So last month, Beth and I headed north to Phoenix to attend the concert of guitar god Tommy Emmanuel at the new Musical Instrument Museum. It was my 7th Tommy show, and Beth’s first, and I was excited for her to experience the man himself in person. She had the same reaction I did the first time I saw Tommy: “I don’t ever want to pick up a guitar again.” He’s so good, he has that effect on people, or at least on people who fancy themselves guitar players. I’ve seen him 7 times, and I still shake my head in astonishment at what he accomplishes with a guitar.
But prior to the concert, we actually wanted to see the museum itself, so we arrived early to do so. Not as early as we wished, because we got lost on the way, but we had two hours to wander through the museum, and it might well have been enough if we hadn’t gotten sucked into the gift shop immediately and wasted 15-20 minutes there. (But, OMG, you guys, I got THE CUTEST little purse, and a b-day gift for my dad! And I got to play a theremin!)
Anyway, the main galleries of the museum are organized by geography, and you travel the world as you move through musical exhibits. We started in Africa and ended in Europe. As you might imagine, the European instruments were most familiar to us, even if we’d never seen those particular specimens before.
It was an interesting and educational tour, and I was especially interested to see instruments from the countries my ancestors came from: Finland, Germany, Sweden…
…and then I got to the Polish instrument exhibit, where I was confronted with this:
I called to Beth, who was still safely enjoying less bizarre instruments of Eastern Europe, insisting that she come over and see this living, breathing Polish joke (do people still tell Polish jokes?) in the flesh. Or in the wood, as it were. “THIS,” I exclaimed, “is why my people are ridiculed the world over!”
When I was a kid, my father (who is 100% Polish), had a “Polish coffee mug.” It had the handle on the inside of the cup. It was a joke, of course. But this instrument is beyond a joke; it’s preposterous.
I mean, seriously, what is it? It has two separate wooden saxophones, a bellows, a fur coat and a goathead. A goathead! It’s like the post-late-night-pizza nightmare of a satanic Swiss blacksmith that plays a little jazz on the side.
And if that weren’t enough to make it the laughingstock of the musical instrument world, the name of this abomination?
You cannot make this shit up.