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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #144
Les Ecolé Boulanger
David Gunn
While famous Danish biochemist C.P.H. Dam was using laundered financial aid from counterrevolutionary punk poet Svatopluk Cech to study cholesterol formation in chickens in the early 1900s, which would ultimately lead to his copping the 1943 Nobel Prize for Poultry, his brother, Constantin Brancusi, was in Paris attempting to convince Ecolé Boulanger's skeptical headmistress to add orthogonal dadaism to the school's curricula. He did not succeed, her terse response implying she'd rather hire Swiss vagrants wielding French horns to drive boy scouts into a bathtub full of irate piranhas. The harsh piscine analogy probably referred to a popular tango of the day penned by fellow expatriate Edwin Franko Goldman, which not only augmented the brass section to the tune of 45 French horns, but also included the first live in-concert human sacrifice, a visual spectacle that forever made even the most vociferous operatic food fights seem pallid and predictable.

Soon thereafter -- maybe 20 minutes, tops -- chicken cholesterol formation, especially in their lips and wings, became a signature theme for photographer Ansel Adams. He was at Ecolé Boulanger's Yosemite Valley campus in California studying piano remediation when he claims to have had a vision, presumably brought about by severe hemorrhoid inflamation. And what he thought he saw, he spent the rest of his life attempting to recapture on film with a magnetic format camera named Alger. With concentration bolstered by proper pharmaceutical samples, the attentive viewer of his photographs will soon pick out the subtle poultry allusions in his pleasant but otherwise routine imagery.

Cech, meanwhile, was involved in some odd imagery of his own. Having been booted off of Ecolé Boulanger's Krakow culinary campus for inciting a food riot by preparing crème brúlée avec earwig, and then writing an argumentatively allegorical poem about it called Le Flambeau Oriange, he had been forced to abandon his burgeoning career as metrical wordsmith for Eastern European cookbooks and return to Paris to tend to his family's earwig farm. Long a staple of alternative French and Swiss cafés, the earwig and its attendant sauces drew little praise from trenchermen elsewhere. In fact, the plucky little bug was banned from menus in England and North America. And not without cause. If not properly deveined and cleaned, and then cooked at a temperature high enough to eliminate insectival recognition, the earwig looked precisely the opposite of "good enough to eat."

Good enough is what Dam's Nobel Poultry Prize was, however, as it afforded him and Brother Brancusi the financial opportunity to attend Ecolé Boulanger Zurich, the school that invented the rules for that most eccentric of card games, whiskers six-draw and many of its zany permutations. Edwin Franko Goldman once wrote an extended piece for band which celebrated the game's numerous aberrations and anomalies. In it, each instrument plays in a different key, in a different meter, and occasionally in a different room. The result is, if not pandemonial, at least certainly cacophonic -- not unlike taking 37 random CDs from the bin near the check-out stand of Foodies Grocery Emporium in Tuktoyatuk, Northwest Territories, stuffing them into an Algonquin Hole, training Aldeau's tokamak on them, setting the device to five, then running like all get out. The name of the tune, like the card game iteself, changes with each rendering. Were it to be played today, for example, it might be called the 144th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. But unlike the musical discord which both eponymously named entitites share, that of the latter cannot, numerous earwigs notwithstanding, be convincingly blamed on Kalvos.