We are all nekulturny swine, says the Post, too bleary-eyed and caught up in the daily bureaucratic grind to appreciate beauty when it unexpectedly pops up. Alright, fair enough--after all, just one person out of a thousand identified Joshua Bell as he played incognito for 45 minutes in a station of the Metro here in DC, and only a handful more even stopped to listen for a few minutes.
But for the risk of sounding too much like the creepy neighbor kid from American Beauty, my vanity would have me announce that, of course, I would have stopped to take in such a rare and magnificent spectacle. For am I not a man of culture and taste? Ordinarily, this would be a purely hypothetical and unfalsifiable assertion, as the subway buskers I tend to run into in Washington are more likely to be playing out-of-tune guitar riffs with a cheesy recorded synthesizer backbeat than, like, Bach.
However, on this day of days, I was surprised to encounter a lone violinist tucked off in a corner in the Woodley Park Metro station, at the top of the escalator, while heading home after work. He was quite good, playing a familiar piece that I nonetheless couldn't quite name, and seemingly oblivious to all those passing by. Whether his presence was due to the appearance of the Post article, I cannot say, but the crowd still blew by with their lamented haste.
Now, being so refined, I naturally stopped to listen for a brief while. But (and this brings me to the point of the story), it was really awkward. There's no natural place to stand, and dozens of people are pushing past in their attempt to reach the surface. It is quite uncomfortable, wondering if you should make eye contact, or say something, or put money in his case (and at what point in the process this should happen), and so on. And I actually liked the music!
Eventually I went on my way, after putting a few dollars in the man's violin case, convinced both that his presence had made my evening commute more pleasant, and that the best way to experience music in such a setting is to simply pass by, perhaps slowing your step slightly if you are particularly captivated. It is but a momentary pleasure. To ask more of it seems greedy.