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The Least Influential People in Western Culture

By Ken Currie

Special from our archives

As a handful of Covid-tired, calendar-clutching fanatics watch another month fly by second-string journalists are scrambling for angles, scrutinizing the virus and its accompanying boredom. I, for one, was quite fond of the 20th Century, having spent most of my adult life in it. I did not stand in the way when the 21st Century arrived on the doorstep. I am not whining. We didn’t get enough. We didn’t accomplish enough. As others list and write about the great events and people of the past 1000 years, I too have compiled a list…not of important people, nor of lesser-known greats. My list does not contain the forgotten or the obscure, but is rather a roster of complete and classic nobodies. Here then is my contribution to posterity…last and least influential.

Alfredo Veducino (1102-1168)

Alfredo served as a monk in Spain. He maintained strict silence for fifty-five years although he never really took an official vow to that affect. The monastery where Alfredo lived was one where fellow monks unearthed and translated what was believed to be the grocery list of the prophet Isaiah. In later years the entire ordeal was downplayed when a senior monk pointed out that chicken chow mein was not available during that primitive Biblical period. This discovery and the subsequent dismissal of the said document shook the religious world of the time. Luckily for Alfredo he had had nothing to do with the research from the onset. He was bust keeping silent adhering to his daily regiment of sleeping until 3:45 in the afternoon and spending the remainder of the day engaging in what fellow monks called escucha de conejos or listening to rabbits.

Stefanos Meridan (1460-?)

Born the son of a destitute Portuguese eel trapper, spent his early years living on the beach with his father. His mother, a stout woman, would not allow either of them in the house do reportedly to the presence of an icky eel slime aroma. At age 11 a desperate Stefanos stowed away on a large merchant ship. After three days it became apparent that the ship had been abandoned. On the fourth day he returned home, cold and hungry, only to be locked out of the house by his mother who complained of a musty shipwreck stench that mysteriously followed the lad about. Later, as an adult, he claimed to have discovered a swift ocean-going route between Portugal and Spain. He set sail, bankrolled by the Italian court, centered in the city state of Sinatra, and three years later was swept ashore along the rocky coast of Scotland. He quickly claimed the land for the queen of Portugal and renamed in Stefanoland, after himself. Almost twenty minutes later redheaded Picts in plaid skirts made him sail away by hurling jagged rocks at his head. He was never seen again. Some one hundred years later a rough map surfaced at some insignificant Renaissance yard sale in a familiar writing style common to Stefanos. The map featured England and Ireland carefully drawn to scale, but named Meridanland and Stef’s Isle.

Ping Hi Pong (1225-1324)

As a philosopher in China, Ping taught meditation to children six years old and younger. He is credited with two metaphysical sayings. One was “The man who can boil a rooster’s egg will accomplish an impossible task” and the other, “To hear a beautiful woman sing, now that’s really something.” To this day no one has proven Ping wrong on either saying. As Ping neared his one-hundredth birthday, an acolyte asked him for the secret of longevity. He smiled, settled back into his easy chair and said, “To live a hundred years one must…” and before he could finish the sentence, he dropped dead.

Ivan Ivanivan (1850-1923)

As a distant cousin of Czar Nicholas, Ivan was extended privileges not often enjoyed by young men of his time. He got two extra potatoes per month and a full equestrian scholarship to Kiev Community College. While at school he penned Czar Wars…The Empire Strikes Us. This was considered controversial by the three people who actually read it (oddly enough they made up the majority of literate people in Russia at the time). He also wrote a collection of poems that the same three people began to read but found to be too controversial to complete. Ivan was traded to a Siberian minor league franchise for a warped landscape rake and lived in that barren place for his last 60 years because, as he put it: “In Siberia nobody expects you to grow a garden.”

Dr. Lisa Blackhart (1801-1888)

As the first female doctor in Boston to refuse to touch newborn infants, Lisa was encouraged by her brahman family to hit the Oregon Trail. After two difficult months in the saddle she decided to turn around and try heading west. She settled for a time in Kansas City doing odd jobs like radical amputation and liver transplants. Soon she became shocked by the illiteracy rate among two-year-olds. Determined to start a school to cure these social ills, she found her dislike of children to be a formidable obstacle. She moved on to Denver but found young children there to be equally annoying. She finally landed in Sacramento where she began a medical practice again. However, after only two months as a frontier doctor, she initiated a stern policy of refusing to see anyone who was sick or injured. With no patients to treat and no children to teach Dr Blackhart described her golden years as “the most fulfilling of my career.”

Wolfgang Jack VonStein (1679-1735)

As a boy in Hungary, Wolfgang (a long shot to make anyone’s list) longed to play the piano. Sadly, his parents could not afford to purchase such an expensive instrument but they did provide him with two chicken bones that he carried with him at all times. All over the village Wolfgang could be heard tapping the bones together to create increasingly complex rhythms. After a chance meeting with John Sebastian Bach at a local cafe the maestro offered to tutor the prospect free of charge. Once, at Bach’s home, the great musician demanded that Wolfgang rinse the chicken grease from his fingers before touching the piano. An enraged Wolfgang stormed out of the house never to return. In the years that followed he composed several symphonies to be performed entirely on poultry bones. Today a noted virtuoso, Rupkin Mensonich, performs VonStein’s work outside a sushi bar in Prague free every other Thursday unless it rains or something. Mensonich is number seven on our list.

Marcia Kreep (1821-1891)

Born in Vancouver on the wrong side of town, Marcia perspired to be an inventor. Among her drawings are elaborate schematics for what she called her “clock dismantler” and her similarly designed “pocket watch smasher”. Her early inventions were not well received and she found herself embracing poverty. Plus she was quite poor. This never changed. Other designs by Kreep were the “mechanized digital book dropper” the “self-sinking ponga boat” and one curious concept entitled simply “the thing that doesn’t work right”.

Jeff Singlehair (1946- )

A Flint, Michigan native, the idealistic Singlehair rejected his father’s offer to join him as a partner in an environmental engineering firm. Jeff said: “You engineers are wrecking the world with all that train smoke and other ungroovy stuff, um, man!” Jeff then joined the hippie movement but became disillusioned when, at age 20, all of his hair fell out. He attended a small Everly Brothers concert at Windsock, N.C. in the summer of 1969 mistakenly thinking (to this day) that he had been a part of the largest, most famous rock and roll event of his generation. Jeff currently lives in Chevy Chase in a Chevy van and makes candles for aromatherapy workshops around Southwestern Colorado.

Read more of Ken’s keen observations in his newest coffee table book “Norwood Exposure” which is exclusively for sale in Nucla and Paradox.

Watch for our Nine Billion Most Average People of the Last Millennium
in next month’s special insert site and see if your name is mentioned!