Letters: The Sound of Bonobo Chimps

Listeners on American Pie, a silent-movie organist and the disturbing sounds of Bonobo chimps.

Letters: Bonobo Chimps


You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Time now for your letters.

First a correction from our July 1st show. In my essay that week, I spoke about a former military recruiter Raymond J. Plower, who was shown in the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 and was killed that week on duty with the combat unit in Iraq. I said that Mr. Plower was an Army officer. In fact, he was a U.S. Marine.

Last week's conversation with Margaret Sartor about her book American Pie, a collection of diaries from the early 1970s, drew many comments and some confusion. We should have clarified that Ms. Sartor changed the name of her hometown and many of the people in her diary to protect her privacy. She called her hometown Montgomery, Louisianna, as we did in the interview.

Many listeners just loved the way she talked. Oh what a beautiful piece that girlhood diary was, Holly Payne(ph) from Memphis, Tennessee wrote. When I found it in my podcast directory, at first I was dismayed that it was so long. But to hear Margaret Sartor's molasses-like drawl, and to hear Scott Simon lead her so gently but incisively down the path of her childhood, it drew me in completely.

Another hit from last week: our interview with organist Rosa Rio who played for silent movies, Orson Welles, As the World Turns. Doug Dexhiemer(ph) from Overland Park, Kansas, wrote, Please feature great theatre pipe organ sounds more often. I shared Scott Simon's feeling of awe and amusement when the pipe organ was played by Rosa Rio. She is an amazing organist.

Many listeners enjoyed listening to trekker James Campbell form Papua, New Guinea during our July 8th show. Rick Montpelier(ph) of Washington, D.C. wrote, having spent three years living in Papua, New Guinea, Mr. Campbell's description of the jungle, thorns and all, were comfortably familiar, as was his realization that the jungle can be deceptively merciful at first glance.

But Kevin Lefleur(ph), also in Washington, didn't like our audio verité in the story about Bonobo chimps. The story was part of a two-part series on language by NPR's Jon Hamilton. Mr. Lefleur wrote, Waking up Saturday morning to hear a high-pitched squawking chimpanzee was not the best way to start the weekend. After a long work week, could you spare us this grating sound with something either pleasant or neutral. The story would've been fine without the shrill crying repeated over and over and over and over again.

But at least one feline agreed with Mr. Lefleur, according to Melanie West(ph) of Freedom, Maine. She wrote, I was sitting in the living room with my cat Star on my lap listening to you story about Bonobo chimps when the Bonobo chimps began screeching in excitement to meet a new visitor. I was surprised to see Star stand up, ears erect and body ridged and being looking around in panic. No amount of soothing words or calming pats could calm her until the sounds ending.

Well, you can write us by going to our website, npr.org, and clicking on contact us in the upper right hand corner. Please remember to tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name in human and/or Bonobo language. (Imitates chimp)

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