A TV play for AHAmedia By Rolf Auer, 17 Feb.

2013 (you don’t have to credit me, I couldn’t care less; you can rewrite this, I give you permission.) Cast of characters (and quite the characters they are!): April Smith – Carla Sarkozy Hendrick Beune – Stephen Harper Donald (which Donald? I don’t care, just get one off the street. Get Donald Trump for that matter. You probably could use the funding, while he could use a break.) – Barack Obama Scene 1: Barack: As you know, I’m in the process of ripping out the civil liberties in the United States, at least according to Hedges anyway, or his lawyers, rather. Stephen: ya, und? Carla: Liberty. Remember? We gave liberty to you conditionally: don’t abuse it! What do you think that statue is about anyway? Stephen: what statue? Barack: well, everything is going according to plan so far. We should have total totalitarianism installed tomorrow. Stephen: I don’t understand. I thought totalitarianism is total anyway. Carla: oui, total writeoff! Barack: I got 52,000 drones (says offstage: “that’s what, Rolf?” bored-sounding voice: “roughly 1,000 per State”) ready to go at any moment. In fact, there goes one now. No, wait, that’s just the surveillance cameras in the Downtown Eastside. Carla: who said “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death”? Barack (muses aloud): could have been me. Could have. (speaks) Patrick Henry. Stephen (drily): yes we can. Carla: gentrification, c’est quoi, exactement? Stephen (by this time, bored to tears, reading The Economist): eat the poor.

 

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Barack: Oh, are we doing that now too? Stephen: well, we’re doing death, aren’t we? I thought that meant eating the poor. Barack: Oh, are we doing that now too? Carla: gentrification, c’est “mange de la merde, n’est-ce pas?” Barack, Stephen: How soon can we do that? What’s “eat the poor”? No gentrification! Same thing, isn’t it? Ahhhhhhh, GET OFF! (Donald, Hendrick stamp foot.) Carla: what happens when towers are built in a low-income, residential district? Overshadowing and overpowering and overblocking the light, culture, and people of any given area, such as the Downtown Eastside, to name one example. Stephen (grunts): und, so? Barack: what was that that is written on our statue again? The Statue of Liberty? “Give us your poor, your tired, your hungry...” Something like that? Why? Are we supposed to eat them? Stephen (grunts): und, so? Carla: I write songs, play guitar &tc, and sing. I’m just wondering, how difficult is it for artists to create while enveloped in the cold, clammy embrace of looming, dark shadows of monolithic corporate-sponsored towers? Is it really that difficult? Barack: create what? Carla: art, silly. Barack: what for? TV programs? Carla (muses aloud): how do I state the importance of art to him quickly. (speaks) Barack, do you like the painting, The Irises, by Vincent Van Gogh? Barack: the what, now? Carla: as in, say, something to look at and mull over a glass of Chianti in your later years? Barack: what would I want to do that for? Stephen: I fail to see the purpose of this, either the conversation or the reason. Carla: ahh, reason over passion! Stephen: the what again?

 

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Barack: say that again? Carla: No. (pause) Carla: now, how might gentrification and art (which you just in a few words admitted is necessary) be opposed? Stephen: gentrification is counterproductive? Carla (stomps her foot): Bingo! Stephen (immediately leaps into the fray): counterproductive? we’re building stuff! Carla: on whose dime though? Stephen (wonderingly): the poor? Carla: well, who else pays the price, silly? the rich? certainly NOT! Stephen: pretend I’m kind of dense... Barack: pretend? Stephen (ignores him): what if we don’t want the poor? Carla: you want to eat them, don’t you? Stephen: duh, we’ll I guess so. We’re running out of meat. Scene 2: Carla (reading aloud): “Down  with  the  Tyranny  of  Ignorance  could  be  said  to  be  a  guiding   light  of  this,  the  beginning-­‐21st-­‐century  Age  of  Information.  To  that  end,  digitized  social   networks  are  springing  up,  new  green  life  pushing  up  through  the  fertile  topsoil  of  man’s   imagination.  It’s  a  good  thing  Mark  Zukerberg  invented  FaceBook—the  obvious  choice  for   the  most  flexible  digitized  social  networking  medium—despite  C.I.A.  spying.  So,  sources  of   such  foods  for  thought  like  Black  Power,  Idle  No  More,  Women’s  Justice,  No  One  Is  Illegal,   investigations  into  mass  murderer’s  Pickton’s  activities,  the  US  National  Defense   Authorization  Act  (NDAA)  lawsuit,  et  cetera,  are  readily  available.  Digitized  social  justice   activism  is  breaking  records,  with  exemplary  activists  like  Julian  Assange,  Bradley   Manning,  and  Aaron  Schwartz”  Do  you  know  who  wrote  that?     Barack:  Hitler?  

 

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  Stephen  (brightens):  ya,  Hitler?     Carla:  no,  a  writer.  Who  is  unimportant.  What  counts  is  the  idea.  What  is  the  idea?     Barack,  Stephen:  defeat  of  ignorance.     Carla:  how?     Barack,  Stephen:  information.     Carla  (stomps  foot):  Bingo!     Carla:  question:  are  writers  artists?     Barack:  is  this  important?  If  I  need  a  writer,  I’ll  shoot  one,  I  mean,  hire  one.     Carla:  for  what,  though?     Stephen:  speeches?     Carla:  well,  I  suppose.  But,  do  you  read?     Barack:  read?     Stephen:  I  was  wondering  how  the  articles  got  in  The  Economist.     Carla:  I  mean,  do  you  read  for  pleasure?     Barack,  Stephen:  what’s  that?  Reading  for  pleasure?     Carla:  does  the  following  float  your  boat?  It’s  at  the  end  of  the  article.  “Down  with  the   Tyranny  of  Evil  for  ever:  sic  semper  tyrannis—thus  always  to  tyrants.”     (silence)     Scene  3:     April  off  set,  watching.     Stephen:  I  don’t  get  something,  Barack.  Does  art  imitate  life,  or  does  life  imitate  art?     Barack:  you’re  asking  me?  Why,  is  that  important?     Stephen:  Well,  what  if  art  is  life,  and  life  is  art.  By  gentrifying,  aren’t  we  crushing  art  and   therefore  crushing  life?     4  

  Barack:  so  what?     Stephen:  well,  don’t  we  need  life  to  live?  In  my  country,  green  life  is  everywhere.  I  don’t   see  much  life  in  yours.     Barack:  what  did  you  say?     Stephen:  never  mind.     April  returns  back  on  camera.     Carla  (brightly):  Hi  boys!  Miss  me?     Barack,  Stephen:  yeah,  I  suppose.     Carla:  Now,  what  is  the  meaning  of  life?     Stephen:  growth.     Carla:  on  a  finite  planet?  How?     Stephen:  carefully.     Carla:  which  means?     Stephen:  conservation  measures,  balanced  ecosystem  practices,  ending  violence  forever.     Carla:  does  gentrification  do  that,  yes  or  no?     Scene  5:     Stephen:  I  guess  we’re  shit  out  of  luck,  Barack.     Barack:  why?     Stephen:  we’re  not  going  to  be  able  to  pull  this  off.  The  women  are  going  to  pull  Lysistrata   on  us  or  something.  I’ve  got  blue  balls  thinking  about  it.  Wouldn’t  you  agree?  Please?     Barack:  I  hadn’t  thought  of  it,  actually.    Is  that  why  you  go  to  Cherry’s  all  the  time?     Stephen:  No,  I...  (pause)  free  booze,  what  else.     Barack:  You  drink?     Carla:  like  a  fish.  Anyway,  it’s  not  only  gentrification  that’s  causing  these  problems,  is  it?     5  

because  we’ve  got  other  problems  to  solve  too.     Barack:  are  you  forgetting,  we  want  the  world?     Carla:  well,  what  are  we  going  to  do  with  a  dead  planet?  Live?     Barack:  o-­‐o-­‐o-­‐k-­‐k-­‐a-­‐a-­‐y-­‐y.       Carla:  and  what  else?  (mutters)  oh,  brother.     Barack:  huh?     Stephen:  kill?     Carla:  No!  I’m  leaving.  Maybe  you’ll  get  a  clue.     Barack,  Stephen:  No,  wait!     Carla  (turns  back  slowly):  Yes?     Barack:  what  if  we  rip  the  legal  definition  of  corporations  as  “persons  before  the  law”  out   from  under  them.  Will  that  save  us?     Carla:  of  course  it  will,  silly!     Barack:  what  do  you,  think  Stephen?     Stephen:  [in  Scottish  brogue,  voice  of  Star  Trek’s  Scotty]  “Captain,  I  don’t  think  the  engines   can  stand  the  strain.”     Barack:  YOU  watch  Star  Trek?  Stephen,  I  never  knew  you  had  it  in  you!     Stephen:  shaddup.  (rustles  Economist  magazine  ominously)     Carla:  take  it  or  leave  it.     (pre-­‐taped,  somebody’s  voice)  “[sound  of  radio  tuning  [as  if  such  a  thing  is  possible]  then]   fade  in  [voice  sounding  suspiciously  like  Mansbridge]  “...and  the  NDAA  lawsuit  was   adjudicated  in  favour  of  the  plaintiffs.  Pulitzer  prize  winning  journalist  Chris  Hedges  said   he  is  writing  another  book  titled,  “Never  Give  Up!”  MIT  professor  Noam  Chomsky,  aka   “father  of  modern  linguistics,”  returned  to  his  work,  smiling.  Michael  Moore  announced  his   plans  to  make  a  documentary  about  Americans’  thoughts  about  democracy  post-­‐NDAA.   Tangerine...  [fade  out]     [sound  of  bird’s  wings]       6  

Scene  6:     Barack:  Now  what?     Stephen:  What  about  it,  Carla?     Carla:  You’ve  heard  this  before,  haven’t  you?     “Never  doubt  that  a  small  group  of  thoughtful,  committed  citizens  can  change  the  world.   Indeed,  it  is  the  only  thing  that  ever  has.”     That’s  a  very  famous  aphorism  by  Margaret  Mead.     Stephen:  mmm.     Carla:  well,  who  is  that  group  today  relative  to  the  world?  Indigenous  peoples  worldwide.   So,  if  you  can’t  rip  the  definition  of  corporation  right  out  immediately,  why  not  try  to   contain  the  blaze  by  helping  the  Indigenous  peoples  as  much  as  possible.  I’m  talking  about   Idle  No  More  and  the  Occupy  Movements.  Give  the  natives  as  much  as  humanly  possible   now,  or  die!     Barack:  makes  sense.  Stephen?     Stephen:  yeah,  we  can  do  that,  I  guess.  If  the  world  lives,  it  should  be  worth  it,  right  Carla?     Carla:  Bien  sûr!       A  brief  explanation:  this  is  a  very  abbreviated  form.  As  I  understand  it,  these  have  to  last   about  1:00  hour  or  so.  Please,  take  it  and  run  with  it!     Suggested  additions  (no  doubt  there  are  more  than  these):   • promo  for  building  social  housing   • mention  displacement  of  humans  (give  details  (if  not  actual,  then  metaphorically))   • this  line  was  suggested  by  one  of  my  nephews  “If  I  said  I  have  a  beautiful  dream,   would  you  hold  it  against  me?”  [I’m  sure  this  is  his  primary  pick-­‐up  line;  however,   I’ve  not  got  the  nerve  to  ask  either  of  them:  They’re  both  second  or  third  dan  black   belts  in  Tae  Kwon  Do,  and  I  never  pick  fights  with  people  like  that:  it’s  a  loss-­‐loss   situation,  for  me,  of  course]   • try  this  line,  re  drugs  or  habits,  or  both  [Kids,  don’t  try  this  at  home,  or  anywhere   for  that  matter.  Because  no  matter  how  one  shuffles  the  deck  of  cards,  it  cannot  be   cut  properly  afterwards]  

 

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