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Sophie is an epic ballad Inspired by Günter Grass’ great novel The Flounder. This passage exists nested in my opera: Flounder in an Arabian Nights-type story-within-a-story-within-a-story segment of the Second Act. Within this story Sophie’s beau, Fritz, inspired by news of the French Revolution, fought for the emancipation of Poland. This in turn fed the ethos of the French Revolution itself. Note the shredding progressive-rock harmonica around 1:40.



Sophie sold flounders,
and lampreys
at Hawkers Gate
with her mother.
She was fourteen
and she was in love
with a
seventeen-year-old high school student.
She was also
about all things revolutionary.
She had known Fritz
since they were children.
In Sophie's eyes
Fritz was a proclamation of freedom.
If not freedom itself--
in gangling freckle-faced form.
Hopelessly as the boy stuttered
at the family board
he read
revolutionary proclamations
with loud abandon
to his little group of conspirators
and cited Danton or Marat
with perfect fluency
Sophie's presence
oiled his vocal chords.
Freedom must be won by violence!
On April seventeenth
Fritz and his co-conspirators were arrested.
It was market day.
Sophie was selling smelts.
Fritz and the others
were committed to life imprisonment.
And Sophie remained a virgin
for all those years.
Waiting for her Fritz.
liked to sing.
That may have helped predisposed her
in favor of the revolution,
which gave birth
to so many new songs.
And because she was a cook
for Pastor Blech
While Fritz stayed and stayed
in the fortress.
She kept faith with the revolution and it's songs
which became kitchen songs.
Putrid aristocrats.
pickled sprats.
The Republic
princes in aspic
mushroom fricasse´.
Triumphant cannonade!
Pepper marinade!
And as she sang
she plotted revenge.
Mushroom soup in the harvest moon
Napoleon will spring you soon.
Orange agaric
we mince.
Head and neck has many a prince.
Kings are trembling.
Cannons are booming.
Soon dear Fritz,
we'll go mushrooming.
I saw an imperial mushroom today.
Let freedom come.
La Liberte´.
And so with a delicious meal she served to Fritz’s captors,
Sophie dished out justice.
by way of a liberal portion of poison mushrooms.
It was a morose man
who returned home
in wooden shoes bringing a bad cough with him
after thirty-eight years.
He had kept his stutter.
Fritz could longer be fired with enthusiasm
for anything except pot roast and red cabbage.
But with Sophie to care for him
he recovered his strength.
The two of them could often be seen
in the early fall
leaving their cottage
with baskets over their arms
to gather mushrooms.
The neighborhood children
shouted mocking jingles
after the mushroom woman
and her wood goblin.
Wasn't it strange
if not suspicious
that the two old people
brought specimens of the useless
fly agaric mushroom
home with them
along with the edible varieties?


from Broken Glass Promenade, released July 16, 2014
Composed and Produced by The StiKman
Lyrics inspired by The Flounder By Günter Grass.
Engineered by The StiKman
Mixed by The StiKman

The StiKman, Stacey Barton, Lisa Robertson, JoJo Razor, Emma Rosenthal, and Rebecca Seeman: vocals
The StiKman: lead vocals, lead harmonica, flute, percussion, and sound design
David Immerglück: Guitar
That One Guy: Bass Guitar, Orchestral Double Bass, other low bowed things
Jim Bogois: Trap Drums
JoJo Razor: percussion

Art Director: The StiKman
Art and Graphics: JoJo Razor



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The StiKman Oakland, California

The StiKman sounds contemporary as the day after tomorrow, iconic as if written into your DNA before history began, and quaint as your grandpa’s favorite song. He is the missing link between Zappa and Beefheart, and the bridge from Charles Ives to Burl Ives. ... more

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