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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #340
Who's In Charge Here?
David Gunn

Beano Bengaze was 50 miles out from the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego Denny's and dock en route to Antarctica when he received the news. He was still a half day shy of the high seas, though for the last half hour the currents of the Drake Passage had palpably shifted from low to medium seas. The pontoon taxi that he had at last commandeered was little more than an ocean-going Ford Mercator with a galley. It accommodated a crew of two and a cargo of one, period. A ventriloquist wouldnt even have room to toss her voice. Thus, Beano had had to leave his emergency dirigible-in-a-can behind. Still, if he had waited around for a larger and faster transport, he might've had to petition the duchy of Tierra del Fuego for residency.

Convinced that there was a network of terrorists roaming the streets of Antarctica simply because Faux Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld maintained there wasn't, the acting head of the Office of Homemaker Security had back-burnered every other pressing activity--including the rumpled trousers he now sported for the fifth consecutive day--to make this reconnaissance on his own. Heather, the free-lance operative who had recently spent quality time in le continent frais on the lookout for suspicious activity, failed to confirm this, though she had noticed a lot more activity from the underground nose population. But the farther south his vessel chugged, the queasier he felt--and it wasn't just the bouncy seas and salad-in-a-can cuisine. No, Beano had a bad feeling about events back home.

At the top of a particularly invigorating swell, the ship-to-shore radio sputtered to life. The radio operator was simultaneously catapulted out of the telecom chair, and only a rat's nest of monofilament wrapped around his ankle kept him from plunging into the cold, wet sea to face a terminal case of skinny-dipping. Still, he had vacated his station and the extremely comfortable seat that accoutermented it, so Beano eased into the saddle and tuned in the reception. An announcer identified the transmitting station as a pirate container ship moored at Terminal Island, California. His erectile neck hairs hackled as a memory tendril briefly swam past and tickled his nose's communications neuron--Terminal Island, keening stevedore, flashing bar code labels in the shape of an electric K. It was not a reassuring recollection, and he endeavored to shake it from his consciousness and concentrate on the staticky news report. It was not good news. The US Baloney General had bestowed upon himself the authority to counter "by whatever means necessary any and all threats to national security." Then, at a press conference, Baloney General Ashcrapt had held up a list of "known dissidents" and vowed to bring them to justice. According to the chronically misinformed Rumsfeld, the dissidents were the "dregs of society: composers, musicians, performance artists and other antipatriotical riffraff." And the justice was "to place them, for their own safety, into internment music camps for the duration of the war."

Circumventing the jurisdiction of Beano's Office of Homemaker Security, the Baloney General had conscripted thousands of AARP members to fan out across the country and round up these troublemakers. Clad in protective armor of jointed, bony plates, these aged agents, dubbed "armydillos," called their work "ethical cleansing." Already they'd packed scores of musicians and a few ASCAP minions off to Interlocken (Michigan), Stephen Collins Foster Middle School Instrumental Camp (Kentucky), Drum Camp California (a state to be named later), Camp Meade (Vermont) and, for hard-core cases, Sing Sing Repetitive Vocal Camp (New York).

Beano Bengaze was first and foremost a musical shaman; he owed little to the Office of Homemaker Security. Hence the decision to relinquish the quest for Antarctic terrorists and return to the United States to contest Ashcrapt's overzealots was a no-brainer--much as the baloney general himself appeared to be.

A sudden materialization by Weasel Slayer on water skis behind the pontoon taxi suggested that Beano wouldn't be working alone. The bi-nosal warrior ancestor of Otto Lummer effected a perfect camel spin, then, conjuring mythological powers previously only hinted at, began to pull the taxi back towards Chile. Beano persuaded the driver and radio operator to spend the rest of the trip in the confines of the comfortably appointed trunk while he formulated a course of action. In this climate, the obstacles to musical freedom were great, and he figured he'd have to round up numerous characters, both real and fictional, to succor him: Weasel Slayer, of course; probably Child-Born-of-Water, too; but also Evadio, Kinkajoul, Bung Hollow Wingate, Warbler Hadley Blackmoor, Betty the dirigiblist, and ... what!, me, too?!

It isn't enough that I have to write and read introductory essays for Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, including today’s 340th--now I'm to play an ancillary role in an upcoming episode, too? Who's in charge here? For an answer, let's head over to the reality-baiting Kalvos.