The Muse and Whirled Retort 2018

Chris Chandler's Muse and Whirled Retort December 2018

chandler 2199

...and so it came to pass...
that the three wise-men came westward
from the four corners across the painted desert
and beheld the bright n eon star,
illuminating the sky,
high above the Tropicana Hotel and Casino
in Laughlin, Nevada

I am not making this up.


The three wise-men had been locked in a self storage bin in a suburban town east of where the king was born.

No one had visited them in nearly

a year and cobwebs and dust were

already taking over the storage bin. None the less they were released and their first destination was to the city where the King was born of

humble origins: Tupelo, Mississippi.


My mother loved Christmas.

She made new Christmas ornaments

every year for as long as I can

recall. When I was a kid I first

remember the three wise-men.

They were made of strips of old rags wheat pasted round quart sized 7-Up, Dr Pepper and Cheerwine bottles

and then painted with Byzantine robes with kite string for beards.

The shinny yellow lid to a Prell shampoo bottle was used as a jewel

in one of the crowns.

The chest containing the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh was

made from the red plastic hotel

from a Monopoly set.


In the time of king Herod,

the Magi came to Jerusalem to ask where the king had been born,

for they had seen the star rise which foretold of his coming.

Herod called his scribes and

astrologers into council and it was concluded that he was born in

Bethlehem of Judea.

The three wise men were sent,

by Herod with gifts of

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

and - most importantly - instructions to return and tell Herod the exact location of his birth.

In short, the three wise men

were spies.


My mother passed in February....and this Thanksgiving I returned to my hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia to plant a Dogwood tree in her honor.

It has been my first return home since her passing.

Enough time has gone by for me to be able to roll up the storage bin door and take back to Oakland a few

precious memories of her.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

I decided to look through more of the boxes stacked inside the storage bin in search of more treasures: the vestiges of a life now enshrined in zip-lock baggies and neatly folded and stuffed into Tupperware containers awaiting their fate to be

decided by her heirs.


As I opened the red and green

Tupperware, the profusion of child hood memories rose like the dough of my first Chef Boyardee Pizza.

The memory of my mother turning the red plastic Monopoly piece hotel into a treasure chest and then Elmer’s gluing it into the hands of a

Dr Pepper bottle transforming the mundane into holy works of art, called to me.

it was simple...

The wise-men must join me on my journey.


When the wise-men found the Holy

Family they did indeed present the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

But more importantly, upon their

arrival to Bethlehem

on the 12th day of Christmas,

(launching the very first Mardi Gras season),

the Magi had an epiphany.

Much like the former slave trader, John Newton writing “Amazing Grace” as he turned his slave ship around and set his captive cargo free,

the kings had a change of heart.

They warned the Holy Family of Herod’s intent to kill the potential threat to his power.



Not knowing the Holy Family had been warned, King Herod sent armed forces to kill all of the young children in Bethlehem:

The Massacre of the Innocents.


However the Holy Family had ben warned and they escaped to Memphis, Egypt.

...and that is how it came to pass that the three kings made their way to Memphis in a 1996 Saturn so

they could witness the giant Chrome

Pyramid known as the Memphis

Convention Center in Memphis,



The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated at the Loraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Loraine Motel is now a

Civil Rights museum.


Memphis’ Blues Music now preserved on Beale Street-also known as the B. B. King highway.

We’re talkin’ Highway 61.

He is from there. He is known as the King of the blues. His music served as an inspiration and the roots for what would become Rock and Roll.


Elvis Presley, born in Tupelo Mississippi, became the King of Rock and Roll, He came to Memphis for the

music. He lived there. His house

in Memphis is a museum to a generation. He had more gold records than anyone else. He has arguably been heard by more people than anyone born in this hemisphere.


These three kings of Memphis have changed the world by bridging the cultures of black and white.

Elvis Presley imbibed the black roots music of B. B. King which made it palatable for white audiences by turning it gold,

while Martin Luther King used

the power and organization of the church to knock down the

Jericho walls of segregation.


After warning the Holy Family, the Magi did not return to Jerusalem

as instructed by Herod, and they chose to live in exile for the

remainder of their days.

There are many stories about what happened to them after that day.

One story has them passing through the line of Genghis Khan.  

to an island off the coast of Wales - Ynys Môn - Anglesey - where they shared their knowledge from the East, with the priestly Druids from the West. Others have them coming to the Western Continents to live with the Hopi. There are many stories.

However, I know for a fact,

that the three wismen went from

Memphis to Okemah, Oklahoma to

visit the home of Woody Guthrie,

and to Madrid, New Mexico and

up to the four corners,

and across the Holy Hopi Land.

As America passed in our rearview, news reports from our multiple wars and subsequent terrorist attacks flashed with the persistent regularity of mile markers and billboards advertising the holiday season.

I think to the

Slaughter of the Innocents.


...and that is how it came to pass that the three wise-men came westward from the four corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, across the painted desert and came to behold the bright neon star illuminating the sky high above The Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada.

This time there was room at the inn.


When crossing the desert I recommend taking refuge in

a casino - not a manger.

If you don’t gamble, it is a cheap way to rest.  

In this case,the luxurious Hotel room was only $19.00

and it came with a free buffet!

The Hotel even gave us each a five dollar credit card in which to

gamble. Well, I don’t normally do that ....

but under the circumstances...

I figured, “What the hell!”

I placed the quart-sized figurines each on barstools in front of the one armed bandit... I inserted the card... I pulled the handle...

Elvis Presley was singing,

“Wise men say” over the Muzac


Three Stars rolled round and stopped.

A chorus of Casio keyboards rained from the heavens like a gift.

I won Gold!

I won frankincense ... !

I won myrrh... !


The room was paid for.

I removed the card and put the wise men back in their Tupperware container. They will continue their voyage westward into the setting sun - from the land to the east - across Route 66.


I left Oakland on October 25

and have been on the road for 40 days and 40 nights.

As we return home tonight - on the 40th night -

I am gratheteful to all of those who have helped t

the weary travelers along the way this holiday season.

May there always room the inn.

updated: 1 year ago