Tag Archives: Boy Scouts

MONK’S HOMEWORK, 1933

Have you saved your high school notebooks?  If you are like me, you disposed of them at the end of the school year with no particular regret — in fact, I sent my chemistry notes into a trash barrel with only feelings of relief.  I see now that we may have been hasty, incautious.

The owner of this remarkable piece of schoolwork is asking one million dollars — or Best Offer — for it here on eBay.  And an elaborate explanation of the circumstances affecting the fifteen-year old writer is offered at the bottom of the page.  This is one page of a ninety-six page notebook.  My transcription of this essay or draft of an essay may be imperfect, but the writer’s tone and content are perfectly clear.

Mr. Marks                                                                         Thelonious Monk

E 4-7                                                                                   February 9, 1933

My Favorite Magazine

     My favorite magazine is the “Boy’s Life” magazine.  I like it because it tells a great deal which interests boys.  Forinstance: it has a great deal of stories of boy’s life, it tells you a number of camps in which you can spend up [?] the summer, it has a part in the magazine which tells you what the boys are doing in the world to become great.

     It has a section in it which teaches you necessary things while camping.  Most boy scouts read them, and I think it is a good magazine to read.  

     It is published monthly by the Manhattan Scout Council.

All the hallmarks of Monk’s later musical style are explicit here: the repetition of simple phrases — but offered at a slight slant, the insistence, the use of simple language.  If you read this essay to the rhythms of a Monk piano solo it would make perfect chiming sense.  The portrait of an adolescent Monk absorbed in tales of camping is still rattling around in my head, but I may get used to it.

May your happiness increase.

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