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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #310
A Sinkful of Mayonnaise
David Gunn

On May 5, 1862, on a Saturday much like this one, except perhaps for the absence of Ws in the national language, Mexican forces, against great odds, defeated French invaders who attacked the forts of Guadalupe and Loreto. The victory is observed throughout Mexico and also in its sister city-state, Vermont, on the anniversary of that day, cinco de Mayo which, roughly translated, means "a sinkful of mayonnaise." But in Vermont, it's called Economic Day, and not simply because of the profusion of Ws the newly fjorded territory possessed at the time. Much of the credit for the triumph must go to Oneida McCoy, an economist who was auditing the forts for the Mounte Bank of Vermont on the fateful day the battles occurred. Mounte Bank had invested heavily in the two forts, with the idea of eventually foreclosing on them, shipping them back to the Mountepelier area, then recontextualizing them as comedy clubs. McCoy was sent to Mexico to surreptitiously inspect the forts' financial accounts. He disguised himself as a humorist, the better to test out the performance space prospects of the forts. McCoy arrived at Fort Guadalupe on May 1st and immediately sought an audience with the major-domo, Benito Juárez. The administrationist appreciated the whimsical talents of McCoy, but also saw several chronic weaknesses in his delivery, and so nicknamed him "un cómico del día," the one-day comic. Juárez' analysis was borne out in subsequent performances by McCoy, when spectators remained puzzled by and a bit resentful of his jokes. Of course, how were they to know that he was really examining the fortís pecuniary records at the time!

By May 5th, McCoy and his feeble quips had worn out their welcome, and Juárez was about to ask the Vermonter to quit the premises, when the French unceremoniously stormed the fort. One of the first casualties was the dance hall floozy, Monica D'Coye. After providing a level of witty entertainment that un cómico del día could only dream of, she had sneaked up on top of the west parapet to, as she put it, "do my cocaine." As she snorted a line of pure Pepsi and jumped up in utter disorientation, a laser-guided arrow plunked her right between the eyes, and the Battle of Puebla was on. The fighting was fierce, fatalities were mounting on both sides, and Oneida McCoy had no desire to sacrifice his life and career for this dingy and fiscally foolish foreign hellhole. So he slipped out Fort Guadalupe's back door and was nearly home free -- home, of course, being a relative term here -- when he was spotted and captured by the French latrine patrol. Neither spoke the other's language, so McCoy tried to proclaim his innocence and non-Mexican attributes using charades, some of which were inadvertently ribald. The patrol members found the antics highly amusing, and their laughter attracted other soldiers. The French, who would show equally eccentric tastes a century later in their adoration of Jerry Lewis, ceased their siege of Fort Guadalupe in order to attend to the hilarious shenanigans of poor McCoy. This gave Juárez the opportunity to marshal his own forces and subsequently rout the distracted French soldiers. When, a happy hour later, a Mexican sharecropper rushed into the fort with the news that the French had also assaulted Fort Loreto, 18 miles to the south, Juárez at once packed McCoy into his horse's saddlebags and rode hell-bent towards the fray. A quarter mile from the ruckus, he unleashed McCoy. Stunned and still in no-man's land in the Language Department, he repeated his earlier gesticulations ... with identical results. The French abandoned their onslaught to watch McCoy's antics. And again the Mexicans regrouped and summarily made toast of the French. Oneida McCoy was proclaimed a hero and the fifth of May a day of commemoration for the Battle of Puebla. When determining a suitable name for the observance, a Greek etymologist discovered that Oneida McCoy, Economic Day, one-day comic, Monica D'Coye, and even "do my cocaine" was each an anagram of "cinco de mayo," and the odd name stuck.

On this 310th special episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, the ebullient mood of "a sinkful of mayonnaise" permeates our very broadcast waves, for it is also Economic Day at K&D Headquarters, in the sense that this program and its radioburbs need a fiduciary shot in the arm. And here with his virtual arm outstretched, to which is notably attached a hand in supplication, is Kalvos.