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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


Snow Princess

by Gary Barwin


     In the millisecond of television emptiness between channel changes, I see Princess Diana, her tongue long as a Mercedes, or a puma. Her arms are beautiful and she speaks out for those in need, against landmines, for the victims of AIDS. Fame, she says, is somewhere between a noun and a verb. Or, she adds, her doe eyes big as palaces, it's the difference between Allen Ginsberg and a television. I mean an Allen Ginsberg with all the channels.

     I sit on my couch, holding the remote, a battery-powered sceptre. Diana's beautiful arms are television static snowfall and through each of the hairs in her famous head, as if through well-styled blonde fibre optic cable, I can discern a multi-channel universe.

     Our eyes will be bigger than palaces she says. They will be supercentres, large as volcanic islands on the brink of disaster. But the cool waters of the sea, escalopped with data-waves and foaming with knowledge, will lap onto the islands' hot shores, and the lava and the painful sands, the lost limbs, and the brothers dying, will have relief. You must know everything, she says. But do nothing.

     Then the points of light like flurries of snow in Diana's arms become bright like constellations far from the city. Each one grows larger and larger until my living room dazzles with light. It scares the fish in their tank, but the hisbiscus plants begin to flower and a sweet, vaguely medieval sound comes from the microwave. Small green shoots begin to grow from the hardwood floor and the glass in the windows turns to water. The walls begin to sway like the hands of a dancer overcome with ecstasy. A flickering as if from a vast aurora borealis begins to shoot from the hairs of Diana's head, and I find myself standing on top of my home entertainment centre, throwing back issues of TV Guide around the room.

     Stop! I shout. This is not how it should be. Knowledge is not power, I call, pressing the POWER button on the remote. The room goes dark except for the pale light of the fishtank, the orange and silver sheen of fish swimming back and forth around their little porcelain castle. We must use our phones like handgrenades. We must walk into the streets as if they were lined with red broadloom. We must open our microwaves, our Magicwagons. We must dig with our own small eyes, swim with our own wet ears. We must think with our own tongues long as powerlines. Each of us is a single snowflake drifting toward the hot ground. We must act before we land.

     I turn the remote toward myself and change the channel. Nestled like a fetus at the back of my hippocampus, I find a Wheel of Fortune rerun. KN_WL_DG_ _S P_W_R the tiles say. I can see Allen Ginsberg standing in front of them, wishing that someone -- a member of the viewing public, the best boy or gaffer, a studio executive, or anyone waiting in the City of the Dead laundromat for their new life to dry -- that one of them would think of a vowel. T? a contestant suggests. Yes! Pat Sajak exclaims. You have won an Allen Ginsberg. You have won a big screen Allen Ginsberg with all the channels and an all expense-paid vacation to your living room. Congratulations Princess Diana! Here, let me polish your crown.