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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #548
David Gunn

Dinklaker Shoe Shoppe prided itself on being one of the most cutting-edge footwear stores on all of South Klondike Street. The owner, Dean "Dino" Lakerdink, never carried a shoe style that was more than a week old. His sales personnel knew their merchandise so intimately that they all took vows of celibacy during working hours to keep their marriages intact. A giant animatronic shoe at the door greeted customers, announced the daily specials and dandled kids on its tongue. But when Dino installed a robot shoe salesman and laid off Bob and Eugene, who'd worked in the store for decades, some customers thought he'd pushed his avant-garde philosophy too far. However, they were in the minority. Most shoppers deemed the mechanical man, who was named Florsheim, the grooviest gadget they'd ever seen. Lakerdink liked him because he had outstanding time management skills. Using state-of-the-art laser telegraphy, Florsheim could accurately measure a person's foot and produce the perfect fitting shoe within seconds. And usually only another minute was needed to close the sale. Dino's sole reservation, in fact, was that Florsheim had an eye for the ladies, almost to the exclusion of his equally important male clientele. Take last Tuesday morning, for example. Three men entered the store at the same time. In a flash, Florsheim had measured their dogs and was off to fetch the appropriate footwear. But when a willowy blond sashayed through the door, the mechanical man seemed to instantly forget all about his gentlemen patrons. Florsheim eschewed the laser foot measurement process in favor of a "hands on" approach, and his carapace reddened noticeably as he caressed the woman's tootsies. One of the men, annoyed at being ignored, tried to get the robot's attention by flinging a shoehorn at him. Florsheim may have sensed danger for he shot the implement out of the air with his laser ray. Unfortunately, he didn't employ a focused beam, and all four customers were promptly reduced to collateral damage. The robot, meanwhile, continued to try to sell the red stiletto heels to what was now a steaming mound of fused bones. The awkward incident did cause a backlash among Dinklaker's less forgiving customer base, and the attendant negative publicity forced Lakerdink to get rid of Florsheim. Oh, he didn't dismantle him, as Bob and Eugene had demanded. The shoemonger just shipped the robot off to his brother, Dr. Moreau, a physiologist who ran a research facility and spa for composers on an uncharted island in what is now the Mediterranean Sea.

Florsheim arrived on the island to find the doctor conducting vivisection experiments on the composers. By reversing the Doppler fields in their neurofibril transmuters, Moreau hoped to dampen the composers' predilection for E minor triads and stimulate their dormant nonpop sensibilities. It was hard work. The composers, most of them, proved to be resistant to change. They clung stubbornly to their Es, Gs and B naturals, citing "tradition" and "harmony" and "royalties." "Are we not Men?" they'd yell, as the doctor drilled holes in their craniums during the pre-vivisection trepanation process, after which he'd poke around in the dura mater looking for the forceps he had invariably dropped. The answer, by the way was, no, not technically. On Moreau's island, anyway, once you signed the form declaring your composerness, you lost all legal claims of humanity. Not so very different from how the rest of the world views composers, actually. His occasional outbursts of Eureka! to the contrary, Moreau's experiments were disastrous. Not only did the altered tunesmiths fail to embrace the vox nonpopuli, many of them couldnít even conceptualize any minor triad afterwards. So the doctor's low spirits were instantly buoyed when Florsheim waded ashore. At last, an individual worth vivisecting!, he thought, as he idly bought a pair of penny loafers from the mechanical man.

Failure, however, continued to be the operative word for Moreau's experiments. He broke three costly trepanators unsuccessfully trying to penetrate Florsheim's protactinium-hardened cranial unit. Then he discovered that the robot didn't even have a neurofibril transmuter, let alone a Doppler field. He did, however, have a splendid pair of ski boots that the doctor simply had to have, no matter their impracticality for the island's subtropical clime. Moreau's fortune began to change at last when he went to pay for this extravagance. As he inserted the correct number of coins into Florsheim's payment slot, he became aware of a low, electromagnetic subvocalization issuing from the nether regions of the robot's carapace. It was so deep that Moreau could detect it only on a subatomic level. But most significant was that it sounded not unlike nonpop music! The physiologist was inspired, and immediately began to devise a new series of experiments.

Alas, there was to be one last fly in Moreau's ointment, for the vivisected composers had heard it, too. Each reacted as any tunesmith with a hole in his head would -- he followed the sound. And when they had cornered Florsheim in the island's laboratory, the robot acted as he had been programmed and tried to sell them all shoes. None of the composers on the island had any money -- another similarity to the real world -- so the mechanical man accessed his oft used Plan B and employed his laser ray to "cull the herd."

And thatís when things really started to get out of hand.

Which is an adequate segue to today's handsome adventure in the house of Kalvos and Damian. And while it doesn't quite feature Dr. Moreau-like characters, it's closer than you might think. But it's not for you to think, dear listener. You need only turn up your radio, turn off your shoes, and join us in the house.