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June 30, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Gene Weingarten, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his story on Joshua Bell's busking stunt in a D.C. subway station, tells the story of an earlier busker performing in similar circumstances. With a spooky surprise ending:

Bell and Gordon played the same instrument (scroll down to "History of Joshua's Violin"). Previously; related, related related.
posted by fiercecupcake (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know if I would really call that 'spooky'
posted by delmoi at 7:19 AM on June 30, 2008


Was the instrument hanging from the door handle of the car?
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


My favorite DC Metro busker plays an erhu.
posted by Tehanu at 7:32 AM on June 30, 2008


I'm sitting here looking at my Pulitzer Prize, which is awarded in part for "originality," and I'm laughing. Is ignorance a defense? Is there a statute of limitations on originality? Is 77 years okay? Mostly, I'm thinking that around the year 2085, a writer -- someone who hasn't been born yet -- is going to wake up one day with this really terrific idea ...

Here's a guy who doesn't own a mirror.
posted by three blind mice at 7:33 AM on June 30, 2008


"Bell and Gordon played the same instrument" at one time, but Bell wasn't using that particular violin during the DC stunt. So it's not that spooky.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:35 AM on June 30, 2008


I'm not wearing a tie at all.

* ... *
posted by fire&wings at 7:39 AM on June 30, 2008


And you know, Gene would have gotten away with it had it not been for those meddling kids...
posted by thanotopsis at 7:49 AM on June 30, 2008


With a spooky surprise ending

The violin was coming FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
posted by Jofus at 7:51 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Thanks, fiercecupcake. I love Weingarten, but hadn't read the Joshua Bell story.

(Sorry for the interruption -- please resume the criticism of the poster's decision to use the word "spooky.")
posted by pardonyou? at 8:09 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


You hadn't read the Joshua Bell story? Where the hell were you?
posted by yhbc at 8:27 AM on June 30, 2008


IF A GREAT MUSICIAN PLAYS GREAT MUSIC BUT NO ONE HEARS . . . WAS HE REALLY ANY GOOD?

NO.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:33 AM on June 30, 2008


You hadn't read the Joshua Bell story? Where the hell were you?

That's hilarious. Apparently I was not hanging around MeFi on April 8 & 9, 2007! I just went back and checked my calendar, and April 8 was a Sunday (Easter, in fact), and I had April 9 off. No work, no MeFi!
posted by pardonyou? at 8:41 AM on June 30, 2008


Best Winegarden collumm erve!!
posted by timsteil at 8:47 AM on June 30, 2008


Here's a guy who doesn't own a mirror.

Uh, what the hell are you talking about? I think he was making fun of himself. But maybe you mean he's unkempt.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:50 AM on June 30, 2008


It's completely pathetic that Weingarten won a pulitzer for that piece of crap article. I'm a professional musician, and I don't know anyone in my field who liked the article. What bullshit!
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:59 AM on June 30, 2008


It's completely pathetic that Weingarten won a pulitzer for that piece of crap article. I'm a professional musician, and I don't know anyone in my field who liked the article. What bullshit!

In all seriousness, what made the article a "piece of crap"? As far as I can tell, it's an admitted stunt that relays factual information about what transpired during a single 45 minute period. The story isn't even really "about" music or musicianship -- it's really a story about the consequences of our modern society. I'm not sure how being a professional musician gives one a special insight into the merits of the piece (let alone to declare it "bullshit").
posted by pardonyou? at 9:08 AM on June 30, 2008


It's completely pathetic that Weingarten won a pulitzer for that piece of crap article. I'm a professional musician, and I don't know anyone in my field who liked the article. What bullshit!

I too was surprised that the article was worthy of a Pulitzer. But is it surprising that you and other professional musicians dislike an article that suggests the hoi polloi don't appreciate your work?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:09 AM on June 30, 2008


It's completely pathetic that Weingarten won a pulitzer for that piece of crap article. I'm a professional musician, and I don't know anyone in my field who liked the article. What bullshit!

Well reasoned objection there.

I am a member of the public, and I don't know anyone in my field who likes the music you make.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


FWIW, I know a professional violinist who enjoyed the article. Actually, she found it unspeakably sad, so I felt bad for sending it to her.
posted by naju at 9:48 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a former DC resident who still misses his daily Post, Gene Weingarten deserves the Nobel Prize for Awesome.
posted by rusty at 10:27 AM on June 30, 2008


Gene Weingarten still lives in DC, rusty. I see him out in his yard from time to time.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:39 AM on June 30, 2008


Lol. I'm having a reference problem today. Just this morning I mentioned to my wife that I found a tick in the shower.

She asked if it used up all the hot water.
posted by rusty at 10:53 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's completely pathetic that Weingarten won a pulitzer for that piece of crap article. I'm a professional musician, and I don't know anyone in my field who liked the article.

This reads like the setup for an LSAT question: "identify the logical fallacy in this argument..."
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a choral director and I loved the article. It was pretty upsetting, sure, but it certainly didn't tell me anything I didn't know.
posted by honeydew at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2008


I've got M. Night Shyalaman on the phone.

Not to discuss this Spooky Twist Ending, mind you. I'm just asking for my 91 minutes back from The Happening.
posted by Spatch at 1:23 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hated the article, too. In my opinion, the stunt exhibited fundamental misunderstandings of the nature of performance and context that made its implied conclusions not just erroneous but silly.
posted by kyrademon at 2:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to make around two hundred dollars in one hour of busking, but I'd only do an hour a week, sometimes two. I was a student at the time, looking for a place to practice; I called a place and they wanted thirty bucks an hour for what essentially was a room with sound-dampening foam taped to the walls. So I took to the sidewalk.

It's wholly unsurprising to me that Joshua Bell was no good as a busker on his first outing.

Take a surgeon who sews heart transplant sutures and have him sew dresses for 45 minutes, and you wouldn't expect him or her to excel instantly. My mum's friend sews clothing for a pretty low wage, but I'm sure it took her longer than 45 minutes to get used to the job.

But if Joshua Bell tried busking for just one weekend--if he really tried: listened to the street and the people at least half as much as they listened to him, not seeing the task as slumming it, but enjoying how fun it can be--I'm sure he could stop traffic. He'd probably draw a big enough crowd that two cops would show up, just as he felt that he and the crowd were connecting in a way he wouldn't have thought possible, and tell him, "Mate, we're going to have to ask you to move on...".
posted by surenoproblem at 3:20 PM on June 30, 2008


Here's what I hated about the Bell article: Tall and handsome, he's got a Donny Osmond-like dose of the cutes, and, onstage, cute elides into hott.

That gets you a Pulitzer?!
posted by msalt at 3:39 PM on June 30, 2008


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