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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #269
In Line in the Busy Cafeteria
David Gunn

The famous composer strode into the busy cafeteria, picked up a tray and took his place in line. A member of the waitstaff quickly approached, handed him a ticket and looked at him expectantly until he doffed and surrendered his adobe hat to her. She examined it, straightened the brim by breaking off a stray mudscrap, then disappeared into a hazy cloakroom that seemed to fade in and out of focus. He activated his monocle implants to better examine the queue in front of him. Indeed, it approximated a Q shape as it snaked away past the thermonuclear wok station, round the softserve calamari machine and thence to the huge La Brea barbecue pits. There were easily 30 other hearty trenchermen ahead of him, among whom he recognized a famous author, a famous architect, a real estate baron (who he was confident would soon be famous), a famous medical practitioner, a famous tinsmith and an infamous inventor. Although no one uttered a word, the room was nonetheless awash in a kind of corporeal clamor that seemed to radiate from their bodies. The composer at once recognized it as a chorus of stomach growls and hunger pangs, since he had once written a piece called "Stombling," or stomach rumbling, for similarly ravenous performers. Heard individually, the noises were mere monotonous murmurs of gastric activity, but perceived collectively, it was a keenly cacophonous choral fantasy. As if on cue, his own digestive juices chimed in, providing a rumbly counterpoint to the somewhat stochastic soundscape, and suddenly there was the Fortuna imperatrix mundi section of Carmina Burana played at half speed. A fuliginous miasma accompanied this outburst of altered melody, and the composer's eyes watered like an animatronic greenhouse begonia. When the vapors finally lifted, the composer spotted the famous plagiarist at the head of the line, and he felt a momentary uneasiness. The plagiarist had from time to time helped himself to snippets from the composer's collection of tunes, as he had also done with paragraphs and footnotes from the famous author, points and listings from the real estate baron and pending patents from the infamous inventor. Of course, in the restructured system of 21st century jurisprudence, what seemed like flagrant misappropriation of creative ideas to artists was interpreted as harmless recontextualization by the courts. And while some people reacted by refusing to allow their works to be seen, heard or tasted in public ever again, the general populace chose to embrace plagiarism as a legitimate aesthetic discipline unto itself.

Behind the sneeze shields that guarded the foodstuffs from severe nosal eructations, there lurked such a diverse assemblage of steamy appeteasers and enigmatic entrées that the commingled aroma led one famous wag to label it Element 110, a tag that was instantly co-opted by the plagiarist. A good half hour -- good in the sense that, like grades of meat, it was higher than standard but lower than choice -- passed before the composer reached the first shield that harbored the utensil bin, from which he extracted runcible cutlery and Oswego-scented napkins. Before him stretched a panoply of comestibles the likes of which he had not imagined edible. And, indeed, if the reaction by the plagiarist was any indication, they were not. The recontextualizer had apparently swiped a sweetmeat from the tray of the tinsmith, popped it into his mouth and subsequently collapsed in a paroxysm of writhing that put most performance art to shame. A subsequent autopsy, however, revealed the culprit to be not a cafeterial candy, but rather a highly corrosive acid capsule used in metallurgical extractive disciplines. The unethical sampler had finally bitten off more than he could chew.

This is wholly analogous to Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar having similarly bitten off a sizable chunk of musical offerings to fill today's 269th menu; thus it would behoove us to forthwith begin the masticatory process with the preeminent fat-chewer, Kalvos.