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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #120
Oleo Nation Scrapple
David Gunn
For those of you who have long presumed that some contemporary music is the product of composers with disturbed minds who maintain hidden agendas, your suspicions may at last have been vindicated. Last month in Venice, Italy -- and coincidentally also in Venice, California -- police broke up an avant-garde dinner theater performance of "Oleo Nation" by Otto Kanzinski, in which the central theme of cannibalism played an all too realistic role. Advertising for the production stressed a unique opportunity for audience participation, however, by the time the constabulary arrived, no audient members -- save for a few scalps and a pile of sodden underwear -- were left to question, their participation having become fundamental to the performance. Behind the production, it was later learned, was a gang of carnivorous musical thugs with ties to ASCAP, BMI, the Aaron Copland Foundation, Kiraly Music Network, the Omaha Operetta Society, and dozens of other internationally known musical organizations. Following a bloody trail of spectator scrapple, authorities gradually uncovered a twisted plot to rid the world of unappreciative audiences by turning them into kippered kadavers. While many violists, piano tuners, Finale programmers and back-up singers publicly criticized the flesh-eating schemes of their more barbaric musical cousins, many others even peripherally affiliated with the world of music silently applauded their predacious actions. Too long, they reasoned, had their fates rested in the hands, as it were, of audients steeped in the manner of fickleness. For too long had the ignoranti dictated what appealed to them, instead of being open to new ideas from experimentalists. To turn some of these unenlightened individuals into goulash, wieners, and fricassee -- the phrase jerk jerky comes to mind -- seemed perfectly rational, not to mention an inexpensive way to stretch the food budget.

Alas, the authorities were not so perspicacious, and they promptly rang down the curtain on the tunesmith trenchermen's patron-to-pemmican operations, even going so far as to temporarily banish performances of operatic food fight scenes until the sources of the hurled comestibles could be verified by the US Department of Agriculture. Ironically, Kanzinski's "Oleo Nation" was, with a couple of minor modifications -- such as the substitution of corned Willie wood chips for theatergoer salmagundi -- permitted to continue its run of audience-participation performances. Journalistic hyperbole in the local news media helped to fuel huge and enthusiastic crowds starved for outlandish entertainment, and a perverse symbiotic relationship was born.

Born of perversity is what many have called -- although few have chosen -- the previous 119 episodes of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 120th episodic milestone of which is certain to be no less distorted, though perhaps with fewer unintentional allusions to le flambeau oriange, than the others. Just because the bulk of tunes we've inflicted on unwary ears during the past 27½ months has stared cannibalism and similar avenues of controversial creativity squarely in the one good eye and said, "good job!," is no reason to end the sentence in the pluperfect, assuming that our musical offspring will pick up the gastronomic pieces, dump them in a big ovarian pot, and cook up a bilious batch of electroacoustical tone row soufflé, the tasty antecedent of which follows immediately in an LP format, thanks in no minute part to Kalvos.




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