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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #104
The Skull of Mantovani
David Gunn
Although smallpox was officially eradicated 28½ years ago by the World Health Organization, tinypox was not. And, no matter it painfully offed 40% of those it infected, the smallpox virus was a pleasant romp on the beach on a warm summer's day compared to the utterly nasty tinypox, a scourge so vile that even its offspring keeps its viral distance. Fortunately, tinypox is difficult to transmit. Radical rectilinear motion by fluid mechanics coupled with the ingestion of pantophobic fungi from Samoa are required, a combination uncommon since the 1980s. One place where they both are openly practiced, however, is at a militant music camp high in the foothills of Middle America, an armed fortress known to FBI informants and their accountants as The Skull of Montovani.

Named after their leader, a formerly complaisant orchestra conductor and kettledrum smuggler, The Skull of Montovani is comprised of a wide variety of musical malcontents, from bellicose community band librarians to oboe workshop administrators, from hair stylist quartet drop-outs to French horn mouthpiecesmiths, from psychotic violists -- a redundancy -- to unemployed copyists unable or unwilling to learn cutting edge computer music technology necessary for contemporary score design. The precise number of adherents is unknown; estimates range from 34 to 12,381, including some members of Congress. The Skull's manifesto is but two pages long and reads like an amalgam of Karl Marx, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Porky Pig. It rails against the sinisterly obfuscating pronouncements of ASCAP, BMI, and Publisher's Clearing House, yet embraces the dynamics of a concert of Mahler's Reformation Symphony in the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. During one such performance in 1980, the tinypox virus was first unleashed onto an unsuspecting audience by a forerunner to the Skull of Montovani, Herb Alpert's Craniacs. As the lugubrious third movement was drawing to an umpteenth recapitulation, the Craniacs, masquerading as modern dancers in the Martha Stewart Graham mold, began to sashay down the aisles, struggling to approximate a radical rectilinear motion while ducking the dozens of chandeliers in the auditorium which were swaying back and forth in approximate time to the music. Extracting from their pantaloon pockets biscuits infused with Samoan pantophobic fungi, the agitators tossed them to the spectators who, conversant with Vegas-style entertainment, eagerly gobbled them. By the time the batonster had wrung every last note from the movement, the tinypox virus had squeezed every last breath from the audients. The fourth, fifth and optional seventh movements were thus played without interruption or scrutiny, a practice observed in many dinner theaters to this day. The perpetrators were eventually caught and sentenced to be shot out of a cannon into the sun. The sole survivor, who fell into the sea, some 92.9 million miles short of the target, reportedly changed his name to "he who tastes lousy to sharks," or Le flambeau oriange. He's still out there, somewhere.

And we're in here, somewhere -- we being Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which is nearing the penultimate development section, having passed the first false coda a minute ago; and somewhere being the Beseechment Booth at famous needy radiophonic emporium WGDR, 91.1 both in FM numbers and in the amount of pledge dollars necessary to keep the following two-hour-less-ten-minute slot of music and words from turning nasty and unleashing its own musical virus on a suspecting public. So give heartily, as I give you, with no questions asked, answered or retracted, Kalvos.