Guy Noir, March 17, 2007

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Guy Noir

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Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions — Guy Noir, private eye.


Garrison Keillor: It was March, and spring had come to the frozen tundra, trying to lure us into a sense of false security so that the late March blizzard could swoop in and wipe us off the face of the earth. Still a guy's gotta hope so I took my three summer suits to a place called Mom's Laundry to have them dry-cleaned and they came back in the form of bricks. Someone had dumped them in the washer and boiled them and then dried them at high heat, and now they looked like a Halloween costume for a cat. So I called up to demand a refund.

Sue Scott (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): You didn't say what you wanted done with them, Mr. Noir. You just said to clean 'em--

GK: Dry Clean. It says right on the tag, Dry Clean Only— you couldn't have looked?

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): If you're going to talk to me in that tone of voice, mister, maybe you better call back tomorrow —

GK: Look— you ruined my suits—

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): You hate me, don't you. I knew it when you came in here. I could see the hostility in your eyes.

GK: What you did to my suits, yes--

SS (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Well I'm sorry, sir, we did the best we could. But that's not good enough for you, is it? We clean your suits and this is what I get in return. Abuse. Well you can take your suits and go somewhere else next time, mister.

GK: Take what suits? They don't exist anymore. They became building materials. (CLICK, BRIDGE) And she hung up on me. And I headed over to the Men's Suit Barn— a warehouse with a big banner that said, “Play With Plaids” —

Vern Sutton: What can I do for you, sir?

GK: You can show me some summer suits. One-color suits. You know, like blue, gray, brown, that sort of thing—

VS: You don't care for plaids?

GK: No.

VS: Plaids are very popular this year.

GK: For your sake, I hope so. It looks like you've got about a thousand of them.

VS: Three thousand, actually.

GK: Okay.

VS: Three thousand, four hundred twenty, to be exact.

GK: Good.

VS: We carry more plaid suits than any other men's retail outlet—

GK: How about a nice gray cotton-polyester blend?

VS: Nobody's wearing gray these days.

GK: How about blue?

VS: What size are you? Extra husky or burly?

GK: I don't know. Junior burly, maybe.

VS: Let me look back here in our galoot section.

GK: I don't think I'm ready for galoot yet.

VS: Oh, I'd say you are, Mr. Noir.

GK: How'd you know my name?

VS: I sang at your ex-girlfriend's wedding.

GK: You're that tenor who sang “There Is Love”?

VS: You liked it?

GK: It was okay. How come you're selling suits? I thought you had a big singing career. What was your name--? Danny--?

VS: Danny O'Danny.

GK: Danny O'Danny, right. You had a couple of big hits—

VS: I did.

GK: What were they? They were big—

VS: Back in '93 I recorded “My Old Irish Granny Who Sang Danny Boy To Me” —

GK: Right.

VS: And then in '98 I did “Whatever Happened To That Granny Who Sang Danny Boy” to me—

GK: A follow-up hit— So what happened, Mr. O'Danny?

VS: My voice went flat.

GK: What happened?

VS: I woke up one day in November and my voice had gone flat.

GK: Flat?

VS: Painfully flat.

GK: But a lot of performers sing flat—

VS: Not flat like this—(HE SINGS) O Danny boy, the pipes the pipes are calling... (FOOTSTEPS)

SS: Mr. Clumpp.

VS: Yes, Miss Forbush.

SS: The sales floor is no place to carry on your social life, please. Do it on your own time, Mr. Clumpp.

VS: Yes, ma'am.

SS: We didn't hire you to stand around and hobnob and chitchat, did we, Mr. Clumpp? Am I wrong?

VS: No, ma'am.

GK: I came in to buy a suit, ma'am.

SS: Then buy one, sir. This is a suit warehouse. It's not a clubroom. (SHE STALKS AWAY, STING AND BRIDGE)

GK: I purchased a yellow plaid outfit from him, and a green sportcoat. And when I got back home, there was a message on the answering machine.

VS (IRISH, ON PHONE): Mr. Noir? It's Danny O'Danny. Listen— I've got a major offer — it came out of the blue — to dress up as a shamrock Saturday night and sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the St. Patrick's Day Dance of the Old Hibernian Benevolence and Fish Chowder Society — this is the big break I've been looking for. But I've got to figure out why I sing flat. Can you help? Please. I've been obsessing over this for months. It's killing me.


GK: So I went over to Mr. Clumpp's apartment (KNOCKING, DOOR OPENS)

VS: Hi, come in—) and found a sort of cave — music stacked everywhere, cartons of sheet music up to the ceiling, a piano, and little narrow paths where you could walk.

VS: Excuse the chaos, Mr. Noir. I'm planning to give all this to the Irish-American Institute.

GK: So you collect Irish songs, I take it.

VS: Yes. Rare things. Like this one— (HE SINGS, FLAT)

Like a bridge over Irish waters
I will lay me down
I will lay down and sleep awhile
Then I'll go to town.

GK: It sounds familiar.

VS: Ah yes. Most music comes from Irish music. Most people don't know that.

Wise men say do not drink green beer
But I can't help it — that is why I'm here.

GK: Irish, huh? Interesting.

VS: But you can hear that I have a pitch problem—

GK: I can, yes.

VS: I've done everything I could think of. Gave up dairy products. Got arch supports. Switched from briefs to boxers.

GK: You're not feeling depressed or anything, are you?

VS: Well, I'm Irish Catholic, so how would I know?

GK: You haven't been taking prescription sleep aids? Ambien, for example?

VS: Never touch the stuff. The only sleep aid I need are the novels of Walter Scott.

GK: Have you been tying your neckties too tight?

VS: Gave up neckties.

GK: Might I ask about the toupee?

VS: You noticed—

GK: Well, it's sort of big.

VS: I got it from Boris, the man who does my nails.

GK: A man does your nails?

VS: Yes. At a place called Eugene Onegin Nails. (STING, AND BRIDGE)

GK: Eugene Onegin Nails was a walk-up joint with a big lady with a babuschka.

SS (TOUGH, RUSSIAN): Yeah? You come for your nails?

GK: Sure, why not?

SS (TOUGH, RUSSIAN): You from the police, mister?

GK: What makes you think that?

SS (TOUGH, RUSSIAN): I'm Russian, I know from police. I can smell it — your after-shave lotion. Come in, but I am watching you, with these small dark eyes.


GK: So I walked in and there was a large Russian man in an undershirt, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes.


GK: Came in to get my nails done.

TR (DEEP, RUSSIAN): Sit down.

GK: Interesting shop you've got. Pictures of opera stars all over. There's Dmitri Hvostorovsky—

TR (DEEP, RUSSIAN): You know Dmitri?

GK: One of the world's great baritones—

TR (DEEP RUSSIAN): I used to be one of the world's great baritones and then, one day in Odessa, my voice went flat.


GK: Just went flat, huh?

TR (DEEP, RUSSIAN): Went flat. Kaboom. I went on stage for the second act of (LONG RUSSIAN GIBBERISH) —

GK: What's that?


GK: What does it mean in English?

TR (DEEP RUSSIAN): It means “Passion” —

GK: Okay. — Does the name Danny O'Danny ring a bell?


GK: I take it you don't care for his music.


GK: You're a tough critic, Boris.

TR (DEEP RUSSIAN): He disgusts me. The whole thing disgusts me. St. Patrick!!! Why not St. Vladimir? St. Nikolai?

GK: Hey, it's a free country, you want to put on a parade, put on a parade—

TR (DEEP RUSSIAN): The greenness. The silly people. The bad songs about the Irish smiles — the Bay of the Galway — the Toora and the loora and the loora. Sung by men with high voices—

GK: You don't care for tenors—

TR (DEEP, RUSSIAN): You ever meet a tenor? They are idiots. Think only of self. They walk around — (DERISIVE HIGH-PITCHED RUSSIAN)

GK: I am sensing some real hostility here—

TR (DEEP, RUSSIAN): So I did the nails of your Danny O'Danny and I put a drug on the nails that relaxes the vocal cords.

GK: A drug! So when he chews his nails—


GK: And what about the bad toupee?

TR (RUSSIAN, DEEP): I gave him for free. Made in Russia. From recycled toxic waste. (STING, BRIDGE)


GK: I got to the ballroom (CROWD) where the Policemen's Ball was going on. And there was Danny O'Danny. Dressed as a shamrock.

VS: Ah, Mr. Noir— thank goodness. The crowd is starting to get unruly.

GK: Let me try something here— sing a note —

VS: What are you going to do with my hair?

GK: I'm going to experiment here— sing a note.


GK: Okay, and what happens when I do this—? (VS SINGS ON PITCH) Okay. And now. (VS SINGS FLAT) And now— (VS SINGS ON PITCH). There's the answer to the question, Danny.

VS: It was the toupee?

GK: It's a heavy toupee made from toxic waste. It was pressing down on your head and neck and making you a half-step flat.

VS: But if I go out there without my hair, people won't recognize me. They won't know it's Danny O'Danny. They'll think it's just some bald guy singing “Danny Boy” —

GK: An artist has to make that choice, Danny.

KT Sullivan: He's right, Danny.

VS: Oh my gosh. It's Margaret Mary Mavourneen. The Queen of the Irish Cabaret Scene.

KTS: I've been a fan of yours for years, Danny O'Danny — you've got a big heart. A generous Irish heart full of poetry and music.

VS: (SIGHS) I have a confession to make, Miss Mavourneen. I'm not Irish. Not even a little. My real name is Daryl Clumpp. With two p's. My ancestors come from all over. Everywhere except Ireland.

KTS: It doesn't matter, Danny. St. Patrick's Day is for everybody. It isn't about being Irish. It's about being human. It's about warmth. It's a big lovely open-hearted day when people parade for the love of parading, even if there's snow on the ground — and people smile at each other, even if it's New York — and people wear green, even if it isn't such a flattering color — and people put an arm around each other and sing, even if they're a little flat—

VS: I don't know what to say. I take off my toupee to you, Miss Mavourneen.

KTS: Call me Margaret.

SS: Excuse me? Mr. O'Danny — The crowd is waiting. You ready?

VS: Ready.

TR (IRISH, ON P.A.): Fellow members of the Old Hibernian Benevolence and Clam Chowder Society, Distinguished Guests, Noted Dignitaries, Sainted Mothers, Singers and Poets, Lovers of Music, Members of Public Radio, Gentle Readers, Union Rank & File, Fellow Progressives— (SS WHISPERING) Okay, okay — let us all join in the singing of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” —


GK: And so Daryl Clumpp got his voice back. I left him and Miss Mavourneen — they had retired to a corner to sing duets — and I caught a cab and headed home. It was cold and blustery out and there was snow on the ground, but thanks to St. Patrick, there was a lot of good feeling out there. Which I happen to think we are in need of. This country is so divided, people are drawn up into armed camps over this issue or that, no middle ground, no sense of humor, and you just have to love a day that brings people together who might otherwise be at each other's throats. — Hey, cabdriver, pull over.



GK: Look over there. A big crowd of people on the streetcorner. Singing—


GK: If I'm not mistaken, they're just about to sing “My Wild Irish Rose” — I'll be right back. Here's twenty bucks.




TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye.

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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