It was a wildly enthusiastic email from a reader that caused me to spring into action. (I hurt my back while springing awkwardly and will file a workers’ comp claim after the completion of this piece.) The email gushed, and I paraphrase slightly, “I kind of like your columns sometimes, even the stupid ones about monkeys.” As the theoretical cigar-chomping, hooch-swilling, skirt-chasing, cholesterol-lowering-medication-taking bureau chief of the Monkey Action News Team — America’s Leading Source of Monkey-Related News — I quickly assembled my crew of the best investigative journalists in the nation making a quarter above minimum wage. “In my office, pronto! America is demanding a recap of recent monkey news. And by America, I mean one person who sent me an email this morning. And by demanding I mean she doesn’t really mind it, so what do you palookas have?”
The team — Toots, the Kid, Carlos and the two new guys who aren’t really working out — stared at me blankly. “Well?” I barked. “Give me the scoop on the latest monkey news.” They shifted nervously in their seats. It was the Kid who finally spoke up. “Gee, chief, we’ve been so busy with the government shutdown and the rollout out of Obamacare and Miley Cyrus sticking her tongue out and all, we just haven’t had time to work on anything else.” “Great Caesar’s ghost!” I roared. “You’re the Monkey Action News Team, not the Monkey-Business Action News Team. Get out there and bring me back some monkey news or some of you will be cleaning out your desks!” And here’s what they found: “Indonesian city hopes to end masked monkey shows.” The Associated Press reported on Oct. 28 that officials in Jakarta are buying monkeys from roadside hucksters and shipping them to a sanctuary in an effort to end “masked monkey shows” in which the monkeys’ owners put doll heads on macaques “often outfitted in dresses and cowboy hats and forced to carry parasols or ride tiny bikes.” And if you are not as creeped out by a roadside monkey being forced to wear a doll’s head and carry a parasol or ride a tiny bike as I am, you deserve a one-way ticket to the worst part of Jakarta. “Man pepper-sprays woman, steals her monkey.” Closer to home, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, Colo., reported on Oct. 28 that a woman from Missouri traveled to that city to meet with a potential buyer of her black cap Capuchin in the parking lot of a hotel. Instead of the kind of civil monkey purchase negotiations that routinely occur in the parking lots of most hotels, he pepper-sprayed her, grabbed the simian carrier and ran away. Police describe him as 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 35 to 40 years old. They say he was wearing glasses and has a thin build and a short beard. Oh yeah, and he’ll be carrying a monkey. “Iran plans to kill, er, uh, put another monkey in space.” Wire services reported on Oct. 20 that Iran’s fledgling space program plans to launch another monkey into orbit within a month. A similar mission failed in September 2011. Iran said a second mission in January of this year was successful, though skeptics noted “a different monkey was presented to the media after the landing.” Iran, which launched its only successful satellite in 2009, just 52 short years after the first artificial satellite orbited the Earth, said it would put a man into space in the next decade. That man said he hopes his application for masked monkey dancer in Jakarta is accepted before that happens. And that’s the latest monkey news from the Monkey Action News Team. For Toots, the Kid, Carlos and those two guys who are cleaning out their desks, thanks for reading and kind of liking the column sometimes, “even the stupid ones about monkeys.” Scott Hollifield is editor-general manager of The McDowell News, in Marion, N.C.