Whale shark in Bimini, Bahamas
National Geographic | February 1958
After Sendak died I wrote this little piece for a magazine, but they rejected it. I tried a few other places. All rejected. I just reread it and I still think it’s pretty funny, so here it is:
When I was a child I loved Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are”. I would obsess over the drawings of the Wild Things. I wished my name was Max and I had monster pajamas and all that shit that most kids feel after reading that book for the first time. Then, when I got into fourth grade the entire class was forced to participate in this musical “Really Rosie”, which was based on Sendak’s “Nutshell Library”, a collection of his stupid hippy nursery rhymes, and with music by Carol King, the undisputed queen of 70s radio slime. I was appointed to be in the chorus, and it seemed like we rehearsed those terrible songs for months, over and over and over. Now, I didn’t know much about music at that age. My musical tastes at the time were probably relegated to Oscar The Grouch singing “I Love Trash” or the theme to Gumby. But I knew this music sucked. I felt humiliated allowing those words to crawl out of my mouth. And having to sing them every day was sending me over the edge. Until one day I snapped.
The Indian Brook Elementary fourth grade class was on a bus returning home from a field trip to the Aquarium when one of the teachers started up a sing along with the dreaded Really Rosie soundtrack. During a short break between songs I shouted, “STICK IT!”, an insulting phrase I probably learned from watching “Alice” or “Maude”. I think in my puny mind I had this crazy notion that all the other kids would thank me for finally speaking out against this musical holocaust. I would be like Neo, setting humanity free from this Matrix of shitty showtunes. But that didn’t happen.
“Who said that?!”, my math teacher Ms. Dunphy yelled, as if I had just interrupted Willy Wonka reading the secret recipe for Everlasting Gobstoppers. Like sheep, all the kids pointed at me. In a crazed act of desperation, I tried to deny it and blame it on some other loser nearby, but my goose was cooked.
I think this was the last week of the school year, so it was all field trips and general goofing off. Except for me. For my crime of having dared to criticize this wonderful musical I had to spend the rest of the week copying out of various boring books, sitting alone in a room while in the next room I could hear the other kids having fun, partying and watching “The Apple Dumpling Gang”. Word of my crime had got back to my parents, too, and for 2 weeks I was grounded and had to sit in my room with no tv.
So, fuck “Really Rosie”, fuck Carol King, and fuck you, Maurice Sendak, wherever you are.