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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #103
Babbittronics
David Gunn
Grand Canyon Village occupies a few hundred quality acres on the south rim of the eponymously named big hole in the ground in north central Arizona, i.e., Meteor Crater. The village has its own post office, parking lot, political action committee, public lavatory, plumbers union, paratrooper school, pustule treatment center, Paraguayan restaurant, pneumatic tube factory, and particular perspective on the order of the universe. At the far end of the village, nestled between a dumpster overflowing with vinyl pink flamingo lawn ornaments and a precipitous 1,500 foot yahoo shortcut to the next level footpath below, sits an Airstream trailer, occupied by a peeved member of European royalty. He is irked because the engine's compressor lacks important fluid components which would permit the air conditioner to function. The outside air temperature is 100 degrees. According to Avogado's Law -- which states that perpendicular transitions of oscillating electromagnetic pulses produce optical interference in indirect proportion to a hypothetical spatial disorder of both space and time, sometimes, thus refuting Feigenbaum's Number and, by osmosis, Advanced Corpuscular Theory -- the inside temperature, given the dysfunctionality of the cooling unit, is approximately likewise. Just out of earshot of the trailer's regal occupant trudges a grizzled old through-hiker lugging a backpack marginally smaller than the Airstream -- not that she's on a quest to hike the entirety of the Grand Canyon Village; rather, she's simply through hiking and, from all indications, glad of it. The cloistered sovereign, unaccustomed to the bourgeois tendency towards odorous perspiration in such hot, cramped conditions, utters a crisp vulgarity he once read in a Jane Austin novel. He doesn't quite get the pronunciation right, but the meaning is quite evident. Had she heard it, the through-hiker would have been shocked and hurt, because the comment was about as insensitive as a sniggering electron tube in a Peony Jukebox. Calmer now, he wonders aloud -- which the hiker does overhear -- what in dobby blazes is keeping his valet, who had an hour ago hastened off in search of repair services. In fact, the oft-harried steward -- again tormented by a recurring daydream in which he is a four-dimensional solid in a three-dimensional plane oblivious to fluid proportionality as it progresses from order into chaos -- has discovered the celebrated emporium to which all Grand Canyon Villager visitors eventually flock, Babbitt's General Store. Inside is a mind-fogging panoply of must-have to what-on-Earth? merchandise: from folding canoe spittoons to organically grown sleeping pads, from Windows 97 backpacking software to free-range nylon tent stakes, from Airstream compressor repair kits to a topographic map of the mysteriously insular peninsula of Indiana known as Le flambeau oriange. And watching steadfastly over the consumptive festivities from a parallel office in Princeton, New Jersey is the owner, Milton Babbitt, whose evocative set-and-group-theory melodies provide a sonorous background to the constant browsing, dining and shoplifting activities. Milton Babbitt -- former governor of Arizona and supreme court nominee, and current Secretary of the Interior, meaning he doesn't get outside much anymore, as well as New York University trained composer and frequent penpal to the surly potentate in the hot Airstream -- should have been a featured guest on this, the 103rd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which had been intoned by the through-hiker as a kind of mantra to help her through the more perilous parts of her trek over the parched Tonto Plateau, because we, at least, are ready to celebrate the 81st anniversary of his birth today. Alas, he isn't here, but we are, and we by definition must include the oft-browsed, dobby-blazed, consumptively peony-jukeboxed and topographically-flamingoed rendition of Kalvos.