The small fishing community of Guantalequil in Western Equador has recently become overrun with an eclectic group of enthusiasts ? the oddest group to assemble in one place since the Houston Tourism Committee accidentally scheduled the State Rodeo on the same weekend as the National Star Trek Convention.

Local ranchers have had to slash and burn hundreds of acres of rainforest to build landing strips for the scores of private jets circling the gulf like buzzards. Archaeologists, journalists, music scholars and aluminum-foil-encased alienophiles have flocked to the secluded settlement in hopes of catching a glimpse of what is now being referred to as La Cosa Grande de Plata, “The Big Silver Thing.” The fledgling hotel industry is struggling to keep up with demands, expanding the average occupancy from 12 to 26 beds per room, and the government has pitched in by reducing sanitation restrictions.

“At first it was very very difficult,” remarked Guantalequil Mayor Philipe Goya, “but now it is only one very difficult.”

The international fervor began last week when Goya, a poor farmer who’d claimed squatter’s rights on the land earlier that morning, stumbled upon a chunk of metal protruding from the ground. “I had to … how you say … go … very very bad,” he explained at a press conference several days later.

“So I bend over and what do I see?” Goya continued. “La Cosa Grande de Plata, right there in ground.”

Curious, Goya logged onto AOL and searched for the world’s leading speculative archaeologist. He came across the name O’Brien Huddley of the University of Rochester. 18 hours later, Huddley was in a raft just off the coast.

“You don’t come across big silver things in the ground very often,” Huddley said. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity ? I was so there.”

What he found upon excavating the hill will forever change the way humanity thinks about its origins and the very core of music history itself. Nestled in a crater the size of a small warehouse was what appeared to be a fully operational extraterrestrial spacecraft. But even more striking was what he found inside the largest room.

“A baby grand piano,” said Huddley. “No shit. I tried to play chopsticks, but the thing must have been out of tune.”

Carbon dating placed both the ship and the instrument at over 200,000 years old. Stunned to silence at the implications, Huddley contacted friends and Eastman piano professors Barry Snyder and Douglas Humpherys, who put the magnitude of the discovery into perspective.

“If the Martians had been playing the piano some 197,000 years before Beethoven’s birth, I can’t imagine how good their pianists must be,” Snyder said. “I’m pretty good, and I’ve only been playing for a couple decades.”

“And if they were the ones who invented it,” Humpherys interjected, “then the only question is this ? how did it cross the Atlantic Ocean to become popular in Europe? It’s way too big for those little canoes.”

“AND WHERE DID THE MARTIANS GET THE IVORY FOR THE KEYS??” Dean of The College William Green, newly appointed personal assistant to Eastman’s piano faculty, shouted excitedly. “I NEVER HEARD OF ELEPHANTS ON MARS!!”

When asked to comment on the effects that La Cosa Grande de Plata would have on the Eastman School’s music program, Snyder seemed uncertain. “I’m uncertain,” he said. “Me, Humpherys, Green and O’Brien have a lot more digging to do.”

Unfortunately, setbacks have slowed the digging process ? Dean of Torture Ken “The Rock” Ensies has put all four men on summary disciplinary probation.

When the dust from that decision settles, the digging will still come at a price. Goya has recently begun charging admission to the excavation site. “Two dollars American for one day, very very cheap,” he explained, “or maybe one pack of Marlboros. Marlboros are very very good.”

Two bucks or a pack of Marbs. That’s a small price to pay for musical revolution.

Thug can be reached at bthug@campustimes.org.



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