Opossums in the News
"A woman from [the Del Mar summertime] Powerhouse Concert Series wanted us to perform in June of 2004. Somebody on their board heard about our general style. They had a vote and we were dis-invited."
Dr. Stephen Baird is a professor of pathology at the UCSD School of Medicine. He's also the chief of the laboratory at the V.A. Medical Center. His professional life is going fine. It's his folk band that keeps getting dumped on.
The Opossums of Truth sing the gospel of Darwinism and other scientific truths. Creationists often don't get the humor.
"The letter said the majority of the [Cultural Arts] Committee [of the Del Mar Foundation] were concerned that the group might too controversial and voted not to have us as they just didn't want to offend anyone," said Baird, 58.
In the irreverent spirit of Tom Lehrer and the Smothers Brothers, the Opossums cheerfully skewer religious zealots.
Their "Virgin of Spumoni" is based on a newspaper story about how some Texans claimed to have been healed by a vision of the Virgin Mary that appeared in an ice cream mishap.
"Some kid dropped his ice cream cone one boiling summer day/And as he watched it melting down he heard somebody say/Holy Mary I can see in red and white and brown/The Virgin of Spumoni on the sidewalk in our town."
The song says one believer tossed his crutches away. "But he's relapsed now it's tragic/Yes, we lost the Virgin's magic when somebody's dog licked her away."
Even fellow members of the medical community get sqeamish.
"We do a lot of songs on science. A chemist on the board of the American Association of Clinical Chemists asked us to play at their banquet. But some fundamentalist on the board wouldn't have it. He said, "We just cannot have stuff that is hostil to religion."
The City of Del Mar gave the name of Cheryl Parks as a contact for the Del Mar Foundation. When aked why Baird's group wasn't picked to perform, Parks said, "The programming is discussed with a whole cadre of volunteers. I don't know why they didn't choose Dr. Baird."
Their next show is a CD-release party at the end of May. For more info, go to www.scientificgospel.com.
- Ken Leighton