Friday, June 29, 2007

Twenty % Tippers - Part 3

This is the third Twenty % Tippers flyer that I collected from a C train subway platform. If after reading the flyer's amusing copy you want a free CD, you can get it here.

While still at the University of Chicago I was approached by Ernest de Koven Leffingwell, a Ph.D. in geology, who offered me the job of anthropologist with the soon to embark United States Polar Expedition. The team was impressed by my essay contributing to the theory of grammatical gender titled "English Loan-Nouns Used in the Icelandic Colony of North Dakota," which first appeared in Dialect Notes, 1903. The major backers of the expedition came from the Geographical Society, which believed in the possibility of an undiscovered continent up in the Arctic Ocean. In the name of U.S. commercial and cultural interests, the expedition agreed to transport thousands of wax cylinder recordings by the U.S. music group Twenty % Tippers to the nothern-most Eskimo population, thus beating the competing Finnish expedition, which was transporting thousands of wax cylinder recordings of their country's cultural representative, the music group Classic Jew-Haters. If we could get the Twenty % Tippers recordings to the Eskimos first, the U.S. would thus capture the coveted nothern-Arctic market, making our nation's music number one with a bullet in this enigmatic region.

Meeting up with the United States Polar Expedition the following year at the whaling harbor at Herschel Island, just west of the delta of the Mackenzie River in northwestern arctic Canada, we continued north-easterly on the thirteen-ton gasoline schooner Duchess of Bedford, Captain Joseph Bernard master. The weather was forbidding, delays mounted, and in time food became scarce. Problems ensued as members of the Duchess of Bedford made alcohol out of the ship's flour and sugar, causing not only drunkeness but a shortage of supplies. Soon Captain Bernard complained about tonnage, threatening to jettison the crates holding the thousands of wax cylinder recordings of the Twenty % Tippers. de Koven Leffingwell then ordered that I lead a small contingent and take our chances over the winter ice, pulling a week's supply of food along with the several crates of Tippers music cylinders. Off we went. At first our team had luck catching a kind of scaly fish referred to as "connie" by the Hudson's Bay traders, whose name came from the French l'inconnu, "the unknown" fish. Eventually there was not enough food for our party of six, and we ate what we could scrounge, including the tongue of a beached bowhead whale, four years dead. There was scarce food for our dogs, and we ourselves, weakened by our inadiquate diet, often had to pull on the sleds. By the time we were fortunate enough to reach a Tuktoyaktuk Eskimo village near the Arctic Circle, we had been reduced to eating strips of bear skin dipped in oil. To our dismay, the village was grossly littered with scores of Classic Jew-Hater recoding cylinders which the Tuktoyaktuk Eskimos lacked the equipment to play. The Finnish team had beaten us.

After wallowing in an initial sense of failure, the idea came to me that we could simply announce to the world the capture of the Eskimo listening market by the United States team. Who would know otherwise? Now the race was on to beat the Finnish expedition back to the nearest telegraph office, hundreds of miles away, at Athabaska Landing. We began to race southward, across the mountains to the Yukon and down to te United States government wireless station at Eagle City, Alaska. In our haste, we abandoned the countless crates filled with Twenty % Tippers recording cylinders in the middle of nowhere. I must assume they remain there still, ready to be enjoyed - although for the life of me, I don't know why our backers hadn't instead decided on wax cylinder recordings of Nora Bayes singing "Has Anyone Here Seen Kelly", for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1907. Now that's music!

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