Sunday, January 17, 2010

the silent record, or things January is good for

January, according to Chase's Calendar, is Innovative Thinking Month, National Hot Tea Month, and Oatmeal Month, and frankly I'm not seeing much in the way of observance out there. Who among us has stirred the bowl, poured the oolong, and come up with a really cool idea? Of course it's also National Careers in Cosmetology Month, so maybe we've been busy with eyebrows and hair weaves; it's just not possible to do everything at once.

But January is also home to Silent Record Week, which commemorates "the (50th) anniversary of the invention of the silent record, which was played on Detroit jukeboxes." A problematic statement from several angles--if it was silent, then how do we know? Chase goes on to explain, without actually explaining, that in 1931 a "Silent Record Concert and Recording Session featured emcee Henry Morgan, Soupy Sales, and the 120-piece Hush Symphonic Band."

Puzzled, I Googled "silent record" to get details, and learned that a band called the Fiery Furnaces recently announced that they are planning to release a silent album as a response to increased file sharing and downloading, and that the record will come with "musical instruction and sheet music so fans can perform and record their own versions of the songs." Which is innovative, in a millennium-slacker way, and will no doubt inspire the publication of a new wordless book that comes with a plot storyboard and a ball-point pen.

It's a conceptual art thing, and if you don't understand it then just remember--this is not about you.

Leafing ahead to January 17, we see we're not done yet. Today is the anniversary of the 1992 freak gas explosion that rocked a six-block area of Chicago's River West neighborhood and killed four people, and also the date of the 1966 Palomares hydrogen bomb accident over a village in Spain. Kaboom on both counts--so much for the Hush Symphonic Band and all those jukeboxes in Detroit.

And tomorrow, just in case anybody is wondering, is "Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day." I will never again say that January is a month good for nothing but waiting for February to arrive.

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