Horn

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  1. Rhinoceros horn, of course. A ‘commodity’ that has driven, I think, at least one variety of the animal to extinction.
  2. In the liner notes to ENZSO, a collection of Split Enz songs performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Eddie Rayner talks about being berated for calling the brass section the ‘horns’.
  3. The penis is sometimes called a horn, though only, I think, in its erect state. I saw a lot of phalluses during this year’s OzAsia Festival in Adelaide. In Macho Dancer, a female dancer performed a version of the titular dance – usually performed by Filipino men to mixed audiences in Manila nightclubs – with a large phallus tucked down the front of her hot pants. In Specific Places Need Specific Dances, two male dancers donned koteka, elaborately decorated penis sheaths of Papuan origin. In Hotel, a play in two parts depicting the history of Singapore as seen through the eyes of the inhabitants of a Raffles-like hotel, a drug hallucination sequence peaked when two human-sized penises began to dance.
  4. There’s a Ray Bradbury story in which an old man finally manages to get a horn. I can’t remember anything else about it. I suspect it’s not one of Bradbury’s better stories but there would be more truth in fiction if authors depicted erectile dysfunction more often. According to Jon Ronson’s new podcast, The Butterfly Effect, impotence is, well, on the rise. It seems free porn has something to do with this. In Japan, I keep hearing, young people are barely having sex at all.
  5. Haydn wrote frequently for the horn, and there is a famous horn solo in Tchaikovsky’s 5th
  6. One of my favourite musicians is Chet Baker, the white American trumpeter, singer, and addict who died by falling out of a hotel window in Amsterdam in 1988. Baker looked like a movie star before he looked like a washed-up junkie, and, like Elvis (with whom he shared military experience) ended up in a lot of terrible films. In Italy, where Baker was worshipped like a god, he was known as the Man with the Golden Horn.
  7. There is a hunting horn at my parents’ house. I think my dad inherited it from his dad, and I can remember discovering, and being fascinated by it, as a teenager. I was on the school debating team and remember taking the horn along to a debate one night. Maybe it was relevant to the debate’s theme (unlike in parliament, I don’t remember a prohibition on props) but more likely I thought it would be useful for some hell-raising. We were very conscious of being public school boys in a debating league dominated by private schools, and liked to take every opportunity to make a nuisance of ourselves. We found it especially enjoyable to wake up the borders, particularly if we had just won a debate and were in a celebratory mood. I suppose we could have done this with the hunting horn. We definitely did it with a brass bell we found at one of Adelaide’s more exclusive private colleges, an incident our debating teacher is still surprisingly good-natured about.
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