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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #260
Backfires
David Gunn

News item: Nine days ago, Nutritional Pork Service workers intentionally set a "controlled burn" fire to clear brush at the Bandicoot National Monument in New Mexico. The intent was to rid the area of dry scrub and backpackers in order to prevent naturally-occurring floral fires and wilderness poetry. But unexpected 900 mph wind gusts coupled with low humility turned the blaze into a wildflower. The flames flared out of control and raced through stands of ponderosa pain to nearby Los Alamos, a city modeled after the Texas mission where Davy and Jiminy Crockett battled fierce Santa Ana winds in the 1830s. Hundreds of adobe homes and hats melted, 90% of the recreational Lake New Mexico evaporated, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory -- home of the atomic bong, advanced alien pleasurecraft plus hundreds of bunkers full of commercial-grade fireworks -- turned into the business end of a crematorium. After enduring an inferno that bordered on Mediterranean passion, the fire-resistant weapons- engineering tritium facility at Technical Area 16 was said to be resting comfortably, while the on-site plutonium pools still glowed like malignant jack-o-lanterns, their radioactivity levels hovering at mid-nuclear winter levels. It just goes to show you that good intentions don't always bring about good results.

There is, naturally, an analogy in the world of modern music.

Last month, in an effort to stem the proliferation of contemporary music of questionable merit, the National New Music Junta rounded up scores of scores from composers who seemed to aspire to mediocrity and assembled them into a concert billed as the Cutting Edge Music Expo of the Next Timeframe, or CEMENT. The organizers figured that the audients would become so weary of the hack writing that they'd begin to appreciate the truly quality new music that had lain fallow for far too long. But, something happened. Some of the most insipid and derivative pieces elicited huzzahs of approval from the dimwits in the crowd. Sensing the opportunity for timely parody, a musical satirist feigned a standing O. Other audients, fearful of appearing out of touch, mimicked approbation. The reviewer, a loaner from the newspaper's sports pages, wrote that "the spectators cheered ardently as the instrumental gladiators trounced the music 4 to 1 in a no-holds-barlined combat of cacophonous proportions." That line was picked up by the news wires and disseminated as sound-bite-for-the-day. Soon the awful music was enjoying celebrity status in concert halls and commercial venues around the world. An all-news cable station adopted snippets of unpitched frequency modulation as background to war-specific film clips; no fewer than 12 automobile manufacturers snatched eight bars of tubas keening in parallel fifths as advertising mantras; the pre-concert sound check became the anthem of several new millennium religious cults; the nine-plus minutes of unplanned interlude while one of the performers weathered a bout of on-stage spastic dyspepsia was repackaged by MTV as 9'06" and hawked as twice as meaningful as Cage's 4'33"; even the occasional cheap electroacoustic quixotism has popped up unapologetically on, yes, Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, though perhaps not on this 260th episode. It would seem that CEMENT's plan had backfired!

And so it is incumbent upon us, your K&D Junta representatives to fire back with bandicoots-be-damned, stick-to-your-ribs-and-other- bones-that-extend-from-spine-to-sternum music, and here with the first fusillade is Kalvos.