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Andrew Shapiro: Casual compositions

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(Applause) Hello. I think I'm not going to use this. Thank you for that kind introduction. The thing is that I played at McDonalds, I play at this McDonald's in downtown Manhattan, which is a block away from Ground Zero. See, the picture the story. You don't need anything else, right? And then, two days later, I take the bus down to Washington, D.C. to perform at the Kennedy Center. So, you know, there's a little bit of a difference. You know, I have a friend who says to me, "Andrew, you perform your music in the most low-brow venue in the United States of America, and then you went and performed at probably the highest, or one of the highest-brow venues in America. So, it's a very strange life you have." I'm just going to say a quick word, but I just want to play, you know. So, I was just looking for a place, when I finished music school and I moved to New York, to just have an opportunity to play. That's it, and you know, especially in New York, I mean, there are barriers, and just very difficult, and so many people are getting their work out there. And I read an article in a magazine, it's called New York Magazine, and it talked about the history of McDonald's in New York City. For instance, did you know that there are 84 McDonalds' in Manhattan? I didn't know that until [then]. (Laughter) And it said it's ranging everything from this little one in, you know, outer areas, to this flagship, you know, fancy McDonald's with a grand piano in it. And I looked at this, and I just -- I didn't even think about it, I just picked up the phone, called the place they gave me the number of the owner. I called. The timing wasn't amazing, because the guy that normally played every Sunday had passed away like three months ago, they were looking -- (Laughter) Well, that tells me about people in Poland, that you would laugh at something like that. (Laughter) I gave this speech in the Ukraine like two weeks ago, it was stone-cold silence. (Laughter) So, it was luck, and the thing is that I got this opportunity to play, and then, oh my God, it just took off like crazy. I mean, like, The New York Times wrote this story, like, TV did the story, and I thought, "OK, well, let me find other McDonalds with pianos," so I ended up going to San Diego, playing for a guy who owns 13 McDonalds, including two on military bases, who was, like, the most right-wing guy, very interesting guy. I ended up going to London and playing there. There's two in North Carolina that they -- I'm still trying to organize this, I've had calls with the, you know -- publicity group for McDonald's Europe, and on and on. But the reason why I'm standing in front of you right now is because there was a woman who saw this article in The New York Times web page about what I'm doing at Mc Donald's. And she wrote an article about it for a Polish newspaper that was advice for people that are going from Poland to New York City. "Here's the kind of weird, quirky, interesting thing to check out, if you're visiting New York." (Laughter) So, my friend emailed this to me. I did not know what on earth this article -- I mean, I did not know this language, it's "Andrew Shapiro ahamburgourdah McDonald blah-blah-blah." OK, I know what this is about, but that's about it. I found her, I tracker her down. She's an older woman, she's like 75 years old. We became very close friends when she came to New York, and she introduced me to younger people, photographers, journalists, and other people in New York that were spending some time [there] and now they've moved back to Poland. So I became friends with these people, and I got opportunities through them. So, you know, this McDonald's thing led to me standing here right now. This is my third time playing in Poland. I'm playing other concerts around the country for the next couple of weeks. So, that's basically it. I'll just play a few pieces, if you'll indulge me. And then, if you want to talk to me later, just find me. Oh, one last thing I wanted to say is that I have, you know, the new iPhone, and I -- (Laughter) (Applause) It's not that hip, I can assure you. (Laughter) But I just have my friend lend me a phone, and so, I don't have the cell phone service that I normally have in America, so I said to my friend, like right before I got on the train in Warsaw to come down here, I said, "Where can I get WiFi?" And he said, "Oh, go to the mall that's next to the central station. And go to the 3rd floor, there's a McDonald's there, you can WiFi there." So, I said "OK," so I went up there, it didn't even dawn on me how bizarrely strange it was that McDonald's kind of came up again in this way -- or not. OK, I'm going to just shut up. (Laughter) I don't know what I'm going to play, but I'll think of it. (Piano sounds) (Music) (No sound) (Applause) So, this first piece is called "Gosia," it's about a friend of mine. I figured, I'm in Poland, I'll play this song. It's because it's called "Gosia" -- I think you know this name here. And the second piece is called "Mint Green," the color -- you know, it looks like the ice cream. And I'm going to play one more little song sticking with the Polish theme. It's called, and I'm going to mispronounce this, but -- "Gaik"? It means a little forest. Audience: Yes. Because I was walking through a little forest with a couple of people, and then I said, "Oh, this is a cute little forest." And then my friend started laughing. I said, "What's so funny?" And then he said, "Oh, you know, her nickname is Gaik, Little Forest," so... This was like walking through a little forest with Little Forest. (Laughter) (Music)

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 12 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxKraków
Director: TEDxKraków
Views: 557
Posted by: tedxkrakow on Dec 15, 2010

Talk delivered at TEDxKraków, on October 15, 2010.

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