… I’m sure we should all be as happy as junkies.
Hello, everybody—Nice seeing you again.
Back in Iowa, when I was growing up, my Grammy Carlton used to recite a little nursery rhyme to me. It went: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” And it’s true, it really is. One thing the world is full of is monkeys, and some of them are very old. George Bush—the monkey, not the president, although the president obviously has some simian qualities, but we are talking monkey here, as in little Capuchin helper-monkey, not ape as in “Ape shall not kill ape”—George Bush, the monkey, is 19 years old, and he belongs to Joe Bush, the organ grinder. It turns out that Organ Grinder is a very specific title, correctly applied only to those who have both a hand-cranked music machine called a street organ and a monkey. Organ Grinder Joe Bush is one of just four or five actual organ grinders in the whole country, and he will be at Coney Island on Sunday, April 9, along with his monkey and a whole lot of other street-organ players. I believe there will be a tanzibar as well, although I have no idea in the world what a tanzibar is because it’s not in Webster’s 11th. This is all happening between noon and 6:00 P.M. on W. 12th St. between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk. As a longtime WFMU Listener I thrill at strange sounds, and I doubt that I will ever have another chance to hear such melodic cacophony. Plus there will be a monkey. A very old monkey. A terrifying little old man of a monkey, wheezing and demanding coins from me. I WOULDN’T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD! And I hope I’ll see you there, too.
Remember last year when the Mesa, Arizona SWAT team put in for a $100,000 federal law-enforcement grant to train a little Capuchin crimefighter? They wanted to get a monkey and outfit him with a little Kevlar vest and a video cam and a two-way radio, but I think they forgot to ask for the barrel organ. Anyway, as far as I know, they haven’t heard back from the feds yet. I was very sorry to hear that, because I was really counting on monkey crimefighters to stop the bum fights. So that’s the monkey update.
What about organs? Did I tell you that the John Cage piece that’s being played on the organ in that abandoned church in Germany hit another chord on January 10? The piece is called “organ1/ASLSP.” ASLSP stands for “As SLow aS Possible,” although I don’t know why. Whoever is in charge of these things in Halberstadt, Germany, decided that ASLSP meant the piece should take 639 years to play. They started on September 5, 2001, and plan to finish in the year 2639. Every couple of years they hit a new chord, and on January 10 they did another one. Okay, that’s what’s happening with organs.
Once when I was going through a bad patch, I started to tell a friend about my troubles but she didn’t want to hear it. “You have a husband, and a job, and a house, and a car—what are you complaining about?” she said. At the time I thought that was kind of harsh, but the longer I live, the more I think she was probably right. Even if I don’t have those things forever, at least I have them now and I should be thankful. I try to be grateful every day, and I always think about the world being full of a number of things and how I should be happy. It reminds me of an old song, and if I were on the radio right now I would play it for you. Instead, I’ll just look forward a couple weeks to Sunday at Coney Island, and the street organs and the very old monkey, and I will be happy that there is this world full of things, O fine, fine world, that has such wonders in it.
Thanks for reading my blogpost this week, and may God bless.