Carl how many transvolations has it been, so glad you thought of us this time around.
We’re dy’in to hear how things are going in the 8 miles high club. First lets get the sound check out of the way please put your headphones on and lean towards the mic...you know the drill...
Testing testing . . . me llamo Carl Safina . . . AKA Teg-One...testing...testing.
Engineer’s voice : On Air in 5 4 3 2 1
Announcer: You’re listening to "Quodlibetical Moments"— 25 Years And Counting—with WNYC’s very own venerable Leonard Lopate.
Carl Safina AKA the Tegulated Tapir has been a guest on the show a number of times in his various roles as marine preservationist, historian, story teller and polemicist. Today he shows up as a beat poet in a tegulated heat resistant suit and as always I am pleased to welcome Carl to my show.
I’m pleased to be back on it.
I’m introducing you today as a beat poet, tell us how that came about.
Today’s poem came to me as I was showering through the heat of our atmosphere at about 40,000 feet above one of my old favorite new places the Veldts of Africa, I was falling through rhythmic pockets of the lower stratosphere, that were hitting me like some kind of drum machine. While looking down I could see my earthbound cousins being stymied by their mangled migratory patterns.
Your killing me daddio, read it already.
With pleasure, Leonard.
So Here’s to U
I am an urgent ungulate. I am called Gnu, pronounced: New. Get it right, because when people call me “guh-noo”—as they doo—gnu gets old.
Or so I’m told. I must return to the fold; can’t break the mold. That’s the urgency. Stick with ‘em, don’t fall behind. Hurry, keep up. Wanna know why? Lions, mostly.
Fact of life. When people ask, “What’s eating you.” It’s nice to have a good answer: lions, mostly. That’s the truth. Hyenas too, have a taste for the gnu; it’s no joke. Catch up, move along. Graze that carpet of grass. Oh, I have dreams. Aspirations. Ex-aspirations. I’d like to open a clipping service. Come out here and mow. Sell it to all the other urgent ungulates so that for once gazelles could gaze instead of graze and gnus could choose.
But we’d still have the lion question to deal with. Or we’ll never be able to relax, let down our guard. You need sometime to be somebody. To get something done. As an urgent ungulate I won’t hesitate to tell you; never confuse what’s urgent with what’s important.
All the day-to-day, I want to make it fall away so I’d have something to say. Instead, I’m here eating hay, catching up, moving right along. He who hesitates is toast. Lions are relyin’ on a little laggin’. On our tail without fail. Pain in the you-gnu-what. Wasn’t for them, we could be somebody.
Ever seen a lion? I have. Seen ‘em do some terrible things, man. Those little cubs, so cute. Don’t be fooled. Gotta eat too. Who gnu?; know what I’m sayin’? Them mamas know it. Lions lying all over in this grass. Never know where. Don’t take a step except right behind someone else who’s already just stepped there. Goddamn conformity, is what it makes. Goddamn lions.
Wasn’t for lions, I could have some time. No more urgent ungulate. I could breathe a certain air of erudition. Time’s what I need. I wish I had people’s kinda time. Sit-on-your-ass time. Time to think. Time to do. Time for things that never get done if you just sit on your ass. Like people do. Ironic, ain’t it? Grass is always greener. I wanna be like some guy. And if I was some guy? I’d never do nuthin. Know what I’m sayin’? It’s not just being urgent, and it’s not just havin’ time. A little urgency, a little time, fine-tune that mix—it could be just right.
Gotta go. Sun’s gettin’ low. Everyone’s moving along and I need to get along and go along. No need to ask what’s gnu. As if I don’t know. But, sun’s getting’ low. Golden shadows; they scare me. Lions.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen but I heard on NPR the other day—we all heard the same thing of course—that there’s only 10 percent of the lions there was a hundred years ago. Everyone around me—this whole herd—was cheerin’. Bleatin’ idiots. Those lions go? What you think that’ll mean for us? It’ll mean where all this grass is now, you gonna see huts and houses. Guys with spears and guns. Same old same old. It’ll be the end of all that’s gnu.
That was wonderful Carl, just wonderful. I have to ask, how do you stay comfortable enough to write while re-entering the atmosphere.
Actually Lenny its a funny thing that you, of all people, should ask me that. It seems one day an artist/industrial designer, heard me on your show when I was introducing my book “Voyage of the Turtle” and out of the blue he just sent me a heat resistant tegulated suit. You wouldn’t mind if I gave him a shout out for the suit.
Carl Baby, on this show, at this station, we encourage Le Shout Out.
Victor Stabin: GREAT SUIT!