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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #177
The Acme Death Machine
David Gunn

The following reminiscence is brought to you by a current event that for two weeks had deleterious effects on my psyche. Thanks to the analysts who made its rehashing possible.

Thursday, 1988: The Ladies Professional Golf Tournament at prestigious No Name Please Country Club, no one admitted without a dollar sign for a middle initial. Bright pajama skies, orthopedic grass, fresh squeezed ozone, a synthetic sunburn, and plenty of trash. Which is where I came in. For five days, I played a minor role as, according to my tee shirt embroidery, Ecology Supervisor, tying up slimy refuse bags, picking up slippery cigar butts, driving the Acme Death Machine. What an odd lot of spectators this golf jazz attracts: blue and white haired overweight nonagenarians with floppy jowls, potato complexions and emphysema, brandishing plastic cups overflowing with lite lager, applauding like mad whenever the dumb little ball rolled into the cup, oohing in vicarious disappointment when it didn't (which was most of the time), ogling a hundred and a half of proudly athletic babes with servile young caddies in tow, their dark, sun-leathered skin flaking off each time they whacked those dumb little balls. The winner got $75,000, not bad; the loser earned $74,721 less, woeful pin money ... not to mention the scores of duffery devotees who didn't make the final cut and were left out of the fiduciary pool altogether. My corporate sponsor -- who will also go nameless, though if you were to think of "billions of hamburgers sold," you'd be on the right track -- sponsors the event, ostensibly for charitable reasons, realistically for the bucketfuls of handsome PR it rakes in, what a con. Still, the important thing is the office shuts down for a week and we worker bees are redeployed on the golf course to sell hot dogs, beer and ice cream lollies, and eat hot dogs, beer and ice cream lollies, also fetch bags of ice from big refrigerated lockers, drive golf carts importantly from point A to point B, act officious -- why it's all remarkably similar to regular office activities!

The Acme Death Machine was a gasoline powered golf cart that had a broken accelerator pedal. It was either all the way on or it wasn't. I, or course, favored the former. All of the other carts were quiet electric jobs, whirring sedately and politely on carefully groomed paths. The Acme was loud, disruptive, dangerous. Merely sitting behind the wheel caused my attitude to change, darken, mirroring that of the machine. Automatically I pulled my black hat down a little lower, sneered a little more frequently, cared a little less for humans on foot. I careened around the course, pedal to the floor, ripped divots out of the macadam, plowed up heretofore manicured greenways, forced the no-name-please ABC TV cameraman, his fist balled into a threatening gesture, into the nonplused crowd. The carts were for moving overflowing trash bags from remote parts of the course to two giant compactors, impressive mechanisms that turned bulky throw-aways into neat little packets of sticky effluent. But the carts were designed to lug golf bags, not refuse bags, so I fashioned walls out of broken-down cardboard boxes, jammed them around the sides of the cargo bin, increasing the hauling capacity exponentially while raising the center of gravity to a dangerous level. It looked like a trash truck from hell. Found a discarded broken umbrella -- the perfect Acme Death Flag! -- jammed it into the topmost rubbish receptacle, its bent spokes flailing angrily at the air as I bombed blindly around corners. An imposing sight -- the ABC cameraman said so himself before I sideswiped him a second time and left him for dead.

Besides the regular trash, I also picked up treasures: a current TV Guide, a used Pampers, a 1986 baseball card. Discovered where all of the free food was stashed, more importantly when it was left unattended. Loaded up on orange juice, bananas, high energy snack foods and wine coolers, four cases of 'em. Free food, a loud and hazardous motor vehicle -- I tell you, it was paradise!

But now the show's over, the golfer gals have all decamped to seek cash and wrinkled spectators elsewhere, the pigeons have reclaimed their familial course roosts, the bananas have turned a malleable and murky brown, and I'm nearly out of wine coolers -- tis a sad ending to a short-lived but thrilling 10-year old adventure.

As Beano Bengaze said, "those who forget the past are domed to repeat it," meaning they will someday cover it with a hemispherical roof, or un flambeau oriange, the purpose of which will hopefully become clear as this, the 177th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, gently but unrepentantly unravels.