the story of “mono” or how i found myself in tears on the bus this morning

in 1998 or so i was working at a college radio station in cleveland, wruw.
it was a ton of fun and i found a million new bands that i fell in love with every week.

now i am old. but that is a different story.

john zorn is da best.
when our radio station started recieving records from his label, Tzadik, I was nerdily excited. so for the next few years, my show was jam packed with Tzadik artists like Ruins, Merzbow, Ikue Mori, Melt Banana, etc etc. Then one day, I found the best record, Mono’s Under the Pipal Tree a, which came out in 2001.

From that point on I was obsessed with this dynamic, quasi-classical style of epic rock… and those motherfuckers just got better with each record. If you need convincing, lay down in a comfortable spot and listen to You are Here (2006) super loud. yes, it is loud, and no, don’t turn the loud parts down, fucker.

but that mono record came out a few weeks before i met my ex. we ended up dating for almost 8 years. the first few weeks of our relationship was intense passion. it was essentially Under the Pipal Tree realized in real life.

and now, this morning, the album’s second track appeared on my shuffled player on the way to work, and i was suddenly taken back to December 2001. i wasn’t on a shitty bus crammed into a seat between a couple long island fatties. i was lying on my bed in cleveland with her resting in my arms. The scent of her hair was in my nostrils and breathed in the memory so strongly that i could feel her breath on my chest and hear her shallow breathing.

for only a moment, i was happy again. i was home.

but i opened my eyes and was crushed by reality. the song was over. there was no girl, no bed, no searing passion, no beautiful melody. it had all been a dream.

Storytime: Brad the Monkey

One time there was this monkey named Brad. Brad drove a Mack truck. He loved his truck and he named the truck Julia.

Now, I didn’t mention this before, but Brad was a rare breed of Mexican monkey called “Los Gatos.” They were named that because they look like cats. This caused a lot of problems for Brad. For example, when he went to take his truck-driving test, the teacher just shook his head and pointed to a sign on the wall that read, “No Cats.” Brad had to show him his monkey ID before he was allowed to even step up into the driver’s seat.

So, one day Brad was driving Julia through West Virginia when he saw a peculiar sight along the road. There was a large hippo just sitting there, his hoofs lying on the road where anyone could just run them over.

Brad, being the sensitive monkey that he was, stopped the truck to see what the problem was. When he asked the hippo what the deal was, the hippo replied, “Me llama Gordinflas.” Brad was shocked when he realized… it was his old college pal Gordinflas!”

“Gordinflas!” he exclaimed, “I haven’t seen you in ages, why, I barely recognized you, have you lost weight?!” Gordinflas didn’t seem too excited to see Brad though. He didn’t even crack a smile or stand up to greet his old swimming partner.

“Gordi, what’s wrong? Don’t you remember me?

“Sure I do,” Gordi droned, “But ever since the operation, I can’t feel a thing, not happiness nor sadness. I’m just a robot now. A killing machine, except that I don’t kill anyone, that would be wrong.”

Brad was stunned, shocked even. “Oh Gordi, is there anything I could do to make you feel whole again…?”

“Well,” Gordi began, “there is one thing…”

“Anything!” Brad interrupted.

“In Panama, there’s an El Gato monkey named ‘Mendejo.’ Find him and tell him what I’ve told you. He knows many things about killing and machines. I’m sure that he can help me.”

“I’ll leave today!” Brad exclaimed.

And so Brad and Gordinflas parted ways–Brad with Julia, and Gordinflas lying on the side of the road, devoid of emotion, having only in his brain the formula for killing, which he could never bring himself to use.

It took Brad almost three days to get to Panama, and when he finally pulled across the border, he stopped at the first Mexican monkey truck stop he found. The place, “Daredevil Beatnik El Gato Monkey Truck Stop,” was barren.

When Brad stepped in, the barkeep lifted his head from his Gameboy and gave Brad a secret monkey truck driving smile. Brad took a stool near the jukebox and asked for a gin and tonic.

“I’m feelin’ supersonic…” he commented. Like the bartender’s dad and his dad before him, his service was quick and effective. The service was so effective, in fact, that Brad had his drink of choice in front of him. “I’m lookin’ for Mendejo. You know where I can find him?” queried Brad.

“Oh Mendejo is a very dangerous man, señor coconut. Why would you want to visit him? Killing is his business and I heard that business isn’t so good…”

“My pal Gordinflas sent me…” Brad began.

“Gordinflas?!” the bartender interrupted, “you stay away from Mendejo and Gordinflas! They’re the most notorious El Gato monkey killers in Central America… maybe even all the Americas!

“Why would Gordi wanna…” Brad started. “Wait a minute! Gordi mentioned that someone had turned him into a killing machine… he must be trying to kill me!”

“And every other El Gato in the free monkey world,” quipped the barkeep. Horror overtook Brad as he realized that his former swimming partner and college pal was a maniacal murderous murderer. “That damn dirty hippo! How could he be so heartless? After all the laps we swam. After all the classes we had together. After all those winter nights when the heater was broken…”

“Uh, so what will you do, crazy monkey truck driver?”

“Me and Julia are gonna just keep on truckin,” Brad boldly replied. “That’s how I live, and if that’s how I die, then so be it.”

And so Brad kept on trucking with Julia, mesh cap on his head, not a monkey truckin’ care in the world.