Derbtown

Quarterly Potpourri

July 03, 2014

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Quarterly Potpourri

You can’t faze a New Yorker.  After all these years in the Big Apple, I really should know better than to try conclusions with the natives.

Place:  Track 8 platform at the Long Island Railroad hub in Jamaica, New York City. 

Time:  May 20, 11:50 P.M. 

Derb’s condition:  Seriously over-served.

As I emerge from the stairs onto the Track 8 platform, 50 feet away is a glassed-in information booth.  Through the glass I can see a guy in there, looking bored. I weave my way over and address him through the speaky hole.

Me:  “You’re the information guy?”

He:  “Yeah. Whaddya wanna know?”

Me:  “Where do flies go in the winter?”

He, deadpan, with no pause at all:  “Cleveland.”

“Celebrities are boring. Seen one, seen ’em all. But dancing beagles, now …”

Animals more interesting than celebrities.  Jay Leno’s Tonight Show producer has written a book containing many fascinating insights.

For example: Performing animals are a bigger draw than all but the most celebritous celebrities.

Each guest received $500 to appear, but unless they were a Top-10 A-list actor, they barely budged the ratings dial. At least not the way cute animals could.

When David Letterman announced he had scored Martha Stewart’s first late-night interview following her five-month prison stint for insider trading, Berg knew Leno would be trounced in the ratings with a lineup led by Benjamin Bratt. So the show booked an animal trainer.

Leno won that ratings battle by half a million viewers.

For once in my life I find my taste coinciding with the general public’s. Celebrities are boring. Seen one, seen ’em all. But dancing beagles, now …

Best bathroom book ever.  There is perfection in all things: a perfect sunset, a perfect omelet, a perfect production of Norma, a perfect swan dive, probably a perfect crime—although of course, in the nature of criminal perfection, we have never heard of it.

The perfect bathroom book is Willard R. Espy’s An Almanac of Words at Play. Here is a snippet from his entry for February 9th.

To fully savor it you need two volunteers from the audience, one a fluent speaker of French, the other an English speaker who knows no French. You show the following poem to the English speaker and ask if it makes any sense to him. Of course it doesn’t. You then show it to the French speaker with instructions to read it silently and tell you whether it makes sense. He will say something like: “Not really.” Then ask the French speaker to read it aloud as naturally as possible.

Oh, les mots d’heureux bardes

Où en toutes heures que partent.

Tous guetteurs pour dock à Beaune.

Besoin gigot d’air

De que paroisse paire.

Et ne pour dock, pet-de-nonne.

Your clue is that the poem is taken from an actual book titled Mots d’Heures Gousse Rames.


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