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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #325
The Coordinator
David Gunn

In less than a week, the jug containing the Odd Won Vestibule, a musical event of near calamitous proportions, will finally be uncorked, its fermented essence allowed to intoxicate a locally unwary public. Scores of musicians and their handlers will descend upon four area venues to unleash their own versions of melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre and their antipodes. Overseeing everything is the music festival coordinator, probably the least understood job in the entire performance kingdom. Conventional wisdom suggests that such a person "harmonizes in a common action or effort," a highfalutin way of saying he turns potential chaos into order. But the Odd Won is so rife with confusion and uncertainty that it forms its own sub-hypothesis of chaos theory.

This does not mean that the problems of the Vestibule are insolvable, not at all. The music festival coordinator is nothing if not resourceful. And if he has been properly trained, especially in the art of deceit and chicanery, he will be able to get the job done when the going gets tough. For example:

· Passing the buck. A skilled festival coordinator should always be able to blame someone else for problems. He will have a comprehensive list of credible excuses to trot out when anything goes awry. The coordinator must always be alert for any criticism aimed at him, and be able to deftly divert the finger-pointing to some hapless but logical scapegoat. Think "non-stick frying pan" and you'll be halfway into the mind of a seasoned coordinator.

· Floozy time expertise. All great coordinators can look like they're busy organizing or planning festival-affiliated projects, when they're really doing something entirely different. For example, take the alt-tab computer toggle -- a competent coordinator should be well versed in its application. To a nosy arts administrator, the computer screen shows a spreadsheet delineating cost benefits of hiring a local mime troupe over the Hasbro Ukulele Septet; but as soon as she leaves, a quick keyboard toggle reveals the 256th consecutive losing hand of Solitaire, about which the coordinator is justifiably more concerned. Floozy masters can also take the simplest task and appear to turn it into a complex project involving massive amounts of time -- his own -- which he uses to strengthen the illusion of his work ethic.

· Delegation. The accomplished music festival coordinator will always find someone else to do his work. This person will also bear the brunt of blame when things go wrong, but will cede any praise for good work to his superior in order to look like a team player. The delegate need not be sycophantic -- as long as the master-slave relationship is firmly established, the coordinator will always be in a win-win situation.

· Graft. What good is a position of authority if one can't avail himself of its monetary benefits? The practiced coordinator will know the route of the funding gravy train, and how to divert the flow to suit his needs, naturally without getting caught. When ordering supplies, he'll order an extra unit or two -- stereos, cell phones, business junkets and recreational pharmaceuticals are always popular -- for himself or his friends, then lose the receipt in a circuitous Möbius strip-like paper trail. Excuses such as "Hey, I have more important and timely matters on my plate; I can't worry about every picayune purchase that comes along!" hark back to and work in tandem with passing the buck, above.

Sometimes the music festival coordinator, without intending to, actually succeeds in a performance's presentation. No thanks to, or even in spite of him, the event occurs with an ease that defies its utter lack of preparation. One portion of the event begins, transpires, ends; another effortlessly follows with barely a seam between the two showing, as if both performances belong to a single entity that is separated only by the merest suspicion of time and space. In these instances, the coordinator must forthwith seize all credit, amplifying it to suit his needs. This could be a good time to dismiss his delegate.

It is pure coincidence that the Odd Won Vestibule, of which I am begrudgingly festival co-coordinator, should follow so closely on the heels of this essay, the 325th of Kalvos & Damianís New Music Bazaar. It is even more of a surprise to me that several of the incidents mentioned herein have come to pass on my watch. Besides, I don't have a delegate. I have no one to pass the buck to. Not even Kalvos.