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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #282
Merv and the Mellotones
David Gunn

Professor Warbler Hadley Blackmoor watched in chagrin as Betty the pilot jumped from the rapidly descending balloonocraft. Its imminent crash was his fault -- he has mistaken it for the great Hindenburg airship, and had poked a hole in its gas bag with his hydrogen igniter. His brief concern over the safety of Betty was soon forgotten, however, as he began to wonder how this accidental intervention would affect the impending Hindenburg disaster -- at least, it impended in one rendition of reality. So agitated had he become that he neglected to notice that Betty never actually hit the tarmac. One moment she was confuting the claims of the Anti-Gravitationists at a rate of 32 feet per second per second, the next moment she was nowhere to be seen. Professor Blackmoor, who had himself once headed Hummock-on-Smythe's Anti-Grav Department, was all too familiar with the sophistic chicanery that formed the basis for its facts and theories. Her apparent disappearance was harder for him to swallow than the ipecac that the serpentologist administered to him back in 1979. Between semesters and bored, hed taken a temp job as a costumed meet-&-greeter for Snakeburger 'n Chips, a thankfully short-lived quick service niche restaurant. At one store opening in Sheffield, a gang of ruffians had force-fed the bipedal boa constrictor rancid eel offal -- one of the bewildering house specials -- after which Blackmoor went all sick for two hours, resulting in the summoned serpentologist's vomitive elixir.

Suddenly, the shower bath/time chamber in which the professor was observing current events 63 years out of sync began to convulse like a jackhammer at a dentist's convention. The time hiccup's tachyon ductwork, Blackmoor speculated, had become unstable, and was poised to belch him into Unternity. Given that alternative, the professor chose New Jersey, and he bolted from the time bubble a picomoment before it burst, sucking his shower bath into an abstraction of null-time. Like Betty, Blackmoor approached the Garden State at a rate of 32 feet per second per second and, again like Betty, failed to hit it. When he was exactly 80 inches from the Lakehurst tarmac, the atmosphere around him suddenly unfolded and collapsed like the bottom of a stack of 15-high Banker's Boxes full of sentient Rorschach tests, and he vanished ... at least from his current reality. The professor had encountered and entered his first Algonquin hole.

Betty was no less nonplused. She had calculated that, leaping from a height of 12 feet at 15 miles per hour, her adrenalometer would peak at 145, well within organic tolerance limits. The consequences of the impact would hence amount to, at worst, a scraped thumbnail. Instead, she found herself on a circular, black vinyl plain surrounded by gelatinous obelisks arranged in a herringbone pattern. Had she known what a fogdog was, she would have seen droves of them scampering past in her peripheral vision. A disembodied voice keened, though not lugubriously; a second one joined in, paralleling the tune at the fifth; a third voice kept time by what sounded like beating a clock with a wad of calamari; a fourth uttered low grunts slowly, with difficulty, as if the steel plate had begun to peel off of its cranium. Suddenly, from out of a swirling cloud of pumpkiny haze there emerged the middle-aged man who she had previously spied hanging in midair. He seemed less distinguished looking than she had first thought, possibly because his shirt and trousers had reversed themselves and the expression on his countenance was one of utter distress. In one hand he held a small, strange device -- Betty could only describe it as the inadvertent progeny of a ping pong paddle and a kazoo -- that appeared to fade in and out of focus with his surroundings.

Betty was abruptly reminded of an incident two weeks ago when she and some friends were at New York Airport awaiting the arrival of the popular singing troupe Merv and the Mellotones. The flight had been delayed an hour, and when it finally touched down, a horde of impatient fans crashed through the terminal gates and rushed the plane. By the time Merv and his mates had clambered down the aerostairs, the tarmac was aswarm with hundreds of well-meaning but overly zealous devotees. The last sight Betty or anybody else ever had of Merv was of him being inundated under a sea of thrashing arms and bobbing heads. She was reminded of it because the middle-aged man was gradually vanishing under a sea of -- well, arms and heads were the best she could come up with, though, again, had she known what a fogdog looked like ... At any rate, he did not look pleased at the prospect.

Likewise, we will not be surprised if you, our listening audients, are not pleased at the prospect of having to wait another week for some sort of story line to emerge from this so-far tangled web of counterintuitive blocks of text. But you do, as we now have to gird ourselves for this 282nd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, itself the inadvertent progeny of the Garden State, a kazoo, a few low grunts and Kalvos.