Thursday, September 26, 2013

THIS MAY BE THE LAST TIME, I DON'T KNOW

  

   Of late I have been thinking hard about ending my approximately daily posts on this site. The response has been largely positive, and even the few angry folks who have threatened me with fire bombs and mortar have at least been polite about matters. So I have no truck with the readership. You, Tonstant Weader, have been the inspiration for most of the words that have flickered across that mysterious and often bizarre realm known as the Internet.
  No, the problem, as a wise man once said--I think it was George Costanza--is me, not you. 
   The last ten years of my life have clawed and scratched at me like an outraged saber-tooth tiger at a mindless yapping lap dog. I own a mirror (I used to rent one, but that's another story). I can see the ravages in my face from the devastation I've witnessed in others. Just today we got word that a friend from high school died yesterday of breast cancer. Fifty-five years old. She and I were never close. The last time I saw her she and I were both eighteen. And now she's gone. That's another thousand conversations I'll never have and probably wouldn't have had anyway, but she is gone all the same and she is only the most recent tragic example. 
   I have no intention of getting precious about this. Everyone has suffered. I'm just one of billions. It's all in the specifics, I suppose. No, not so easy. It's actually the fear of not being relevant. Look. In these electronically warped pages, I've written about a Congressman who returned after being presumed dead for forty years, a series of vaguely uninspired rhetoric and fact about nuclear power, a couple hundred movie reviews, notes about thousands of audio recordings, a dash of humor here and there, some stupid lyrics for songs that don't exist, a few dozen short stories, half a dozen screenplays, a smattering of "dialogues" and you know what? I feel my own personal relevance slipping.
   Some people have made it clear that they prefer the essay style pieces, while others have made it just as clear that the typically colossal stench of personal arrogance I bring to those writings is as welcome as a shard of glass while strolling barefoot on the ocean floor. Others favor the short stories and leave the prose for the choir to whom I often find myself preaching. I even know of a couple people who never read a word of any of it but display an evident fascination for the illustrations which I invariably swipe from unauthorized sources. 
    Whatever happens, the site will remain up. I've no plans of shutting it down any time soon. And please, fergodssake, don't misinterpret these remarks as some all too transparent plea for help or attention. That's nonsense. Any writer, painter, singer, juggler, mime, musician or sculptor wants attention, at least in the form of acknowledgement that what he or she has done has some intrinsic value and was not--at least not completely--a waste of molecular structure. But that attention, as I'm defining it here, has to come from the work, rather than from the absence of work. An Oldsmobile is no better automobile simply because they don't make them any longer. Neither are these words a mea culpa for some transgression on my part. Oh, I'm certain to have transgressed; I simply haven't the decency or cleverness to understand in what way it happened.
   This I do know: I'm painfully tired of people dying. I watched with some horror this evening as a family that I have never especially liked--in fact, have disliked rather intensely--sat outside their home because it was too hot inside and they didn't have the money to pay the electric bill. That plight wracks my mind in ways too painful to describe here--and I personally cannot stand the folks to which this happened. Imagine how I must feel when somebody I like suffers.
   And death, friends and family, is the Big Equalizer. I'm so damned weary of it happening to people I know that I am genuinely in a state of noisy--never quite--reflection on the possible waste of my own life. There was a great line in the otherwise irritating movie Papillon where Steve McQueen's voiceover says "The greatest sin is a wasted life." Ten-four, buddy. It may be time to reevaluate matters before the big man with the glowing black garb and shining scythe decides to chock one up for Reagan and snatch me away against my will. That'd be the perfect cosmic revenge, wouldn't it? To die, go to the Hereafter, and find that greasy-smiling bag of maggots and worms, glossy hair and pancake make-up, tilting his head and saying, "Well, Phil, it's about time you got here." To prevent the possibility of that happening, I need to get my inner essence in some kind of decent shape.
   If this all turns out to be the hyperbolic ravings of a lunatic, I apologize in advance. If not, I tried to do my best, as the man said, but I could not.
   I hope to be back at this soon. I really do.
   In the meantime, remember these immortal words from, uh, hmm, maybe Sonny and Cher, I don't know. The words are: "I'm an artist and should be exempt from shit."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FISH FRY ON MY CARBURETOR



Fred and Lou (a lady) are drinking sodas on a veranda. It's probably Mountain Dew.

Lou: Freddie!

Fred: Leetle girl Lou-Lou! Long time it is.

Lou: Tell me a joke.

Fred: Me tell you joke? You tell me joke.

Lou: Okay. It's a clean one. What did Zero say to Number Eight?

Fred: This I do not know at all.

Lou: Nice belt.

Fred: Hokey smokes. I not see that one coming. Tell me again.

Lou: Why can't you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom?

Fred: Big birds from long ago? This I do not know.

Lou: Because the "p" is silent.

Fred: Hokey smokes. Again you catch Fred unready. Those pretty good ones. 

Lou: They now belong to you.

Fred: So, what, hey, leetle girl. How you do?

Lou: I do okay, Fred. How are you?

Fred: I tell you before, I tell you again. You don't ask me how I do. I ask you how you do. So, how you do?

Lou: Okay.

Fred: How come it is that I think you speak the lie?

Lou: I don't know.

Fred: I think the reason is that you speak the lie.

Lou: No, I'm okay. Really.

Fred: Oh yes. And there's a fish fry tonight on my carburetor. 

Lou: Really?

Fred: No! Not really! And you ain't really okay. So what is story, leetle girl?

Lou: I just don't feel good. That's all. I'll be fine. I don't want you to get the impression that I'm being morose because I'm not.

Fred: Is good 'cause Fred not know what it is.

Lou: It just means sad. I have a lot to be happy about. You know what? I am happy--sometimes. I can laugh away the clouds, mister. I'm a damn fine worker, I love my family, they love me.

Fred: Of course, that's true.

Lou: Gosh darned right it is. I'm smart too.

Fred: Yes. And you pretty.

Lou: Yeah?

Fred: I cut throat of anyone say different.

Lou: Awww. You're sweet.

Fred: No. I tell truth. You major big time foxarama. That Armenian word for "Whoa, girl! You on fire."

Lou: Thanks. Everything'll be fine, see?

Fred: You will be fine when you tell Fred true story.

Lou: Okay. Okay! OKAY! 

Fred: Take it easy. Don't make Fred hide under soda glass.

Lou: I'm sorry. Things are just different. I don't know why they are, but they are. Things I used to really enjoy, they just don't mean anything to me.

Fred: Did those things change?

Lou: No.

Fred: Did you change?

Lou: Possibly.

Fred: Well, I used to like whiskey, but now I can't stand it. That is change. Is that so bad?

Lou: [Giggles] No. Not so bad. 

Fred: Okay, so what things you mean?

Lou: Just life, you know? Like, I used to love to go shopping. I used to love having my friends over. I used to love--lots of things. Now it all just scares me. I hate it.

Fred: So there's nothing at all that you like?

Lou: There's things. Like, for instance, I like the cooler weather. I like having the windows open. Except every time we do, there's some idiot frigging ice cream man cruising by, selling crack to crack heads. Or there's a kid crying somewhere. Or there's somebody running from the police. I just want to enjoy something and yet, it never fails, some kind of crap comes along and messes everything up.

Fred: You don't like you neighborhood?

Lou: Actually, I do like it. I just hate the criminals and the people who don't respect anything and anybody. They just make all the noise they can, like a bunch of squealing pigs, but the first time my dogs bark, whoa! Half the neighborhood starts freaking out 'cause my dog, who never gets to go on walks, dared to bark. That's another thing.

Fred: What is?

Lou: I can't even take my dogs for a walk because there's always some disrespectful moron who lets his or her dog out without a leash. So my dog sees it and pulls me off my feet trying to catch it. I can't even take my dog for a walk. It's not fair.

Fred: You try talking to these people?

Lou: I'm always very nice about it. I explain to them that they're putting their own dogs at risk by being on the loose. And they just say, "Hell, my dog needs to be free." Screw that, buddy. My dog needs to take a walk.

Fred: You want I should talk to these losers?

Lou: Well. . .

Fred: I can be very persuasive.

Lou: I know, Fred. But there's just so much more than this.

Fred: Maybe you should move to new place.

Lou: Maybe. Everybody tells me to move, like it's so simple. But I hate to be driven out like that. I hate to let them win. Plus, it's hard to move. It's expensive. Not cheap, anyway. 

Fred: You need some money?

Lou: No, no.

Fred: I give you hundred bucks right now.

Lou: No, Fred. Thanks, but no. Even if we moved, there'd still be issues.

Fred: I see.

Lou: Do you see?

Fred: I do. After all, you must remember, I am semi-fictitious character created by you roommate.

Lou: I know, but you really do exist, don't you?

Fred: Hell, yes, I exist! At one time I am the entire taxi business in this down. Nobody make a move without Fred say it okay.

Lou: You're still a force.

Fred: Heh-heh. I don't know. Not so much lately.

Lou: No, you are! You took that struggling company run by that Turkish creep and you saved it, you brought in all kinds of business. You took all that garbage from those disgusting Chicago Italians and landed right back on your feet. My God, Fred, my roommate talks about you all the time. He thinks you practically walk on water.

Fred: He good boy.

Lou: Yeah, he is, huh?

Fred: You good girl, too. You remember that, right?

Lou: Then why don't I feel so good?

Fred: Is tough thing, leetle girl. You try and you try and you find no matter how successful you are, there's always that leetle voice in back of you head saying, "Nannee nannee noo noo!" Is yes?

Lou: I hate that voice.

Fred: I have same voice.

Lou: You do not.

Fred: If I'm lying, I'm dying.

Lou: Really?

Fred: Have news for you, kid. Lot of people have that same exact voice. That voice is one stinky rotten mofo.

Lou: Did you just say mofo?

Fred: I did, yes. Is good word.

Lou: My roommate says he invented that word a long time ago. My kids used to think mofos were these little tiny people who ran across the floor stealing cookies.

Fred: That is also my understanding.

Lou: Anyway, you were saying. . . 

Fred: I ever tell you about worse driver ever?

Lou: Tell me.

Fred: Is Somalian guy. Name don't matter. He just out of slams. He say gimme job please. I say okay. So I need guy to take teenage girl from A to B. Child Protective Services. Maybe sixty dollars for this driver.

Lou: Okay.

Fred: So, this stupid idiot, he thinks he going to impress this teenage girl with his Somalian bullshit--sorry--

Lou: It's okay.

Fred: So he deliberately hits big bump in road, glove compartment draw falls open, and out flies thirty rainbow condoms.

Lou: Oh no! Still in the little packages?

Fred: Oh yeah. So this girl, she freaks out, of course. She calls me on cell phone. She say, "Hello, Fred. This guy is one crazy mofo!"

Lou: She called him that?

Fred: To me about him, yes. I call friend on police department. He pulls Somalian over, whips him upside head, puts girl in cop car, takes her where she need to go. Driver not bother no one any more.

Lou: That's amazing. Kind of scary.

Fred: Point is this. Everybody know that Fred fix the problem. Half the time I make the problem by trusting wrong person. But I always do the fix. Well, anyway. . . 

Lou: You were saying something about the voices?

Fred: That voice--even Fred hears that voice. Sometimes I go twenty, maybe thirty hours with no sleep, working in taxi, sending drivers out, doing whatever, just so I don't have to hear that mofo talking to me.

Lou: I wish I never had to sleep.

Fred: We two peas in pod.

Lou: We are, huh?

Fred: Looks that way.

Lou: I'm in love with a semi-fictional invention of my roommate.

Fred: Leetle girl, I more real than made up. Believe me.

Lou: We need to drink sodas together more often, Fred.

Fred: You right. I more relaxed now than in months. I could almost. . . 

Lou: Fall asleep?

Fred: Just about.

Lou: Me too.

Fred: Hey, you don't getting fresh with me. I way too old for you.

Lou: No, I just need to curl up here for fifteen minutes.

Fred: Sheesh. Okay. Maybe I sleep too.

Lou: Fifteen minutes. That's all.

Fred: I not try anything.

Lou: I trust you.

Fred: Thank you, leetle girl. Now close you eyes.

Lou: They are closed.

Fred: Then how did you know what I said?

Lou: Because my ears are still open.

Fred: Hokey smoke. You always win, huh?

Lou: Hoooo-hum. Yep. I always win.

Fred: Love you, leetle girl.

Lou: Love you too, Fred.



Monday, September 23, 2013

WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THIS PIECE?



The setting is the sound stage of a television news interview program, presented by a network that must appeal to a very curious demographic. The interview is in progress.

Q. I suppose you probably consider it absurd.

A. I might, if I had any idea what you mean.

Q. What I mean is--

A. For instance, I think it's downright ridiculous that my $200 Blackberry is used for anything besides telephone calls. Yet I become outraged when that stupid little ball in the center stops working.

Q. What I mean is--

A. It's idiotic that each of us watches TV news which serves no other purpose than to entertain us. It might be the professional wrestler Bill O'Reilly on this side and the much more demur and likable Amy Goodman on the other, both believing on some level that they are providing news and analysis, but the appeal is still toward entertainment. O'Reilly's trying to entertain morons and Goodman to entertain geniuses. But the goal is still kind of insidious. 

Q. What I mean is the idea of a subjective world versus an objective reality.

A. Why didn't you say that? 

Q. I don't remember.

A. At least you can joke about it. I used to have a very dear friend, one of the nicest and most erudite men ever on this planet say to me that objective reality exists but we can only perceive it subjectively.

Q. And what did you say?

A. I've no idea. What I should have said was, "Well, if that's correct, then your statement about the universe being objectively real is suspect because the very real intellectual evidence upon which you've based that conclusion has to have been evaluated subjectively by you." That's what I should have said. What I probably said was, "Oh, yeah, right."

Q. If hindsight is 20-20, then foresight must be extremely nearsighted. Which reminds me, what are you doing in this interview, anyway?

A. Wasn't I invited?

Q. That's the absurd part of it.

A. Now we're getting somewhere. I'm not clear on where, mind you.

Q. Do you think there's a purpose to life at all?

A. I have no way of knowing, of course. The way I've always understood that question is that it's asking if there is some cosmic expectation of we humans, presumably by some deity or other.

Q. It could have secular or humanistic connotations.

A. But without that caveat, the question presupposes, first, the existence of an ongoing creator, and, second, that this creator had some purpose for creating us or some idea of what He or She expected us to do. Otherwise, you're simply left with the idea that as a fluke of the universe, do we have, or does life have something attached to it, singularly or collectively, that is a thing upon which we very much need to focus or else when we die we will have missed the boat? Both sides are comforting in their own way. Both sides are also frightening. 

Q. What did you mean by "singularly or collectively"?

A. Good question. It's possible that the so-called purpose of the human species as such can only be understood collectively. In other words, I'm suggesting that as individuals involved in individual pursuits, it's possible--likely, even--that we cannot understand our role in the universe, in the same way that a single ant has no higher level of consciousness once it is meaningfully separated from its fellows. But when an army of ants get together, they are able to coordinate their behavior in such a way that if one member accidentally steps away from the group, he gets called back whenever the time is right, so long as he doesn't go too far away. To me, that speaks of a sense of purpose to life.

Q. Mightn't that purpose extend beyond humans to include other animals?

A. Not likely, at least except for rats and the more highly evolved species of fish. The brains of most animals are not sufficiently similar to those of human beings for any type of meaningful joining or exchange of meta-information.

Q. Not that my dog would agree with you.

A. What you're talking about is verbal and nonverbal communication. But when you and your dog are surrounded by other people and other dogs, your dog's attention--his willingness to interact with you by following your commands--is lessened.

Q. It's a she.

A. What a crucial distinction to make.

Q. You're joking again.

A. Only about your dog's gender.

Q. Okay, then, let's talk about you in particular. Do you have a sense as to what your specific purpose is?

A. I have only a sense, nothing more. When I was a teenager, I longed to be recognized for three things: my drumming, my writing, and my ability to use whatever fame I garnered from either to play with the way people go about their day. May I give you an example?

Q. You may have to.

A. Right. My feeling then--and that feeling has only hardened in the years since--was that to connect with people in a way that captures both the intellect and the emotions is on a par with altering the way people hear music or read stories. I'm using the word "intellect" in a very precise and not very common way, meaning it in a phenomenological way, so that we not only respond to a song or piece of music, but actually step outside ourselves and observe ourselves thinking about that music. That's actually only a first step. You can step outside the part of you that has stepped outside the first version of yourself, on and on, until you're practically not even you any more. 

Q. Let's see. To use an example, you're saying that the two of us sitting here having this conversation--either or both of us could be out there somewhere, looking in at ourselves, evaluating how things are going?

A. Which we no doubt are doing. There's no other way to communicate.

Q. There's spontaneity.

A. But even that requires a sharp mind to observe all the things going on around so that we can be spontaneous within the context of this conversation.


Meta-Q. How do you think your guy is holding up?
Meta-A. He's okay, I suppose. He keeps trying to be borderline adversarial with your guy though. I'm not sure he's getting the effect he's looking for.
Meta-Q. My guy keeps pretending to be dumb and then comes charging back with fairly well thought-out rejoinders.
Meta-A.  There's also a danger this will come across as just jerking one another off.

Q. What were you saying?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Must have been a lie.

A. I'm sure it was.

Q. Something about the joining of intellect and emotion.

A. Yes! So I wanted to do improvised variations on a simple rhythm pattern, but do them in such a way that the emotional wallop would get the listener's attention and then, upon reflection, maybe he or she would be moved by whatever bit of wit or cleverness I'd mustered.


Meta-Q. Nice one.
Meta-A. Notice how he got all humble there?
Meta-Q. Impressive. Maybe the adversarial components are drifting away.


Meta-Meta-Q. Will you listen to those two idiots analyzing the conversation?
Meta-Meta-A. Enough to put you off your food. Ever listen to J.S. Bach?
Meta-Meta-Q. Not in years, but I know what you mean. The whole multi-layered tableau.
Meta-Meta-A. Exactly. To jump back down two levels, my man is trying to force a teenage memory of his lifestyle into the workaday world of a grown-up.
Meta-Meta-Q. I know. I know. Well, we don't want to be harsh, do we?
Meta-Meta-A. In this together, we are.

Q. For some reason, I have a nasty headache right now.

A. My mind's throbbing a bit, too.

Q. All this phenomenology can leave a fellow reeling.

A. Somehow I feel very close to you.

Q. I could exploit that, I suppose.

A. I believe you're better than that.

Q. I certainly used to be.
sexy bartender

A. What changed?

Q. My wife, just recently, began scolding me for being so "unargumentative." Not that there is such a word.

A. The shrew.

Q. She means well, I'm sure.

A. They all have good intentions.

Q. Except the ones who are nearly seven feet tall.

A. Oh, have you noticed that too?

Q. Not really. But somehow I believe it all the same.

A. Objective, schugjective. Who gives a damn?

Q. Let's watch Fox News.

A. Oh dear. That's quite a bold step.

Q. I'm being hasty, aren't I?

A. It's not a comfortable dip in the abyss, I'll say that much.

Q. Why is it that every time I allow the emotional aspects of my mind to manifest, I always want to listen to entertainingly-offered up distortions and lies?

A. It's like drinking and cigarettes. You know they're killing you, but the affinity is so strong.

Q. I'm sure our time must be up by now.

A. Time is an illusion.

Q. Not according to our sponsors.

Both men explode into fits of laughter.



I CAN HELP

    
A man named Alan is standing in checkout line with a woman named Ellen. They are the seventh party back from the cashier. They have three items in their cart. The man waiting at the cashier likewise has three items. It also appears the cashier is having trouble getting an approval on the man's credit card.

Alan: Do you believe this? All these customers and only one cashier. Ridiculous.

Ellen: Pity you don't like the self check-outs.

Alan: It's just a way for the stores to save money
and screw the employees. It's just like ATMs at the bank. There used to be tellers. Now you have to interface with a machine. It saves the bank money, yes. But then they still charge a fee for the service. They charge the customer to save themselves money. A convenience fee, they call it. Rubbish. 

Ellen: Seven self-serve aisles and no waiting. 

Alan: Is there a discount for using the self check-out devices? I don't think so, do I? See, no I do not. 

Ellen: And so we wait.

Alan: We don't work here, do we? No, we do not. Since we don't work here, I don't see why we should have to bag our own groceries.

Ellen: Alan, we're in a DIY Depot. We're getting hardware, okay?

Alan: Oh, this fellow's having a time of it, isn't he? Maybe he should use the self check-out.

1st Customer: Try the card again. There's money on that card.

Cashier: Yes sir. I tried the card again. Just like you said. It keeps coming back declined. I'm sorry.

1st Customer: Well, here. Try this other card.

Cashier: Sir, we already tried that one. Do you have another way you'd like to pay today?

1st Customer: I never carry cash. I think I told you that. Look, here's my check book. I'll just write you a check.

Cashier: As I told you, sir, DIY Depot policy is that all checks must be accompanied by an approval by a major credit or debit card.

2nd Customer: Ah, come on, will ya? My arms are falling off here.

1st Customer: I tell you there's money on that card. Try it again.

Cashier: Just one moment, sir. Here comes my manager.

Alan: I wonder how much he owes? Maybe we should just pay it to get the line moving along.

Ellen: We will most certainly not.

Alan: Ellen, that is what we in the legal profession refer to as a joke. 

Manager: Yes, yes, yes. What seems to be the problem? You know, people, we have several self check-out aisles open for your convenience. Yes, cashier 618?

Cashier: This customer's card wouldn't go through. He tried a couple other cards, too. Same result.

Manager: I see. Well, we can't have that, now can we? You are the customer?

1st Customer: I am.

Manager: Nice of you to admit it. Guards!


Three armed guards appear, draw their weapons, train them on the 1st Customer, and fire. He shouts and dies. 

Cashier: I can help whoever's next.

2nd Customer: This feels very scripted to me.

Announcer: Welcome to another episode of Real Customers at DIY Depot!

Alan: Ellen, did you have something to do with this?

Ellen: Are you serious? I hate this crap.


People outside the store come inside as a frantic hoard, pushing one another aside to get to the great bargains.

3rd Customer: I want to see Miley!

4th Customer: Bollocks! I want Justin!

5th Customer: All twenty-year-olds are misunderstood. It's epic, man!

2nd Customer: I can't believe the garbage people tweet to me. To me. Specifically. People should spend more time in jail.

8th Customer: Dentists rule, dude.

9th Customer: Chris Brown and I go to the same chiropractor.

10th Customer: Jay Z can kiss Chris' ass, you know?

3rd Customer: Which one of you idiots said that?

Alan: Don't look at us.

Ellen: We don't beat people up.

Alan: Hardly ever, anyway.

9th Customer: It's been an hour since my last tattoo. I'm jonesing.

8th Customer: I need a nice gal and a haircut.

7th Customer: After all, you're entitled.

8th Customer: Damn right.

6th Customer: I mean, who was Elvis, anyway?

5th Customer: Duke Ellington.

6th Customer: Right. That's who I meant.

Alan: Is there any reason why we're here?

Ellen: I don't know. But I feel the impulse to shout the word "Blue" as if it meant something hip.

Alan: It's affecting me the same way.

Ellen: Oh, Alan.

Alan: Think about babies.

Ellen: I'm pregnant.

Alan: It's not ours, is it?

Ellen: Ours? It's not even mine.

3rd Customer: Let's embrace vulnerability.

4th Customer: Okay. Let's.


Friday, September 20, 2013

THE NRA



With apologies to Hoyt Axton

You know I've fired a lot of B-B's,
Lord knows I shot a starter pistol.
But I never touched nothing
That could put you in the hospital.
You know I've seen a lot of "good guys" walkin' 'round
with murder in their eyes.
But the NRA don't care
if you live or if you die.

Goddamn the NRA.

The gangster is a man
with a hash pipe in his hand.
But the NRA's a killer
sick and deranged, ya understand?
The gangster, for a quarter
he'll sell you a line of blow.
But the NRA ain't happy
til you're buried in a hole.

Goddamn the NRA.

Now if I were the President, this I say,
I'd declare total war on the NRA.
I'd take away their guns
and I'd melt those bastards down.
And I'd shove Wayne LaPierre
halfway into the ground.

Goddamn the NRA.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE NOTE WILL SET YOU FREE




   From inside a dwelling in a town-home community, a man named Anthony comes to the door, rubbing his eyes and yawning. As the early morning sun hits the front door, Anthony opens up to see a police officer on the other side. Initially, Anthony makes no effort to escort the officer inside.

Anthony: Help you?

Officer Gillespie: Good morning. I'm Officer Gillespie. My usual partner is Officer Maxwell. She isn't with me today. Mind if I come in?

Anthony: What this all about? Who's Officer Maxwell?

Gillespie: She's my usual partner. Today she's re-qualifying at the shooting range, or maybe staying with her mother out of town, so she couldn't be with me.

Anthony: Oh. Was I supposed to be expecting you or something?

Gillespie: Not at all.

Anthony: I'm confused. Why'd you say that about your usual partner? What's that got to do with anything?

Gillespie: If you must know, very little. Do you mind if we come in?

Anthony: Who's we

Gillespie: Terribly sorry. Force of habit, I suppose. Officer Maxwell, my usual partner, isn't with me today.

Anthony: Right, right. I got that. What's this all about?

Gillespie: May we come in?

Anthony: Yeah. Sure. You. . . all can come in.

They enter. Officer Gillespie looks around, removes hat. Anthony plops down in an old easy chair.

Gillespie: Nice place you have here.

Anthony: It's a dump, thanks. So, you gonna tell me what this's all about or what?

Gillespie: May we have a seat?

Anthony: Excuse me?

Gillespie: Oops. I did it again, didn't I? I meant to say, May I have a seat? May I be seated? Would it be permissible for an officer of the law to relax his weary posterior in your humble abode? Rest the dogs? Park the beast? Settle the bones? That sort of thing.

Anthony: I guess that's alright. Go ahead.

Gillespie: Thank you, I prefer to stand, for the moment. Now, sir, your name is Anthony Garbaldi, is that correct?

Anthony: That supposed to be against the law?

Gillespie: Well, if it were, we'd have a lot of Garbaldis locked up in central booking, wouldn't we?

Anthony: What's this about?

Gillespie: I say, we would have, wouldn't we, now?

Anthony: Yeah, I guess you all would. 

Gillespie: Italian name, if we're not mistaken, isn't it?

Anthony: It might be.

Gillespie: You of Italian decent, Mr. Garbaldi?

Anthony: On my mother's side.

Gillespie: Oh, well, that explains it. How long exactly have you been residing here, Mr. Garbaldi?

Anthony: Why you wanna know that?

Gillespie: We'll come right to the point.

Anthony: Okay. Come to it.

Gillespie: The point? Yes, well, we have received a complaint--now, when I say "we," I don't mean myself and Officer Maxwell here, of course. What I mean is my Commanding Officer downtown. He received a complaint from one Randolph Wayne Myerson stating that, and I quote, "Somebody I don't know is living in my townhouse. Please make him leave."

Anthony: So?

Gillespie: Well, let's look at the facts, shall we? Mr. Myerson is the legal owner of this particular single family dwelling. You are not the legal owner of this particular single family dwelling. Mr. Myerson says that he did not give you permission to live or reside here. He further claims that he does not know you. He suggests that you are a squatter. You are aware of these facts, are you not, Mr. Garbaldi?

Anthony: Lady up the street give me permission.

Gillespie: I'm sorry, did you say some lady told you it was alright for you to stay here?

Anthony: That is what I said. Name's Roberta Huggins. She said to me that this place had been empty for almost a year and that I could stay here if I wanted. I wanted. So I'm staying here.

Gillespie: Does this Roberta Huggins person--Did you get that name, Officer Maxwell? Oh, right. Never mind. Does this woman, is she married to Mr Myerson?

Anthony: I doubt it. She so ugly she couldn't be married to nobody.

Gillespie: I see. Ugly, you say? 

Anthony: Like dog shit on a dead tree trunk. Hang her outside your door for trick or treat, scare all the kids away. Throw peanuts at her at the zoo. She so ugly, put a picture of her in your garden, the crows'll bring back the corn they stole last year. She fat and ugly. She walk in front of your TV set, you miss the whole season. She so ugly, when she born they put tinted windows on her incubator. She so ugly, her mama had to feed her with a sling shot.

Gillespie: Someone really beat her with the ugly stick, huh?

Anthony: What you say?

Gillespie: This Roberta, she is not actually authorized to give you permission to live here.

Anthony: Why not? I met her in church. She may be ugly, but she a damn fine person.

Gillespie: We're sure--that is, I am sure that she's a dandy person--

Anthony: 'Cept she ugly.

Gillespie: But since she has no legal claim on this property--

Anthony: Who this guy, Myerson? He a pimp?

Gillespie: Uh, no. He's a tool and die worker, I believe. Hoping to use this home as a rental property, as we understand it.

Anthony: Maybe you should check with you partner, there.

Gillespie: That's--Oh! Yes. Good one. Now, the problem is that Mr. Myerson has asked that we remove you from his legally deeded residence. He would also like us to arrest you for criminal trespass.

Anthony: But I got a note.

Gillespie: A note?

Anthony: [Removes folded note from pocket and hands to Officer] Yeah. This here says I can live here if I want to.

Gillespie: Mr. Garbaldi. This note was written by Roberta Huggins.

Anthony: Damned right. Now, if you don't mind, I need to get back to sleep.

Gillespie: [Steps forward as Anthony rises from chair] We're going to need you to gather up your things and follow us out to the patrol car.

Anthony: Mister, I got some world class poontang waiting for me in the bedroom there. That's the only place I'm going. You read that note.

Gillespie: Are you refusing to go with us voluntarily?

Anthony: Mister, I'll go with you and your made-up friend just as soon as I finish business with my lady in there.

Gillespie: How long will that be?

Anthony: Say that again?

Gillespie: Some gentlemen are rather quick about these matters. Others are quite prolonged. Myself, I don't time things, of course, but I find that unless some type of pastry is involved, it might take an inordinate amount of time for things to come to fruition. Dutch apple cinnamon rolls are a personal favorite. Unless I'm not alone. In those cases, we prefer chocolate brownie swirl.

Anthony: You one crazy mofo.

Female voice from bedroom: He won't be long, Officer.

Anthony: Shut up! Say, where I'm gonna go to live if you dump me out of here?

Gillespie: You have no place else to go?

Anthony: Not unless Juanita in there lets me stay with her.

Female voice from bedroom: You ain't staying with me, that's for sure! My husband kill me I bring home another man.

Anthony: Guess I'm on the street again. Damn.

Gillespie: You know, my partner, Officer Maxwell, she's a single woman. She's out of town. Sick mother and all. Perhaps you could live in her house for a few days.

Anthony: You zooming me? Stay at a cop's house?

Gillespie: It'll be no problem. Here. I'll write you a note.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I SHOULD TELL YOU IT'S A SEQUEL

 Setting is a Hollywood studio executive's office. Two men are sitting on opposite sides of a desk.

Rickster: I tell you what, Plankton. This boy, this wunderkind, they're calling him, he may just be the ticket we need to get our studio out of the red during the third quarter.

Plankton: You sound more enthusiastic than the people in accounting.

Rickster: What do you mean?

Plankton: From everything I've heard, this Philmer guy is pretty eccentric.

Rickster: No, that's not at all the word I would use.

Plankton: Would you call him crazy?

Rickster: Um. . . 

Plankton: Blithering?

Rickster: Hardly.

Plankton: Irascible?

Rickster: Not so one would notice.

Plankton: Insane?

Rickster: No, you're cold.

Plankton: A wackadoo?

Rickster: I don't even know what that means, so, no.

Plankton: Robustly deranged?

Rickster: No, he's. . . 

Plankton: Light in the loafers?

Rickster: No, that's Raymond in accounting.

Plankton: Deranged?

Rickster: You said that one already. 

Plankton: No, I didn't.

Rickster: I have no reason to lie to you. You said it.

Plankton: I said robustly deranged. Not the same thing. Perverted?

Rickster: Of course not.

Plankton: Would you be willing to grant that he's a bad speller?

Rickster: What's the word I'm looking for?

Plankton: I've no idea.

Rickster: He's a bit eccentric.

Plankton: He's arrived, I think.

Rickster: Mona will send him in any second.

Philmer enters, wearing pajama bottoms and a tailored jacket with a Rolex on a chain around his neck.

Philmer: Gentlemen.

Rickster: Good afternoon, Philmer. I believe you know me. This is the other guy. Won't you sit down?

Philmer: I have an idea for a movie I think you're going to love.

Rickster: That's why we're here.

Plankton: Don't keep us in suspense. What's the title?

Philmer: I should tell you it's a sequel.

Plankton: Bit awkward.

Philmer: What do you mean?

Rickster: He means that title simply won't do. We try to avoid complete sentences in our movies. Oh, sure, there was You Only Live Once and there was You Only Live Twice, but what we favor are titles like Three Times Dead or Gilbert Gottfried at the Palladium. Things like that. 

Plankton: It's nothing personal, you understand.

Philmer: That isn't the name. That's me telling the two of you that the movie is a sequel. A sequel from a movie from 1975.

Plankton: Who's in it?

Philmer: You mean in the original?

Plankton: I beg your pardon?

Rickster: Philmer, Plankton means who do you imagine will be in the sequel?

Philmer: Linnea Quigley.

Plankton: The queen of screams?

Philmer: She was in the original.

Plankton: What was that called?

Philmer: The original?

Plankton: Precisely.

Philmer: Psycho From Texas. Some people called it Wheeler, but that wasn't the real name. This was really just a cheap attempt to confuse people into thinking the movie would be a combination of a Hitchcock thriller with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Plankton: So this is a horror movie we're talking about.

Philmer: Sure, if you're seven years old, which is the whole premise.

Plankton: The premise of what?

Philmer: Of the sequel.

Rickster: You may have lost us here a bit.

Philmer: Either one of you guys ever hear of Pauline Kael?

Plankton: Isn't she the valet at Universal?

Philmer: No.

Rickster: No, of course not. She's the VP in marketing at CBS.

Philmer: Pauline Kael is dead.

Rickster: I hadn't heard that.

Philmer: She was a famous film critic who said, among other things, that young people go to movies and generally like almost anything they see because they have no frame of reference to have developed discriminating tastes. What I'm proposing is that we take that theory and test it by making a sequel of an unremittingly awful movie, a movie that gets a row of golden stars for badness, and play it very straight, redo the whole thing exactly the way it was the first time. The rights to this garbage couldn't cost more than a couple hundred dollars, which is about what it cost to make the original.

Rickster: You're saying we should make a movie that we're certain will be simply terrible?

Plankton: But with the idea that the youth market won't know any better?

Philmer: Yes, but not because we're trying to rip off the kids.

Rickster: Who are we trying to rip off then?

Philmer: I guess the answer is ourselves.

Plankton: Come again?

Philmer: So the movie comes out. It gets the same promotion to youth markets we'd give Twilight or any of that foolishness. We play it very straight. The current critics you have on staff can even say it's a challenging new approach to cinema verite, adding some long overdue culture to the current crop of crap out there.

Plankton: Now, see, I like that.

Rickster: I told you he was good.

Plankton: You said he was eccentric.

Rickster: You do realize the man is sitting right there?

Plankton: Indeed. Continue.

Philmer: The story-line is that Wheeler--that's the bad guy's name--

Plankton: That's his whole name? I like that. Does he have a car?

Philmer: Sure he has a car. Dodge Charger. He comes into a town, hits on the waitress at a diner, she rejects him, he breaks into her house that night with his Buck knife.

Plankton: I'm scare already.

Rickster: Hold me.

Plankton: Let go. 

Philmer: Then we flash back to his childhood. He's about five and he catches his mom doing the wild thing with some man. Messes him up.

Rickster: Now why would that be the impetus for his deranged behavior?

Plankton: Eccentric, dammit.

Rickster: Philmer's eccentric, not the movie guy. 

Philmer: In the original, that was one of the questions everybody had. I mean, so what, right? The answer is actually subtle. The soundtrack music that plays while the sex is happening is really what screws the kid up.

Plankton: Nice. Who'd you have in mind for the vocals?

Philmer: John Mayer with Brittney Spears.

Plankton: Christ, that is vile. Go on.

Philmer: Right. So Wheeler's back in real time. He gets hired to kidnap the local retired oilman. After all, this is Texas. His accomplice is an idiot. Imagine a young Ralph Cramdon as a kidnapper.

Plankton: I'm sorry. Who?

Philmer: Never mind. The oilman escapes, but it turns out it was his daughter's fiancee who hired Wheeler to kidnap him. Wheeler gets blown away in cold blood by the local sheriff. Now in the original, there was this very disturbing scene where Wheeler goes into a bar and tells the barmaid to dance 'cause she reminds him of his mother. She says no thanks. He insists. 

Plankton: As only he can.

Rickster: You said it. Give me your hand.

Plankton: No such thing.

Philmer: He strips the barmaid naked and pours a pitcher of beer over her head and down her body while continuing to command her to dance. That was the Linnea Quigley character. 

Plankton: She's older now, I suppose.

Philmer: Chances are, yes.

Plankton: So this could all be a flashback that she's having.

Philmer: If that helps.

Plankton: I mean, we don't want a sixty year old woman dancing naked in a waterfall of beer, do we?

Rickster: Depends. What were you saying about after the movie comes out?

Philmer: After all the puffery and bullshit about how this thing is some form of majestic, inspired art or something, we hold a press conference and admit that we were just making garbage because we recognize that young people have no real sense of history, can't have one, and that we as an industry have let them down and actually have a real responsibility to make better movies than this one, assuming we care more about the art and craft of the industry than we do about the bottom line.

Plankton: The Japanese markets would love that. Gives them a way to amplify the theme that American movies are disgusting.

Rickster: Just think: a movie aimed at ridiculing Hollywood that turns right around and makes a fortune for Hollywood. 

Plankton: Timing is really crucial here. How soon do you think you'll have a script ready?

Philmer: If you're serious about this. . . 

Rickster: What do you think? Two days?

Philmer: Two days?!?

Rickster: Today's Friday. Maybe you could have a treatment by Monday at noon?

Philmer: Terms?

Plankton: Indeed. We'll cut you ten thousand for the treatment. If we green light that, which I think we will, you write the bible for the same amount. I think we can probably dispense with a final script. Just fill in the normal array of wet and glistening boobs, some street rods, Texas poverty.

Rickster: We'll want you to be at the press conference. You can pretend to expose us all as a band of craven charlatans. 

Philmer: Which you apparently are.

Plankton: Indeed.

Attractive yet wearied blond woman of approximately sixty years runs into room naked with beer dripping off her hair, head and body.

Woman: Do you bastards know who I am?

Plankton: Madam, there's a doctor in the next room. If you don't mind, we're trying to make a movie here. He'll give you all the cocaine you want.

Woman: [Screams] A movie? Is that what you call it?

Rickster: We could call it a film.

Plankton: A bit of cinema.

Rickster: A celluloid version of life.

Plankton: The stuff that dreams are made of.

Woman: Silence! My sisters approach!

Two women enter. They are identical to the first. They begin to chant.

Women: Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Plankton: As to the title. . .

Rickster: Right. What'll we call it?

Plankton: I fancy Philmer's idea.

Women: The blood-dimmed tide is loosed. Everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity. . .

Rickster: What idea was that?

Plankton: Didn't you call it I Should Tell You It's A Sequel?

Rickster: A real draw, that one is.

Plankton: But let's change that pronoun to We. We Should Tell You, etc. 

Philmer: These women, they don't concern you?

Rickster: Very much so. Can you see them as well?

Philmer: Do you recognize what they're reciting?

Plankton: Macbeth, I believe. The three sisters.

Rickster: Right you are.

Philmer: Yeats.

Plankton: Come again?

Philmer: It's a familiar poem by William Butler Yeats.

Plankton: Not familiar to me.

Rickster: Nor to myself. Mona will cut your check if you come back here after six.

Philmer: This is how it works, huh?

Plankton: Invariably. Take care. See you Monday.

Women: And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born?