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Originally uploaded by aghrivaine
This morning when I stepped out the door to go to my car, I heard a violin. It wasn't just any violin, too - it was really beautiful. The musician was playing a mellow, lonely tune. I followed the sound down to the beach and saw him sitting under one of the pagodas there, playing.

Musicians on Venice Beach are hardly anything new - you've probably all seen the guy on rollerskates who zooms around in robes with an electrig guitar and amp hanging from his shoulder. But this guy was different - first it was a bright, warm June day and his wearing long jeans, a jacket, and a hat. He was very pale, clearly not a frequent denizen of Venice. He was also very skilled - more so than the street buskers on Venice.

I remembered reading an article about a violin virtuoso named Joshua Bell played his violin - a million dollar stradivarius - in the subway like any other street performer. He played for a couple of hours, including some of the most challenging compositions in classical music's annals. In that entire time, only a handful of people stopped to watch. None said a word to him, and only a few dropped some money in his violin case. Naturally, it was decried as an example of the coarsening of our culture.

Well, culture must be alive and well on Venice Beach - this photo notwithstanding, almost nobody managed to walk by without stopping to listen. Girls approached him and asked him for hugs, and pictures - spooky drifters accosted him with their stories of giving up on dreams of professional musicianship because of Viet Nam - tourists snapped photos, bikers stopped suddenly to listen.

Must be the yogurt.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
I remember reading the article and being appalled. But after reflecting on it, also keep in mind that the experiment in Washington DC took place in a hub of work related activity and people going to Venice Beach tend to be more relaxed and open. So a violinist of superb quality would be wonderfully appreciated.

Back when I was in Berkeley, we've had random violinists as well. One man had dreadlocks, a six pack, and a wonderful violin. Anywhere outside of the UC Berkeley campus, he managed to draw a crowd. In the very center of campus that wasn't a plaza, the reaction was similar to that of the experiment; people were too focused to get to class. And that was BERKELEY.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
That is the problem with modern society, we never have the time to stop and enjoy the music. We are always in a rush to get somewhere. When we do happen past we are torn between wanting to stay and needing to go.

Music is the yogurt? As in the culture that is good for you and keeps away yeast infections?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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