Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How are you? A year of having conversations with complete strangers in an East 5th Street apartment

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.


Anonymous said...

Dan Perino is a few short of a full deck, haven't you noticed? There are teams—literal teams—of people who take down all of those flyers because he puts them everywhere. Three and four and sometimes more to one pole alone! Way too much visual pollution and way too much paper waste and also illegal. Why encourage this? Slow news day? Aren't you just sick of seeing all of these flyers everywhere in the neighborhood? I can't be the only one. Enough already! Also, if your show is "established" then why all the pollution? Can't you use traditional word of mouth, Craigslist, etc. Why make the neighborhood so ugly? Disappointed Grieve: I thought you had some standards.

Caleo said...

Anon.8:18- Get a grip on yourself. Pollution ? Flyers on lampposts is now Pollution ? You're completely unhinged.
I remember not that many years ago when flyers were how people in the EV communicated with the rest of the community. There used to be thousands of flyers all over the place.

EV Grieve said...

I took out the reference to Dan Perino (the guy-looking-for-a-girlfriend guy) in the lead-in to the interview. I thought twice about it while putting the post together. I thought that it might be a distraction to what this post is about (an East Village resident who launched a podcast series by recruiting guests via flyers around the neighborhood).

And I was right!

Anonymous said...

You'll notice Dan Perino was one of his first interviews!

Anonymous said...

This is cool, I might hit him up, thanks for sharing.
This guy definitely doesn't flyer like Dan Perino does, and I like the occasional classic flyer as long as it's not from New York Sports Club!

Anonymous said...

Dan Perino does, in fact, flyer excessively for Murmur. I've seen it myself many times and would appreciate an end to the bombardment of the neighborhood. A few flyers are okay...papering an entire neighborhood with hundreds of the same flyer is not.

Anonymous said...

Why an umlaut? Why the period?

Also, it just feels like everyone is trying to be the next Humans of New York. Don't be that guy.

I am trying to be less cynical, but let's make that a 2016 resolution.

Makeout said...

Wacky Wok. That was some flyering!

uluç ülgen said...

hey everyone!

when i first started mürmur, i had no idea how to spread the word about the project.

you can't just go up to a person on the street and ask them to come to your house. it's not that easy.

in truth, meeting dan was kind of a breakthrough. for 9 months, he put up my flyers without charging me a single cent.

dan, despite some of his motivations/intentions, is actually a well meaning person.

with that being said, i've asked dan to no longer post my flyers as i'm trying to get the word out via other outlets. because believe me, the podcast is anything but "established" at this point.

secondly, Humans of New York is amazing! If it wasn't for Brandon's idea, I don't know if I would have pursued mürmur.

but i will make the distinction. while HONY is an interview based story telling project. There is an element of safety and selection that occurs due to an outdoor setting.

i invite people into my home to have conversations. not to conduct one sided interviews.

in any case, the last thing that i want to do is cause nuisance to the neighborhood residents. and maybe, some of you will one day come on the podcast!

and thanks to ev grieve for taking the time! thank you.

happy holidays everyone.

-uluç ülgen

ps: the umlaut is from my initials UÜ / mürmur.

DrGecko said...

"humans of new york" "I invite people"

Pure, naked speciesism.

I'm not bitter. Nope. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

Brandon Stanton is a pure opportunist. He cares less about the actual humans of new york than he does his brand.

Setting every sentence as its own paragraph does not make what one says more meaningful.

Anonymous said...

@4:08 Hear, hear!

Gojira said...

@Anon. 4:08, get over yourself, you supercilious jerk. Why don't you try writing in Turkish as well as Mr. Ulgen writes in what is obviously not his first language? Who cares if it's one sentence per paragraph? Is that really so outrageous a crime that you think you need to snark about it?

Anonymous said...

Gojira ... your need for drama here at EVG is troubling. If anyone needs to get over one's self it is you. You bully people at this site.

Uluç Ülgen has ever right to do his podcast as he likes, and I may be judging him unfairly as a Brandon Stanton manque, but frankly, I think anyone who models themselves after Stanton opens him/herself for criticism.

Anonymous said...

Take a pill and calm down, anon 10:12. 4:08 was referring to HONY, not the podcaster referred to in the original post. And I agree: Stanton is overrated, getting over-saturated at this point with a blog, three books, HONY: the film, I mean, what's next: Dogs of Humans of New York? Expat Humans of NY? Displaced HONY? You could drive that into the ground and I think he just might.