The town of Chicken Shit in New Mexico is perhaps the most unwelcoming place that you're never likely to visit. The people there won't like you. They are unaccountably proud of their inbreeding so, unless you're family, you're not likely to fit in.
But for one week in 1948 something happened to temporarily soften their belligerence; something that has never been properly explained to this day.
It began in the early hours of June the 29th: a massive explosion that was heard as far away as Pigswill, thirty miles to the north. But strangely, when emergency services arrived they found only a broken window and a few dislodged roof tiles. Odder still, the locals were completely unfazed by the mystery. Some of them reported seeing a bright flash of light, or being woken by an enormous thunderclap, but on the whole they were really quite chilled out.
Officer Jim Mendoza was one of the policemen on duty that night and he recalls being extremely uneasy. "It was real spooky," he told us. "The folks in Chicken Shit don't take too kindly to outsiders and we try to give them a wide berth. So this night we kinda expected them to be pretty jumpy; thought we'd be dodging buckshot the moment we stepped out the car. But no, they were all out on their porches, smoking, chatting, singing little songs. Real mellowed out, they were. We tried to ask them what had happened, but they just told us that everything was 'cool' and kept offering us waffles."
What could have happened to change a bunch of militant rednecks into spaced-out stoners, apparently overnight? A mystery virus? Cosmic bombardment? Soviet mind ray? All these things and more have been suggested but the most likely candidate is the legendary 'jazz bomb'.
The jazz bomb was first conceived in the early days of the twentieth century. Up until that point it had been believed that the smallest indivisible particle of music was the 'note'. However, the celebrated musical physicist Scat Parker was convinced that notes were comprised of smaller particles. He theorised that if it were possible to split the note the sudden release of jazz particles would produce a phenomenal quantity of raw power.
To do this, Parker needed some sort of high energy musical accelerator which could bombard raw music with charged rhythm bosons. Sadly, he only had access to a slightly bent trumpet. He died in 1928 when a tree fell on him and his grand scheme to liberate the jazz particle was never realised. Or was it?
According to Marty Wallop, best-selling author of Nazi Lasers on the Moon: The Third Reich's Secret Space Programme, the Nazis came perilously close to perfecting a jazz bomb during the final months of the World War II. "There is evidence that they constructed a massive underground Wurlitzer," he tells us. "This mighty organ was capable of taking ordinary music and smashing it into its component parts and had they succeeded in harnessing its awesome power it could have changed the course of the war. A jazz bomb dropped on London would have left everyone within a twenty mile radius of the capital completely chilled out and probably rendered much of the rest of South East England totally listless."
Like many other best-selling authors out to make an easy buck, Wallop believes that Nazi jazz scientists were spirited away to America at the end of the war to continue their work in secret. He suspects that the incident in Chicken Shit was the result of a secret test.
"How else do you explain how a population of retarded, gun-happy fuckwits can transform itself into a bunch of spaced-out, pot-smoking beatniks who only come out at night and keep calling you 'daddy-o'?" he reasons.
Of course, on the face of it the jazz bomb doesn't seem all that bad. Wouldn't a device that could turn murderous psychopaths into jazzed-up hepcats be rather a positive thing? Well, it's more destructive than it sounds. To start with, anyone standing at ground zero would be instantly vaporised. Admittedly, they'd be very relaxed about it but the fact remains that you'd never see them shopping in Tesco's again.
Further out from the impact site, people hit by the initial jazz wave would be sent into a state of jazz trauma from which they might never recover. They may be able to tap the odd foot, nod their head in what they understand to be a rhythmical fashion and utter phrases 'dig those crazy rhythms, sister', but they will be no good for anything else.
And there are even more worrying possibilities. A jazz explosion could create a blast wave of funk, causing horrible mutations. It would also produce toxic fallout which could only be neutralised by sealing it in rock and dumping it at sea. And it must be hard rock: prog rock, acid rock or AOR just aren't up to the job.
But there are positive possibilities. Jazz might one day provide us with the answer to our energy crisis: jazz power stations could supply heat and light to your home, jazz combustion engines would take you to work and jazz-powered rockets might even help us to explore the outer regions of the galaxy. But we're still a long way from achieving this. By its very nature, jazz is unpredictable; it does not conform to established models, and is more inclined to extemporise than follow rigid physical rules. For this reason, musicians are looking at fusion rather than fission as a way of tapping the energy potential of jazz. By blending jazz with other forms of music such as soul, rock or even folk, they hope to be able to create a steady, controllable power source.
In the meantime, jazz power continues to be developed for military applications. "I have it on good authority," Marty Wallop warns us as he proudly displays a copy of his best-selling book Shit! Look Out: Nazis with Jet Packs, "that the army now have a working 'jazz gun'. It uses jazz fusion to create a steady stream of jazz particles, which can be focussed on any target up to a mile and a half away. I understand that when it's turned up to its top setting it can make you dance like a monkey."
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