The music of the streets

Yesterday my boyfriend and I were walking west on 28th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue when we happened upon on altercation – a young man was hurling abuse at another young man while their respective friends tried to keep them apart.

Now I know this is not an unusual occurence in New York City. But what made the whole thing memorable was the accidental beauty of it.

The stream of invective flowed with great force and power out of the angry man’s mouth, a non-stop stream of rage that was somehow eloquent, even though he seemed to have a very limited vocabulary at his disposal – “you” “are” “a” “fucking,” and “pussy” were the only words he seemed able to spit out. But he arranged and rearranged them into a melody as complex as a Chopin mazurka. As my boyfriend said, the young man’s soliquoy was the kind of stuff you hear remixed into legendary dance tracks. I wish I could write down exactly exactly what he said, but I can’t quite remember it. Perhaps it was too wondrous to be anything but ephemeral.

We were not the only ones mesmerized. Passerby all around us slowed their pace and turned to look, instead of hurrying past as people usually do when a violent beatdown seems imminent. Shopowners, an old man rushing by with a grocery bag, and a young couple on a Sunday outing with their neatly dressed toddler all paused to wonder at this young man’s spontaneous artistry. For a moment, we were all connected, an unsuspecting, but appreciative, audience.

It was truly magnificent.

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