Back before I started vocalising my poetry, I was telling stories. I used to host a Sunday afternoon storytelling series in New York City at a little french caf? in Soho called Le Po?me. Maybe that was a forecast of things to come. Part of my interest in storytelling came from my fascination with [tag]Lord Buckley[/tag]. I loved not only his dynamic performance in the telling of his stories, but his creative use of living language to make people laugh and also think from a different perspective.
I wrote a few stories in what I would call Lord Buckley style. One of them ?[tag]Tesla Vision[/tag]? follows. It?s about [tag]Nicola Tesla[/tag], who the Supreme Court of the USA did finally decide was the real inventor of the radio. If you want to know more about Lord Buckley, you can find out a whole lot by visiting http://www.lordbuckley.com. If you want to join me for some [tag]storytelling[/tag], please come Listen & Be Heard Poetry Caf? on Saturday afternoon from 2:30-4pm.
MARTHA CINADER Mims
copyright Martha Cinader Mims 1995, 2007
“Man did you ever think about what it was like before the city burned bright all night, before the radio.?”
“Nah, not me. I ain’t got no desire to de-progress, know what I mean? Me and Marconi are pretty tight. He’s alright with me.”
“Marconi? What’s Marconi got to do with it?”
“Don’t you know anything? Marconi’s the one turned our coats to the radio.”
“Well I guess that just proves you weren’t reading the news in 1962.”
“’62? Everyone knows radio was invented before that!”
“Yeah, but in 1962 the Supreme Court of these United States of America decided that Nicola Tesla was the real inventor of the radio.”
“Nicola Tesla? Who’s that?”
“You mean you don’t know who Nicola Tesla was. Well let me hip thee. He was born on the stroke of midnight in the year of 1856 in the sweat swinging countryside of Yugoslavia, and he was an inventor from the front.
While other young kids were running around hooping and hollering Nicola was busy experimenting. His far out imagination took him up to the roof one day. He thought he could fly by hyper- ventilating with his umbrella to slow him down a bit. They had to stash him in bed for a few weeks after that, but that was the last time he ever made any kind of mistake, experimental wise that is.
The next thing he tried was a water wheel with no kinda paddles, but it spun in the water anyway. Then he started seeing things that no one else could see. Like the time his uncle was reading a description of Niagra Falls, far off in America, and little Nicola he starts seeing the cascading waters, and a giant wheel spinning in the water, and it’s all surrounded by a bright shining light. He tried to touch it, but his hand passed right through it without a flicker. Like a movie projector is projecting straight from his eyeballs into the air. After that he says to his uncle, “I’m going to America and light up the world.”
While other studs were running around chasing chicks and partying all night, Nicola was constantly feeding data to his memory banks. He burned both ends of many a candle. Then he took up, waddya call it, electrical engineering, that’s it, and he started building machines right under that wig of his. If they were outta balance or something well he would just fix it right up. Got to where they almost threw him out of school ‘cos he never wrote nothing down. But he saved ’em the trouble ‘cos he comes up with this very strange sickness indeed.
See, he got so tuned to the vibrations in the ground and the vibrations in the air, that when a fly landed on his desk, it sounded like a ton of bricks falling on his desk to him. And a plain old horse and buggy a mile away like to shook his whole body. Train whistles were intensely painful. They had to put rubber under his bed so he could try to sleep at night. He went on like this for a couple of months, twitching and twittering, didn’t know if he was gonna live or if he was gonna die.
So he’s sitting in front of the window one night, watching the sunset, when that movie Projector started rolling. He saw a magnetic field sinning like Mother Earth herself. And it ket on sinning as long as two alternating currents was carrying on outta sync with each other. Well it’s a funny thing ‘cos after he had this vision, he come on back to reality, like there was a reason he had to leave it in the first lace and now he could come on back.
He invented something called an induction motor, and decided he was going to America to show this cat Edison how to have his light bulbs burning everywhere with this invention of his. So he gives up his two penny gig in Yugoslavia and spends all his bread on a ticket to cross the water. Only thing he’s got left in his pockets is some drawings of some flying machines that the C.I.A. and the F.B.I are sitting on right now. But that’s another story.
Now Edison, he already had his light bulbs burning on what you call direct current electricity. The problem was that everyone had to have their own generator, so only people like Big Daddy Morgan and Vanderbilt and those guys could afford to have it. And it was dangerous too. He had trolley cars running in Brooklyn were so dangerous they called the Brooklynites trolley dodgers. That’s how they came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. But that’s another story.
See, Tesla went straight to Edison as soon as he arrived. Edison’s phones are ringing off the hook. People calling him, want electricity put in, they want it fixed, they want it taken out, he owes a cat some money, gotta run around the corner to get it, he goeas and comes straight back and that’s when Tesla walks in with a letter from a mutual friend saying “This cat’s as bad a mother as you.”
Only problem was Edison didn’t like to hear that anyone was as bad as he was, and on top of that, Tesla was talking about changing from direct to alternating currents.? Well Edison almost flipped his wig, saying things like “you must be crazy coming here talking about changing just when I’m going into the black.”
Well Tesla just tells him “it’s the way of the future,” and he wasn’t lying, but Edison was blind to the truth. So Tesla goes around to his competition. A cat named Westinghouse. He made so much sense to Westinghouse that old W.H. laid down all his dough to light up the Chicago World’s Fair. Now that blew the whole world away. So then they zipped on down to Niagra Falls and lit up the state of New York. And Edison, well he could only crawl around trying to pick up some of the loose change. And I don’t have to tell you, he didn’t like that one bit.
So he goes around to Big Daddy Morgan and they scheme up on this takeover where Big Daddy Morgan buys up all of W.H.’s stock without him knowing that it’s him and Edison doing it. Then they go around and get him with his back up against the wall convincing him that the only way he can save himself is by selling out the rest of the way.
There was only one problem, a little clause in his agreement with Tesla stating that Tesla was entitled to royalties for every watt of electricity they ever produced or were ever going to produce. Now that would have put Tesla at the head of the table, would have made him the richest man in the universe. So W. H. decides he’s gotta have a little talk with Tesla. He knew just where to find him. In his laboratory on East Houston street, roundabout midnight.
So he’s coming up the street in the dark and suddenly he sees lightning bolts shooting out of the windows. It shook ‘him up a little bit, but thinking about all that money shook ‘him up even more. So WH goes up the steps to Tesla’s Laboratory. The whole place is glowing. But he can’t figure out where the light is coming from. And Tesla, he’s standing there with a ball of fire in his hands, but he’s not getting burnt. When he sees W.H. he goes to hand him the ball of fire, but W.H. doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, so Tesla put it away in a little wooden box. There’s no one to this day knows how he did all that stuff, even though it’s documented all over the place. But that’s another story.
See, W.H. told Nicola his little problem and Nicola says to him, “Don’t worry about that ‘cos I figured a way to plug right into the earth, plenty ’nuff electricity for everyone, no one’s gotta pay a penny for it.” Well W.H. is thinking that Tesla must have finally flipped all the way. ‘Just when I’m beginning to collect more regular than the tax man!’
I guess Nicola was a little crazy too, ‘cos he just tore up that little piece of paper would’ve made him the richest man in the Universe. And he told W.H. to get lost ‘cos he was busy inventing some robots, electric clocks, a world broadcasting system, and all kinds of stuff we use every day. And that’s how come you don’t know who Nicola Tesla is, and that’s how come you pay Con Edison for every day that you use all that stuff.”