Public Performances

The news tonight is that there are rioters rioting in the streets of Minneapolis.
I go out to see for myself.

I see folks on the pavement and they look like they are having a riot but
they say to me they are dancers dancing not rioters rioting and I believe
them. One of them points out that the proof they are dancing is that
they are having a good time. If they were rioting, they wouldn’t be happy.

I have to confess to not having thought of that, that dancers are happy
while rioters are otherwise. That makes a lot of sense to me. Dancers do
tend to be happy, I can say with some certainty; I know this because
I too have done some dancing, but I really know little about rioting.

I go next to one of the ushers, a large man in a blue uniform. He’s wearing
a helmet. I figure he must work for the theatre. First thing, I ask if I need
a ticket. He, too, seems happy, because he bursts out laughing. He says
I must be joking. Don’t I know matinees are free?

This cheers me immensely. Had I known beforehand, I tell the usher, I could
have invited my girlfriend or even my parents. I notice then that the usher
is carrying a pistol. I’ve been in theatres around the world, in Tokyo, London,
even in Moscow, but I have never seen an usher carrying a loaded weapon.

When I see that, I decide not to ask for a program. I think I’d better look for
a seat. I wonder if the ushers are having trouble controlling the audience.
They are unruly. They see them setting fire to what I thought was part of the set.
My God, they have knocked an old man down and are kicking him in the head.

I start walking toward the sunken stage and public auditorium. It is crowded so I figure
that like the other folks I’ll have to stand. I want a seat in the orchestra but I notice
that there are really no bad seats. I already have a great view. I assume the man
on the ground is part of the show. I shout Bravo!

The dancers are clearly in the middle of a scene. I must have missed the opening.
They are shouting and swirling, kicking their legs and waving banners and posters.
One is burning the flag. I can’t quite make out what they are saying. I figure
they are doing some sort of medieval pageant, a festival, or perhaps even a wedding.

One thing I keep hearing is “it matters, it matters” (what matters?) and then
almost in unison I catch something like “can’t breathe.” I decide then that
I must be watching a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, which happens
to be a favorite.

It looks to have an almost entirely Afro-American cast, which
I think is a neat innovation. I like creative casting. I must have walked
in on the fight scene, because the actors are very excited.
Like me, they are having a ball and so, it seems, is the rest of the audience.

I can’t wait to read the reviews. The local paper used to have such a great theatre critic,
but now they employ a string of people who write about what’s called entertainment.
Movies, theater, Rock and Roll: it is all covered by the same people. They can no longer
tell one from the other. This is great public theatre but is it art? We shall see.

Low and Behold

They speak of organized religion.
How would that be?
They might as well have organized sex,
like the military, set up in camp, named
after a confederate general, or a Japanese
flower. With regiments and lieutenants, and staff
sergeants shouting orders to the young men
and women, telling them to get into position.

I’m not for it. There cannot be organized sex,
any more than there can be organized rest.
I’m against it. Any more than there can be organized
fashion, without it being called a uniform.
A white blouse and blue shoes, a bone through your
nose, and a phone up your ass. People crave order.
They like to be whipped into shape. They’d come
in to town for that. They might leave home for that.

All rise. “All that exists deserves to perish,” Karl Marx.
Confirm your humanity. Click on all the pictures of dying
children. Is that one? Or is that a dog? Is that a car or a truck?
Hurry up or you will be timed out. Your humanity will expire.
Jo Sullivan is at the wheel, soon to drive into a tree.
She wants her daughters married off before she leaves this world.
Who wouldn’t? Who doesn’t? When it comes to daughters,
say what you will…Jane Austen prevails: it is all about money.

She wrapped her car around a tree, driving at seventy-five an hour.
Jo knew a thing or two but she made the mistake of bringing her
poodle, a dreadful little animal whose turds were as big as bricks.
So much for the shag carpet, so much for the marriage. When her
husband smacked her across the mouth, it was time to go. Stopped
for a pack of cigarettes, wet her whistle, and stepped on it, drunk.
The coroner found her teeth in her brains. Forget about her lovely
green eyes. I remember how she asked me to keep quiet.

Back then, sex was on the down low. Wives shagged the chauffeur at his
peril. But I digress. A young stud at the wheel. It wasn’t long before you
were at his heel. Daddy said a barking dog wouldn’t bite. This one was
quiet as a mouse. You begged to hold the shift. You asked if he wanted
you in the front or back. You said, “turn up the heat.” That was back when
Benihana’s chef tossed chunks through the air. You bent back and let
his meat find its way down your throat. You put your foot against
the wooden dash. You didn’t give a shit who he was. You called him Darcy.

Bury the dog with your mother. In goes the Lincoln. Into the hole
goes the whole thing: the years at Lausanne, good times at Wellesley, the
masters of fine arts, the book of poetry. Fuck it all. The poodle shit all
over the living room floor. The dog coughed up balls of fur. Your lover’s
hairy balls smelled. Throw him in, too. It all goes into the meat grinder.
Henry James thinks he is so smart. Portrait of a lady, my ass. The cliché is
this: you carry rose bushes to the cars without gloves and your arms get
ripped to shreds. Blood drips from your nails. When will the applause begin?