The Unbearable Banishment: beat heart

Thursday, June 18, 2009

beat heart

A few minutes ago I was walking through a corridor in Grand Central Station. It’s only 7:15 in the morning so the mobs haven’t mobilized yet. As I got midway through the passageway, I started to hear the faint notes of a cello being played. Not a recording; live. The acoustics of the passageway gave the notes a richness, particularly in the lower registers. The playing was so superb and the moment so beautiful that I slowed my pace (for once).

Then I saw her. She was an achingly beautiful girl sitting alone along the passageway wall. I don’t know what motivated her to set up at such an early hour since so few people are around to throw money into her open cello case. I tried not to stare but I was so swept up in the sound and vision that I fear I may have watched for a few beats too long.

My commute is a horrifying nightmare but I am occasionally tossed a moment of wonder.


Blogger sid said...

I love the cello. I makes the most beautiful sounds. I often wish my parents had forced me to take up a musical instrument.

June 18, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

An island of basic humanity in the midst of a sea of madness.


Thanks for sharing this.

June 18, 2009 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sid: ME TOO! And I wish they had imposed a second language on me as well. As it is, I barely have a grasp on English.

Rob: It doesn't happen often but, boy, when it does...pow! Right in the kisser.

June 18, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

The cello, and the violin.. two of the most amazingly beautiful, truly wonderful musical instruments on the face of the earth.

Did you drop her some change?

June 18, 2009 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Actually, Jimmy, I dropped two dollar bills into her case. She kept playing as she looked up at me and smiled. And that's probably the best thing that'll happen to me all day.

June 18, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there used to be a man who played tenor sax in the tunnel that connects O'Hare airport with the airport Hilton. the sound in the tunnel was exquisite...

once again, you make me want to move eastward!

June 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

almost any instrument (that's played well) sounds amazing in those cavernous subway tunnels. the sound really carries and travels well.

now if only the subway cars themselves would travel as well.


if i hear someone playing particularly well i usually stick around for a song or two (or at least until my train comes in) and tip 'em a dollar or some change if i got any.

the hypnotic brass ensemble (a funky jazz band) is by far my current favorite band whom i've seen several times in the subway tunnels and above ground (playing in times square and columbus circle). i even bought a cd from them.

June 18, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's nice you gave her money. I felt so bad for this girl that would sit in front of the Cafe Metro on 52nd and 5th Ave.

Young girl, no more then 20 yrs old and you can tell if she cleaned up was actually quite pretty. She had a sign saying "San Francisco". She was there for almost two full the rain some days. Here you have all these people in epicenter of expendable income and only some would stop and chat but most practically walked right over her.

Sorry for the long rant...I dont even know where I was going with that one....

Maybe it was the staring part, I couldnt help but to watch her everytime I stepped out of my building.

June 18, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Greg T said...

I am Anonymous! :)

June 18, 2009 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember a quartet playing there the day I went through - a long time ago now.

A very beautiful image.

June 18, 2009 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

We've got buskers sanctioned by the city; they are rarely so poetic; generally pathetic and ting tangy sounding. On occasion I have been impressed.

June 19, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

When Angst was 8, Yankee took him to NYC. They were on the subway and there was a man playing the saxophone, and Angst asked if all subways had their own saxophone player. Wouldn't that be great?

June 19, 2009 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

One of these days I'm going to do an interview of a busker. Just to try and figure out what motivates them. I'm fascinated.

Happy Father's Day, by the way.

June 21, 2009 at 8:24 PM  

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