FAQ #3

Question: I play the accordion, too. Why did you start playing the accordion? What was your first accordion? What do you play now? Do you know any good accordion jokes?
Answer:  Glad you asked! Why I started to play the accordion--hmmmmm. Well, after the incident of the jar of bees and Joey Doberman (see the Tales Out of School page), my mother and father thought that if I put my energy into music instead of stupidity, I'd be better off--and so would a lot of innocent bystanders. So they asked me what instrument I'd like to play, and I said "the accordion" off the top of my head for no particular reason at all.

My first accordion? My parents went right down to Wards and bought me a 34 key, 48 bass piano accordion on the budget plan for $6 down and $7 per month (big money in those days). I think the whole bill came to about $65 or $70. There was nothing more beautiful to me than that accordion. I instantly fell in love with its gleaming white pearl finish and the celluloid-covered frame and keyboard. It had three sets of steel reeds (not two--I know as a fellow accordionist you'll appreciate that), a sliding octave coupler and a fourteen fold bellows. And it was made in Italy, not Germany. My parents even sprung for a flannel-lined, artificial leather carrying case for an extra four bucks. I still have this accordion, although it is not really playable anymore. Now, I'm going to get a little more technical in the next paragraph for the accordionists among you, so you non-free reed musicians and all others might like to scroll down to the jokes.

These days I play three instruments. One is a vintage 4x12 Hohner Carmen, 2/4 reeds musette tuned, 0/0 registers, 34 trebles, 11/16" keys, black with red & white deco floral accents (really pretty!), metal grille, and extra long keys, a few of which are out of level, but it's in pretty good shape. I've got a Baffetti button accordion, too, with treble buttons in 2 rows, 8 bass buttons, 3 sets of treble and 4 sets of bass reeds, and 1 treble switch. It's OK, but nothing like my best...which is my Pigini Super Bayan piano model, a very nice lightweight instrument with a 45-note extension for the treble and a 58-note extension for the bass. The reeds are made out of single aluminium blocks. The touch sensitivity is simply incredible. I can play for hours and hours without killing myself and the tones I can get out of this sweetheart...just splendid!

Jokes? As far as accordion jokes, I've heard more than my share, but here are some of the least offensive. You have to have a thick skin if you play the accordion, as you probably know. I've found the best way to handle critics, jokers, and hecklers is to smile, take their ignorance and poor taste in stride, and not let the uncultured dolts get to me. It's a strategy with applications in all areas of life, isn't it? Well, here's what you asked for...

If you drop an accordion, a set of bagpipes, and a viola off a 20-story building, which one lands first? (Who cares?)

What's the difference between an Uzi and an accordion? (The Uzi stops after 20 rounds.)

What do you call one hundred accordions at the bottom of the ocean? (A good start) (I believe this is a variation on a similar "lawyer" joke.)

What's a bassoon good for?  (Kindling for an accordion fire)

What's a accordion good for?  (Learning how to fold a map)

What do you call a group of topless female accordion players? (Ladies in Pain)

Minimum safe distances between street musicians and the public:

•Violinist: (25 feet)
•Bad Violinist: (50 feet)
•Tone Deaf Guitar Player who knows 3 chords: (75 feet)

•15 year-old Electric Guitar Player with Nirvana fixation: (100 feet)
•Accordionist: (60 miles)

Question: What is that "kishka" stuff you mention in that story in your Tales Out of School?
Answer: Well, I can tell you some of the ingredients that Petey's Gramma and Grampa used to make their kishka: pigs' feet, snouts, and livers; buckwheat grits; onions; and fresh pig's blood. Pretty horrible stuff, eh? But is it much worse than a hotdog? I don't know all the spices they threw in, but since I can't imagine you would actually try to make kishka, I guess that doesn't matter. If you're really interested, though, I suppose you could find out in any Polish cookbook.

More short answers to questions asked but once or twice. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a FAQ, but since this is my page, I can do what I want. As before, you should easily be able to deduce the questions given the answers which follow...

  • I just acquired a lovely Brittany spaniel, although they don't call them spaniels anymore.
  • Yes, Martians do click, squeak, and chirp--sort of.
  • No, Walter Brooks was born in Rome, NY, not Centerboro.
  • As of this year, Brooks would be 112, so I really don't think so.
  • My next five best include: "Accordion Jitters," "Lara's Theme," "Pope John Paul II Polka," "Hinky Dinky Parley Voo," and, of course, "Lady of Spain."
  • "Zuma, Man from Mars," was just a professional wrestler. He was on the cover of the September 2, 1950, issue of Wrestling As You Like It magazine. I have the evidence in my scrapbook for 1950.
  • If you're referring to the meat product, yes, I occasionally enjoy SPAM.
  • No, the Martian mural I referred to is not a velvet painting.
  • Go ahead and name him after me.
  • No, I do not wear sneakers--ever. For adults, they are in bad taste at all times and everywhere.
  • I made my own Newtonian telescope. Grinding a ten-inch mirror was no easy job!
  • No, no more recipes. You'll have to buy the book.
  • To find out what happened to Jimmy Witherspoon, see the Centerboro necrology.
  • Of course I visit my father at the home! What kind of a son do you think I am?
  • Yes, someone did mention to me once that Wiese lived in Brazil for three years.
  • I used to go camping much more frequently--my favorite places were the Adirondacks, Algonquin Park up in Ontario, and, of course, the Big Woods.
  • Yes, I can tolerate well-behaved children who keep a respectful distance when adults are around. "Children should be seen and not heard" works for me.
  • Sorry, the Pez dispensers are not for sale.
  • I once saw a cloud that looked just like an overstuffed armchair.
  • I'm sorry the friture did not turn out well for you. I don't know what you did wrong.
  • William Bean had a 1924 Rumley Oil Pull tractor. I sold it at the auction, and you probably did see it at the steam engine show they have in Canandaigua, N.Y., every summer.
  • No, I don't whistle while I play the accordion.
  • I would guess that just before Freddy vanished, he weighed about 275 pounds.
  • As far as I'm concerned, television is still a "vast wasteland."
  • Well, I usually vote my conscience.
  • I don't think the disappearance of frogs and horseshoe crabs has anything to do with plans the Martians may have for Earth.
  • Mrs. Underdunk and I have no definite wedding plans at this time.
  • No, I have no idea where you can buy the kind of white paste Herb ate in elementary school.
  • I'll have you know, for your information, that Jayne Mansfield's IQ was 163! Can you top that?
  • I don't know why the Martians keep the clothes. Souvenirs? Trophies? Exhibits?



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