You've likely seen these flyers around the neighborhood off and on this past year...
... a new-to-the-city resident looking to have a heart-to-heart conversation with complete strangers in his East Village apartment... recorded as a podcast called mürmur.
Turns out that a lot of people were intrigued enough to take up East Fifth Street resident Uluç Ülgen on the offer, including protopunk luminary Martin Rev of Suicide.
This week, Ülgen is celebrating his one-year podcast anniversary. And he now has nearly 100 recorded programs, which you can find here. Or free on iTunes here.
"It's really a lot of fun for me, and the project has given me a completely new perspective on how a community can be built given if we're simply willing to listen and engage one another," Ülgen told me via email. "I really hope that the flyers aren’t seen as a nuisance by the community as my intentions, I assure you, are very pure."
On this one-year anniversary, I asked Ülgen a few questions about mürmur.
Why did you decide to start this project?
About two years ago, I was in a very low point of my life. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to keep going. As a last act of desperation, I booked a spontaneous trip to the Middle East with the last bit of money that I had saved up from waiting tables. It was through the hospitality of complete strangers that I met along the way that helped me to regain my faith in humanity. When I returned to New York, I decided that I wanted to do the same for others.
What is your end goal with it?
All that's important for me is to establish a connection. My only hope is that the sincerity of the conversations will manifest to the listeners.
Have you been surprised by the turnout?
Part of me was worried. "What if nobody shows up?" I moved to the East Village just for the purpose of doing mürmur. But thankfully, the gamble paid off, and the response to the flyers has been great.
Do you conduct any pre-screenings? If not, then any apprehensions about who might show up at your door?
No pre-screenings. Everyone is welcome to come over and talk. I like the spontaneity of doing it this way. Sometimes people will just text me to say, "Hey, what is this?" and an hour later, they're in my apartment.
I'm willing to take the risk. This project is my way of honoring the strangers that helped me to get back up on my feet. If it wasn't for them, I don't know if I would be here today.
What has been a highlight from murmur?
If I had to pick one moment, it would be getting to shoot the breeze with Martin Rev of Suicide. A punk rock legend. In my apartment. I did my best to not lose it. His earlier music tends to be very raw, and dare I say, frightening? So it was very pleasant to witness how sweet of a human being he was. I was truly honored that he took the time to come over.
You can find the mürmur Twitter feed here ... and Facebook here. And find the FAQs and contact info about the podcast here.