By: Brian Orloff
Who imagined that jazz legend Thelonious Monk could pen a heartfelt endorsement of newspapers, and that you could actually own it? On Feb. 20, Guernsey’s Auction House in New York auctioned off Monk’s schoolboy essay book as one of dozens of jazz artifacts including a Benny Goodman clarinet. One of the highlights of Monk’s notebook, which he kept at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High, was a three-paragraph entry from Feb. 17, 1933, titled “Everyone Should Read Good Newspapers.”
Monk at the age of 15, wrote, with elaborate penmanship: “Everyone should read good newspapers because it is educational, not with scandals and crimes but good educational facts.” He mentioned three New York dailies by name, and argued that newspapers are enriching and should be incorporated into the daily routine. Readers should find them “indispensable.”
Priceless words, but not quite: a bidder known only as No. 944 won the essay book for $60,000 at the auction. All that’s known of the bidder is that, like Monk, he attended Stuyvesant.