Why Whales Beach Themselves

ANDREI CODRESCU

May 25, 1992|By ANDREI CODRESCU

New Orleans -- Why do whales beach themselves? The mystery has eluded scientists who do not believe in despair they cannot measure. It's been said that pollution might be responsible.

A Japanese scientist claimed that nuclear submarines may be at fault because they refuse to respond to the good-natured entreaties of the large beasts who then kill themselves because they feel unloved. That's too much sensitivity per pound, if you ask me, and let's not forget that the Japanese have killed more whales than have ever committed suicide. Guilt translates into scientific theory better than any other sentiment.

Anyway it appears that at long last the mystery's been solved not by a scientist but by a poet, Jim Nisbet of San Francisco. He has found that the places where whales beach themselves all have heavy concentrations of AM radio. It appears that whales are able to tune in AM, and become extremely depressed, particularly during commercials. ''Some of the promotions,'' says Mr. Nisbet, ''with/just the right copy, jingle and hook/they find intolerable. If the irritation continues long enough/it will as in an oyster form a pearl/in the whale's head/ This pearl is death./The only way to turn it off.''

Next to jingles, what irritates the whales most is the Rush Limbaugh show.

Mr. Nisbet has proposed a large-scale project involving the silencing of AM airwaves for brief periods. Thousands of whales would be saved this way. The government could conceivably reimburse the advertisers for lost revenues with some sort of ''whale credits.'' If this isn't done quickly, the beaches will be choked this summer with whales murdered by Limbaugh & Company.

What's worse, there are indications that humans are also beginning to acquire the ability to tune in AM without the need for a radio. It's pouring in through ozone-burnt skin and tooth fillings. Don't be surprised if large masses of humans drown themselves in the ocean this summer while passing the whales heading the opposite way.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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