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The World's Best Percussionist (and His Demise)

From Audio: (Of the Air): Fourthly! – The Janitor's Nights

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station description Discover a wondrously surreal world of magic, music, and mystery. This immersive, c... read more
The Orbiting Human Circus
Duration: 05:01
In an attempt to get over his fear of public speaking, Julian talks about a friend with an unnatural sense of rhythm.
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Atop The Eiffel Tower lies the studio for The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air!), a wonderful radio show exhibiting unusual acts from around the world. However, this story isn't about that show. Tonight, the show is about the janitor, Julian, and what he does to get over his fear of public speaking. He has a story to tell of someone he once knew: a talented percussionist with the knack for staying on-beat.
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until he was like five, he didn't learn to talk, but he could hear these rhythms like say there's a refrigerator humming and somebody's breathing in one part of the room and somebody's breathing in another part of the room and there's crickets outside and say someone's walking down the stairs and a plane flies overhead and a cat is purring and all of those together they make a giant rhythm that he could recognize. But when he was a kid, uh like his parents, okay. So his parents were always fighting. They were they were alcoholics and they were just always screaming at each other. And and and there was a lot of violence and stuff. And um but he noticed like when he was super little that whenever things were bad or like whenever something bad was about to happen, whenever something like dangerous or scary was about to happen, there was always a certain kind of rhythm that was occurring like a certain family of rhythms. Um And and and every single time his parents fought, that kind of rhythm was present. And and then he noticed also that whenever things were good, like like really really good like those days are like, you know like when time slows down and and when things get really vast and everything is really wonderful and and people are really happy. Like on those days there was another kind of rhythm. And so he started doing these experiments when he was a kid, he started like when his parents were fighting right, he'd just start breathing and like drumming his fingers on the table and tapping his foot and trying to turn the bad kind of rhythm into a good one. And what he found was that whenever he did this, everybody in the room couldn't help but join in the good rhythm with them. They'd start breathing in the same pattern that he was breathing and they'd start rocking back and forth unconsciously like in their seats and the same rhythm that he was doing and they'd start tapping their own feet And suddenly what would happen is the bad rhythm would turn into a good rhythm and his parents would stop fighting and variably for him. The whole thing would lead the ice cream. But you know by like the time I met him he was totally grown up and he would travel constantly. He just passed through and then dab yet you know like you'd see him in another year or something. But all that he would do is he would go to these places where people were really sad or or things were scary like really dangerous places and he would just change the rhythm. Like he'd go he'd like walk into like a cafe or something, you know like an only diner and he just start breathing and like tapping his foot and tapping on the table and moving like his for chris spoon around and slowly. Everybody like the whole feeling in like the place would lift. You're going to like like an emergency room in like a hospital. People would start smiling. People would be like putting their arms around each other and and and and laughing. Uh huh. But what happened was it was like as time went on he just kept going to places that were more and more dangerous and more and more scary. It was right before the last war that we ran. He had a plan to go to the city that we were going to bomb because he wanted to be there when the bombs were dropping so that he could change the rhythm of the sound of the bombs dropping for the people that the bombs are dropping on and I go, But this is what he told me. He said, that it was incredibly important that the story of his life have very specific rhythm and that in order for that to happen, it was incredibly important that he die unbeaten. I don't know how to explain it. Mhm. But it worked because every time I ever tell this story, the rhythmic thing in the story happens. And every time anybody tells anybody this story it happens to and the janitor leans back, wipes the sweat off his brow and having spoken successfully into the microphone, continues to Rome father and father down the cell. Meanwhile, back in the broadcast, borrow off in its corner, behind the stage, the orchestral wakes up, preens itself and begins to practice for tomorrow night's show.
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