It’s a Wonderful Piece of Socialist Propaganda!

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Sure, It’s a Wonderful Life is a heavy dose of Christian propaganda, but it also deals a heavy helping of what Fox News Fanatics would call Socialism. This, methinks, is a good thing.

It’s a testament to the film making and propaganda skills of Frank Capra, the director of the Holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, that even a grown male atheist like me weeps like a school girl receiving the news of her puppy being run over by a mac truck when watching, for the 900th time, the final scene in the film. George’s older brother Harry has just come home from the war to join the throng of well wishers in the Bailey home after George, in the process of helping a bumbling Angel get his wings, realizes that he really does want to “live again”. Harry Bailey, raising a glass and silencing the crowd says, “A toast to my big brother George, the richest man in town.

Cue “Auld Lang Syne” and let the waterworks commence.

For those of you living in a cave and don’t know the plot of the movie like the back of your hand, George Bailey is driven to brink of suicide after a life where he’s self-asphyxiated. He martyred himself for his family, for his town and for his GOD. After his bastard dumb uncle Billy loses a wad of the Building and Loan’s cash that will put George (the chief of the Building & Loan) in jail, George thinks about suicide.

Enter the plot device that owes much to the ghosts in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carroll, the Angel sent from Heaven: Clarence. In the early Victorian era, Dickens shows us the redemption of a rich old miser. In Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life our hero needs redemption not because he is evil; rather, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is so good that the whole town might just crumble under the thumb of hyper capitalist Scrooge-esq figure of Henry Potter if he were to end the heart ache and thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. So Clarence, as you well know, shows George what life would be like if he were never born.

In the classic alternate reality sequence, Bedford Falls is no longer Bedford Falls but “Pottersville”. Mary is not married to George with a large family doing community service, but she’s an old maid librarian wearing glasses and scared to look anyone in the eye. Bert the cop opens fire in the middle of the streets on unarmed men, and Ernie the cab driver– well, he’s just sad.

Pottersville is no Christian place. George Bailey, like the mythological Jesus Christ, sacrificed himself to make the world a better place. Pottersville’s got hot women, it’s got jazz for Christ’s sake. Gambling and commerce, commerce, commerce.

Frank Capra, who cut his teeth making propaganda films for the U.S. government during World War Two, seems to be taking his marching orders from the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost while making It’s a Wonderful Life, and that is the main reason that I’ve always been a bit conflicted by my emotional reaction and attachment to this film. It occurs to me now, however, that given the current political climate the film can be viewed the Glenn Beck crowd as a piece of Socialist propaganda. It is for this reason that I am happy to recommend it.

The institution that saves the town, The Bailey Building and Loan, was made possible by post Depression legislation that limited the power of the types of Monopolies Mr. Potter’s bank sought. I can just see Sarah Palin and her Tea Party compatriots getting all tangled in their rosary beads: George Bailey was a socialist commie bastard?

It is not just Sarah Palin. The FBI had their worries. A 1947 FBI memo considered the anti-consumerist message of the film a piece of Communist propaganda:

“With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”

Real life does not have the neat three-act structure of Hollywood films. Is there any way to know for sure if Bedford Falls will actually be better off in the future because of the life of a single person?

Well, according to Wendell Jamiesson, writing in the New York Times, economically speaking, it is Pottersville, not Bedford Falls, that has a better future in the unfolding American Century.

“Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring manufacturing to Bedford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Wonderful Life” manufacturing in upstate New York has suffered terribly.

On the other hand, Pottersville, with its nightclubs and gambling halls, would almost certainly be in much better financial shape today. It might well be thriving. I checked my theory with the oft-quoted Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy at New York University, and he agreed, pointing out that, of all the upstate counties, the only one that has seen growth in recent years has been Saratoga.

“The reason is that it is a resort, and it has built an economy around that,” he said. “Meanwhile the great industrial cities have declined terrifically. Look at Connecticut: where is the growth? It’s in casinos; they are constantly expanding.”

“We ease up on our lot of cultural behaviors in a depression,” he said.

What a grim thought: Had George Bailey never been born, the people in his town might very well be better off today.”

The manufacturing lifestyle that George Bailey fights for and ushers into Bedford Falls in upstate New York has suffered since the making of the film. The only community actually to see growth: Saratoga, a town built around tourism not manufacturing. In other words, according to this article in The New York Times, the thesis of It’s a Wonderful Life as we look at the world through the prism of the current economic crisis is incorrect. Bedford Falls would have been better off if George Bailey had never been born.

Maybe I’m getting old and maybe I’m getting soft, but here’s where this atheist finds himself sticking up for the Christian propaganda love fest that is the film It’s a Wonderful Life, because defining success as growth dooms us to a life on the rat wheel. Therefore we can’t grow in perpetuity. It’s true for the economy, the population, for everything.

Science shows us that we weren’t created in the Garden of Eden; we were created from the Big Bang, and from that incredible heat, we know in our bones all things turn to cold.

Love fades, youth wrinkles, stars extinguish.

If this Christmas holiday means anything to me (and it does), it’s the celebration of the human will to carry on despite this knowledge, to bring in the Pagan tradition of light and warmth into the darkness and cold of winter.

Now I can add to the list of things making me enjoy that light and warmth the hope that many of you will view America’s favorite holiday movie is as a piece of socialist propaganda. That George Bailey, a banker, may have evolved less along the lines of Gordon Gecko and more along the lines of Bernie Sanders.

-Dennis Trainor, Jr.

Truth Is Not Treason

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Jonathan Hari, writing in the Independent shortly after the arrest of Julian Assange, sums up rather succinctly why we need to be thankful for the gargantuan testicles of the WikiLeaks founder:

“Every one of us owes a debt to Julian Assange. Thanks to him, we now know that our governments are pursuing policies that place you and your family in considerably greater danger. WikiLeaks has informed us they have secretly launched war on yet another Muslim country, sanctioned torture, kidnapped innocent people from the streets of free countries and intimidated the police into hushing it up, and covered up the killing of 15,000 civilians – five times the number killed on 9/11. Each one of these acts has increased the number of jihadis. We can only change these policies if we know about them – and Assange has given us the black-and-white proof.”

Of course, it is those testicles, or parts rather close to them, that may have gotten him arrested. There certainly exists many a precedent in history of men who have done great and noble things who have turned out to be sexual predators and/or rapists. Also worth considering, however, is the laundry list of people whom the CIA has smeared for boldly crossing a line such as WikiLeaks clearly has crossed.

What the WikiLeaks releases show, and will continue to show, is that Governments lie to their people, not in extraordinary circumstances, but that governments lie to us on such a regular basis that the entire narrative of how we view the world must be called into question.

I’ll repeat that: The entire narrative of how we view the world must be called into question.

What is possibly even more obscene is that most of you considering that previous statement are nodding in agreement. In fact, I am not telling you something you don’t already know.

And yet, for those of us lucky enough to have won the birth lottery and were born in a rich and powerful country, it can be more comfortable to occupy- in the metaphoric real estate of our mind- waterfront property near that famous river in Egypt. From this comfortable position the truth, like a shock of cleansing cold water on the unwashed bodies of the masses, is not only refreshing but a much needed jolt to wake us from the collective slumber that makes is easier for the ruling class to manipulate us.

Truth is not treason.

-Dennis Trainor, Jr

Anti-Obama Rage Justified. When do we Kill and Eat the rich?

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Barack Obama was pissed.

Did you see him, yesterday afternoon? There he was: finger waging, lectern thumping, with grim, angry looks all around defending his decision to strike a deal with the GOP that would grant a tax break to the richest of the Richie Rich Regressive Randian Rascals out there and extend the Bush tax cuts.

Obama lashed out at Republicans for worshipping at the altar of Trickle Down Economics and liberals for being “sanctimonious” to a fault.

This is a decision so unpopular with the American people who it may very well mean the end of his relevancy as a President (as Rachel Maddow suggested), or that it may guarantee that he sees a Primary challenge from the left in 2012 (as Robert Kuttner recently reported).

And while the lone socialist talking head, Larry O’donnel, took the position that Obama struck the best possible deal he could get, the debate amongst Politician, analyzed by professional pundits has little or nothing to do with how the majority of Americans feel about this issue.

Consider a few statistics from a recent CBS news poll:
Only 26 percent of Americans support the GOP’s proposal to extend the cuts for all Americans. 70% of Democrats want to extend the cuts only on incomes below $250,000.
Even among Republicans, support for extending all the cuts is less than half at 46 percent.

What is in play here is so obvious and only bears mentioning to reframe this debate: elected officials do not even pretend to be accountable to their constituents. They are accountable to the interests of the richest 1% or less in this country. This may have always been true, but the recent Citizen United Supreme Court ruling created a new monster this past election cycle, the Super PAC: granting the super wealthy even more influence and an even greater voice in the political process than ever before.

When lobbying for a more just and equitable world, your letter to your Congresswoman or man or Senator will likely have about the same effect as a sandcastle trying to stop a Tsunami.

What the overwhelming majority of American need is some leverage. Think of it another way. When the United States of America negotiates secretly with – Iran for example, do you think the USA takes the nuclear option off the table? No. That is the leverage we have. My question then is, how far off is the day when the American people, negotiating openly with the super wealthy class via their proxy pawns in Congress and the White House say something like: do we, the unwashed masses want to kill and eat the rich? Well, lets just say that all options are on the table. The negotiating table, and the dinning room table. And yes, pun intended you hyper capitalist trickle down bastard.

As I watch Obama play at negotiating with this lame duck Congress the words that more often than not dancing in my head in reference to that duck are the immortal words of Arlo Guthrie from his protest song Alice’s Restaurant:

“I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.”

If one of does that well they might think we was crazy and just ignore it. If two people, can you imagine, two people ranting and raving like that –well they might think they was faggots and file us under Don’t ask Don’t Tell.

But if three, can you imagine if three, or fifty or hundreds of people a day getting so visibly angry, well they might think it was a movement the Kill and Eat the Rich Movement.
And then maybe we would get more Politicians sounding like Bernie Sanders and less sounding like Barack Obama.

Taking Down America

-Dennis Trainor, Jr
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It is easy to forget as we argue over tax cuts for billionaires, or NAFTA-esque labor agreements with North Korea – or any of the additional Obama sell outs to the Right Wing Billionaire lunatic fringe that, in all likelihood, we are simply re-arraigning furniture on the titanic.

Alfred McCoy’s thorough article on Tom Dispatch offers a few sobering perspectives on the possible how’s and when’s of the statistical inevitability of America’s decline as a Global superpower when he writes:

“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030 (….) Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.”

McCoy’s thesis is not so much buttressed by any nihilistic ideology or conspiracy based paranoia, but by a US National Intelligence report titled Global Trends 2025, that cites:
“the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way, roughly from West to East” and “without precedent in modern history,” as the primary factor in the decline of the “United States’ relative strength — even in the military realm.”

In my view, we all to often fail to see the forest in the politically polarized trees of our daily discourse to consider the consequences of the inevitable demise of the United States of America as a Global superpower.

Consider that “The American Century” came into being at the end of World War Two. Making the US the first post-nuclear Global Super Power. Old world cartographers changed maps as the result of wars fought with pickaxes. Today, there are enough nukes at the ready in the world to turn the earth into something resembling the regurgitated contents of frat boy’s stomach after a night being hazed by Kappa Sigma.

Speaking of the Greeks, they may have taken down the Roman Empire with a Trojan Horse, but by 2020, according to McCoy, the Chinese will have a the Trojan Horse 2.0 in the form of a “global network of communications satellites, backed by the world’s most powerful supercomputers, (that will) also be fully operational, providing Beijing with an independent platform for the weaponization of space and a powerful communications system for missile- or cyber-strikes into every quadrant of the globe.

As the Chinese economy is on pace to overtake the US as the worlds largest by 2026, it is time for us to imagine ourselves as the little guy on the global stage.

David Swanson, author of War is Lie, asked today by way of a facebook status update: “Why don’t China and Saudi Arabia just fight each other instead of funding the US and al Qaeda?” To which I responded: Interesting, to think that we are just fighting proxy wars for China. Makes you think that the “American Empire” is just a little guy in the next cold war. Karma is a boomerang that way. I hope that, in the next chapter in history (if there is one) I can at least have a radio show. Can you say GOOOOOOD Mornin ViETNAMNMNMNNM!!!!!! ?

BIO: A freelance writer and performer, Dennis Trainor, Jr has worked as a writer/ media consultant for Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential campaign and served as a contributing editorial commentator for The Uptake and Veracifier. His documentary on U.S. foreign policy, MANIFEST DESTINY’S CHILD, is due out on DVD this January. He is the host of NoCureForThat.wordpress.com. Contact @ DennisTrainorJr (at) gmail.com

THE 2010 PERSON OF THE YEAR: BRADLEY MANNING

Rape, murder, lies, sex, war, carnage, leakage- the past 12 months have had all of this and more in common with, well, every other year in this, the 2010th year in the Gregorian Calendar. But because list are comforting and things must be compartmentalized, quantified, ruminated on, and debated- and because Time magazine FUCKS this shit up every year, I offer you the 2010 No Cure For That Person of the year award.

But first, some dishonorable mentions:

Tony Hayward for being the arrogant face and voice of a willfully negligent environmental terrorist of a corporation who presided over the largest environmental disaster in US history and one of the largest PR disasters in world history. You are free to enjoy your dishonorable mention now that you have your life back.

Pat Robertson for, in addition to just being a windbag-o-douche- stating that the Haiti earthquake was the result of Haiti making a deal with the devil.

Pope Benedict, for your continued efforts at shielding priests from criminal prosecution and allowing them to wear the cloth after you knew they raped and molested children, here is wishing I am wrong in my opinion about the non-existence of an afterlife and that hell does in fact exist with Beelzebub saving an eternal seat for at table with Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacey.
It is hard to give your heroes a dishonorable mention, but Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, for throwing a massive rally against rallies and protest against protest a Slactivist festival that hold high the Kid Rock Ethos of “the world is really awful but there is nothing we can do about it” I declare that the 2 kings of Comedy Central go directly to jail and do not pass go.

There are more, easy targets for dishonorable mention of course; Sarah Palin, Lebron James and the father of that Indonesian 2 year old baby who was smoking a pack a day come quickly to mind, but let us now shine a light on some of the most positive movers and shakers of 2010:

Honorable mention must go to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Laying bare the lies governments tell us that lead us to and keep us in a state of perpetual war makes you a hero on this list even as the likes of Sarah Palin calling for you to be hunted down like Osama bin Laden. WikiLeaks is said to be taking precautions in the light of such threats, but if we were going to hunt him down like Osama, it would appear that his life is not in that much danger after all. And while I think he could do away with his Ray Ban sponsorship deal he still earns a place high on this year’s Person of the Year honorable mention.

Lady Gaga also deserves honorable mention, not only for achieving fame while artistically de-constructing the fame monster culture we live in, but for using her celebrity status to advocate for gay rights and the abolishment of DADT. Even if her motivation is to overtake Madonna and Barbara Streisand on the iPod playlists of gay men all over the world, the ends (methinks) justify the means.

Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, the married couple DIY independent media power couple get high praise for their work this year. She a journalist and he a comedian and together the hosts of the only podcast I actually listen to – you should all run right now to citizenradio.com to subscribe to their show to find out why G Gordon Liddy once told Allison why her writing wants to make him vomit and why Jeneane Garafolo described Jamie comedy as a cross between George Carlin and Bill Hicks. Pull yourself away from corporate media mouthpieces and listen to what true independence sounds like. You will not be disappointed, I promise.

This person of the year however, goes to Bradley Manning.

Displaying the courage, hearts and brains to pull back the curtain and show us much more than the menacing Wizard of OZ, Private First Class Bradley Manning allegedly (so this award must come with an asterisk, until his suspected involvement is confirmed) is the reason why Secretary of State Clinton, among other high-ranking officials, are scrambling to mend fences.  But exposing the machinations behind the hegemonic homicidal foreign policy of the United States goes well beyond any dream like dorethean allegory. Because, while it is true that we are no longer in Kansas, to stretch the boundaries of the Wizard of Oz metaphor, life in the post nuclear era is never so simple as clicking our heels together and awaking from a dream.

Private First Class Bradley Manning is now in jail, charged with illegally copying classified documents.

Manning said he hoped the release of the videos and documents would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

In fact, the ongoing discussion that will not die down anytime soon as a result of Manning’s actions are challenging Americans to face is a deeper meaning behind the phrase “there’s no place like home.”

The Top 10 News Stories Of 2010

No Cure For That has gotten a makeover and moved here, click on the image to join us:

-Dennis Trainor, Jr  (facebooktwitter)
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Because it is that time of year when we have to endure lists, and because all of the other lists are going to be some version of a Barbara Walters soft white light view of the world, I give you some holiday party talking points for what should be the top 10 news stories of 2010.

#10. Obama’s Health Care Reform

Depending on your point of view, Obama either accomplished something that many presidents have failed to do or he created what amounts to a huge gift to anyone with health insurance stock in their portfolios.

Either way, most of the meaningful provisions of this historic legislation don’t even go into effect until 2014 and in the intervening time the Democrats will be so busy trying to prevent Sarah Palin from becoming our next President that the they will acquiesce to amendments and compromises to the bill that will strip away all of the good and make even the cost of Advil out of reach for most Americans.

Isn’t that always the way with Democrats though, one baby step forward, 10 Andre-the Giant steps back?

#9 World Cup in South Africa

Most Americans would rather watch badminton, curling, or avant-garde French cinema than what the rest of the world calls football and we belligerently refer to as soccer.

Why?

Because football is for men and steeped in war metaphor with bombs and blitzes and aerial attacks. Football is American. Soccer, the ultimate team game, is for commies. If soccer were to catch on in the USA, what would be next, National Health Care? That is why the success of the World Cup offers a glimmer of hope to Godless commies marooned here in the USA.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

by Dennis Trainor, Jr ♦ acronym 2010

Notes:
The following is the opening scene from the play I Coulda Been A Kennedy, by Dennis Trainor, Jr.  For more about the play, see the bottom of this post.

The play takes place on one plot of land, shifting back and forth between 1970, 1987, and 2004. The O’Reilly’s owned the land in 1970 and 1987; the Greco’s in 2004.

The Greco home (2004) should be inspired by the design of Adam Kalkin (imagine something from DWELL magazine), while the O’Reilly home should be inspired by the Leisurama homes built in Montauk during the 1960’s (imagine something from SALT WATER TAFFY QUARTERLY). It is important that the design accommodate quick changes from one scene to the next, from one era to the next.

ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

The buzzing of the cicadas fills the theatre. As house lights go to black, the buzzing gets louder. In darkness, the following projections play out as the buzzing gets louder still.

PROJECTED/ TEXT:

JUNE 20, 2004
FATHERS DAY
KURDS ADVANCING TO RECLAIM LAND IN NORTHERN IRAQ
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

PROJECTED/ IMAGE:
CLOSE UP PHOTOGRAPH OF A BROOD TEN CICADA

The buzzing, now unbearably loud, cuts out abruptly just as the lights bump up on FRANCIS, MARY (both in their early 60s) with their daughter HOLLY (33) in the middle of an animated conversation.

HOLLY: But what if we did kill President Bush?

MARY: Holly please with that. Did you see the wisteria that we planted by the oak out back?

FRANCIS: Article in the paper said don’t plant anything. Cicadas coming.

MARY: We’ll spray. The party.

FRANCIS: Right. The party the party. We’ll spray.

HOLLY: I’m not sayin’ we form a militia or anything like that. But what if he were killed?

MARY: Oh, Frank honey, remind me to call the Williams about the-

FRANCIS: Why don’t you volunteer for the campaign? You don’t want to work,  you seem to have plenty of time on your hands- you want to get Bush out of office-

HOLLY: I work Dad-

MARY: We don’t need to get into that again. Tonight.

FRANCIS: I know some people, some young people I read they are going to Ohio, Florida, working for Kerry-

MARY: Just because your boyfriend wants to kill the president-

HOLLY: Do you like him? Devin? He’s very interesting, isn’t he?

MARY: Is he okay, anyway? He’s been in the bathroom for-

FRANCIS: Holly, Holly. This is a boyfriend? This is his title already?

HOLLY: It was just a hypothetical… A topic of conversation… He likes to debate. He’s a thinker you know. He doesn’t want to kill anybody. He’s not pierced. No tattoos.

FRANCIS: He’s not a very good golfer-

HOLLY: Do you like him?

DEVIN O’REILLY (34) emerges from the bathroom.

DEVIN: This is a beautiful home you have.

FRANCIS: Building.

MARY: Home.

FRANCIS: Building, we call it a- Thank you, Devin. Nice of you to keep saying so.

DEVIN: There is a painting, a print I guess, in your bathroom-

MARY: Oh my God Frank- I told you we should just toss that thing in the garbage. Oh Devin just ignore that monstrosity in there. Oh Frank, we have had the building for- what?

FRANCIS: Uhh-

MARY: Seventeen years this fall and well-

FRANCIS: Used the place as a summer rental thing. Paid for Holly’s college.

MARY: The previous owners left a lot of stuff behind- we never cared- a summer rental you see- Place rented itself. Anyway. It was Frank’s idea-

FRANCIS: Every room in this building kept one design element from the last house-

MARY: Right. We knocked down the last house-

FRANCIS: Cheap little saltbox of a ranch house- moldy.

MARY: Frank is a stickler for the germs-

FRANCIS: I’m a stickler for the germs.

HOLLY: Jesus you two. Do you remember the question?

DEVIN: The bathroom. I was just struck by the painting-

MARY: Yes. Yes. Yes. The Artful Dodger. Looks like the kind of print one would have bought in Macy’s or something-

FRANCIS: Buy this love seat, get painting free-

MARY: Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s definitely what it must have been-

FRANCIS: So long story short. The bathroom kept the Artful Dodger.

MARY: No matter how odious-

FRANCIS: Well you kept the Irish blessing thing. Irish poetry on a serving dish- talk about-

MARY: Oh- I like that. May the road rise to meet you-

FRANCIS: Yea. Well. You see, Devin, the design of a new home-

MARY: Building, we call it a-

FRANCIS: – Building. – just like marriage, is a constant process of negotiation.

MARY: Capitulation.

FRANCIS: Mary Mary sweet Mary Mary. Negotiation.

DEVIN: Yeah. I actually like the painting. Print. Whatever.

HOLLY: Dad thinks I should volunteer for the campaign. Kerry.

FRANCIS: It’s not as dramatic as killing the president, but it is still working for change.

Tension. Pause. More tension.

MARY: Frank remind me to call the exterminator in the morning-

HOLLY: The cicadas are harmless, Mom. You don’t need to-  When do they emerge, anyway?

DEVIN: I’m not advocating…Are we still on this topic? Of course if it were my child, or perhaps should I say it’s hard to justify the continued- And okay I’m glad I’m not charged with coming up with all of the answers- Sixty four degrees. When the ground is sixty four degrees, they come out. Cicadas. Kind of a strange passion of mine. Cicadas. The next emergence in seventeen years. But Bush, Bush is advocating preemptive attacks to secure a peaceful future. What are we to say to Russia when they- or more to the point- if you were about to bring a child into this world- could it not be argued, I mean if Bush were eliminated, I mean- Seventeen years from now, what will they be asking? Seventeen years ago, what were they thinking? What were you thinking?

MARY: Who wants coffee?

DEVIN: I’m sorry. How is… Mr. Greco, how is work?

FRANCIS: I’m retired Devin.

DEVIN: Right. Umm… What line of work were you in then?

MARY: I picked up a chocolate chip cheesecake from the-

MARY goes to retrieve dessert.

FRANCIS: Finance. I worked for Cantor- Fitzgerald for some twenty five years. Made a few lucky moves in the market. I was able to get out a little early-

MARY: (off) And we have the brownies from last night leftover.

DEVIN: So you were- Cantor Fitzgerald? So you were… Were you there when-?

FRANCIS: Yes. Yes. Next topic.

MARY: (off) Oh I know! I have a new recipe that you should try-

HOLLY: Dad went back to work for a while and then-

FRANCIS: Holly. Enough.

MARY: (returning with a plate of chocolate covered something) We just downsized down to the basics. Probably been coming for a long time- hard to put a finger on the impulse…After that whole thing… It just brought us together, you know. We cut back, but we’re comfortable. We’re new money Devin.

HOLLY: Reagan rich, right Dad? Trickle down democrats.

MARY: If you kill Bush-

FRANCIS: He becomes a martyr, more popular in death, and we get Cheney as president.

HOLLY: Like Kennedy? We benefit because Kennedy was killed? A liberal agenda moves forward? I don’t think so.

DEVIN: He wins a few popularity contests in death-

FRANCIS: You want Dick Cheney to be the president?

HOLLY: We could blow up an election booth or two on election day-

DEVIN: I mean lets just say that Bush isn’t the enemy. Something bigger- the system or something-

FRANCIS: Shipping containers. This house is made entirely from five large shipping containers, a steel beams. We put a solar panel up there. We’re living simple. Pairing down.

HOLLY: And no, we decided nothing, you, you decided to table it.

DEVIN: I mean no disrespect- but even a trickle down democrat cannot deny that the pageantry paid Ronnie Reagan-

FRANCIS: We’re talking about Reagan now?

HOLLY: You voted for Reagan. Right Dad?

MARY: Oh stop it-

HOLLY: The pageantry paid to Reagan is fitting for a man whose economic policies served as the first domino of your cascading good fortune which, good and decent people as we are, do not deserve.

FRANCIS: That trickle down paid for the college education that comes out of your mouth in these deliciously packaged sound bites every time you have a few drinks.

MARY: We don’t deserve this? Francis honey give the house back. You didn’t earn your money.

DEVIN: Well, apologies for the armchair socioeconomic bibble babble, but that is how the system works-

HOLLY: I haven’t been drinking-

MARY: We are hardly rich.

DEVIN: New money, Mary. You said it yourself.

FRANCIS: Easy pal-o-mine pal pal-

HOLLY: OK Daddy-, easy. We are just having a discussion here-

DEVIN: No. It’s OK. I apologize. Right is right.

FRANCIS: This coming from the actor whose claim to fame is that he was almost the “can you hear me now” guy.

DEVIN: I stressed the “hear.” In the callback. Can you hear me now? I thought the ad campaign was trying to tap into some kind of generational angst. Can you hear me now? Too edgy. And I’m not a beer salesman. Commercials free me up to do some real work.

HOLLY: I love how you say that with a straight face.

FRANCIS: Shipping containers. Five in all, a few steel beams. Whala. A home. Solar panels up there, completely wireless and internet ready and yet progressively off the grid. Three bedroom, two baths of feng shui genius.

HOLLY: You’re hosting a fund-raising dinner for John Kerry July 4th. That’s kind of on the grid.

DEVIN: That was one hell of an approach shot on seventeen, Mr. Greco. Holly, you should have seen the shot your father hit into the seventeenth green.

FRANCIS: I had laid up on my second shot, played it a little safe, so I had a good look at getting my third close to the pin.

DEVIN bites into chocolate. HOLLY is now eating them as well.

DEVIN: But a very, I mean, no, really very difficult pin placement. Pear shaped green, water on the two front sides-

MARY: You’re eating chocolate covered cicadas.

FRANCIS: She could not wait to try this recipe!!! Brilliant Mary Mary, there is no way they would have eaten that if you told them what it was-

DEVIN: The bug? The The The insect? Chocolate?

FRANCIS: It is all part of the new order. Our new order. Back to nature. Big risks. Eating exotic foods.

HOLLY: Cicadas? Really mom. Cicadas. Were they cooked?

MARY: Injected them with sugar water and then dipped them in hot fudge. Ghiradelli. My garden club refused to try them. So whatcha think, can I serve them at the party?

DEVIN: Unreal.

FRANCIS: Martha is out of the picture Mary, the whole party planning super Matriarch position is open.

MARY: I always said I would have a second career.

FRANCIS: Full of surprises, my Mary Mary sweet Mary Mary.

DEVIN: Okay right sorry in advance but here it is: What if we, again, not we and I would like to discuss this cicada thing momentarily beautiful creatures but please indulge me for only a moment for reasons that may soon become clear I’m a Libra run on sentences are part of my make up astrologically predetermined but again to the point what if not we personally but some cultural slash political force or some group of men trained in seventeen different types of kung fu and languages and a broader global agenda- a peaceful global agenda- what if they, okay not we they, what if they- without our permission or consent- what if they killed Bush?  A preemptive strike?

HOLLY: Preemption would have been a diaphragm shoved up Barbara’s bush a long time-

MARY: Holly. Really. My god.

HOLLY: Thank you. You’re a great crowd. I am here all week.

DEVIN: Again, not us personally. In the same way that I could not slaughter a lamb but slap it down in front of me medium rare, a little rosemary sprig and a decent Pinot Noir- the South Africans are doing nice things with Pinot nowadays- I’m eating that lamb. Wouldn’t we be better off? Now? In a generation? ‘Cause Bush Ashcroft Cheney Powell- I mean what if your generation did not fail- not you individually, but your wealth built on the backs of the poor and karma the boomerang-but to be articulate even if just for a moment not beat around the bush as it were, no pun: you personally did not fail. Sake of argument and politeness: you personally are not culpable for the mess we are in. You say BEAT BUSH! But that is so short term. A quick fix. A stolen election. Patriot Act. Freedom Fries.

HOLLY: Our children.

DEVIN: Our children’s children.

FRANCIS: Whose children?

HOLLY: Another generation. Things have gotten so far out of balance… Something drastic has to happen. Kerry is-

DEVIN: The point is: What if the Hippie movement slash progressive movement, whatever you call it, wasn’t co-opted and beheaded?

MARY: I wasn’t a hippie. Francis wasn’t a-

FRANCIS: Couldn’t grow a beard. Never really connected on the side. Didn’t really look right.

DEVIN: What if Kennedy, King, Malcolm, and Kennedy again were not assassinated under a cloud of almost certain conspiracy. Even if it was not an agenda being pursued, even if the CIA or elements therein didn’t act like an independent terrorist sleeper cell acting for a greater good- what is the difference? The results are the same. So with that in mind-

FRANCIS: I’m not sure who you think you are. But this was a simple get to know you dinner that went a little too far.

HOLLY: Wouldn’t you consider the possibility that some greater chain of events than electing John Kerry needs to be set off? That he is not the first domino for our future?

MARY: Every building should have a pussy or intra oracular organ. All stunned. Embarrassed. Silent.

FRANCIS: I love it when you talk dirty my Mary Mary sweet Mary Mary.

HOLLY: Mom. Really. My God.

FRANCIS: It is a main architectural principal of the designer. The extra oracular thing.

DEVIN : I know-and you know that the next generation of us, of our family, will be much better off if Bush were gone.

FRANCIS: Come again. The future of my family?

MARY: Oh, go ahead and kill Bush- just don’t come back to my home for sanctuary.

HOLLY: Your pussy you mean. As an abstract design concept.

MARY: God-damn it Holly, whenever you get your drink on you become so disrespectfully belligerent.

HOLLY: When I get my drink on? (pause) I told you before. I have not had a single drink all night.

HOLLY and MARY exchange a look.
HOLLY looks at DEVIN.
MARY understands.

MARY: Oh. My. Holly Holly sweet Holly Holly. How far along?

FRANCIS looks at HOLLY, then at DEVIN.
DEVIN gets down on one knee in front of HOLLY, revealing a ring box.

DEVIN: Can you hear me now?

END OF SCENE

ABOUT THE PLAY: I Coulda Been A Kennedy was developed in workshops with the New York based Rude Mechanical Theatre Company under the guidance of director Danny Goldstein and with the help of TONY Award winner Blair Brown, TONY nominee Omar Metwally among many others.. The Rude Mechanicals mounted a full production of the play off-off Broadway in the summer of 2006.

TIME OUT NEW YORK called the production:“…An ambitious yawp of a play, surreal and boisterous and full of political choler…. In a time when political plays typically devolve into name-calling, Trainor actually manages to discover an apposite metaphor for governance”. While THE VILLAGE VOICE said:  “smart, suspenseful tale explores the dark side of the American dream” and NYCONSTAGE.Org said: “The triumph of the evening belongs to author Trainor, Jr. however. The thrust of the piece is exhilarating with just enough period details to keep one on their toes (Vietnam, Iran-Contra, the Bush/Kerry race). The dialogue has a clever, edgy quality….I Coulda… could become a major contender.”

Producers, publishers and other interested parties who wish to peruse the full script should contact DennisTrainorjr {at} gmail {dot} com