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What Changed?

For years and years, I practiced law and total strangers would stop me and say “Yer a lawyer, aren’t you?”

I mean, really!

It started about a year after law school when I was learning to be a litigator. I loved being a lawyer but now I’m retired and in recovery. Strangely, no one asks that question anymore.

What changed? What were they picking up on in the first place?

We all know the world through our five senses, so which of the senses lead me to be identified as a lawyer? I’m portly enough to be the mayor of a small town. I’ve got a voice perfect for broadcasting large sports events. I’m not one of those instant huggers. I bite my own nails and when these people identified me as a lawyer they were not all downwind of me.

When I walk down the street now, I’m waiting for people to recognize me in a new light. “Yer a playwright, aren’t you?” Come see ONAJE this October at FringeNYC and help make that dream come true!

Join me on this adventure at http://theplayonaje.com.

Gerrymandering & Protecting Us from Our Politicians

Gerrymandering & Protecting Us from Our Politicians

In prior posts, I have talked about how polarization has been caused by gerrymandering and now the judiciary is stepping in to dismantle it.

In North Carolina, on January 9th, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. struck down the North Carolina congressional district lines. The three-judge panel ruled if state politicians draw district lines for the purpose of protecting their own interest at the expense of the other party, the districts are invalid. Then last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned gerrymandering, citing the state constitution, and required new districts be drawn by the 2018 midterms.

Most importantly now, the Supreme Court has heard arguments on a gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin and has asked for re-argument of a Maryland case, which will probably be part of an opinion that strikes down gerrymandering nationally.

God bless our state and federal judges. It is long overdue for “we the people” to get the chance to take back our country from our politicians.

Plot Studies #2 – The Musical

Let’s see what would happen if “we the people” (the audience), wrote our own musical and cast the playwright & librettist as the Congress and the President, and cast their investors as the titans of Wall Street? (Wow– could this be a “revolutionary” musical?)

The Time & Place: How about our politically gridlocked America? (It is starting to sound like a revolutionary musical!)

The Cast of Characters: Since we are writing it let’s make us, the audience, the heroes, and the playwright, librettist and investors our official villains since they are all dedicated to entertaining the audience by feeding us what they want to hear in order to be able to secure their jobs and protect the wealthy from taxes — employing a smokescreen of misinformation and false news in order to entertain their audience by keeping them angry. (They probably won’t be singing Hamilton hip-hop but let’s see what they come up with “for a song and dance.”)

The Plot: The playwright and librettist entertain us by creating manipulated conflict between the bottom 99% of the audience. The poor versus the poor (which pretends it’s the middle class) so no one will see the puppeteer, the super wealthy? ( I feel a song coming on): Let’s have Wall Street Open the show by singing: “Market Share.” A big bang up number! The first lines could be:

“The bigger the market, the bigger our share /
The more we steal, the less they care! /
Let’s fleece my sister, let’s fleece my brother /
As long as they’re angry at each other. /
Isn’t it sweet, isn’t it funny /
How they love us when we take all their money?”

Hey, it’s “the song and dance”! Let’s call it “The Political shuffle.” (Oh man, the songs are coming fast and furious):

Congress can swing the next song:

“Make Yourself the Perfect Job” (about how gerrymandering can get our elected representatives lifetime employment with the best benefits and retirement their audience can afford, and then the entire audience can rise in opposition and sing:

“The No Wealth No Healthcare Blues” (which can be sung by ZIP Code first by anybody who lives around an emergency room, including patients, doctors, healthcare professionals, and then by everybody in the surrounding ZIP Codes spreading out across the country who is paying (unless you own your own hospital).

Now  let’s give the politicians some hand clapping songs:

“I hate ‘tax and spend’ /
Unless I’m where all the taxes end.”

And then a solo for a tone deaf President:

“Free the rich, enslave the poor /
The land of opportunity is no more.”

And then some hand clapping songs for us:

“The false news, no news… /
The Propaganda blues.”

(We could even have the Supreme Court do hip-hop, but they would have to have a rhyme scheme of ABBA because they are too polarized to agree to rhyme together) but maybe they harmonize with the song “Ventriloquism”:

“Yo- Citizens United, long may it last! /
‘Free-speech’ is that what you call it? /
You vote now with what’s inside your wallet /
And we speaketh from where once we passed gas?”

(But wait – just occurred to me – how can we pay for this?) Well if we are the audience, we already have!

So what should we call our new musical?

“Just Keep Us Fighting Among Ourselves?” – No.

“You Think We Are Too Stupid for Democracy?” – No.

“What Happened to My Country? – No.

How about, “Let’s NOT Follow the Money”? – No.

We could close with a kick line and just drop the curtain or …Maybe we could all stand up and remember that we are all Americans who can sing together?

 

This is another entry in my series of plot studies. Here’s the previous one. And the next.

Invitation Only Reading in New York

Invitation Only Reading in New York

For Artistic Directors and Producers ,we are holding an invitation only reading of “Onaje,” produced by Blue Panther Productions.For information and invitations please email Laura Lundy.

Sunday July 30 2017 at 3 P.M.
At DeSotelle Studio
300 W43rd St,
New York. NY.

THE PLAY
Reno, 1980. A black hitchhiker is hit by a white cowboy and waitress speeding down the freeway on a get-away. The collision becomes much more dangerous when the unlikely trio realizes that two of them are inextricably linked together through the long-buried secrets of their past. In a shocking conclusion, they are forced to return to everything they escaped and stand up against their deepest fears in a vicious stand-off. “Onaje” is set in two worlds, Maryland 1980, and the civil rights riots in the Eastern shore in 1967.

Plot Studies: Let’s see if we can create a comedy based on a conspiracy theory.

Let’s set the stage in a political world locked in gridlock. (OK – this is a good start.) Let’s make the conspirators: “The Evil institutions of our government “and let’s make the rest of us the “Innocent victims”. (OK -good guys and bad guys.)

The Plot: OK what if the Politicians are conspiring to stay in office with the use of gerrymandering and they really don’t care about us as innocent victims. What if each state legislature, when it carved out the districts for its political party thinks only about keeping those in office, permanently in office. (This is great I’m laughing already.) What if that makes the state legislators the creators of jobs which have the best healthcare and retirement packages in the country and are set up, because of the gerrymandering, so that their bosses can’t fire them. (This is hilarious.) Even better they “own ” their bosses by keeping their bosses angry with the gridlock so their bosses won’t fire them. (I’m loving this.) No Wait – what if their bosses are actually not the voters? The voters are only paying the government with their taxes and the government is paying the politician’s salaries but the government isn’t keeping them in office. (OMG). It is the campaign contributors, the wealthy and the special interests and the PAC’s that pay for their campaigns and the campaigns keep them in office. (It’s OK because every comedy has to have surprising twists and turns).

And when we are laughing so hard that there seems to be no way to catch our breath…in rides the national media on a White Horse to save the day. (But that’s not funny and it is sort of a buzz kill –it kills the humor) So let’s just say that the national media would be funny if it was lazy, never researched anything and got advertising by reporting on the hysteria created by the polarization. (OK it’s getting funny again) In fact all they have to do is scream at each other to keep everybody entertained! (I just found myself slapping my knee). But wait – any given station could just run reruns of ” All in the Family” or old “professional wrestling tapes “to have people screaming at each other. (That might be confusing because it might seem like the news is only entertainment -that could be a real problem!) So it won’t work if all the stations are doing the same thing. (Oh No I just become horrified and stopped laughing. What if all the national media were caught presenting only boring entertainment?) No! No, the answer is the national media has to POLARIZE to keep their ratings up and maintain the rolling laughter!

Why am I not laughing? This is getting a little scary! Maybe it’s a tragedy.

 

This is another entry in my series of plot studies. Click here for  the next one

(Costume + Set) – Plot = ?

Image may contain: 1 person, sittingThe “Costume” in my case was white tie and tails with a perfect black top hat”. The “Set” in my case was the Harvard graduation of last week. The “Plot”: Because of the custom of complete secrecy I had been told only a few days before that I had been selected to escort James Earl Jones for the afternoon proceedings and to an honorees lunch at Widener Library after the morning ceremonies where he, along with several others, would be given an honorary degree.

Only last month I had seen his performance ,as the poet, in Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana at the American Repertory Theater and had read about his career which started with his first appearance on Broadway in 1957 and spans 60 years on stage and screen.

After the honorary degree had been bestowed on him in the morning and those proceedings had ended , Mr. Jones would descend the stage which is at the foot of Memorial Church, and march with his fellow honorees below the colorful flags of the graduate schools and the undergraduate houses, between the assembled throng of the thousands of applauding viewers to ascend the steps of Widener library and be directed to the periodical room where I would meet him, take his ceremonial cap and gown, unburden him of his framed honorary degree, provide him with the refreshment of his choice and facilitate conversation among the other honorees before we took the elevator up to the lunch and thereafter back to the stage for the afternoon speech by Mark Zuckerberg and the closing proceedings.

I arrived early to Widener and made certain I knew exactly what my duties were and traced my steps from the periodicals room where I would meet Mr. Jones, through the elevator exit and entrance to the luncheon and ultimately the path we would take to get back to the stage and become seated for the afternoon proceedings.

But this was a very special moment for me so I decided that I could entertain Mr. Jones by offering him a slight diversion from our proscribed path, to see the Gutenberg Bible in a private room which contains a portrait of Harrie Widener, for whom the library was named after he died on the Titanic a century ago. I confirmed that I could get into the room and because I was early I asked a solo passerby to randomly photograph me since the proceedings had not started and we were still allowed photographs before the event began. It would be my stage where I could watch James Earl Jones react to the surroundings I have offered him.

But my play went off script and the plot collapsed and in fact disappeared. The weather had been awful all morning with a steady drizzle and unexpected gusts of wind that sent the water across the crowds and the stage. Those being honored on the stage, although they were protected by a grand tent still suffering the blasts of wind and rain and the general chill of the morning.

As the proceedings broke up and the ceremonial March to the steps of Widener began I assumed my position outside of the periodicals room to meet James Earl Jones, but as the others entered through the grand doors and were steered to their escorts there was no sign of James Earl Jones. After all the other honorees had entered and had turned over their robes and diplomas to their escorts, I went to one of the police officers guarding the ceremonies and started a flurry of walkie-talkie conversations in search of Mr. James Earl Jones. People reporting back to me, as the others took the elevator up to lunch, told me that Mr. Jones had been worn out by the weather and the cold during the morning proceedings and had asked to go directly from the stage to his hotel room.

I never met him and I have only that photograph of the Gutenberg Bible in the foreground and the portrait of Harrie Widener in the background with a slightly rotund overdressed older man between them and the realization that dreams can be memorialized in still photographs but plot cannot be deprived of action.