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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #138
Attack of the AnHui URL
David Gunn
As I booted up the computer the other day, a strange little icon appeared on the bottom of the screen where the e-mailbox normally stood, proudly ready to communicate with the furthest reaches of the known hemisphere. Its angularity brought to mind a Far Eastern ideogram, possibly Pinyin, tempered by the soft curves of a Finnish fish, presumably a halibut. Odder still, the icon pulsed precisely out of phase with the happy cursor. Always leery of unexplained Microsoftian phenomena, I clicked instead on the icon next to the new unknown one, faithful Solitaire, but the hourglass of its own volition transferred itself to the mysterious new data entity. The image on the screen rolled and pitched, doing the software equivalent of the fandango, then yanked me through Netscape onto the internet. Or rather, an internet -- certainly not the warm and fuzzy databank I'd gradually grown less fearful of except during periods of actual need. Without touching a single key, I was whisked right to a website that literally exploded in bright yellow and blue paper dragon festoonery. The screen scrolled up through a series of unidentifiable characters chiefly hierofont in temperament until it reached an ornately bordered box in which a message in English proved instructive.

It said, "We are Representative Office of China AnHui Provincial Ministry of Tourism in North America. Our website www.redmenace.com is major site and being visited a lot. Our office in process to introduce to people of China (1) Hiking as healthy sport for fitness, and (2) Volunteerism in building and maintaining Hiking Trails for public usage. We want to know if anyone would like to join in Building Hiking Trails in China project, and if you will exchange URL link with us. If you agree to exchange URL link, please insert this in your main page." And there followed several lines of coded gobbledygook. Again without any input from me, the computer's cursor moved to a template of unknown origin, clicked on a Z-pod, and the screen suddenly glowed blue-black as the message "URL Link Exchanged" flickered uneasily into focus.

Scarcely a nanomoment later, the computer locked up and all data was sucked into a single temp. file whose only perceived property was irretrievability. Then the speakers shut down, the soundcard itself began to vibrate, and there issued forth from it odd music in the pentagramic style, which I recognized as Chinese revolutionary songs translated into English: Imperialism Will Fall, Chairman Mao's Tongue Ulcer Cure, The Story of the Yellow River Monsoon, Death to All Foreigners, and the evocative Incidental Music for Suite Moo Goo Gui Pan.

At last, there appeared a photo of a group of perhaps 70 hikers marching in close formation up a mountain. Behind them rode four uniformed men on horseback, wielding what looked to the untrained eye like electric cattle prods. The fuzzy quality of the image could not mask the fear and loathing on the faces of the hikers. A banner carried by the lead hiker duplicated the yellow and blue paper dragon image at the website home page, but underneath in neat, cathartic letters were the words "Edible Red Flesh of Capitalist Society." In the background could be seen several bodies sprawled on the ground, their throats either cut or daubed with mascara. It was evident that someone had attempted to airbrush away this event so as not to discourage the more adventurous souls. But if this was an example of "hiking as healthy sport for fitness" and "volunteerism," I wanted no part of it. I did, however, want to end this website visit, but I could not. Redmenace.com had completely locked up the system, plus I was developing a perverse interest in the presumably apocryphal portrayals of the hikes.

One in particular chronicled a two-week tour of the Sino-Espinoza Empire's innermost sanctums. The phrase "primordial landscape extending unfettered for kilomiles" stuck in my mind, as did an attack of tinnitus from the wretched accompanying music. The description was followed by testimonials from participants which, while glowing, were full of non sequiturs. "Squams, 14 of 'em, tenaciously affixed like rusty lugnuts to his greasy, outstretched palm, and nary a criminal court within a day's collateral!", enthused one; "Belay that order, Captain, or you'll have tachyon beads all over the bus before you can say flambeau oriange!" wailed another. They were signed by someone named Allen, followed by a telephone number. I knew instantly that if I dialed that number, it wouldn't ring any telephone, but would instead vanish into the vast communications rubbish heap of AT&T, MCI and KGB. Why, I wouldn't be surprised if the number was really the ID numeral of an incarceree currently serving a 250 year sentence in the Royal Canadian Jail in Saskatoon, his crime too hideous to say out loud.

At last, the redmenace homepage released me, and I quickly absquatulated to the relative tranquillity of faithful Solitaire. After playing a half dozen fruitless games, I warily returned to the main menu. The strange, communistic icon had vanished as suddenly and mysteriously as it had materialized! Aware of the perseverance of computer viral infections, my relief was tempered somewhat by the prospect of its potential return. Still, I figured I could always do without the machine, forego those Solitairian pleasures, dig out the Royal upright, relearn computation via abacus. But what I couldn't seem to give up was the computer link to the www.maltedmedia.com website, the friendly home page of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 138th episode of which is rife with musical trails so unimproved you have to bushwhack just to turn the tunes around in your consciousness. Your guide for the day, a logistically abstruse propagandist in his own right, is the soon-to-be-mentioned Kalvos.