And Gutenberg Lived Here: When The Ides Of March Meet The Tides Of Spring, Birdies Tapdance

In the spring,

a young man’s fancy

turns to thoughts of….

hay fever.

Or actually, as it is here,

hazelnut pollen season poisoning.

Which is a real bear normally anyway,

but when, as at the moment,

the temperatures suddenly shoot to sixty,

drop to minus twenty,

shoot to seventy….

the result is a pollen count well well well over the norm,

the drugstores totally sold out of allergy medicines,

and people hacking profusely all over small,

well maybe not so small,

choir directors,

who are trying to get them ready for


(church choir)

and the men’s glee club review.

And for those of your who don’t know really what a glee club review is:


a lot of drinking men

talking about the glories of their youth,

and singing songs like “The rooster of uncle Giacomo”

or bellowing the Russian barn-burner “I believe in the power of love,”

competing with younger men

talking about their motorcycles,

and bellowing “we are the champions”

or the Beachboys’ Barbra Ann,

as the mixed choirs,

that’s us,


along with all of the mixed sex barbershop groups over here,


a “novelty act,”

take all the prizes.

(I actually was once told by the president of a men’s glee club

that they wanted me to conduct for them,

but I couldn’t start till after they had had their fathers’ day outing.)

Yes. Truly.

Apparently, they felt uncomfortable doing what they  do

when freed from the strictures of family

and small town,

with a woman aboard the bus.

And secondly,

since the last director, female, had apparently gotten very drunk,

or was pretending to,

and sat on all their laps

as she sang opera. I swear this is true….)

So anyway, here I am,

facing relatively short performances at a street festival,

and two “friendship sings” with other glee clubs,

ie,  all the Giacomos,

and Barbra Anns,

and some very very very resolute women-

(Don’t EVER mess with the five hundred Sweet Adelines from Munich,

called the Harmunichs,

in their tailored and name on the back travelling uniforms,

professional choreography,

and not nicely spirited club officers,

although, I’ve got to give them credit:

they are totally organized,

they sing brilliantly,

and they even got on German television

despite not singing in German

(a total no-no over here)

where they were promptly not allowed to do their own choreography.

And still won the prizes.

But still, hack hack,

spring is sprung.

And I decided to get my own form of revenge.

On the hazelnuts, not the people.


Our “gospel choir”- which, until I came had only sung

simplified pop, jazz, rock,

and what over here is called “new modern church hymn-”

along the lines of  “Michael Row The Boat Ashore,”

will be singing

  1. at least one real gospel at the fall concert, and
  2. at the glee club fest, a piece I wrote

called “I like to sing,”


since I was suffering extremely from allergy  at the time,

(don’t even mention allergy medications to me)

contains the lyrics

“I go out walking down the street,

me and the birdies tapping to the beat,

ain’t got no worries, just got happy feet,

and so I dum, da dum, da dum, da dum….”

Did I mention I had allergies?

Happy spring.

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