Friday, July 1, 2016

Monkey Man

    “I hope we’re not too messianic
Or a trifle too satanic
But we love to play the blues.”   
   “Monkey Man,” Rolling Stones

On the 1969 Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed,” “Monkey Man” was a tribute to Italian pop artist Mario Schifano, whom Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met on the set of Schifaro’s “Umano Non Umano” (“Human, Not Human”).  The Specials, a ska group, recorded a different “Monkey Man” (“Tell you baby, you huggin’ up the big monkey man”), and the Traveling Wilburys put out “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.”  Peter Gabriel had a 1982 hit with “Shock the Monkey.” “Bite the monkey” is slang for giving someone a hickey, usually on the neck.
Samuel A. Love at Gary City Hall, May 2016

In researching his ancestry Samuel A. Love discovered that his great-grandfather was John Barnak, in all probability a Slovenian immigrant who died in Gary during the 1910s and that during the 1920s his grandpa Gus changed his surname from Barnak to Barnett.

IUN retiree William K. Buckley passed on “From the Edge of the Prairie,” a 2005 volume of poetry, short stories, and sketches from the Prairie Writers’ Guild.  In “The Monkey Man Dance” Eileen Kerlin wrote about Jimmy, a repairman from Crown Point whose index finger got stuck in Kerlin’s garage door. When she expressed shock at how it looked, Jimmy said, “Well, this is nothing.  If I had been doing the monkey man dance, then you would have known I was really hurting.”  Then he demonstrated:
    His wiry body mimicked someone being electrocuted.  He put a panicked look on his face, his legs flailed and he pretended that his left hand was caught in something.  He made his body jerk as he yelled through a rounded mouth, “Oooh Oooh, Aaah Aahh! Oooh Oooh, Aaah Aaah!.”
Kerlin concludes:
    Every time I tell this story I laugh.  I describe that little muscled man swinging down from the ladder holding his hand in the air, released from the hinge that flattened his finger like the proverbial pancake.  Then I do the Monkey Man Dance. “Oooh Oooh, Aaah Aahh!”  Some things in life are just plain funny.

Cubs catcher Winston Cabrera took one in the gonads and did a monkey man dance halfway to third base.  In the dugout players were laughing.  Broadcaster Len Kasper noted that one didn’t have to guess where the ball got him.  Sidekick Jim Deshaies added: “Most guys who get hit there just lie down until the pain is less intense.”  

Eileen Kerlin’s “Honey Birch” described being diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.  The first week she relentlessly stripped and refinished a plethora of kitchen cabinets, singing along to old songs she knew by heart.  Her daughter asked that she wear a “Raquel Welch” wig when friends visited but in time got used to Eileen’s bald look. When she frowned upon learning prior to a stem cell procedure that the cure rate was just 20 percent, the oncologist said, “It’s better than zero.”   Apparently having beaten the odds, Kerlin concluded: “Like my restored honey birch cabinets, my soul feels solid and strong, and I can marvel at my own ability to withstand these tests of time.”
Eileen’s husband Charles Kerlin (above), an English professor at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, contributed “River Voices,” about Curly, a nine year-old whose summer fun fishing on the river with his Daddy comes to a sudden interruption with news that his parents are splitting and that his mother wants him to stay with an aunt and uncle while she gets a divorce in Reno. Daddy promised to take him fishing on weekends but only did so once  Kerlin, who later expanded the memoir into the book “Fishing’s No Good Without You,” wrote:
Daddy had to quit college to take over the [grain] elevator after grandpa went blind and Uncle George couldn’t make it go [after returning from WW II].
Daddy is shy and quiet.  Before he went to college, though, he went to California with a friend, the two of them alone.  Grandma gave me a picture of him.  He is smiling a cocky smile and wearing a camel-hair blazer and spats, and two-toned, pointy, wing-tipped shoes.  A pretty, young girl is holding on to his arm.

Excerpts from William K. Buckley’s “Lake Diary” appeared in “The Raw Seed Review” (1999).  Here is a summer entry:
So it’s a slate-blue night with clean stars
and clouds rolling to a bright moon – waves high –
loud … against a soft dune in the wind I hold
Darlene   her loneliness brimming full as a
cargo hold, a soft carol in her throat, like dove.

              until we walked in our boots
  to a formal roar and knew this lake
would keep secrets  /like Chicago-lips/
       /Pressed tight on the street/
 Justice William O. Douglas

I knew the Jeopardy answers for the category “Supreme Court,” including the surnames of Felix and Warren that one might serve at a cook-out.  Easy: Frankfurter and Burger.  To my surprise no one knew the name of the longest serving justice, William O. Douglas, despite seeing photos of him when he started his tenure in 1939 and retired in 1975.  In 1970 Jerry Ford tried to have Douglas impeached for writing articles that appeared in magazines the House Minority Leader deemed pornographic.  The grandstanding gimmick went nowhere. 

I watched an HBO documentary on Studs Terkel, who preferred to be called a guerrilla journalist rather than an oral historian.  Like Kurt Vonnegut, he died shortly after falling down a flight of steps.  His epitaph: "Curiosity didn't kill this cat."  When a school board attempted to ban his book "Working" from a high school curriculum, Terkel attended an open meeting and said he'd like to interview a critic to find out what makes her go through books looking for so-called dirty words.  Studs claimed he got the idea for "Working" from a Richard Scarry's children's book.  

A record number of travelers are flooding American airports despite the threat of a terror attack following a massacre at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.  I fear the country is one such disaster away from boosting Trump's chances.                   (cartoon from Jim Spicer)

No comments:

Post a Comment