Friday, June 25, 2010

The Things that Happen in Train Stations

Like advertising on any website (more on that in a bit) or businesses seeking to locate on the busiest of streets, one needs to find its audience. In a city organized along highways and dreadful arterials, we are assaulted with billboards and pole signs. Ugly begets ugly.

Street musicians locate in the populated public parks of cities around the world, much the way pigeons do looking for another crumb with the machine like persistence of a shark at sea. Even those with the most pedestrian of abilities still add something to the urban experience of people clustered in walkable urban places.

But, what if that street musician wasn't someone down on their luck but one of the most famous and celebrated in the world? This article is a few years old now, but the Washington Post did just that. My favorite excerpt:

AS METRO STATIONS GO, L'ENFANT PLAZA IS MORE PLEBEIAN THAN MOST. Even before you arrive, it gets no respect. Metro conductors never seem to get it right: "Leh-fahn." "Layfont." "El'phant."

At the top of the escalators are a shoeshine stand and a busy kiosk that sells newspapers, lottery tickets and a wallfull of magazines with titles such as Mammazons and Girls of Barely Legal. The skin mags move, but it's that lottery ticket dispenser that stays the busiest, with customers queuing up for Daily 6 lotto and Powerball and the ultimate suckers' bait, those pamphlets that sell random number combinations purporting to be "hot." They sell briskly. There's also a quick-check machine to slide in your lotto ticket, post-drawing, to see if you've won. Beneath it is a forlorn pile of crumpled slips.

On Friday, January 12, the people waiting in the lottery line looking for a long shot would get a lucky break -- a free, close-up ticket to a concert by one of the world's most famous musicians -- but only if they were of a mind to take note.

And the video:

You'll notice at the very end, a fan who recognized him adding, "this is one of those things that could only happen in D.C." Clearly, pleased with her idea to locate to such a city.