Kalvos & Damian is both historical and new. Get the RSS feed for new content info on
Noizepunk & Das Krooner, interview transcripts, and K&D: In the House! More info.
Kalvos & Damian Logo

Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #362
Gammagong
David Gunn

Gamera, Megalon, Desutoroia, Megagirasu, Pokemon, Mothra the Giant Moth, Ebirah Terror of the Deep, the Devil-Beast Giron, Ghidora the Three Headed Monster, Gigantis the Fire Monster, Hedora the Smog Monster, Gigan the Giant Monster, Astro Monster, Bionic Monster, Cosmic Monster, Volcano Monster, Sea Monster, Monster Zero, the Monster from an Unknown Planet, a monster so pernicious that its name was not allowed to be translated into English--these and other 70-mm film fiends have for nearly half a century battled Gojira--Godzilla, King of the Monsters. And thanks to a comprehensive safety clause in his contract, Godzilla has always persevered. In the end, he always gets the girl--sometimes in eviscerated parts, but he always gets 'em. But a new day, Saturday, is dawning, and a new horrible creature has appeared on the horizon to challenge Gojira's pre-eminence. It is Gammagong, Horror Monster of the Indonesian Orchestra!

At the base of the pinkly pastoral palisades that form the southern border of the Sagami Sea, a Japanese fisherperson casts his net, hoping Kosutu the Fishgod will reward him with a catch of Nippon coelacanth with which he can feed his family this evening. A mile away, at the bottom of the sea, the Hatsushima Deep Sea Floor Observatory is intently studying the fisherperson. For some unknown reason, this man is the only person on the planet who has been able to catch coelacanths with unerring regularity. The coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, is a fish with a four hundred million year history, and was thought to have gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous Period. However, one showed up off the coast of Africa in 1938, another around Madagascar in 1952, and a third in the UCLA Natatorium in 1978. A dozen others have been spotted since then, but this fisherperson has, for the last two years, been netting coelacanths out of the Sagami Sea on the order of three per week! The Hatsushima scientists were naturally rather eager to learn his secret.

Having secured his nets to his satisfaction, which is in turn bolted to a hook in the cliff wall, the fisherperson doffs his adobe hat, unlocks the brim, and removes from it a queen conch shell. He strides to the edge of the sea, puts the tip of the shell to his lips, and blows. The sound that emerges recalls the whistle a sentient tea kettle makes when dropped into a volcano that has recently come out of retirement. It is full of nervous energy and lots of wobbly harmonics. He stops to listen, then blows again, harder this time. The Hatsushima scientists are getting all of this down on tape, though because they are separated by a mile of thick water, the recording is predominantly wow and flutter. Suddenly, from out of the watery depths, a coelacanth appears. Then another. A third follows the other two towards the melancholy sound of the conch whistle. So intent are the scientists watching the prehistoric fish that they fail to notice a larger, more ominous creature pursuing the first three. Not until this leviathan swims silently by, dwarfing the observatory, do its occupants register empirical panic.

[transliterated from the Japanese]
   Sayonara Pikachu, Scientist: Ho! Large underwater not-a-coelacanth monster! At once must examination perform!
   Atoka Biorante, General: No no, too dangerous! Load underwater atomic cannon! Aim! Fire!

Before the scientist can demur, the deadly missile is launched. It cleaves the thick water, leaving a dirty radioactive trail in its wake. But just as it is about to hit its target, the not-a-coelacanth monster turns and swats the missile, sending it hurtling down onto a chemosynthetic community of giant clams on the sea floor. The ensuing explosion sends shock waves through the Sagami Sea, severing the Hatsushima Observatory from its foundation and plunging it into chaotic darkness.
   General Biorante: Ho! This no ordinary not-a-coelacanth monster. This Gojira!
   Scientist Pikachu: No no, observe gonglike quality to throat sounds. This altogether unique from-the-depths monster. I give him new name, Gammagong!

As if on cue, the monster utters a low wail that indeed sounds not unlike an Indonesian orchestra of tuned percussion instruments, such as bamboo xylophones, metal chimes and gongs. The sound bubbles up menacingly out of the water in front of the Japanese fisherperson just as he is reeling in the second coelacanth.
   Fisherperson: Volcano Monster?
   Second coelacanth: No, Gammagong! Hasten for your life!

Alas, there is no place to hasten to. The fisherperson gets only six rungs up the ladder leading to the top of the palisades before a tsunami washes him into the sea.

Now Gammagong surfaces, dragging with him the remnants of the Hatsushima Deep Sea Floor Observatory. He opens his feeding aperture but, again, instead of the horrific roar typical of Japanese underwater monsters, there emanates an agreeable timbre of friendly gongs and melodious chimes. At the same time he is laying waste to the countryside, razing entire villages and immolating their citizenry, a cult of musicians is declaring him a folk hero who is widely misunderstood by a generally tin-eared populace. As Gammagong approaches Kyoto, where the army is making its final stand with the massive Z Bomb, the "gammagangsters" infiltrate the military and disable the weapon. Then they rush out to greet Gammagong with xylophones, chimes and gongs of their own, dancing around him in childish glee. But Gammagong kills them, too, squashing them perforce during his own churlish dance.

At last the Z Bomb is re-enabled, deposited into the monster catapult, aimed and fired. Another horrific explosion ensues. Clouds of dust, debris and detritus blanket the atmosphere. The entire industrial military complex, together with millions of anxious Kyotoians, holds its collective breath. What is out there? Did something just move? What was that sound? Was it ... ?

Sorry, itís just us, just the 362nd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. We, too, are eager to learn of the fate of the Horror Monster of the Indonesian Orchestra, because it directly impacts this show, as will perforce be explained by Kalvos.