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The Essay
Show #131
La doorbuster du Sandovak
David Gunn
Dirt poor, illegitimate, and cursed with congenital strombosis that could peel the spots off of a ceramic Dalmatian at 50 meters, Yong Zill Sandovak overcame these and 15 other lifestyle-threatening handicaps by taking the art of tinkering to a new, unsupervised level. Intrigued by remote-controlled applications of electronics ever since his uncle's toaster developed a palpably awkward sentience during a traditional Weaselween seance in 1981 and jammed police radar for ten hours, Yong Zill cloistered himself in the basement of a horn factory with only a set of Time-Life books, a hydroelectric microscope and a pair of neutered tweezers to keep him and an extended family of wharf dogs company. Existing on a weekly ration of a kilo of Antwerp figs and the sports section from The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, he finally emerged a week shy of five years later with the first universal garage door opener. His unit -- transdimensionally identical to a breadbox but infinitely more adhesive on the vertical axis -- seemed to share many of the same disturbingly discombobulating properties as a real time Algonquin Hole, including its transcendental distortion during the rainy season. Nicknamed the "doorbuster," Yong Zill's device could open and close any door. More importantly, it could do so at a range of four miles and it was non-directional.

He beta-tested it in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where few garage doors were affected at any one time. Hence, the potential for pandemonium was never explored. But when Yong Zill took his doorbuster to the Grange 'n Garage Expo in Stillwater, Oklahoma, chaos indeed jumped into the front seat and stayed put. As he proudly turned on his unit, at least 900 garage doors within the now infamous four-mile radius began to raise and lower like giant chicken lips incanting demonic prophesy in slow motion, with creaking hinges and grinding motor gears providing an unsettlingly foreboding accompaniment. Powered by a tiny alchemical kelvinium battery that produced potent Z-rays as well as a shrill G major triad, the doorbuster was a particularly big hit with society's outcasts, i.e. burglars and contemporary musicians, who guided it to its logical destination, the concert hall.

Early concerts normally utilized one doorbuster and from two to six doors. Larger groups, or consorts, of doors required lavishly waged carpenters and electricians to insure their proper operation, and often included multiple doorbusters, too. But this proved to be the instrument's downfall. When two or more doorbusters were lined up and switched on, the Z-rays played havoc with the laws of physics, and actually tore holes in the fabric of the space time continuum. Such was the case at a 1990 concert in the eponymously named Garage, an alternative performance space in Montpelier, Vermont. A piece by a shadowy musicians collective called Figminute required just two doors but 16 doorbusters, two for each of the performers. As the curtain went up, one player switched on her device and the doors began to descend in pleasing mechanical counterpoint. When player #2 powered up her doorbuster, the doors responded and parked themselves fashionably open. But as the Z-rays from units 3 through 16 were unleashed, the molecular configuration of the doors turned queasy, and a great shuddering filled the hall. As the piece staggered harshly towards a coda, the doors suddenly convulsed, bumped into their doppelgängers from a parallel universe, and imploded, turning the collective members into nondescript gray shrapnel. Meanwhile, in the surrounding four mile radius, portals of all descriptions were experiencing ascendant and descendent epiphanies. The huge doors of Montpelier Firehouse No. 1 lost sphincter control, crashed down, and beheaded a bunyip. The mechanical dumbwaiter door at the New England Culinary Institute's Cafeterium Royale reversed polarity on local gravity, causing a vat of lime gelatin with pear halves to plunge to the ceiling. Several city bank vault doors swung open, prompting enterprising burglars to engage in some impromptu performance art of their own. Eventually, the Z-rays turned on one another, canceling out most of the space-time discombobulation, but turning the doorbusters into the remote controlled equivalent of hieroglyphics and forever souring the proprietors of the Garage on any future musical performances.

Such performances, however, are always welcome and indeed encouraged on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 131st episode of which is fortunate to feature an early Sandovak performance which, we think, clearly demonstrates the influence of Antwerp figs on the subconscious. (F.F. Jenkins recording)

The underappreciated aria le flambeau oriange, sung by Yong Zill Sandovak in concert ... and, apparently, also in distress, which is how we hope never to find our own Kalvos.