Name That Guy Playing That Tune


I find myself in New York's Port Authority twice daily. Escape is always my only goal. Angling for my time and disposable income, a variety of beggars and musicians and pharmacy franchises try to distract me. But they are not successful. I'm a commuter, and I'm very good at what I do.

But what if the nondescript musician was instead one of "the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made"? Would I notice? Would I stop and listen? Would I toss some change in his antique case?

Of course I wouldn't. I'm not there to be entertained. But this fun experiment was cooked up by The Washington Post, with renowned violinist Joshua Bell (not pictured above) playing the role of one of the finest classical musicians in the world. They set up in DC's L'Enfant Plaza.

In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

I'm shocked anyone is shocked by this. Still, the article is very well written and entertaining, as is the accompanying video. And if Port Authority wants to bring Bell to New York, to replace the man playing the same drum solo I've heard every morning for three consecutive years, I'll happily donate my change jar.