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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #506
The Gates
David Gunn

The Lord High Executive Poohbah of Microsemisoft Planetary Realignment Industries (LHEPMPRI) had a thing about "gates." Whether the paid attendance at a game of intramural crickets, or an airport terminal passageway through which passengers rush to just miss their planes, or the multiple-input/single-output electronic circuit so crucial to home duplication appliances, the LHEP was always intensely interested in it. Over time, he became possessive of the word itself and eventually adopted it as his own surname. Well, purchased it, really. And then doled out its use to individuals who signed recondite license agreements and could prove they were right-handed and were partial to lemmings. So it should come as no surprise that he was keenly intrigued by an art installation that opened today in New York City called "The Gates."

In fact, he had know about it since 1979, the year that the installation's creator and master of transient environmental art, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, first conceived of it. The installation consists of 7,500 16-foot high gates that follow the edges of 23 miles of Central Park pathways. By a remarkable coincidence, Christo had to overcome exactly seventy-five hundred bureaucratic hurdles in his twenty-six year long quest to realize the project. The Lord High Executive Poohbah always was a stickler for symmetry! Which perhaps is why, at the precise moment that "The Gates" were unfurling this morning, alternative artist Cisco, last heard from two weeks ago as he was being processed by the Acrotron®, was launching a rival exhibit called "Tailgate" across town in John Jay Park. The similarities between the two are remarkable, no matter that Cisco says he was totally unaware of the other's project. Although there is but one gate in John Jay Park, 7,500 assorted tails hang from it. Or so Cisco claims, for they are not visible to the naked eye. However, even clothing the eye with slippers or slacks doesn't make them any more apparent. The artist says most of the tails belong to those minute aquatic organisms known as rotifers, and one simply has to look harder. Another similarity: Christo's gates feature free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels; the posts that support Cisco's gate are made from the branches of dozens of saffron plants, though they have been dyed red to blend in with the numerous herrings with which the LHEP has infused "Tailgate." And finally, like all of Christo's installations, "The Gates" are impermanent. They will be removed after only sixteen days. "Tailgate" is also temporary. Because neither Cisco nor the LHEP bothered to obtain a parking permit, the New York Department of Parks and Recreation has already begun to dismantle it, citing a complaint from PETOR, the People for the Ethical Treatment Of Rotifers.

Meanwhile, Clement Canard, Chief Executive Obfuscator of Microsemisoft Planetary Realignment Industries, stood ignominiously in front of his extremely superior Superior, quacking in his boots. He had committed the Saint Louis cardinal sin of printing the word "abrogate" in a corporate contract. Within the confines of MPRI, even the use of "gate" as a word fragment without express written permission from the Lord High Executive Poohbah was a punishable offense. After a measured outburst of unexpurgated billingsgate, the LHEP negated the CEO's employmental contract and ordered him into the countryside to divagate until he mitigated his brazen behavior. And so, Canard soon found himself aboard an otherwise empty train speeding out of the Microsemisoft city-state. It was heading west, which wasn't so unusual. What was strange was that the train, according to his wristwatch, was going back in time, too. He lost track of the number of counterclockwise revolutions the hour hand made, but by the time the train pulled into a station in the early morning light, he figured he had dropped a good twenty-eight years. Turns out, he was off by only two months.

There wasn't much to the station, which consisted of a wooden platform next to the tracks on which sat a single, lonely bench. There were no people around, no animals or buildings or cars or--he had to subvocalize the word--gates. There was, however, off in the distance, a fence. Well, that seemed to be as good a target to divagate towards as any, so he set off for it. The grass underfoot was carpetlike and it glowed a warm shade of aquamarine in the late afternoon light. As Canard approached the fence, he suddenly wondered if it were greener on the other side. But the closer he got, the more he realized how difficult that might be to find out. The fence was about eighteen feet high and made of a heavy white fabric, so he could neither see over top of or through it. Probably it would be easier to just find the end of the fence and look on the other side from there.

Except that, after nearly an hour of strenuous walking, there still didn't seem to be an end to the fence! It just stretched off into the distance. Way off! Canard turned around to judge how far he'd come, but it was by now late in the day, night was falling, and all he could see was the outline of that damn fence! He glanced down at the grass and suddenly noticed that it was greener now. But then, the sky overhead had sort of a greenish pallor to it, too. As did his hands! What was happening?!

Well, obvious to us, dear listeners, is that Canard has stumbled upon Christo's Running Fence, a 40-kilometer long installation that extended east-west in northern California for two weeks in September of 1976. That ties in nicely to the earlier mention of Christo's latest project, and that's reason enough to move on to the bulk of Kalvos & Damian's 506th New Music Bazaar, which features an out-of-state in-studio composer providing live music, live badinage, as well as an equally alive Kalvos.