Sunday, February 22, 2015

238. Music and Things

It was one of those mornings that I didn’t really want to deal with C.W. I was busy and enjoying one of those euphoric moments when one feels as if one is about to make some sort of intellectual breakthrough. I had no idea what, perhaps some little bit of gain ahead of “The Eternal Footman.” You get the picture.

Oh hell. Not only was it C.W. who walked in, he happened to choose one of his favorite adolescent forms. I call it “Curious Carl.” He plopped down beside me, rested a pair of dirty sneakers on the freshly cleaned coffee table and said, “Hey Big Dope. Whatcha doing?” as if the earphones I wore failed to provide a sufficient clue.

I raised one earphone partly above my ear. “Listening to music.”

“Oh. What?”

“Gustav Mahler.”

“You were listening to him yesterday.”

I drew a deep breath. “That was Symphony Number Two. This is Number Three.”

“He wrote more than one?”

“He completed nine.”

“Just like that German guy.”

“Just like Beethoven.”

He said, “Why?”

“Why did they write nine each?”

“No. Why did you choose this one?”

“I’ve decided to listen to all nine in order. One day at a time.”


“It gives me a break from your questions. That is nice in itself.”


“Don’t you have something to do?”

“Have they ever used music to kill people?”

That startled me. “Why of course not.” I stopped. “At least I don’t’ think so.”

“Do they use it to torture people?”

Now that one started me thinking. Before I could answer, however, he broke in. “I mean the way Mrs. Big Dope uses ‘ZZ The Highest or Uppermost Point’ on you.”

“I like ‘ZZ Top,’ I said, “just not always while I’m eating breakfast.” I’m sure I sounded a bit defensive. “And perhaps at other times.” I let it go at that. “Besides, I thought you got your Galactic Universal Translator adjusted.”

“Let’s leave my GUT out of this,” he said. “What else does your species use music for?”

“To promote love,”

“That’s nice.”

“To relax and comfort.”


“To inspire and elevate.”

“Very good,” he said. “Now let me ask this … is it ever used to promote procreation?”

“Not that I know of,” I started, but then thought better of it. “Maybe some have argued that it does.”

“How about,” he said, “to promote war?”

That stopped me cold. “Well I have heard that if you gave an army the right music, it would set off to conquer the world.”

“Those people,” he said, “the ones who wore the belt buckles that said, ‘Gott mit uns,’ the ones who didn’t like the Jews, did they play music when they marched them to the gas chambers?”

“I never read where they did.”

“Those Spanish Conquistadors, the ones who would dash the heads of Indian babies against stone walls so they would die in a ‘State Of Grace,’ did they do it to musical accompaniment?”

“As far as I know, they did not.”

“Did Torquemada use music as background when he, on behalf of the Church, tortured his enemies during the Spanish Inquisition?”

“You are ruining what started out to be a wonderful moment,” I said. “Why don’t we just listen to music?” I offered to disconnect the earphones.

“Who is performing this musical masterpiece?"

“The Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein.”

What a marvelous picture of joy and grace.
Wait. What was her sexual orientation?
Isn't that important? - C.W.
“Oh,” he said. “Wasn’t he what you call lighthearted and carefree?”

“What difference would it make if he were gay?”

“I couldn’t listen, that’s all,” he said. “It’s against my religion to participate in anything involving … involving … uh, those people.”

“C.W.,” I said. “You don’t have any religion.”

“Oh but,” he said, “I’m scheduled to give it a try so I can report about it.” He nodded his head defiantly and swung his feet from table. “So I need to start practicing. Hate doesn’t come naturally to Falloonians, you know.”

The symphony used a succession of ephemeral chords to briefly resolve into a mood of peace before the woodwinds broke into what almost sounded like a jig.

I groaned.
Click an ad, Mrs. Big Dope needs the latest ZZ Top album.
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