I only just learned that Gene Weingarten's infamous Joshua Bell-in-the-Subway story won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. I find Nico Muhly's blistering critique (found via Geoff Edgers) to be virtually incoherent, but I do marvel that Weingarten's article could have been considered the best feature writing of the year. All the problems with the experiment were thoroughly blogged over by many at the time, so I'll just remind one and all that I spun a couple of sonnets out of the story. Unfortunately, I forgot to submit the sonnets to the Pulitzer poetry committee. My bad. Here they are again:
a fiddling Bell who's quite well known
went busking in D.C. and toted
his Strad to play the Bach Chaconne.
He played his heart out for an hour.
He played with virtuoso power.
The passers-by went passing by
with hardly an attentive eye.
But why? When Mr. Bell is slated
to play the finest concert halls,
no seats are left; they line the walls
to hear him, even when inflated
demand means it costs much, much more
than sitting on a station floor.
So what's the moral of the story?
Are average folks so unaware
of beauty? Maybe, but before we
assume the worst, it's only fair
to mention that a subway station
is really not the best location
for Bach's Chaconne (which I adore
-it's just not made for train decor.)
The artist who ignores his context,
no matter if the talent's great,
is failing to communicate.
I hope that we can count upon, next
commute, a savvier setlist.
Then maybe beauty won't go missed.
The image above dates from this psychotic period in my blogging career.
Yeah, blogging's been slow. Life hasn't been. Stay tuned ...