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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #291
Playing Peekaboo With Reality
David Gunn

The corridor that I find myself in resembles a chamber-to-chamber passageway in one of those prefab house-in-a-cans®, one in which all the lights have burned out due to intrinsic design flaws, namely cracked distributor caps. I strike a match ... and cry out in surprise. A pack of wild dogs, their suppurating eyes radiating malevolence, blocks my path! I try to duck down whence I came but I misjudge the hatch opening and bang my head on it. I lie in a crumpled heap, too stunned to draft an escape plan. But gradually my eyes adjust to the ambient blue-black light, and I see that what so startled me was merely a ceiling fresco of dogs playing poker. Still, the eyes of one of the canines follow me as I clamber out of the previous tunnel, close the hatch, and gather my wits, which I have dropped all over the metal floor. On the left-hand wall is a sconce with a candle in it. I strike another match and light it. The dogs-on-velvet no longer look so fearsome. The dealer, in fact, could be the twin of the TV sitcom star, Riboflavin. He winks at me as I think this, which I at first attribute to fidgety shadows from the guttering candle. More likely, the conk on the noggin has temporarily afforded me double vision, coincidentally compensating for my normal strabismic condition.

The music beckons. I take the candle and steal down the corridor in the direction of the Khatchaturiana, but as I pass through a section of tunnel that bears an uncanny resemblance to the cross section of a kazoo, the piece careens through the coda and then abruptly ends. No matter -- the melody sticks in my mind like intercranial spirit gum, and I continue to subvocalize the xylophone part. The clanking rhythm is reminiscent of the defrost cycle on my old treadle-powered refrigerator, and by approximating the cadence, I make good time. At last the theme is displaced by white noise seeping from vents in the tunnel ceiling. The lack of a clear meter throws off my equanimity, and I slow to a crawl. Without any music to drive me onward, my nycto- and claustro- phobias awaken. A loud, spine-chilling sound from the direction of the dogs-on-velvet rouses my fear of large, flying creatures, too. It is the sound of one wing flapping.

With my choices limited to forward or back, and because probability theory presupposes that in a parallel universe I went back and didn't like the consequences, I opt for the former.

The passageway trends upward, and soon the metal surface acquires a layer of bristly, green hair, sort of like a chia pet floor. Before long, framed advertisements appear on the walls: Acme Tokamak Repair, Black & Decker Mechanical Trowels, Cosmetic Surgery By Gumby. The last advert sends another chill down my already frosty spine, for I know that Mr. Gumby's controversial "cut and paste" surgical procedures have been outlawed in all but one state: New Hampshire. Sure enough, just ahead is one of those "Welcome To" signs that grace every state-to-state boundary crossing: "Welcome To New Ham ..." The rest of the sign has fallen off but, after eliminating News York, Mexico, Jersey, Foundland and Delhi, the likelihood is that I have somehow crossed into New Hampshire, 3,034 road miles from the Puyallup, Washington hotel.

I come to a door. There are three distinct sections to it: the bottom third seems to fade in and out of focus, heightening the effects of my lingering double vision; the middle quarter panel has a strangely intoxicating quality to it, like table wine left in the freezer for a week might affect a goat; and at the bottom of the upper five-twelfths I discern a smudged footprint, a size 7 women's stiletto boot worn by -- my mind reels at the sudden insight -- Weasel Slayer, the bi-nosal warrior ancestor of Otto Lummer, and the incorporeal confidant of ....

I push open the door. What the room beyond lacks in illumination it more than makes up for in redolence. An aroma of cedar, rust, and tincture of Anbesol battles the musky scent of a somewhere-in-the-distance dog bark for control of my nose. The Anbesol mélange is winning. My eyes, meanwhile, having at last halved their bout of double vision, are doing a little sensory exploration on their own. They report that I am in a small, aerosol cabin. The floor is linoleum lath with a lazy pimiento motif. One end of the room is dominated by a locular table of indeterminate exterior dimensions. Perched atop it is a briar meerschaum pipe on which 200 basso relievo nymphs with timpani dance the fandango. At the other end of the room lurks a stairway that appears to lead both up and in. Midway between the two ends is a window through which streams murky blue-black light. My eyes, eager to investigate further, glance out the window and discover that the cabin is floating six feet off the ground. There is no longer any doubt -- I am in the house of Beano Bengaze playing peekaboo with Reality.

Reality is a concept frequently avoided on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, but on this 291th episode, it may finally see the light of day, for we have neither guest composer to tarnish the good name of, nor Live-From-Studio-Z presentation. We do, however, have a theme with which to while away the next 110 minutes, and we most assuredly have Kalvos.