“I’ve got those Broadway vampires
Lashed to the mast,
I’ve got no future,
But oh! What a past!
The lyrics come from one of my favorite songs of all time. It was written in 1920 for Fanny Brice, who sang it in Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic show. It’s the song of an artist’s model who is a wee bit fed up with posing for other people’s pictures. I love this song so much I have more than a dozen versions of it on CD, and one of them, by jazz musician Ed Wise, is even on my website. My favorite line in it, of course, is, “I’ve got no future, but oh! What a past!” The Rose of Washington Square’s past isn’t specified in the song. That was a stroke of brilliance on the part of the writers. They left the details of her past up to the imagination of you, the listener, which means they’re wide open, in any direction you’d like them to be. Everybody has some kind of a past, so take your pick!
Now I come to the part of this blog post that I hesitate to write. Everyone knows I love to be blunt. However, this post will unfortunately require me to be maddeningly vague.
I can’t be clear here tonight because I don’t have enough information on the subject in question that might allow for specificity. All I know is this: I may have stumbled upon information regarding an honest-to-goodness cold case.
Ever had zero evidence about something, just a strong gut feeling, brought on by several people’s strange statements and downright odd behavior? This is “one of those.” I’ve heard quite a few versions of this case – four and counting, to be exact. One raconteur left too many details out, the other put too many in, the third and fourth’s accounts landed somewhere in between, and none of the stories add up. I’ve heard four versions about a story I never knew existed. The only common denominator with the recounted scenarios is that everybody who tells me anything about this case becomes more than slightly hysterical. One of them went so far as to start screaming, yes, screaming, like an Irish banshee. What a pity I didn’t have my camera handy to capture that crazy moment on a YouTube! To make matters even more astonishing, all of these folks voluntarily apprised me of the case, then started freaking out during their freely given account, but I never asked about it in the first place. I didn’t initially know enough about the pasts of any of the people involved to start making any inquiries.
In police parlance, what I’m being told about the case is “hinky.” ”Hinky” is what the PoPo call the gut feeling they get when a story they’re being told about a crime doesn’t add up. ”Hinky” is kind of like a suspicious feeling plus a little bit more, a little something extra that makes the police uneasy and sets off alarm bells. This mess, to me, is already like the symphony of sirens during a four-alarm fire – on steroids. I’m not a cop, but if I were, I’d haul this whole group of tale-tellers in for questioning. Tonight, if possible. Every time I think of them, I start to hum that old World War I song, “Hinky Dinky Parlez-Vous.” If you don’t know that song, you can find a YouTube of it below.
I’m thinking it might be fun to turn all of this into a fictitious mystery. Maybe I’ll call it The Telltale Mouth. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to look this one up in my spare time. I wasn’t initially; I am now. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. This situation is smoking so much that it’s all but lighting up the sky.
Here’s the YouTube of “Hinky Dinky Parlez-Vous.” It’s not about the same kind of “hinky” as the police discuss, but it’s a funny song on its own power anyway. In fact, it’s French for “Do You Speak Hinky?” Enjoy!