artichoke

“Luther Burbank” and “Beaver”

Posted by on Aug 12, 2009

hey there! steve, chris and i had a fun show at the highland park farmer’s market yesterday. thanks to all who came out to say hello. and happy birthday to chris!

now — it’s back to the alphabet. today’s letter is the letter B:

“26 scientists”:
luther burbank was a self-made man from massachusetts. he came out to california looking for “the perfect place” to grow plants of many kinds. apparently he was so busy working in the greenhouses up in santa rosa that he kept very scanty records of how he actually developed hundreds of new wonderful strains of fruit and flower. luther burbank became something of a botanical thomas edison in american culture. many schools were named for him, including burbank middle school here in highland park. arlo, our friend and legendary sound man at mr. t’s bowl, attended that school. there is a mosaic facing figueroa street that reads “fruit and flower show the magic of his mind.” i wonder what the kids make of it? anyway, luther burbank was an excellent subject for a song. and yes, burbank, california is named for another guy — a sheepranching dentist.

“26 animals”:
beavers are a lynchpin species. their water management allows entire ecosystems to thrive around the wetlands they create by building dams and ponds. they once numbered in the hundreds of millions — and that’s just in north america. then we killed nearly all of them for hats. they are gone from europe and asia, but luckily a few tens of millions survive in north america. decimating the beavers has contributed to the desertification of out planet in a big way. i could go on, but it’s a bit depressing…

anyway, some beavers do still survive and work their magic on the environment. where i grew up in new york state, there was a family of beavers living in our pond. i got the idea for the song “beaver” when juli crockett was putting together a play called “the history of water.” one writer mentioned that beavers would make excellent pets. they are friendly and good-natured. the only problem would be their incessant nocturnal building. they would chew up anything made of wood and presumably build with it. so that’s what my song is about. now that we’ve destroyed most beavers outdoors, it’s time to be nice. invite them inside and let them set things up the way they like it!

up next: “marie curie” and “cat.” thanks for listening!

timothy
artichoke