A number of years ago I decided to construct a three hour radio program based on an actual John Cage overlay score. So I arranged for a helper & set a date. Then I went to Julliard Library, looked through the catalogue & picked the score I wanted to use. After awhile, they brought out a beautiful, autographed folio. I took it to a table, sat down, got out my pencils, notepad & calculator & with great anticipation opened it up. Inside were several pages of typed instructions & a hand-written note saying that the acetate overlays had been misplaced & were "not available at this time."
When I was admitted to the hospital for depression, I was not permitted to keep my Walkman, tapes, earphones & mini-speakers, as these were considered anti-social. I was allowed a paperback anthology of poetry. Of course, I was in an extremely troubled & anxious condition.
Two days later, I was comfortably sitting on my bed, reading poems. Through the opened window I could hear birds singing, leaves rustling in the breeze & the distant sounds of traffic mixing with those of children playing in a city park. A psychiatric aide entered the room & said, "Robert, you have to join us for recreation hour in the TV room. We have orange juice & cookies & we're watching Jenny Jones."
THE BUS DRIVER
As the first leg of a cross-country trip, I took an overnight bus from New York to Chicago. I was too excited for sleep. I sat near the front of the bus. As we headed across New Jersey, the driver, a middle-aged black man, began softly whistling to himself. Not only was he a beautiful whistler, he also had an incredible repertoire. Driving on through the dark Pennsylvania landscape, he quietly whistled themes from several Beethoven symphonies, melodies from Italian operas, gospel tunes, songs by Gershwin & Porter, a couple of generic blues & part of a famous Bach chorale. His personal masterpiece was a rendition of "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Dead, You Rascal You," Louis Armstrong solo included. There were, of course, long, silent intermissions.
While we were in Cleveland for a rest stop & change of drivers, a woman approached me at the snack bar & said, "Thank heavens, we won't have to listen to that whistling anymore."
Three Little Stories © Bob Rixon