As John Lennon once said, "I-I-I-I should have known better." Now I do. Hey hey hey.
This little rock 'n' roll interlude is brought to you by way of a news item earlier this week: Entomologists fighting the dreaded Mediterranean fruit fly may start paying closer attention to a secret weapon mentioned in that journal of all things agricultural, the Farmer's Almanac.
One of the problems in the, ah, fruitless Medfly wars is finding a way to lure the Medflies out of wherever it is they hole up, and into some diabolical chamber where the scientists can unleash their unholy weapons on the unsuspecting . . . oops, I'm ranting.
Anyway, as regular FA readers no doubt can tell you, one of the most effective lures for Medflies is . . . the harmonica! Specifically, the low F-sharp note on the mouth harp; it reportedly duplicates the Medfly's own mating call. No wonder Bob Dylan became a songwriter instead of a fruit farmer.
As I said, we all should have known. In all those old movie Westerns, when the grizzled trail boss gives the signal to make camp for the night, and the dogies settle down, and one forlorn hired hand pulls a crusty, dented mouth harp out of his dusty shirt pocket and blows a mournful version of "Red River Valley," darned if you can't always spot a fruit fly buzzing around the campfire.
Heck, that was probably part of the secret deal the Rev. Robert Schuller cut last January when he received the only exemption in state history to an aerial malathion spraying, and state helicopters scheduled to whiz over the Crystal Cathedral and rain down their noxious . . . oops, there I go again.
I bet that in letting Rev. Bob off the hook, they made him promise to use that earth-shaking "Glory of Christmas" sound system of his to blast out "The Harmonicats Greatest Hits" all evening to keep the Medflies thinking about something other than destroying crops.
I'm also willing to bet that the reason we've had this recent Medfly infestation in Orange County is directly traceable to the dearth of blues bars around here. With no chorus of F-sharps in the air, they've got nothing on their tiny little minds except attacking lemon trees.
Really. I checked news reports from around the country and haven't been able to find any report of Medflies ruining harvests around such harmonica-heavy towns as Chicago, New Orleans or Austin.
It's encouraging, though, to imagine the day--or night--when instead of sending "Apocalypse Now"-like choppers over our cities, spewing malathion on our trees, yards, houses, cars and the occasional homeless person who has nothing over his head but pesticides, they'll be leading all the little winged enemies out of town Pied Piper fashion with nothing more harmful than Little Walter records booming from loudspeakers.
This could provide for a whole new source of revenue for struggling bluesmen who have had to make do plying their trade before two or three drunks in some local dive, or standing on sidewalks playing for loose change from passers-by.
I expect that the state's agribusiness farmers will be more than happy to fund a special anti-Medfly research account to enlist anyone who has a Marine band, chromatic or chord harp at home in the closet.
Local guys such as James Harman and Rod Piazza, fabulous harmonica players who have been eking out a living in Orange County for more than two decades waiting for that big break, would suddenly be in demand throughout the Golden State.
As the efficacy of harmonicas in the Medfly war is proven, state officials will encourage everyone to join in--just like in the war against drugs--and they'll start handing out harps to every school kid with a pair of lips and even the slightest case of the blues.
Once we've hummed the pesky winged critters into amorous submission and out of our hair, we'll be able to kick back and enjoy not only a more fruitful society but a more harmonious one as well. And just in case some years down the line, a new mutant, harmonica-resistant strain of Medfly turns up--no sweat. We'll just go back to the hall closet and drag out our \o7 super-\f7 secret weapon: