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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #324
Stayin' Alive
David Gunn

The container ship is registered in Monrovia, a synthetic country made up of leftover parcels of land from Inner Mongolia and Andrés Segovia. Most of the containers aboard the ship are likewise artificial, as is the giant davit that is offloading them onto the dock, crowding the perplexed defendant who stands therein. His akimbo stance resembles the Mongolian ideogram for "crustacean," and, 2,600 miles away, a simultaneous chill sweeps through the wind-blown homonyms clinging to the eave-used-for-food-gathering. The stevedore pauses from his howling to glance down at the defendant, then he mimics the man's akimbo posture with his lips and tongue. He tries to resume his howling, but the moist echo chamber his mouth has become makes him sound like Ezio Pinza gargling inside of a large inflatable lemon. The five bar code labels screech to a halt, kicking up little orange puffs of Tang® from where their leftmost vertical stripes drag against the side of the container. They seem to be thoroughly enthralled by the sound, for they then do the computerized inventory control equivalent of a swoon. Looming directly overhead is the artificial boom of the artificial crane, which has suddenly swung over to the starboardleast side of the cargo hold. A cable drops from the arm and hoists the anything-but-artificial container off of the ship and sets it down into the bed of an oversized tractor trailer leased to the Antarctic Food Co-op. The bar code labels regroup into the shape of an electric K and begin to flash on and off. The pattern spells out the atomic weight of protactinium in Morse code while imitating the rhythm of "Stayin' Alive." Whether or not the gargling stevedore recognizes this may never be known, but he abruptly finds his voice -- it was hiding behind a lammergeier -- and resumes his keening coincident with his skin color venturing into the blue hues.

The only way off of Terminal Island is via an interconnected succession of canals and locks that resembles a Möbius strip sketched by an inebriated M.C. Escher. The truck deploys a large pair of water wings, drives off of the dock into the canal, and begins to head upstream, like a rectangular diesel salmon determined to spawn. But the container is just as determined not to leave the island, not yet, and it begins to subliminally persuade the water wings to deflate. Designed to accommodate a payload no greater than a five-sixths scale Renaut Twingo, the water wings readily comply, and within minutes the truck is three-quarters submerged and unable to navigate. The current -- from which the electricity has temporarily been turned off -- whisks truck and cargo back to the dock, guided by the keening stevedore. The crane plucks the container from the waterlogged truck and deposits it on the unfortunate crewman, whose keening gradually ceases. But the container has been accumulating the sense of tranquillity that the stevedore's vocal noises engender, and so is feeling pretty much at ease at the moment.

Feeling less at ease are the eaves-bound crustaceans 2,600 miles away. Twenty feet below them -- now twenty-one, as the foundation of the house continues to sink into the earth while the roof stays level with cloud #17, which has so far successfully avoided being struck by clouds 22 through 30 -- the evolved short man and blob of helium stand in the doorway, eyeing each other. The eye of the helium -- an itinerant difluoride radical that once called the city of Ur home -- is repeatedly winking the postal code for Antarctica; the short man's eyes are so darkened with mascara that one might think that night had fallen. Actually, it was just another eavesdropping crustacean that got caught up in the gravitational imperative of cloud #31. Holding a caduceus side of the ladder in an aggressive fencing position, the short man advances towards helium. But the normally inert gas juggles a couple of isotopes, allowing its contour to take on definite crustaceanesque features. Then it easily parries the thrust, deftly slipping over the side of the ... container ship?

Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar is obliged to inform you, our listening audient, that the preceding sentence may contain a non sequitur. And it may not be the only non sequitur that appears on this 324th episode, particularly as it relates to non sequiturian performances two weeks hence, a topic to be discussed in opportune detail by Kalvos.