his sound is so recognizable, especially in London, that people would HAVE TO know. Apparently not (except for a few). The setting really makes all the difference in the world.

Thanks Vay for sharing this. Fascinating indeed.