Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Four Banana, Three Banana, Two Banana, One

Just finished checking out "Electrical Bananas," a chapter in John McMillian's Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press, 2011).

McMillian starts off the chapter with Sara Davidson's observant coverage of New York City in mid-1967: " . . . especially noteworthy for Davidson was the sight of a young hippie in a wizard hat selling bananas on an East Village corner. They were going for ten cents each, with a three-cent deposit on the skins" (page 66).

Reports were circulating at the time, describing the hallucinatory effects of smoking dried banana peels. . .

As in: Gone fishing, gone bananas . . .  

McMillian follows various leads as to the origin of the idea of smoking banana peels, and looks at contributions ranging from a 1963 article through Country Joe & the Fish, and Donovan, with even a footnote about The Velvet Underground and Nico (including Andy Warhol's banana cover), all circa 1966-1967. 

But how did this notion spread from there? The subtitle for "Electrical Bananas" suggests an answer with "The Underground Press and the Great Banana Hoax of 1967."

Beyond that, semiotic bananas must have been part of the Zeitgeist, the spirit-ghost of the high-time. Because there are other examples, even beyond the main scope of McMillian's study, moving from 1967 into 1968 (The Banana Splits TV series, Juanita Banana) right into 1971 (Woody Allen's Bananas) and probably right into the
21st century . . . 

If this theme song for The Banana Splits doesn't sound trippy, I'm not sure what does:

Tra la la, la la la la.
Four banana, three banana, two banana, one.
All bananas playing in the bright blue sun.
Flippin' like a pancake, poppin' like a cork
Fleagle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork. . .

Today's Rune: Signals.     

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

The world is certainly more bizarre than I have imagined.