One of the more amiable examples of Salt Lake street life is a man by the name of Eli (pronounced "Elly") Potash. With his scruffy beard and missing-teeth grin, he basically looks like any other homeless guy (although my understanding is that he's not quite homeless; he may spend lot of time out on the streets, but he apparently does have some place to go at night). However, there's one very noticeable difference between Eli and the riffraff that hang out in the downtown core: Eli is never seen without a beat-up cello at his side.
I've heard that Eli was once a professional musician who studied at a prestigious music school and recorded with a philharmonic orchestra. But then something happened to him... a mental illness, or maybe it was a problem with drugs. Nobody really seems to know for sure, at least nobody I've ever talked to. Whatever the cause, though, he lost his old life, and now he makes music for passersby in front of the Broadway Centre movie theaters on 3rd and State, or the Capitol Theatre on 2nd South, or sometimes on the plaza in front of Energy Solutions Arena before a Utah Jazz game. He's a strange cat, to be sure, and his playing isn't always up to his former standards; sometimes he seems to just be noodling around instead of actually playing anything, but he doesn't seem to be aware he's not really playing anything, if that makes sense. Even so, he's generally pretty entertaining, and I enjoy the flavor he brings to a city that doesn't have much urban spice.
At some point, Eli made the acquaintance of the Daniel Day Trio, a jazz group that plays at a martini bar near Eli's usual haunts. And this year for Christmas, the Daniel Day Trio did something incredibly kind for a scruffy guy that most people walk past without giving him a second thought. They captured everything on video, naturally. The audio is a little dodgy because of an inconvenient wind that blew up right at the wrong time, but it's still worth a click:
In a season that's so often defined by saccharine sentiment and phony good cheer, it's a joy to encounter something genuinely heartwarming. Hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did...