WaPo recasts Josh as busker. He’s game. DC commuters? um. Point: JOSH!

I really, really liked this. I sent this note to the WaPo team responsible for the piece.

Thank you all for making my day.

I knew Josh, distantly, as a kid when we were growing up in Bloomington. I haven’t seen him except to be aware of his career in years and years. However, I have heard about his openness and groundedness through the hometown grapevine from others of that cohort. I have no doubt that he is as open to and welcoming of the brilliant and crazy stunt you crafted with his kind cooperation and as sanguine and full of humor as you capture in the story.

In the years since I left Bloomington, I have become friends with more than one busker, but only one who might be characterized as a profoundly gifted professional musician. If I read him correctly, he has come to hate the busking portion of his work, primarily because in order to gather that money-generating crowd, you must rely on set pieces, little two minute magic tricks that confound, excite, and inspire, and which can be executed over and over, once every thirty minutes, to capture the crowd and engage them into the one-or-two dollar donation, or even better, the CD purchase.

Despite what I read as his frustration, his pursuit of the technique has resulted in a spellbinding performer who is unafraid to use his magic tricks to capture the audience’s attention before he proceeds with a piece he may regard as a more subtle and challenging expression of his talents as a songwriter and performer.

I flatter myself I would have had the time and openness on that morning to recognize the preciousness and hilarity of the gift Josh and your team offered the DC commuters at that, incredibly busy, station. I don’t mistake my desire for self-regard with a probable account of my notional interaction.

I can, however report this: your sensitive reportage and careful attention to craft in the prose of your final piece successfully echoed the tragic colors of Josh’s ‘Chaconne’ on the printed page, or more accurately on the internet, and moved me to tears. Kudos to all of you, and my tears are for the tragedy of our national culture of isolation and overscheduling. Thanks for a kickass reading experience, and great work with the multimedia documentation. Simply outstanding, entirely worthy of every participant, from the DC commuter though to Josh and his violin.


Two days later, Wiengarten notes that this is his largest-response-generating piece, and that at least 10 percent of the thousand or so correspondents note, as I do, that we wept.