Marlon Brando Could Have Been a Conga Contender

There is a certain kind of story—think “offbeat, human interest”–that NPR seems to consistently cover better than anyone else. It’s what has made “This American Life” such a standard setter and also why you have to listen to, when you have a moment, Felix Contreras’ contribution to the latest “Weekend Edition.”

Contreras (pictured) recently visited a west LA storage facility with Grammy winning percussionist Poncho Sanchez, patent attorney Kevin Costanza, and Marlon Brando estate executor Avra Douglas. Costanza worked with Brando for five years before the actor’s death on a special patented mechanism designed to tune conga drums. In lieu of the device being marketed to the public, Brando’s cost-ineffective contraption was finally tested under the auspices of NPR:

All three prototype drums made for the patent applications were thought to be lost, until Costanza tracked one down in this storage facility. He was anxious to see the design in action, and Sanchez was eager to finally test it out.

Among the reader comments to the NPR report is the astute suggestion that rather than being mothballed back in storage, the Brando contraption should be donated to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. FishbowlLA agrees.