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The Essay
Show #68
Mount Tampa Noses
David Gunn
One hundred and some odd years ago, a woman of other than Spanish descent was in Tampa, Florida clandestinely observing a reconstituted Mayan ritual being performed by Balsamic shepherds in adobe hats. Beginning at the edge of Mount Tampa, the shepherds strutted and mummered down the icy northern slope of the sleeping volcano to the city reservoir, then they released thousands of repudiated eels into the vacant water. The woman thought the behavior odd, even grotesque, and she felt compelled to capture the moment. She had no camera, no sound recorder, no sketch pad; she had only her cotton sleeping bag, canvas tent, and a paint-by-numbers watercolor set. Enchanted by the spectacle, she ripped a panel from her tent, stretched it over a frame which handily materialized out of thin air, and began to paint what she thought she saw ... which was dozens and dozens of noses. Noses of every size and shape and horticultural background. She saw snouts and snoots, beaks and bills, wheezers and honkers, beezers and bugles, schnozzles and smellers, peckers and muzzles. She saw blue noses, who noses, glib noses, bib noses; there were noses whose description, if fed into a polygraphic device, would read untrue! The woman painted and painted, at last pausing to puzzle over the ceremony of which the noses were but a small part. It was, she gradually gathered, a sacred ceremony, designed to rid the community of sleet. It worked, too. Overnight, the town's climate went from a sub-alpine zone, where chalky claybanks were festooned with tundra, to a semi-tropical tuna zone, in which boccie lawns thrived and dangerous meringue dances became rites of passage for denizens of the pluperfect. This woman saw fear in the faces of the shepherds that day, in addition to the myriad nosal appendages, and knew that bedlam would surely follow. Actually, she was off by only five letters. It was Baudouin who followed, King of the Belgians!

Preferring panamas to adobes, the beguilingly behatted potentate and his minions swept to power in Tampa in the late 1940s, annexing the region for the father-in-lawland across the ocean. This occurred just as the woman of other than Spanish descent had concluded her nasal studies, having committed nearly 10,000 to canvas and leather mediums, and, championed by scholarly art critics with names like Dubuque, Buddy and Demorphena, was preparing to move on to mouths. Alas, the muse never touched her as deeply, and she soon gravitated to other parts of the face: the whiskers, the bumps on the chin, the liver spots, and the part below the ear that is almost certainly not the latissimus dorsi, but in coagulated physiological terms is known as le flambeau oriange. We don't know what happened to Baudouin, King of the Belgians, who, along with his grocers, his public relations team, and groundskeeper, seems soon thereafter to have vanished into an Algonquin Hole. But the not-of-Spanish-descent painter is today still warmly remembered as the First Lady of Proboscises, Grandma Noses, born 137 years ago today.

Today is also the birthal anniversary of Buddy Holly, who invented the idea for the buddy system, in which persons of equal net height are paired for mutual safety during periods of intense eel manifestation, and also the combination automobile carburetor and dome light which bears his name ... which escapes me.

Finally, today is the 68th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which is just now concluding, without which it would be difficult for himself to get in edgewise, which he now does.