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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #449
Panland
David Gunn

On a Saturday afternoon long ago during the late Mesozoic Era, the supercontinent Pangaea, suddenly acting as unmanageable as a consensus-challenged fandango band, broke up. The result was Gondwanaland in the south, Laurasia in the north, and Panland in the narrow equatorial interstice between the two. The protocontinents Gondwanaland and Laurasia are well known to plate tectonicians and landmassologists, who have long celebrated them in song, verse and the occasional well-funded research grant. But Panland has been little studied and less valued. Save for a smattering of folk tales, there is little hard evidence that it even existed. Contemporary continental drifters tend to lump it together with another lump of legendary land, Atlantis, smugly labeling them incontinents. But the stories persist, especially one that involves the eponymous half-goat and half-man mythical Greek god of forests, fields, flocks and fertility.

Pan was having a bad day, one that seemed to be lasting for millennia. Dubbed "Mister 4F" by his colleagues--and 5F by the comely woodland nymphs, who did so with an embarrassed giggle--the ungulate god was moping about in the forest, feeling a bit down because he hadn't partaken of a good Bacchanalia in a while. No festive rites among the satyrs and fauns, no extra-conjugal trysts with the naiads and oreads, Pan had been reduced to coordinating lodging for ecotourists of the day. His energy level was so low and he was so prone to oversleeping that some of his mates had begun to call him BedPan. But then he spotted a familiar pulchritudinous form in the distance. Syrinx was the nymph hottie in all the woods, and Pan was keen to get into a rut, to dock his tugboat in her port, if you get my drift. In a flash, he was after her. The moment Syrinx spotted him, she, too, was off in high gear. Up hill and down syndrome they raced. The nymph was fleet, but Pan was fleeter, his mighty hooves kicking up clods of elfin dirt as he ran. He was almost at her proverbial doorstep when a field of indeterminate energy suddenly loomed in front of them both. It was, he was sorry to say, an Algonquin Hole in estrus. Pan grabbed for Syrinx just as she clipped its edge. The excitement polyps she was discharging must have combined with the Hole's mischievous W-rays, because she abruptly turned into a bed of tall reeds. Stopping by the woods on a snowy egret, Pan sighed with regret. His breath, as it touched the hollow stems, made a gentle, soothing melody, which touched him, much as a transient touches the 11 button on his telephone for room service. Circumcising the reeds, Pan fashioned from them a shepherd's pipe on which he played sad, sweet songs that kept the Algonquin Hole mollified for the rest of eternity.

Well, the songs weren't as innocuous as might be imagined. The whole tone scale, on which most of Pan's tunes were based, has a particularly deleterious effect on geomorphology. There is something about the scale's unremitting intervalic congruity that can wear down even the most erosion-resistant of ultrabasic mantle rocks, not to mention the occasional listener. Santa Anna was said to employ it extensively to defeat the defenders of the Alamo. And they--the songs, not the Alamobsters--struck a chord deep within the folds of the earth's crust and set in motion a phase of global dynamics. The massive continental hot plate that extended from the subequatorial hills of Montezuma to the shores of present-day Tripoli, and on which Panland uneasily sat like a deer in a headlight, broke apart. Half of it was sucked into the Algonquin Geosyncline, and half fell off of the edge of the world. And Panland, if it was ever there in the first place, disappeared, taking a presumably vast repertoire of whole tone music with it. Pan, however, seems to have escaped the disaster, for subsequent folk tales describe a lustrous velvet finish known as Panne who roamed the forests, hunting tuna and frolicking with larval forms of silverfish and grasshoppers.

To this day, the famous panpipe fitter and former geophysicist, George Zamfir, is careful to exclude the merest suspicion of a whole tone scale from his performances.

As are we, the custodians of Kalvos & Damian's 449th New Music Bazaar, for incontinents are not limited to large land masses--just ask Kalvos.