I was listening to "First we take Manhatten" by Leonard Cohen on the way home from work today. I got to wondering: What exactly did he plan to do with the "Monkey and the Plywood violin" that he receives during the song? I'm sure you've all wondered the same thing at one point or another.
What follows is my best theory on the matter. First, as with any good theory, some assumptions:
1. The monkey is alive. And it is a chimp. Not the most intelligent chimp on this Earth, but still quite a good one - about the intelligence level of your average three year old human.
2. The plywood violin is a replica violin. Although it can be played, the sound that emerges is awful. Similar to the noise that a three year old human might make whilst playing a real violin.
3. These are the only special items needed for the plan. Other non-special items (string, paperclips, marbles etc) are just lying around to be used if needed.
So now the plan... Clearly Leonard is not going to take the whole of Manhatten with just these two items - and hence he won't get Berlin either. In fact the monkey and violin will be used for just one small part of the plan, which involves him sneaking into a bar in Lower Manhatten and taking that over (please don't ask why, it's far too complex to explain here).
Leonard stands just outside the bar, pretending to be a busker playing the violin (shan't mention the bar's name here, to avoid others copying the scheme). The chimp is waiting around the corner. At Leonard's signal, the chimp dashes round the corner, leaps up, graps the violin and bow and runs off up the street. Leonard runs into the bar and shouts "Help everyone! A chimp has stolen my violin". The bar patrons and owner are shocked by this and realised they must help. All run out, and chase the monkey.
The bar is now empty, Leonard sneaks in and closes and bolts the door. He is safe and it is left to the monkey to finish of the rest of the plan.
Since the chimp is relatively agile, he is able to dismantle the violin whilst running. Painted on the inside is a sign saying "I'm a really cute monkey: Please play with me." The patrons and owner cannot resist this suggestion and they all sit on the street and start playing with the monkey. But little beknownst to them, the chimpy isn't cute at all! He just looks cute! Actually he's evil and murderous. The other parts of the violin he has formed into little wooden spikes.
He pushes these, lightning fast, through the windpipes of everyone nearby (bar owner first), killing them all gurglingly. The monkey then stabs himself non fatally in an arm and lies on the floor. Eventually a passerby comes past, sees the devastation and the injured monkey, and also the sign. Clearly the monkey cannot be the killer and so the passerby assumes it was a bad man who had done the nastiness and run off. The chimp looks so cute that the man takes him to a monkey-vet where the a full recovery is made.
Some days later the chimp returns to Leonard's Bar (recently rechristened) and both have a tearful reunion. For the final part of this section of the plan, Leonard Cohen kills, peels and eats the chimp because the chimp is evil and is also the only evidence of what really happened. The Bar is successfully taken. Now onto the rest of Manhatten....
So now you know what the song was on about, and don't need to go searching on the webbyweb for it if you ever start questioning the lyrics in the future.