TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye
GK: It was March-the month of mud and dirty snow and crusty salt. The snow was melting and what was underneath it was nothing you'd want to look at. People were walking around looking like their dog had just died. Geese were coming back but they weren't happy about it (UNHAPPY GEESE). It was the March miasma. And everybody was feeling it.
(PHONE RINGS, PICKUP) Hello, Noir here-detection services, security, intelligence gathering of all kinds, also available for life-coaching, dog-walking, home plant care. How may I help you?
SS (FLEXNER): Mr. Noir'This is Dr. Florence Flexner. I'm with the Minnesota Department of Human Resources.
GK: I never knew there was one.
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): We're a state agency that carries on morale programs, Mr. Noir.
GK: Busy time for you, Miss Flexner --
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): That's Dr. Flexner. -Statistics show that this is the worst March in decades, Mr. Noir. Decades.
GK: I don't doubt that.
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): Church attendance is down 75%. Mall parking lots are empty. Daffodils are dying in the store. Nobody's buying them.
GK: I see.
SS (FLEXNER): People are locked up in their houses, Mr. Noir. Staying indoors and eating egg noodles.
GK: But it's warming up, spring is on the way.
SS (FLEXNER): People don't believe it. They're hunkering down waiting for the big blizzard.
GK: What can I do, Miss Flexner -- Dr. Flexner --
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): We're bringing in young people from other states. Cheerful happy well-adjusted young people from warmer states who can sing --
GK: I'm not following.
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): We call it Up with You - It's like the Peace Corps, except it's here. They'll go out in public places and grab people by the hand and sing and dance and make them feel good about themeselves.
GK: I'm not sure Minnesotans want their hands to be grabbed.
SS (FLEXNER, ON PHONE): Anyway we need someone to audition a group this afternoon. Can you do it?
GK: As long as I don't have to hold their hands, sure -
GK: The audition was being held at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul-I got there and the musicians were already there, kind of huddled together for warmth (SHIVERING). And two other people standing off to the side who I could see were locals.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Hey, there. How's it going.
GK: You here to audition?
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Nope. Just walking around.
GK: Oh. Okay.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): What's going on then? Some sort of music --
GK: Yeah. Why don't you stay and listen?
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Okay. If it's not too much trouble.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Yeah. We don't want get in anybody's way.
TR (FLAT): If we're in the way, just tell us to scoot and we'll get out of your hair.
GK: I gave the Minnesotans a couple of front row seats -- I figured they'd be a good test audience if you could make them smile, you could heal the sic. Make the lame walk.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Music. Very risky profession, if you ask me. Don't get your hopes up. You could get hit by a truck tomorrow. You need a job with health benefits.
GK: Okay -- let's listen to these young people.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Dental hygiene. Now there's a good profession. People are always going to need help flossing.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): That's the truth.
GK: The audition rules said no ballads, no torch songs, no songs about lost love or old age or death-just upbeat songs about love and celebration and the goodness of life. Let a smile be your umbrella, every cloud has a silver lining, just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street, that sort of thing.
--my first contestant was a redhead from Tennessee.
AG: I'm freezing. Why do we have to do this outside?
GK: You're in the north. We don't want to mislead you about that.
AG: Those are the people I have to make happy over there?
GK: That's them.
AG: Are they ill?
GK: No more than ususal.
AG: But they're frowning.
GK: Just go ahead and sing your song. Do your magic.
(AG SINGS "TOMORROW")
GK: Excuse me. Don't touch the audience.
AG: I thought we were supposed to take their hands.
GK: You can pat them on the shoulder -- but no hand-holding --
AG: Okay. Sorry about the hug.
GK: Next up was a couple from Virginia--
(HONEY DEWDROPS, MOURNFULLY 'BLUE SKIES')
GK: It's interesting. There's a depth to it, I thought. A groundedness-could we get a little more light-hearted?
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): I sort of liked it. It wasn't bad.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Yeah, real good then.
KP: But you're not smiling.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Weren't we? I thought we were.
LW: Does anybody in Minnesota ever smile so their teeth show?
GK: In Minnesota baring your teeth is an act of aggression.
LW: Never mind.
GK: We'll call you, okay? (BRIDGE) Next up was a young woman from Nashville. She was blonde, and sprightly, and she looked like a singer.
AM: So I can't sing any sad songs?
GK: We'd rather you wouldn't.
AM: Because sad songs are kind of my thing.
GK: We're trying to lure people back from the precipice. Not shove them over.
AM: I believe in diving down to the bottom of our pain, Mr. Noir. It's there that we find true happiness. How about "I'll Fly Away"?
GK: Go ahead.
(MOURNFUL, "I'll Fly Away")
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): You know, I flew once and I said to myself -- never again.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Yeah.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): If I can't drive then I don't want to go.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Costs an arm and a leg and then a wing falls off and you plunge to your death.
AM: I guess I didn't cheer them up, huh?
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): No. This is as happy as I've been all week.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Yeah. I feel great.
GK: Thanks. We'll let you know. (BRIDGE)
GK: I never realized before how hard it would be to get young people to be upbeat on cue. Luckily we had more contestants waiting-your name?
PL: Pinky Lee
GK: You're from Michigan, right? Petoskey.
PL: No. Petoskey.
GK: That's what I said.
PL: No, you said Petoskey. We're from Petoskey.
GK: Anyway you're not cold.
PL: No. But we're bored.
GK: Michigan? Petoskey, Michigan? You're bored coming to Minnesota?
PL: It's pronounced Petoskey.
GK: That's what I said. Never mind.
PL: Do you have Internet access here?
GK: Yes, of course.
GK: No, not dial-up. Wireless. Sing your song.
PL (SINGS "SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW")
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): I can tell you what's over the rainbow. Rain.
GK: You couldn't get a little more life into it? Is that how you'd sing it in Petoskey?
PL: It's not Petoskey. It's Petoskey.
GK: Never mind.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Hey, it's almost four o'clock. Guess it's time to start thinking about dinner.
GK: We're not done yet.
SS (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Feels like we are.
AR: Heard you were looking for someone to sing happy.
GK: Yes. We are.
AR: I sing happy.
GK: Good. Let's hear it.
AR: I tap dance, too.
GK: Go for it.
(AR SINGS 'BEYOND THE SEA', TAP DANCING)
GK: Okay, that's find-but the sea, to people from Minnesota, is not a cheerful thing'it's dark, dangerous'we're afraid of water-tidal waves, sharks and so forth.
AR: Okay, how about this? (CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN)
GK: Mountains the same. Scary. Threatening. Depressing. The wind can blow you right off and that's it.
SS (MIDWESTERN, FLAT): Yeah. Happens all the time.
TR (FLAT, MIDWESTERN): Terrible thing.
AR: Guess you wouldn't want "Down in the Valley" then, either--
GK: I don't think so. No crevasse music.
AR: Okay. Thanks. (FOOTSTEPS OFF, BIRDS)
GK: Luckily we still had one more group waiting out there-a couple from the Ozarks--
(MS & PV SING 'YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE')
GK: I'll have to stop you there'I just think this may hit seasonal affect persons the wrong way. Seasonal affect people do not believe that somebody can be their sunshine. They need actual light.
MS: Oh. Okay.
GK: How about something from your own life. Just make up a happy song about something that happened to you recently.
PV: Okay --
You are my chicken, my leghorn chicken
You always walked here, by my side
You were my chicken, and then I killed you
I ripped your guts out and ate you fried.
GK: Okay. Thanks.
GK: So I had to meet with Ms. Flexner and tell her Up with You was a bust.
SS (FLEXNER): Dr. Flexner.
GK: Anyway. I'm starting to doubt the efficacy of music to make people feel better -
SS (FLEXNER): Well, we cand just give up and feed ourselves into a wheat combine -
GK: What can we do?
SS (FLEXNER): How about these people here?
GK: Who are they? Looks like about a thousand of them -
SS (FLEXNER): These are people who were found wandering the streets and are in here for shelter --
SS (FLEXNER): No. Hopeless. Temporarily hopeless.
GK: Maybe they'd sing if we asked them to.
SS (FLEXNER): You ask them --
GK: I think you should.
SS: What if they turn on us in blind rage? There are a thousand of them - they would rip us to shreds.
GK: Sing, people. We promise not to hold your hands. Promise.
(ALL SING O WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING)
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing right up to the sky
O what a beautiful morning, O what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's going my way
TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building-one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye