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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #547
The Land of Milk and Honey
David Gunn

There was once a land called Milk-and-Honey where there was always plenty of everything that everybody ever needed--as long as what they needed was milk and honey. Dairy ranches and honey factories proliferated, to the exclusion of nearly all other industry. This state of affairs prompted criticism by a few naysayers who thought a more diversified manufacturing base would better serve Milk-and-Honey's long-term economic growth. Plus, some individuals simply couldn't abide milk and honey. "What about Langdon's lactose intolerance?" they demanded, "or Sequoia's hypersensitivity to bee pollen?" They were referring to two members of Milk-and-Honey's Beautiful People Council, who didn't look nearly so beautiful after they’d been exposed to, respectively, milk and honey. But they were in the minority, and the pair had maxed out their council term limits anyway, so that argument gathered about as much traction as, say, milk on honey. The citizens of Milk-and-Honey continued to focus on doing what they did best until one day the country became the milk and honey production capital of the world.

That day, a Saturday, was one of national pride and celebration. A band played the theme from the only movie filmed entirely in Milk-and-Honey, "Honey, I Shrunk the Milk" as scores of crumbsnatchers in lifelike bovine regalia paraded down Pollen Street waving the distinctive white and brown Milk-and-Honey flags. Workers at the State Warehouse dispensed free milk and honey scratch 'n sniff patches. The National Maritime Commissary brewed a special Navy Blue Tea for the occasion made from the bark of bluebirds. Mr. A.K.A. Frenniks, the Ruler of Milk-and-Honey, publicly lauded the heads of the Dairy Bureau and Bee Fluids Consortium for their work by presenting each with a "Met or Exceeded Inventory Goals" medal. And then, at last, it was time for the entertainment.

All eyes turned to a small, elevated stage upon which stood B. Noah Bengazebo, Milk-and-Honey's premier bee wrangler. He was also Milk-and-Honey's only bee wrangler, for such work was indeed perilous. The venom imparted by a single bee sting could cause its victim to explode. People with chronic allergies to ordinary bee hair were advised to venture outside only when clad in chitinous body armor. Typical beekeepers wore protective exoskeletons and wielded bee-calming smokers. Bengazebo employed neither, claiming they impeded the interspecific rapport he needed to maintain with his charges. And unlike flea circuses, in which the performers wore neck harnesses to keep them from leaping to freedom, Bengazebo's bees were untethered. They came and went as they pleased.

Luckily, at that moment they pleased to fly from their überhive hanging from the old oak tree up to the stage, where they surrounded their keeper with a somewhat discordant buzzing. Slowly, in a non-threatening manner, Bengazebo extracted from his pocket a baton. After a few practice downbeats to get the bees' attention, he began to "conduct" in earnest. Amazingly, the pitch of the buzzing varied sufficiently so the observant listener could hear strains of "The Bee Barrel Polka," "Bee and by Shadow," "Bee for Two," and of course "Flight of the Bumblebee-balm." The audience applauded enthusiastically. Next, he daubed some pollen grains on his right hand and held it out, palm up. A dozen bees alighted upon it and began to perform gymnastics--a series of coordinated leaps, tumbles, slides and turns, plus a surprisingly elegant pas de deux. The audience response was even livelier. For his finale, Bengazebo slowly closed his left hand over his right, so that all the beecrobats were completely enclosed. An energetic buzzing issued from inside his hands. Then slowly, slowly, the bees lifted Bengazebo off of the stage. Not far, to be sure--only six or seven inches--but it was remarkable, nonetheless. The crowd exploded! (Or was that some poor bee sting victim?) As Bengazebo's charges lowered him to the ground, some guy who'd had one too many of the Commissary's concoctions staggered up to the stage and flung the contents of his cup into the bee wrangler's face. Bengazebo instinctively unclasped his hands, then he dropped to the floor as the bees flew out. They made a beeline for their wrangler's antagonist, and proceeded to give him what for until he, too, exploded.

The next day, the Milk-and-Honey Gazette played down the demise of the rummy by leading off the story with this headline: "Blue tea is in the eyes of the bee holder.

Blue tea or beauty, take your pick, can also be expressed as "dynamical generative processes that exist at the junctions where systems of complexity meet acoustical exploration," a colorful phrase that's not heard often enough in the house of Kalvos and Damian. But that's about to be rectified as we now hear from the slogan's inventor, a guy whose name, coincidentally enough, anagrammatizes into Modern Clearheaded Twig, Tremor Wedged Enchilada, Newer Cathedral Demigod, or Get Welded Red Harmonica, anagrams that exist for a limited time only and only in the house.