There are so many men in the world. They’re everywhere. I dream sometimes that I know each and every one of them personally. They all smile at me and wave at me. I can see them as they all go down on one knee in front of me and offer me their hearts. In my dreams, I modestly accepts their accolades. Businessmen, farmers, construction workers, cowboys on horses, sword bearing musketeers, matadors in suits of lights, knights of the round table. They all blow kisses. They all throw flowers. They follow me as I walk through Central Park, pleading, beseeching, begging for my favor. They surround me. They lift me up high, cheering. I beam, radiant beyond measure. But then, in my dreams, I see… one man, one special man, by himself, beckoning for me. He beckons again. Surrounded by men, I don’t know what to do. The one man sadly turns and walks away. I watch him go. And suddenly in my dream, I’m alone. No men. No man. Me. And I feel… relieved! Yes. When you’re alone, there is no one who can hurt you. Or disappoint you. Or expect anything of you. Especially that. Expect anything of you.
FROM: THE INCREDIBLY FAMOUS WILLY RIVERS
Hold on to your seat and I will tell you of fan dancing. There’s a group of us, dear friends all. There’s Stink Wilson from down towards the Chrysler plant. We call him Stink because he makes farting noises with his cupped hands.
Read MoreThere’s Funker the Dude and there’s Vin Early who owns the Sunoco station and his retarded brother, Bus, who makes noises that no one can understand and there’s Phil and Benny and Dowker. We root for the Tig’s! You gotta love it. A gift. You just do. Once a year we meet. We pile into Benny’s Chevy van. We drive and we drink and we’re young and we’re carefree. We drive interstate 80. We’re bound for New York City, home of the hated Yankees. We’re so young. So carefree. We drive through Queens which is an up-and-coming ghetto on the outskirts of New York City. We stop at the only White Castle Hamburger stand in the entire metropolitan area. We buy beef cookies! I myself have been known to eat 188 of them in one sitting. We order to go. We drive to Yankee Stadium. We’re young. We buy right field general admission tickets. Carefree! We sit there, alone in a sea of pin stripe tattoos and crazed long island accents. We wear our Tiger colors with pride! High, high in the stands we sit. We drink Yankee Budweiser, but we scream for Stroh’s. Benny chews tobacco and Phil eat peanuts the shell and all. Funker the Dude plucks his fake pewter flask from the inside pocket of his imitation mohair blazer and we drink gulps of Fleischman’s. So young! Stink Wilson is farting trumpet loud and Dowker starts throwing beef cookies at the right fielder. Carefree! Vin Early is doing an acapella version of Take me Out to the Ballgame and his retarded brother, Bus, starts bawling along, starts bawling something totally unintelligible and incredibly loud and contagiously retarded, starts moaning and gurgling as if in tongues, and suddenly he leaps to his feet and wails like a wolf calling to the moon, urging on, urging on and we join in, all of us. We do it cause we love it, ya got to, ya just do!
FROM: WHITE MAN DANCING
Hah! It is the second deluge of Christ out there. Gridlock from Battery Park to Hoboken and do I have an audition today? It’s only been blue skies and sunny the last three weeks and all I’ve done is sit on my ass. Why not?
Read MoreSome casting director from the west coast. For television. At a mid-town hotel no less. Where upon I’m about to enter and some doorman dressed like a Russian Cossack tells me that deliveries are around to the side entrance. I mean, who is the asshole here, me or some bozo in a three-foot fur hat? So I go in finally expecting a little sanity but no, why should life work out. I kid you not, a military dress ball is in progress. Admirals everywhere. Man the poopdecks, lacquer up the little woman, puts on the dress whites and go mill around a hotel lobby in Mid-town Manhattan with the other graduates from the Academy. There’s a small problem, see. The Grand Ballroom or something is not quite finished clearing out the remains of several hundred periodontists who are at some kid’s bar mitzvah eating chicken liver in the shape of, I dunno, a retainer, for chrissake. Fuck if they’re going out into the rain before they get their money’s worth. So of course I have to wade through these disgruntled swabbies to get to the elevator. Up I go with some big haired tourist women from Michigan who are wearing those spangled glasses shaped like cat’s eyes that I thought were, like, outlawed a hundred years ago. I’m looking for room 1444. Guess what? There isn’t any! I swear, this kind of shit is always happening to me at auditions. I go back down to the lobby. Everywhere I look, admirals are playing airplane with their hands. Once again I have to claw my way through this western front to get to the front desk. Where I politely inform management, hey. Assholes. There is no room 1444 here. It’s obviously been stolen by one of the illegal immigrants you hire as help. They now inform me, will wonders never cease, that I’m at the wrong hotel. I’m at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel and I want the Sheraton Grand Hotel which yes, is affiliated but is not one and the same. So now, of course – ha-ha-ha-ha! – I’M LATE. I go running outside. Where it’s raining. I leap into a miraculously waiting cab but only by hip checking somebody’s ancient, cookie baking, miniature-weenie-dog-toting grandma into her Louis Vitton luggage. The Sheraton Grand I go, step on it and the cab screams out onto Seventh Avenue only to stop, to immediately stop frozen, fucking dead in the before mentioned Battery Park to honking Hoboken gridlocked traffic. It took me forty-five minutes to get to the Sheraton Grand Hotel and guess what? The Sheraton Grand is across Seventh Ave and up four blocks from the Sheraton Plaza Hotel. I could have walked it in about a minute and half. I go to 1444. It is a suite, not a mere room and the living room which is the waiting room is filled with guys. Actors. All of them look like they spend most of their time lifting weights, flossing their brilliant teeth, tending their scruff and hair which is, of course, on their heads where it’s supposed to be. I feel like a burro at a sperm bank. They call me. I go into the bedroom which is the interview room. I sit. This casting director babe from the west coast – this woman has on so much make-up, every time she blinks her eyes you think a rogue butterfly is loose in the room – she looks at my resume, she looks at me. You haven’t done much television or film she says through her nose which is in the middle of her face. Oh, great, I’m now thinking. I only have thirty or forty stage roles under my belt and already this babe thinks my fish is foul. The casting babe, she looks at my resume picture. She looks at me. You’ve lost a little hair, she says. No, I say, my head has swelled. Fuck you very much, you painted plastic cow. I left. God? Are you listening? Today, this audition, is my life!
FROM: THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS
Notes from Zone ten. It is two years after the death of my son in 9-11 and the high school, probably out of pity, asks me to give the year end commencement address. I sit on stage with members of the school board and local dignitaries. I am in robes I haven’t worn in years. I watch young people enter in caps and gowns. I look out at their parents. It’s a prosperous community and they reflect it.
(a beat; the speech)
Fellow teachers. Parents. Senior class. I have spent the last few weeks preparing this speech. It is, if I do say so myself, a marvel of simplicity and clarity. It has a few modest profundities, an admonition or two, a modern parable, some ready wisdom benefiting my age and station, several jokes – well, I think they’re funny – a clarion call for commitment, all building along a common theme – the importance of education, not just in school but in life. It is all complete horseshit and I’m throwing it out.
For more than thirty years I’ve been a teacher of Social Studies. Social Studies is the study of human behavior and interaction. It is a discipline that includes history, economics, geography, civics, political science, culture, and psychology. In my classes, I attempted to make you think. I asked you to be aware of stereotypes and racial, political, and religious bias. To be tolerant of different cultures and different points of view. To be young people who realize that freedom and privilege goes hand in hand with responsibility. I have failed miserably.
You. The bombshell in the third row, chattering – did you hear what I just said? You, the lard bucket in the fifth row, nodding off. Am I boring you?
Am I boring you? Does poverty bore you? Do lies? Does suppression, moral bankruptcy and political hypocrisy put you to sleep? Wouldn’t it be nice if it all just went away? It’s not going to. The truth is this. The world will beat you down. The world will steal your dreams. The world will take from you what is most precious. Unless… you abhor violence and do something about it. Are nauseated by greed and do something about it. Are enraged by discrimination, poverty and injustice and do something about it. I don’t think many of you will. You are too interested in making money and having nice, comfortable lives You’re certain bad things happen to only other people, not to you.
Does anyone think they can make a difference? Raise your hands. Anyone? Anyone? Congratulations. You pass.