Posts tagged ‘art’

January 16, 2012

Let Us Entertain Us — (any excuse to play Sir Paul)

Paul McCartney street performing in cognito – 1984 (44 sec.)

Compared to other societies Americans live a relatively sterile, insulated existence. Comparatively, we seem largely uninspired, our way of life cold and generic. Other cultures are longer established, more lively and colorful. Art and humanity is appreciated and celebrated in “old world” countries more so than here. America is a collection of ethnicities, communities and towns living under a common flag but enjoy few common cultural ties. We live together harmoniously for the most part yet we do so without much actual harmony involved.

A civilization designed for commerce

The American public education system was built to accommodate business as evidenced by its ‘one size fits all’ assembly line operation. Our learning process stifles creativity and individuality. It encourages the worker bee mentality by discouraging independent, analytical thought. American cities are planned for the movement of people and goods to accommodate business, not the co-mingling of its citizens. Art, music, food and ideas are shared on the streets of cities worldwide but less often in the cities of America.

We can adapt

Town squares and parks of America are ready to host cultural happenings. Seldom used downtown streets are blocked off for the occasional parade or street fest. Imagine one or several mini-festivals every day with artwork, food, music and people of the community interacting with one another; how European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African and South American! As fun and liberating as that sounds, it probably won’t happen. We’re too uptight. In this country, street performers, the heart of the outdoor festivals, are largely frowned upon rather than appreciated and encouraged. Just one performer draws a crowd, creates a happening and is a cultural event unto itself.

Busk this!

This society does not welcome busking, or street performance, in most circumstances. Police can and often do arrest buskers for disturbing the peace, blocking the sidewalk, and pan-handling. The term “street performer” is tied to misperceptions of homelessness, criminal activity and alcoholism. Americans act far more paranoid than other societies and unlike Europeans are built more for the structured, rigid business model rather than humanitarian interests.

The fool on Hill Street

Would most people spare a few minutes during their busy, busy day to listen as Paul McCartney performed his songs on the street corner? A person might even show their appreciation by pitching a quarter into his open guitar case. What memories, what a story! Imagine for a few short but forever ingrained minutes being taken on a magical mystery tour during lunchtime or while on the way to the bank. What was to be an ordinary, mundane workday became a memorable life event, a topic of later discussion and a time of joyful interaction with former strangers.

How many would pass by without noticing the living legend if he was in disguise

And what if the performer was not Sir Paul? The identity of the street minstrel is less important than the invigorating experience itself, taking a few minutes to put a day in the life on hold, finding a rose among the day’s thorns. If everyone stopped for one five-minute song each day the nation’s collective blood pressure would decrease while its citizen’s overall happiness index would increase. The acceptance and appreciation of random, spontaneous public entertainment is the remedy for a culturally bland society.

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