Tuesday, March 31, 2009

For the Fools among us, and we know who we are. (or, We have found the enemy, and they is us!!)

When I was a little kid, one April Fools Day, I pranked my mother by taking a GI Joe doll, popping his head off, placing it on my Captain Kirk figure (much smaller proportions) and popping big-head grotesque Kirk next to the orange juice in the 'fridge. Creepy, really.

If I had been a little more devious--and daring--I might have dreamed up something with more mileage, like pilfering the laying mash our nine chickens enjoyed as a daily breakfast, and pouring it into the flour jar. My brother, Matthew, for example, got in big trouble the year he buried a thin explosive charge in the end of one of my mother's Kent cigarettes. (He was giggling; she, however, did not enjoy the humor.) For its part, the cigarette was impressively destroyed, and for anyone who remembers how the mini-AT-ATs shredded the trees in the battle against the Ewoks... well, it was just like that.

Another memorable April First.... I spent the better part of the day riding the bike in Prospect Park heartbroken at the news that Brooklyn was going to have to tear down the victory arch in Grand Army Plaza because the French were suing over Arc de Triomphe copyright infringement.... I had read it in a local Brooklyn weekly--can't remember which one, but I swear it wasn't until late in the day that I realized it was an April Fool's story.

And for anyone who's ever spent time on tour... this story could be apocryphal, but, it's just such a great prank, and in fact kept my best friend Jonathan and I in gasping apoplexia, when I told him about it in a Kansan bar in late 1992. It goes thusly: The night before your tour leaves (international is best, but domestic will do), find an unsuspecting charming suburban or rural home, note its address, and liberate their ceramic lawn creatures. (For the story I told Jonathan, they were 'lawn frogs.') Wrap the creatures in packing blankets and stash in the back of the truck. At every tour stop, find the most famous landmark, and photograph the lawn creatures next to it (St. Louis Arch, Big Ben, The Louvre) and send the photos, in postcard form, back to the house. When you return to your home port, return the creatures under cover of night, and presto, the intrepid travelers return home. It's a lot of committment for a prank, but give a group of bored stagehands just a little bit of time and motivation, and then, watch the hell out... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7556244.stm

With just a little research the other day, I turned up a ton of historical April Foolery. So far, my favorite was that the April 1998 issue of New Mexicans for Science and Reason published a story reporting that Alabama's state legislature had voted to change the value of Pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0.
Like the best comedy, it hits on three or four levels.

Thanks to 20th-Century global financial alchemists (coupled to SUV-sized greed), Planet Earth's violently hiccupping economy has made nearly every day one in which to feel the fool. Is April 1 still relevant? Perhaps I should be agitating for April Wisdom Day, in which we freely hand to the masses unexciting, dulled pearls like "Getting Rich Quick Is A Lie" or "If you think you're getting a free lunch, you'll pay thrice for dinner..." or the like. Call it a "wisdom bailout."

On second thought, bollocks that. In our more responsible, more egalitarian 21st Century, we should be doing that every day except April 1, and so in that spirit, I indeed hope today everyone is gleefully waiting for when their best friend opens the springy-snake-in-the-peanut can/steps in the fake doggy do/walks into their living room to discover in place of the couch, a scale model of Nebuchadnezzar II's Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Go extreme today, people, for we live in extreme times and are in need of extreme humor.

Write your favorite April Foolery below, realized or imagined. Don't forget, if God had intended cars to fly, he would have put Texas Nerf Bars on a DC-9.

Thanks again for reading.


  1. The classic April Fools that snared me was the one about The Beatles "Butcher" album cover. For those who are unfamiliar, the story goes that the original cover art for Sgt. Pepper's included a photo of the four lads dressed as butchers, and that some of the released LPs had been pasted over with labels of the revised Sgt. Pepper artwork. If you scratched the lad's faces, the story went, you might reveal the original artwork underneath, and have a very rare and collectible LP on your hands.

    Well, I guess I was a pretty gullible college freshman, because I defaced my own copy. Dumb.

  2. Actually the "Butcher Cover" thing was not a prank. Some copies of the original LP (which was not "Sgt. Pepper's," it was "The Beatles Yesterday and Today") made it out into the world with the new cover slapped on. Not all, but some.


    As for my favorite April Fool's prank, that'd have to be the one I pulled last year on "Marketplace."


    A have a manila folder filled with literally hundreds of emails from people who got fooled...

  3. and then there's the onion-- where every day is April Fool's Day! I half expected it to have real news today...