I Wear Short-Shorts and Play the Balloon Bassoon. What’s Your Hobby?


ISSUE Project Room is a place where the avant-garde thrives. More specifically, it is a place where you can attend a classy fundraiser event in a wizard’s outfit and, for better or worse, have everyone convinced that you also wear bed-sheets and skinny jeans to weddings and the local bakery. So when IPR organizes a series of Soundwalks, in particular a “Balloon Bassoon Promenade” led by Kenny Wollesen, a musician who has toured with Tom Waits and Sean Lennon, I am in no place to decline. The attire was listed as a “solid color of your choice.” I pick green.


2:10 Actually, I am forced to pick green. The only color pants in my possession that are moderately interesting (as far as pants go) are the track shorts from my short-lived, failed career as a long-distance runner in high school.

2:12 “Oh yeah…I accidentally stole these!” Suck it Ramapo High School track squad.

2:15 I put the short-shorts on. I look like a slutty, unshaven French woman. Mmm, just the way I like it.

2:16 For good measure, and to reaffirm passersby that I am not a track runner, but rather, a gender-confused minstrel, I bring my ukulele.

2:35 I board NJ transit and pose like an Asian tourist in front of the train station.

3:07 People I look like: the absinthe martian, Link (a feisty fairyboy) from The Legend of Zelda, Peter Pan, the Pied Piper, and perhaps more accurately, a douchebag.

3:32 I arrive at Penn Station. Four bratty children, several teenagers who mistake me for the youngest Jonas Brother, and three aroused models crowd around me to take a picture.

3:33 I lie. No one thinks I’m cool.

3:30 After boarding the 3 train to Grand Army Plaza, my luck returns. I think everyone is checking out my freakin’ hot legs.

3:31 Everyone is checking out my freakin’ hot legs. Including a sinister crowd of Canadian tourists. That’s right baby, this is how we do it America.

3:53 Prospect Perk Café. The Muenchenini panini is my meal of choice. Did they make that word up?

3:54 I decide to name my first born child, “Muenchenini III”

4:00 The balloon bassoon promenade commences. Kenny shows me the bag of homemade balloon instruments: the balloon bassoons, made from the tip of a balloon and an over-sized paper towel holder; mini bassoons, comprised of striped tubing, balloon material, and a straw; and lastly, wooden shakers and spinny string objects that make a whipping noise.

4:04 Someone takes the balloon bassoon I wanted, the one with pirate sticker pasted around the rim. Bitch!

4:08 I settle for the mini balloon bassoon. It’s compact, versatile, and can play four notes. In short, everything I look for in a balloon bassoon.

4:09 Its name is Earl.

4:30 The promenade begins! A foreign man, who assures us that we are, in fact, playing Lithuanian folk songs, hums out the rhythms we should play.

4:35 I forget my rhythm and play (I think) a Daddy Yankee Song. It fits in with the other melodies superbly.

4:44 People are coming out of their houses to watch us play, some children and their parents follow us. We become one. Our force of chromatic noise is surprisingly pleasant. We will bring peace to this nation.

4:47 I notice that two fellow balloon bassooners have more armpit hair than myself and Borat combined. Viva la France!

5:00 My cheeks hurt from blowing so much.

5:01 That’s what she said. Ha.

5:05 Seriously, my cheeks hurt. I retire them from the balloon bassoon and twiddle the noise-whipping contraption.

5:12 We pass another ISSUE Project room Soundwalk group named, “We would like to run past all your walkers, opposite their direction, while screaming songs.”

5:13 They run past us walkers, opposite our direction, screaming songs.

5:20 We make it to ISSUE Project Room’s home base. A spectacular party is in the works for the upcoming hours, but my mission is complete. I venture back to the outside.

5:32 I am lost, presumably in the heart of Brooklyn, with gang-neutral colors, short-shorts, and a pack of half-eaten skittles. I love New York.