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January 5th, 2006

weapons of mass distraction

Someone kind sent me a CD of a fellow playing Bob Burns' Bazooka. Bob Burns was a famous radio star in the 1930s,
who hailed from a paradise I call Arkansas. The bazooka is a novelty musical instrument he invented. I had always assumed that it was a kind of bass kazoo, but it turns out that it's like a cross between a bugle and a slide whistle, with a range of some 6 notes. Burns anticipated Peter Townsend by decades through destroying his instrument during each concert.

The bazooka's name, of course, was appropriated to describe a weapon of micro-mass-destruction. Bob Burns achieved sufficient fame that he served as the Oscar host, but he ultimately fell out with his motion picture studio, apparently because he refused to make a film which demeaned his home state.

I like a drivetime enlivened by the sounds of a jug band fronted by an instrument sounding a bit like a melodic flue, playing "Like a Virgin" while a group of 80 year old men sang the words. It was a fitting sequel to Tuesday's drive while a kazoo played a seven minute solo over a flamenco guitar.

When I looked at the address of the bazooka performer, apparently the last one on earth, I discovered that he literally lived a block from our old home in California. Behind every doorway, tantalizing secrets lay.

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