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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #296
The Mesoamerican Connection
David Gunn

One of the oldest families in West Virginia, the Wingates can trace their ancestry back to the Mound Builders of Mesoamerica. The antecedents of the current crop of nosemeisters -- who, if you've forgotten, constitute Bung Hollow, Canadian, Spengler, a promising coloratura soprano who moved to Saskatoon in 1918 and then promptly vanished (probably into an Algonquin Hole, though I can't prove it), and a former dirigiblist named Betty -- had developed quite the empire of sepulchral earthwork construction in the latter half of the Late Archaic Period. While other clans in the same Eastern North American region were building massive, half-mile-high obelisks to honor both their dead and their communal tax system -- greatly abetted by gravity-refuting technology from a couple of travel agents from ÷Grzoplaid, fourth orbiting celestial entity from Star ZWR9(b) in the Crab Nebula's centerleast sector -- the Early Wingates were bucking the trend and manufacturing small conical burial mounds out of dehydrated titanium. While the former structures were indeed impressive, and could even effect a rudimentary kind of forward motion when the moon was in estrus, the Wingate Mound Method's affordability, practicality and no-questions return policy soon made them the preferred choice among most hunter-gatherer consumers. Naturally, a good design is open to imitation and, within half an epoch, knock-off mounds, nearly indistinguishable from the original, were being imported from a tiny Stone Age colony a weasel's summer migration away in Belize. Mbanicoware®, however, sold for roughly one-two-hundred-and-seventieth the cost of a Wingate. Normally, that kind of cost differential would have prompted the higher-priced producer to take remedial measures. And it did. In the penultimate year of the Late Archaic Period, seven members of Clan Wingate journeyed 1,982 miles south to the Belizean village, including a treacherous 500-mile trek across a spongy-white blancmangelike bog that would eventually evolve into the Gulf du Mexico. It was dangerous because the bog was inhabited by a precocious, earlike lifeform that taunted the Wingates as they staggered southward. At night, the "ears" employed rudimentary but effective motor skills to surround the journeymen and produce an annoying, sleep-depriving sound not unlike 400 owls attempting to outwit a giant badger in the rain. At long last, the Wingates reached the village, but they were too late! Mbanico was encircled by a deep, proto-sentient moat filled with acid-spitting anthrax-based humanocidic organisms! It was folly to think that this was a naturally occurring phenomenon. Apparently, the rival travel agents had eliminated the competition first.

During the middle of the Very Late Archaic Period, the Less Early Wingates added a new building unit to their oeuvre: the nosoleum, a trapezium-shaped locular structure that could hold scores -- or noddies -- of smell-organs, both human and "other." The role of the edificettes in Very Late Archaic Period society had baffled archaeologists for centuries. Customarily found in groups of six tightly clustered around an adobe hat, they seemed to serve no other function than to mystify their discoverers. Then, in 1999, a well-preserved sketch of one with a detailed rebus caption was unearthed along the banks of the forgottenmost fork of the Gauley River deep in West Virginia's Monongahela Hills. (The discovery was made fittingly enough by Spengler Wingate, direct ancestor of the nosoleum's inventor's sister's brother-in-law, and director of DrugAgora's experimental cosmetic surgery division.) And while the illustration did little to reduce the bewilderment of archaeologists, it did plunk a piece of evolutionary puzzle in place to a paleonosalogist at the University of Hummock-on-Smythe in southwesternmost Lincolnshire.

A furor of frantic footfalls rouses me from my historical reverie and, enervating thoughts of balalaikas notwithstanding, I pull myself to my feet, which haven't done much to earn their keep since reentering the tunnel that links Beano Bengaze's New Hampshire hideaway to the Puyallup Washington hotel. In the murk I can make out a nose-shaped wall switch. I gently pinch it the way I would a persimmon to which I hadn't been formally introduced. It sneezes, loudly. As the stentorian sternutation reverberates down the corridor, I hear a reply off in the distance. It is the sound a size 7 women's stiletto boot makes when dancing the fandango atop a small conical burial mound comprised of dehydrated titanium. As my willies return in both spades and trowels, I once more wish I weren't privy to such information.

Information, more than you can shake a stick at, is what this 296th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar has in store for you in spades and trowels this afternoon -- information and music; information, music and commentary; information, music, commentary and discussion; information, music, commentary, discussion and ... oh yes, Kalvos.