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Paul A. Toth

Secret Lives of the World’s Greatest Composers: Mozart

June 8th, 2012
by Paul A. Toth

Despite my ability to fluently write and speak thirty-nine different languages, the four Ph.D.’s I’ve earned, my work as an archeologist, forensic pathologist, pre-Socratic philosopher, neurological surgeon, mime, locksmith, zoologist, and janitor - despite it all — I could never rest until now, when I can finally share the results of the eighty-five years I’ve spent unveiling the secret lives of music’s greatest composers.

It started with a hobby, my part-time position as an unlicensed psychiatrist, which prepared me for this project. It may well be said that this physician failed to cure himself, much less his patients, but my gracious colleagues ensured me they, too, never failed to fail.

Born immune to the culturally-bankrupt “music” known as the blues, I found my succor in Western culture’s highest achievement: the arrangement of notes into compositions that required great minds to explain how the masses could pretend they enjoyed the greatest music the world has ever ignored.

Leaving that task to others, I instead chose to explore the lives of these almost-tolerated geniuses. I selected my subjects based on a simple litmus test: Had they served as the subject of at least one major motion picture?

And with that, let us begin with the obvious and regress to the oblique as we explore the secret life of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 250 A.D. to Roman parents, Irrititus Alotus, a hot-tempered shoes salesman, and Lustus Allmaleus, a seductive and highly-successful nymphomaniac. When pulled from the womb, Alotus immediately struck the boy in the head with a frying pan. Mozart, whose parents waited fifteen before naming their child, was rendered deaf in both ears and suffered brain damage as a result of the assault, which in turn led to the one factual element portrayed by 1997 film Amadeus: a mind-splintering giggle that would result in many more blows to the head.

To escape Alotus’ violence, Mozart fled to the Galapagos Islands in 1200 B.C., building a canoe with botched crosses imported from Jerusalem and employed as torture devices during Rome’s Spanish Inquisition.  Incredibly, modern scientific technology has proven Mozart the first human being to ever visit the islands.
Landing at Santiago, Mozart endured temperatures as low as 69 degrees. He survived by constructing a three-bedroom bamboo hut. In freezing temperatures, Mozart solved his boredom by studying the sounds made by birds and insects. Despite having never heard a single musical instrument or undergone the slightest musical training, Mozart translated these sounds into musical notes. Soon, he began carving his first compositions in tree trunks.

“The Tree Compositions” disappeared over the following 2600 years. Only one example remains. It was discovered by Charles Darwin in 1965 and immediately Fed-Ex’d to Art.com. But Darwin discovered something far more compelling in 1323, facts recorded but deleted from his never-completed journal, “Sex, Sex and More Sex.” By using MRI technology, forensic mythologists, aided by physician handwriting interpreters, recovered much of the deleted material in their examination of Darwin’s notes. In doing so, they revealed one of the biggest secrets of Mozart’s life.

In those passages, Darwin remarked upon observations he deemed unnecessary to his theory. The notes, rambling and nearly unintelligible due to the penicillin-resistant strep throat Darwin contracted in 1769, contain only a few lucid passages. One of those passages will forever change our understanding of Mozart.
Darwin writes, “One day on Santiago, while studying the Arctocephalus galapagoensis, I noticed that dozens of these creatures had apparently been violated in a region of the body the naming of which would be unsuitable for this journal’s audience. (Note to self: This may sell. Rethink decision later.)  I knew only one man had been to this island before me: Mozart. I recognized immediately that this supposedly- cultured man, barred from relations with women until he departed Galapagos in 1892, was the culprit, foisting himself upon these helpless creatures. With one mission remaining, I stopped in Haiti on my way home and consulted a witch doctor, requesting that he cast a curse upon Mozart.”

The Arctocephalus galapagoensis, or Galapagos fur seal, and specifically fur, propelled Mozart into a promiscuity that began the moment he returned to civilization. Leaving in the same craft that had carried him to Galapagos, Mozart eventually landed on the shores of Kazakhstan in 1899, completing a six-year journey. During the voyage, Mozart carved new compositions into the floor of his canoe, creating leaks and the need to drink and spit out the waters threatening to literally sink his ship.

Upon his arrival, the boat promptly disintegrated. Local villagers, frightened by the wig Mozart had taken to wearing during his Santiago years, grabbed the remaining boards and beat the composer out of what senses remained. From that day forward, Mozart, already deaf, lost the ability to feel, see, taste, and smell.
The villagers left Mozart to the lack of his lack of devices. He spent the night on the beach and, testing his abilities, learned that the only sound he could still produce was the giggle that had led to giggle. Tortured by memories of an unconsummated love for one of the seals, and tormented by hallucinations of frying pans, Mozart sprinted into the vast and flat plains populated by intellectually-vacuous peasants, a scene familiar to those who’ve visited Kansas.

As spears, arrows and rocks grazed his flesh, Mozart unknowing headed into the desert that would eventually become known as Russia. He arrived in Moscow, exploding with musical ideas and his sexual obsession with the fur seals he would neither forget nor ever see again.

He wandered the streets. At one point, which most historians date as occurring sometime between the years of 1498 and 1814, Mozart happened across a street pianist. Hearing the notes he had until then merely imagined, he frantically searched for the source, but he saw no birds or insects, only the man on a bench, tapping upon a strange device. Stopping between pieces, the pianist looked up and noticed the disoriented and half-naked human specimen now leaning on his piano, eyes closed. Assuming Mozart to be a narcoleptic idiot, the pianist took his unconscious superior to the local hospital. It was there that hospital records, only recently released by the Russian government, tell another secret tale.

Familiar with the disorder, Mozart’s doctors treated him by way of cocaine. Released from the hospital with a lifelong prescription for the drug, Mozart rode the White Pony for the rest of his years. Fortunately, the doctors had sympathized with the senseless, giggling composer, and before his departure, gave him enough money to support his living at hotel for two months. Mozart, walking on cocaine legs, covered the one hour walk in thirty-five seconds. The doctors, knowing his inability to speak, had made arrangements with the hotel, and Mozart was attended to with special care by the matron, one Zhamaryspechikov Zavajhanovovich, a widow whose inheritance had made her a wealthy business owner. Nevertheless, Zavajhanovovich was lonely and often “visited” her male lodgers late at night.

In this manner, Zavajhanovovich went to Mozart’s room at midnight. Upon opening the door, she witnessed the composer in a furious cocaine power-wanking session, in which it can be surmised that Mozart’s mind was filled with visions of fur seals. Knowing an opportunity when she spotted one, Zavajhanovovich stripped off her clothes and revealed another kind of fur, then pounced upon her willing prey. Mozart and Zavajhanovovich married half an hour later.
Now living permanently in the hotel, Zavajhanovovich taught her husband how to write. One day into the honeymoon, Mozart could communicate his thoughts in thirteen languages, and, except for his music, this provided his sole means of communication.

One morning, Mozart handed Zavajhanovovich a note in which he asked that she go to the market and purchase for him new ears, eyes, tongue, nose, and “if possible,” nervous system. When she responded with the silence of the stunned, Mozart jotted a second note: “Never mind. But please obtain 185 exterminators to eradicate the liquid spiders dripping from the ceiling, which is melting.”

Thus, we arrive at the solution to a psychiatric mystery. Often diagnosed as bipolar, Mozart instead developed paranoid schizophrenia from his constant use of cocaine. Recent studies solidified the diagnosis by revealing that 100 percent of paranoid schizophrenics hallucinated insects, birds and fur seals whenever listening to Mozart’s music via I-Pods supplied by researchers.

Deeply worried, Zavajhanovovich took Mozart to the office of a charlatanosk, the era’s equivalent of a psychiatrist. This charlatanosk, centuries ahead of his time, provided the exact treatment a modern psychiatrist would administer in such a case, doubling Mozart’s medication. This doctor, whose name remains unknown, became Mozart’s lifelong friend, and the doctor’s monthly requests for greater compensation were met with instant approval. Mozart recorded the sole in his diary. Having protested for ten minutes, he writes, “Liquid spiders began dripping from the ceiling, which was also melting.” He instantly paid the requested fee.

Mozart’s career left the launching pad in 1413, just as the Russian Revolution began. Zavajhanovovich, labeled a bourgeois capitalist by the newly-formed government, was arrested and sent to Siberia during what historians would later call “seventeen days that changed some of the world for a while.” Mozart proved immune to sorrow; he reports in his diary that he “never stopped imagining my sweet wife as a far sweeter fur seal.”

His career survived the chaos to come, then thrived as communist officials rushed to witness the “giggling idiot.” After expressing his desire to copulate with Stalin’s mustache, Mozart was arrested. Though originally pre-sentenced to death, Mozart’s fortunes turned when Stalin recognized that executing the world-renowned prisoner would create too great a public relations crisis. He was released in 1642 and sent to the czar, who proclaimed the composer a Hero of the Soviet Union.

The final secret of Mozart’s life regards his death. Long the subject of intense scrutiny and conspiracy theories, not to mention a good film plot, the secret facts can now be revealed. For reasons unknown but documented by the secret witness account left by Stalin himself and made public by a different dictator yesterday, Mozart’s final words - or word - proves the power of the supernatural: “Voodoo,” he said, and breathed his last breath. A Haitian witch doctor’s curse had killed one of the world’s greatest composers.

In honor of the dead hero, Stalin arranged for the shipment of Mozart’s corpse to Galapagos, where he was buried with 25,000 fur seals executed by NKVD guards in a “Soviet Supreme Sacrifice” attended by 65,000 birds, 3,000,000 insects, and the ghost of Charles Darwin. But one last secret occurred in Mozart’s afterlife, for Soviet secret police records note that Stalin had become so obsessed with the composer that he shaved his mustache, which was placed in the coffin that now rests somewhere beneath the florid surface of Santiago Island.


Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Peter Gajdics

What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up: Me, My Gender and I

October 10th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

One day in grade six, Teacher asked us all to say aloud what we wanted to be when we grew up. “I’m going to be a doctor,” one boy announced as we all sat cross-legged in a circle. “I’m going to be a teacher!” a ponytailed girl called out with a raised hand. Another boy with red hair and freckles said he wanted to be a fire engine: a big, loud, red, fire engine. Teacher, a kind, grey-haired woman who always wore a blue, pleated skirt and held a piece of new, white chalk, corrected him by saying, “Don’t you mean you want to be a fireman?” “No,” the boy said, shaking his head. “I want to be a fire engine. A big, loud, red, fire engine.” Everyone laughed, but secretly I was scared that Teacher would ask me what I wanted to be. I was scared because I didn’t know what I wanted to be. There was no profession I could imagine myself becoming when I grew up. Would I even grow up? That was like imagining myself outside a forest when all around me it was dark and I was alone and really, if I’d been honest, although I already knew well enough not to be, all I wanted was to be at peace. Not a doctor or a priest or a football player—at peace. (more…)


Litsa Dremousis

Suggestions, Verities, and Such:

October 5th, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

Historians assuredly will view this epoch and, among other things, conclude we fussed and churned way too much over pubic hair.

We elected a president, not Santa Claus. We’re not going to get everything we want in the first three fourths of the first year of the first term.

While I know otherwise, I prefer to think ships float by magic: the water displacement theory strikes me as kind of sketchy.

Ladies, we’re nearly 52% of the population. Perhaps more of us could act accordingly?

Also, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of us stop writing to and marrying serial killers?

And fellas, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of you stop serial killing?

Is anything more resplendent than a lilac tree in spring?

Nutella, while medicinal, is extremely potent and should be handled as such: the combination of spoon and jar seems to hurl one into a time lapse and next thing you know, your evening is shot to hell and your shirt looks like an eight year-old’s.

(more…)


Ben Loory

Tarnishment of the Living Apparatus

September 15th, 2009
by Ben Loory

LOS ANGELES, CA-

There is no point to this. The point is that I’m getting sick. I just noticed it an hour ago. Suddenly I am blowing my nose. Out of nowhere. And now feeling a little wonky. So I took some vitamin C and ate about 14 pounds of sautéed spinach and now I am sitting here waiting to die. If the pig flu gets me tell them I was an okay guy. Kind of quiet and not very good at tennis, but basically decent.
(more…)


John L. Singleton

Things I Learned About the Apocalypse Over Labor Day While Vacationing In Palm Springs, California

September 15th, 2009
by John L. Singleton

LOS ANGELES, CA–

So, I’ve been working pretty hard lately. And by working hard, I mean that I’ve been working really hard, for long hours (12 or so of them every single day) for about the last two years. As a reader of this little article, you might wonder what I’ve been working at for all of these hours, but that’s not important. What is important is that at this point, the only thing that really punctuates my working of really long hours is the drinking of highball glasses of Jim Beam, which helps me work more but alas (according to all of the addiction recovery books I seem to be reading lately) doesn’t really relax me. At least not in the way a good vacation would. A good, sober vacation. And what better place to get away from it all (or at least the burning, wood-fired Tandoori oven that is LA right now) than Palm Springs, California, just two hours away!

At first this seems like a great idea, right? A relaxing desert, a pool, room service… All awesome things. However…

(more…)


Peter Gajdics

Gender: Weltanschauung

September 13th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC

After a nearly twenty year hiatus I am back in University, continuing my undergraduate degree in the only field of academia that makes sense to me to study as a 44-year old gay man who’s spent much of his adult life struggling with issues related to sexuality: gender studies. Assignment number one was to ask as many people as possible: What makes a “real man,” what makes a “real woman”? Naturally, I asked all my friends. Responses ranged from the straightforward (“this is pretty simple to me”), to the more complex (“this really is an existential question”). They also seemed reflective of the two broad camps of evolutionary thought: the “nature” (men and woman are fundamentally biologically different) vs. “nurture” (men and women are socially constructed to be different) argument. (more…)


Peter Schwartz

Faith Isn’t Stupid

September 4th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good. (more…)


Matthew Gavin Frank

Evolution

August 24th, 2009
by Matthew Gavin Frank

BAROLO, ITALY-

At the end of Via Crosia, at least a kilometer past the Macelleria, but before the vineyards, the street’s rose cobblestone is cracked with anthills.  Surely these bugs are, right now even, communing under the town, perhaps under a single block, waiting to bore holes through the bathtubs of Barolo.

(more…)


J.E. Fishman

At Loggerheads

August 11th, 2009
by J.E. Fishman

BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC—

We left home for Bald Head Island under an invasion of gnats.  They started turning up in the master bathroom, and it got to the point where I was killing a dozen or more a day.  The slaughter was not traumatic for me in any way.  The gnats were slow, unthreatening.  You could close your hand around them or — my preferred method — wait for one to land and crush it neatly under a fingertip.  If one alit in the sink, you might end its existence with a splash.

I didn’t think of the gnats again until we were well ensconced on Bald Head, until we saw the baby sea turtles.

(more…)


Simon Smithson

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

August 2nd, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

It started with a lottery ticket.

I was in a newsagency, buying a pack of gum. I had five bucks in my wallet that I had assigned no particular purpose to, the Division One prize had been jackpotting for weeks, eventually reaching a total of AU$90,000,000 (or a penny in American dollars), and one person in three in the whole country had bought a ticket. So I figured, Hey, why not? I’ll get in on this action. After all, I deserve that money way more than any of these other chumps. God knows I’ve worked hard all my life to avoid rising above adversity, helping others, or being a decent human being in any way, shape, or form. It’s about time I got rewarded for my efforts. Also, Papa needs a new pair of shoes.

(more…)


Simon Smithson

Sweet Liberty!

July 25th, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I will forever be indebted to my friend Luke for many things. Among them, his habit of using the exclamation ‘Sweet Liberty!’ where other people would happily drop the F-bomb. What started out as irony on his part has become, to me, one of the most endearing traits of his conversational character. I also owe him a debt for introducing me to the concept of the third option. Luke, a man of cunning and repose, taught me about this years ago. When stuck in a bind, he said, when both going forward or moving back look equally unattractive, look for the third option. It’s always there, just not immediately recognisable. (more…)


Don Mitchell

I Don’t Brake for Mongoose

July 7th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY -

I’m writing this in rural western New York, where out my workroom window I’ve seen deer, woodchucks, hawks and, once, a weasel. Last week a fox I hadn’t seen before came to check things out. I let these animals alone though I admit to throwing sticks at the woodchucks, who eat my phlox, and I warned my chicken-raising neighbor about the weasel. The plants and animals I look at seem to belong here, but most of them, even the birds at my feeder, have their origins somewhere else. I don’t think of them as invasive, but they are.

I grew up in Hilo, a town on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and I go back there every year, to live for a while in the house I grew up in. In Hilo you can’t help being aware of the tension between invasive and endemic species, and I don’t mean as metaphor for tourists and locals. Ordinary folk talk about it and (more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

I Want to Protect the Institution of Marriage Between a Man and a Woman (4th of July Special)

July 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

With the 4th of July upon us, my neighbor screaming from a lost extremity at the hands of a Black Cat and enough potato salad in my gullet to occupy Paris, I got to thinking about America. And American institutions. Well, people, the hallowed institution of marriage is under attack in America, not just from Communists like Barney Frank and the state of Iowa, but also from other insidious forces both seen and unseen. So, in the interest of preserving the kind of marriage that God and Texas intended, here are some things to be especially mindful of:

(more…)


Jennifer Duffield White

The Subtle Differences Between Bear Bones and Human Feet

May 1st, 2009
by Jennifer Duffield White

SARANAC LAKE, NY-

When the snow melts, things turn up with stories hidden in their decomposition.

A cigarette carton.

An abandoned navy blue sweatshirt.

A stray mitten.

And bones. (more…)


Paul A. Toth

Those Ignorant Theists

April 30th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

In a new book reviewed by Salon here, Terry Eagleton readies the religious backlash as if the tiny minority of American atheists somehow threatens his lukewarm beliefs. His favorite tactic is to lump Christopher Hitchens together with Richard Dawkins and refer to them as “Ditchkins.” The first is a neoconservative whose book only tried to raise profits, while the second is one of the most elegant proponents of evolution who happens to feel we arrived here without the help of God just fine…though we may exit unless we rid ourselves of ill-informed beliefs.  But that, according to Eagleton, is absurd, for Eagleton himself doesn’t believe in such fundamentalist hokum as creation “science.” Why, he’s not even sure God created man.  With religions like that, who needs atheism? (more…)


David Breithaupt

Killing Pain With Jerry Stahl - A Brief Interview

April 8th, 2009
by David Breithaupt

COLUMBUS, OH-

I kicked my last dope habit in federal prison and I can tell you, there’s nothing romantic about it. Whatever you might imagine the experience to be will probably not be far off the mark. Picture hellish monotony, cramps that never vanish, months of sleeplessness and of course, that special craving. Making art out of this experience is difficult. My own recollection of the episode is dank and foul. As Dante said of his Inferno, death is hardly more bitter. (more…)


Megan Power

An Attempt To Make DNA Methylation Interesting To You

March 1st, 2009
by Megan Power

SAN ANTONIO, TX-

702 W. Martin, the cute puffy red cartoon star on my Mapquest map, turns out to be a creepy, rundown cinderblock high rise. The grass is worn away in big patches and the windows are lined with garbage bags, aluminum foil or blankets. It smells like a hundred people have been cooking potent ethnic food in concert with their doors open. Mariachi music plays at hearing damage volume from a ground level unit.

But the view is breathtaking.

(more…)


Zsofia McMullin

Eczema-Schmeczema

February 27th, 2009
by Zsofia McMullin

PORTLAND, ME-

Looking in the mirror every morning requires a lot of courage lately. My latest eczema flare-up is attacking my face, turning it into scabs, raw meat, red bumps, flakes of dead skin.

I pack my face with a heavy moisturizer every night before bed, sleep on my back so I don’t rub it off, but still, the results are the same every morning: rawness and redness.  I am not generally vain and I know that I am not a great beauty – I have a big, crooked Jewish nose, an aggressive chin, and my left eye is bigger than the right. But the fact that this latest flare-up is on my face is really pissing me off. I could handle it anywhere else on my body – and I have – just not on my face.

(more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Cave of the Winds

January 30th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

“The Maid of the Mist isn’t running,” a tourist with a British accent says, studying a map of Niagara Falls, New York. “Wasn’t there something called the Cave of the Winds?” His companion, a slim woman with red hair and freckles and dark-brown eyes, shrugs, crinkling her nose. The man continues, “I remember you wore raincoats, climbed a slippery wooden stairway and entered a cave behind the falls.” “Maybe,” the woman answers, but she seems cold in her black pea coat, seems to shrink from an overcast day and icy drizzle. She puts a small hand on the man’s arm and asks, “Would we want it to be open in November?”

The Cave of the Winds, once located behind the Bridal Veil Falls, was destroyed by a controlled dynamite blast in 1955. By then the once large cave – 130 feet high, 100 feet wide and 100 feet deep, had shrunk and been reduced to about a third its original size. Falling rocks had ‘shrunk’ the cave and hurt or endangered several visitors. (more…)