Sunday, March 3, 2013

Opening paragraphs.......................

Sam Zemurray saw his first banana in 1893.  In the lore, this is presented as a moment of clarity, wherein the future is revealed.  In some versions, the original banana is presented as a platonic ideal, and archetype circling the young man's head.  It is seen from a great distance, then very close, each freckle magnified.  As it was his first banana, I imagine it situated on a velvet pillow, in a display alongside of Adam's rib and Robert Johnson's guitar.  There is much variation in the telling of this story, meaning each expert has written his or her own history; meaning the story has gone from reportage to mythology; meaning Sam the Banana Man is Paul Bunyan and the first banana is Babe the Blue Ox.  In some versions, Sam sees the banana in the gutter in Selma, Alabama, where it's fallen from a pushcart; in some, he sees it in the window of a grocery and is smitten.  He rushes inside, grabs the owner by the lapel, and makes him tell everything he knows.  In some, he sees it amid a pile of bananas on the deck of a ship plying the Alabama River on a lazy summer day.
Rich Cohen, The Fish That Ate the Whale:  The Life and Times of America's Banana King

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