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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #368
Seas Annoy Seeders
David Gunn

Zenon A. Bagbee is sitting on a faux-sitatunga sofa reading a book one afternoon when a caddis fly alights on his shoulder. He tries to gently brush it off, but the fly deftly hops out of the way of his hand. It seems to be studying the illustration on the page of the book he has open. Although the book purports to explain through abstruse syllogism the similarities between two inanimate objects--a Kegler boot and a road map of Ouagadougou--the page inexplicably shows a diagram of the nine-step process in the manufacture of yurts, those domed tentominiums prized by the nomadic Mongols of central Asia. The fly crawls down his arm to better view the picture. By now, Zenon is curious. He slowly turns the page. The interest level of the fly increases palpably. On this page is a picture of a huge yurt whose circular roof is adorned with an image that mirrors the pattern on the caddis fly’s wings. The fly on Zenon’s arm jumps up and down and makes a little chirruping sound. "Seas annoy seeders, seas annoy seeders" the chirruping seems to say. The three words effect a rhythmic tattoo upon his subconscious, and Zenon reluctantly feels himself slip into an all-points trance. "Seas annoy seeders"--there is more to that slogan than an onomatopoeia of large tracts of irritating water. As the words tumble around and around in the clothes dryer section of his mind, they eventually reform into a phrase that he has long sublimated: ears, eyes and nose. Simultaneously, Zenon's ears prick up and, like an otorhynolaryngologist on amphetamines, so, too, do his eyes and nose.

The camera featuring Zenon's schnoz and peepers zooms out slowly, and some of the more observant among us recall that we've seen this place before. The sofa is pushed up against a wall in a fashionably appointed room about 20 feet square. Directly above the sofa is a painting of Maria Callas in a magnetic apron. She’s holding a bank note and smiling, the way she did at the end of that 1960 avant-garde production of "The Flying Dutchman," when the ship, with Callas at the helm, rises out of the water and flies up into the sky, ostensibly on a one-way voyage to the Crab Nebula. When the camera pans past the bloodstained sheet music of Saber Dance on the floor to the baby grand piano in the middle of the room, we can be pretty sure that, after great circumlocution, we are back in the drawing room of the Puyallup, Washington hotel. When last we were here, the sofa was identified as seedpod-shaped and piled high with antimacassars. But the lighting was, after all, crepuscular, and sitatungas, when dormant, can effect a seedpod-like demeanor, so the misidentification is understandable. On the other hand, what was that about a faux sitatunga sofa? This one has begun to stretch, gnarl and roll its eyes. Immediately, Zenon jumps off of and backs away from the erstwhile antelope-o-seat. He steps on the sheet music, his foot fitting perfectly within the outline of the smudged footprint on page 2, hitherto thought to be that of a size 7 women's stiletto boot worn by a left-handed man with a gibbous-shaped scar on his chin. The sitatunga shakes off both the remnants of its stupor and the antimacassars, stands up, and inspects Zenon with sly, unfriendly eyes. The rattled man bumps into the piano, sits down on the bench and instinctively begins to vamp on the Saber Dance theme.

As one camera focuses on the psychological interplay between Zenon and the sitatunga, another locates and zooms in on activity among the discarded antimacassars. Out from under the pile clambers the caddis fly, shaken but unharmed--indeed, still excited, still chirruping "Seas annoy seeders ... ears, eyes and nose," for some of the coverlets bear an uncanny resemblance to the picture of the yurt's roof in Bagbee's book and, hence, to the pattern on its own wings. The fly unfurls those wings over a like-imaged antimacassar and slowly flutters them. Redefining the aptitude of an inanimate object, the antimacassar flutters back--at first tentatively, then with unbridled gusto, matching the exuberance of the caddis fly flap for flap. The page of the book still open to the yurt roof illustration also is trembling a bit, though whether from sympathetic vibrations from the repetitive F sharps that Zenon is hammering on the piano, or if it, too, is affected by the fly-coverlet connection, who can say?

The scene shifts, but not far, just back to the sitatunga, which has turned to watch the pas de peculiar deux between insect and sofa cover. Zenon glances over, too, but, aside from Maria on the wall winking a salacious proposition at him in Morse code, sees neither anything remarkable nor any reason to delay his absquatulature. He gets up from the piano, which of its own volition continues the rhythmic Khatchaturian riff, slinks to the far side of the room, and ducks through the door, the same door through which I once slipped en route to an adventure that, up to now, I'd successfully suppressed.

Unfortunately, whoever devised this oddball tableau failed to foresee Zenon's hasty egress, and no camera follows him down the passageway that lies beyond. But this is as well, for I'm not keen to dredge up memories of my own flight in that direction which ultimately ... well, again, that memory is one that I'd prefer remained disremembered.

What I am keen to remember is that this 368th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar is the first one of the 2002 swelter season, the first one to truly embrace the irrepressible humor and humidity, creemees and crayfish, black flies and black ice of summertime Vermont. And what better way to start off the afternoon torpor than with a little musical amusement from Damian and Kalvos?