April 8, 2007

In 2004, I went with some fellow high schoolers on a mission trip to Chicago. Towards the end, we were treated to a day at Navy Pier and all the touristy areas downtown. On the way back, we stood waiting for the Blue Line train in a brightly-lit but very boring station underground. (Matt, who had a knack for napping wherever he went, leaned into a small nook in the wall and promptly began sleeping.) Soon, a man nearby pulled out his guitar. His strumming wasn’t so bad, but his singing was. Despite that, we sang along, added a bit to his donation box, and stayed around until the train came. Though the music he produced didn’t hold a candle to the stuff in our iPods, it was very welcome. It was real; it was there.

The Washington Post ran a story today about an experiment that saw renowned violinist Joshua Bell perform in street clothes, during rush hour, at a busy DC Metro station:

No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was 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. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The article is a beautiful profile of the harried, hurried crowd. But really, you don’t need a virtuoso. There’s already plenty to observe wherever you go. The guy in the corner with the multi-million-dollar Stradivarius? He’s just there to show you what everyone else is missing out on.

Many thanks to Steve Nguyễn for the tip.

March 11, 2005

I realize that many of you juniors out there are in the middle of mission trip interviews now. With that in mind, I’ve started to publish here the contents of the little blue journal I kept during my mission trip to Chicago (Pilsen) last summer. While it’s probably too late to convince anyone else to sign up for a mission trip, maybe this will give the interviewees some morale.

This afternoon I posted my entry from Day One. Go ahead, read it. Then come back here and read on for a little explanation…

Continue reading "From a napkin" »

February 3, 2005

I happened to catch ABC News’ story about the Hispanic “American Girl” doll. Now, I’m not usually that interested in girl dolls, but this story caught my attention – it was from Pilsen:

Some residents of Chicago’s largely Hispanic Pilsen section are upset over a new doll in the popular American Girl series because her storyline says the Mexican-American youngster and her family left the “dangerous” neighborhood for a better life in the suburbs.

It was nice seeing the familiar sights again: Nuevo León, the side of San Procopio, that big park just down the block from the Hispanic Art Museum…

Anyhow, while I reminisce some more, you can read the AP story that the World News Tonight segment was based on, but it’s not quite as good, and they don’t include the Pilsen pictures that I saw on the air. The story has also been picked up by Fox News; you can keep track of this story at the new Google Video.

  1. Background noise
  2. From a napkin
  3. Back to Pilsen
  4. ¡Feliz cumpleaños!
  5. In the third person
  6. Pilsen photos
  7. Back
  8. Day Two
  9. Day One
  10. Chicago