Migrating Beethoven

My office window faces east and I can’t close the blinds all the way because it knocks my Beethoven portrait off the windowsill, so when the sun comes up I block it with the Maestro. But the sun keeps moving to the left, and I have to move Beethoven with it, a bit farther each day.

On June 21, when the sun changes his mind and starts moving the other way, I’ll mark where Beethoven was at the extreme limit of his northern migration.

On Dec. 21, when the sun changes his mind again and starts moving the other way, I’ll mark the extreme limit of Beethoven’s southern range.

Then I shall build tiny giant pyramids or a Stonehenge on my windowsill, between the limits of Beethoven’s migrations, and I shall become an ancient civilization.

And since I am sure someone will ask, or denounce me: No, it’s not sexist to call the Sun him. The Sun is the father and the Moon is the grandmother. If you know not that, you know nothing.

I have sent my proposal to become an ancient civilization to Sources That Have Been Reliable in the Past. Here are some of their responses.

My older brother, a Master of Divinity (there are such things), suggested that I dedicate the windowsill to the Babylonian god Shubaalubaalumas.

This fellow — I assume the god was a fellow — is unGooglable. Brother Dave assures me he was a real god — as gods go. We assume, by his name, that he was a cousin of Balaam, who smote the ass twice with his sword, though an angel of the Lord was upon it. (Upon the ass, not the sword.) Then Balaam smote the ass a third time, and after a short discussion with the ass and the angel, Balaam departed unto Kirjathhuzoth.

This is all true, if you can believe Numbers: 22-24. And who dare doubt it?

(Nota bene: The second time Balaam smote the ass it was because the ass had stepped on his foot (Numbers 22:25).)

But enough about Balaam’s ass, Shubaalubaalumas and Kirjathhuzoth. If we linger with them this column will never end, and we’d all feel worse than Balaam did when the ass stepped on his foot.

I would have smitten him with my staff too.

One of my former newspaper bosses, whose name I shall withhold because he lives in Texas and does not go about heavily armed, suggested that I name my windowsill BobHenge.

Thanks, Wayne! of Spring, Texas — a suburb of Houston.

A former colleague on the night desk, whose name I shall withhold because he’s managing editor of what passes as a respectable business magazine today responded: “So, that legal Denver pot must be pretty good, huh?”

I could not tell you, Rick, of Chicago, on the Near North Side, because I do not smoke that legal Denver pot. I have reported upon it, yes. But I am long past the age when frivolous intoxication appeals to me. I’m more interested in serious intoxication.

True, I did smoke marijuana in the 1960s, but it made me think like everyone else. I found that horrifying.

My final informant, a musicologist, suggests that I leave Beethoven out of this.

“Dial it back a bit, Roberto,” he said in the course of a long conversation that included divagations into Francis Poulenc’s “Etudes,” the chord changes to John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” and the National League pennant race.

So there you have it.

Now, really, my friends: Isn’t it ridiculous to claim that in this Real World we should follow the advice of our God of the Moment — while ignoring His precepts — and fight to the death other people whose God of the Moment is Someone Else — whose precepts they violate just as often we do?

For the record, should one exist, here is a photo of the historic windowsill, just before sunrise. One year from now, gods willing and the creeks still have water, I shall post a photo of BobHenge.

(Robert Kahn’s commentaries do not represent the opinions of Courthouse News, which is placating him, for the nonce, to see if we can get ahold of his bootleg collection of the Complete Recordings of Zoot Sims.)

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