June 19, 2010
Blossom Music Center

Cuyahoga Falls, OH

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Guy Noir

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TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the 12th floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions...Guy Noir, Private Eye.

GK: It was June, sunny skies, balmy weather, the smell of flowers on the breeze, and I was trying to shift gears from stoical endurance to hedonistic pleasure. Not an easy transition. I had gone out to Ohio to Cuyahoga Falls to investigate a situation involving a petting zoo run by a guy purporting to be Fred Newman, the famous radio sound-effects person. But he was a fake.

SS: I’m Florence Flexner, I’m with the Cuyahoga Falls Development Commission, Mr. Noir. Did you know that the Cuyahoga River has a greater vertical drop than Niagara Falls?

GK: Yes, I’ve been made well aware of that.

SS: The problem is that there is a lot of horizontality built into that verticality.

GK: So it doesn’t fall, it slides.

SS: Right. So we got some economic stimulus money to build us the Cuyahoga SuperSluice, a 20-mile water ride. President Obama was here for the ribbon cutting—

GK: Okay, but what about the petting zoo?

SS: I’ll get to that in a minute. The President came in April to dedicate the Supersluice----

TR (OBAMA): We believe that a water flume ride can create the sort of excitement that has been missing from Ohio for too long now. Yes it can, and yes we do. (PHOTOGRAPHERS)

GK: Cuyahoga Falls was a city of 50,000 when the SuperSluice was built and it was a huge success---- You get in your rubber raft and go up the big incline (CLICKING) and then you get to the top and---
(TR: Uh oh. Uh oh...(SCREAMS, PLUNGE, SPLASH)—)
A sheer drop of two hundred feet and then around sharp bends (SCREAMS) and more sudden drops (WHOAs AND WHEEs) ---- people who crave the adrenaline rush of a wild river ride ------ people you wouldn’t expect to do this, French intellectuals (EXCITED FRENCH), German theologians (EXCITED GERMAN)—devout Muslims (EXCITED ARABIC). Rafts plunging over the falls (RUSHING WATER) and over the big falls (HUGE OMINOUS FALLS) (SS AND TR SCREAM DOWN FALLS) and into the narrow cave (RUSHING WATER), which is full of fruit bats (BATS FLUTTERING) and there’s the light at the end of the tunnel and (DIESEL WHISTLE)---- it’s actually the headlight of a train coming into the tunnel (DIESEL WHISTLE PASSING, DOPPLER, CROSSING BELLS) and you finish the ride, exhausted and happy and ready for more. ----That’s wonderful, Miss Flexner, but what about the Fred Newman petting zoo?
SS: The petting zoo was part of the whole redevelopement boom in Cuyahoga Falls. New hotels were going up (MACHINE, SHOUTS OF WORKERS) ---- we built the new Cuyahoga Falls International Airport (JET PLANE LANDING) -----there’s a brand-new NASCAR motor speedway just opened (CARS RACING PAST) ---- an African wildlife park (ELEPHANT CRY, CHIMPS) ----- and a Cuyahoga Crossover Museum.

GK: A Crossover Museum----

SS: The RocknRoll Museum in Cleveland has been so successful-----

GK: I’ve heard that.

SS: . So we did a museum devoted to crossover music. Like this early Elvis recording-----

TR (ELVIS):

Oh Susanna O don’t you cry for me
I’m going to Louisiana with a banjo on my knee

SS: There’s a video of Louis Armstrong singing Led Zeppelin---


TR (LOUIS):

Wanna Whole Lotta Love
Wanna Whole Lotta Love
Wanna Whole Lotta Love
Wanna Whole Lotta Love

SS: It was during a low period in his career.

GK: Interesting. And I see you have Willie Nelson singing Broadway favorites-

SS: He needed the money.

TR (WILLIE):

Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
It was beautiful then

SS: He was looking for a crossover hit.

GK: I guess all artists go through a low period sooner or later.

SS: Tony Bennett ----

FN (TONY):

Will that circle be unbroken
By and by, Lord, by and by,
There’s better place a-waiting
Blue skies ---- shining on me.

GK: I’ll bet a lot of people aren’t even aware that Tony Bennett went through a bluegrass period.

SS: Or that Bob Dylan did a whole Gershwin album-----

TR (DYLAN):

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No, no they can't take that away from me

GK: But what about the petting zoo----

SS: The Fred Newman Petting Zoo has been a problem from Day One. The way they raise money ---- it’s just terrible. Telemarketing-----
GK: Telemarketing-----

SS: Listen to this-----

FN: Hello, this is Fred Newman. So many of you have enjoyed the many animals featured on our petting zoo, such as the wallaby (SFX), the musk ox (SFX), the plumed egret (SFX), and the cougar (SFX)---- and we are the only petting zoo that has a beluga whale (SFX) ---- as you can imagine, maintaining this large menagerie is very expensive, and now, with budget shortfalls, we are forced to cut back on our livestock, and when I say “cut back,” I mean slaughter. (PITIFUL GOAT) Our little animal friends know that the end of the road is near. (MONKEY) They know that unless you make a contribution now to the Fred Newman Petting Zoo, they will be cut down like weeds. Can you imagine? This dolphin can imagine the grim fate that awaits him. (DOLPHIN) This Chihuahua knows that his time is almost up. (DOG) And he begs you (DOG WHINE) ---- please give now and give generously. Otherwise these innocent creatures will be mown down (CHAINSAW START) ---- simply stay on the line and one of our operators will take your membership pledge-----

TR (LADY): Hello. Which credit card will we be using today? (FADE)...

GK: That doesn’t sound like Fred Newman, and yet---- the idea of membership pledges----- it’s got public radio written all over it.

FN (FADE IN): ------ these tiny gerbils (SFX), this baby gorilla (SFX), these immature wombats (SFX) ---- unless we receive a contribution from you today---- (GUNSHOTS) -----

GK: Who is this?

FN: If you don’t pony up---- this golden retriever is going to be a goner (WOOFS) ---- give now----- give generously-----

GK: Who’s on the phone? Is this a robot?

FN: Do you like kittycats? Do you? (MEOW) Meet Mr. Whiskers. If you don’t cough up the dough pronto, Mr. Whiskers is going to be curtains. And I ain’t kidding.

GK: This is not the Fred Newman known to countless radio fans. This is an evil Fred. This is a guy who does a pretty darned good Fred Newman impression. This is Tim Russell. Isn’t it----

TR: (RICO) Okay, you got me.

GK: Why, Mr. Russell? Why?

TR (RICO): I guess I just seen the money and acclaim that Fred was getting and I decided to go for it.

GK: And so you got yourself a few recordings of animals ----


TR (RICO): And I was doing real good at it until you busted up my game, Noir.
I just stuck some beans up my nose and-----

FN: That’s the secret of doing a Fred Newman impersonation, and I told people to pony up or else the pony was going to be dog food (WHINNY) -----

SS: This is Florence Flexner, Mr. Russell. You have been a blight on the name of Cuyahoga Falls and I am sending you down the SuperSluice right now----

TR (RICO): No! Please! Don’t do it----- (RUSH OF WATER) Aieeeeeeee. (WHOOSH, FADE)

GK: He’s gone. Tim Russell is gone.

TR: It’s okay. I can do him.

SS: Fred----

TR: I’ve been doing Tim for years. I do cougars (SFX) and I do elephants (SFX) and I do Tim Russell. It’s what I do.

GK: You must have no life or identity of your own-----

TR: I’m an artist. One has to make a choice between life and art. I chose art. (DOLPHIN)

(BRIDGE)
GK: And so Cuyahoga Falls is thriving in the midst of the recession. People fly in from all over the world (JET LANDING) to come and ride on the SuperSluice (RUSH OF WATER, CRIES OF ALARM) and go to the African wildlife park (ELEPHANT) and the petting zoo (BELUGA), and see the Crossover Museum, where I understand they’ve just added a Ricky Skaggs exhibit.

RS (WITH BANJO):

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen

(THEME)

SS: A dark night in a city that keeps its secrets, where one guy
Is still trying to find the answers...Guy Noir, Private Eye.
(MUSIC OUT)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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