When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

14 April 2007

"Pearls before breakfast"

What happens when you put a world-class violinist, playing a Stradivarius, at a Metro stop during morning rush hour?

As it turns out, not all that much.

This little detail, though, is very telling:
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.
Pearls Before Breakfast - Washington Post, April 8, 2007

I can relate to the D.C. commuters who "didn't see" violinist Joshua Bell as he busked in L'Enfant Plaza Station. The *place* where art is happening isn't irrelevant, and very little can penetrate through the fog of my morning commute on the New York City subway.

Getting from point A to point B at rush hour is kind of a cross between meditation and a martial arts exercise, and in fact, it would likely take a threat to my safety to snap me out of my morning routine:
  • Up early, feed the animals, make coffee, walk the dogs, answer e-mails, shower, shave and dress, kiss my wife on the way out the door.
  • Be on the subway platform by 8:15
  • Skim the headlines in AM New York or Metro (hey, I'm a Times reader, but those little free tabloids are cannily designed to be perfect for commuters)
  • Take the express train to Chambers Street, switch to the local and get off at South Ferry
  • Stop for a takeout breakfast on the way in to the office.
I start perceiving things around me again as I settle in at my desk, greet my co-workers and start thinking about what I'm going to do that day.

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