When you hear a saxophone playing Sonny Rollins on the F train, and you look up from the chapter you’re reading on 20th Century music about Glass, Reich, and the cut-and-paste roots of hip-hip and mashup culture, and you see a woman with earbuds on looking down at the iPhone she has cradled in both hands—above her is an ad for an insurance brokerage thinly disguised as an MTA Poetry in Motion sign proclaiming, “We aren’t experts in cheese./Or poetry./We just make it easy/to compare life insurance online.” And you think to yourself that this is what it is to be an American in the shade of the industrial century. But then the saxophonist, a black man in tweed with a newsie cap in his hand, walks by you and you frantically search your pocket for dollar bills to pay him for this moment, and you drop one, pick it up, and put it in his outstretched cap. “Thank you, he says. “No,” you say, conjoined to him in this moment as it closes between you, “Thank you.”

 from  The Rest Is Noise , Alex Ross, p556

from The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross, p556

AuthorJohn Proctor