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.
GK: I was in New York, working for Mayor Bloomberg, moving his car for him. Street parking in New York is very challenging. There's no parking Mondays and Wednesday on one side of the street and Tuesdays and Thursdays on the other. They say it's for street cleaning but actually it's so that people don't build houses in the street that look like cars.
TR (BLOOMBERG): I know, I know---- I could afford to put it in a garage but I just hate the expense.
GK: So I drove his car around at night looking for parking spaces and I also worked security. It was my job to follow the Mayor out in public to make sure that when he sat down somebody hadn't put a Whoopee cushion on his chair. When you're a lame duck, people get disrespectful. And then the other day, after lunch, he gave me a new assignment.
TR (BLOOMBERG): We've got a major problem, Mr. Noir, and nobody can figure it out. I want you to. (BIG FART)
GK: Oh, I'm sorry, Your Honor, I should've looked----
TR (BLOOMBERG): No, no---- that was me. I had two helpings of the black bean soup.
GK: What's this problem, sir?
TR (BLOOMBERG): New Yorkers falling asleep. People sleeping on the subway, that's normal, people cutting ZZs in the third act of the opera, okay, but falling asleep in restaurants? And taxicabs? When you're driving the cab??? Something's going on. (STING)
GK: A waitress overheard him.
SS (NY): He's absolutely right. New York used to be a late-night town. Eleven o'clock, midnight, one, two---- you'd find people up and around, doing stuff. Now? In my neighborhood, after eight, it's like Peoria.
SS (NY): Howdja like the black bean soup, Mayor? (BRIDGE)
GK: I decided to check with one of my street sources, Mickey Chrysler, the violinist in the Times Square subway station.
IP: Uptown platform.
GK: Right. Uptown platform.
IP: Very big difference. Uptown Express.
IP: I used to be on the local platform and then the steel drummer who had the Express side---- he went away---- and I took it over. My God, I had to listen to that man six, seven, eight hours a day. He knew two tunes, "Jamaica Farewell" and then in November he'd switch over to "Angels We Have Heard On High"---- I begged the man to expand his repertoire ---- the Pachelbel Canon ---- Danny Boy ---- anything. Wouldn't do it.
GK: So what happened to him?
IP: He drove himself berserk. Couldn't remember his own address. Got on the wrong train and wound up somewhere and never came back. It happens.
GK: So you took his spot.
IP: And that's when I started earning serious money. Speaking of which, I better get to work----- (RK VIOLIN TUNING)
GK: Mr. Chrysler was no mere violinist. He was a one-man band. He operated a bass fiddle with his left foot, a snare drum with his right foot, he had a Chihuahua on his lap, and a black Lab by his side, and he could whistle.
(BAND STARTS "BLUE DANUBE" ---- PLAYS SIXTEEN BARS AND STOPS)
IP: Take a rest, boys. Here comes a train. (SUBWAY TRAIN ENTERS, LONG BRAKES. DOORS OPEN)
GK: I guess you're used to being interrupted, huh?
IP: Late at night, you can play the whole Bartok concerto. In the morning, you're lucky to finish a Paganini caprice. (INCOMPREHENSIBLE P.A. ANNOUNCE)
GK: I don't know why they don't fix the P.A. system here--
IP: You didn't understand that?
IP: He said, "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by."
IP: You must not be from around here, I guess.
GK: Evidently not. So are you any relation to Fritz Kreisler?
IP: Different spelling. My name is spelled C-h-r-y-s-l-e-r. Like the building.
GK: Aha. Your family in the car business?
IP: Pickle business. Kosher dills. When we came over, the name was Shlepp. S-h-l-e-p-p. My grandfather came on the boat into New York harbor, he saw the building with the lights at the top, he said, "What's that?" They said, "Chrysler Building." So he got to Ellis Island, they asked his name, the rest is history.
GK: So you ever play concerts or recitals?
IP: They offered me Carnegie Hall but why take the cut in pay? Down here I play two minutes of Bach and I tap dance to it and the money pours in. Watch this. (RK BACH PARTITA W PJ TAP SHOES, DOGS, WHISTLE, NO BASS)
GK: And sure enough, (CROWD MOVING BY, MURMURS OF APPRECIATION) a couple hundred people came by, half of them reached into their pockets, and I saw fives and tens and twenties. It was impressive. (FADE INTO BRIDGE) So impressive I forgot what I was going to talk to him about. Sleepiness. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE. ESPRESSO) I went into Starbucks and ordered a small cup of coffee.
SS (NYER): Small cup of coffee? That's it?
GK: That's it.
SS (NYER): Eleven fifty.
GK: What???? For a small cup of coffee?
SS (NYER): Just making sure you're awake, mister.
GK: You're running into a lot of sleepiness here?
SS (NYER): Yeah. After about two in the afternoon, we can get about $25 for a Venti latte.
GK: Maybe something is getting in the milk.
SS (NYER): Like what? We got whole, skim, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, gluten-free milk, cat milk------
GK: Cat milk?
SS (NYER): Yeah. Siamese. Very popular. I drink it every day. (SHE DOZES OFF) You want to try some in your.......(BONK)
GK: And she fell asleep right there. ---- Ma'am. Ma'am. ----- And then I looked around. The place was silent. No laptops in action, no talking. People sitting back with their eyes closed. You'd've thought you were in Ontario. (STING, BRIDGE) I thought maybe cat milk was the problem. Cats sleep a lot. Maybe it gets transmitted through their bodily fluids. So I went to Katz's Dairy Farm up in Dutchess County. (CATS IN BACKGROUND)
TR (NYER): Hi. I'm Joe Katz, I own the dairy, and my name really is Katz, and don't bother to make a joke about it because I've heard them all a hundred times, okay? If you came in here to make a smart remark about the Katz family, then you're out of here on your keester.
GK: Sorry. You always this grumpy?
TR (NYER): You ever milk a Siamese cat, mister? It takes a lot of patience. And it's hard on your fingers. What can I do for you? (HE BEGINS TO MILK A CAT, WHICH MEOWS A FEW TIMES, MILK SQUIRTS INTO A SMALL PAIL)
GK: Do you put cat milk in your coffee, sir?
TR (NYER): No, I take it black.
GK: Do you think it might cause sleepiness?
TR (NYER): No idea whatsoever. (BRIDGE)
GK: I took the train back into town and on the way I read an article in the paper that said real estate prices keep rising in Manhattan and young people are forced to buy in the northern suburbs or New Jersey and suddenly it all became clear. Manhattan is slowing down because it's going geezerish. Old people with money who need doormen and elevators. Nappers. And the city is becoming kinder and gentler. Back in the day, if you fell asleep on a bus, somebody'd take your wallet and tie your shoelaces together. But no more. I got off the train at Times Square (BRAKING. DOORS OPEN. CROWD) And there was Mr. Chrysler at his stand, (RK KREISLER VIOLIN) ----
IP: Hey ---- what was it you were going to ask me this morning?
GK: I was going to ask if you'd ever played in an orchestra.
IP: Oh yeah. I was assistant concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. I lasted two concerts. On the second concert, there was a world premiere of a symphony by Hans Werner Henze and at the last minute the maestro took sick and the concertmaster, Glenn Dicterow, had to conduct, and he got up there with the stick and you know something? I never noticed. I was wondering, "Where is Glenn? What happened? He never missed a concert like this." And then there was a standing ovation and I looked up and there he was.
GK: And you were fired?
IP: I had no idea they were playing the Henze. I thought we were on the Mahler Fourth.
GK: So you have a remarkable ability to shut out your surroundings and focus on what's in front of you.
IP: You gotta have that if you're going to play in the subway. (INCOMPREHENSIBLE P.A. ANNOUNCE)
GK: What'd he say?
IP: "I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
GK: Of course. Thank you, Mr. Chrysler. (RK VIOLIN RESUMES)
IP: You mind putting something in the hat? I accept credit cards.
GK: And I handed him a Visa card and without putting down his violin (ROLLER) he got an imprint of my card and pulled out the slip with his left foot and handed it to me and I wrote in twenty-five bucks.
IP: Thank you.
GK: My pleasure. (INTO THEME)
TR: 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.
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).