Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Opinion

January 16, 2014

United States: A nation big on words

We Americans are a wordy bunch, particularly after election to public office.

At all levels of government, officials gain experience quickly in “proclaiming,” whether or not they’re any good at all in framing laws.

Proclamations often are stacked on top of days, weeks and months already taken. No matter. Most of the thousands of documents are so issued to satisfy special interest groups. (All could be significantly shortened with lessened use of the word “whereas.”)

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Once approved, these designations are almost never disturbed. I’ve found just three now deemed defunct — Afghanistan Day, Baltic Freedom Day and National Catfish Day. (Not sure how the catfish came under fire, unless other species started making bigger splashes.)

It seems to me that all of us would do well to stand up for national treasures on the brink of total abandonment. This seems particularly true when said works reach the century mark.

Let’s focus, for example, on music. Shouldn’t we properly respect tunes we have hummed, whistled or sung — albeit poorly — over several decades? One such ditty is “Aba Daba Honeymoon,” written in 1914. The lyrics — perhaps Greek to most — are purportedly what the monkey said to the chimp in, uh, yes, “monkey talk.”

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Back in the day, such songs had staying power. Debbie Reynolds’ rendition vaulted to No. 3 on Billboard Magazine’s chart in 1951. Eight years later, it was featured in “Have Rocket, Will Travel,” The Three Stooges’ first feature film.

In 1964 — a half-century after composition — American novelist Thomas Pynchon, referring to “Aba Daba Honeymoon” in a letter to a friend, said:

“Our souls (the world) leave to whatever obsolescences, bigotries, theories of education (workable and ‘un’), parental wisdom or lack of it, happening ... between the cord-cutting ceremony and the time they slide you down the chute (at death) ... while the guy on the Wurlitzer plays ‘Aba Daba Honeymoon’ because you had once told somebody it was the ‘nadir of all American expression’; only they didn’t know what ‘nadir’ meant, but it  must be good because of the vehemence with which you expressed yourself.”

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