In 1991 we began development of a play called Tapdancer, a surreal comedy in which an investment broker accepts a gag gift of tapdance lessons. He has absolutely zero talent for this, but he loves it. One violation of decorum follows another, and one night he climbs a tall ladder and defaces a billboard whose message has enraged him: “America Is Burgerland.” He is arrested, goes to trial (although he has freely confessed), and through a bizarre chain of circumstances, is condemned to death by lethal injection.
The day after the hero has taken action against the billboard, he expects to find the event reported in the news. No. Nada. His friend explains:
“Ken, you have been upstaged by civil tumult. Don’t you read the papers? Thursday night, man, the cops won a major victory in the War on Drugs. Goon squad raided this very notorious crack house but they go to the wrong address. The family inside is terrified by large beefy guys crashing through their door, and they call the police— Who get into a fire fight with the other police, which ruptures a gas line— Which starts a fire, which spreads, which levels two city blocks— Which does indeed eliminate drug trafficking in the neighborhood.”
That’s fiction, but how many times have you read about cops using heavy armaments and battering rams to invade the wrong house? Twenty-five years ago it was already an itch in our minds that found its expression in that play. The militarization of police has not slowed in those twenty-five years. Now we can use robotic bomb delivery.
I have the sick feeling that we are invading our own house, battering our own doors, dismissing the sleeping kids and aged grandmas struck by the bullets as collateral damage. In the words of the blessed Pete Seeger, “When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?”
—From the Fool—
Some guy on the Web asked me if I was an old Fool or a young Fool. I think he was winding up to toss an insult and deciding whether to pitch a curve ball or a slider. I’d said something about guns, and he felt I was casting aspersions on his personal gun.
But I tried to answer. Problem is, old Fools think they’re young and young Fools think they’re old enough to know it all, so they sorta meet in the middle.
Both types do what they can to be Wise Fools or Holy Fools, but with all these colleges pumping out M.F.A. Fools, the competition gets fierce.
It’s like my sister the hooker, who worries about the amateur competition. “The standards of immorality are sinking pretty low,” she says.
About the only way you can tell the age of the Fool is to check the hair. But that depends on what hair you’re checking out.
A long week.
Tuesday: Alton Sterling shot and killed.
Wednesday: Philando Castile shot and killed.
Friday: Brent Thomson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith shot and killed.
Likely, many others who didn’t rate the front page.
Saturday: Beethoven’s Ninth at the SF Symphony. When the cellos and basses made the first whispered statement of the “Ode to Joy,” I nearly lost it. There’s a pain that’s a terrible healing; a touch joyous and agonizing. From there, you’re carried by huge soaring wings, a soul at its richest.
The human ear, at its best, can hear frequencies from 20 to 20,000Hz. I wonder what’s the emotional range of the human heart?
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