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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #426
The Bosendorfer Hammerlock
David Gunn

What La Escuela Cucaracha de la Ley y Bebidas, the school of mixology and law from which Pantaloom Chigwell Bengaze had graduated--if not with flying colors, at least with colors that were somewhat above C level--lacked in fundamental tort law instruction, it more than made up for in experimental cocktail assembly. This was the school that first blended bourbon, vermouth, bitters and puréed marine mollusk to create the Manhattan Clam Chowder; the school that took the humdrum vodka, tomato juice, salt and Worcestershire sauce ingredients of a Bloody Mary, added the essence of a Baltimore drive-by shooting, and invented the Bloody Maryland, 1989's Cocktail of the Year; the school that single-handedly pioneered the New Wave of mixed drinks that included the Singapore Slingshot, the Rusty Nailclipper, the Lower East Sidecar and, for that forgotten subset of syntax aficionados, the Grammargarita. Of course, as with any avant-garde movement, there were a few detractors. Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals picketed the school for two years when they learned what went into a Snake in the Grasshopper.

However the cocktail that most intrigued Pantaloom--before he went off to the Ben-Shakti School of Shamanism--was the Amoco Shot, a potent brew that was half Bacardi 151-proof rum, half Everclear grain alcohol, and one-third kahlua. It looked and tasted like gasoline, ergo its name, and was reputed to be lethal when substituted for water in Jello shooters. However, once they'd sampled it, the legal clientele Pantaloom tended at the bar persistently clamored for it. They drank it neat, sloppy, on the rocks, between the rocks and a hard place, with a twist, with a shout, straight up or face down in the gutter, occasionally all at the same time. When even this brew didn't slake their craving for anesthetization, they began to demand Jello Shooters. Although he wasn't certified to prepare them--a Class 3 bartender's CPR license was required--Pantaloom was happy to provide the cocktail's constituents to anyone who signed the proper release form. A Jello Shooter was congealed lime Jello embedded with pear halves and paraldehyde that was piped into an imbiber's orifice through a pastry bag, often with water added to the mixture to facilitate product entry. And while no one had ever kicked the tavern bucket after "shooting the Jello," no one had ever asked for a refill, either.

Eventually, Pantaloom grew bored with his repertoire of mixed drinks--the shooters and shots, the daiquiris and drambuies, the fizzes and floozies--so he began to experiment with his own concoctions. After quickly exhausting all combinations of the five basic liquors--Scotch, gin, bourbon, vodka and vinegar--he turned to organic solvents. Toluene, pine tar, chloroform, Sanka--each had its own distinct mixological characteristic. But when Pantaloom discovered the wide range of inebriacal "effects" that ordinary acetone offered, he knew he had found his Holy Grail.

By far, the best drink he ever created (that is, before he discovered "ethereal mixology") was the Bosendorfer Hammerlock. Even Pantaloom wasn't certain of its ingredients, for he altered the proportions each time he concocktailed it. But every partaker swore that, after the first swig, he or she heard music. Microtonal tangos, acoustoelectric allemandes, thereminimal threnodies--each patron experienced some sort of aural event that was unique to his or her own ears. One tippler, a circuit court judge during those rare moments when sobriety grazed his consciousness, said he heard lawnmowers accurately rendering the Hong Kong Chorus from Nixon In China. Two law clerks simultaneously heard animatronic puccoons ululating "I Am Woman" and the theme from "Rawhide" in contrasting keys, time signatures and tempura. Mother Bumpkins, on holiday from a concurrent story line, envisioned clouds of scintillating whole notes trickling out of a seam in a wall of the Bung Hollow Linoleum Mine. Pantaloom's father, Bendiego, the last of the tavern's irregular clientele to sample the libation, said he sensed the presence of an albino carburetor snuffling the music of beets. He refused to be any more explicit with his description, and he never had another Hammerlock.

Pantaloom, too, never sampled his potables. But it wasn't for any lack of interest. His body was simply in a phase of Bengazean evolution and his mouth had temporarily disappeared. Still, he never had any problem engaging in conversation. Everyone always understood him. Even the puccoons twisted their stalks in his direction whenever he appeared to be communing. But then the rest of his sensory organs began to vanish, followed by his head, shoulders, arms, torso and legs--in fact, everything except his shoes, socks and feet. The taverneers, suddenly bereft of their mixmaster, disappeared, too, repairing to their legal crannies to resume practicing law until they got it right.

But fear not for Pantaloom, gentle listener, for Ood-nan-tunk, Wampum Joe and Bunyip Boy are at this very moment endeavoring to reacquaint him with his feet. Meantime, we invite you to acquaint yourselves with this 426th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, an audible encounter to be shaken, not stirred, by our own barehanded barkeep, Kalvos.