Thursday, January 24, 2008


So many interesting little moments happen in subways in big cities, don't they. I guess it's because all these strangers are isolated in that moment and place, together, for at least a few minutes.

Yesterday on the B-line, about 100F temps, the only breathable "air" exhaust fumes seeping down from the streets above, I happen to be in the subway car with this dude playing guitar and harmonica, with one of them Bob Dylan-style harmonica brace thingies. I had seen this same dude go by in a train earlier in the day, when I was waiting for one in the opposite direction.

He started playing this Piazzolla jam, "Cellos" or one of those. I'm kind of over the fact that there's more tango-themed things going on here than in Santa Barbara, but eventually I realized that this guy was just killing that song, WAILING away on the harmonica and guitar like the lives of his wife and daughter depended on it, and I started thinking, Holy shiz, I never realized how good this song is. And this guy is crazy! Is anyone else noticing how awesome this performance is, or are all these city-dwellers just too jaded for this kind of thing?

You know, everyone just sitting there, melting, staring impassively into nothingness as the guy busts out this masterpiece performance.

Finishes the song.

The whole subway car erupts in applause!

He looks around. Seems kind of surprised. Smiles and nods.


Lately the question of what's "third world" vs. "first world" has come up in a couple conversations, both here in BA and in Costa Rica, where I talked about it with my dad and a young genius lawyer who knew all the legal definitions. I still felt kind of vague about whether a place like Argentina is 1st or 3rd, especially since I don't have any charts of the various per capita yields and infant mortality rates handy.

But then I started thinking about this 7-year-old girl going up and down the subway car begging for coins.

Call me simple or sentimental, but I guess for me that answered the question.

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