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The Human Jukebox: Too Much Heart, Too Little Soul

--The City by the Bay has pulled the plug on the Automatic Human Jukebox, ticketing him for playing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” too loudly. Grimes Poznikov, 40, had been belting out his unique brand of entertainment inside his homemade “jukebox” on the same downtown street corner for 15 years. A passer-by would insert money and request a tune and Poznikov, in a wild tie and a fedora, would pop up and play his beat-up trumpet. His music apparently hit a wrong note with a nearby office building manager, who complained to city officials that weekend workers could not concentrate with Poznikov playing “from 10 a.m. until sundown.” Noise abatement officer William Arrietta investigated and found that Poznikov was 13 decibels too loud when he played “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Arrietta was apologetic but said: “I was just following the code.” Poznikov has moved to another location several blocks away.

--In San Juan Capistrano, a sure sign of spring is the return of the swallows (and the pigeons). In Jackson, Wyo., spring is heralded by the male sage grouse strutting their stuff on the airport runway. Linda Olson, a naturalist at Grand Teton National Park, said the airport was built on a centuries-old mating ground. “When the runway was built, they just still considered that to be part of their display ground and continued to use it,” Olson said. During the five-week mating ritual, Airport Manager Carol Lewis said runways are checked before takeoffs and landings to be sure no birds are in the way. And pilots are warned to be on the lookout for amorous grouse. Since most mating is done in the early morning and evening, Lewis said it does not conflict with many of the airport flights. --A postscript: It turns out that the reason that Robert Johnson, of Carthage, N.C., the “R. J.” who carved his initials into a tree in Britain in World War II and was the object of a search by the tree’s owner, the Marquess of Hertford, can’t fly to England as Hertford’s guest is because he is serving a 120-year-term for the 1971 fatal beating of four of his five children. Margareta Cootes, of Portsmouth, England, who is a longtime pen pal of Johnson’s and who told Johnson of Hertford’s search, said she did not originally tell Hertford that Johnson was in prison because she “didn’t want to cause anyone any embarrassment.”


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