Video Night at the Inquisition
Somewhere in small town America, an optional public access provision (PEG) is put into a local cable franchise agreement to squeeze more resources from the cable company. Officials are shocked to learn after the fact that the “P” part of PEG creates a “designated public forum” which gives all citizens using TV8 those First Amendment Rights defined and guaranteed by the Supreme Court. The city leaders are confused and angry when they are reminded that this status limits their local control over the content that residents want to broadcast. This does not stop them from using the county PEG Board and police to wage war against the free speech privateers using the station.
CAST in Order of Appearance:
ROLAND (ROLLY): Taxi driving videographer, loud, angry, gestures wildly as speaks, age 50
ALEX: Volunteer, TV8 PEG Station Manager – older techie, hyper but soft spoken
TURK: High school student, learning video production
SPIKE: Barista, woman age 18 – 20
TOOTSIE TORNADO: PEG Board President, woman, Tow Company czar, and 35-50
LESTER LEVITICUS: PEG Board Member, right wing minister, age 40-50
GUIDO: PEG Board Member, heavyset man, Chamber of Commerce goon, age 50 – 60
JUICE: TV8 programmer, woman, talks quickly to people while typing on keyboard, age 40
BORIS: City Master, former sniper impatient with concerns of mere people, age 40-50
SARGE: PTSD disabled vet, betrayed by authority, age 40-60
KALI SINGH: Videographer, woman, age 25 – 30
SHERIFF: Blowhard sheriff and generic authority figure, age 35 – 50
SKETCH: Young man, homeless, age 25-30
MINIMUM SETS and PROPS:
Three small tables with chairs and menu board for coffee house scenes
Board to lay over two tables and letter files for office scenes
Board to lay over three tables for meeting room scenes
Two shopping carts, large plastic bags, and equipment bag for homeless camp scenes
Tea soaked paper for money bundles in last meeting scene
Clipboard for Alex
Outside door to vending room (can be painted on back of menu), crime scene tape, flashing lights
Spotlight and wheelchair for Alex’s last scene
Equipment mock up for vending room (e – waste would work)
Tripod, small video camera, podium
Neutral background or curtain
Angry crowd noises, crowd applause, alarm, intro bumper sounds for final scene
Normal street and office clothes except Sheriff’s uniform which should be ridiculous not real.
Possible clerical collar for Rev. Lester but a large gaudy crucifix would do.
Roland’s Southern character: White suit, campaign hat, white beard, and suspenders
AT RISE: Lights brighten on interior of Javanista Coffeehouse. Roland sitting at table flipping thru yellow legal pad.
Alex walks in with Turk, a young student.
Roll, this is Turk. He’s going to be working with me.
We have computer courses at school, but nothing about actually making videos.
Ever shoot any video?
Just posting cell phone stuff from my phone. My computer came with a video editing program. I just don’t have time to edit.
Umm, no one ever has time to edit. You make time by dumping something else. Make that several something elses.
Turk is going to start as my second camera.
Wide angle shots and B rolls?
Then we’ll get into editing. I just upgraded. He wants to start a video club at school but he needs a faculty sponsor.
Editing. I hope you don’t have a girlfriend.
Actually I do. She wants to be in my videos.
Alex , you want your usual?
Sure. Turk, what do you want? I’m buying.
Infused Red Bull. Cherry.
Alex , since you’re here, have you got a minute?
Sure. Just showing Turk around. Pointing out the usual suspects.
Well you know something is happening with the old Lakeside Senior Club. The City Master is working real hard to evict them. Says the building’s unsafe. Something’s up. No one’s talking. I was thinking, this is like one of those old cheesy melodramas. It practically writes itself. I just need to find actors and come up with a few props.
You’re branching out from open mic videos?
I just started videotaping open mics here. I did a few radio skit’s a long time ago back in…where I came from.
Sounds like a lot of work. I guess you won’t be helping me and Turk shoot the parade in town.
No. I’ve already got a scene list and a couple speeches written. Very sarcastic. Dark humor. Over the top.
(Looks at Turk hopefully)
Most of the parts will be short. They won’t take long.
I’m not much into politics. I just want to do stuff for my friends and learn a few skills.
It’ll be real cheesy. Your friends will like it. The City Master won’t but I want it to be fun – and quick.
Here’s your drinks. And no, I don’t want to be in your video. I’ve got a life.
Spike sets several cups down on table
I haven’t ask you yet.
Survival skills. I can see it coming.
Look, I know you sing. I’m going to write a music parody for the melodrama. It’ll be fun.
Do you have a name yet for this…what are you calling this video, this melo something?
It’s a melodrama. Yes, I’ve got the perfect title. It popped into my head at a traffic light. It will be called “Broadsided at Basshole,” about a small town where everything revolves around fishing. In fact, the job title they gave to the evil villain is “The Master Baiter.”
Everyone is open mouthed
I see some problems ahead.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on PEG Executive Board meeting. Board members Tootsie, Rev. Lesater, and Guido seated, casually shuffling papers.
Calling this meeting of the PEG Executive Board to order. Reverend Lester, will you give the invocation.
Gladly…. O Lord, your humble servants sit before you waiting for your guidance. Though we are ignorant in worldly ways we know all that matters is that we carry out your divine plan. And that plan, is to exalt all that have much and take away from those who have little, for that is your will. Show us your true believers so we will know who to smite and send into outer darkness and who to forgive all manner of sins and transgressions, for they are your kind of people. Lord, give us the courage and wisdom to know the sheep from the goats, sheering the one and driving off the other into the wilderness. May your well rewarded faithful carry your status quo into eternity. Amen.
Thank you Lester. Inspiring as usual. Next we have public comments. Does anyone want to waste this Boards time about things we have no interest in? Seeing no one…
We did get another written complaint from Bernice complaining about the station’s current programming being a disgrace and outrage to public decency.
That sounds like her last letter.
The date’s changed.
Put it in the file along with her other letters. Our main agenda item tonight is to review and rubber stamp the new restrictions that the volunteer station manager will operate under. As you know, there was some whining from the public that these conditions were developed in an illegal closed session.
How can it be illegal? We chose the purpose from the list of legal purposes.
Yes, we noted on the agenda the purpose of the closed session was for “Employee Evaluation – Manager of PEG Station”
Employee evaluation is one of the three legal reasons for a closed session. So what’s their problem?
Well, the volunteer manager showed up before the meeting and complained he wasn’t notified he was going to be evaluated.
Yes, yes. Then we told him he wasn’t being evaluated. We told him he wasn’t the real manager because he was a volunteer, even though he did all the managing. The real manager of TV8 was the City Master because he was in charge of everything. That’s who the PEG Executive Board was evaluating in closed session.
(rolls eyes, shakes head) And he went on and on. Blah blah the City Master in no way reports to the PEG Board so how could they evaluate him as an employee?
The City Master has no role in the day to day operations of the station. In fact, he has never even seen the equipment.
The City Master is hostile to volunteers, fabricates easily disproved charges against them, and locks the station door on a whim or a rumor, causing disruption of programming and technical repairs in progress. This shows he has no interest in managing the station for the public interest.
Irreverent…. twisted devil words from the mouths of demons and –
Lester, we’ve moved on from the invocation.
If I can get back to the agenda item. In the course of evaluating the City Master in closed session we developed a new list of requirements where every action by the volunteer manager must be approved by the City Master personally.
Uh, should we make the connection clearer between evaluating the City Master in closed session and only reporting back with a list of ways to put the volunteer manager on a shorter leash?
Oh very well. Let’s say in the minutes that the City Manager showed such leadership and insight in developing new restrictions on the wrong kind of people, in this casually brought up topic, that no further evaluation of his abilities were seen as necessary.
That should do it.
Except for this Brown Act open meeting complaint to the DA, about the closed session.
Mother of God. Who dares question those doing the Lord’s work.
Shall I go punch him out, Tootsie?
Now calm down Guido. He’s just a nobody. And the DA is one of our kind of people. I’ve been thru this before. I notified the DA that this complaint is from one of the wrong kind of people, and more important, who has no lawyer. When he reads the complaint he will stare at the paper
(holds up piece of paper)
thoughtfully for about 30 seconds, weighing it’s merit’s, then do this.
(wads up paper and throws it over her back)
Everyone applauds, hoots and hollers
AT RISE: Lights brighten TV8’s equipment
room. Juice in front of monitor typing at
Alex walks in looking defeated. Plops down
Is everything back up?
(still looking at screen)
The cable tech left an hour ago. And the college called. They were very unhappy their classes weren’t on the cable for two days.
Their Distance Learning Program is our only source of cash income, yet the City Master treats them like freeloaders. As it is, we’re only their backup for their internet feed. They don’t need us. We need them.
What came out of the meeting? It must have been good cuz they unlocked our door.
They went into closed session then came out with a paper called “Duties and Responsibilities of the PEG Interim Operations Manager.”
That’s a new one. Who came up with that title?
They put the word “interim” in there to make the City Master happy. He thought I was getting too independent. A couple things on the list are things we always do. But the rest, six things, could have used some input from us and even the public. But there’s no input in a closed session. It was all to appease the City Master and convince him to unlock the station. All for him. Nothing for the public.
He’s paranoid and a control freak. The paper quoted him saying he hated dealing with this free speech garbage. Did he ever say why he locked us out to begin with?
I got everything secondhand. He didn’t want us filming the Council meetings even though they approved it. He hated the live talk show we started. The list I had to sign demands anything other than minimal functioning must be approved by the PEG Board. Oh, and he went bonkers over Rolly using the Chambers for a video interview even though he reserved it at the front desk. He didn’t say anything to Rolly at the time, or me.
I heard he was a sniper in the military. I guess he’s not used to feedback from his actions.
Who told you that?
Not one of targets, I’m certain. Let me see that list.
Alex hand paper to Juice who reads it quickly.
This schedule requirement assumes we have a lot more control than we do. The college over rides us. And the Goober High Council over rides us with their own equipment, sometimes without telling us.
It’s all a bunch of reports and paperwork. I didn’t volunteer for this. I wanted to spend my time doing creative things, to continue what the last manager started. It’s not like anyone else wanted the job.
Maybe they hope you’ll go away so just the offsite over rides will be on the air.
What about you? Are you going away?
Only if they lock me out again. Things are starting to get interesting, in a strange way.
The imports. It started with the police and pot videos. Those got people’s attention. I got a mailbox full of messages about wanting to put corporate power type videos on the air.
Did you tell them they had to get permission from the producers and forward their e-mails to us?
Well, a few people have started asking me to research videos for them. They’re not on the internet and don’t know where to get more of what they’ve seen on the station.
You know the rules. All residents can turn in signed forms for two videos a month. If you want to use your own time to suggest videos fine. But they still have to drop off the completed request forms.
What about downloads from sites? That way they just have to mail in the forms.
No downloads. They mess up the programming for other videos. Get a commercial version for all imports.
It’s just that everyone has been getting so excited about the new videos. I hate to screw up a good thing.
So do I. So do I.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on blank
background. Roland standing by video
camera on tripod in front of podium,
making adjustments, dressed up in white
`faked up Southern cracker suit with beard.
Talking to someone named Jim out of view.
Jim the last shot looks fine except for my mustache slipping. It took me 20 minutes to change costumes. I’m sure it looked weird to people in the park. I hope the light hasn’t shifted. It’s
supposed to look like the Master Baiter has just introduced Congressman Bottom Feeder at the Procession of Bass Champions, opening ceremonies. He’s just left the stage to wild applause and the Congressman is walking up to speak.
God I hate playing more than one role in the same scene. Jim, are you sure you don’t want to play the Congressman. It’s just one short speech. No? Are you sure? You played a great butler last time. Alright fine.
I have the camera pointing toward the top of the stairs. Don’t touch the zoom. I’m going to hit record and when I get to the stairs just follow me smoothly until I stop to address the crowd. Then give the handle a half turn to lock it in place. Remember, don’t touch the zoom. I’ve got it just where I want it. Just make sure the camera doesn’t start to droop or one of the tripod legs slip. If my mic doesn’t fall off or a car drive by, we may be able to get it in one take.
What’s that Jim? No, if the police show up we’ll act like we’re packing up for the day then do another take when they leave. Alright, here we go. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 record.
Pushes record and walks around to back of podium.
(in character, thrusts arms in air)
Thank you residents and campaign contributors of Basshole. You know it’s always a pleasure to chew the fat, with people who’d rather spend their time, drinking beer in a boat all day, than poking their noses into my Washington business. While other residents are whining about schools…healthcare….and who’s stealing what from who, all you people want is a few boat ramps and fish stock. This, is the kind of narrow-mindedness that made America great.
Fingers under suspenders
And you can count on me to bring back something ripe out of the old chum barrel in the next session of Congress. Thank you.
Arms thrust in air on “thank you”
Jim, grab the props. Here come the cops. I’ll get the camera.
Grabs the tripod and walks quickly out of the scene.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in City Master
office where he is working.
Loud pounding is heard from above.
(looking up at ceiling)
Hey, do you think you can possibly make any more noise up there?
Phone rings, Boris picks it up
Oh hellooo Mister Mayor. I assume you’re calling to congratulate me on breaking the national eviction record for senior citizens. It wasn’t the best picture of me in the paper –
Garbled phone line talk cuts off Boris.
Oh oh, yes sir. Shut up and listen. Will do sir.
Garbled phone line talk.
What am I doing about the video problem? Cable public access? I don’t watch public access. That’s for poor losers. Guido at the Chamber said so himself.
Garbled phone line talk.
What? The Sheriff is angry. The State water board is angry. The DEA is angry. I already know about the Sheriff. He was here yesterday. Didn’t recognize him at first without his gun belt on. Barged into the TV8 equipment room demanding they make videos of him like they did his opponent. It took awhile for the programmer to explain to him that these were videos brought in by the public. And the station had to play them. And that his supporters could shoot videos and bring them in as well.
Garbled phone line talk.
He said something grumpy about his people only shoot guns and wouldn’t know where to put the bullets in a video camera. The programmer calmed him down a little by telling him there were limits on the number of videos and number of plays. She then said no special equipment was necessary to video, that you could even use a good cell phone camera. But when she held up her phone to demonstrate he ran out of the room screaming.
Garbled phone line talk.
No no, I didn’t know about the State Water Board video. Sounds boring. Homeland Security was there to discuss sensitive emergency procedures? Shouldn’t they know, for some reason, the public is allowed to tape meetings? They knew that. They didn’t know they could put them on TV without their permission. No, I can’t hold videos till Homeland redacts them. It’s all that free speech nonsense. The best I can do is lose the videos or accidentally erase them, whoops. It worked for Nixon, but they might have another copy.
Alex sticks head thru ceiling with a hand full if wires, listening in.
So why is the DEA calling us? One of our kind of people reported the station is promoting an illegal activity? You must mean that local pot initiative video. It was made by a community radio person. I know, another bad crowd. I tried to keep it off. I really did. I made up something like, no one is allowed a point of view unless they presented the other side and the other side wasn’t participating. So they couldn’t give their biased opinions unchallenged.
Garbled phone line talk.
Someone remembered that went out with the Reagan administration and never applied to cable anyway. The wrong kind of people are still too smart. Public schools aren’t doing their job.
I understand Mister Mayor, but the pot import was a different problem. The Emperor of Hemp, I agree, not what we want to see on our people’s station. I made up a hundred dollar fee for all imports, but the churches import videos too. Damn. So I had to drop it.
Garbled phone line talk.
I’m sorry Mister Mayor I can only do so much to keep the unwashed masses at bay. I’m just a humble servant of the Goobertocracy. Couldn’t you use your contacts in Washington? I don’t know. Link free speech with terrorism, some way. Push that Supreme Court nominee who thinks free speech was only meant to apply to corporations, not to a bunch of…..peasants. I need more tools. I need the power to slam –
Brings fist down on table
crushing fees on all so-called community media. After all, they’re taxing our patience.
Garbled phone line talk.
I know you can’t look too prejudiced. But in my last job, extreme prejudice was a good thing.
Alex slowly pulls his head back into ceiling
AT RISE: Lights brighten in Coffeehouse.
Sarge seated at table with Juice.
I really liked that last video you played on nine eleven. It explained a lot for me. I have been lied to for so long. I’ve seen so much. I’ve done so much. I can’t remember a lot it. I’m not even sure what I remember it what actually happened. The VA said it was all in my head. Everything was my fault. But they weren’t there. And what about everyone else like me. We all started remembering bits and pieces. We didn’t do the same things outside the green zone. We had different jobs. But many of us were changed in the same bad ways. We had dreams that made us wake up yelling. We were angry all the time. Little things made us want to fight. The VA said it would get better. They gave me some pills. It didn’t get better but I wanted more pills. Pills and whiskey. They said we were faking. They said we were just lazy and irresponsible. Finally they said we were…weak. That really got to me.
(getting worked up)
All of us? Weak? More and more of us were being flushed down the toilet because we, we were weak. No “ weak box” to check on the treatment forms. Things were not right in our heads. Couldn’t concentrate so I, we, couldn’t use all those good education benefit’s they promised us. Funny thing, when hundreds of us started piling up in the veterans groups, we didn’t feel so weak, didn’t feel like we were getting the truth. It wasn’t just, not having a box to check. They knew. They knew and they weren’t telling us. They were lying, and no one would tell us why.
Local groups helped us fill out forms. Our filled out forms were weapons. We were an army of the weak. They finally made a new box for us. I got a check. I got another check for the Hep C they gave me from their dirty vaccination gun. I got a criminal record too, from the rage and drinking. At least, I’m not one of the homeless. I got my forms filled out. I got my boxes checked.
Last year I was flipping thru the channels of bullshit, when something caught my eye. It was a show about theories of how things really happened, how things really worked. I missed most of it but I saw a schedule for the channel. There were other shows like it. A lot of it I didn’t understand. But I could tell that there weren’t a lot of official versions of things on this channel, your channel. I was tired of official versions. Official versions are lies.
Hands check to Juice.
I want you to take this and do something good for your station, so you can put more truth on the air.
I can’t take this. It’s for a thousand dollars. We’re all volunteers and we don’t pay rent.
Make your station better with it. I trust you to do more of what you’re doing.
You know everything we put on TV8 is on the internet somewhere.
If I could use computers and the internet I could have used my education benefit’s. You’re my education now.
Sarge gets up and leaves. Spike comes over with a coffee and sit’s next to Juice
Pretty heavy stuff.
You know when I started volunteering I thought I’d learn a few programs, see how a public access station is run, and maybe meet a few interesting eccentric people. I didn’t expect the walking wounded from world insanity to pour thru the door. Maybe just a little local insanity.
Roland walks in
Speaking of local insanity. Look who just came in.
Spike gets up. Roland sit’s in her chair.
Want do you want Rolly?
Ummm. Still no double fudge brownies. I’ll have an 1822.
Alright wise guy. What’s an 1822?
That’s your 911 with double the espresso.
How’s the video coming?
The writing was easy. This shit writes itself. But getting enough actors is hell. Plus I have to work around all their schedules since I’m not paying. Spike, are you sure you don’t –
You still doing the open mic this Friday?
I have to. It’s my destiny. Maybe I can find some actors during intermission. I wish editing the acts didn’t take so long. It’s a time sink.
What were you going to do before you became obsessed by this Basshole project?
Mostly I was making lists of projects I plan to do someday. If I get the time. If I get the money.
Why more than one list? Why not just one big list?
I have one-time-only bucket list projects. Other things will be ongoing projects till I die or become senile. And projects that are things I have to do someday, but don’t want to. Business of life distractions that preoccupy most people. I put those off till flashing lights and alarm bells become too much of a distraction to do anything else.
I don’t see much room for working with other people. Don’t you see anyone else doing something you want to help make happen?
I do but not too often. Usually short term. A few hours here. A day there. I threw myself into a movement once. Consumed my life for years. Piece by piece, I felt betrayed and completely drained. Betrayals by friends do more damage than attacks by enemies. I don’t invest more than I can afford to lose.
How many projects involve video. Are you going to hang around TV8 your whole life?
If a project isn’t a video, I’ll still video tape it, no matter where I’m at. It’s my immortality substitute for children.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in TV8
equipment room. Juice at screen when
TV8, this is Juice . Next week’s schedule isn’t up because I haven’t finished it yet.
Last week the live stream was a slide show then interview of our local muralist and sidewalk chalk artist. We had four or five calls. I’m sorry you missed it too because it was our last one for awhile. We can no longer air any programming not specifically allowed by the PEG Executive Board and the City Master. We didn’t get any e-mail complaints but maybe the Directors did.
(pause for other end conversation)
People talk to them that don’t talk to us. You can see some of her stuff at the Javanista Coffee Shop. Next week we definitely have another segment of Dumpster Divers. No it’s not about scavengers. It’s about a group of homeless people who make puppets from discarded clothes then put on shows in empty dumpsters for neighborhood kids. The shows follow the garbage days.
(pause for other end of conversation)
No word yet on the Candidates Night Video. The City Master is holding it up because the incumbent is demanding that it not be shown because couldn’t participate. Said he had a schedule conflict. I know, bizarre, but he’s on the Goober High Council. That’s one reason I’m delaying next week’s schedule. Right. As soon as I can.
Hangs up phone as Alex walks in carrying clipboard.
Did you get those permission e-mails for your researched nine eleven videos?
Mostly. For a couple requests I had to send a second e-mail saying that if the producer objected to us playing their video, to just tell us, and we wouldn’t play it. I gave our phone number.
(slamming clipboard down on table)
I thought I made it clear. For import videos you never do negative option instead of permission, even if the submitter has their form filled out.
This is a hot topic with the North Shore. Do you want to alienate our growing fan base up there?
I don’t want to get into an intellectual property dispute. That would turn into a political fight we can’t win.
Phone rings. Juice looks at number.
I’ll take it. What is it this time Ezra. No, we didn’t play that video just to persecute you. Ez..Ez..Ezra calm down. We must have around 15 Nine Eleven videos. That’s the only one that theorized that the Jews were behind it. (pause) You said that. (pause) You said that too. Look, we have the producer’s permission to show it and it’s a legal video. In the future, maybe not.
(pause for conversation)
What do you mean we’re shutting you out? You asked to be on the old Board. They put you on, and the first thing you did was make a motion to form a censorship committee for the videos. You didn’t get a second to your motion, so you resigned.
No, you resigning is not the same as us throwing you off. Ezra, our only motive was we didn’t want a First Amendment lawsuit against us that would likely prevail. You can believe what you want.
Hangs up phone. Pointedly to Juice.
And that’s why we have to cross our T’s and dot our I’s.
I didn’t mention it before because I didn’t think it was important but…we had a couple visitors. An elderly couple. They also complained about… that video. They seemed like professionals but they wouldn’t identify themselves. I asked where they were from. When they said San Jose, I said “Only County residents have a right to complain about content on this station.” The man huffed and said “We’ll see about that.” Then they left.
Ummm. I’d bet my last good molar he’s already e-mailed the PEG Board.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on City
Master at desk. Sheriff standing to side.
Alex and Kali sitting in chairs outside office talking.
Now remember, when we go in you’re just a member of the public. You don’t have to know any station policies other than what’s on the forms you filled out.
If I’m not responsible for anything except my videos why did they cancel my membership without any explanation?
They canceled everyone’s memberships. They’re letting them reapply, on a case by case basis, after their new police paperwork is turned in. Did you turn yours in?
Hell no. They wanted a police background check and a credit check. A credit check! Are they going to sell me a car? And what’s this case by case crap the Sheriff’s talking about? Are they saying they can keep people off for no reason in particular? Just because some small minded little club thinks they’re the wrong kind of people.
They say they’re worried about their equipment getting stolen or vandalized. And I don’t know why the Sheriff singled you out to question. Don’t worry, I’ll speak up for you.
Thanks. If I run out of things to say you can speak up for me. I wouldn’t want any dead air.
City Master sticks his head out
Come in Miss Singh.
(sarcastically in low voice)
Come in Miss Singh.
Alex shushes her as they walk in. City Master at desk, Sheriff standing next to him.
Miss Singh, I got your e-mail asking what right I had to cancel your membership when being a member is a condition for using the High Council’s equipment.
I actually said, the public’s equipment, which was bought with cable company money not tax money.
No difference. Public money or equipment is what we say it is, to use by who we decide should use it. We have to make sure the wrong kind of people are kept in check. Going back to canceling memberships, the Sheriff and I decided things have gotten out of our control so we declared a sort of public access bankruptcy and moratorium on free speech. We’re going to restart the whole station under a new, um structured kind of organization.
A public access station is a designated public forum. That makes it a vehicle for free speech protected by Supreme Court decisions. Your administration may be bankrupt but the First Amendment still has money in the bank.
You better watch your mouth young lady. We don’t like people spouting off about civil rights in our government building.
Kali steps forward getting ready to say something. Alex holds her back whispering something.
Especially from your kind of people.
And just what does that mean?
Case by case basis.
You see Miss Singh. The Supreme Court may have some limited jurisdiction in the vicinity of TV8’s hot jack. But I am master of this building and all of you public access users have to pass thru my domain to get to it. The Goober High Council has given me and the Sheriff absolute power to control the front door. So unless you plan to magically appear out of thin air in the old vending room, without going thru the front doors, I suggest you answer our questions.
Starting with, what you know about the missing camera.
(angry and confused)
What missing camera?
The previous Facilities Manager had control of the lend-out cameras. He and his friends had some kind of after-hours video parties. I still haven’t located everything on the station inventory list. But I’m finding more and more equipment in strange places.
Never mind that. The Facilities Manager and his citizen friends are not suspects. This form
Sheriff holds up a paper.
shows that Kali Singh, a person of unknown nationality, was the last person to check out the camera.
Over a year ago and I returned it. I use Alex and Rolly’s cameras now.
Your critical videos of the Goober High Council and the Sheriff’s Department suggest you are a person of questionable character. The matter of you refusing to supply us with your credit information gives us even more reason to deny you access to TV8.
My credit history is none of your business. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust you with any of my personal information. Besides, you can find out yourself online if I ever declared bankruptcy, which two members of your council have done themselves. Are they denied access to the station?
Like the Sheriff said, it’s a case by case basis.
Fine, I’ll have other members submit my videos. I’m shopping for a lawyer.
BORIS Sheriff, that sounds like conspiracy and fraud and trespassing and slander to me.
Not to mention making terrorist threats. I’ll look into it.
Alex and Kali stand up and quickly leave
(as they get outside office)
That didn’t go too well.
I thought it went great.
AT RISE: Subdued lighting in homeless
camp. Roland talking with Sketch.
Sketch, I need your help. Did you ask your people about my acting offer?
It’s the lines. You want them to memorize lines. Don’t you have any stand around extra type jobs? I can find people to do those for less than the 50 dollars you’re offering.
Sorry, I can’t afford any crowd scenes. I’m faking those in. Tell you what, I have one role that’s only four lines. Do you know one person that can remember four lines? They have to look over 60. They don’t have to be over 60. They just have to look over 60.
Sure know a lot of people who look over 60. Some are only 40. As far as being able to memorize four lines….ah
Yeahhh, I know one.
Good, I’ll take them.. Here’s my cell (hands card).
Still 50 bucks? You’ll have to pick him up.
Hey, I’m a cab driver. I’ll tell you when. You tell me where.
What’s the role?
He’ll play an elderly director of a senior club that is being shut down.
That doesn’t sound too bad.
Not at all. It’s just a silly little melodrama. But I’ve got another deal for your people.
What is it?
Some rich guy is bankrolling the Democrats to get more Democrat voter registrations. Four dollars a reg. I’ll split it with them.
Is that legal
As long as I turn in all the Republican Reg cards too it’s legal. But I don’t get paid for those. Ever hear of a homeless Republican?
I know a lot of ex Republicans, before they lost everything.
Rest my case. Here’s the cards. I’ll come back later to check them over.
This can’t be legal. They’re homeless. What will they put down for an address? Oh, and some are felons.
As long as they are off parole they can register to vote in our state. Their address? Use the nearest road marker, or a description of where they return to regularly as their, home base. That’s the legal term.
How do you know this?
I researched it. I know the cases. One other thing. I don’t get paid for this. It’s one of my personal side projects. I’ll pay them three dollars to register by checking the “other” box and writing in, California Pirate Party.
Why are you doing this?
I’m a free speech nut and they’re free speech nut jobs. Plus I’m making a video of their ballot drive.
I bet that will make you popular.
I’m already popular. Just not with the right kind of people.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on PEG Board
Meeting room. PEG Board seated.
Angry crowd noise in background.
I’m glad to see such an enthusiastic turn out. No doubt you’re here to see the reviewing of our latest local video, Broadsided at Basshole.
Audience; Booos. Catcalls
I see everyone is ready. I call this meeting of the PEG Executive Board to order. Reverend Lester, would you like to give an invocation?
To Hell with the invocation. God wants to kick some ass.
That’s kind of an invocation. Let’s start with public comment. Does anyone have any comment on anything not on the agenda and within the PEG Board’s jurisdiction? Yes, please step forward and state your name.
My name is Turk Turner. I’m a student at Last Chance Continuation School. We’re encouraged to get involved in community projects. The problem is, there are so few community projects we’re interested in. A few “old school” type projects, here and there, but many of us want to change things for the future. The power of video seems to be the only way to push people to go
forward. To leave the past behind, so we can try new things and stop making the same mistakes. Please, find ways to use TV8 as a bridge to the expanding possibilities of the internet. Thank you.
Whateverrr. Anyone else? Fine. The first agenda item is new requirements on our out of control PEG channel. Guido, will you give the staff report?
It seems that the wrong kind of people are still trying to use our public access channel. I leaned on a few who packed up their shows and are now using Mendo’s public access channel. For some strange reason they don’t mind letting our residents use their channel. Supposedly they said they actually value locally produced content and they don’t have enough of their own.
Don’t they realize they’re encouraging the wrong kind of people to become active and visible? They’ll be soooorry.
It gets worse. They’re even letting them leave their shows’ sets in their studio between tapings to make it easier for them. They’re completely oblivious that these are the kind of people who will start showing up places meant only for our kind of people, if they’re not put down early.
Quite right. I understand some of these people are trying to work with local high schools. One principle here even seems to be working with them. Stretching his education dollars, he says.
The school super will stretch him when we pass this motion. Boss – I mean, Madam Chair, I move to require all videos involving students to get the approval of the Superintendent of Public Schools before they are aired on our channel. Which isn’t going to happen, because old Falky is one of the PEG Board advisors. He’s one of our people. After all, we have to protect our children from unsavory influences.
So moved. Do I get a second?
I’ll second. And I’ll third, fourth, and fifth, for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Lester, those are God’s rules. This meeting is under Robert’s rules. We can’t give you extra votes. All in favor?
Wait a minute? Doesn’t the public get to speak on this?
Technically. If they’re recognized. And I don’t recognize you. I don’t believe I have to if you’re under 18. I might be contributing to your delinquency as a minor. So, all in favor?
Let’s do it. Put a cap in these guys.
It passes unanimously. Let’s kill this thing before it grows. Everyone ready to see a movie?
Yelling and screaming.
I thought so. The next agenda item is “Review of new videos that we don’t approve of.” All other videos that we like or are too boring for anyone to care about are automatically approved as consent items.
It’s just one, right? I was able to get a couple other clowns to pull theirs. I told them da Goober High Council wasn’t going to like this. I would hate to see code enforcement pay them a little visit. It’s not healthy.
Do we have popcorn? I can’t watch a movie without popcorn.
No popcorn. But we’re only going to play it until our concerned group of citizens rushes forward in a spontaneous display of patriotic civil disobedience, smashes the video to a million pieces….
Before God and heaven.
…and drags it’s producer out into the parking lot for some very bad reviews.
Right right. Before the meeting, me and the boys were practicing the spontaneous part.
Let’s get this over with. I have tow trucks to wash.
This is so great. Everyone I’m supporting for local office is here, including the Police Captain and one of the city flounders of Basshole. Can they say a few words?
It’s not on the agenda. We could have cheated it in under “Public Comments.” But not now.
The title of this blockbuster wannabe is “Broadsided at Basshole.”
Audience yelling and screaming.
Roland’s voice from video as audience noise still heard in background
“Dear toothless geezers. The wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, for your geriatric carcasses, have blighted the view of our majestic bass boat parking lot for too long. Furthermore, your presence is an insult, to these noble knights of bass and their wave thrashing steeds.”
I’ve seen enough.
Lights come back on.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so long.
The whole run time is 28 minutes. Not exactly a full length feature. But today’s meeting might make some good bonus footage.
I could say a lot more. But not with the editor of the Goober Gazette here.
Editor? She’s not an editor. She’s a shameless demonic harlot, sent to intimidate these good citizens from doing God’s will by her evil presence.
Points finger at someone in audience.
I saw you smiling through this blasphemy. This isn’t what we had in mind when we asked the cable company for a PEG channel. We wanted spiritually uplifting programming.
I overheard you tell the Sheriff that Benny Hill was your favorite show. I think he spends a lot of time in skits chasing big breasted women around, doesn’t he? Is that what you mean by spiritually up-lifting?
Burn in Hell, sinner. Oh Lord, please judge this heathen by sending forth the divine wrath of 20 aircraft carrier groups.
Lester , you’re innovating again. Save it for the High Council meeting.
(pointing finger at Roland)
I want to punch you out.
Is this a challenge? Then I choose the weapons. How about a chess game, Guido?
No, I want to punch you out.
Standing up. Spotlight on Sheriff as room darkens. A hush comes over the crowd
This is not a work of art. This is trash that should be hauled out with the garbage. The First Amendment wasn’t put in the Constitution to give low life scum like this
(pointing at Roland)
the right to use our equipment and our city property to mock our leaders and insult everything
our kind of people values. People who like things like this are criminal types who encourage all types of bad behavior in our community. The PEG Executive Board and the Goober High Council need to take control of TV8 and show some backbone. And if they can’t we should shut this station down permanently…. one way or another.
Room lights come back on as he storms out of the room to thunderous applause.
Pure poetry, Sheriff.
(getting more excited)
I want to punch this guy out.
Now, now Guido. Punching out a video producer is not on this month’s agenda. I’ll put it on for next month, if you like. We need to take care of a little housekeeping now. I was hoping we would be cleaning house but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today. I have e-mails from other PEG Board members who couldn’t make the meeting. They’re threatening to resign if we do anything that will risk a lawsuit. Since your merry band of goobers aren’t going to give us any plausible denial, we have to give this video some kind of minimum play.
You mean a whole city of the right kind of people can’t stop one person from ranting in our face? That’s scary. That’s really scary. And I don’t scare easy. Can’t we do anything?
We can’t stop him but we can side line him. Since he used the word “master baiter”, we can call it an “adult video” and only show it once after 11 pm. Next, we can put on a scrolling disclaimer that’s so long and critical most people will click to something else. Only a few channel surfers and the coffee house rabble will see it.
Coming unglued, stammering, reaching around in his pocket for something.
(kneels nervously by Lester)
Think he’s going to pull it out? You remember the last time he pulled it out?
I don’t think even Jesus can help us if he does.
Steps forward and suddenly whips out a large business card and pans the room with it.
My name is Guido Calamari. And I, am Congressman Mike Thompson’s
(voice begins warbling)
… card carrying…
(voice gets louder after each word)
For the City of Basshole.
Everyone but Roland screams and throws themselves on floor or over table.
(continues to pan room with card)
Special Volunteer Assistant, bow and show respect.
Everyone screams and flails arms again
Special Volunteer Assissent.
Screaming and flailing
(catching breath, pulling herself together)
(fondles card one last time, then jams it into his pocket)
Come on boys. Let’s go break something.
Guido walks out of room.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on the TV8 equipment room where Alex and Juice are in
The middle of a conversation.
It just doesn’t look like we can develop the station without a constant battle. It’s not like it’s a fight over money. We only have that Distance Learning payment from the community college. Nothing from the general fund or the franchise fee. Remember when Rolly and I started going to the PEG meetings? They interrogated us. They accused us of not being their kind of people and being out to harm them. If they didn’t want the public to have a PEG channel why did they ask for one? Only 18% of the cable systems even have public access. It’s not required.
You know the reason. It was supposed to be a play toy for their kind of people. The cameras were only lent out to the City Master and his cronies. Training sessions weren’t public. They were called experiments so they could choose who knew about them. By limiting everything, they get to feel like big fish in a small pond. If they opened up possibilities for everyone they would look like minnows.
They can still look like big fish by working with more people. That’s leadership. Leadership is also telling the truth about your motivations. They said there is a big liability issue in us using TV8. If that were true why didn’t they ask for three more channels, and put their government stuff on one channel? Why don’t they use the nonprofit I formed to run the channel separate from the government? What about the liability of not using the station for emergencies?
I don’t get the connection. Isn’t there a designated commercial station for emergencies?
The commercial station blows it off, even though legally they are our official emergency broadcasters. But the council can override on TV8 for their meetings. Some day some sharp lawyer is going to ask why the Sheriff didn’t over ride the signal to keep their clients from dying in a disaster.
I suppose a truthful answer will get them in trouble. The truth is, they think the right kind of people have insurance, and the kind that can be cheated on so they can come out ahead.
That won’t sound good in court.
I’ll tell you what won’t sound good in court. Repeating why they told me to put Rolly’s political video on at one a.m., so only tweekers would see it.
Why did they say they wanted it on at one a.m.? It’s not safe harbor stuff.
They said one a.m. wasn’t very late. It’s just very, very early. What else is bothering you?
The local liberals aren’t supporting us either. They have a confused religious problem.
Let me guess. They don’t see the difference between a government function and a designated public forum either?
How did you know?
Liberals and Republicans all feed at the same authoritarian trough, only at different times.
They babbled something about people showing religious programs on public access being a violation of church and State separation. This was yet another group filtering reality thru personal or class bias.
I hope you told them to get the Hell out.
I’m not trying to make any more enemies. I explained that legally a public access channel is like a public access road. They wouldn’t want to ban Christians from roads would they? I let that sink in then said, the test for abuse of public access is “Are they using a resource that is denied to others in the community?”
And they slapped their head and said “How could we have been so stupid? Of course.”
Well no. They just looked at me. And looked at me.
Alex, we’ve got bigger problems. They want to cut our internet connection for uploading local videos.
What? Who told you that?
They left the door open to the office. I heard the City Master talking on the phone. We aren’t supposed to know some things. That’s why they agreed so quick to let us move out of the office to the old vending room. But it doesn’t work if they leave the door open.
That’s insane. After all the research I did for them to find low cost, even free, upload options. Why did they ask me to do the report if cost wasn’t the issue?
You weren’t supposed to finish the report so soon. It’s a strategy. They think they can qualify for the new State franchise section that allows a fee on the cable bills for PEG equipment. They think our internet connection might muck up the fee versus tax distinction. A tax would require a vote.
The internet is our link to the future. Cable isn’t going to support stand alone video much longer. This…is like burning down your house to collect the fire insurance. Except most arsonists don’t make burning down their house a public agenda item. They’re sending us into extinction.
I think we may have to evolve without them. Some day they’ll find them in some tar pits. If they don’t fossilize first..
I have to let the TV8 viewers know. How can I reach them? We only have a few e-mail contacts.
We don’t know most of them. You can try community radio. Newspaper letters?
How about ….cable?
AT RISE: Lights brighten in Coffeeshop.
Roland editing at edge of room.
Turk and Spike walk over to him.
How’s it going?
About half way thru the voice over project.
Which one is that?
That’s the Goober High Council meeting where every self important “has been” and “wannabe” showed up to put their two cents in. I created a voice over with a dozen absurd speeches and voices to go with the video.
You’re doing all the voices?
Of course not. I’m not Mel Blanc. Just four of them – a Bronx, a whiner, a cowboy, and I’m recycling my Southern cracker.
Who’s doing the rest?
People from the homeless camp. It’s a voiceover so they don’t have to memorize lines. Five dollars each and two pizzas. It was a cheap shot.
In more ways than one. Look, Turk and I want to talk to you about something. (Sets a coffee down for him)
Sure. I need a break.
Turk and I don’t like the way things have been going at the station.
Neither do I. But that’s Alex and Juice’s problem. I just make videos.
It’s all our problem. And no one cares about your stupid videos.
If no one cared, I wouldn’t have packed the last PEG meeting.
Is that what’s it’s all about? Making enemies to satisfy your ego?
Making quality enemies. That’s how I know I’m not being ignored. Not wasting my time.
There’s a better way. There are new kinds of information bypasses to the brick and mortar stuff.
I know where the future is going. I’ve got my videos online. I’m just not a techie. I can’t keep up with the jargon and I have no clue about what all these word salads mean.
You’re farther behind than you think. Options are increasing. Prices are falling. The future is now. Banging heads with a bunch of small, mean, vicious people is an energy sink.
It’s not for much longer. I want to help but someone else is going to have to take the lead. I can show up. I can write. But people like you are going to have to be the leaders.
We work on projects. We throw out ideas. Share what we know as we dig things up, work things out. Hang out. When it stops working we do something else.
We lead by doing. And we do by grabbing up as much information as we can. You know that or you wouldn’t be lurking around that internet pirate crew.
Honestly Rolly, we could use a few people who are good at doing boring stuff. Someone who can talk the talk of baby boomers and show up to meetings.
I hate going to meetings. They give looks that would kill. They know I’m paper trailing them and getting DVDs of their meetings.
But you do it. Go ahead and keep making videos. And keep us posted about what the fossils are up to.
And we’ll keep you up to date on what we’re putting together. Our local community isn’t limited by county lines.
Most of our sick friends have left for big cities because they had to. Most of the time we don’t really need big cities. It’s a big world. There’s a chance we can make a scene here. The more people the better. You in?
No word salad?
No word salad.
Then I’m in.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on PEG Executive Board meeting.
Meeting of the PEG Board will now come to order. God I love that word.
What word? Come?
No, you Bible thumper. Order, the word is order. For that, you don’t get your invocation.
Lester hangs head and pouts.
Does anyone want to give some Public Comment time killer? Go ahead Rolly. Make it short. We have a full agenda.
Roland walks to center. Addresses Board.
As you all know, TV8’s only regular funding source is the Distance Learning Program. We’re just an internet back up. But we’re not a good back up. Because of the Goober High Council’s over rides, the channel is unpredictable for Tuesday/Thursday classes. An analogy is, if you rented out two rooms. One renter pays the full rent like clockwork. The other renter pays the deposit and the first month then stops paying. He also takes over the living room and eats all the food in the refrigerator. The reliable renter who is paying the bills feels a little abused and is thinking of moving. When the owner suggests to the deadbeat that he write a check once in awhile he acts insulted saying, well if you added a hot tub and sauna, I might consider it but no promises.
(hand to head as if he had to think about it)
It looks to me, that the responsible renter is the college. I wonder who the squatter is?
I’m shocked. Shocked that you would defame our honorable High Council this way. I rule that you are banned from public comment for 90 days.
Roland shrugs and sits down.
Next agenda item is the legal report by the City Master. Just tell us the parts we want to hear, Boris.
As you know I asked for a legal opinion from our attorney on our plan to get a grip on our renegade access channel. I asked the attorney a hypothetical question. Suppose that this was just a government channel and not a full PEG channel, with all that free speech nonsense. What laws would we be under. Her answer, in brief, was that all candidate events and ballot measures would have to show all sides equally in each and every video or they could not be shown.
But it’s not a government channel. It’s called a PEG channel in the franchise agreement.
I have a different interpretation. The station may be a public forum but it is in the center of a government building. As soon as a member of the public passes thru the front doors they are transformed into government controlled entities under the same rules as on government bodies.
The station is still a public forum, but the citizens are now mere minions who have to do what we say. When they leave our building they switch back to being citizens with full First Amendment rights.
Boris, what a brilliant analysis. Have you got a consensus on this?
Thank you. I talked to all the right kind of people. They don’t see a problem.
What about our attorney?
Don’t know. She resigned as soon as she told us what we wanted to hear.
Moving on. The cable pass thru fee for PEG equipment will soon be collected and used to buy all new audio visual equipment for our High Council meeting room.
I thought you said it was for PEG equipment.
Lester , once again.
(slowly, as if talking to a child)
First we get money from the High Council to make some non equipment changes in our station. Then we use the money from low life cable users to buy equipment for the council chambers.
If the wrong kind of people did this it would be called money laundering. But since it’s for the right kind of people it’s called called…ah
Manna from Heaven?
Alright, I’ll go with that.
But won’t those troublemakers get to use the money?
Which brings up the next Agenda item. The Grand Jury is doing an investigation of TV8. They will be giving us a dump truck load of cover to bury the volunteers in paperwork. New
incomprehensible Bylaws that we continuously update. Three written bids if they want to buy a paperclip. No extra showings for popular programs. And a video submission form that looks like a legal brief. TV8 will become mostly hours of filler and scrolling bulletin board. Soon the volunteer programmer will quit and we’ll put our paid person in like before we let our guard down.
How do you know this?
The Grand Jury all wear fishing vests, even to jury meetings. These are my boys. They’ll do what’s expected. No questions asked.
Flying through the agenda. Meetings move fast when it’s all our agenda. Oops. Another unapproved video review.
Guido and Lester groan
This won’t take long. Just something by a homeless person. A nobody among nobodies.
Ummm. It’s called “Emergency Plan B.” Exactly what’s that about young man?
It’s kind of a travel log of all the places where someone who’s homeless can stay out of sight and dry. And a few once a week soup kitchens and scheduled food sources. Showers. Clothes. Everything someone needs to survive.
It sounds like something that includes a lot of illegal activity, by the kind of people we don’t want in our community.
Most homeless aren’t always homeless. They just go thru bad times. If they can be safe enough and healthy enough, long enough something will pull together. This video fills a gap.
Filling a gap, as you say, is no excuse to violate the law by threatening our property values. We aren’t required to let people advocate violating the law on our channel. I move we order the station programmer to reject this video.
In the name of those who have and shall be given more, I second the motion.
Done deal. That’s game. A new Basshole record for greasing thru a meeting. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 meeting adjourned.
Everyone gets up and immediately leaves.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in Coffeehouse.
Alex in conversation with Sarge at table.
You didn’t answer me. I said, “What happened to TV8?” All the good shows aren’t on anymore. There’s just a bunch of junk. Junk to keep us from thinking about the truth.
Sarge listen to me. We don’t control the station anymore. We have to follow new rules. Look at the schedule. We have a few good videos but you have to do a little planning to see them.
Planning? I just left TV8 on all the time. Sometimes I don’t even know what day it is. The TV was my only source of answers to how things really worked. Now it’s gone. And you took it away.
I didn’t take it away. We’re just going thru a difficult time.
Why couldn’t you fight for us? Why couldn’t any of you fight for us?
We did fight and we’re still fighting. But we’re in a weak position. Can’t do it all ourselves. We need you and your friends to help. To show up, if there’s a show down. Can you do that?
I’m not doing anything for you. I don’t trust you anymore. I’ll never trust anyone again.
Please Sarge, I know where these kind of videos are. I can help you find them on the internet. I’ll help you use a computer.
No no no.
Gets up and stumbles toward door as Sketch walks in.
Don’t listen to him. He’ll lie to you. He’ll say he’ll help you but he’ll lie to you. He’s a liar. He’s a liar.
I thought I was having a bad day.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in TV8 equipment room.
Juice packing up personal effects into a box.
Alex is staring into computer screen.
Are you OK?
I’m alright. I just need to sort a few things out.
Everything’s programmed for the week. It doesn’t take as long with all the bulletin board and PEG Media filler soaking up the time.
Juice leaves room with box.
(talking to himself)
Soaking up the time. Is that what I’m doing? Just, soaking up time. That’s not why I came here. I had plenty of things to do. I wasn’t bored. What was I doing before?
Does half turn from screen so profile shows.
Playing my songs at all the open mics. Volunteering at the school, for a music enrichment program. And videotaping and editing for others. That was time consuming. Why did I let the old manager soft talk me into this?
(thinking in silence for moment)
He said I had the knack for machines, especially computers. No competent volunteer was spending much time here and now he was leaving. Leaving for a city with bigger….. possibilities. I said I’d think about it. Next time I brought another music video by I hung around awhile. Some of the people I saw coming and going I’d seen at other places in town. At the coffee shop. At the artsy events.
Sudden full turn to audience.
Then it hit me. This could be a nexus. A coming together of kindred spirits. A different community from the one and only community that is held up as the responsible community. The leaders with their smiling faces and good dental work. A tight knit mutual admiration society. But none of them ever smile at the coffee house Bohemians. Nooo they’re a source of problems not solutions. So we’re not included in their plans. And they certainly don’t want our ideas.
I took a deep breath, and stepped into the manager’s shoes. They were big but I made time to fill them. After a couple years I could see I was making a difference. People with specialties and interests kept coming out of the woodwork. It started to look like a real team pulling together a different community of people. This wasn’t the dead tree media photo op crowd. Then, the grip started tightening. And tightening. And tightening. If it gets much tighter, TV8 will die. Somewhere out of sight and in secret, for whatever reason, a decision was made to destroy us, and everything we built from nothing.
Turns back to screen and starts talking like screen is a person.
What do you think? Do you want to die? I would call this an impending disaster, wouldn’t you? It’s irresponsible to not notify people in an emergency. Who will give a warning? An alert? Not the emergency director. Not the Sheriff. They may be part of the problem. Besides, they never bothered to learn what you have hidden away, waaaay back in that special pull down menu. They don’t care. So why should they care if I use it? I’m the only one who can let all our people know what is happening. It’s me or nobody. But once we start there’s no turning back. Are you in? Good, then let’s start.
Positions himself to type on keyboard, hums a little as he types and clicks.
Open here, select, select, annnnd select. There’s our little friend. We’ll just open that up and, bingo, emergency options. I think I’ll choose “red flash” every two seconds, click, “alarm horn”, click,” three inch crawl” at bottom, click, and “lit up message box”, click. That’s where we’ll put the PEG Board members’ phone numbers. What shall we type in for the crawl message? Keep it simple. How about this?
“ TV8 is under attack by PEG Board. All political and conspiracy videos are ordered shelved. Call them now. Tell them, hands off TV8”….That should get some attention.
(takes deep breath)
Ready? 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Load.
Flashing lights, alarm sounds several times.
I guess everyone knows now.
AT RISE: Reduced lights brighten on
Outside door to equipment room where City Master and Sheriff are standing.
Red and blue flashing lights. Crime scene
Tape acreoss door.
TV8 is a crime scene and is now off limits to everyone except the City Master and law enforcement personnel. All broadcasts from this locations are terminated.
The City College programs and the High Goober Council over rides will continue from their secure locations.
The public access station will no longer be accepting video submissions from the so called public. If you have any videos to pick up –
Tough luck. We are conducting a thorough investigation and everything in this room is evidence. Anyone who has any problem with this policy just give us your name and address and we will investigate you too.
I have a problem with you shutting down our public access channel. If you have a problem with someone why does the whole channel have to be shut down?
The City Master and I have determined that allowing public access broadcasts from City property is a public safety issue. We need to secure TV8 for use by the right kind of public.
Which ideally, is no public at all. It’s not enough to create hundreds of ways our station cannot be used. We need to establish a short, firm list on how it can be used. Even for things no one can find an example of, there needs to be a policy to stop it.
And why are you the ones to do this? No one in your office has ever bothered to find out how to break into the channel in an emergency? And it’s just across the hall. During the last floods and fires your so called civil servants couldn’t even be bothered to give updates to the volunteers so they could give out the latest info to victims.
That’s just the kind of attitude we don’t want to see around here. We’ve had three emergency response officers who are specialists in emergency response procedures. If they didn’t think notifying the public about what was happening, and what to do about it, was necessary then it obviously wasn’t important. We have plausible denial.
We saw the kind of chaos that was created by the community radio, which we don’t control. Taking in all kinds of reports, from who knows who, and sending it out as fast as get it. They didn’t even check with us first. Not that they could have gotten thru. Fortunately the PEG Board has kept this type of authority bypass from happening with the public access channel.
You see Miss Singh, it doesn’t matter if we know anything about the emergency equipment or care to learn, we control it. Which means we get to determine what an emergency is. And an emergency for us is different than an emergency for the poorly insured.
That community radio station is not a designated public forum. Whatever they do is what they feel like doing. This station has a legal status that says not only the public can use it for anything legal but you’re supposed to use it, and not just for the Goober High Council meetings.
We are assuming that we are the arbiter of public order, defined by the right kind of people. And
if anyone has a problem with that, they can take it up with the PEG Executive Board next week. Any other legal issues will be decided after we look at the complainers’ legal and economic situation.
Now everyone go home before I have you all arrested for trespassing and vagrancy.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in PEG
Executive Board meeting. Board seated.
Sheriff standing to side of Board.
Juice, Alex, Sarge, Turk seated facing
them in first row.
Angry crowd noise in background.
My, my. I haven’t seen such a gathering of the wrong kind of people since I toured the jail. Sheriff , what do think the chances are that some of these, ugh citizens, have outstanding warrants?
Some of them look pretty familiar. I’ll check into it.
Thank you, Sheriff. I’m calling the PEG Executive Board to order, as if that were possible tonight. All business will focus on our shut down of the public access station. All decisions about what actions will be taken have already been made. This meeting is for letting you TV8 volunteers and supporters vent and rant. It’s really just a formality.
That’s an open meeting law violation. You can’t meet and make decisions in secret.
Sit down young man. This is an emergency matter decided by people of position and responsibility. The whole board has nine people on it. Most are paper members but they still count in determining the majority of five which cannot meet in private. Can you count?
Onnne. Twwwwo. Threeee.
All of you are here because you were misled by an illegal transmission. A hoax was perpetuated by the former station manager. I wish I could have arrested him and order all of you to go home but the City Attorney has informed me that you are technically, still citizens.
Former? When was he charged with anything?
Since he was a volunteer, we can just wave our hand and make him go away. Like this
Go away, go away, little man. We were looking at someone that would make a good replacement before his insubordination. Someone who worked at a PBS station, where they make editorial decisions on content every day. Finally, we’ll get to dump everything that offends our county goobertocracy and our important out of county friends.
That’s crazy. A public forum is still a public forum. Someone’s past experience doesn’t change the rules for free speech.
You’re out of order. In fact you’re out of this meeting. Sheriff, escort this hooligan out of here.
Sheriff grabs Turk’s arm and walks him out then Sheriff returns.
Rules of free speech. As if your free speech were the same as our free speech. It’s like airplane tickets. We have first class free speech and you have economy class free speech, if we decide to let you on the plane at all.
There’s no free speech at all in heaven. There’s just God’s speech. You are only free to meekly praise Him thru his humble servants or burn in Hell.
The free part of this free speech, is suspect. Sounds communistic. The public should have to buy commercial time like my Chamber members do.
We’re going to open up the meeting to the public in an effort to clear up any confusion or delusions of equality you may be under. And to answer any questions we feel deserve a response. Then we’ll unveil the PEG Board’s plan for a new PEG channel that will be run like, a government.
Or businesses hooked into government.
Directed by a “business and central authority friendly” God in Heaven.
(standing up to speak)
I just don’t understand what you’re doing. TV8 was my lifesaver. Before I stumbled across it channel surfing I spent more time throwing things at the TV than watching. I was discharged with PTSD. Every other channel seemed to be laughing at me. Laughing at me for believing their BS to begin with. Whatever these people are doing they need to do more of it. Why do you have a problem with it?
We gave Alex a list of orders to follow and he didn’t follow them. Surely you understand orders. The station was to be primarily for local programming and not for promoting some conspiracy agenda. We believe local videos are being short changed in the schedule. In weeks where there are no new local videos he was to play repeats of local videos from the library. Import submissions were to be given minimum play, and even then, after 10 pm. Then he had the audacity to post our phone numbers on his emergency message hoax. The Goober High Council wants to pull the station’s plug permanently for not scheduling the Sunday repeat of their council meeting.
I have to respond. We have never denied any local video the maximum play. None of you have checked out our local video library which is mostly outdated stuff. Do you want me to run the Christmas Parade in July? Why are you making accusations before getting the facts? And those phone numbers are the ones you gave out yourself at this public meeting. I only circulated them to a greater public. And I really can’t see why I’m being blamed for not programming a repeat of the council meeting. You cut out most of the compelling videos that attracted our programmer volunteer to begin with, so she quit. I now have videotaping commitments. I don’t have extra time to fill the hole you created. And serving the Government part of PEG is a lower priority for me than what’s left of the Public part. Why does the county expect me to be an unpaid employee for just the High Council’s benefit? They can program their own meeting repeats – use their overrides.
Our phone numbers are now private, retroactively. There are of course other matters. As you well know, we had several complaints from a Mister Ezra claiming you held up his videos. His, local videos.
Ezra is severely disabled. He thinks everyone is out to get him, when we ask his DVDs be labeled and put in paper sleeves. And we can’t play his videos when the audio and video are seriously out of sync. The previous manager had the same problem with him. This is not a local video problem. You should be helping him instead of using him as a political pawn.
As for checking to see if past local videos were available for repeat play. That was my mission. I prayed about the matter until I received a Divine message that there was an abundance of local videos in the old vending room as well as in heaven. No need to double check God. That wouldn’t go over well. My report to the PEG Board was purely faith based.
Alex flustered as Kali quickly switches places with him.
It looks like this Board is coming up with a bunch of rationalizations, not reasons, for attacking the only public access channel in the County. Isn’t the real reason because the Mayor goes into rages against TV8 on a regular basis, threatening to shut it down if it’s the last thing he does?
Does anyone hear some kind of buzzing in the room?
The real problem is you people didn’t want to compromise. You can’t have something that’s for the people all the time. The public is just one of many interests business and government has to satisfy. Here’s the way compromise works. Using this, Bill of Rights as an example. I think there’s 10 of these rights things. We can probably put a lock on three or four for people who only have this public interest thing going for them. I’m certain the Third, quartering Federal troops in homes, no one’s going to fight you for. The First Amendment may have a higher bidder. In fact, I’m sure it does. But that’s the way compromise works. You public access privateers act as if you should have all the rights. That wouldn’t leave anything for the established interests.
We all know about the necessity to compromise. We do it every day. But before we start compromising there’s something we need to do – first. Right? That something, is to run a check that all the minimum standards have been fulfilled – first.
Begins talking as if teaching young children.
Since this may be a new concept for the Board, I’ll call this idea, the “Theory of Minimums.” Example: Say we all agree, in principle, that bestiality is a bad practice. But people who pursue compromise alone might say, well, maybe a few animals could be fair game, in the spirit of compromise, you understand.
Another compromiser might say, we should also limit the number of human/animal sex collisions per week, as a reasonable compromise to an outright ban. Both of these alternatives are compromises to an absolute prohibition or unrestrained compulsiveness.
So, community leaders only working with the doctrine of compromise might adopt a policy that states that the bestiality restriction will have an exception for goats, up to a maximum of three barn dates per week.
Of course, some extremist spoil sports will think the theory of minimums should kick in before compromise can even be considered. In this example, the minimum requirement is – no sex with any animals, at any time. So, there are no compromises to talk about.
Switching from teaching mode. Becoming emphatic.
Certain free speech rights are defined and guaranteed by the Supreme Court. These are minimum standards where compromise is possible only in the mindset of goat fuckers.
Guido and Tootsie recoil. Lester more circumspect.
Bestiality is always an abomination. Of course, as long as you ask for forgiveness for each transgression, Jesus resets the sin-o-meter to zero. For it is written in the parable of the sheep and the goats –
Quickly joining Kali before she sits down.
There are many ways to look at a problem, as we can see from this room. I was thinking, when people are used to seeing the world one way, isn’t the best course of action to seek out mediation from a disinterested third party? I think there’s a local group for that. Have you considered giving mediation a chance?
If they’re disinterested then they’re not bringing anything to the table. Mediation is for losers, who know they’re losers, and are hopelessly trying to postpone the inevitable.
Go ahead Juice. I see you have one of your scary lists with you. Don’t mind me. I’ll just go check my Facebook page. There might be some new cat photos posted.
Tootsie opens computer. Alex sits down holding his head.
So far I have not heard any documentation to prove that TV8 was not playing what the residents want. Based on my two years as the programmer, I summarized the videos in local and import categories. The local group includes Local Artist Showcase, 420 Lake News, Boatsafe, Cafe Victoria, GMO Labeling…
Mouths words as if list is continuing as Alex talks on cell phone to Turk.
Turk, if you haven’t left the building yet can you wait for me. I don’t feel good.
Alex leaves room, Juice’s list becomes audible
Local religious programs, Rattlesnake Island, TV8 Live, Regional Water Quality Board, Joan Moss Reports, Community Co Op Presents, The Dinius Trial, White Haze Jet Trails, City Council, City Planning Committee, DJ Dazzle Music Videos…
Can’t you just say, a dumpster load of the usual suspect submissions? We’ll take your word.
Now for the hot imports. 911 conspiracy, 15 videos total, Atmospheric Contamination, Food Manipulation, Political Family Dynasties, Pomo Bloody Island Massacre, New World Order, Central Banking, Media Manipulation, Religious Control of Masses…
It’s like a Table of Contents for a Satanic Bible.
Government Corruption, a dozen docudramas, The War Machine, Economics of Hemp, The Energy Crisis, Constitutional Rights, Non Network News, and Corporate Contamination of the Food Supply. That’s just a summary. What are you suggesting would be better?
(looking up from computer)
A blue screen.
We don’t want to have to go thru this again or see our names mentioned. From now on there will be no official TV8 manager until we can get a professional manager into that position.
What do you mean by professional? Any manager must first uphold the Court decisions regarding free speech. Is your ideal professional going to do this?
A good government focused professional will do better. They will never knowingly deny anyone’s legal use of the public access station. But they will to do what their boss wants, which is us, and make it look good enough to keep him and us out of jail. Since this professional won’t be an attorney, they will always have plausible denial. If someone wants a legal opinion they can hire their own lawyer.
In the absence of knowledge authority is Divine.
Juice puts away papers and leaves in a huff.
Our public access professional will keep everybody calm, confused, and distracted. This way it will be easy to cause laundered money to flow in and out of it. Everyone will get a little piece of something. You know, wink nod, wink nod.
Wink nod, wink nod.
Wink nod, wink nod.
The professional approach is to divert all energy into life draining committees that will act like filters, so authorities won’t have to expose themselves to issues until they have passed thru a Finance Committee, a Program Committee, a Volunteer Committee, a Bylaws Committee, a Membership Committee. The only committee we don’t want is, a legal committee. That, would be counterproductive.
Everyone who has helped with the lengthy public filtering process will be rewarded with do nothing front jobs in other departments and all benefits entitled to rank opportunists.
Mumbled assent and a few groans
(nearly breaking 4th wall)
And if you believe that, I have some resort property in Gooberstan to sell you.
This meeting is sooo adjourned.
Tootsie closes computer. Everyone gathers papers.
AT RISE: Lighting subdued at homeless camp (two garbage bags and shopping cart)
Sketch standing as Alex arrives pushing another shopping cart with large canvas bag
Alex, you shouldn’t have come out here. What if you fell?
I’ve already fallen. Maybe for the last time. I’m just glad they haven’t moved you on. I don’t think I have the energy to go looking for you.
Even if I had to leave, people would know where to find me. I’m part of this community. So what brings you up here?
As you can see, I didn’t come empty handed.
Nice bag. Sort of, upscale homeless. Your old lady throw you out?
It’s my go bag. Everything I might need for a typical production is in this bag – camera, tripods, cords, microphones. Everything, but the heart.
You planning to do a shoot here?
No, I’m giving it to you. I can’t lug it around anymore. I want someone to have it who has a use for it. A use other than making cat videos or making movies of their grand kids.
Don’t know if I can take it Alex. New people are in and out all the time. Every time someone turns around a cell phone disappears. I can’t store it anywhere safe.
I know some of your people rent storage lockers. Isn’t there anyone you trust who can store it?
Probably most of our people someone would rent a locker to, I would trust. Let’s see, hmm, there’s a lady and her daughter. Trying to hold together something out of a 5 X 10. It’s pretty packed, but dry. But I haven’t seen her for a couple days.
Try to hold on to the bag for just a little while. Use it for a back rest. It’s got some padding.
I’m not sure I can do much with it by myself. I liked using cameras in high school. But I don’t have school anymore to get together with people. And where will I charge up the stuff?
I can help with a few names. You can get charged at the coffee shop.
Are you sure? It’s getting harder and harder to find outlets in public that haven’t been plated over. It’s not the juice, which isn’t much. It’s us.
Only the plugs outside are plated. Inside won’t be a problem. When they see you bring in my bag, they’ll know, you’re one of the wrong kind of people.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in Coffeehouse.
Roland ranting to no one about PEG
This backwater Gooberstan is nothing but a third world nation run by a junta. Someone needs to shine a bright light on this nest of cockroaches. It makes most occupied territories look like spring break destinations.
I think you’ve had too much coffee. What’s that I saw in the news about you saying you’ll run for office to bring back the old programming?
I will if I have to. I’m tired of them burying all their dirty business in illegal meetings.
Maybe you should have waited till you filed papers before you threw a stink bomb at them.
Walking in, stopping at Roland’s table.
Just the low life scum I was looking for.
(not looking up)
Sheriff O’Toole, shouldn’t you be fearlessly leading a dragnet against a homeless camp somewhere?
You need to listen up. I have a warrant for your arrest.
Did you bother to check the name? It can’t be me. I don’t make myself low hanging fruit for the knuckle draggers.
Oh, all I see in here are low hanging fruits. I have a list of charges that should put you out of business around here for good.
And what would those be? Drinking coffee without a license? Using three syllable words around a cop? Not voting for Republican Presidents?
All of these charges relate to your numerous offenses against public safety and
(pause for emphasis)
I’ll name five. Suspicion of operating a meth lab.
What! Are you mad?
There’s a locked cargo container on your property surrounded by heavy brush. We can’t figure out what it’s used for so it’s likely concealing a meth lab.
It’s filled with books and theater sets.
That has to be illegal too. Maybe under the Patriot Act. Number two, raising fighting pit bulls.
I have one 10 year old female pit bull on a dog run. You need medical help.
Planting an illegal marijuana grow.
You’ve been smoking illegal marijuana. I’ve never had a pot plant on the property.
Doesn’t matter. There was a grow four properties away and your hill is above them, so that proves you’re the lookout.
That proves that anyone can be a Sheriff.
Assaulting a police officer. Your driveway alarm frightened one of my men. We seized the alarm for evidence. And last but not least, creating an attractive nuisance. It’s too secluded and forested. No one can see anything. Someone might want to camp there.
Let me see that bogus warrant.
Grabs warrant out of Sheriff’s hand.
This isn’t a warrant. It’s an impound notice for “no mandatory spay or rabies shots.” I’m afraid my vet’s going to burst this bubble. What’s your information? Psychic Hot Line? I want my dog back before you do something unnatural to her.
Never mind that. You’re under arrest.
Spike, Juice and Sketch whip out cell phone cameras and thrust them in direction of Sheriff.
On second thought, I’ll let code enforcement handle this. It’ll cost you more.
Walks out door.
Also known as, class war shock troops.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in PEG Board
meeting room. Board seated.
The meeting of the reformed TV8 PEG Executive Board will now come to order. Public comment? I see no members of the public in attendance. Thank god. I thought they’d never leave.
I think the public is finally learning to speak when spoken to. All it took was a few learning experiences.
(chuckles at joke)
It didn’t take long for one of our paid minions to slap a responsible schedule together. I have one right here for our review.
I hope there’s nothing there that will offend any of God’s anointed institutions. We’ve seen enough heathen blasphemies.
Not at all. In fact there’s very little here at all. Let me read what’s playing for March thirty first. We start the day with a public service announcement for Over Eaters Anonymous. Then five slots of Community Bulletin Board.
If one slot is good, five is righteous.
Then a Tai Chi class, an Informational Slide Show, an episode of a YouTube kid video called High Five, A Senior Bulletin Board, and
(sarcastic build up)
another Community Bulletin Board. Woo woo.
There’s music playing behind the Bulletin Board, right?
Yes, but we changed it to uplifting big band sound. None of that degenerate boogie woogie shake rattle and roll. Then an anti smoking message, KQED piano instruction, and an old movie.
I haven’t heard any local programming. I thought the wrong kind of people were sitting on it.
We said they were sitting on it. We had no idea. Our cause was just and our hearts were pure. That was all that mattered.
The ends justify the means. Book of Expediency, Chapter 3, Verse 9.
Next, another Informational Slide Show, leading up to the Distance Learning Classes, and rounding out the evening with eight slots of Community Bulletin Board.
That’s the whole day. What else do you want? Benny Hill?
Wellll. Are the other days like this?
Some days have more exercise or cooking shows. Sometimes there’s two or three old movies instead of one. Everything’s a complete snoozer. Totally bland, Nothing to stir up the peasants and rabble rousers. Speaking of rabble rousers, we’re dealing with them next.
Is that the Trial in Absentia item? I thought Absentia was another town.
No bone head. Absentia means, we put someone on trial without them being here. In fact, we don’t even have to notify them that they are on trial.
It sounds too good to be true. No, having to listen to another side, not that we would be interested. No, having our witnesses cross examined by snot nosed punks. No lawyers. No law. How would anyone know?
Normally this procedure is for people that cannot be found. Not for people we’d like to turn into missing persons.
That sounds like my department. Does this absentia thing have an enforcement angle?
The PEG Board’s judgment has the unilateral power of a restraining order. We can have them fined and put in jail. That’s what our contract attorney told us.
If we don’t have to listen to those other kind of people, who are just out to harm us, then why do we have to waste time going over the charges. Why can’t we just skip right to the judgment. God does this all the time. Case, judgment, and enforcement all rolled into one. No appeals allowed.
(puts hands together, shifts to preacher voice)
But not till you get all their money, right? We work that way at the Chamber too.
Sounds good. Anyone object? Fine. We’ll turn everything in the trial into a consent item up to the verdict. And here it is. Drum roll.
Lester and Guido drum on table
All names on the volunteer list are found guilty of not showing maximum awe and respect to the PEG Executive Board by yelling and jabbing their fingers at us. Furthermore, they are found guilty of swearing at us in a public meeting, by quoting so called Supreme Court legal cases and threatening us with frivolous claims to get their canceled membership fees returned.
(aside to Lester)
Here comes the good part, the penalty, the big hurt.
In the powers vested in me and the PEG Board I revoke all volunteers’ access to TV8 for a distance of one thousand feet of the vending room, unless they grovel before us and beg our forgiveness. When attending any PEG Board meeting in the future their hands must be in their pockets at all times to protect the Board from any assaulting finger jabs. I recommend handcuffs. When passing a PEG Board member in public, they must avert their eyes and bow their heads.
It’s like listening to angels sing. And there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I just love it when democracy works like Homeland Security.
(gives them each a quick look)
We’re otta here.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in City Master’s
Office. Boris at desk on phone.
Sheriff standing by.
Yes sir. Yes sir. All programming is completely under our control. No there’s no chance of any recurrence of your issues being a problem again. It’s really just a government channel now. I appreciate your offer of help if there’s another flare up of the free speech epidemic. You’re in my phone list.
Talk from other end of line.
Yes I know there’s a risk. But we need the appearance of a PEG channel so we can launder PEG equipment money to buy audio visual equipment for all our meeting rooms. Uh huh. I’ll send you copies of our weekly schedules for your monitors. Glad to be of service. Good day.
I gotta hand it to you Boris. You could suck a watermelon thru 30 feet of garden hose.
And just what would you do, tough guy? Would you butt heads with these guys? I’m not going to the mat for some meaningless abstraction. Right now, everything is just fine. That phone call was from the last pissed off person on my list.
Weren’t they the only ones who counted? No one else felt safe enough to paper trail themselves with e-mails.
Those e-mails were a warning. I’m supposed to keep those e-mails forever, or until the public access plug is pulled by single cable. And in case you’ve forgotten, I serve at the pleasure of the Goober High Council. You’re an elected official.
I understand the Mayor was hot enough to –
Don’t say it. The office may be bugged. Let’s just say the Mayor was struggling with constituent concerns on the channel issue.
What concerns are those? I thought his supporters owned this town.
In practice, yes. But there’s always a slim chance that something out of our control could take over someday. Imagine a local version of the internet. What could we do about it? We would have to rely on the Feds. Which means they would get to know our business, our…procedures.
I’m sure happy the Sheriff’s office doesn’t have any hands-off free speech zones to work around. As long as we can declare a safety emergency if someone farts, we can sweep the streets.
So far the Goober Gazette has printed everything we sent them and that’s all the old guard cares about. But if we don’t see the next threat coming, we may be sweeping the streets, with a broom.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in Coffeehouse.
Roland dragging himself in. Flops down at
table. Spike comes over.
I haven’t seen you for awhile. Been shooting video?
Mostly I’ve been fighting the code enforcement jack boots. Doing a rolling retreat, keeping the paper trail coming back at them, fast and furious. They’re used to their beaten down victims curling up in a fetal position, whimpering under the blows, until they finally crawl away with nothing.
We’ve had trouble here with our open mic. Someone reported us to ASCAP, who were only too happy to drive all the way up here to shake us down for a license.
But it’s after hours. You don’t even sell anything.
They said it didn’t matter. Then they whipped out their tape measure like a Samurai sword. You going to order anything?
I’m thinking a set up for an Irish Coffee, to go. I’ll work my magic on it when I leave.
So you’re not doing any video?
I did one video after I exceeded code enforcement’s attention span. I tricked out my container’s interior like a medieval inner sanctum – candles, monk’s robe, everything. Then I waxed sarcastic about government run PEG channels being a conflict of interest. The title was Code Enforcement inspired: Report From the Meth Lab. But the schedule listed it as RFTML which meant nothing to anyone. Maybe no one is watching anymore. I got no response, one way or another.
Changing the subject slightly, Juice has formed a nonprofit, the kind that should have been running TV8. She’s got a lot of ideas that don’t depend on people who think fishing vests are formal attire.
I heard a rumor that the type of lures stuck in the vests indicate the wearer’s rank in the Goobertocracy. You get a special spinner for being on the Grand Jury.
We don’t need their hot jack anymore. We’ve used YouTube, five dollar Vimeo accounts, and free Internet Archive to store our video for years. No matter what happens here, that stuff is still under our control, more or less. Now, there’s special streaming sites popping up. Poets are getting a million views on Button Poetry. And that’s just for poetry.
Sounds like a plan. TV8 is just a burned out shell, only useful to the Goober High Council as a way to launder money thru cable bills.
We’re not waiting around for leaders living in the past to realize the future is already here. We’ll simply leave them behind, like a bad smell.
Roland nods several times.
AT RISE: Lights brighten in PEG
Board meeting. Bundles of cash
piled on table in front of members.
The last and final PEG meeting will come to order. Reverend Lester, would you like to give the last and final invocation?
Oh Lordy Lordy Lordy. We give thanks for the bountiful harvest you have delivered unto us. To show us the way to smite the Godless hoards, by reducing their ill-gotten gains for the benefit of your faithful. As your wrath has lain waste to the bank accounts of the cable subscriber heathens, give us the wisdom to seek out new dominions in startup grants, red tag opportunities in those cursed by you, new fees where services are not required, and the guidance to arrange kick back sacraments from compliant contractors, and to rake 15% off the top for administration costs in every block grant under the sun. Amen.
The purpose of this short meeting will be to divide up the last of the laundered PEG cable pass thru fees, give a brief accounting, then send all of our accumulated documents to the shredder. Like they say, it is easier to get forgiveness that it is to get permission.
It’s only laundered for us. For the cable subscribers it’s reamed, steamed, and dry cleaned.
All three jurisdictions of the Goober High Council have finished installing completely rewired audio visual chambers with state of the art equipment and electronic controls, courtesy of the poor and pitiful of Gooberstan County. This final pass thru payment will go for high end camcorders for the exclusive use of the Council and it’s City Master. What’s left over will be doled out as hush money to our drooling minions.
All proof that there is a God. We never would have been able to draw a concealing veil over our work without His help.
We do have the small remaining problem of the lawsuit slowly cranking its way thru the system. Mostly our strategy has been to stall until the pass thru fee clock has run out. Which it has. Ta Dah. We’re home free.
I thought they went away. I don’t even remember what they were whining about.
Several years back the State franchises replaced local cable franchises. All PEG arrangements in place were carried over as a condition of getting a State franchise. In addition, there was a provision that was put in for localities that were losing local funding, subsection n, which allowed for a fee to be put on cable video subscriber’s bills to pay for PEG equipment.
Now I remember. That’s why we have to get money from the council for our discretionary use, then buy their equipment as PEG equipment. No one can trace that. Why hasn’t the lawsuit been thrown out?
There’s this little detail that there is no PEG provision in the cable franchises for two out of three jurisdictions. Two franchises are just piggybacked on the third. But we’re pulling cash out of the whole County, not just the one with the PEG provision. The cable company played ball because they knew when they went single cable, the fee would be history.
I believed it was like the parable of turning water into wine. The water of one franchise is turned by belief into the wine of three franchises. Or maybe it was like that fishes and loaves thing.
That kind of argument usually doesn’t work in court. So what is going to work?
We are judgment proof under the State franchise, as far as damages go. That cuts down the number of interested lawyers. Eventually, someone found a do-gooder lawyer who was appalled by the way we treat the wrong kind of people. Our hired gun lawyer made a motion that we had squatter’s rights. Two jurisdictions acted like paying renters with leases, so it really didn’t matter that someone with a key let them in and showed them the refrigerator. It was a brain dead argument but a good stall. Probably in three or four months the do-gooder will win and go to do-gooder heaven.
Which is the wrong side of Heaven.
Then, the judge will wag his finger at us and say “Naughty naughty, stop laundering money and don’t do it again.” And we’ll look down at our feet and say, “Yes, your Honor. We’re soooo sorry.” But everything we took we get to keep, the well has run dry, and single cable has filled it in.
(looking toward ceiling)
I feel the spirit of the right wing Jesus coming over me. What we have done is similar to the old church, who took the miserable pottage from millions to build glorious cathedrals which have lasted for centuries. Wasn’t this more God’s plan, than letting a mass of nobodies live a few more days on Earth?
stuffing money into a bag
Let’s go shopping.
AT RISE: Dark stage except for spotlight
On Roland and Alex who is in wheelchair.
Roland securing strap around Alex as he
Alex , you have to keep your belt on. You almost fell out earlier.
I’m fine on smooth ground. Remember, you said you would take me by the coffee shop tomorrow.
I’m going by anyway. I’m packing up my equipment. I’m in the way now. You should see what they’re doing down there.
I guess I will tomorrow.
We don’t have to stay for the whole show. It’s just the live stream home page. We won’t see most of the drop-ins till we get online.
Aren’t you part of it?
Not directly. I turned in some stuff. They can use it or not. I haven’t figured out exactly what they’re trying to do yet. I’m flexible. I got other projects. Some are more physical. Some require more study. More of the things I’m good at.
I still have my editing program if you need it.
Maybe later. I don’t feel like another learning curve right now. I’m busy building the marble run slam so I can create interest for a video demonstration. My Fringe Festival entry and kayak video drama aren’t going to wait forever either. There’s a lot of prep for that.
Roland begins pushing Alex in long arc across stage around and toward back corner. Spotlight follows.
Aren’t you doing anything around here?
I’m doing everything everywhere, but I’m not getting dug in someplace only to get slowed down. To start with, more Mendo, less Gooberstan. We’re not getting any younger, you know. My bucket list of projects is calling louder and louder.
Rolly, you know I want to help. Anytime there’s something I can do you only have to ask. Give me a call. It’s like ducks in flight. They take turns cutting the wind out front to give others a rest, so everyone can push on. I just can’t do as much as I used to do.
Spotlight killed. Stage dim.
I know Alex. I know.
Roland pushes wheelchair out dark back corner of stage.
AT RISE: Lights brighten on Coffeeshop.
Spike, Turk, Kali seated behind board on
Three tables. Juice behind camera. Sketch
`behind equipment board.
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – Live
SPIKE, TURK , KALI
Look alive look alive look alive.
This is the first live streaming edition of Corridor 20, as promised on the Corridor 20 web page.
Two hours of everything we like, and a lot of what you like, along the roads and streams leading up to Highway 20.
Because your life is just too big for one county, especially when it’s a very small county. And check out this new lower third. You don’t really think we are here live on a starship set, do you? Shhh, don’t tell anyone but we are streaming from three tables at the Javanista Coffee Shop.
But don’t worry, our Corridor 20 Steampunk Airship web site is still up and flying along with all the pages we built up over the last three months for contests, clubs, community radio stations. Oh and the surviving PEG station in Willits. The photo albums, thumbnail links to local music group sites, resident YouTube producers, cranky blog columnists, homeless help lines, and Transit Travel Times for Transient Tourists. There’s a tongue twister.
We have new additions to our quirky sidebar links. Things you’re not supposed to know about. Photos on the site’s image rotator are now the regularly updated slide show, running behind us . On our right, is our running chat bar for logged in members. Maybe the Goober High Council could use one of these. Maybe we can feed their meetings and create a chat bar for them. That should let a little hot air out of them, speaking of airships.
After the feature videos we’ll get a live video report from our stringers along Highway 20. Fort Bragg, Willits, Upper Lake, and maybe we’ll add you too.
With all this cheap and easy tech, we still get these letter things.
What is that? Paper?
Adopting mock voice.
“I would like to complain about your plan to broadcast your Corridor 20 site live. I thought government was supposed to regulate this type of programming. I just don’t see where you think you get the right to say and show anything you want without the approval of the approvers.”
Back to normal voice.
What should we do with this?
Spike and Turk shrug, Kali wads up the paper and tosses it over her shoulder like Tootsie did.
She should use our chat roll that’s running right now. Hope she can take a little instant feedback herself. So who’s paying the bills for this, you ask. Not the politicians. That’s for sure. We’re definitely not on their contributor list. Not the Chamber of Commerce. We don’t sell wine or real estate. Not the dead tree media. They hate us. Corporate sponsorship? Do we have stupid written on our face?
And definitely not the schools with their, keep them docile, stupid, and brainwashed curriculum. We still have some gear that works from our TV8 days. And our copy right free music and special effects library, to which we added free open source broadcaster software. And it’s absolutely amazing what you can do if you spend little, but do much,
without any outside interference.
(sweeps hand across set)
we don’t have here. Don’t be surprised to see more of the edgy and weird. As viewers grow, more will show.
We’ll be here live every night and keep bumping it up. Life is live. Your video should be live. Juice, run the first unapproved video…. for our kind of people.
END of PLAY
Night Cab (A Short Play)
(Turns and yells to cab) Can you wait just a little longer?
(To relief) Look if I miss this cab I’m going to have to walk four miles
home in the dark.
(As he looks everywhere but at her) The exercise will do you good. You
have been getting a little chunky. (Giggles)
Shit! There goes my cab. (Toward line) Have a nice day. Just get the hell out
(Still chuckling as he turns around) OKI, I’m ready to take over now.
(Turning real sweetly sarcastic) Oh, why the hurry? Here, relax and have
some hot coffee. (She pours a cup, grabs the front of his pants and dumps the
(Screams and jumps up and down)
(In cab) Jake:
Unit Six to Control, I’m clear. Bernie:
Copy Unit Six. You have a call on Easy St. (Center Stage)
(Couple sitting on stuffed garbage bags) Baglady:
(To bagman) I told you throwing a party for your parole friends wasn’t a good idea. Now we’re on the street again with everything we own.
(To baglady) My brother will take us in for a while. He said he wouldn’t ever again but he’ll soften up when we show up in a cab with everything we own and… Ah here it is. I was hoping it would show up before the cops spotted us. (In cab)
(To bagpeople) You call a cab?
That’s us. We have some… .urn, ahnh luggage. (Waving to bags)
Jesus, are you sure you don’t want a dumpster instead? No wait, that’s probably where you got it. Alright, but I’m not helping you load it, The trunk is popped.
(Bagman and Baglady pick up bags loose balance, can’t get grip sigh, heave, spin the bags around. Center Stage and cab both lit) Jake: J
(Shakes his head and looks at audience. Motions with both hands at the two wrestling bags.) The frenzied dance of the dumpster divers. (Fade light)
Unit Six, I have a delivery to Rocky Road. 30 pack of Blotto Brewskis.
(Jake gets out of cab with beer. Books at two young people walking to cab with fake mustaches up and down) You two don’t look twenty one to me. And why does she have a mustache?
All, hormone problem from steroid use.
Please, please don’t turn me in to the Olympic Committee.
Never mind. I’m not delivering beer to underage kids so they can have
drunken sex on a school night. Try again Friday, (gets back in cab) (fade)
Unit Six, I have a prego going to the ER.
(Prego swooning as boyfriend steadies her)
Why did you wait so long to sneak out? We could have called an ambulance down the street.
Oh yeah, that would have blown om” cover. Remember, mom doesn’t even know I’m pregnant. She bought the story of me adopting a shy Pomeranian who likes to be carried around under my dress.
(Sadly) A Pomeranian. So that’s how our love child is coming into the
world. How will you explain the baby? Will you finally insist I become part
of the family? A child needs a father too. (Embarrassed) And a father needs
a home since I’m getting kicked out of my house.
I think I’ll hold off any big announcements about you until you get the hang
of that job thing and working for a living. Until then my explanation for the baby will be “it followed my Pomeranian home.” (Starts moaning and
breathing heavy as cab pulls up and honks.)
(Boyfriend hands in pockets and pouts) (fade)
(They get in cab)
Looks like you’re in a hurry, (with a sneer) But I guess it wasn’t the first
time. Hold on. This won’t be the first time I outflew a stork.
(everyone leans back as if from acceleration and yells) (fade)(center stage) Wheeler:
(Guy in motorized wheelchair slowly comes to stop. He messes with a remote control), rocks back and forth as if to get it started, gets irritated and starts yelling about it being a piece of junk. The gag is he finally gets up, starts kicking the thing, slams it up and down on the ground, and throws it across the room after spinning around in a windup. He doesn’t really need it.) (We could use a taped up box and fake wheels for the “chair”) As he calms himself down he gets out his cell phone and makes a call.) Hello, Last Chance Cab, my scooter broke down on 3rd St could you send a cab as soon as possible. By the way, can I get a disabled person discount? (fade)
(Cab pulls up to unknown address and honks)
(Someone offstage yells to quit honking)
(Honks again and someone yells louder to quit honking we’re trying to
I wonder where they are. Just one more little toot.
(Leans on the horn and someone runs out in a rage to the cab window)
You inconsiderate bastard. We have to get up early to go to work. We hear you leaning on your dam horns all the time, roaring up and down our sheet, scaring our animals, we’ve all had enough of it, How would you like us to smash the windows out of this piece of junk the next time you… (the exact wording of rant is not important.)
(Rolls up the window nonchalantly catching the ranter on the neck as he starts choking. Jake pats him on the head and sings a lullaby)
Rock-a-by baby in the treetop. When the wind blows the cradle will rock. If the bough breaks the cradle will fall. Down will come baby cradle and all. (fade out anytime as ranter continues to choke)
Control to Unit Six. Call at the Get Lucky Bar. (fade)
Copy control. (driving, stops, honks, couple walks across room. She’s
hanging all over him. They get in cab, she’s all over him since the deal is not
Driver, take us to the NotelMotel please.
Oh baby, can we take care of the silly money thing now so we can
concenhate on fun later. I just need $200 for my LCRT season tickets.
$200!? That’s cuhing into the motel money.
Then skip the motel and flip the driver another 20 for a cruise, (louder) Is
that OK driver?
Whatever, Skanky. Just don’t kick out the side window like last time.
(they’re making noise, “Oh baby”, cloth tearing)
(Jake looks at audience, leans forward, winks) I’ll just turn on my video
camera for security purposes. You can’t be too careful. (Turns back toward
back seat) Hey you’re not getting anything on the seat are you? (No answer,
Jake turns back around and tosses a roll of paper towels over the seat and
goes back to driving with the couple still screaming) (Fade out.)
Control to Unit Six. Go to the Shop and Drop Mall and pick up a lady and child at the main entrance.
Copy control. What are they doing out so late?
It’s the annual Moonlight Madness Sale. (Fade)
(Srniling but finger scolding to boy shuffling feet) Now Waldo you were
very bad in the stores. Your Auntie Paine was looking forward to this sale
and she had to leave early because of you.
I don’t care. I’m bored.
What a rude child. Auntie is going to have to punish you so you understand the importance of being considerate of others, (out of nowhere pulls out a stun gun and zaps him. He screams.) (Sarcastically) You don’t seem to be bored now. (zap. Scream) In fact, you seem totally energized, (zap. Scream) (sadistically) Are we having fun yet? (She pulls out a roll of duct tape and wraps him up while Waldo limply moans. Looks at audience.) Don’t be shocked. It’s a new government approved child disipline technique called “Zap and Wrap.” (stay lit) (cab)
(leans out window) Did you call the cab? Auntie Paine:
Yes, but you’ll just be taking Waldo to this address (hands paper to Jake)
and prop him up on the porch. This should cover it. (hands money and puts Waldo in cab)
Is he OK? (looks at him up and down)
(Feigns surprise) Why would you ask? There’s not a mark on him. (she
walks away singing to herself “Shopping till you’re dropping bargains are a popping”)
(to a still gorked out Waldo) Next time, as soon as she reaches into her purse (puts a tube into his pocket) Pepper spray the bitch. (Fade)
(flash red light somewhere, maybe fake a “awhoo” sound with voice)
Not again, (makes like pulling over)
(swaggers, struts, and swivels over to window) What’s the hurry bigboy?
I’m going to have to ask you to step out and … .spread em.
Bernice, you’ve got to end this infatuation. Writing bogus tickets that just get thrown out is not the way to a man’s heart.
I can’t help it. (starting to lose it) I don’t know any other way. Its lonely at
the top or being a top. All of my men have been just wimpering blobs of jelly that go crawling off to the emergency room at the first taste of (smiling) excitement. But you’re like me, (points to self) cruelly indifferent to the suffering of others while gloating over their misfortunes. We could be such a team. Wherever we went, (looking skyward) no one would be happy.
Forget it Bernice. Today’s my last day on the job.
(Bernice tears off a ticket, throws it at him and stalks off. He wads it up and throws it out the window.) (Fade)
Control to Unit Six, I’ve got one more but I’ve got a bad feeling about it. He said he broke down at the bend in the old toll road.
I’ll take it. What have I got to loose?
Keep your radio on Jake. I’ll be checking on you. (fade)
(to person on side waving him down)
Where’s your car?
It ah, slid off the side of the road, (gets in)
Then why didn’t you call for a tow truck?
I have my reasons. Jake:
(Accelerating) You know we don’t get many pick-ups out here.
(lunges forward and puts knife to Jakes throat) Yeah, and you won’t get any more if you don’t give me all your money now.
(sarcastically) I’m certain the joke doesn’t go that way.
I’m not joking.
I know. The joke is on you. This is my last day as a functioning person. I’ve got no reason to live but I would like some company thru the off ramp of life.
(getting nervous) Slow down.
No can do. This game is called “put the engine in the trunk” and it requires speed as well as a close encounter with the Hang em High Heritage Tree up ahead.
You’re bluffing. No one wants to die by being ripped apart or burned to a crisp in a car crash.
Except for someone who spent most of their life in a car. You probably
would have preferred the thrill of dying with a full diaper in a nursing home.
Please I don’t want to die. I’m only doing this because they’re foreclosing
on my house next month. But I want to live! Here (Pulls knife away and
throws bundle of money on front seat) That’s everything I took in from
jobs. Just stop the car so I can see my family again (blubbering)
(mock concern) You’re doing this for your family?
(stops blubbering. Looks hopeful) Yes.
Well you’re in luck.
(more hopeful) I am?
Yes. Because… I… am… insured.
(lights off at cab, simulated crash, lights on center stage as hub cap rolls on and stops somewhere in center)
Control to Unit Six. Control to Unit Six. (fade out voice with lights) Control to Unit Six. Control to Unit Six. Control to Unit Six. (try to keep sole light on hubcap)
Route One to
2007 W.A.D. Fest Lakeport Community Players Script by: Dante DeAmicis
Route One to Paradise
Lakeport Community Players
Script by Dante DeAmicis Directed by Norman “Wink” Winkler
Booster Bert Hutt
Cornelius Rod Rehe
Sam Laura Fishal
Tweak. Laura Foote
Route 1 To Paradise
Booster – a furtive shabby man in an old overcoat and fedora, carrying a Satchel with appliances and candlesticks sticking out of it)
Cornelius – an uptight, somewhat agitated Yuppie man
Sam – crude, aggressive biker chick, tattoos on every part of her body
Tweak – voice hearing, babbling, rocking, homeless woman
(spot on Booster standing at a “Bus Stop” sign.)
(Cornelius looking around confused, walks up to Booster.)
Cornelius – Excuse me. Is this where the Bus 1 to Paradise stops.
Booster – (looks Cornelius up and down) Why do you want to go there? Are you a social worker? There’s nothing there but 17 rehabs, 26 half way houses, AODS, 3 impound yards, and more pawn shops, check cash joints, and bail bondsmen than I can count, (clears throat, then under breadth) They’ve got a Wal-Mart too but we kind of want to keep quiet about that.
Cornelius – Actually I’d rather not go there but I was on a business trip between two somewheres and my Porsche broke down in this nowhere. I had to pay Grease Job Auto Repair an extra 200 dollars to fix my vehicle by tomorrow. The nearest motel with a room is at the Red Tag Resort in Paradise.
Booster – (puts arm around Cornelius, jovially) Well friend, your luck is going to change. Not only is this the right stop but (pointing) Bus 1 is pulling up now.
(sound of bus slowing down and brakes)
(Booster and Cornelius step up and in bus. There are four seats. Tweak is in the front window seat rocking hack and forth softly singing to herself. Sam is in the rear window seat. Booster sits in the rear aisle seat. Drops bag noisily with a lot of hardware in it. Cornelius sits in the front aisle seat.)
Booster – By the way, my name is Booster, (tongue in cheek) as in civic booster.
Sam – (loudly) Ha! More like as in “I’ll boost your stereo before you can change the channel.”
Booster – This is Sam. She’s a regular, (moves arm to take in all of bus) We all spend a lot of time on Bus 1.
Cornelius – (nervously trying to make conversation) Sam? Is that short for Samantha?
Sam – No it’s short for (makes “up yours” gesture with hand on arm) “Sam” to you buddy (laughs at own joke)
Cornelius – (reluctantly) I suppose I should tell you my name is Cornelius.
Sam – No shit? We’re going to have fun with that one.
Cornelius -1 wish you wouldn’t.
Booster- So, “Corn” is an alias. “Corn” alias. Get it? (laughs)
Tweak – (stops rocking and singing. Slowly turns to Cornelius eyes wide) Cornelius is a demon’s name, (turns back to window, softly rocking, singing, babbling.)
Booster – Say Com, (Cornelius winces each time someone chops his name) it’s going to be a long trip (pulls up sleeve revealing an arm full of wristwatches) maybe you’d be interested in one of these quality wristwatches I’ve be wholesaling.
Cornelius – (irritated) No thanks (hold up wrist) My Rolex works just fine.
Booster – (eyes wide) So it is. (pulls out deck of cards) Ya know I’m a sportin kind of guy. I’d be willing to “high card” these 8 watches against that Rolex.
Sam (intermpting) Hey Booster, checkout my new tattoo (displays an area) It’s the 1948 Limited Edition Indian Chief running a Hyundai into a bridge piling. (Turns toward Cornelius.) Do you like it Corny?
Cornelius – (disgusted) Lovely.
Booster – That reminds me, why aren’t you on your bike? You just got it out of hock last week?
Sam – Rotten luck. I was split laneing Peterbuilts at 90 on my hog when the Spam-on-a-can real thing has the nerve to pull me over for, get this, going too fast. So I says “Duh, if I was going too fast you wouldn’t
have caught me.” And then he starts with this attitude so I says “Is this the only job you could get after the Village People broke up?” The next thing I know my bike’s impounded.
Booster – (jumps up) Why those dirty….(before he finishes his gun drops out of his jacket to the floor) Hey hey. (nervously squats down and scoops it back under his jacket as Cornelius and Sam watch wide eyed)
Tweak -(turns from window) I had a bicycle once but some bad boys took it away so now I ride the bus. They can’t take the bus away. If they try, the bus will flatten them like little dogs and kittens, (makes squishy splat sounds then turns back to window, rocking and humming to self)
Booster – That reminds me Corn, you says you need a car to get out of town. I got a friend I think I can help you as long as you aren’t fussy about paperwork and the side window being busted out.
Cornelius – Noooo thanks. If you have such an interest in cars why are you riding this homeless shelter on wheels.
Booster -1 have a driving phobia ever since the accident. A light rain
started during the “Butts Up Bicycle Century” race. I was corning off the mountain and started hychoplaning into a clump of 50 or 60 cyclists. I remember all these globs of day-glo Spandex flying in the air, landing in a big pile of screaming, squmrhng Spandex. It was
terrible. I can’t touch a steering wheel again or Spandex and
Italian movies make me real nervous.
Cornelius – So you fence hot cars but don’t drive them?
Booster – (Shrugs) You know I made a lot of useful connections while I was in the joint. I picked up a lot a valuable skills and learned a college worth of important life lessons.
Cornelius (backing away) You were in prison and… .and you’re bragging about it?
Booster -1 was a victim of circumstances. After I was sent up for pulling the tags off mattresses the only way I could support myself was by operating what I call a “mobile flea market” and a lost and found service. I redistribute wealth and people don’t even have to vote for me.
Cornelius – (dubious) You make money with a lost and found service?
Booster – Sure. The trick is to find things BEFORE people lose them, not after. And you always return things to other people who lost other things. That’s the key to my success.
Tweak – (turning slowly back from the window) I’m always losing things and forgetting things. Sometimes I lose my pink pills and that makes me forget to take my brown pills with the green stripe or I mix them
up with the black pills with the white dot. When that happens the voices in the ceiling fan tell me to go take more of the half yellow/half purple pills and those make me see what I don’t want to see or do what I don’t want to do. (turns hack to window, rocking, singing, babbling. Everyone ignores her but Cornelius who is uneasy)
Booster – You see Com, we’re a very social group on Bus 1. But if it wasn’t for our rap sheets, drug use history, medications, diseases, scams, and trying to get our kids back from CPS, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. We’ve become very non judgmental.
Sam – Good. Then check out this tat. It’s the Last Supper with midgets crawling under the table. (Booster looks politely, Cornelius is aghast)
Booster – (pulls out cigarette then puts it back) I forgot. No smoking on the bus. It’s so unfair. The bus smokes more than these Camels. That reminds me of a joke. How do you get Camels to stop spitting? Give up? You pay them 5 dollars extra to swallow. (Sam shrieks hysterically, Cornelius looks ill)
Cornelius – (changing the subject) Is there any place to eat in Paradise?
Booster – (thinks a minute) Well… there’s the soup kitchen at the “Hoher Than Thou Church”. Wait, that’s on Tuesday. Say, you’re dressed pretty good. You could probably crash any of the Main St. “schmooze and booze” receptions.
Tweak – (turning from the window) If you pray to God He will feed you but he must contract out the work because it’s usually cold pizza out of dumpsters. (turns back to window, rocking and humming)
Cornelius – (offended) I’d rather go hungry.
Booster -1 understand. You have your pride, (opens inside coat) That’s why I have these almost new EBT cards. Give me 20 bucks and I’ll give you one with at least twice that on the card.
Cornelius – (pulls himself upright and wags finger) Have you people no shame? There are people who work for a living you know.
Booster – (getting angry) Watch your language. “Work” is a four letter word around here. You won’t catch us shirking our social and civic obligations for a mere job. Besides, our court ordered community service is a public benefit without all that wasteful middleman stuff.
Sam – Yeah Cornball, and my tattoos are public art… like this one of Dick Cheney shooting down Flight 400 with his shotgun.
(Tweak starts scratcfrfng hair violently. Everyone looks at her. Makes point of grabbing something in hair with two fingers. Stares at it closely for a long time, then pops it in her mouth.)
Booster and Sam in unison – Yuck, gross, oooooo, did you see that (Cornelius is gagging in the aisle)
Booster -1 think Tweak just solved Corn’s dinner reservation problems, (laughs)
Cornelius – (looking at floor) This isn’t the bus to Paradise. It’s the bus to Hell.
Sam – Lighten up Como. If it was Hell would you see ink like this (displays another tattoo location) of the Supreme Court bicycling through the Vatican?
Booster -(getting competitive) Nice nice, but check out these extensive burn scars from ameth lab explosion.
Sam – (gathering speed) Not had, but not as rad as this doozy of every Miss America winner in a daisy chain reaction touching off a giant mushroom cloud.
Booster – (starts to unbutton shirt) I guess I’m just going to have to show you my old boob job that went bad
Tweak – (starts to shake violently, stands up, looks at ceihng) What’s that Jesus? What’s that? Kill them all and you’ll sort them out after the Super bowl? (pulls out large knife and holds it up above her head and starts chanting) I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it
Booster – (nonchalantly) Well I guess this is where I get off (reaches over and rings buzzer)
Sound of bus coming to stop as it brakes.
(Cornelius jumps up and runs off in a mad dash as the first one off. Booster and Sam walk briskly. Tweak takes a swipe at the ah then runs after them. Everyone runs off the stage.)
Lakeport Community Players Property List (1) large toy pistol
(1) stage booster big enough for 4 chairs, spaced out (4) chairs
(1) 2’x4′ sign reading “Route 1 to Paradise” (1) freestanding pole with sign reading “Bus Stop”
Buss engine noise
Professor Skit – Scene 2 (someone else wrote Scene 1)
(Background – several years back a local producer came up with an idea for a variety show called Comedy On Tilt. One of the writing teams was a group of high school students. One of their skits was a classroom situation where the kids drove the teacher crazy. The producer was offended and tried to change the skit without censoring it. She asked me to write a second scene to the skit that would continue the skit in another direction but the two scenes are really stand alone skits.)
Student 1- (students standing around as if waiting for class)
Have you heard? Professor Sowzier is back. While we were getting down during
Spring Break he recovered from his Spring Break Down.
Student 2 – That’s messed up. Just when we had the long term sub tamed and trained.
Student 3 – (holds up handful of papers)
Now what are we going to do with our get out of town free cards? We need letters of
recommendation for college admission, grants, scholarships, and internships from
our professor. And get this: He doesn’t have to write them. (other students gasp)
S1 – That’s off the hook. But what if he writes them and says (stammers) the the TRUTH?
(all three shut their eyes, hold up their hands facing out and scream)
S2 – I’m doomed. Doomed to junior college, vocational programs, and classes filled with
S3 – It gets worse. What if he stalls till grades come out and he gives us what we (gulp)
deserve? Our borderline GPAs will be DOA.
S1 – No way! that’s cruel and inane punishment. Plus it violates my constipational rights.
S2 – Do you think Professor Sowzier cares if he ruins our life…not to mention our
S3 – (worried silence) So what’s the plan Stan?
S1 – (grimaces and looks disgusted) We’re just going to have to kiss up to him. Kiss up to
him like he was some big rock star.
(other 2 students make same expression)
S2 – (whining) School was supposed to protect us from that real world stuff.
(school bell rings)
S3 – Now or never crew. Its suck up, fake up, and make up. (three walk off together
with head down and shoulders slumped)
Professor-(talking with with new confidence and growing sarcasm) Greetings class. I hope
you had a nice vacation. I personally found my high voltage electrical treatments
rather stimulating. (pretends to be shuffling through some papers for the first
time) I see some requests for letters of recommendation were dropped off with
Mrs. Silkperse. You can be assured I will give them my full attention….(presses
finger tips together and nods)….after a few inadvertent deficiencies are made up
S1 – (stammering) Wha what do you mean…deficiencies…um, er…sir?
P – My grade book has more blank spaces for due assignments than a virgin cross
word puzzle. The only thing you demon seeds have turned in is each other.
S2 – So how much do we have to turn in, uh…sir?
P – All of it.
S3 – What?! That’s so wrong. What about our personal life (clears throat and swallows
P – (mock surprise) Oh, It appears you do not plan to earn a living testing video games
and giving endorsements for hair and beauty products after all.
P – (mock sympathy) I’m soooo sorry. But take heart. There’s still a chance your
considerable social and mental disabilities will earn you a government check and a
slot in a housing project. (sadistically) Oh, and don’t overlook opportunities as long
term residents of our prison system. (laughs at own joke as students squirm) If this
future doesn’t sound attractive then your personal life will be spent cracking the
books, burning the midnight oil, and what’s the expression, wonking out totally.
S1 – Our friends will think we’re dissing them.
P – You will be incommunicado as far as your fellow vacuum headed, sullen youth are
concerned. Your NEW friends will be purveyors of hot coffee, Visine, and
S2 – (fist in air) We’ll go on strike.
P – You’ve been on strike. Now its time to go to work.
S3 – We’ll write a book about this oppression. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do.
P – If you could write a book, any book, you wouldn’t be in this mess.
S1 – We’ll join the army of slacker drop outs.
P – Then you better practice saying, “Would you like fries with that?” as your
S2 – We’ll sue the school for damaging our self esteem.
S3 – And I demand a “gentleman C” like the rich guys.
P – Rich guys aren’t destined to pursue careers in recycling. You may be beyond
redemption but cans and bottles aren’t. This means your parents won’t be able
to rent out your rooms for some time. Let’s see how cool you are as 37 year olds
with curfews. (snickers)
S1 – I’m having a stress. Call 9-1-1.
P – Keep your pants on you little biological excretions (does macho strut) cuz you don’t
want to be flashing butt while Professor in the Hood is kicking butt. (makes hammer
down gesture) Yes!
Well Seasoned (A 15 minute play)
by Dante DeAmicis
Clarissa: Aging high society matron, fastidious and overly proper
Thaddeus: Seventyish cranky blue blood used to getting his own way
Francisco: Late 20’s, pierced and tattooed, spontaneous, energetic
but also earnest and focused
Setting: A meeting room with a single table. There is a corpse sitting at one end of the
(At the end of the table, opposite the corpse, CLARISSA is shuffling through papers, making notes, while fussing with her glasses. THADDEUS appears and slowly makes his way toward the table on a four pronged cane. He drops down heavily at the middle of the table.)
Good day everyone.
(looks from Clarissa to corpse several times then points to corpse)
Say, I believe Beaumont was sitting in that chair, wearing those very clothes, at the last quarterly meeting. And I’m almost certain he was alive and mostly conscious throughout the proceedings.
Yes, yes, that’s Beaumont.
I remember him making some alarming gurgling noises during the last agenda item but I attributed it to a general dissatisfaction with your motion to install oxygen tank holders on all the aisle seats.
I recall he voted against the proposal. Apparently he became deceased shortly after and is no longer eligible to be on the board of the Regency Repertory Theater.
(looks up exasperated)
Thaddeus you know very well that neither of us is qualified to pronounce Beaumont legally dead and I have already officially listed him as present for this meeting. May I remind you that the Commodore is undergoing a triple bypass and our newly elected board member has not shown up. So unless we count Beaumont as present we do not have a quorum to approve our next season’s schedule.
Oh, very well then. Let’s get on with it and call this damn meeting to order.
I will dispense with Robert’s Rules and proceed directly with the treasurer’s report. As you know, one of our charter members passed recently and bequeathed $40,000 to our venerable institution. After subtracting our outstanding debt of $38,000, we have a net balance of $2,000, enough to satisfy the infernal utility people for about three months. After that we can expect the river of red ink to return to our account books.
I’ve always hated having to grovel for postmortem windfalls but with our subscribers dying off like finalists in a Russian roulette tournament what choice do we have? I just don’t understand what’s become of our young people, especially the ones under fifty. They just don’t appreciate fine literature or the theater experience like our kind of people do
(looks at Beaumont)
Now, now Thaddeus. Don’t get yourself all worked up. If I have to call the paramedics we won’t have a quorum to rubber stamp my selections for next year’s season.
Oh, I’m alright. What have you come up with? No surprises I hope.
Our longtime subscribers don’t like surprises.
Heavens no. Only tried and true romantic comedies, murder mysteries, big name melodramas, and their faithful clones for our loyal subscribers.
Loyal…till death do us part. I just wish their estates would stop putting funeral notices in our season subscription envelopes. But enough of that. Did you ask for nominations for the season’s offerings?
Officially yes, but I ignored all of them as usual. You have never seen such new and questionable material from who knows who or who knows where. After all, our mission is to endlessly recreate our subscribers’ early theater experience during their personal season of youth and accomplishment.
(slams hand on table)
Here here. Well let’s not drag this process out. I make a motion to approve your list of plays, whatever they are, to be produced for next year’s season. I assume Beaumont will be abstaining. All in favor say “aye.”
(raises hand as CLARISSA starts to raise hers)
(from off stage)
Wait, wait. I have something to say.
( walking on and up to table, sideways with back to BEAUMONT)
What is the meaning of this intrusion? Just who are you young man?
I am Francisco, the newly elected board member.
(gasp from CLARISSA and THADDEUS)
Sorry I’m late (leaning on table with one hand) but I had a last minute walk in at the piercing parlor.
This is outrageous. Our new board member is the Chamber of Commerce Vice President and a commercially successful graphic artist. Show me some I.D. this instant.
(opening up wallet as THADDEUS looks and drops jaw)
That’s me. I’ve owned the “Here’s the Point” piercing parlor for two years. I’m also a tattoo artist but fewer people can afford original work these days. Every ex con with a stack of templates and an ink gun is cranking out tats. So I’ve branched out to survive.
And that’s what I think this fossilized repertory dinosaur needs to do.
How dare you. Do you realize you are denigrating the time honored repertory model, the flagship of art establishment traditions, serving generations of bon vivants and the upwardly mobile.
(talking into “phone fingers”)
Mr. “Rep”asaurus, Mr. “Rep”asaurus. Your tar pit is waiting.
That’s quite enough sirrr.
You’ve insulted the Regency Repertory’s Chairwoman of the Board.
(CLARISSA pulls him down by the waistband. He jumps back up.)
And she’s held that position longer than anyone.
(CLARISSA pulls him down. He jumps back up.)
She’s been providing leadership here since before you were born.
(CLARISSA pulls him down more forcefully)
Thaddeus, you have made your point.
(jumping back up)
Clarissa’s been rolling out the seasons since before there was television.
(CLARISSA jumps up, pushes THADDEUS down by the shoulders and pushes down a couple more times for emphasis)
Thaddeus, will you shut up.
(hands out as he sits on table sideways looking at CLARISSA and THADDEUS)
Look, I didn’t run for the board to insult people. I came here as a young artist and businessman to offer alternatives to paying a mortgage on this aircraft hanger and making the gas company rich.
(looks out fourth wall, steps away from table, and waves hand slowly)
I see a new market for ever changing forms of performance art, innovative venues that create more excitement than road rage on traffic jammed wheel chair ramps. I see…out of season subscribers replaced by ADD live-in-the-now-online-everything patrons who will outlive Social Security and dead tree newspapers.
We perform important works of theater. What would you have us do? Perform in pizza parlors? We need serious environments to be taken seriously by serious people.
Only ideas should be serious. The ride should be fun and fast moving.
I couldn’t possibly pander to fun seekers. We have our reputation. We have our dignity. We have our class distinction. We have…
….probably never stayed awake through any of your literary waterboarding sessions. Many writers would just love to effectively have their say without having to enter a marathon word pie eating contest. They want to give their audience something to chew on in smaller bites, spicier bites. So it gets tasted, swallowed, and digested without constipation.
(shout in horror and unison)
Ah, sorry. It was just a figure of speech.
I don’t believe we have ever made staying awake from “will call” to curtain call a requirement for participation. As long as a reasonable segment of proper society occasionally attend our productions we feel recognized as authorities in the art’s nobility. Our performances are like church services. You don’t have to absorb everything that’s going on. You don’t even really have to believe. Just show up and be awed by the spectacle unfolding on our respective alters.
I knew there was a reason I don’t chew the cracker anymore. Have you guys ever thought of putting on joint shows together to merge your declining customer bases?
(leans forward, hands on table)
Young man, let me explain what we do here. Our season is like a railroad. Each of our productions is like a stop on the line, everyone at the stops is excited to see the train arrive. We are the trains crew. Actors get on and off at various stations. In between, no one knows what goes on, and they don’t want to know what goes on, in the train to make it all happen. It’s part of the ritual and mystery of …theater.
(looks out fourth wall)
What’s wrong with “this” picture?
(back to meeting)
Look Thaddeus, trains are great for sticking on calendars but no one waits around to take them anymore. Unless you’re a cargo container
(looks at THADEUS up and down. THADDEUS chin out, sucks in stomach)
lose the trains. Why don’t we take a different ride, a wild ride…
(runs around behind THADDEUS quickly surprising him, looking over his shoulder close)
…in a taxi.
(fingers to side of jaw)
Oh my word.
Pretend we’re going downtown for a night out.
I would probably be in the Bentley.
Not tonight. Put your hands on the wheel
(Thaddeus does so reluctantly)
because being in charge, you’re in the driver’s seat. You don’t know me but you’ve got to know my type and other types and what we want. After twelve hours “online” I’m ready for “face time.” There’s a cashed Pell Grant in my pocket and you want some of it. But it’s going to be a long night so find that java joint around here, the one with open mic stand-up and synth boards.
(confused but still pretending to drive)
I don’t know which one you’re talking about.
Doesn’t surprise me. It’s got a bone jarring PA system and coffee so strong it brings dead roaches back to life. But …(shouts) here it is. Pull over.
(THADDEUS turns wheel awkwardly)
I got your card. I’ll call.
(FRANCISCO does quick head jerk to side and back)
(CLARISSA walking up to THADDEUS’s other shoulder tentatively)
Can I come too?
Sure, hop in.
(CLARISSA smiles and looks over THADDEUS’s other shoulder)
Next, we’re off to catch an hours worth of 10 minute plays at the Community Service Festival
And where would that be?
You should know where. Even better, you should have co produced it. They’re four-walling it at the multiplex with the science project carpets. We’re here. We’re out.
(FRANCISCO and CLARISSA quickly turn heads to opposite sides and then back)
We’re back. Driver, turn left. Turn right. Now punch it.
(everyone leans back and screams)
Stop. Look at that “Slam Tonight” banner.
I didn’t know a new “slam” was in town.
(looking at THADDEUS close over his shoulder)
Why didn’t you tell me?
I…. I don’t even know what a slam is. It sounds like that ghastly professional wrestling.
Even better. It’s the professional wrestling of poetry. It’s rip-your-ears-off-and -shove-them-up-your-nostrils poetry. OK, we’re out.
(FRANCISCO and CLARISSA do side to front head turns)
We’re back. It’s late but we’re not done. Go to the warehouse.
Which warehouse? There must be a hundred of them.
“The” warehouse is where all the secret “raves” are held. But tonight there is a multimedia show put together by a couple of defrocked art professors. It’s publicized on certain sites and feeds. Its cutting edge, important, and unapproved. You should be in the loop on these things. Just drop us off. We’ll take the morning bus home.
(steps back as CLARISSA returns to seat)
And that is a taste of what art leadership should be.
But…but what about our loyal subscribers? They will feel abandoned.
Many will adapt and find they like changes in venue and genre. Some will be energized by art as action instead of nostalgia.
(walks over to CLARISSA and puts his arm around her comfortingly)
Others will still be able to enjoy our work on DVDs and TV in the comfort of their own home, within easy reach of a cold Ensure and a fresh Depends.
(CLARISSA wrinkles up face and looks at FRANCISCO sideways)
So how is all this innovation supposed to happen? Do we just flip a switch and the Regency Repertory becomes some monstrous Vaudeville for slackers and yuppies? Out with the old, in with the new? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out?
Just chill out. No, you just let our type of productions and events tag your non profit number and umbrella insurance policy for the rest of the community. Then, gradually, blend them together until the chiropractor stimulus package you call a full length play becomes the weird exception.
Well I for one don’t see any problem in mentoring a little experimentation in addition to our regular season. What do we have to lose?
Only our country club memberships.
All in favor of lending our good name and part of our aircraft hanger to these young upstarts, raise their hand.
(THADDEUS slowly raises his hand after CLARISSA. Then as an after thought, reaches sideways and raises BEAUMONT’s hand also)
(grumbling a little)
Better “it” than us.
(softening, leaning toward Francisco)
Now Francisco, I hope you don’t mind if an old lady drops by your shop.
(pats one of her nostrils)
I’ve always wanted a nose ring.
by Dante DeAmicis
Bernie the Banker: Financier, old money
Wally Wallstreet: Wheeler dealer, new money
Card Girl: Reads and displays placards in a wrestling diva style
Pensioner: Recently retired worker in wheel chair. Trusts her fund managers
Flipper: Average person looking for easy money like the big boys
Last Chance: Honest worker who made bad choices and can’t catch up
NINJA: Stand in for loans with a life of their own
(Two men sitting at a table, frozen, then they animate)
Bernie the Banker: That was a good game. Too bad it can’t be played again. What was the name of it again?
Wally Wallstreet: Vapor Dot Com. But, I have another game here. Its actually the next level of the previous game with many of the same players. And many more who don’t even realize they are playing a game.
Bernie the Banker: What’s it about? I hope its not yet another “betting on nothing” gambit.
Wally Wallstreet: No, its far more complicated. Its about betting on things that are really something else. People bet on other people’s bets. And when people try to take the safe path it becomes the most treacherous course of all. The experts at the last game become stupid at this one. Everything can be bought and sold. In fact, everything must be bought and sold. Once the game starts the price of not playing the game is high. The game is called “Trouble in the Bubble.”
Bernie the Banker: It sounds like the total game, where reality is confounded, the clueless confused, and the desperate are trapped and doomed. But who wins?
Wally Wallstreet: We do, because we not only write the rules but we can change them in the middle of the game or even after the game retroactively. Even if we lose we win. The real losers are the naïve players who think the rules are the same for everyone.
Bernie the Banker: I can hardly wait to start. Call out the first group of pathetic losers..I mean (nudge nudge) players.
Card Girl: (Woman struts to center stack of placards, grabs top placard and holds up card as she walks, smiling, around stack. Repeat for each player.) Our first player is a single mom cruising thru a long bumpy stretch of the “American Dream Highway.” But she sees a sign, “Last Chance to Gas Up on Home Ownership. Pull in Now…. or Never.”
Last Chance: (Walks in outer circle near board, talking before stopping on a space) All I wanted was a home of my own. But my husband lost his job then I lost him. Then I got big-time sick which came with a complimentary bankruptcy. But I’ve been working for two years now at a less than good paying, dead end job. The promised era of big bucks computer jobs for everyone was all pillow talk and my peace dividend was lost in the mail. I have to pull together a future with whatever I can squeeze out of a shrinking paycheck and trash benefits.
Card Girl: Our next piece on the board is a retired cast off from some mega-corp. But at least they rewarded her for her 41 years of back breaking, mind numbing, soul sucking toil with a good pension, powered by rock solid fund investing in only the safest securities…. or so she was told.
Pensioner: I put off the things I really wanted to do because they weren’t “serious.” Working to raise a family and then to get a pension, was serious. Now is supposed to be my time, my quality time. (Looks down at wheelchair) But I don’t seem to have as many options as I thought I would have. At least I have my pension. It’s all I have now.
Card Girl: Player Number 3 doesn’t think he should have to work hard because… well, he’s a player. He likes to spend money and feel important though. Our high roller wants to be inside the board, making the rules to get rich quick. But first he has to buy a ticket and that means playing the insider’s game while still on the outside. Flipping real estate is riding a wave that will lift him over the class barriers effortlessly. Too bad the water bill is due and someone is going to pull the plug.
Flipper: Hard work doesn’t pay. Maybe it never did. Lots of people get money for nothing. Why can’t I be one of them? Real estate seems easy if you play the flip-it game with no money down, then sit back as others make me rich. It’s the American way.
Card Girl: Our final player has status. Actually he is a status and no longer a person at all. He is invisible and has no existence outside his name on a loan application. In fact, his person information is mostly invisible. Normally, this is a deal killer but since this deal is a fabrication created just for loans without substance this person attains the status of the loan type called- N-I-N-J-A. What does NINJA mean? Lets refer to the person before he became a loan.
NINJA: (Runs to performance space, shouts, and poses)
Card Girl: The N-I in NINJA means “No income.”
NINJA: (Shouts and gestures)
Card Girl: The N-J in NINJA stands for “No job.”
NINJA: (More exaggerated shouts and movements)
Card Girl: The A? Or…. assets.
NINJA: (Twirls into his space and freezes)
Bernie the Banker: Which player moves first?
Wally Wallstreet: It doesn’t matter since we determine where they will move and when. When the players had some illusion that hard work or luck moved them about we created pretenses to accommodate them. Now we just give a shove to whoever is closest. (walks to Last Chance and pushes. She stumbles forward three spaces)
Last Chance: (looks around) I want to find out if there’s a first time homeowner program I might qualify for. Maybe a fixer upper? Say is this a bank or a real estate office?
Bernie the Banker: A little of both actually. We don’t quibble about labels anymore. I hate to pry but do you have your FICO score?
Last Chance: What’s that?
Bernie the Banker: It’s a kind of equation that determines how much of a loan you are supposed to qualify for. Ideally we plug numbers about your income, bills, and past into it.
Last Chance: Ideally?
Bernie the Banker: Some people think that since the equation was something thought up by someone they should be able to think up numbers to go into it. Or you can pay someone to come up with a nice set of numbers for you.
Last Chance: Is that legal?
Bernie the Banker: Legal? Technically no. But it’s one of those archaic laws that run counter to the current spirit of deregulation.
Last Chance: I don’t want to lie about making more money than I do.
Bernie the Banker: Think of it as estimating your income potential. We’re not in the finance stone age anymore. No one checks and no one cares about these formalities.
Last Chance: But…but I could be a deadbeat or have an emergency. Aren’t you worried about losing money?
Bernie the Banker: (yawn) Good loans, bad loans, they’re all the same to me. I get my money off the top in commissions, my firm collects fees, then we sell your piece of paper to someone who tries to sell it to someone else. Mostly we’re betting not if but when you will default. It’s like a high stakes football pool.
Last Chance: I don’t want to go to jail. Why isn’t selling a loan you know won’t be paid back fraud?
Bernie the Banker: Because lots of people in respected firms are involved. That makes it a civil matter. Besides, my commission is bigger if I sell your poker chip as a high risk wager. Enjoy your new home while you can. No one is in this game to pay off a house. (walks back to Wally Wallstreet) You didn’t say how we keep the game moving.
Wally Wallstreet: (holds up spotlight) By shining a light where we want the pieces to move. No need to roll dice. People are like moths. They are attracted to light, whatever the source. Whereas players like us are like cockroaches that try to stay out of the light of close scrutiny. (shines light at square in front of Pensioner)
Pensioner: (steps into lighted space labeled “receive pension fund statement” then holds up papers) I’m too old for games. I just want to hold on to what I have. My pension fund says it invests in only the safest investments – Triple A all the way. These are my golden years. Leave chasing rainbows to younger people.
Wally Wallstreet: Silly worker bee. We already got the rainbows up front. She’s going to get the rain on her parade.
Bernie the Banker: I thought pension funds were outside the hustle and bustle of serious investment.
Wally Wallstreet: They were, until we spiced up the pot with a little toxic waste to make the speculation stew more exciting.
Bernie the Banker: Toxic waste loans! How do you get pension funds to buy that junk? Aren’t they smart guys?
Wally Wallstreet: Through the magic of “CDO squared” we transform toxic waste into Triple A securities, approved for widows and orphans.
Bernie the Banker: Sounds diabolical….in a good way. Does it involve forgery?
Wally Wallstreet: (feigns shock) Heavens no. Just… a little innocent math. But it gets us to the same place. (picks up waste basket) Say this garbage can represents our lowest category of loans – the toxic waste. Just as we divided up the whole pool of loans into three categories, we take the lowest category (holds up waste basket), call it a separate pool, and divide it up into categories. The worst (throws out banana peel and tin can) is still toxic waste in this pool but the rest, grading on the new curve, (writes 3 A’s on side of basket) has been divinely heeled into Triple A quality, suitable for courting by fussy pension fund managers.
Bernie the Banker: But wouldn’t the rating agencies alert the fund managers?
Wally Wallstreet: (holds open pocket) Just look in here.
Bernie the Banker: I don’t believe it. You have every rating agency on Wall Street in your pocket. And they all have their hands out, begging for your business.
Wally Wallstreet: And I have the SEC in the other pocket.
Pensioner: I figured the safe and secure pension I’ve been paying into all these years would let me visit all the National Parks I never got a chance to see while I was working. (pause) At least I can still travel.
Bernie the Banker: I don’t see how paying out money to game “has beens” is buttering our bread.
Wally Wallstreet: (pointing to Pensioner) I hope she kept her hiking shoes. They will come in handy two years from now when they prop her up as a Walmart greeter. But, that’s in the future. Give our “wanna be” over there a little il-lumination.
Bernie the Banker: (shines light at square in front of Flipper)
Flipper: (moves into space reading) “ Fly – By – Night – Reality, our motto: duck fast or get goosed.”
Bernie the Banker: (Walks over) What can I do for you?
Flipper: I want to make tons of money in a short period of time without knowing anything or doing anything productive and I was thinking real estate is just the ticket for that ride. Can you help me put something together?
Bernie the Banker: Of course. What you want to do is “flip” residential property.
Flipper: What’s that?
Bernie the Banker: That’s where you buy as many properties as possible, put as little down and make as small payments as possible, then when real buyers and other gamblers, I mean “investors”, push the value up you sell before the serious bills come due. Um…do you have any money for down payments?
Bernie the Banker: Do you have a regular income to make mortgage payments?
Bernie the Banker: Do you have significant equity in other property to use as collateral?
Bernie the Banker: Hmmm. Normally this would be a problem. Fortunately, many lenders would rather “securitize” loans than sit on them till Jesus comes. The lender gets cash up front from someone who gets the stream of payments. Loans are also being used to meet collateral requirements, that is, they’re being treated like cash or T-bills instead of liabilities. Things are a lot looser. Just as you want to flip the property, other people are flipping the loans without any real connection to the original property or the borrowers that spawned them.
Flipper: Just tell me what I have to do to get the gravy train flowing in my direction.
Bernie the Banker: Mostly you have to sign some papers and agree to get caught up with the interest and principle in one or two years. That’s how long you have to flip the property and become an entry level parasite.
Bernie the Banker: Just kidding. Sort of. You don’t need a down payment but to maintain the appearance of a functioning loan you need to pay at least half of the interest on the loan. Can you do that for a year or two before the balloon payments and variable interest rates start getting ugly?
Flipper: Sure, I’ll slap it on my charge card till I find some suckers to flip to. I really don’t feel like the loans are connected to me personally, to tell the truth.
Bernie the Banker: In truth they aren’t. But they have taken on some of your characteristics in assuming a life of their own. They are the mysterious, free living NINJA loans.
NINJA: (does a 10 second routine and freezes in a pose)
Bernie the Banker: (light for Last Chance to step into “card” space)
Last Chance: (reads space) Small Enough to Lose, take a card.
Card Girl: (takes top card saying “Small Enough to Lose” on one side and reads other side) Loan broker rigs appraisal so you’re paying off five hundred thousand dollars for a rusty double wide sinking in the mud. (struts around room so audience can read it too)
Last Chance: (screaming) I thought I was buying a “metallic bungalow close to nature, just needs a woman’s touch.” That’s what the real estate guy said.
Wally Wallstreet: (to Bernie the Banker) She, got more than touched. I’d say you gave her the full treatment.
Bernie the Banker: (nodding, shines light to Pensioner)
Pensioner: (walks to space and reads) “Life goes in Yard Sale”
Card Girl: (repeats routine) Big Al at the Fed cuts Federal Funds Rate from 9 to 3 percent so buddies can go to the cassino. Nest egg investments of CDs and Money Markets take full hit. Sell RV and buy a tent.
Pensioner: (bewildered) But I was counting on that money.
Wally Wallstreet: (to Bernie the Banker) And we were counting on Greenspun to make us “well fed.”
Bernie the Banker: Oh, I get it, fe-ed. (guffawing) The joke is on the geezers. (shines light to Flipper)
Flipper: (walks to space and reads) The Party’s Over
Card Girl: (repeats routine) Cranked open credit spigot running dry. Real estate flippers are turning into floppers, on way to becoming floaters.
Flipper: Just a little temporary sluggishness. I’m staying in for the whole enchilada baby. Easy street here I come, yeah. (makes hammer down with elbow)
Bernie the Banker: (to Wally Wallstreet) I was wondering what the NINJAs are doing. I seem to have lost track of them.
NINJA: (starts warming up)
Wally Wallstreet: Oh, they’re having the time of their life. They got into these kinky “credit default swaps” when you guys bought insurance against them defaulting. It made them look robust and liquid. Of course the insuring companies had no real money to cover these bets.
Bernie the Banker: Saying you have money is just as good. Perception is reality.
Wally Wallstreet: Then they moved into cozy “no documentation” or “low doc” Hedge Funds. Which gave them respectability (NINJA cry) and substance (NINJA cry) even though they were just a poker chip for the Hedge Fund to use in the derivatives game.
Bernie the Banker: What is the basis of that game?
Wally Wallstreet: The hot potato. You know whoever is holding these loans are going to get burned when some monster payment is due at the end of the year or some other specified date. You need to unload them before that date. The game is they could default before that date.
Bernie the Banker: Where else has NINJA been going?
Wally Wallstreet: They got a beauty treatment by some of the most prestigious firms on Wall Street by being packaged with thousands of other bad loans in a trust, plastered with some Triple A make up and sold to pension funds and other institutions. (NINJA strutting sexy) These babies were bombshells in more ways than one.
Bernie the Banker: (Shines light to Last Chance)
Last Chance: (reads space) “Ain’t Love Grand”
Card Girl: (routine) Mortgage payment goes up three hundred dollars because (Surprise!) your fixed rate loan is really an adjustable rate loan. Of course your broker will respect you in the morning.
Last Chance: (shrieks) I don’t have it. If I did I’d put it toward basic repairs in case I have to sell.
Bernie the Banker: (to Wally Wallstreet) She shouldn’t worry about selling. As soon as she defaults I’ll have my stooges in city hall red tag the place for code violations and let one of my cronies pick it up for a song. (shines light to Pensioner)
Pensioner: (reads space) “Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out.”
Card Girl: (routine) “Ten year T Bills go from 6 percent to 2 percent in retirement portfolio. Triple A part of fund looks like residue from a trip to Vegas. Practice saying ‘Would you like fries with that?’”
Wally Wallstreet: I wonder how many pension fund managers will be working with her at the drive through window.
Bernie the Banker: (shines light to Flipper)
Flipper: (reads space) “Your Flight’s Been Canceled.”
Card Girl: (routine) “Big honking option-arm and balloon payments are due. The live grenade in your hand has exploded. You are not too big too fail. Move back in with your parents.”
Bernie the Banker: He better hurry. One of his would be suckers might be renting his old room.
Wally Wallstreet: I have a few thoughts on this. (steps away and does slam poem)
(Note: Slam can be cut and replaced with suitable line)
I smelled him before I saw him
A personal hygiene war zone
Recently bathed two weeks ago
Recently shaved two months ago
Sores and rashes- a 3-D Triple-A road map
Clothes slept in again and again… and again
Encased within a winter program overcoat
He got two, for being a veteran
It hurts to move, but moved on he gets again and again
If only dumpster diving were an Olympic sport
Everybody gets what they deserve
Step right up, all you suckers
Double your money, double it bubble it, double it bubble it
Real estate banners scream “Our best year ever.”
Wheelin’ and dealin’- Go! Go! Go!
This is the lever-aaaage
You don’t have to work, you don’t have to slave
Fast and easy, magic words, presto-chango
No money down, fixer upper, super duper pooper scooper
Just flip it, flip it, flip it while the music’s playing
Flip it while it’s hot, so you can laugh when it’s not.
Every body gets what they deserve
So, you, blew it, waited too long and blew it
But don’t be blue, don’t get the blues
Don’t look down when you’re out
Stay movin’, you don’t look blue when you’re movin’
Stay movin’, eyes straight, goin’ someplace…. some how
Stay sharp, hide pain, don’t space
Always beware, the other blue
Hunters of the abyss, of no brain no pain people
Words like glue in their mouth, drool of the fool
A diabetic? A foreign language?
A certified misfiring whack job?
No excuses. Zap goes the tazer
Hide your blues from the blue
Your doctors won’t protect you
Ha, ha, ha from the laughing tazer tyrant
You’re all tweekers, freakers, and drunks
Zap, crackle, pop, till you piss you your pants
Who knew, the blues where half of black and blue
Everybody gets what they deserve
Sick all the time, everything hurts
Something’s very very wrong inside
Take a number, take a chair, gather ’round the ER camp-out
Drive by doctors, shooting pens behind clipboard shields
A 3 minute egg gets more time
No insurance? Then it’s a virus. No, you’re a virus
Rx sacrament anointed, you are blessed
Take this $5 script to Wal-Mart and sin no more
Everybody gets what they deserve
Listened to the Man- dummy
Listened to your parents- dummy
Got processed in college
An entry level ticket to a corporate job
Visit your job, when you’re in China
Ignored other voices, voices inside, voices outside
Politicians and bosses called them losers
Television said not ready for prime-time
Did the kid thing. They hate you. You hate them.
Gave them stuff. Gave yourself stuff.
Bankruptcy! Foreclosure! Eviction!
Three generations, living off grandpa’s twice cut pension
Everybody gets what they deserve
Listen and obey when the favored ones speak
Members of the club, leaders of their class
Schooled in connections and gentleman’s C’s
Fast tracked fortunes, work optional
Entitled to a title, positioned for position
Always a seat, close to the fire
Smooth talkin, dirty dealin, desk job dandy
Fast tracked, slicked back “leader of the pack”
So says the media, so says god
Kiss my ring, kiss my ass
Kiss your useless eater, peasant life good-bye
Everybody gets what they deserve
NINJA: (screams as he falls back behind curtain)
Wally Wallstreet: (reaches behind curtain and picks up empty NINJA costume) He’s evaporated.
Bernie the Banker: I never thought he was wrapped too tight.
Card Girl: Hey, I still have more cards.
Wally Wallstreet: Give them to us. We’ll add them to the ones up our sleeve.
Bernie the Banker: (guffaws)
Card Girl: (hands over cards to Wally Wallstreet and walks off stage)
Wally Wallstreet: (reads first one) Congress passes law requiring defaulters to give up their first born to the military ninety days after foreclosure.
Last Chance: (in panic) But I only have one child.
Bernie the Banker: Oh quit your liberal whining.
Wally Wallstreet: (2nd card) In response to pension fund collapse, a Chamber of Commerce bipartisan committee recommended that Social Security retirement age be increased to eighty-five…
Pensioner: (indignant) I can’t work till I’m eighty-five. Are you crazy?
Bernie the Banker: (reading over Wally Wallstreet’s shoulder) Slackers will be turned over to the new Bureau for Medical Experiments.
Wally Wallstreet: (3rd card) The Supreme Court releases two new decisions. Expanding on previous rulings, cars are now people and can drive down sidewalks with their screaming equals. In a clarification of their “money is speech” position the justices wrote, it naturally follows that “money is votes”, requiring one dollar/one vote for true universal suffrage.
Flipper: But I don’t have any money now. I lost it in your poker game.
Bernie the Banker: No money, no voting chips. That’s free market democracy. You’re lucky we let you freeloaders breath our air.
Wally Wallstreet: The President announced that Guantanamo will no longer be used to confine uncharged terrorists to make room for the base being turned into a defaulters prison run by and for Wall Street.
Bernie the Banker: Humph, I wish he didn’t cave in about including writers critical of our creative finance devices.
Wally Wallstreet: Reluctantly, the Speculator in Chief allowed a loan modification provision to be added to the economic expulsion action. Borrowers will be allowed to make up the difference between what they owe and the real market value of their homes by surrendering three major body organs and either an arm or a leg.
Bernie the Banker: (emphatic) Socialist! We’re entitled to an arm and a leg not one or the other.
Flipper: What about you guys at the top who designed and ran all these scams? Isn’t anything going to be done about you?
Wally Wallstreet: (smugly) They have done something about us. They gave us billion dollar bonuses as we tanked the economy, enough Toxic Asset Relief Program money to buy a dozen third-world countries and new tax credits, paid for by you naive muppets.
Last Chance: This country doesn’t have that kind of money. Our standard of living is in the dumps and the safety net has more holes than the roads of Clearlake.
Wally Wallstreet: Oh, there’s still a few basic social programs we can slash to the bone. We deserve it. After all, we are the ruling class or we wouldn’t be ruling. And remember, just because you and your pathetic entitlements may not be enough to cover our class setbacks that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get it from your children…and your children’s children.
Pensioner: (shaking fist) We won’t be fooled again. What gives you the right. What gives you the power to take what little average people have to pay for your rich boys games?
Wally Wallstreet: (calmly) Its all part of our philosophy, no really its the religion, of Hooverism.
Pensioner: Hooverism? You mean as in President Herbert Hoover?
Wally Wallstreet: No, Hoover as in Hoovers. (to Bernie the Banker) Send in the Hoovers.
Bernie the Banker: (shouts) Send in the Hoovers!
(Card Girl and NINJA come in wearing similar clothes with vacuum cleaners and start sucking valuables from bodies of board pieces.)
Pensioner: My wallet.
Last Chance: My car keys.
Flipper: My loose change.
(lights down, characters leave except two men at table, lights back up)
Bernie the Banker: Well, that was fun. What game shall we play next?
Wally Wallstreet: We can play the same game over with new board pieces. Or we can wait awhile and use the same pieces. Trust me, they will not remember a thing.
SOUP SISTERS (political skit)
By Dante DeAmicis
GERTRUDE: Assertive older woman
WILLOW: Reserved older woman
TIMOTHY: Man, 40ish
INSPECTOR COLIN: Sadistic older man
SETTING: A vendor cart with a large cooking pot and spice rack on top. Sign “Soup Sisters – Spiced to Order” sign on cart. Large cardboard tube with “TRASH” written on it.
(GERTRUDE taking inventory of spice rack.)
Willow, where’s the cats claw? I thought you already filled the spice rack.
I did. I can’t get any more cats claw till Tuesday.
Oh wormwood. So what are we supposed to do if Mrs Eelsbreath with the diverticulitis comes by? Or, how about arthritic Mr. Stubblewart? What can we suggest he add to his soup?
Don’t have a spell Gertrude. We have plenty of nettles, calendula leaves, and ginger root That should do for most of the week’s culinary situations for cats claw.
If we must, we must. But I hate not having a full selection of herbs, I mean,
spices. Are we ready to consecrate the new stock batch?
The pot is stirred and the soup is hot.
(sisters hold hands, heads bowed with kettle between them)
(in unison) Oh blessed be pot of soup. Bring these leaves, roots, and grains together at the marriage of fire and water, to release the power of the Sun, the energy of the earth, and the forces of living water, to heal the flesh and sooth the minds of those travelers seeking solace and sustenance at your sisters’ humble alter.
(sisters high five, bump knuckles, elbows, hips, “woo woo woo”)
Oh, good day Timothy. How are you today?
(Slowly walks up.) I’m OK, I guess. I’ll have a to-go order for my mom. She has um…. the same tastes.
(WILLOW serves up soup and measure spices in it.)
She’s had the same tastes for some time. Maybe she should taste some more. (Sprinkling in more flakes.)
Thanks a lot, both of you. (Takes bag and walks away.)
(INSPECTOR COLIN stands up quickly out of phoney trashcan. GERTRUDE and WILLOW scream.)
Excuse me ladies, but I couldn’t help overhear you use the word (checks clipboard) cats claw a while ago. Now, as I recall, cats claw is a so called medicinal herb. You wouldn’t be back in the unauthorized practice of medicine business, would you? I would truly regret having to report to my superiors at the FDA that you have just blown your last chance to stay out of prison.
(Flustered.) Oh no, no. Silly me. It was just a slip of the tongue. The old words are still in my head even though I meant to say something entirely different.
Inspector Colin, I thought you retired after making a career of harassing us and shutting down our herb business.
Not quite. I’m still working part time on old files and you ladies are a very old file. My last professional accomplishment will be to correct the misplaced leniency shown you two in past actions. Good day…. for now. (Walks off with trash tube.)
Well that was unpleasant. I hope he didn’t scare anyone off.
I wonder how many years he’s been impacted. He must be full of toxins.
Willow, we’re just going to have to tighten up our script around the soup. Turn our “curbside manner” about health problems into idle chit-chat and small talk, while we pretend to be occupied with something else. Then, when we take a soup order we don’t mention anything about what it is good for.
(Walking up briskly.) I’m sorry, I need …. I need to talk about something else.
(WILLOW points to soup, points to mouth, then wags finger while pantomiming “No, no.”)
(Nods) You know my partner James has been sick? Well, he’s real sick. And he has no insurance and the money’s gone.
(Cautiously) I remember you talking about James’ …. problem. I’m sure one of the promised political solutions will bare fruit before it’s too late. Do you have any plans to make James more comfortable during the wait?
(pauses) I was thinking he might like to curl up with a good book and a bowl of soup.
(Working with soup and herbs.) I have just the soup … for a good book. (Hands bag over to Timothy.)
(TIMOTHY walks off stage. GERTRUDE and WILLOW look after him in silence for about 15 seconds.)
(INSPECTOR COLIN staggers onto stage clutching his chest, wearing a Groucho Marx disguise.)
My heart, my heart. It’s the irregular rhythms again and I forgot my nitro. (Steadies himself against soup cart.) Please, good women, is there something you can give me for my temporary emergency?
(Holds up cell phone.) I can call 9-1-1 for you. That’s it.
Never mind. I just found a loose pill in my pocket. (Walks off.)
Sometimes I wish we were farmers again. Back when we only had to obey the seasons of the year and the cycles of the Moon.
We had problems with the locals even then. Remember how our late night garden club had the churches and newspaper foaming at the mouth?
Not a big deal. A few paranoid letters to the editor and a couple Hellfire and Brimstone sermons. We were the featured scapegoat of the month for the corruption of children and leading women astray.
What about the spy they sent to our full Moon meeting and the fuss he made about us opening with our hand holding circle? He called your poem about the wind playing music in the trees and the falling rain massaging the soil demonic.
So I got a bad review. I noticed Mr. Secret Agent didn’t stick around when the shovels were passed out for the compost turning lesson.
(INSPECTOR COLIN walks on with cane wearing large, obviously fake beard with elastic band.)
Oh, oh, oh my lumbago, oh my gout, oh my bleeding ulcers, oh my gall stones, oh my bronchitis, oh my migraine, oh my dizzy spells. Oh won’t someone do something for a poor old man’s ailments and infirmities? (Looks up at Gertrude imploringly.)
(Pulling INSPECTOR COLIN’S beard down a few inches as she looks him close in the face.) No. (Let’s go of beard.)
(INSPECTOR COLIN storms off in a huff.)
(Working over soup pot.) We’ve still got half of this batch left. That should last the rest of the day.
(Walking by.) See you Tuesday, sisters. I’m off to the Medical Bud Barn on my way out of town. (Holds up paper) Stress from those other problems, you know. Say, why don’t you carry any baked goods? An Alice B. Toklas brownie would go great with your soup.
Yeah sure. Then we’d end up with two federales jumping out of garbage cans.
(Looks all around) I’m shocked! Shocked! Do you hear me? We would never for an instant consider doing anything that would violate the prohibitions of our wise and lawful regulators.
(WILLOW pantomimes hand to ear then sweeps arm all around)
Don’t you realize the chaos that would result if people took their health and well being into their own hands? Say no more. Say no more.
Suit yourself. But things don’t seem too chaotic over at the Bud Barn. Down right mellow in fact. Keep your soup hot. Bye. (Walks off)
Speaking of “baked goods.”…I remember when we included Cannabis before it was singled out. Now it’s sort of OK and we’re singled out.
I know it’s a good thing but it still bugs me. Every squid in town with an ingrown nose hair can get a legal ticket to the Reefer Madness show while we …. are still treated like some terrorist threat for our knowledge of plants people walk by every day on their way to the pill pushers.
(INSPECTOR COLIN sneaking up in trash can, one step at a time.)
Got your script? Take two doobies and call me in the morning…late in the morning. A suit would never say this but we could. You don’t need no stinkin badges to do this green business. Just fill out a few forms, rent a dumpy storefront for the club and – praise the Goddess – we’re legit. And we could keep doing soup on the side with a lot fewer hassles.
Done deal. Enough of this cat and mouse game. We’re off the street as of right now.
(Grabs pot of soup and walks over to trashcan, that has now made it to the cart, and dumps the soup in the can.)
Yellow Grease, A Play in Two Acts
by Dante DeAmicis
SUV MAN – a symbol of consumer attachment. Does not interact with characters as part
of the story. Age: Late 20’s to early 30’s with insecure, having-just-made-it look.
“SUV ON BOARD NEWS” ANCHOR JUSTINE THYME– symbol of the partnership between corporate media and consumerism. Authoritative but animated woman. The symbol interacts with other characters only on its own terms – the broadcast set.
BIO FUEL DEPARTMENT (BFD) ADMINISTRATOR ROSY FUTURA– middle aged technocrat woman with objective but guarded manner. One news interview. Same actor could also play MISS BIRKENSTOCKER.
METHYL and ETHYL – clever high school seniors who enjoy manipulating the system to do “kid stuff.” METHYL is a jovial nerd. ETHYL is more dramatic with a “Goth Lite” look.
BIOFOOL – self described, operator of “Right Livelihood” independent bio fuel station. Thin, constantly in motion verbally and physically, man or woman who responds as the wise fool to detach from folly and suffering.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER – woman environmental studies teacher near retirement. Swallowed her idealism on the outside and conformed. It made her stern and bitter to all outward appearances.
DR. STINE – middle aged professional opportunist preying on insecurities and moral weaknesses of the public. Brazenly assumes everyone holds egoism as the ideal.
IGO SNATCH – unskilled, slow witted blue collar worker. Enjoys doing dirty work as way to gain limited acceptance in spite of employer abuse.
BARON BURGERMEISTER – founder of “Build A Burger” chain. Late middle age, big and heavy man. Takes a grand view of himself and his long range agendas. Society is just a means for his ends.
CONGRESSMAN REMO VASELINO – Blow dried, smarmy, amoral, expedient, always smiling. Probably any age man over 30 of the right type.
TENDER MERCY – administrator for Consolidated Social Rejects Agency (“A NIMBY friendly non profit”), small stature woman over 30. She is conflicted and it shows, drawn to those in need and wants to be their advocate but intensely hates them at the same time. Real feelings sometimes explode through her caring veneer.
Mr. POST – associate of Backwater Cleaning Service. Trim expressionless man with composite assassin, black ops, dictator liaison, “men in black” persona.
TIME: The near future, possibly the present.
PLACE: The wavering boundary between the suburbs and the inner city.
A Note on Yellow Grease Sets
Most of the sets are intended to remain on the stage as part of the side and back walls in a “court” arrangement. Several sets are meant to occupy their own section of one of the walls as a “window”, painted cues, a banner backdrop, or a pull out panel from the wall. Cut outs can serve as two dimensional props/sets such as for cars.
The center stage sets are simple different things added to the top of a table with chairs to create an interview stage, shop, office desk, or as the support structure for the “sauna.” The only major prop that serves as part of sets is the two red barrels that get trucked around a lot.
To help focus on a particular set section of a wall I recommend strings of LED lights that can be turned on for a particular section when needed.
Yellow Grease Act One Scene 1
(SUV Man intently polishing, inspecting, and fussing with cut out panel of a SUV. He becomes more and more aroused by such close contact with his “baby” and goes from a cheerful attitude to a whispered lover’s tone: “Do you like that? How about this? Where would you like the soap?”, etc. LED lights on console come on and he looks in at “On Board SUV News” and freezes for duration of broadcast. The “broadcast” takes place on the stage to side of SUV MAN and more forward with the “SUV ON Board News Anchor” and her guest. Lighting indicates which part of stage is active.)
SUV ON BOARD NEWS ANCHOR JUSTINE THYME: This is JUSTINE THYME for SUV On Board News. Today I am talking with ROSY FUTURA director of the Bio Fuels Department in Washington. First, could you tell us just what is the BFD?
BFD DIRECTOR ROSY FUTURA: Of course. The Bio Fuels Department is the new federal organization created to change our energy policy from pulling things out of the earth to burn to squeezing stuff out of living things to burn.
JUSTINE: Give us some examples of these new fuels?
ROSY: They aren’t new Justine. These are all fuels desperate people have used and still are using….methane, alcohol, and of course bio diesel.
JUSTINE: So what is the purpose of doing that?
ROSY: Energy conservation Justine. We believe that if fuel either smells like something died or reminds them of the time they got the dry heaves from cheap rotgut they will use less fuel.
JUSTINE: Wouldn’t people just keep filling up with gasoline and regular diesel? ROSY: They would if they could. But we are going to shortly start rationing the Earth
juice to the amount a resident of Belgium uses in their moped per week. (Rosy and Justine freeze long enough for SUV MAN to unfreeze and react)
SUV MAN: (unfreezes and reacts with horror) No….no…..noooooo. This can’t be happening.
I gotta drive. I gotta drive and drive and drive with my big hungry baby. (puts arm through window as if consoling his SUV. Continues to sob quietly)
JUSTINE: I think Americans would vote Jesus Christ out of office if he tried to limit their driving.
ROSY: We’re not limiting driving Justine. We’re just limiting gasoline. There is no limit to the amount and type of bio fuel Americans can buy on the free market. In fact, there
are several enterprising entrepreneurs that are launching bio diesel businesses as we speak.
(ROSY and JUSTINE freezes as SUV MAN stops sobbing when he hears this, turns around looking up, hands outstretched, begins a broad smile as he takes a couple steps toward audience)
SUV MAN: Yes…yes….I can still drive like a real man. Life….is still worth living. (SUV MAN runs back to polish SUV with renewed vigor as ROSY and JUSTINE
JUSTINE: Thank you ROSY for joining us on “SUV ON BOARD NEWS.”
ROSY: My pleasure.
(fade out end of scene. News anchor’s table moved to center stage. Distillation props added to top of table.)
(METHYL and ETHYL are slouched in chairs at opposite ends of their workshop table.
They are holding something in beakers. They seem pleased with themselves.)
METHYL: Here “test” this. See if you think it’s a senior project winner. (hands beaker to ETHYL. She takes it and drinks, gasps, and coughs)
ETHYL: (recovers) That’s the best yet. It goes down like red hot ball bearings with nuances of paint thinner. What’s this batch from?
METHYL: Beet juice. I kept all the notes for our report.
ETHYL: Mom always said to eat my beets. But when she cooked them they didn’t make
my face feel numb.
METHYL: We won’t be using the immersion heater and bucket still much longer. I finished the column for the mash tank out back. (reaches down under table and lifts up a clear tubular device. Holds it in his lap smiling.)
ETHYL: (mock surprise) Oooo It’s so big. What will it do?
METHYL: This bronze wool packed baby has a 13 to 1 height to diameter ratio to give
us 160 proof.
ETHYL: That’s what I call….hard.
METHYL: (ignores double-entendre) I could have kept it out of sight with a 9 to 1, still knocking out 140 proof
ETHYL: Nahh. If you got it flaunt it.
METHYL: Column size only makes sense as far as 160. If you want to go up further…. (ETHYL starts jumping up and down in chair)
ETHYL: Yes, yes go up farther.
METHYL: ….then we will have to use molecular sieves filled with synthetic Zeolite or
vacuum distillation that will take us all the way up to (emphasis) 194 proof! ETHYL: (feigns a swoon) I…I don’t know if I can take all that.
METHYL: (straight faced) It will probably dissolve the mercury in your fillings. But that’s for another class. Right now, (acts mock serious) we’re making alcohol bio fuel for Miss Birkenstocker’s Environmental Studies Class. (they both give each other exaggerated wink nod, wink nod)
(ETHYL takes another gulp and coughs)
METHYL: Don’t drink it all. I have to save some to pour in dad’s minivan as part of our cover. Remember, the best way to hide something is right out in the open.
ETHYL: (looks thoughtful) I wonder how many other people are hiding stuff right out in the open.
(METHYL looks worried for a moment, takes a big gulp from his beaker, starts coughing as scene fades out)
(in front of the Bio Fool Multi-fuel Station, the Bio Fool is doing some weird interpretive stretching as he holds a fuel nozzle. With gas can in hand, a tired, desperate looking SUV MAN approaches the Bio Fool.)
SUV MAN: (slams down can in front of BIO FOOL. Indignant) They won’t let me have any more of the good stuff this week. My Ruder Intruder is not a moped. What do you got that won’t blow up my engine?
BIO FOOL: (scratches his head with nozzle as if thinking, then gestures with nozzle as he talks) Well….we just got a load of E-85 in – 15% gasoline and 85% alcohol made from this year’s wine grape glut. Just think, you can be driving on the same grapes that went into expensive hangovers. If you spill some on a rag and get a good huff going you can detect nuances of old money. (holds out rag from back pocket as SUV MAN waves it away)
SUV MAN: I have a diesel, you fool.
BIO FOOL: (feigns indignant) That’s BIO FOOL to you.
SUV MAN: I traded in gas for diesel thinking I would escape all this non sense. BIO FOOL: In that case, I have good news and bad news for you.
SUV MAN: (getting impatient) Look! All I care about is getting some of that phony diesel to get by with for a couple days.
BIO FOOL: We carry two choices of bio diesel. The first one is made from plants that people eat. But since there’s a famine going on in some places not under the benevolent control of U.S. supported dictators, some of the crop has been diverted for food. (mock outrage) Can you believe it? Go figure. So we’re temporarily out of plan A. That’s the bad news.
SUV MAN: (getting annoyed) Why should I care about their problems, I have my own. Plan B! What’s plan B?
BIO FOOL: ( looks around furtively before leaning toward SUV MAN) I get it from a company called MoGo. They take recycled fryer oil, fats from slaughterhouses, and other animal sources they say is proprietary information to create this stuff called yellow grease. That’s what is processed into their bio diesel. The end product is just as good but the company is creepier than a Catholic Priest in a toy store. (shudders)
SUV MAN: (slams wall behind BIO FOOL and says earnest and emphatic) Whatever they have to do to keep my tires rolling is fine with me. Fill em up.
( BIO FOOL dips nozzle for a couple seconds in each can. Collects a green bill as SUV MAN grabs the cans)
BIO FOOL: (lurches forward and throws up hands) Wait! I think I was just goosed by my muse. (SUV MAN ignores him and walks off stage with his cans as BIO FOOL begins Limerick)
A man with continuing need To find fuel for his SUV steed It was never enough
When the going got rough
It gobbled him up for the feed.
(strikes a “ta-da” pose as lights dim)
(women working at desk with “Environmental Studies Department” sign on it. METHYL and ETHYL walk in a little sheepishly)
METHYL: (nervously) Did you want to see us Miss Birkenstocker?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (stops working and looks up at METHYL and ETHYL)
(ominously) Yessss. Have a seat you two.
(METHYL and ETHYL sit down as BIRKENSTOCKER gets up and paces behind them as she talks)
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (talking slowly and evenly at first. gradually faster and more emotional) I was a little concerned about your progress on your …..ah, Bio Fuel Project. I’ve been hearing the most amazing rumors…rumors about some highly unorthodox testing you and other students have been doing with your finished products. I was so worried in fact that I decided to make an unannounced visit to your shop during my prep period. I must say I was verrrry impressed. (METHYL and ETHYL begin to squirm painfully) In addition to lip prints on lab apparatus that reeked of moonshine and a bucket where someone had gotten very sick in, I found these (quickly grabs several books off her desk and slams them down as she reads their titles) “Grandpa McCoy’s Backyard Still Making” (slam) “Wine from Fruits and Vegetables – 101 Recipes” (slam) “The White Lightning Guru” (slam) and this one is my favorite, “How to Conceal Alcoholic Beverage Production from Clueless Authorities.” I guess that would be me. (slam)
ETHYL: (quickly)(points to books) Those were just for inspiration. What’s wrong with letting our imaginations run a little wild to keep from getting bored with this (waves arm dismissively) Bi O Foo El stuff?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (getting angry) I’ll tell you what’s wrong with (sarcastically) “letting your imagination run wild.” Someone has been injecting cafeteria oranges with high proof goof juice and selling them for two bucks a shot. They are dangerously flammable. Students have been getting sick from eating oranges between all their classes.
METHYL: (to ETHYL) “Two – Buck – Up – Chuck”…Kind of has a ring to it, don’t you think? (ETHYL shrugs)
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (leaps behind METHYL and ETHYL and grabs them both by the collar and shakes them. They scream, startled)
(loudly) You two “haven’t” been thinking. The alcohol has been traced to your school project. I stuck my neck way out and said someone was siphoning your alcohol fuel. You weren’t guilty of anything but poor security. (lets go of them and she walks back to desk)
METHYL: (aside to ETHYL) Sounds a little like the “my dog got hammered on my homework.” excuse.
ETHYL: (sushes him up)
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (evenly) It’s over for you two. I’m shutting your little
speak-easy down. Box up everything ….(looks them right in the eye) or else. ETHYL: (whiny) But…but that was going to be half our grade. You set us up.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: The only “set ups” were the limes, soda, and ice trays I saw at your shop.(pads fingers together)But I have another project I’ve put together on short notice as a substitute. (holds out hands in “stop” gesture) No, no don’t thank me. Of course it won’t be as glamorous as rum running but grade-beggars can’t be choosers.
ETHYL: (suspiciously) What kind of substitute?
METHYL: (defensively) It’s not one of those lame cooking with cardboard solar oven jokes is it?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (smiles evilly) No, I think we’ll keep you in the bio fuel field. But in a way that’s more, shall we say “embedded” in the community.
ETHYL: (to METHYL) I don’t like the sound of that.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: The bio diesel process has expanded restaurant grease trap collections to make yellow grease from more and more (looks distasteful) unconventional sources. (picking up tempo) I’ve arranged internships for you at Dr. Stine’s liposuction clinic.
METHYL and ETHYL: (shout in unison) What!? METHYL: He’s the mad fat sucker.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: Which brings me to what you as a team will be doing. Twice a week you will assemble and package all Dr. Stine’s extracted fat for pick up by MoGo Bio Diesel.
ETHYL: (shocked) Yuck gross, yuck gross gross gross. Why are you doing this to us?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: Both of you need grounding in the brave new real world of bio diesel. You’ll make contacts and get leads to follow the whole process. Mostly you’ll crack the books for the technical stuff…the way you did with alcohol.
METHYL: (defiant) I won’t do it. And you can’t make us.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (calmly) Nooo. But I can send you to Continuation School
with the rest of the substance abusers. And you won’t get to graduate with your friends. METHYL and ETHYL: (look at each other. don’t say anything)
(End of scene.)
(The back room of Dr. Stine’s liposuction clinic. METHYL and ETHYL are standing around waiting. They don’t look too happy. Dr. Stine strides in, greets them with a quick handshake, and gets down to business. There is a wheelbarrow, a large red barrel, and two small shovels behind them. The wheelbarrow is filled with some kind of yellow glop.)
DR. STINE: (smiling formally, holds out hand) You must be METHYL and ETHYL. METHYL: I’m afraid so.
DR. STINE: Your job will be pretty straightforward. But first let me tell you a little about how important closing the cycle with my practice has been for the environment. The new shift toward operating a green business is a stupendous boon for marketing. Especially in my profession which is maliciously accused of catering to people’s
insecurities and lack of self-control. “Just another fixation of the me me me culture”, they say. (putting his hand up for an aside) Just between you and me I’m in favor the “me” culture…Unless the “me” is you. Then the “me” wouldn’t be “me” so I would have to pretend I’m for “you” because your pursuit of “me” would support my “me” focus even though your “me” is a “you” as far as my “me” is concerned. See?
(METHYL and ETHYL shake their head or put their hand up to it confused)
DR. STINE: Oh, never mind. Here let me show you where getting people lean becomes green. And you will start the process here as my “bio diesel interns.” I’ve already gotten positive publicity for this mentoring outreach. (makes a quick move to grab a shovel in each hand and holds them out to METHYL and ETHYL who take them, looking at them as if they are some kind of alien artifact) You will move this medical waste (points to wheelbarrow) to this Biofuel Resource Collection Container, (becoming more dramatic) transforming it from a hazardous material which has to be either incinerated or piled on a rusty barge and sunk in the ocean in the dead of night (emphasis) to…. a “socially responsibly resource.”
(METHYL and ETHYL look between DR. STINE, the wheelbarrow, and each other with disgust and disbelief as DR STINE talks)
DR. STINE: (cheerily) Carry on interns. (begins walking to other side of stage) I’m going to be recording my new clinic video over here. Don’t mind me.
(METHYL and ETHYL begin reluctantly shoveling fat into barrel and keep shoveling as DR STINE performs video spot, showing disgusted body language and making muffled “ugh” sounds.)
(off camera voice) “Just start any time DR STINE.”
DR. STINE: (smile gets broader) Hi, I’m DR. STINE, founder and spiritual inspiration for the Hippo Lippo Clinic. Many people have low self esteem and feel guilty about their excess baggage, especially the steamer trunks. But I’ve helped thousands of people to realize that the “real” person is “inside” those unwanted layers of all-you-can-eat-buffets, crying to get out.
People are superficially judged by what they look like. So why not superficially become a new, vibrant person. That sucking sound you hear is not the last trickles of our economy going down the drain but the banishing of gallons of lifestyle limiting Triglycerides at Dr. Stine’s Hippo Lipo Clinic.
Ladies: Become the bodacious mail order bride of hubby’s dreams.
Guys: If you “look” prosperous before you “are” prosperous you can go from “Flabio” to Fabio in no time.
Rekindle the romantic magic before the days of broken furniture.
And, for the next month I have a Valentine’s Day Special. Show that special someone standing in front of the refrigerator that less… is… more. For less than the cost of buying
an extra seat on an airliner you get a massage, aroma therapy spa, and a pedicure for those beautiful feet that she will soon be able to see again. All while highly qualified….and background checked, liposuction technicians are painlessly transporting the old her to a greener future in the MoGo BioDiesel Program. And if you act now, I’ll throw in a month’s supply of designer compression bandages to collapse those now evacuated “fat hotel” rooms into the slinky form of an imperious over paid supermodel. Remember, at Dr. Stine’s Hippo Lippo Clinic we don’t care if the glass is half empty or half full of yellow grease. I say, “Suck it all out.” You WILL be “looking FINE” at Dr. Stine’s. (Freezes smile for a moment then breaks) OK, that’s a wrap. (exits stage quickly)
(METHYL and ETHYL throw down shovels after DR STINE leaves and collapse into chairs)
ETHYL: I feel sick. Maybe Continuation School isn’t so bad after all.
METHYL: (feigning concern) Maybe you just need a little liposuction. You know, you
have been putting on a little weight lately?
(ETHYL grabs one of the shovels and chases him off the stage with it.)
(End of scene)
(METHYL and ETHYL driving in their car cut out after shift at DR STINES)
ETHYL: That was awful. I can’t believe we’re going back there. All I learned so far is what phonies important people are.
METHYL: We did learn it was a good idea not to eat before smelling all that human fat. I would have hurled. But I really am hungry now. You?
ETHYL: Yeah, a little. Pull into the Build A Burger. I’ll get something off the Snack Attack Menu.
(METHYL makes turning motion and stops under Build A Burger drive up window.)
(off camera voice: “Can I take your order. I’ll just sit here and work on my Sudoku until you’re ready.”)
METHYL: Yeah, I’m ready wise guy. It’s not like anything ever changes around here.
ETHYL: (to METHYL) Watch it! You know what these places do to people’s food who piss them off. I once “complained complained complained” about all the carbon monoxide I was breathing in their “crawl up” line and I found three curly black hairs, a green booger, and something slimy I’m sure wasn’t mayonnaise in my Gag-In-The Bag meal.
METHYL: That wasn’t here. This place has cameras everywhere. (mock stuffy) The help wouldn’t dare compromise Build A Burger’s solid reputation…unless, (conspiratorially) the management itself was part of a conspiracy to tamper with our food.
(they both mock scream then start laughing)
ETHYL: (recovering) All right, hurry up and order before you get me thinking.
METHYL: Hello? You there? I’ll have…. a Thrombo Combo….
(off camera voice) Would you like to “hella size” that?
METHYL: Nahhh… and make the drink a cherry Big Suck. And ahhh… from the Wide Load Menu I’ll have a Triple Gutbuster..
(off camera voice) Would you like cheese with that? METHYL: Yeah, sure.
(voice) Would you like extra cheese with that? METHYL: Well…OK.
(voice) Would you like extra extra cheese with that?
METHYL: Nahhh. I’m on a diet. I also want a pork out size of Belly Skin Crusties with about 10 packets of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Sauce. (remembering) Oh! And a cherry Bloat Float for dessert. I like cherry. (turns to ETHYL) What do you want?
ETHYL: (leaning over toward window) I’m not very hungry. I’ll just get the Bubble Butt Bacon Bomb, a bag of Mystery Meat Treats, and um…something to drink…a Chugga Chugga size of KooKoo Kola…um, What’s that special drink offer?
(voice) That’s the free Build A Burger shoulder strap that goes with every 500 ounce Tanker Size drink. It’s supposed to reduce the chance of getting a hernia lifting it.
ETHYL: Nahh, I’m not very thirsty. I’ll just take the hundred ounce Chugga Chugga. METHYL: (interrupts) Hey, what’s that “Winner of the BFD Green Award” about?
(voice) We just got that. Build A Burger was named the number one contributor of yellow grease in the nation.
(METHYL and ETHYL look at each other open mouthed for a moment, then scream for real, throwing back like they’re flooring it to get away, acceleration, wheel screech)
(End of scene.)
(Sauna room of the Armenian Cove Resort. background sign says “The Armenian Cove – The Resort for the Better Sort. Welcome All Ruthless Men and Vicious Women”. The “sauna” is a roll of mobile home skirting around four chairs with a fog machine below eye level. Four of “the better sort” are in the sauna – Baron Burgermeister. with his ever
present over sized cigar, Mr. Post. always looking straight ahead, expressionless, wears black fedora, black sunglasses, and paint ball gun locked in a straight up-by-head position, Tender Mercy, maybe a nude leotard would work for her sauna scenes. wearing a Carrie Nation type bonnet. Sonoma Beach Congressman Remo Vaselino. always smiling with overdone hair.)
BARON: (in mid conversation)… So what is the new name for your company Mr. Post?
MR. POST: (not looking at the Baron) We are now the Backwater Cleaning Service. Our official mission statement says: To perform discrete contract cleaning services for corporate and government clients without regard for complicated legal issues.
BARON: Personally, I’ve never gone in for mission statements. A good slogan like I have says it all. (straightens himself up for its delivery) I care not who makes a nation’s laws so long as I get to build their burgers. See? The mission is there but it can be used in advertising.
TENDER MERCY: That works if your activity is focused on doing one thing but I’m all over the map. My Consolidated Social Rejects Agency has ended up with animal shelters, homeless shelters, battered women shelters, teen run away shelters, the physically disabled, the learning disabled, the morally disabled, disaster victims, child abuse victims, recently unemployed, hard core unemployed, food programs, youth programs, job counseling, family counseling, PTSD counseling, soup kitchens, public health clinics, half way houses, three quarter way houses, all the way houses, alcoholics anonymous,
narcotics anonymous, gamblers anonymous, rehabs, and the big slab. The last one at least solves problems. The only thing all this has in common is everyone else wants it to just go away or at least kept out of sight on the cheap or just go away (fading out) or just go away or just go away…..
VASELINO: (not noticing her unraveling at the end) (smiling, jovial) I understand about having problems that are so big you just want them to go away. I have a few myself. What I can’t understand is people who are problems. They are problems because they don’t have enough money to solve their problems so they become the problem. Every so often they work their way into my office or a poorly screened public event asking me to solve their problem for them without paying me in various ways to solve it. (incredulous) How can I solve a problem for a person when they have become a problem instead of a person. A person is someone who can pay to solve problems. And I am a representative of the people, not of problems.(holds chin up proudly)
(everyone else in sauna applauds with “here, here’s” added)
MR. POST: (evenly without looking at her) Mercy, exactly what did you mean by the big slab solving problems. What is this….slaaab?
TENDER MERCY: (indifferent) It’s an old ice skating ring we picked up cheap to service our morgue contract with the hospitals and the coroner. It’s easier for agencies who find themselves with unidentified stiffs, such as homeless shelters, to just bring them to the slab. Since we control those agencies too we can…ah streamline the paperwork.
BARON: (clears throat) My MoGo Bio Diesel subsidiary has also helped to streamline the paperwork. We’ve been rendering the animal shelter rejects for some time and have agreed to pick up the slack where the county has fallen behind paying for unclaimed indigent cremations. Their body fats become bio diesel made, on paper, with inputs from my Build A Burger chain. (laughs heartily) People are so gullible. How much fryer grease do they think there is?
TENDER MERCY: (almost bored) Then there’s the accidents.
MR. POST: (so interested he actually looks briefly at Mercy) Accidents? BARON: (taken a little aback) I didn’t think you wanted to go there.
TENDER MERCY: Why not? We’re among friends. Probably lots of people have figured it out anyway. It’s just such a mess they don’t want to have to deal with it. Look, people make mistakes all the time – hospitals, doctors, police, important people at the wheel who have had too much to drink. Why should they take a hit? ….good people…better people….(adamantly)…the best people! It won’t bring anyone back to life.
So paperwork disappears or is altered or never exits in the first place and the bodies end up here to become part of the Build A Burger paper yellow grease stream. You can be sure the agency charges hospitals, police departments, and others a substantial handling fee to help them with their risk management issues. Plus, it’s good for the environment. (shrugs)
VASELINO: (wistfully) If only problems at the national level could be handled this easily.
MR. POST: (evenly) I’m sure somebody with imagination, fortitude, and focus could find a way, Congressman.
(Baron’s cell phone rings. He picks it up and answers it)
BARON: Baron here….yes…yes…Are you sure?….Who told you?…Alright, see if you can trace it. Later. (hangs up and turns to Mercy) Mercy, we may have a problem. Someone is conducting a low key investigation of our little arrangement.
VASELINO: (indignant) Investigation? Impossible. Baron, your check was received at a certain island bank without any problem. Your name is blocked from all government investigations.
BARON: It’s not a government investigation, Congressman. It’s someone from the outside using soft methods. We’ll have to monitor and wait till they get closer.
(The “yuck truck”, the MoGo collection truck driven by Igo Snatch, has pulled up behind Dr. Stine’s clinic. Igo gets out and starts ringing the bell with greater and greater enthusiasm outside clinic, suggestive of Quasimodo)
DR. STINE: (runs out angry with hand to head) Will you please knock off that infernal racket you stupid moron. You’re ringing a doorbell not collecting for the Salvation Army. And don’t walk into the hallway to use the John this time. You’ll scare my customers. Hell, you even scare me.
(Igo looks hurt and cowers)
Put the empty against the wall out of the walkway. (pointing) That’s not too complicated is it. I hope you brought me a clean one this time. You do know what a clean one is don’t you?
(Igo nods but continues to cower as he hand trucks empty against wall where Stine points)
(sarcastically) That’s one that has seen hot water more recently than you have and smells (makes sniffing sound and makes face) a whole lot better.
IGO: (gravelly voice) Sorry doctor, I’ve been working with yellow grease all day. (a little more bravely) It’s hard stinking work (proudly) but it’s work that needs to be done and I Igo….(pointing to his own chest) Igo will do it. Even though…. (gravely) sometimes a can smells like death and it makes Igo very sad. (hangs head)
DR. STINE: (conciliatory) Alright alright. I suppose you are more of man with a can than a man with a plan (laughs at own joke, Igo tilts head and squints like he doesn’t get it) Oh, that’s a good one. I’ll have to work it in my next video somehow.
IGO: (holds out clipboard) Please sign Doctor Stine.
DR. STINE: (grabs board and signs quickly) I think I “will” sign “Dr. Stine.” I’m
certainly not going to sign “Igo Snatch.” (hands back board and walks off stage) (Igo tilts back full barrel and wheels it off)
(end of scene)
(Transition scene: Igo at wheel of “Yuck Truck” laughing maniacally, throwing himself from side to side like he’s taking turns fast, lights flashing on top of truck cut out, sound: tires squealing, two tone siren. Let this go on for about 20 seconds.) (end of scene)
(Yuck Truck has pulled up to Night Drop delivery wall of MoGo Co. Two chutes labeled as “rendered”, “pre-rendered”, and a hose connection labeled as “yellow grease.”)
(Igo unloads red barrel and two, five gallon buckets. Carefully puts out two red cones in work area. Opens one bucket and dumps it in the “rendered” slot. Pulls away as he opens it as if it smells bad. Opens second bucket, looks in it, makes a face and takes a deep breadth then reaches in, fishing around a little as he grimaces . Starts pulling out organs and putting them in the “pre-rendered” bin. Finally, he takes out part of a leg and foot and, holding it with two fingers, drops it in the bin. Hits a button or lever and a loud “chipper” sound is heard with a lot of grinding. He does a double take at the sound. Puts buckets back behind “truck.”)
(Igo comes back and pulls off barrel lid, after a couple of good tugs. Grabs hose nozzle in wall and pulls it out, hits “on” button or lever, sticks nozzle in barrel and starts sucking out grease with exaggerated arm movements. “Sucking” sound is very loud and sloppy. Finally, leans way over barrel to get every last drop. Comes up and sticks hose back in wall, wipes sweat off forehead. As he wheels barrel toward back of truck, light fades out.)
(end of scene)
(SUV ON Board News set, SUV MAN polishing SUV cut out as program comes on, indicated by LED lights on “dash” and corresponding lights on full size broadcast set
with JUSTINE THYME and guest. As program starts, SUV MAN stops polishing to watch on the dashboard.)
JUSTINE THYME: Good afternoon. I’m Justine Thyme with SUV On Board News. With me today is the Sonoma Beach Congressman Remo Vaselino to talk about the new Patriarch Act he has introduced into Congress that offers a comprehensive green solution to a whole train load of domestic problems as well as extend the popular Plan “B” Bio Diesel Program to many “one time only” producers. Congressman can you tell us how the Patriarch Act will turn Americans into the ultimate human resource?
CONGRESSMAN REMO VASELINO: (smiling broadly) I’d be glad to Justine. I’ve been saying for years that Americans are the final solution to energy independence. I looked around to see what was working and scaled it up. The military is able supply 20% of their foreign occupation energy needs with their “special rendering program.”
JUSTINE: I was wondering why the military favored diesel engines.
VASELINO: And Texas has increased the number of death penalty crimes. Many people are surprised to learn that just being a “JFK Lone Assassin Denier” or driving with a Blue State license plate will get you a 15 minute express trial followed by a one way trip to the local MoGo bio diesel plant, with a cruise by the Build A Burger drive thru for their last meal.
JUSTINE: (thoughtfully) Isn’t that bad for tourism?
VASELINO: People only have so much money, Justine. They figure they will get it all anyway from bio diesel exports.
JUSTINE: But doesn’t the rest of the country value civil rights more than Texas and the military?
VASELINO: To some extent, but Americans value freedom of choice and entertainment even more. It may be a bad hair day for you when you’re turned into yellow grease but when it happens to someone else it can be pay-for-view hilarious.
JUSTINE: How does this relate to your promises to solve the problems of gangs, drugs, spiraling bankruptcies, exploding prison populations, the high cost of medical care, urban blight, unemployment….
VASELINO: (holds up hands) Whoa, whoa, not so fast.
JUSTINE: Sorry. Talk about the freedom of choice aspect of the act. Doesn’t that mean a
VASELINO: Absolutely. And there is nothing more voluntary in America than the right of contract. Credit card contracts, rental and loan contracts, parole agreements – all have provisions for…”collections” when someone has fallen down on their obligations. And all those people have voluntarily signed those contracts. Now, the term “collections” is usually not defined and is open to….interpretation. Exactly what is to be collected is not clear but since we are already “collecting” parolees and sending them where we want for
the most trivial violations of an agreement, we should be able to (opens arms) expand collecting people for other contract defaults.
JUSTINE: (confused: hand to face, head tilt) What justification could they be collected for?
VASELINO: (lightly sarcastic) Justification? The public good of course. We can already eminent domain anyone’s property and give it to corporations for any reason we choose. So it should pass all legal tests to use consumer scofflaws for the bio diesel public good. After all, we aren’t trying to be cruel or inhumane. We’re just making a few bucks off people – a constitutionally valid use of absolute power.
JUSTINE: Thank you Congressman. (looking toward audience) We’re going to break for a commercial but we will be back to hear more from Congressman Vaselino on the Patriarch Act and what it means to you. (they freeze, lights down on just them if possible)
(spot on front, center stage. Dr. Stine strides quickly to that spot, turns to audience and starts talking)
DR. STINE: (using over the top video voice) Hi I’m Dr. Stine, owner of the Hippo Lippo Clinic, here to announce the unveiling of an exciting new program in appearance health. Have you ever thought (makes swing with arm in front of him) (shift voice a little) “Darn, I’ve been meaning to loose that last hundred and eighty pounds for years and now here I am dying. Friends and family I haven’t seen for decades are coming to pay their
last respects and here I will be filling up excess space like a traffic calmer in a redevelopment project. I’m so embarrassed.”
Well, Dr. Stine says you don’t have to be …. yet. Because you still have one more chance to have the kind of body boys used to sneak thru windows for. Dr. Stine’s revolutionary… “Exit Stage Light” …procedure will remove every once of excess fat in one appointment and send it to a worthy green cause. After this, probably fatal, session you will be seamlessly rearranged into the body style of your choice, then whisked away to a participating mortician.
Don’t be discouraged that you didn’t loose as much weight during your terminal illness that you thought you would. Turn back the clock while it’s still ticking. Once you looked great in a swimsuit. Now look great in the box. Call now. Ambulances are standing by.
(smiles frozen for a moment, then turns and walks as sprightly off stage as he came on) (interview unfreezes)
JUSTINE: We’re back talking with Sonoma Beach Congressman Remo Vaselino on why using various provisions in his Patriarch Act to turn people into bio diesel is really a progressive move. (turns to Congressman) You mentioned that entertainment would play a welcomed part in humanizing our fuel options. Elaborate please.
VASELINO: Certainly. For years prison guards have pitted prisoners against each other in deadly brawls for the guards’ entertainment and no one has much minded. This
indicates that Americans are ready to take reality TV to the next level. We would bring in cameras and let violent prisoners voluntarily sign up to become famous TV stars while vying for prizes. They could develop colorful characters like professional wrestlers do and be allowed to use scary knives and clubs to increase the body count. Cost of running prisons goes down, supply of bio diesel goes up, and Americans are entertained.
JUSTINE: (nodding) It sounds almost too good to be true.
VASELINO: It just gets better Justine. The proactive version of this plan calls for blocking off disputed gang neighborhoods in slums, evacuate bystanders, and letting them legally pile up the yellow grease for middle class diesels – kind of like a block party gone wild. The entire gun battle would be videoed by a helicopter camera crew until only the survivors of one side were standing – (sarcastically) “The Victorious Champions.”
JUSTINE: (finally breaks composure) How exciting. Could we run the footage on SUV News?
VASELINO: (proudly) Absolutely Justine. Congress is committed to alternative fuels…and… the entertainment of Americans.
JUSTINE: (still beaming) Thank you for joining us Congressman. (turns to audience) This is Justine Thyme for SUV On Board News.
(end of scene)
(at the Bio Fool window, the BIO FOOL seems to be leaning up against the wall asleep while still holding the gas nozzle. SUV MAN stomps up, looking desperate, this time carrying two gas cans.)
SUV MAN: (slams down cans) I’m out of fuel. I didn’t even make it through half the week.
BIO FOOL: (feigns sympathy) I’m sorry. Have you ever considered living in your SUV and driving your house? It would probably get better mileage. (makes “fool” face)
(SUV MAN makes fists at side, clenches teeth, and shakes with rage but doesn’t say anything)
BIO FOOL: (helpfully) Say, I have good news. We’re at war with the starving countries we were sending all the soybeans to. Now we don’t have to send them the food we were making vegetable bio diesel from. (cheerfully nonchalant) We’re sending them fire instead. Weeee’re bombing the snot out of both of them.
SUV MAN: I don’t care about any of that. I still want that MoGo I was using. There’s something…something (uneasy, searching for word) unmanly about putting “veggi gas” in a Humdinger.
BIO FOOL: Well then I’m sorry, but we’re out of MoGo for the rest of the week.
SUV MAN: (shocked) What!? How did that happen?
BIO FOOL: They had a raging grease fire at the plant. The homeless shelter served up some donated greasy meat that the homeless and bacteria fought over. The bacteria won…but not before the street people toasted to the little guys’ health with gallons of cheap vodka. The extra lighter fluid created quite a BBQ in the MoGo rendering equipment.
SUV MAN: So no MoGo?
BIO FOOL: (begin of snapper patter) Bro, be-low low is our Mo Go show.
SUV MAN: (looking inspired out to audience, does muscle flex strut) Who’s this loco mofo so-so honcho? Telling me to blow from the MoGo Logo. I’m P.O. I got dough and mojo. I’m numero uno supremo. My pro M.O. is toe to toe woe from go go go to HMO K.O.
BIO FOOL: Ho ho ho, yo yo …still….no…Mo…Go. (points to nozzle) Gro Flo? SUV MAN: (head down, dejected) (quietly) Gro Flo.
(BIO FOOL fills cans as they snap back to normal speech)
BIOFOOL: (small talk) You know, speaking of soybeans, there’s a new, tofu substitute meat dive in town. It’s called… “Meatbeaters” (hands him a paper from behind window) You can get half off with this.
SUV MAN: (hands paper back, turns to audience with hands out, confused) Why would anyone want to get just…half…off? ( shakes head, turns back, grabs cans and leaves)
(end of scene)
(METHYL and ETHYL sitting at shop table with beakers in hand looking dejected) (Voice from off stage: “Methyl? Ethyl? Are you out there?”
METHYL: (shouts back) We’re testing.
ETHYL: I have such a bad feeling about this bio diesel stuff. Maybe we should beg Miss Birkenstocker to let us go back to running the alcohol still. Maybe we could send her a half gallon a week as… progress reports.
METHYL: A bribe?
ETHYL: (annoyed) Bribe, payoff, morbita, piece of the action…, whatever. If that’s what it takes to be able to make good things again. We couldn’t make bio diesel if we wanted to.
METHYL: We could. But we would have to deal with methanol, lye, and the glycerol at the end of it all.
ETHYL: (superior) I didn’t take Environmental Studies to create a HazMat site. METHYL: You took the class because you heard it was an easy walk through with a lot
of bone head jocks in it to skew the grade curve.
ETHYL: Well I sure didn’t take it to feel bad all the time. After recycled fryer grease this thing is all downhill. You can either destroy food to make fuel or use animal sources that could have come from anywhere. We’re supposed to write an environmental paper on this about how “wonderful” it is, but everyone seems to have a dirty little secret. I always feel like I need a shower. (shudders)
METHYL: (drinks from beaker, coughs) Trade secrets. Everyone’s hiding trade secrets. ETHYL: None of the bootleggers we talked to hid anything about how they do things…
Just where their stills are.
METHYL: Maybe this really isn’t even a bio fuel issue at all and Miss Birkenstocker doesn’t know we’re wasting our time when we can’t even see the production process.
ETHYL: (dawning) Or maybe… it’s a political issue and “we” could become bio fuel. METHYL: (forced brightens) I know, we’ll switch to another bio fuel with easy
equipment and no nasty chemicals. Methane.
ETHYL: (critically) What do we use for a tank and how do we generate it?
METHYL: (unfazed) We don’t need a tank. I just need to eat more Build A Burgers and have you pull my finger (holds out finger, grinning)
(ETHYL throws contents of her beaker on METHYL) METHYL: (screams) I’m meltinggg.
(end of scene)
(meanwhile, back at the Armenian Cove sauna room, Mr. Post is giving a power point presentation on domestic cleaning hints, standing up wearing hat, dark glasses, and towel. His paint ball is locked into position in one hand and a laser pointer is in the other where he points to an imaginary screen during the presentation.)
MR. POST: (unfreezes in mid thought, pointing to screen) …As you can see in the first slide, there are three major areas of domestic cleaning (upper lip and teeth tic) in the…. (enunciate) “What Color is Your Junta” system. First, there are the (contemptuously) “Democracy Issues.” As much as possible, these cleaning areas should be in secure locations – computer and voting machine programming offices where votes are counted and rolls purged. As for public demonstration control operations, we would direct these out of sight also, giving uniformed policemen the tactics to destabilize marches, such as
sending the marches down blind alleys or quarantining all protesters over a mile away in… “free speech zones.”
VASELINO: (philosophically) When you don’t pay, you get the…”cheap seats.”
MR. POST: (continuing) When the resulting confusion develops, all uniformed personnel responds, on cue, with crushing efficiency. Our friends in the media will make sure only the correct images are presented to the masses. The theme will once again be “the thin blue line protects our hollowed institutions from chaos.”(tic)
VASELINO; (impatient) It seems we are already doing these things. So what is different? I thought you said you had something different in mind.
MR. POST: Democracy management is now performed in an ad hoc way, organized by field operatives so senior officials can always claim plausible denial Congressman. What my firm does is take a systematic approach to …cleaning. We respond to messes. We also respond to preventing messes. If we know who leaders and organizers are why not pick them up on some pretext the day of their planned disturbance when they will be hard to replace. If we can only use visible force in response to provocation then we proactively use invisible force.
VASELINO: I’m afraid you lost me. (uncertain) Are you talking about using some kind of nerve gas on malcontents? If you are, (chuckles) I foresee a serious public relations problem.
MR. POST: (matter-of-factly) The Backwater Cleaning Service does not believe in creating a mess to clean a mess. No, I was referring to our new electronic tools. (points with laser pointer) If you’ll study the units in the next slide. We’ve taken the old devices that have been used to create mental confusion, extreme nausea, and migraine headaches and improved their range and focus so we can deactivate and embarrass targets with no effect on fra fra (has trouble saying the word “friends”. Finally blurts it out) friends.
TENDER MERCY: (annoyed) It sounds like a way to create a mess for “me.” The last thing I need is a bunch of uninsured mental and physical basket cases dumped on my agencies’ doorsteps after being mowed down with your Buck Rogers ray guns.
MR. POST: The effects are temporary, although I can’t rule out an increased frequency of brain cancers over time. The vomiting, soiling, and incoherence will be judged by bystanders and the media as consistent with food poisoning, intestinal flus, and recent recreational drug use.
(motions with pointer) Now we come to the second cleaning category. This is “spot cleaning.” Sometimes a demographic or geographic is (draw out) pristine except for one investigative journalist, one whistle blower, one crusader, or one honest politician. For these lone wolves the old methods are sometimes best. A quick rub out should do the trick.
BARON: (thoughtfully) I have a question. Do you include inconvenient inventors and experimenters in this category. I’ve been having some trouble lately with people offering
alternatives to my alternative fuel. (indignant) As the first alternative I shouldn’t have to contend with alternatives to my alternative. Who do these upstarts think they are?
MR. POST: Baron, “anyone” who threatens to upset the status quo of the better sort is eligible for a spot clean. (motions with pointer)
Now we come to the last and most involved type of task – deep cleaning the herd. You’re probably saying yourself “Why would we want to reduce the herd? Aren’t they the ones who made us rich and powerful?” Of course. This is not a black mark on the herd. They are just a victim of their own success. Their only failing is their numbers and needs have become unmanageable and have outgrown the pasture we put them into. Here is where we truly hide what we do right out in the open. We cull the damaged and the useless to us by setting up programs professing to help them.
TENDER MERCY: I hope they’re fully funded.
MR. POST: The irony is that, the herd….will thank us (lip and teeth) (others applaud, POST bows slightly)
(end of scene)
(SUV MAN is pouring a can of bio diesel into his tank as SUV On Board News comes on. He freezes and watches, his can is still in SUV)
JUSTINE: This is Justine Thyme for SUV On Board News with late breaking report. There was a mass demonstration today at the Humdinger dealership by the members of the radical…”Sustainability Flagellates” who marched around in circles chanting “What Was I Thinking?” as they rhythmically hit themselves in the head with their SUV owners manuals. The guilt wracked cultists have all changed their last name to “Green” in misplaced solidarity.
(flips over paper) And now as a public interest time filler we have Tender Mercy with the Death Row Animal Shelter “Tear Jerker Adoption of the Week.”
TENDER MERCY: (on SUV NEWS set, holding a small furry stuffed animal) (earnestly)
This (slightly holds up stuffed animal for a moment) is little Tinkle. Like many abandoned dogs and cats and exotic pets that got boring, she is as unwanted as a third child to a tweaker mom….and destined to be added to the yellow grease stockpile…. (with exaggerated emotion) by being boiled alive in a rendering vat with other screaming, howling creatures (starts becoming angry and talking faster) because we don’t have the money to fix our decompression chamber. It’s too late for them. (makes thumbs down sign) In fact, you’ll probably be pumping their body fluids into your land yachts by the end of the week. (leaning forward, eyes bugging out) But…you can save little Tinkle
here….But do it fast (clenching teeth) because she has just lived up to her namesake and I’m about ready to ring…her…furry…little…neck.
(end of scene)
(In Dr. Stine’s back room Methyl and Ethyl are slowly shoveling fat from the wheel barrow to the red barrel. Dr. Stine strides in quickly)
DR. STINE: Ah good, you’re here. I was hoping to catch you so I could fill you in on your new duties. You will soon be servicing my new clinic next door. It’s still a little sensitive (flat hand waver) but I want to get in on the ground floor.
(METHYL and ETHYL look at each other nervously)
DR. STINE: Our new business friendly Supreme Court has just ruled that “people” are subsidiaries of corporate America, collectively, making minor children of these “mom and pop” subsidiaries major assets of those subsidiaries – assets which can be liquidated for any reason at any time. (off handedly) Corporations wanted a perk to attract employees that they didn’t have to pay for. (somewhat defensively) Face it, many kids are under performing investments for parents. Whiny brats…surly teens…sticky, smelly toddlers….Many corporate thinking moms and dads are open to declaring “breeding bankruptcy” and moving on to new opportunities.
(METHYL and ETHYL’s mouths drop open and look back and forth at each other quickly)
DR. STINE: We’re still fine tuning the paperwork and procedures but (proudly visualizing words with his hand) “Dr. Stine’s Post Natal Abortion Clinic” …is ready to give family planners a new tool for a fresh start. (does the “ain’t I something” gesture with arm swing and head twist) (turns smiling and quickly walks off stage)
(METHYL and ETHYL look at each other shocked for a long moment then both scream loud at the same time, throw down their shovels and run off stage in the other direction)
(end of scene)
(Bio FOOL is doing Tai Chi in front of Bio Fool Station with nozzle in hand. SUV MAN staggers up carrying four gas cans, drops them all over the place, out of breath so waits a moment before talking)
SUV MAN: (looks up at BIO FOOL accusingly) You better not tell me you don’t have any MoGo.
BIO FOOL: Have it? We’re swimming in it. The price is even coming down. I don’t know where it’s all coming from but the glut happened around the time that the tornado
whipped through the Super Bowl and turned everyone into “airmail.” It made a hell of a Half Time Show on TV though.
SUV MAN: Just fill em…all of them.(sweeps with arm)
BIO FOOL: You got it. (filling cans) (calmly) We now have a premium we’re giving out to all MoGo customers. Wintertime Glycerin Soap – two bars for every gallon you buy. (does an aside) To tell you the truth you can have as many as you want. It’s crudely made from the glycerol bi-product from making the bio diesel. It’s practically a waste product so you’re doing them a favor by taking it.
SUV MAN: (uninterested) No thanks. Just the diesel.
BIO FOOL: (finishes filling cans) I don’t blame you. (reminiscing) I used it once. It gave me a slimy, crawly, unclean feeling like the essence of it’s past was locked in it…. waiting to be released at some health spa for undead Yuppie zombies (does an in place, arms out zombie walk) “Towels…towels…we want…fresh towels” (snaps back) I wouldn’t wash my dog with it.
(SUV MAN makes paying motion and tries to grab all the now full cans at once, fails a couple times before succeeding, starts to walk haltingly away)
BIO FOOL: (puts hand on SUV MAN, unsteadys him a little) (mock excited) Wait a minute. (exaggerated hand to hand gesture) I think I’m picking up something from the
“Muddership” on my alien implant. (shakes all over for a moment then snaps back, recites first stanza of three stanza limerick)
A man from primordial ooze
Said life is a good place to snooze. When told of his error
Said I really don’t care
‘Cus I started out yesterday’s news.
(SUV MAN ignores him and tries to shake free. BIO FOOL slaps own knees at his own wit. Grabs SUV MAN by one arm, almost causing him to fall over sideways with load before continuing with second stanza)
BIO FOOL: Wait there’s more. Informed by the ruling elite
That tires are much better than feet
His four-wheel fling
Taking his last ka-ching
When done had him pounding the street.
(BIO FOOL does one arm out “ta-da” while still holding on to SUV MAN)
SUV MAN: (getting angry) Let go of me you fool. (struggles mostly to keep a grip on his four cans of fuel)
BIO FOOL: (Lets go but immediately strikes a hands outreached, eyes looking skyward pose)
(in low bold voice) Behold! The Bio Gods Speak. (SUV MAN startled so he doesn’t leave right away) BIO FOOL: (recites limerick in his fool voice)
This man who was dumb as they come. In fact, couldn’t walk and chew gum. When he asked for a piece
Of MoGo’s yellow grease
Was shocked to get pumped in the bum.
BIO FOOL: (does elbow spike) Hoo raaaa (freezes as SUV MAN reacts)
SUV MAN: (shakes fist at BIO FOOL and makes growling noise, grabs cans with difficulty since he’s so upset and stocks off, cursing inaudibly)
(end of scene)
(Tender Mercy is at back of Yuck Truck chewing out Igo Snatch for being late for pick up, one red can is behind her at edge of stage)
TENDER MERCY: (Irritated, poking finger at Igo Snatch) Listen you drooling Troglodyte, I don’t appreciate having to come down here after hours to meet the pick up just because you’re too stupid to plan your route right.
IGO SNATCH: (cowering under onslaught) But…but Miss Mercy I’ve been driving for 12 hours trying to service all the new stops. (counts off on fingers) I got the “Big Sleep Nursing Home”, I got the “Euthanasia Express Line” at the hospital, Evictions with Conviction, Extreme Prejudice Repo…plus I got more cans at Dr. (pronounce as “dock- torr”) Stine’s Clinic….(still counting on hand)
TENDER MERCY: (cuts him off) I don’t care about your problems. Tell MoGo to get another driver. (dramatically with wave of arm) I got my own problems. I got the biggest homeless shelter in three counties. I get all the Medicon rejects the hospital won’t take anymore dumped on our sidewalk. Our Mister Greasinator is broke down like everything else around here and we’re piling up way too much fresh and bulky material in the “convulsion and bleed out” room. (points to self) You got to make me first from now on.
(can starts shaking as someone starts yelling: “Where am I? Let me out of here. Let me out of here. Let me out of here…”)
TENDER MERCY: (quickly turns around, takes off lid in one hand as she pulls out a large gun in the other. Fires several times in can as lights flash out of can from strobe or flashbulbs to gunfire sound effect. She slams lid down and spins around speaking slowly and pointedly to IGO SNATCH) Waaay…too…fresh.
(Igo looks back and forth between TENDER MERCY and the now quiet can with eyes bugged out)
(end of scene)
(IGO SNATCH is getting out of Yuck Truck as Mr. POST walks up to him and stops abruptly, always standing overly straight)
(removable sign says: “The Farm – Senior Nutrition Center”)
MR POST: (dead pans) I appreciate you making a special trip to the Center, especially this late at night. You will be paid from the dwindling Social Security Trust Funds for your extra attention to this matter. Pull around to the loading dock. Some “liabilities” have had an unfortunate bad reaction to the …grape punch. Every one else thinks
they’re…resting. (smiles thinly) And I suppose they are. The Backwater Cleaning Service will take care of all the paperwork. You just drive straight to the MoGo Company. They’re working late too.
( Igo starts to get into truck nervously as Mr. POST speaks up)
MR. POST: Oh…And don’t use the siren. People expect this place to be (smiles broadly)… peaceful. (Igo nods slowly)
(sound effect of truck driving off)
(end of scene)
(two red cans on center stage, “MoGo Receiving” sign behind the cans, after some time with nothing happening, the cans start shaking and two hands push up the lids from inside. METHYL and ETHYL slowly stick up their heads and their eyes get wide and their mouths drop open)
METHYL: (breathlessly) I don’t believe it….I just don’t believe it. ETHYL: (stuttering) This…this is horrible.
(end of scene, end of act one)
ACT TWO Scene 1
(SUV On Board News set. LED lights are lit on dash and interview area. SUV MAN not on set yet when interview begins)
JUSTINE: (begins talking as soon as lights go up) This is Justine Thyme for SUV On Board News. Today we will be bringing you an exclusive interview with the Sonoma Beach Congressman Remo Vaselino to unveil new BFD technology as well as recent power consolidations made possible under the Patriarch Act. (turns to Vaselino) Congressman let’s cut to the chase. What kind of exciting new consumer toys are the people at BFD going to amuse Americans with.
(just before Justine finishes talking SUV MAN begins first “thump” on stage with his two gallon gas can in one hand. He is dragging himself on hands and knees across stage toward his SUV with the last of his strength. Rests with each lurch forward with gas can. Interview goes on in foreground at opposite side of stage)
VASELINO: (ever smiling, hale and hearty) I’d be glad to Justine. But the BFD’s research isn’t just for amusements, as important as that is. We’ve formed a partnership with the cutting edge MoGo Company to develop the “On Board Yellow Grease Extractor”, which they insisted on naming (modest gesture) “The Vaselator”, after myself. It can be installed in any of the larger vehicles, such as the Compensator and the Mucho Macho and give their owners the option of picking up unprocessed animal bio
diesel sources, sometimes without even slowing down, and turning them into bio fuel gold within minutes. (beams)
JUSTINE: (impressed) Incredible. Does this signal a change from “drive thru’s” to “drive over’s”?
VASELINO: (hands out gesture) Who can tell. The future is wide open. But the Vaselator is designed for use on the wide open range and rugged frontier of our highways. Which brings me to the public service aspect of this unit. Our highways will become beautified with the quick and cheap removed of tons of roadkill, broadly defined as any soft tissue moving less than freeway speeds. Pedestrian and bicyclist accident victims will be able to be kept “in” green transportation without even seeing a paramedic. The traffic lanes are cleared faster so (makes fist swing) America can be kept rolling.
JUSTINE: (intrigued) So how does it work exactly. And do they come in different colors?
VASELINO: (apologetically) Unfortunately, some of the details are proprietary but in general, bio solids are sucked up from the bottom or dropped in at the top where it is chipped and blended. Then (dramatically) on board tanks of lye and methanol automatically flood the slurry, (makes tearing motion) ripping it apart into glycerol which goes into a removable waste collector and precious bio diesel that ends up in your fuel tank…(afterthought)…And yes, it comes in several Earth tone pastels.
JUSTINE: (squeals) Wonderful. Could I get one for my kid friendly “Mom-zilla” ?
VASELINO: Absolutely. The Vaselator loves kids, especially in W.C. Fields mode. JUSTINE: I can hardly wait for them to come on the market. Will they be affordable?
VASELINO: (dismissive) Justine, when these babies start prowling the streets you won’t be able to afford “not” to have one.
(by this time SUV MAN has reached his SUV, struggled up its side with his can and is pouring it in. After shaking in the last drop, collapses against SUV breathing hard for rest of interview)
JUSTINE: Congressman, since I have you on the set, could we hear about how you are using the Patriarch Act’s powers to spearhead green mandates into educational standards?
VASELINO: I would be happy to. As you know, kids’ test scores are falling, their waist lines are expanding, and the environment is packing up for an early adjournment. (leaning forward) I propose a bold new initiative that will tackle all three problems at once.
JUSTINE: (skeptical) This isn’t one of those computer gimmicks where they just switch the numbers for the test scores and waist lines is it?
VASELINO: (good natured laugh) Not at all Justine. This is the real deal, more real than anyone ever imagined. (wistfully) You know, we don’t see as many kids walking or riding bikes to school as we used to and it takes its toll on their pink, lumpy bodies. What
we “do” see are hundreds of cars jamming school parking lots. And for what? They aren’t engaged in job commuting or serial shopping…useful ways to destroy our biosphere.
JUSTINE: (bewildered) What could anyone possibly do about that?
VASELINO: (self righteous, holding up one finger) We must remember that “driving” is a privilege not a right. And it is even more of a privilege for those who don’t have any rights.
We propose to give our 16 year old students just one school exit exam..It will be a “final” exit exam.
Those who pass at top levels will be awarded one of the reduced number of student parking spaces. Those who fail miserably will be “taken to the dance” and come home as bio diesel in those high scorer fuel tanks.
JUSTINE: (thumb and finger on face thoughtfully) What an innovative and creative use for people with no power or rights.
VASELINO: (indifferent) Remember, even without the Patriarch Act this measure is consistent with our “No Child Behind Left Standing” policy. We’ve just tailored it to be good for the environment.
JUSTINE: (dead pans) Thank you for joining us Congressman. (turning to audience) And now for a studio paid movie review of the epic biblical knock off… “Four Blonds of the Apocalypse.”
(end of scene)
(METHYL and ETHYL sitting at opposite ends of shop table like zombies until finally METHYL breaks the silence )
METHYL: (thickly) I’m never eating another Build A Burger in my life. I can’t even stand to look at the place driving by.
ETHYL: (nervously) Maybe it isn’t as bad as you think. We only saw the Build A Burger Bagel boxes by the sausage machine. Hey, it’s sausage. Who knows what “anyone” puts in sausage. People don’t care what’s in sausage. But they will hate “you” if you tell them. Because they really “want”… to “like” sausage.
METHYL: (spitting out words) Those bastards….making breakfast patties with “real” Pattys…and…and Franks with “real” Franks. (swooning)
ETHYL: Do you think people will believe us?…Believe that people “are” the order now on the “New World” menu?…not to mention that stuff we saw in the other rooms.
METHYL: (clearing) You mean…the “blood bank” with the “substantial withdrawal penalty” or…or the body organs with price tags on them (faster) or the “real hair” being made into country western singer wigs? (pause) I’ll tell you what they won’t believe. They
won’t believe we saw it all by using my slacker dad’s trick of flipping pages on a clip board as you walked fast without making eye contact.
ETHYL: Life is “really” ugly. It’s like living here is punishment for something we did in another life or (reaching)…another dimension. Maybe we blew up a planet or something.
METHYL:…or ruined one. We’re entering a world we’re not supposed to see. We’re supposed to keep looking backward as we “back” into the future. And when we say “show us here and now” they wave postcards at us from the 50’s.
ETHYL: (still reaching) I feel like we’re in one of those movie remakes of the last people on Earth where everyone else are zombies, except they don’t know they’re zombies. They think they just have bad hair and a skin problem and someone on the internet told them that if they ate the non zombie brains everything would clear up.
METHYL: (philosophical) Maybe they feel threatened because we can see farther than they can….not having our eye sockets filled with maggots and all.
ETHYL: (indignant) Zombies have no business controlling the future. The future is our future. They had their future and they totally screwed it up. Now they want to hold us back with them in the dead past….And it’s starting to smell bad.
METHYL: (agitated) They’re parasites on the future…No…(gets up and looks down on mash bucket on table) they’re like these yeasts. (getting contemplative) In their world they think they’re hot stuff because everyone’s lining up for what’s coming out of their
butt. But we’re doing all the work…all the thinking. The suits are like these yeasts – they think they should run things because we have a use for their personal HazMat site. The difference is, “the yeast” don’t have choices…we do.
ETHYL: There has to be many people like us who see this. We just have to find them…. (brightening) and work with them.
METHYL: I think so, but I have (shakes head) no idea how to find them. I do know how to find equipment (holds up something), read books, and use tools. This (holds out column) is reeeeal….taking temperatures…measuring concentrations…collecting a useful product – useful to us…useful to our neighbors. Whether it’s for white lightning or for fuel to move it round or downtown. (triumphantly) Just being able to do this gives you a feeling of power. I suspect everything I can’t see now. I assume “everyone” I can’t work with, will be working against me.
ETHYL: (gets up with her drinking beaker and faces METHYL sternly) I’ve changed too.
(forcefully throws beaker off stage to sound of breaking glass, but this one’s plastic) (METHYL shocked speechless)
ETHYL: From now on, this stuff is for special occasions. No more “maintenance” buzz. No more pain killer to make the unbearable bearable or the intolerable tolerable or the completely unacceptable not only acceptable but the greatest idea since zippers. If people
like us are going to change things we are going to have to be sharp and focused for a long long time, even if it hurts. No more yellow smiley faces pasted on silent screaming heads.
METHYL: (somewhat rattled by the uncharacteristic outburst) (clears throat) We may never figure out who’s running things but we can attract other people like us by (waves across table) working on the equipment and the processes. If you build it they will come. (unsure) well, that’s what they say.
ETHYL: (worried) But the wrong people might be looking already. They might see what we build and come too. (nod at each other solemnly)
(end of scene)
(sauna room of The Armenian Cove Resort, BARON BURGERMEISTER standing up wearing towel at a small laptop pedestal with cigar in hand as he gives his informal cabal progress report to regulars: Mr POST, TENDER MERCY, and CONGRESSMAN REMO VASELINO who are sitting in the sauna area)
BARON: (unfreezes in mid stride)…So next we come to the exciting subject of “demographics.” As you know, maintaining a vast population of deluded peasants has always been profitable for us but not without cost. Up until a decade ago this cost was less than the various ways we assumed our rightful place at the head of the trough.
However, the methods we used to make the workforce stupid, docile, and apathetic also made them less productive. In fact, the percentage of “useless eaters” has skyrocketed. (pointed hand up) We cannot delay downsizing our human inventory any longer. We of the golden million only need the most competent and productive 20 percent to support our position and lifestyles. The rest will be eased out of the food chain in the least disruptive ways possible.
(nods, murmured ascent, polite applause from the other three)
TENDER MERCY: (piping up) Which reminds me. When am I getting the high speed conveyor belt you promised me? I can’t have (repetitive hands out gesture) piles and piles clogging my hall ways. It’s a safety issue you know. I could get cited by the fire department. And all this lifting is causing employee back injuries. (“duh” gesture) I’m trying to keep my Workman’s Comp claims down here.
BARON: (reassuring) Mercy, yours are coming in with the ones I ordered for MoGo. Be patient. It’s a big order. (turns back to group) Now then, our “new economy” should keep the transition moving smoothly. As our financial casinos complete their shakedowns, domestic production is focused on fast food and movies, the recent hordes of unemployed should have their attention diverted….(chuckles) until it is too late.
Mr. POST: (mechanically) Baron, those “unemployed” included thousands of programmers who would do “anything” to be in a good high tech job again. I believe my
organization hired a few for our…”management projects”…on their way to flip burgers at your Build A Burgers. (smiles thinly)
BARON: I’m sure they’ll be back…one way or the other. (back to group) With the burger taking on the responsibility for providing a tangible reason for existence, it needs to take on new functions. To accomplish this, Build A Burger is financing the (fanfare gesture) “GMO Burger”, made from legless steers that only produce meat, saturated with tranquilizers secreted by their body organs.
TENDER MERCY: None of those for me. As it is, I can’t function without my intravenous espresso fix from “Five Bucks.”
Mr POST: Will they have pickles? I… “hate”…pickles.
BARON: (quickly) No pickles. (continuing) Now these uber burgers will become the basis of the interim monetary system, especially since everyone is catching on to the one based on Dead President Trading Cards. We had a good run though. We will expand the role of our gift certificates until “Burger Notes” are used to buy everything. (animated) Congressman VASELINO will be introducing legislation to denote “all” government obligations and payments to be payable through the “Burger Reserve”, which Build A Burger…will control. (pause with chin up)
VASELINO: I don’t foresee any “barking” from our lapdog media. I last campaigned on the theme: “Let Them Eat Burgers.” Besides, everyone will be paying more attention to my leadership in “Short Sheeting” the Budget process.
BARON: (helpfully) You better explain what you mean. It’s still working its way through the “Play Ball” Committee.
VASELINO: Right. The Congress has decided to quit deceiving the public about the hundreds of ways we obscure and hide our misappropriations and diversions of funds to the worthy. If we assume everything in the pot belongs to “our” class and “serious” contributors, why should “we” have to answer to anyone about what’s in (points to self forcefully) “our” budget. The “Black Box Budget Bill”, backed by my “Buy Me Now” Congressional Caucus, has an unstoppable 400 sponsors. I’ve convinced both parties to think “outside the box” by putting everything “in” the box. Everything will be in there. But since it’s all ours, during the budget process, no one needs to see it, except the people we’re giving it to. After “the better sort” are satiated we will put what’s left over (sneering) in a “discretionary petty cash” fund for “non” campaign contributors. It will be honest government’s finest hour. If “we” own everything, how can we “steal” anything?
(louder applause than before)
BARON: Thank you Congressman. (back to group) This brings us to my progress report on the bio diesel fuel projects. Generally, things have been going well. Volume has increased 800 per cent. Filtering the wires, plates, implants, and teeth fillings is still a problem. As these social perks disappear so will the filtering problem. But increased chaos should increase the presence of lead bullets.
Mr POST: Not from my people. We only use “jacketed” bullets. (hand blade gesture) They sail right on through.
BARON: Our other problem is competition to our alternate fuels dominance. Everyone thought that solar would be the “uncontrollable option”, remember? (laughs heartily) That was before our bright but unscrupulous lawyers wrote up that mumbo jumbo, giving us the right to own sun light, since we filled papers first. And those Supreme Court Judges were worth every penny we paid.
No, the persistent thorn in our side is those “damn” alcohol stills. In the hills it’s those country bumpkins who’ve made moonshine for a dozen inbred generations, out of “anything”. But here (finger jab at floor) right here in the city, where ideas can spread like the plague, we have a small number of rebel teachers, giving “unsound” project advice. We keep tabs on likely experimenters. Mr POST do you have any thoughts on this matter?
Mr POST: (thinks a moment) Yeees, it’s always unfortunate when kids get ideas not approved by “our” education authorities. But what’s most tragic of all, these dangerous backyard stills sometimes just (hands out motion) “blow up” for no obvious reason, engulfing their operators and everything in the vicinity in a “huge”… ball… of flame. On the other hand, it does teach a good “safety” lesson to those with similar… ideas.
BARON: Thank you for your input Mr. POST. It is “most” appreciated. (turning to TENDER MERCY with wave of hand) In conclusion, I just want to thank MERCY for
being instrumental in expediting record keeping and developing policies to handle our increased….um…contributions to the yellow grease supplies.
TENDER MERCY: (snaps) Policies? Policies?… I only have “one” policy – “Extra Strength Triage 24/7, for everyone who has dropped off the radar, sent to me by “folding” programs and “tanking” agencies. “We” are the other administrators’ last chance, so no one is going to question paperwork or look at signatures too closely. Everyone wants their case load of screaming, crying, babbling,… “leaking”… menacing basket cases lightened. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the money. They don’t have a clue. The numbers aren’t there and no one wants to see them anyway. “No one” wants their problems back. “Things” are sent to a “lost and found” but “people” are sent to the “found and lost.”…(points to self) That’s us….for people not hitting on all cylinders, (voice rising) most cylinders, or “any” cylinders…And “no one” who sends “us” downstream care packages wants details on how we “make…it…happen.”
I’m not “expected” to fix anybody who’s broke and can’t be fixed since no one has the money to “pretend” they can either.
I’m only a short order cook at the “Last Stop Cafe” with “tons” of burnt, fried, toasted, baked, and scrambled leftovers. Or maybe we’re one big “waiting room” where, in all ways, “the sick get sicker.” And everyone who’s hurting soon gets “sick” from the stressss. Our staff “Dr. Feelgood” will give them what they “want” because it’s what “we” need. Would you believe there are still doe eyed liberals that expect us to “rehabilitate” and “job train” all these damaged goods? (rising) Train for what? They
can’t all be drug and alcohol counselors. They’re “DOA”…but they’re still…breathing. It’s a big problem for everybody.
There’s no switch to flip to make them “different.” There’s only a switch to make them “disappear.”
(brief silence but no one looks shocked)
BARON: I’ve always said you have a subtle touch, Mercy.
(end of scene)
(MoGo Receiving. Tender Mercy is intently looking over things with a clipboard which she is jotting things down on, her back is mostly to audience, truck arrival sounds, Igo Snatch begins backing a barrel out of his truck with a hand truck, Tender Mercy is absorbed in her work with her back to Igo Snatch and doesn’t see him. He backs into her and sends her stumbling forward, Igo Snatch recovers first and tries to steady her.)
TENDER MERCY: (as soon as she regains her balance she turns around in a rage)(icy) Get your filthy hands off me you clumsy reject. Its bad enough you’re too “stupid” to live but you should be able to at least push a hand truck.
IGO SNATCH: (rattled, apologetic) I..I’m sorry, sorry Miss Mercy I didn’t see you, but…this is the main aisle. (motions with hand)
TENDER MERCY: (puffs herself up aghast) How…dare “you” criticize “me.” (menacing) Do you know what I have been doing here?
(IGO shakes heads)
TENDER MERCY: I have been planning the location and entrance points for the Social Rejects Agency’s new direct pipeline from the ice arena slab, down the street, and into the MoGo facility. Soon, we won’t be needing your (looks him up and down contemptuously) services. (sarcastically) Except…maybe as fuel to run MoGo’s greasinators. I think you might be amply qualified for “that” job. (laughs maniacally as a very disturbed Igo quickly turns and walks away, holding hands to ears)
(end of scene)
(Dr Stine’s clinic back room. He is in an animated phone conversation and doesn’t see Igo Snatch wheeling in a barrel with a large bell alarm clock taped to it. Loud ticking sound that Dr Stine is oblivious to. Igo turns around quickly and leaves without saying anything)
Dr STINE: (on phone) …look I told you, all you have to do is draw up the franchise paperwork for me and I’ll market them. What…no…no, there’s plenty of demand. Wherever there’s people there are deep psychological needs connected to their bodies…Yes, that’s a good idea. Leave the actual services in the franchises open ended. We will be adding more as we discover new opportunities in human desperation….fine….fine…. and when you finish that…
(freezes as smiling BIO FOOL carries large “Ka Boom” sign across stage and out other side to explosion sound as clock stops ticking, kill lights quick)
(end of scene)
(front of Bio Fool Station with a “closed” sign running diagonal across it, the BIO FOOL is standing out front with exaggerated hitch hiking stance and two cans of fuel. Sound of truck slowing down as Igo pops thru in “yuck truck.”)
BIO FOOL: (opening invisible door, gets in with cans) (cheerfully) Igo, you look like a man with a plan. You wouldn’t happen to be headed out of town would you? I’m talking waaaay out of town.
IGO SNATCH: (sounding tired) Igo not contracting with MoGo anymore. They are bad people. They do bad things and make the city a bad place. They think they can do what
they want because they’re better than people like Igo. I think just because they do these things with other people like them that does not make it right.
BIO FOOL: (always the chipper facade) I don’t think so either. I think if enough people woke up and practiced a little “home cookin’”, if you get my drift, the better sort might have to start making MoGo out of each other. Right now, the city’s too mean to be green. Where were you taking this beast?
IGO SNATCH: (points) North
BIO FOOL: Well that’s a start. Maybe we can narrow it down a little. I’ve made a lot of contacts in this business and not all of them want to give you the business. Tell you what, let’s write off civilization as a jeans commercial gone bad, get some goats, and learn to play the banjo.
IGO SNATCH: (nodding) We have to make stop first. I told an old friend I would take some people out of town. They are in trouble. Maybe they will come with us.
BIO FOOL: (shrugs) The more the merrier (thinking a moment) except in a dentist’s office. Oh, here’s one for the road. (reciting)
A crew left their city abode
To lighten their bad karmic load For extracting the fats
Of stray people and cats Escaped to live some other code
(Igo nods, turns to wheel, truck sound) (end of scene)
(center of stage is open, spot front and center for Mr. Post’s slam address, he walks crisply to center stage makes a sharp turn to front center spot and comes to abrupt stop. He turns to one side of audience, does a sweep of head to opposite side, then turns head back to look straight out at audience for duration of slam. Between each stanza seven even beats of a snare drum suggest gun fire)
(Mr. Post’s Slam)
Attention all peasant people!
The Backwater Cleaning Service would like to review their comprehensive management contract
with you…over you
You can call me…Mr. Post
And here is my post Henceforth… you don’t want to get mail
From Mr Post’s Office
We reserve the right, to…go…postal
Effective now, these Bill of Goods, replace your Bill of Rights We’ve repealed the citizen nation
You’re just tenants on our global plantation
Laws are made for only you to obey
The rule of the few, over the many
The rule of steel over paper
Those who have, will be given more
All not mandated is prohibited
Violence is the answer, if you are the question
It’s not autocratic. It’s very democratic
One bullet one vote, do take note
Adverse possession, you didn’t say no
You gave us the keys, you filled our tank
We own: the air and the water, the birds and the bees The Earth, your brains, your children
Your sweat for our work
Your blood for our wars
Your grease for our cars
Breathe in deep. Our shit don’t stink.
Just a few things to get straight
Our satisfaction you will guarantee
Feel our security, feel our safety
Enjoy your time in our herd…
A cog in our machine, a flash in our dream There are no more, useless people Don’t make a fuss, just live for us…live for us
We like things nice and tidy Authority loves docile people, Easily restrained and entertained
Just stay in your place
Don’t get in our face
Do not question: who, what, when or why Our answer is a red tag or a zipped body bag You don’t really, want to be heard
We will tell you what you want to hear
We pulled the plug, on ole time religion
Sent out pink slips, to your gods,
Sent them packing off their mountain Yahweh runs a hot dog stand
Jesus is a grounds keeper Mohamed is a cab driver…in New York City We gave mammon, a corner office
We put our faith, in the righteous blue tool Kiss his boot, kicking in your door
Kiss his fist, in your face
Kiss his club, in your gut
He brings “power to the people” from a Taser Then sends you an electric bill
Feel the thrill of fearing us
That’s how you will get religion
We bring a fire, that burns light for fuel, Giving out darkness
We got plans, you got nothing
We got power, you got nothing
We got the will, you got nothing You can take it to the bank. We…got…you
Shut up your mouth, we will speak for you Shut up your mind, we will think for you Shut down your life, we will live for you Close your eyes…you don’t want to see how Just stay numb, just play dumb, suffer in silence It only hurts…if you feel
Hate your neighbors, delete your friends
Get in line, for a job in our big house
Work in our kitchen, lick our plates clean
Your life, your liberty, for the pursuit of our happiness
It’s all patriotic apple pie
Play our music, until you die
Do these things, and we’ll cut you a share
of more yellow grease, more yellow grease, more yellow greassse
(METHYL and ETHYL are hard at work in their shop in a determined, grim manner, they seem to be building something more impressive than their old gear, they aren’t drinking)
(MISS BIRKENSTOCKER walks in at normal speed, almost to the work table when METHYL and ETHYL notice her)
METHYL: (only a little surprised and irritated) I hope you didn’t sneak down here to blow a shit blizzard of threats our way for quitting Dr. Stine’s (looks sideways at new equipment)…and for continuing our alcohol research… because we’re serious about it this time…with or without (a little sarcastic) “Environmental Studies.”
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (puts out hands in “it’s alright” gesture) I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did in that hellhole. But it served its purpose. You learned what you needed to learn. Sometimes you need to know about things that are dangerous, not so you can do them, but so you can prepare for them. Now you know what it’s all about.
ETHYL: (quizzical) Sort of like a “hair of the dog” or…a “fat of the dog” in this case.
MISS BIRKENSTOCK: (ignoring her) I watched as environmental goals were hijacked by cynical interests years ago and it has just gotten worse. Generally, our official top down environmental curriculum is its own compost pile.
METHYL: (accusingly) Then why teach it. Why bore students to death when we could be learning something we can use in life? And if you “know” it’s no good doesn’t that make you a hypocrite?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (pointedly) Look. The program is set up to be hypocritical. It’s a non rigorous elective for jocks. That’s our bread and butter. That’s our purpose. If I were to do something serious and practical I would be called on the carpet… (remembering) I…did get called on the carpet. (refocusing) Never mind. Since there are so few students with a sincere interest I can take the time to quietly identify and mentor them, even without them knowing it.
ETHYL: (shocked) You tricked us? We trusted you.
BIRKENSTOCKER: I “guided” you and in such a way that the wrong kind of attention wouldn’t be attracted to either of us. But I’m afraid that tactic isn’t going to work any more. Which is why I’m here now. Kids, this is an emergency.
ETHYL: (disbelieving) Oh right. Like the “Men in Black” are coming after us. Who’s behind the emergency – the liquor companies?
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (evenly) People who feel threatened by too much independent competence not under their control. That could be anyone with a good network. Lately those networks aren’t waiting for the “wrong attitudes” to become big and noisy. They are nipping in the bud. (pointing to both with index fingers) And you two have been spotted budding.
METHYL: (defiant) Why are you trying to scare us? It’s because of the still isn’t it? You don’t want us to improve it.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (laughs ironically) Oh but I do want you to continue – some where else. Pick up as much as you can carry and go. A former student has had problems too and is leaving town now. (speaking faster) You can hitch a ride to get some breathing time. You do like breathing, don’t you?
ETHYL: (resisting) Maybe tomorrow. I still have to go home and pack.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: (talking even faster) This is the only chance I can give you. Something is closing in fast. If you wait much longer your friends will be seeing you on a milk carton. (truck horn sound) That’s Igo out front. Grab and go, now.
ETHYL: (unsure) Aren’t you coming.
MISS BIRKENSTOCKER: I’m staying behind to recruit (unsure of her own words)…for as long as I can. (truck horn sound) Go go (“go’s” louder and faster) go go go.
METHYL: (making decision, grabbing load quickly) Alright. We’re gone.
(ETHYL follows him off stage with her load at a trot. MISS BIRKENSTOCKER looks after them, then slowly walks around stage, head down, thinking, which is now no longer the “shop” with the equipment gone.
(end of scene, but blurs into the next one)
( the SUV On Board News comes on but just as a voice from the SUV’s lighted dashboard, MISS BIRKENSTOCKER, is in another place, doesn’t hear it)
(Voice: This is the SUV On Board News. I’m just coming on to let you know my gas tank is empty again. What’s wrong with you people anyway? Don’t you know that I am the priority here…that you work for me…Jeez, it’s just hard to get good help anymore. How hard is it to work a second job or commit a few lucrative crimes to keep my valves hot. Get…me…more…yellow grease. I don’t “care” how you do it. Just do it. (…changes to needy) Pleeeease.
(voice ends as dashboard LED lights go off) (end of scene)
(as the broadcast comes to an end and Miss BIRKENSTOCKER is leaving but hasn’t quite left the stage, the BIO FOOL comes dancing in, as the “fool” within the BIO FOOL, for about 10 seconds, assumes characteristic pose for a fool, smiles and recites)
I see you decided to stay
And sit through this disturbing play But one never can know
When the gas gauge gets low
Who might become MoGo some day.
(end of scene and play)
Squid on Steroids
(a political skit)
by Dante DeAmicis
Octo: (maniacal laugh) After all these years of pretending to believe this “of the people, by the people, for the people” fairy tale I have amassed near total control of everything and everybody on the planet. Every aspect of life has one of my tentacles wrapped around it, squeezing out its blood for my own wealth, power, and amusement.
The naive dupes only see one of my crushing arms at a time, howling their sputtering outrage and shaking their puny fists at it as if that arm was an entity by itself. Few have stood back so they could see me, Corptopus the Magnificent and Invincible, the source of eight grips of death.
Some little people think one of my arms is “Big Oil.” Of course Big Oil is just part of my Corpobody grandeur but Big Oil has played a big role in my evil plan. It has stifled all meaningful technologies and sources of energy. The oil injected from this arm has become an addiction for the populace so I no longer have to even sell it.
One arm can slither like a snake through the Heartland as Big Agriculture, whispering into the ears of humanity, “Eat my apple and live….forever.” Of course its all snake oil but people like snake oil as long as it comes with a show – a song and dance of death.
Another arm has gathered together the pride of industry and the soft ones fearful need for security as the Military Industrial Complex. This arm only has to beat a drum and wave a flag and its work is done.
Those mere mortals are so desperate they couldn’t wait to throw themselves into my Big Pharma arm, thinking it was going to serve their health needs. If they could only see through my inky screen they would behold the mother of all drug cartels.
You have to look fast to catch my arm that deals from the bottom of the deck, that stops the ball on red when you bet on black, that has fronted every con artist who would do the bidding of the arm called Wall Street, the rigged Casino that treats every Main Street as its back alley.
The arm that reaches into the future is Big Genotech. Owning the present isn’t enough. I want new life that will serve me first without going through worthless middlemen I have to take it from. Big Geno will soon sweep away those who no longer serve me.
How can all my arms keep reaching and grabbing, you say? That’s the job of the Big Corpo Media arm to keep churning up the muddy waters so no one can see much for very long. My subjects are confused. The people’s voice is now the people’s blindfold.
No wonder the masses just want to curl up in a fetal position in their homes. But even those homes are connected to a vast network of arteries within that sprawling arm’s tissue of vital utility services called “The Grid.” The grid arm holds people in place so they cannot escape the other arms. Neighbors cannot become neighborhoods.
Totally unseen is the pointed beak which punctures the livelihoods of the drones and sucks it off so my arms get stronger and the drones get weaker even as they work harder. My Federal Reserve Nervous System provides the instruments that my other arms play my tune on. (maniacal laugh)
Enough levity. Its time for my progress report on the enslavement of my hapless victims. Where is my minion? Minion! Enter now.
Minion: I’m here master.
Octo: Report minion! What pathetic resistance has formed against my unstoppable drive for total world domination?
Minion: Your legions of minions have learned from studying past
opposition master. All that remains is some disorganized demonstrations that we disperse at will, a few articles in magazines that no one reads, a couple dozen petitions that will be thrown out, and a tiny group of troublemaker Congressional Reps that we mock as clowns or cranks.
Octo: Excellent! And what have you fattened minions and legions of pampered “Yes” men done to snuff out these feeble efforts?
Minion: Nothing special. It’s pretty much a mopping up operation. Some new authority for police. Media blitzes that outgun the critics a thousand to one. New laws restricting petitioning and voter registration. Supreme Court appointees that treat the Bill of Rights as an urban legion. Our investment in Congress can now kill an unfriendly bill before its even introduced.
Octo: Fantastic! The corporate tree I’ve planted is now bearing fruit. Soon the entire country will be clusters of free speech zones so small people will be talking to themselves. Now that my slimy tentacles have squeezed the juice out of humanity’s precious democratic institutions I am ready to ascend to the highest form of existence.
Minion: What would that be master?
Octo: For over a hundred years I have been legally a real person like you and that bothers me.
Minion: Why is that master? Your personhood was distilled from a mass of legal privilege and political corruption. You are a perfect creation of class war opportunism.
Octo: But I am so much more than all you flesh and blood type persons combined. All of you warm, squishy, and smelly type persons will die but Corptopus will live for eternity.
Minion: I don’t understand what can be above a person except maybe a more important person.
Octo: In another generation the struggle for freedom and equality will be nothing more than a myth, a marketing slogan, or even an un-American terrorist act. But I have one final goal. I’m no longer content with being obeyed without question. I want to be worshiped without thinking as the one true God – Corptopus the Divine. See that my flunkies on the Supreme Court issue the appropriate ruling.
Minion: Yes Master. I will call the Chief Justice at once. (dials number. Mumbled conversation. Writing feverishly. Then in a loud audible voice.) This is terrible. I will tell our Master at once. (Hangs up and walks to face Octo) Master we have had a set back.
Octo: I’m sure you are exaggerating. Nothing can stop me now let alone set me back.
Minion: Master, I’m….. I’m afraid we made an error. As you know, your personhood was made explicit many years ago by a friendly Supreme Court law clerk who added some language to a legal ruling. Since the current Court equates justice with our interests we have made appointing friendly law clerks a lower priority.
Octo: So what? When I walk the corridors of power the walls shake.
Minion: Master, it seems that an unfriendly law clerk learned from our methods and found a way to use those methods against us. We didn’t foresee the commoners could be as devious as we are.
Octo: Stop your yammering fool and tell me what has been done.
Minion: As expected, our solid Supreme Court majority handed down a decision that stated that you are the person that companies are built around. Since CEOs and Boards of Directors are not as important as you they are not as responsible as you.
Octo: These are the instructions I gave those Corpo Judges so my tools could protect themselves while doing my bidding. Though I am theoretically responsible I am beyond reach.
Minion: I hope so Master. But this new law clerk slipped in a couple of sentences just as your people did in a different time. These sentences could change the intent of all your laws you have ordered passed to rule your obedient subjects.
Octo: Just what are these words that that are so special they can change the direction of my grand plan?
Minion: The unapproved added text says (looking at paper copied from phone) “And since the corporation is a person in every sense of the term, the corporate person shall be subject to the same criminal penalties that are imposed on non corporate people. Jail time shall be interpreted as suspension of corporate charter and freezing of assets. In states where it applies, capital crimes shall be punished….shall be punished….”
Octo: Go on man, spit it out.
Minion: ” …by death of the corporation.”
Octo: This is outrageous. This is preposterous. We own the law. It is our sacred property. Destroy this legal upstart at once.
Minion: I’m afraid the decision has already been released. There is one more offending sentence. (quickly) “If a conspiracy between corporations or corporate dominated industries can be proved against the public good then the corporate person structure shall be subject to the same penalty as the original defendant.”
Octo: Nonsense. I’ll ram through a Constitutional Amendment and bypass those court incompetents. I still own Congress.
Justia: (offstage) Its too late for that Corptopus. Your days are numbered.
Octo: Who dares enter my inner sanctum?
Justia: I am Justia, the law clerk. I’ve come to serve you with a writ of extinction personally. Your minions, masquerading as representatives of the people, have installed a legal meat grinder to diminish due process and express lane the poor and powerless through the legal system. I have now applied this travesty to you.
Octo: No one can hold me responsible. It is the minion elite that demanded that I be irresponsible. I was just following orders. Along the way, I became the God of greed. Don’t you believe in religious freedom?
Justia: Your arms have knowingly killed individuals, families, and communities while wiping out whole cultures. By having you charged as a terrorist under federal law and a murderer under Texas law the former 10 year death penalty process has been reduced to 90 minutes. You will receive official notice of your hearings, trial, and appeal after your lawful execution.
Octo: How could this have happened? My subjects have always served me without challenging my class prerogatives.
Justia: Corptopus, you are not flesh and blood. You are paper and ink. We are citizens not subjects and you were created to serve us. Instead you became an organized criminal gang. And you will be given the corporate person equivalent of the electric chair. Minion, you work for the people now. Take these corporate documents and shred them. (hands papers to Minion)
Corptopus: (whimpering) No, no you can’t do this. You need me. You can’t live without me. Give me another chance….please. I’ll even let you form an oversight committee.
Justia: These are your various State and Federal charters. (shredding sound, Octo screaming) These are the appointments of numerous insiders to your Boards of Directors. (shredding, screaming) These are the patents and copyrights held in corporate names. (shredding, screaming) These are all the legal claims pending against non corporate entities. (shredding, screaming) And these are the laws and programs written for corporations that only function to enhance your wealth and power. (shredding, screaming) As a final going away present, say bye-bye to Citizens United vs the FCC.
(Corptopus arms flailing, flashing lights, smoke coming out base of body)
Corptopus: (faltering) Forgive them Father. They know not what they do.