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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #552
Way Up There
David Gunn

Far, far to the north of the northernmost boundary of the United States of America lies a particularly foreign country, an über-exotic nation-state known variously as "Up There," "Way Up There," and "Canada." Venture even farther north and one day you’ll come to a city called Montréal, which is Canadian for "can’t get much more north than this." In the city’s Northern Sector lies an institution of higher learning known variously as "The Northernmost Place To Learn," "Damn, It’s North Up Here!" and "Concordia University." Concordia is renowned for its eponymous grape which grows nowhere else on earth, save for a few thousand vineyards in the Pacific Northwest and New England. But did you know that the ogival shape of its campus as seen from space was once deemed ideal for supersonic aircraft? In the late 1960s, the school’s outline was carefully traced by a French-Anglo consortium. The result was the delta-winged Concordia, which really did look like a large grape when airborne. Immediately the French Xenophobe Bureau complained that the name didn’t contain enough "e"s to reflect France’s influence on the aircraft’s French windows, so the spelling was changed to Concorde. We can visit these pleasant Concordian attractions another time because we are very near our goal now and must press onward. And on we go -- due north, of course -- to the northernmost edge of the campus. But wait. What’s this? It’s gone! There used to be a small, nondescript office building here, the northern wing of which held our objective. Instead there is only a wooden post jammed into the ground. A lone dreadlock hangs from it, waving ambagiously in the breeze. Beyond the post lies the beginning of South, so it will be counterproductive to continue in that direction. That leaves east or west. On a hunch, I head east, taking you, our audients, with me. No matter we remain as far north as we can go, the land begins to acquire a distinct eastness. At first I can’t put my finger on any one attribute, and then abruptly I can. In fact, my whole hand is covered in attributes. Big ones, little ones, sly ones, Wet Ones, and all of them easterly in their orientation. The color of the ground is easty and the sky has a definite not-west sheen to it, suggesting that we have already reached the outskirts of the Near East. Off in the distance, I can make out what surely is the Middle East. And beyond that -- far beyond -- must lie the Far East. Now, this is all fascinating in a longitudinally peregrinating sort of way, however we are no closer to our goal than we were two hundred and twenty-five words ago. (Or two hundred and thirty-eight if you count this wholly gratuitous sentence.)

No matter I’ve invested much in this journey -- already I’m up to twenty-eight sentences, some of which are borderline bewildering -- I realize that you, the listening audient, is probably more interested in the dénouement. How you get there doesn’t matter. So I’ve decided to dispense with the rest of the trek, including the spine-tingling melee at the junction of East and West -- although I invite you to accompany me on that adventure another time -- and just go straight to our goal.

And, suddenly, here we are -- near Austin! Not the southeast Minnesota burg that houses the Spam Museum and not the city in Texas where you’ll find the world’s largest badger orchestra. Rather, our goal has been Kevin Austin, an acoustoelectrician who has been at Concordia (the school, not the grape) for nearly forty years. We’re standing in front of his small, nondescript office. The door is closed, locked. I press the doorbell once, twice, three times, but there is no response. I shinny up the wall and try to peer through the transom, but a nest of badgers up there rehearsing Stravinsky’s long suppressed "Song of Palms" impedes my view. If I had employed my writer’s prerogative more wisely, I would have made the door ajar and ensured that Austin was inside. I suppose we could wait around, see if he shows up, or even go back to that brouhaha where East meets West that I mentioned, which really was pretty darned exciting, but I sense a growing impatience from our audients.

There is, luckily, another way to Austin, and that’s through a door that leads elsewhere, into the Kalvos ampersand Damian house. And here’s that door now. I’ll just open it for a moment and ... ahh, he is here! -- he being that Austin chap -- along with Kalvos and Damian and their calming South of the Border accents, all together in the house.