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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #371
David Gunn

It has come to this! So thinks Beano Bengaze as he enters the room and takes his seat at the head of the table. Six people are already seated here, three on each side. Their angst is palpable, and the room is already hot with barely suppressed emotion. Beano, whose erstwhile careers as musical shaman, hypothetical adventurer and eponymous flatus inhibitor generated only passing interest among the intelligentsia as well as a dearth of useful cash flow, has been reduced to mediating disputes between quarrelsome parties. His previous gigs were alive with positive, ebullient energies; this new pursuit could be a poster child for the negative aspects of humanity. Today, for instance, he is supposed to conciliate some seemingly irreconcilable differences. To his left sit representatives from a college board. They are keen to close down the institution, which they claim is in financial ruin, and sell off its assets in order to satisfy certain fiscal covenants, such as the college board's payroll. The process will coincidentally shut down the college's radio station, an action that the board calls collateral damage. To his right sit delegates from the radio station who are just as eager to keep the broadcast waves flowing. They insist that the station is more than mere college chattel and that it should be allowed to continue operation. They would on the surface seem to have the better argument, however their palpable antagonism towards the college board members, deservedly or not, is negatively coloring their position. Now he must listen to the arguments and then resolve the conflict in such a way as to mollify both parties ... at least long enough for him to absquatulate from the room undamaged.

Beano reaches into his pocket for a coin to flip to determine who will speak first. Instead, he encounters his briar meerschaum prayer pipe, a remnant of his shamanic days. His fingers caress its basso-relievo images of nymphs with timpani dancing the fandango, and his mind is briefly filled with happy memories of those days of spirit world crossovers. The sound of an impatient throat clearing abruptly ends his reverie. He pulls a coin from his pocket and tosses it into the air. Apparently the reverie wasn't quite done with him, though, because the coin vanishes in mid-flip. One of the board members interprets this as a directive to begin, and she launches into her side's reasoning. Her voice assumes a pedantic drone of white noise, and Beano is unable to concentrate on its content. Instead, he studies her as she speaks. She is clad in a luminescently black suit made of papier-mâché hemmed with blue-black bunting. The shoe with which she is pounding the table for emphasis is magnetic and the color of cheese after the curds are removed. But back to her voice--it doesn't always emanate from her mouth. Sometimes it seems to issue from little apertures on the top of her head. And throughout most of her invective, her lips donít even move; they just sit motionless at the end of her mouth frozen in an expression of unbridled unfriendliness. Mindful not to arouse suspicion, Beano slips from the present reality into a parallel spirit world, where he can observe the proceedings without the oppressive cloud of rancor that is pervading the room. Here he can also see into the very souls of the participants. Those of the radio station workers are generally forthright and good, if a bit seedy and prone to improbable altruistic constructs. And those of the board members ... well, well, well, what have we here? Worms. Mephitic worms nesting in rancid viscera. Speciousness, equivocation, casuistry--all are firmly entrenched here. Pools of hostility seethe in their bowels. (Mustn't that hinder normal evacuation?) Miasmata of misinformation exude from all three of them. Beano has seen enough. He knows how he must rule.

Alas, he never gets the chance. As he tries to reenter the alternative space-time continuum of the room of argumentative outpatients, a disproportionate energy field of discord blocks his path, and Beano is peremptorily shunted into a different parallel universe, one infelicitously full of equally peevish leopards.

Meanwhile, back at the table, the cloud of rancor has been joined by one of mistrust. So thickly does disagreement permeate the room that no one has noticed the dematerialization of their conflict resolver. Suddenly, all six persons push back their chairs, stand up, and draw weapons. The board members clench razor-sharp actuarial charts and investment portfolios; the radio stationeers brandish clots of organic self-righteousness. For a long moment, each glowers at his or her antipodes. But glowering is good. No life was ever lost from a glower. All right, one life, but that was a unique case. Ever so gradually, the pervasive petulance palliates. Reason and rationality replace resentment. The six antagonists put away their weapons, sit back down, and begin to discuss the issues calmly and candidly. The cloud of rancor dissipates. Cautious smiles supplant scowls. An atmosphere of tranquillity begins to ...

Just a moment. I have that wrong. I'm sorry, but the 46 words that directly precede "just a moment" were in error. In reality, tempers flared, the clouds of rancor and mistrust dilated, all of the weapons discharged, disgruntled bodies littered the floor and, in a nutshell, things rapidly deteriorated.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining, i.e. this 371st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. Yes, for the next nearly two hours, we invite you to disremember the tribulations of this possibly soon to be past-tense radio station. Instead, to paraphrase a television announcer from the 1960s, just sit quietly and let us control all that you hear, as you experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to Damian and Kalvos.