Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Piper's Revenge

In case you weren't aware of it, many of our so-called "fairy tales" are, or are said to be, "inspired by true events" [as you'd see at the beginning of a TV movie based on, say, the just-finished US Presidential election]. One of the most intriguing of these is "The Pied Piper Of Hamlin". The Pied [that word, by the way, just means he was colorful, NOT a fan of crust-based desserts] Piper came to the German town of Hamlin, offering to rid the community of an on-going plague of rats [themselves carriers of plague, ironically], in exchange for a small fee. The town leaders, knowing Hamlin was desperately in need of a good de-ratting, agreed.

At this point, Mr. Piper reached into his bag, and produced a music pipe. He began to play, and the town was amazed [amazed, mind you] to see the rats follow the man out the town gates, and out of sight [rumor has it that he led the rats to the outskirts of the next village over, getting ready to shake its residents down to get the rats out. The Piper probably made a fair living in 13th-century Germany, leading the same pack of rats around]. Eventually, he returned, and asked for his money. The town burghers [city leaders, not a bunch of ground meat-based entrees] conceded the thing with the rats and the flute was a good trick, but not worth what they'd planned to pay him. So they made him a new offer: leave quietly, or be beaten to death by some community-minded thugs [the fairy tale doesn't put things so bluntly; it just says the town refused to pay him. But I think we can all see how it went down].
So the piper brought out his pipe again. But this time, he played music designed to attract Hamlin's children. He led them off into the forest, never to be seen again in Hamlin [more than a few of them turned up in the next village over. Hey, it was the 13th-century!. Child labor laws weren't in effect, and some of those children made good workers. Besides, that village PAID THE PIPER [the source of that phrase, in case you didn't know]. All this, by the way, was said to have gone down in the summer of 1284.
Fast forward about 725 years. You'll never guess what German town has been infested by an army of rats. Yeah, the cheapskate Northern Germany community of Hamlin. It almost comes off like the set-up to a bad-B movie [you know, the kind that Jack Black played in before he got popular. The kind that Paulie Shore can't get out of. You know the type. A movie that's destined to be the second feature at your nearest drive-in THE WEEK IT COMES OUT. Think of three words: "direct to video". On a good day.
I'll be curious to see how Hamlin extracts itself from this one. The Pipers' Union is standing firm, refusing to enter the village in solidarity with their ripped-off predecessor. As for "scabs", James Galway wants no part of it, and Jean-Pierre Rampal died eight years ago. That leaves desperate-for-work Ian Anderson, best known for leading the art-rock collective known as Jethro Tull. He'd rather not cross the picket lines, frankly. But a man's gotta eat. Watch this blog for updates, if they have the potential for humor [I'm not saying I'll get them there. But they gotta have at least the potential].
-Mike Riley


husain said...
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