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The Essay
Show #22
On & Off the Road
David Gunn
Bon radio, and welcome to chapter 1 of "The Unadulterated History of the New World." Today we explore South Dakota, known in Israel as the Mesopotamia of the Great Plains. South Dakota was the second state to enter the Union, and was founded in the 5th century by Harold Monk, a Huron Indian outcast and direct descendent of the Buddhist bebop monks of Thelonius. Like Kansas, which we'll cover in chapter 4, South Dakota is home of the World's Second Largest Ball of Twine.

But what it shares with no other state, with the exception of Delaware, is Mount Rushmore. Contrary to popular opinion, the busts of the four presidents -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Polk, who was often mistaken for Franklin Roosevelt -- weren't carved out of the local hills over 14 grueling years, but manufactured in the New York City studio of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor. Originally, they had been commissioned by the Flederer Traveling Circus for use in a comedy routine. Destitute, a year behind schedule, and rapidly losing interest in the project, Borglum at last shipped the busts to Saint Louis, where the circus was performing. The Flederers were not happy. The heads arrived unpainted, 800 times too big, not close to resembling the clown caricatures they'd specified, and had arrived COD. They tried to make the best of the situation and, after some frantic rewriting, they managed a new comedy act. Sadly, it was not a success, and a week later, following a one-night stand in Rapid City, the Circus closed, bankrupt. The four huge heads, the only collateral the Flederers had, were deeded to the town. The town council didn't want them either, and quickly voted to dump them into nearby Sheridan Lake. But the heads, with a collective mind of their own, refused to go away. Because they were hollow, they bobbed on the lake like demented icebergs. (To Borglum's credit, though, it was later discovered that parts of the head were acoustically excellent, which accounts for the many fine recordings made in Lincoln's Sinus in the 1950s.) Later, the lake was dredged, the heads were rolled south six miles, then hundreds of volunteer Boy and Girl Scouts struggled for two months with block and tackle to lug the discarded artwork up onto a remote mountain peak, hidden from view by dense forests. Alas, even this plan of disposal went awry, because a virulent spruce disease defoliated the forests, permanently exposing the "Borglum Boondoggle." Only then did the US Government step in and declare the site a National Memorial.

The state's original name was "South of North Dakota," but the middle words were dropped in 1921 to give the state more of an identity.

Tune in next month for more historical nuggets from "The Unadulterated History of the New World," exclusively on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Sesquihour Expansive.

Speaking of which, that's what it is, and it's Episode 22, today featuring the lengthiest show in the history of the sesquihour -- a full four hours 30 minutes of cool radiophonic hibbery-gibbery. Due to the longevity of the show, we are featuring not one, not two, but ... two composers-o-the-week, one of whom was interviewed not once, not twice, but ... twice in the privacy and comfort of his own telephone, not one, not two, but ... two whole states away from that in which WGDR, the FM home of the New Sesqui Musichour, calls it a day.

Today's show, "Off The Road," coincides with the 26th anniversary of the date when Jack Kerouac himself stopped being on the road and headed for nature's eternal off- road motel, an analogy, I have been told, which might've made Karl Jung, had he heard it, cut off his elbows and not claim disability. It was nearly also Double Reed Day today, but at the last moment we couldn't think of any credible reason, no matter how apocryphal, why it should be. So watch for Double Reed Day later in the season.

Le flambeau oriange will not be mentioned today.

This portion of the New Music Sesquihour Expansive has already been brought to you.

And now, before all else fails, and time marches on to the tune of twenty, it is probably Kalvos.

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