Piano stacking is a lost art. Formerly, entire families would devote their Sunday Afternoons, working together in the yard, stacking piano after piano. One atop the other, the stack would rise. They’d do it as a team, helping one another without the aid of any crane or hydraulic equipment.

Some piano stacks were blunt, just one heaved up on the next, the best that family could do using whatever spare pianos they could gather from drainage ditches and alley ways. Other families were better organized. They coordinated the piano colors or stuck to just baby grands or uprights often stacked impressively vertically on their ends.

Injuries were few in those days, gravity seemed to be on our side for a change. What injuries did occur were usually laughed off with a handshake and extra smiles. God was happy with us stacking unused, titanically-sized, burdensome instruments in our yard for no discernible purpose and at great cost to our backs. And so were we.

You know where this is headed. Everything ends. Like most of the misunderstood art of that time, piano stacking as a national craze quickly waned once the churches came out against it. Many suspected they feared their great organs would be next or that stacking objects might lead some to they study of physics and mathematics which would inevitably lead to someone figuring out that most bibles were just books of crudely reprinted recipes for goat meats and old copies of defunct comic strips like Apartment 3-G and Mary Worth.

They feared that one of us would realize there was no God smiling down at his creation merrily risking life and limb to pointlessly stack pianos in their pathetic yards with only the disreputable intent of outdoing their neighbors as their true goal. That the population would realize that piano stacking, like the very enterprise of civilization itself, is mere ego wallowing in vanity, desperately justifying the pointless cycle of reproduction, eating and death that makes up life on this godforsaken rock.

The church could have none of this. We had to keep believing in the ability of its wizards to fly cars made of clouds and that the animals have no opinions of their own. So pianos themselves were banned, along with horns for good measure. And those families that violated the order, that kept stacking pianos out of tradition and love of craft, were broken up and sent away. Everything they owned was burned, publicly, as a warning. The only memory of their existence is found on the official Rogues List and anyone with a similarly spelled last name was never spoken to again.

The people were given other activities to fill their time. Priests and Nuns began extolling the virtues of catalog shopping and excessive gambling. Coughing fits were encouraged. And so it was.

Now if anyone asks what all these photos of stacked pianos filling your family albums are, you just tell them they came with the book and move on. Sometimes man’s impulses are too much, you might explain. And they have to be stopped.

Chris Weagel

Chris Weagel writes about the intersection of technology and parenting for Wired Magazine. No he doesn't. He can't stand that shit.

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  • It’s a pity that tradition ended. All my neighbors stack now are statues of ingloriously painted plastic lawn ducks.