Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we ask for nothing more than true love and high adventure! And to use our netbook off the new neighbor's wireless. Simple pleasures, simple pleasures.
My daughter The Heir was a little stripling in sixth grade when the Adventure of the Monkey Man began. Brief recap: She was walking home from school on a back street with a friend, when an odd fellow on a bike passed them. He was wearing a jester hat and carrying a monkey puppet. He greeted the girls by way of the monkey: "Hello, kids! ooo ooo ooo AH AH AH!"
Being a rather benevolent parent who believes in freedom of speech, I did not freak out when Heir told me about this person. I just counseled her to stay on the main street.
From those humble origins began the saga of the Monkey Man. He became an obsession with our family, each of us competing for sightings. They were infrequent enough to make it an adventure, but frequent enough to make it suspenseful. Legend clung to the man. You never got the same story twice about him. Street person, school teacher, strung-out stoner ... everyone claimed to know all about him.
One fateful day, he lost his monkey. He ran into my daughter The Spare on Main Street and gave her an email address and a description of the monkey. He was asking everyone -- surely someone had seen his monkey!
Some cross country runners recovered the monkey from the riverbank and turned the monkey in to the police. We heard about this and sent the Monkey Man an email. He wrote back.
Now he's one of my very best friends.
A few of the urban legends were true. He is a part-time school teacher. He did spend some formative years in the late 1960s in Berkeley. But he also spent his boyhood in the house behind the one I live in now. He writes poetry. He recites multiple passages of "Leaves of Grass." He always stops by on Thanksgiving.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Monkey Man. He and his monkey had scheduled a performance at the famous Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Trouble was, his venue was moved from an auditorium with 90 seats to an auditorium with 900 seats. Popular as he is in these parts, he can't summon an audience that size!
Thank you, Facebook!
It's possible to friend newspaper reporters. Did you know that? Columnists especially. I had friended one Philadelphia Inquirer columnist who I read all the time. So I wrote to her via Facebook, suggesting she do a story on the Monkey Man. She wrote back, "What's with that guy? All the moms around here are concerned."
I replied, "I am solid with the dude. Please write about his Fringe Festival performance."
Well, that columnist wasn't keen on the story, but she passed it on to another Philadelphia Inquirer columnist. His story on the Monkey Man will be in Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer! You can read it and weep! (Actually, laugh.)
I doubt if one newspaper story will fill the 900 seats, but I do believe the Monkey Man will get a bigger audience than if he got no publicity at all.
For years the magickal flow has mostly been from the Monkey Man to me. This week it was payback time. I'm so happy I could drum up product placement for my friend!
And now, the details from here:
Read about the Monkey Man in a column by Daniel Rubin in Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
Come meet and greet me at the Monkey Man's performance of an original show, "Seal Moon," part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Saturday, September 18. 401 South Broad Street, 7:30 p.m. Admission $15.00, and free for puppets.
If you want to join the Monkey Man's poetry group, we meet at Slice of New York Pizza, 3rd and Cooper in Camden. Email me to be added to the contact list. Puppets eat free but sometimes perform poems.
Puppets. Have you ever thought about carrying one in a committed way? I'm here to tell you that people who do make extremely interesting companions!