austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I push the first valve down

The performing history of Polhode Slippers offers an object lesson in the performing history of one of the leading musical groups with names drawing on 19th-century mathematical constructs for representing the rotational motion of rigid or semirigid bodies. Many critics have noted how they brought out the lyricism of the Poisson brackets, assuming that to be a mathematical physics thing.

Long and indefatigable work habits are essential for any group to achieve success, and Polhode Slippers were no exception in the work habits part. Years before anyone had heard of them they rushed from town to town performing as the opening act to many traffic signals and railroad crossings, and then, just minutes later on, as closing act to many of those same railroad crossings. Their efforts drew notice and within months they were covering open manholes and answering charges that they had sold out by noting how their work in the water agency was a natural outgrowth of the support they had long drawn from the municipal sewer and missing parrot authority.

One thing standing out about the lead bassoonist, who wanted to be known as ``Louie Poinsotter'', incorrectly, was his persistent refusal to play the bassoon where anyone might hear it. Early reviewers believed this was meant to create a state of near-unbearable tension as audiences first anticipated his breaking into song, then felt anxiety at the unrealized expectations, and then began to wonder how many bassoons one band needed anyway, and then concluded that apparently it was one less than they presently had. Later reviewers believed that Poinsotter just never learned to play the bassoon, and later reviewers still found the bassoon was just a solid chunk of lead incapable of being played in any fashion other than being dropped on the foot of someone who screamed in a melodic fashion, which they discontinued after their successful recording of ``Tensor Matrix'' was presented to the district attorney.

One of the characteristic motifs of their performances was the eagerness with which they would direct the audience to the emergency exits, though backup pianist Johnny Alembert noted that ``the regular exits seem to be enough, except that time in Sprankle Mills, Pennsylvania, where that guy extended his arms forty feet up straight through the drop ceiling and pulled himself and his friends to safety, and that time in Usurers Gallery, Vermont, when the whole audience snuck into the kitchen and hid themselves inside a large box of pre-manufactured pancakes.''

Their innovations in music styling were not limited to doing without traditionally required components like willing audiences. The set of tunes set to a 4/7 signature at 106 beats per minute was noted worldwide as suggesting ``that an elk ran over their metronome'', which was alleged to be a tasteless joke when it was in fact several moose and one pronking ibex.

The band expected to make it from much-discussed and little-believed item to the upper tier of lower-level minor sub-units with their performing in an independent film, Virtual Work: The Film, as toothbrushes. But their soundtrack work was reduced and re-edited until it was finally released as a low-battery alarm on a model of quickly recalled smoke detectors. Their experience as dentifrice would not go to waste, however, as they were praised in trade publications for having strikingly original and present upper molars. The film has not yet been released owing to the director having a series of really crazy weekends including that time the living room wallpaper spontaneously changed color from ``mild beige'' to ``forceful tan''. In the meanwhile they have spent time re-forming as their own tribute band, cutting out the middleman and assuring audiences that they were too ``getting it''.

The definitive critical word must have been offered by Jerry Horrocks, who said of their music and performances that they ``provide an incroyable enlightenment which balances the sublime holonometry with an urgent cahier de mon oncle, taking in as counterpoint the strumming and deliquantery of an asterism, sans the ennui'', after which people wouldn't stop spitting on him, including while checking his bank balance online or ordering at the drive-through window.

Trivia: The Cherry Sisters --- widely proclaimed the worst act in vaudeville history --- had their debut act in New York City include moral melodrama, the song ``My First Cigar'' (a cautionary song), ``Fair Columbia'' (with a sister wrapped in the flag), the tableau ``Clinging To The Cross'' (with one sister, dressed as Jesus, crucified), and a theme song in which they, dressed as Salvation Army recruits, sang ``Cherries ripe, boom-de-ay! Cherries red, boom-de-ay! The Cherry sisters have come to stay!'' Oscar Hammerstein encouraged the audience to throw vegetables at them, and told the Cherries that other, jealous, acts hired the hecklers. Source: No Applause - Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, Trav S D (D Travis Stewart)

Currently Reading: Dare, Philip José Farmer.

Tags: humor

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