Saturday, January 17, 2004

Unpublished Letters

Fri, 12 Dec 2003 Dear Mr. Okrent,

When did the New York Post editors begin composing The New York Times' front page. On Wednesday, December 10th R.W. Apple Junior's "news analysis" is entitled "An Insurgent Gains Status." Is The Times implying that Dr. Howard Dean is involved in the daily attacks on our troops in Iraq? The word appears three times in Mr. Apple's article and is also linked to Eugene McCarthy. Jodi Wilgoren also used the word to refer to Mr. Dean. Interestingly enough, the first letter on that day's reader's letters uses it in regards to the situation in Iraq.

It's bad enough The Times has recently helped knock the Reagan movie off CBS, gotten the running back Maurice Clarett kicked off his college football team, and helped Bush and Co. link Iraq and Al Qaeda (mostly through Judith Miller's unnamed source tomfoolery). But referring to Dr. Dean as a terrorist goes a little too far.

Mon, 14 July 2003 Dear Editor,

In the fawning front page tribute to the occupation administrator of Iraq, Mr. L. Paul Bremer ("U.S. Occupation Administrator Adjusts Strategy as Turmoil Grows in Iraq," July 13, 2003), The New York Times continues to serve the will of a corrupt and treacherous junta.

On the purloined desk of his purloined study in the purloined presidential palace, Mr. Bremer displays the motto "Success has a thousand fathers" although he leaves out the part about failure. While the longtimee protege of Mr. Realpolitik, Henry Kissinger, may believe that the aphorism conveys 'an admonition for teamwork', it is unconscionable for the Times to allow this perversion.

As any scholar of history knows, President John F. Kennedy, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, prominently uttered the old Jewish saying. The motto's truemeaning is that many want to take credit for successes but no one ever admits failure. The chief executive willingly took blame for his actions without passing the buck on to prior administrations or the CIA.

During the Clinton Administration prominent space (usually on the front page) was provided for countless alleged exposes on the 'Whitewater Scandal', while Bush is the beneficiary of constant whitewashing. How else to explain the ommission of articles on the 9-11 Commission meetings in May which revealed obfuscations and cover-up attempts by officials in the FAA and NORAD, and last week's testimony by the world's most renowned expert on Osama bin Laden, Rohan Gunaratna (in which he revealed that the September 11 attack - 'Holy Tuesday' - was specifically plotted in January 2000 in a meeting monitored by the Malaysian secret police at the request of the CIA)?

It's reprehensible that The New York Times has no ongoing investigation of the 9-11 crimes. When did Dick Cheney become Executive Editor of the 'paper of record'?

In addition, there are far more than 16 words from Bush's State of the Union Address that can be categorized as falsehoods such as "he pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country", "nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons", "US intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwardsof 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents", "our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapon production", "Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview", "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists including members of Al Qaida", and "the dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons."

The most offensive part of the State of the Union address was the disregarding of the Constitutional protections of American citizens when Mr. Bush bragged that "all told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States." This scoundrel is gleeful that 'suspected terrorists' have been murdered without any sort of trial (such as the election day assassination of an American citizen with an Israeli-like operation) and The New York Times allows him to get away with it.

Thu, 5 June 2003 To the editor,

Alessandra Stanley's attack on Oliver Stone ("A Noted Filmmaker in a Tense Land," June 5) continues the Embedded Media's crusade to defend the brutal regimes that control the 'Axis of the Good' - US,Britain and Israel. Any time a lone, brave soul from the left (such as a Sean Penn, Michael Moore or Tim Robbins) raises their voice in dissent he or she is branded with a mark as "famous", "simple" or "foolish."

In one horrifying sentence, Ms. Stanley describes an Israeli soldier shooting at rock-throwing Palestinians as merely "arrogant", but still "innocent." Perhaps she can reapply these descriptions in a future story concerning the NYPD's applications of concussion grenades, plungers and US Post Office uniforms.

While it's true that Ms. Stanley doesn't sink as low as a "Foxified" cheerleader, this piece is as one-sided as her typical 'bipartisan' media critiques. But then this "fair and balanced" television reviewer has also written on the "proliferation of television choices" for frustrated antiwar groups that this reader is never able to find in the TV listings. I'm not surprised by anything the Times prints while still publishing Judith Miller's Pentagon de-briefed WMD deceptions. This despite her violation of the Times' policy that bars its writers from belonging to public political groups, as in her alliance with the recent government hire - the repugnant Daniel Pipes.

Meanwhile, the last open 9-11 Commission hearing provided nothing "fit to print," even though collateral bombshells were dropped in testimonies by the FAA and NORAD. Thank the heavens, at least, for Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Paul Krugman who compose the only liberal unit within the Times' mostly yellow pages.

Tue, 1 Jul 2003 To the Editor,

On The New York Times' Op-ed page of Monday, June 30, Nixon apologist William Safire contends to 'place a high value on personal freedom' ("The Bedroom Door") and like Supreme Court Justice Scalia may not have'nothing against homosexuals', but his column is filled with not-so-cleverly-coded slurs against gays.

Same-sex marriage, when referred to as 's-s-m', is reduced to a sexual practice such as S & M. Although a quick search on Yahoo reveals hundreds of articles and Websites that have employed this term, even some gay sites, it is as offensive as using anti-life instead of pro-choice or anti-troop instead of anti-war. Perhaps, Mr. Safire can enlighten us with a Sunday Magazine weigh-in on the ugly term's genesis.

Mr. Safire also declares that "polls will show a majority of voters are uncomfortable with the notion [of gay marriages]." The use of the word 'will' is incorrect unless Mr. Safire is referring to a phone conversation with Miss Cleo or an unseen volume of the writings of Nostradamus. Years ago, polls reflected majorities against various rights for women, immigrants and African-Americans but slowly crept towards a collective open-mindness.

It's nice to hear that Mr. Safire doesn't still 'fret about same-sex marriages', maybe now he can find the time to fret about his (and The New York Times') propagandistic use of language.

Back to Contents


Friday, January 16, 2004

The Times On Torture

Over a month ago, on Tuesday, March 30, 2004, The New York Times carried a story by David Rohde on its front page entitled "G.I.'s in Afghanistan on Hunt, But Now for Hearts and Minds." Nobody seemed to notice at the time (this was before the Abu Ghraib torture pictures were revealed to the public), but the article included an account of torture committed by American toops.

Embedded or not, Mr. Rhode travelled with the Comanche Company of the First Battalion of the Anchorage-based 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment for a few days in March. "The convoy arrived at 6:30 a.m. In a display of overwhelming force, an A-10 attack jet circled overhead and dozens of American vehicles surrounded seven mud compounds spread across a barren hillside. A squad of scouts, led by Staff Sgt. David Jarzab, a tall, lanky 26-year-old native of Pennsylvania, raided one of the compounds and quickly found one of the wanted brothers. American soldiers threw that brother, Rashid Rahman, a small, bony man who appeared to be over 60, to the ground, pushed his face in the dirt and tied his hand behind his back with plastic strips. His 30-year-old son, Abdel Malik, was also bound and left face down in the dirt."

A little brutal, perhaps, but the worst is to come: "A 16-year-old named Muhammad Rahman, meanwhile, was caught in a lie. He told the Americans that he had no weapons, then later showed them where he had hidden two Kalashnikov rifles and a Chinese-made mortar round. Visibly angry, the Americans tied the teenager's hands, placed a burlap sack on his head and pushed him down a steep hillside. As an American soldier knelt on the boy's back and pushed his face into the dirt, Sergeant Jarzab demanded to know if there were more hidden weapons. "He's a liar, and he's going to Cuba," the sergeant shouted, although he later ordered the boy freed."

Last time I checked, placing a sack over a person's head and pushing him down a hill qualifies as inhumane treatment, and should be prosecuted as a war crime. Time will tell if Staff Sgt. David Jarzab faces any forthcoming charges, but I doubt it.

To his credit, Mr. Rhode notes that "the same American troops still use the standard tactics of military power to achieve their aims: intimidation, overwhelming force, hands tied behind backs and faces in the dirt. Over the course of the three-day patrol, it was not clear whether they had won, or lost, more hearts and minds." But the real question is whether or not Mr. Rhode reported the crimes (and any others he may have witnessed) to the proper authorities (your guess is as good as mine who they are - Seymour Hersh?) and will he be ready to testify at any future court martials.

To his discredit, Mr. Rhode seems to think that the people of Afghanistan don't mind being abused by our poorly trained troops. "After his release, the boy did not complain about his treatment. Instead, as the soldiers stood nearby, he praised the Americans for stabilizing Afghanistan "I am very happy they came," he said. "I just request that they build a school for us.""

Does Mr. Rhode really believe that the boy was being honest? If I was bagged and thrown down a hill, I wouldn't complain either, for fear of being shot or worse (going to Cuba). This is reminiscent of the way the press keeps reporting that most Iraqis support the occupation in countless polls. The Iraqis know enough to keep their mouths shut and their Saddam posters hidden away.


Pearl Harbor & 9/11

In May of 2001, Mickey Mouse's studio released the Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay monstrosity Pearl Harbor (which has now, thankfully, drifted into collective memory). For the gala premiere, the United States Navy loaned the Magic Kingdom - free of charge - the USS John C. Stennis, enlisted men included. To entertain the crowd, Navy SEAL paratroopers leaped from a Black Hawk helicopter as the stars, producers, and invited guests of the film walked a long red carpet onboard. The nuclear-powered Stennis is not some steamboat; less than six months later its set would be the northern Arabian Sea, where it helped provide air support for the war in Afghanistan. Fighter planes launched from the Stennis unloaded 275,000 pounds of bombage (this seems like a good place to mention that the prior Bruckheimer/Bay production was Armageddon which also featured Ben Affleck).

The last act of Pearl Harbor dramatizes the post-attack bombing raid over Tokyo led by James Doolittle. In a stirring speech just before the raid, Doolittle, portrayed by Alec Baldwin, tells the men what he'd personally do if his plane is shot down over Tokyo: "I wasn't built to be a prisoner so I would have my crew bail out. I'd find the sweetest military target I could and drive my plane right smack into the middle of it and kill as many of those bastards as I possibly could."

Come again.

"I'd find the sweetest military target I could and drive my plane right smack into the middle of it and kill as many of those bastards as I possibly could."

President Bush received an invitation to the Pearl Harbor premiere in Hawaii, yet couldn't attend (although his pops popped up and represented for the clan). But a month later, sometime in June, the movie was officially screened at the White House. That's when debonair Dubya purportedly paid a peck to the cheek of starlet Kate Beckinsale.

But who else in the administration attended this screening? Specifically, did the buns of Condi Rice or Laura Bush fill a seat in the aisle? In 2002, when stories examining Bush's possible foreknowledge finally swept the land (who can forget Fox's New York Post headline? "Bush Knew"), Bush's "better halves" came out and publicly proclaimed that no one ever-ever-ever could have imagined hijackers turning planes into weapons.

I didn't get to see the flick until it was released on video in December of 2001, and when I first heard Doolittle's words, I nearly lost it. In its first week of release, an astonishing 3.7 million dvds were sold but I guess nobody in the mainstream media took the time to rewatch it. Here we are, three years later, and I have yet to see or read anything about this antecedent anywhere else. In fact, Bill Maher is the sole person I can think of who ever even brought up the subject of kamikazes (and he was soundly threatened by Ari Liar Liar Fleischer, no matter what the ex-spokesman claims today).

A month ago, after Stephen Sondheim's Assassins finally opened in New York (it was delayed after the events of 9-11), some of the dailies finally noted Sam Byck's plot to crash a plane into the White House in 1974. Of course, three years ago, there was little mention of Byck or the bozo who flew his plane into the White House during Clinton's tenure.

How can people be so stupid? The Media don't need no stinkin' daily briefings to prove that 9-11 was not unimaginable.


This Land Link

Check out this link to a hilarious cartoon entitled  "This Land" starring Dubya and JFKerry, fun for all parties (that means you, too, curious bushlovers) :  This Land


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Act IV Scene 2

(It is April 22nd, 2003; the setting is HAROLD REYNOLD’S NEW YORK CITY MAGAZINE OFFICE. HAROLD sits behind his desk talking through the speakerphone.)

HAROLD (friendly to phone) - They have no business telling a private club what to do. Martha Burke and her ‘vandals’ are free to tee off or sip tea somewhere else. Lezbo golfers have legions of leagues of their own.


HAROLD (to door) - Go away! I’m busy! (to the phone) I don’t give a flying fig who it is. They all know the rule: when my door is shut, it means I’m in seclusion.


HAROLD (to door) - Didn’t you hear me? I said I was occupied!


HAROLD (to the phone) - Well, the door is thick and solid.


HAROLD (to door) - Great Caesar’s ghost! You’d better have a warrant on your possession!

(HAROLD storms toward the door then opens it with a flourish. TED WOLF parades into the office wearing a blue baseball cap with a B for Brooklyn and casual clothes - looking confident and relaxed.)

TED - Jesus Christ, Harold! Does it take a bunker-buster to raise your roof beam?

HAROLD - Well then, when Johnny comes typing home! (to phone) I gotta go, Bill. My boy’s returned from the war. Call me at home tonight.

TED - I hope this doesn’t qualify as an invasion.

HAROLD - Don’t be so humble. I don’t feel the slightest bit besieged. (points with his pen at TED) Bill Kristol insisted that I intimate that you did us proud.

TED - Really, that’s cool. Sorry, I didn’t come to see you sooner. I got back in country a few days ago, but I had an affair I had to resolve.

HAROLD - Save the apologies, everyone at this magazine is indebted to you. You’ve been the source of much excitement. (waves pen around like a conductor’s baton) Heck, I’d stand up and blow a trumpet, a trombone or something in your glory but since you already have a pretty girlfriend at your beck and call I wouldn’t want to unseat her.

TED - Harold, I have a scoop for you.

HAROLD - Sit down in the chair before you unload on me. (after a beat) Wait; don’t tell me. She left you.

TED - Well, strictly speaking, we left each other.

HAROLD - I’m sure as a smoking gun in a suicide’s hand that it’s for the best. You’ve simply outgrown her. She left you or you left her. It really doesn’t matter, because you did the right thing. It’s good that she’s left. (clasps his hands together) As fate would have it, I happen to have a niece who is unattached. She’s like a younger version of my wife, extremely pretty, just turned twenty, fresh and unaffected. Sometime soon, the four of us should have dinner so we can arbitrate any hint of spark.

TED - Sure. Sign me up. But maybe not until after I get my sea legs back. Or am I supposed to lose them?

HAROLD - Ted, you should know by now that I would never push you towards anything before I thought you were ready.

TED - Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying myself to sleep at night over it. I’m just beginning to appreciate having the whole bed to myself again.

HAROLD - I don’t expect that you slept soundly in the desert. Is there anything else dominating your thoughts?

TED - Well…I was wondering if you thought I came back too soon.

HAROLD - Don’t be silly. In fact, Bill just told me that the President’s about to announce an end to all significant hostilities in Iraq. Just a lot of mopping up to do. Our troops are due to be reduced and replaced with troops from our supportive Allies. The Army’s relieving most of the Marines so the boys from your unit should be sailing back home in another week or so; what’s left of them.

TED - Christ! Did something…

HAROLD - Relax. Your men are all okay except for the one that you already wrote about.

TED - You don’t know how great that makes me feel. Those boys are like family. (pauses) So you really think that’s it.

HAROLD - For us, I’m afraid. The public, irrefutably, retains little-to-no interest in around-the-clock coverage of reconstruction and the prelude to democracy. They’re yearning to be reprieved from foreign affairs, at least, until Bush decides his next move. That doesn’t mean we’ll just pump out blather non-stop about the week’s highest grossing comic book movie or the travails of young, pretty violent crime victims. There’s a lot of hard news out there to play with.

TED - All I heard on the news this morning was about armed Iraqis looting museums and abandoned nuclear facilities, rioting in the streets, while Iraqi civilians stay home afraid in the dark.

HAROLD - My goodness gracious, you were there. You saw the crowds cheering, giving us the thumbs up sign. You were there as America and Iraq topple the statue of Saddam together. Perhaps as few as 17 measly items are missing from the museums. It’s not as if insurgents are walking around the countryside with nuclear weapons in their pockets. Just a few pockets of resistance remain.

TED - It’s not the reason why I left but chaos isn’t so far from right. I’m mighty damn proud of our United States Marine Corps! But they are ill suited for peacekeeping purposes and there’s not near enough of them even if they were. It’s not the Army’s strong point, either.

HAROLD - Nonsense. American Armies have had plenty of experience and success in those arenas. The Army’s Peacekeeping Institute is the best the free world has to offer. The plan is to re-train the Iraqi police force with the aid of estimable advisors like 9-11 hero, Bernie Kerik.

TED - Most of the Iraqi police force were Ba’athists; Saddam loyalists that practiced state-sanctioned torture.

HAROLD - Well, consider it unsanctioned forevermore for the people of Iraq. The Saddamites will be sufficiently purged. The days of mass graves and depravity are finally over!

TED - Hoo-ah! I’m in firm agreement with Tom Friedman. We don’t need to find WMD to justify overthrowing a tyrant. Though, they could have been a bit more up front about it.

HAROLD - We’re all of us: saints and sinners. But now that we’re in control, we’ll have better intelligence. I have a measure of high confidence that we will find oodles and oodles of WMD. It should be abundantly obvious that the absence of evidence in no way implies the evidence of absence.

TED - I dig it. Just because OJ was declared not guilty doesn’t mean he didn’t do it.

HAROLD - We need to focus on the positive results. Barely any oil wells were set on fire. We didn’t get “bogged down” or quagmired. There’s no widespread famine – to speak of. Did you know that for the first time in nearly twenty years the British were providing full electricity to the city of Basra. Paul Revere, himself – if he were an Iraqi - would have greeted the British Troops with open arms.

TED - He’d need them to stop all the rioting and looting.

HAROLD - That’s the funny thing about freedom. Free people are free to make mistakes, commit petty crimes and do bad things. Freedom’s more about what you make of it.

TED - Or what you make up about it.

HAROLD - Enough with the Al Franken tomfoolery. (dismissive) Was there anything else? Because I do have work to do. Or did you come in here without an exit strategy?

TED - It’s about my dispatches. Were they too human interest with not enough bite?

HAROLD (sees another route) - Unlike the neo-nattering nabobs of negativism such as Frank Rich at the Times and that insufferable has-been - Seymour Hersh – who went all Henny Penny with their gloom and doom prognostications, you served up mouth watering slices of brave but humble soldiers that revealed a positive battlefield in a humanized narrative. You’re a soldier’s journalist in the tradition of Ernie Pyle. You told it like it was for GI Joe.

TED - I did see some things that I held back. Almost unthinkable things. Things I need to think about some more before I make a rash rush to judgement.

HAROLD - Rash, my ass. You’ve employed sensible judgment by withholding any copy that might reflect poorly on our fighting men and women. You walked in the same boots as those soldiers so you know well the “fog of war.” Save it for the book you’ll, no doubt, write.

TED - I signed a contract already so I owe them.

HAROLD - Good for you, Ted, bully for you. They should have done this embed thing years ago. All around, the war’s been a win-win situation. It’s mighty difficult to contain my glee.

TED - Thanks for everything, Harold. I’m forever indebted to you.

HAROLD - How about thanking me by following up on the recent CNN disclosures for me? Those ‘international’ leftist scumbags held back proof of the Hussein family’s villainy just so they could continue broadcasting from Baghdad.

TED - I think it had more to do with protecting their unnamed sources and interpreters from bloody reprisal, as well as their families.

HAROLD - Kid; don’t ever lose that independent streak. It’s not good if everyone in this biz sees every little thing the same way. As long as you’re on the right side on the stories that matter. If you feel the urge to defend the deliberate suppression of critical pre-war data that may have impacted world opinion, go right ahead. I won’t be the man to stop you.


Bush's Scary 2004 State of the Union Address
"Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests and fellow citizens, America this evening is a nation called to: war terror violent terrorist threats dangerous terrorists outlaw regimes threat tragedy war Sept. 11, 2001 attack danger killing terrorists danger war terrorists terrorists terrorist threat terrorists war Sept. 11 terrorist attack killed al-Qaida killed manhunt killers terrorists terror terrorists nuclear, chemical or biological weapons ultimate danger Taliban al-Qaida killers Taliban and al-Qaida fighting terror violent battle attack killers foreign terrorists serious, continuing danger killed thugs evil brutal enemies spread violence and fear intimidated thugs and assassins killers weapons of mass destruction nuclear weapons weapons of mass murder different threats eliminate nuclear program nuclear weapons world's most dangerous weapons world's most dangerous regimes Sept. 20, 2001 enemies war hardest duty armored charges midnight raids sorrow when one is lost fight war on terror war terrorism World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993 terrorists chaos and carnage of Sept. 11 terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States — and war is what they got war Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities weapons of mass destruction programs threats defiance by dictators torture chambers victims terrified and innocent the killing fields hundreds of thousands of men, women and children vanished into the sands killers crushed by tyranny tyranny despair and anger threaten the safety of America and our friends enemies of reform, confront allies of terror hateful propaganda dominate terrorist attack war threats consequence grief danger. Thank you, and God bless fear.


Act III Scene 1

(It is March 23rd, four days after the commencement of the "shock-and-awe" campaign during Iraq War II. The 3rd battalion, 4th regiment, a component of the United States Marines 1st Expeditionary Forces is on the march to Baghdad. The Marines are in the southern desert, outside of the city of Basra, and far away from any sign of significant action.)

(A group of five young marines sit and eat their MREs calmly in front of an armored tank. PFC MARKS, LANCE CORPORAL IRWIN, PFC SANTANA, CORPORAL LANG and PFC EDWARDS are dressed in jungle camouflaged NBC vests and desert camouflaged gear - with their M-16s nestled in between their legs - on their first real break from the relentless mobilization.

(SGT. DRUDGE enters the stage and joins his men. There are knives strapped to his chest and ankles.

(The desert is silent except for its invaders. They are currently camped out in the open desert at night.)

DRUDGE - Continue.

IRWIN - (to Lang) - So you think it's some kind of conspiracy.

LANG - That's what I'm saying, y'know what I mean, I'm not saying he's definitely still alive, I don't have any proof just eyes, but I honestly truly feel that there's a chance.

IRWIN - Dude, you're way off base. That mutherfucker's deader than dead, anyone can download his autopsy picture from off the Internet and see big bullet holes, thug tattoos and his bald shiny head.

LANG - Get real, Hollywood. That shit was as fake as the Hitler Diaries. The key detail that makes me suspicious is that they supposedly had his ashes cremated. Tupac was a Muslim and Muslims don't believe in that shit.

DRUDGE - Shit, I've seen plenty of A-rabs set themselves on fire on the news. It's some kind of honor to the sick fucks.

EDWARDS - Wish every fucking one of them would save us the trouble and do us the favor.

LANG - Those are crazy-ass Shiites. Not the same. It's like comparing David Koresh and George Bush since they're both born-agains. Personally, I suspect Tupac went into the witness protection program because he ratted out Suge Knight.

IRWIN - You must be hallucinating due to withdrawal from blunts and forties.

(TED enters the scene, dressed identically to the Marines, toting his ever-present weapons - a notebook and pen - plus an opened MRE. At first, the Marines pretend to ignore his presence. Then EDWARDS and DRUDGE direct their best battle stares at him with contempt in their eyes.)

TED - (trying not to show that he is nervous) Mind if I sit down and eat with you boys?

(The lower-ranked men all turn to DRUDGE - the squadron leader.)

DRUDGE - That depends. Are you a Republican?

TED - No, but I'm circumcised.

(All the MARINES laugh except for EDWARDS and DRUDGE. IRWIN then gives SANTANA a playful push.)

IRWIN - Move over and give my dog some room.

(TED sits in the space provided him between IRWIN and SANTANA. EDWARDS redirects his attention to the contents of his MRE while DRUDGE continues staring and casually moves his M-16 so that it leans in the direction of TED.)

DRUDGE - You gonna take notes on us, civvie?

TED (thinks for a moment) - I'd never dare allow my nose to get in the way of six armed infantrymen and their well-deserved appetites.

DRUDGE (slightly smiles before making a show of moving his weapon) That's a well-found strategic assumption. This is our first chance for CST - copious spare time. A little more SMOP and you might make it out alive.

TED - Huh? Is that like mopping up?

SANTANA - Sarnt means Simple Matter of Processing.

MARKS - You mean Small Matter of Programming.

IRWIN - Or Stuff Mom Omitted in Preschool.

DRUDGE - Keep the chatter to noncombatant conversation. He was sent from the...(pauses to spit on the ground)...New York media and he'll take our nicknames and skew them for his liberal Jewish readers. Remember, unless you grant him individual consent he can't write anything but your name and hometowns.

(The MARINES digest DRUDGE's words and say nothing for about a minute until LANG breaks the silence.)

LANG - You write for New York City Magazine, right. I'm from Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

TED - I live in Clinton Hill.

LANG - That ain't too far. You qualify as a homey.

IRWIN - HOO-AH! Sarnt and Santana are both Texans, and Marks is from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they're closing all the factories down.

MARKS - Fucking Billy Joel.

IRWIN - Edwards is from deep, deep, deep South Carolina.

EDWARDS - I don't appreciate the superfluous deeps.

IRWIN - And as for me, I was conceived late at night under the Hollywood sign so you know where my future lies.

LANG - Skid row.

IRWIN - Keep it on the down low, but I'm really just here to do research for a role.

LANG - The role of dumbass?

IRWIN (to TED) - Hell, I can play myself in the movie they make someday from your reporting or I can even be a better looking you.

LANG - NFW. You stink worse than Brad Pitt's armpits.

IRWIN - How would you know? I ain't acting now. Although, honestly, I wouldn't mind playing Brad Pitt's cock so i can travel deep inside Jennifer Aniston.


MARKS - I wouldn't want to be anybody's cock.

EDWARDS - It'd be better than the big pussy you already are.

MARKS - Eat me.

IRWIN - Wait. Before he eats you we need to clear up if you're a pussy or a cock first.

EDWARDS - Three days in this crappy third world shit-hole full of sand niggers and I've yet to get some trigger time. So don't give me no reasons to take my aggression out on a fellow marine.

IRWIN - Lighten up, dog. We're only joking.

EDWARDS - This war is boring. And I'm starting to hate this country. Wait until i get a hold of a fucking Iraqi. No, fuck that, I won't get hold of him, I'll just kill him.

LANG - Man, all those years you spent in reform school must have robbed your sense of humor if you think you're the slightest bit funny.

EDWARDS - You New York City brothers know all about robbing; don't you?

LANG - Shit. I know my share of Brooklyn thugs that get off on crumbling whitebread crackers if you ever want to pay a visit.

MARKS - I've been to New York City. It ain't no big deal.

IRWIN - You can't read a map or dead-reckon for shit, so how do you know you were really even there?

MARKS - Fuck you. I went to an Ozzfest at Jets Stadium where I saw Limp Bizkit burn it up and raise the roof.

LANGS - The Meadowlands is in fucking Jersey and it's names after the Giants. My Jets don't have a home; they're foreign occupiers.

MARKS - I got a cousin that lives in New York City. He lives in Greenwich Village but he ain't a cocksucker.

DRUDGE - Then why does he live in the Village?

MARKS - I don't know but I know for sure he ain't no kind of fairy.

LANG - You just used a double negative. So your cousin must be fine and dandy.

MARKS - I can prove he's not a faggot.

IRWIN - Maybe he's just not into kissing cousins.

MARKS - When I went to his crib after the concert...(points at Ted) He had a copy of your magazine.

LANG - What the fuck is your point? He doesn't write for Penthouse!

MARKS - That's not what I'm trying to say. I know he comes from New York City Magazine.

TED - Did you read something I wrote?

MARKS - That depends if you help write the hooker ads in the back. Me and my cousin called us up one of those 'erotic services' and ordered up a ho.

IRWIN - Did you get one with anchovies?

SANTANA - Was she fine?

MARKS - Had an ass as fuckable as J-Lo's. She was even one of your kind, too.

SANTANA - Mexican-American?

MARKS - I don't know what exact tribe she comes from. But she had a fine ass and big titties and the juiciest pussy I ever tasted. Shaved cleaner than Tupac's head.

LANG - Ewww, that's disgusting. You stuck your tongue in a dirty prostitute's pussy.

MARKS - I made sure she washed the shit out first.

IRWIN - You mean washed the sperm out from the guys that got there first.

MARKS - Whores make you use rubbers.

LANG - Not if you pay them enough.

MARKS - Trust me. The bitch was clean as a...clean plate, and I licked that cunt's cunt through and through.

EDWARDS - Who gives a rat's ass? Did you stick your dick in her anywhere?

MARKS - Everywhere! And, dog, I ate that bitch's pussy so freakin' well that she rewarded me by giving it to me for free. Then I traded her off to my cousin.

LANG - No bitch that sucks dick for a living grants freebies. You're lying though your yellow teeth.

MARKS - I'll lay my hand on a bible.

DRUDGE - I better never see you put your dirty, stinking paws on top of God's words.

LANG - I second Sarnt. You can keep your filthy fantasy.

IRWIN - I doubt you got a freebie, it was probably a mercy fuck.

MARKS - You're all just jealous.

EDWARDS - Maybe I'd be if you titty-fucked her.

TED - I notice that you're all sporting identical tattoos.

SANTANA - Hoo-ah! They're tats of our dog tags. They've got everything that's written on them.

TED - I take it that they're for identificational purposes?

SANTANA - Fuck no! We did it for unification! Like the Musketeers, all for one and one for all.

(TED takes a bite out of the burrito in his MRE and spits it out to the ground.)

SANTANA - Don't waste that bite of food. You might need it later.

EDWARDS (grinning) - He’s probably too used to eating fancy French food at that Windows of the World joint.

LANG - You retard. That restaurant used to be in the World Trade Center. Unless you meant it as some other kind of crack.

MARKS- You think Saddam did it?

TED - Did what?

(TED might be clueless but the other MARINES understand. LANG and IRWIN make grimaces.)

LANG - You’re a mental defect as well. How many times do Irwin and me have to explain to you that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11th?

MARKS - I heard Dick Cheney say it.

IRWIN - Politicians always lie. Ronald Reagan swears he used to be an actor.

MARKS - Then why does the Colonel keep bringing it up?

IRWIN - To get us fired up! What the brass says to us isn’t important only that we do what they say. Marines follow orders.

SANTANA - Marines do all the dirty work.

IRWIN - That’s why USMC stands for United States Misgodded Children.

DRUDGE - Let’s not forget the reason we’re here. United by the memory of the heroes and innocent victims of September 11, we are a nation determined to triumph in the war against terrorism. This is the best and only way to honor our fallen.

(All of the MARINES stand up straight and bark out together.)

MARINES - Semper Fi! Hoo-ah!

(SANTANA points to TED’s MRE.)

SANTANA - What did you get for dessert?

(TED looks inside his MRE.)

TED - What do you know? Looks like a piece of crumb cake.

SANTANA - Trust me, you’ll like that part of our Most Revolting Eats. Anybody get the M & Ms?

EDWARDS - Yeah, and they're peanut but you ain’t getting any.

SANTANA - You won’t trade me even for some jalapeno cheese spread?



EDWARDS - I only et a couple.

LANG - Who in their right mind would trade their jalapeno cheese spread?

SANTANA - I’ve had better.

EDWARDS - You mean back in Mexico. You’re just a Haji with a sombrero.

IRWIN (points away) - PFC Edwards, the enemy is "that-away."

SANTANA (explaining to Ted) - I was originally born in Mexico but my parents moved to Texas when I was twelve.

(TED becomes a reporter for the first time and asks his first real question of the day.)

TED - Are you a naturalized American citizen?

SANTANA - Not yet. But I’m hoping that after the war the government…

DRUDGE - If you die, they’ll be sure to make you one.

(EVERYONE else including EDWARDS become serious after DRUDGE speaks.)

TED - So, essentially, you’re fighting for a country that isn’t really your own.

SANTANA - Oh, I consider myself an American…and a Marine and a Texan and a Mexican.

LANG - As well as an idiot, dog, for trading away your cheese spread.

IRWIN - Maybe Santana's bucking for a Section 8.

SANTANA - You kidding me. I love this job! Do you guys think Saddam Hussein is still alive or dead?

EDWARDS - I bet they decapitated that rat-bastard on the very first night.

MARKS - I was heard that the attack was all President Bush’s idea. A last attempt to avert the war. Strike the head and the body will soon die.

(EDWARDS stands up in order to pantomime the action he describes.)

EDWARDS - Dropped a bunker buster –clunk – right on the king of the Hajis’ head.

(EDWARDS falls to the ground as if he were a dying Saddam. He is trying hard to prove he has a sense of humor but no one except DRUDGE really thinks he’s funny.)

TED - Guys…

(The MARINES look at TED.)

TED - I doubt very much that it was successful. (after a slight pause) Unfortunately.

(MARKS and IRWIN and SANTANA, LANG and EDWARDS turn to one another to argue and discuss what TED has just said. DRUDGE shoots TED with an icy glare.)

DRUDGE - How the fuck would you know? You’re out here in the dark like the rest of us. We can only see a little bit of the whole campaign. The war could be already over for all we know.

EDWARDS - You’re talking out of your shithole!

(TED can’t help justifying himself.)

TED - I know what I know because I have a satellite phone. I use it to dictate my stories back home but I also receive updates. My editor feeds me samplings from the press conferences in Washington and Qatar. My girlfriend relays unsubstantiated rumours from who-knows-where-or-by-whom on the Internet.

SANTANA - How come you didn’t tell us you had a phone?

IRWIN - I need to call my agent. All this might really be for real.

MARKS - You mean they’re all saying that Saddam’s still alive?

EDWARDS - Says who?

TED - Most are saying that. But the Pentagon continues to claim that he was at least wounded in that missile strike and that they have pictures to prove it, though they won’t release them to the public yet.

MARKS - Are we winning?

TED - We’ve dropped thousands upon thousands of bombs and they’ve shot off, maybe at most, a couple easily deflected rockets.

EDWARDS - I knew this shit would be a cakewalk.

MARKS - Were there chemical or biological agents in the rockets they shot so far?

TED (answering quickly) - No.

LANG - You sound like you don’t think they have any.

TED - That remains a projectable possibility.

DRUDGE - Rockets or SCUD missiles qualify as illegal WMD.

TED - Not necessarily, the UN allows for Iraq to maintain a supply of small arms for self-defensive purposes.

DRUDGE - Are you saying that when Saddam summarily executes people it’s because of extenuating circumstance but we’re here to commit a pogrom?

TED - I didn’t say anything close to that.

DRUDGE - Yes you did. You heard him, right, Edwards.

EDWARDS - Yes, sir. He said the program was a pogrom.

MARKS - What’s a pogrom?

TED - It generally refers to the massacre of defenseless Jews.

MARKS - I thought we were fighting the Arabs.

IRWIN - We are fighting the Arabs. Sarnt just used a Yiddish word.

MARKS - Who the fuck are the Yiddish?

DRUDGE - Keep your ignorant mouth shut and that’s an order! (to TED) Man, you can’t even be trusted to quote yourself honestly. God knows what you make up in your stories. I hope your editors do some major fact checking.

TED - Don’t you fret, I work for a prominent publication in New York City and they make sure everything checks out and is proofread. They don’t hire liars.

DRUDGE - So you’re not a liar. But are you a believer in the cause? Why do you think that this is named Operation Iraqi Freedom? We’re on a mission to help helpless people rise up and beat down their oppressors.

TED - I’m not against that mission.

DRUDGE - That’s not the applicable question. The real question is ‘are you for it enough?’

EDWARDS - Hoo-ah. As Lang would say ‘are you down with us?’

LANG - I might have said that if I were alive in the early seventies.

IRWIN - I can picture you with a monstrous Afro.

DRUDGE - Newsman, you’re not like us. You’re not really for anything, are you?

TED - I’m for justice. There’s no doubt in my mind that regime change in Iraq isn’t a worthy cause. I just can’t say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Saddam Hussein still has WMD. We may have to just wait and see. It’s been speculated that there’s a so-called red line or red zone marked by the Republican Guard around the city of Baghdad and if and when it’s crossed, any biological or chemical weapons will be deployed.

MARKS - That’s why we got the NBC gear that will protect us.

EDWARDS - If the Commander in Chief says Saddam has ‘em, that’s good enough for me.

DRUDGE - I say it too. So, change the fucking subject.

SANTANA - Can I use your phone to call my girl?

EDWARDS - Why don’t you just send up a smoke signal?

LANG - Ignorance must be bliss to a cretin like you.

TED - Sure, I don’t see why I couldn’t let you make some phone calls home. Let me just find the satellite. (waves the sat phone around) There. Do you know how to use one of these thingamajigs?

SANTANA - Ear here and mouth there.

TED - That's about the size of it.

SANTANA - Baby, can you hear me? It’s me.

(After TED’s finished, LANG takes him aside so they can talk out of earshot of the other MARINES.)

LANG - It’s no secret; I’m a black man. I was born with an instinctive distrust for government. I only enlisted so I can finish up college. Marines, typically, are not like regular people. They’re trained to hunt and kill that’s why we call each other dog. But most of the time, I know when to keep my mouth shut so they grudgingly accept me.

TED - Then why did you pick the Marines?

LANG - What can I say? I hated planes even before September 11th, the ocean makes me blow chunks and I have an old-school uncle who served in ‘Nam that put the fear in me that the Army was racist as a mutherfucker.

TED - Yeah, and you guys clearly live in interracial harmony.

LANG - Sure there are rednecks like Edwards but soldiers in wartime traditionally demonize the enemy and it’s more about hating them than me. It’s not easy to kill a human being. Every person knows that the Marines are renowned bad-asses so maybe it’s just the gangster in me.

TED - I might have a bit of that myself.

LANG - Well then, you must be real O.G. and keep it hidden. But, son, when I signed my life away I sure the fuck wasn’t expecting any shit like this. Clinton was in office and I never thought Gore would lose… (pauses) Which y’all know he actually didn’t…so I thought I’d be a million football stadiums away from harm.

TED - We all used to be.

LANG - Ted, I’d like your thoughts on something that’s been bugging me out. But forget my name, hometown and especially color because this is strictly off the record.

TED - You have my word.

LANG - I read some stuff on the Internet about pox shots. How it may give you the Gulf War sickness that killed lots of vets. I even had a buddy back in boot camp that refused the shot. They arrested him and threatened him with a lengthy imprisonment on account of refusing orders but, luckily, he got off with just a dishonorable discharge.

TED - That's reasonable.

LANG - Flipping like that ain’t gonna get me money for school so I had to bite the bullet. Do you think I should worry? You took it too, right?

TED - I’ve heard that there may be some unintended negative health consequences but the effects of being attacked with it are horrifyingly evident.

LANG - So even with all your doubts about Iraqi WMD, you still believe that we may face a chemical weapons attack.

TED - Between you and me, honestly, in all probability, speaking strictly from my gut – no. But anything is possible. And it might not be long before everyone in America receives inoculations anyway.

LANG - You really think?

Ted - Remember the anthrax attacks of 2001. Those were mainly directed at the Media but it was normal people and mailmen that suffered most.

LANG - You’re right about mailmen. They ain’t like normal people, either.

TED (chuckles) - I didn’t intend to say that.

LANG - Thanks for keeping it real. It relieves me to know that a man as well informed as you can display such prudence. I’ve read a lot of crazy shit on the Internet. It’s hard to know whom to believe.

TED - Anytime.

LANG - I’ll pay you back with some safety tips that they didn’t get to learn you in your one-week boot camp. First thing every morning, rub Vaseline jelly all over your thighs so they don’t chafe when you’re crammed into the tank.

TED - Thanks. My legs feel like they're on fire.

LANG - I have some jelly in my gunny that I can lend you. Second, but in a much higher caliber, some friendly words of advice: learn to watch what you say. Always remember with vigilance that Marines are trained to kill, not think.

TED - I'm learning when to back down.

(LANG grips TED’s shoulder in affection.)

LANG - You do that. Our asses belong back in the safe confines of Brooklyn.

(DRUDGE snatches the phone away from SANTANA to use it for himself.)

EDWARDS - I can’t wait to get a better look at the awesome shock and awe campaign.

IRWIN - We saw it from Kuwait before we began our march in country. The shit was just like the opening scene in Apocalypse Now.

EDWARDS - I wanna see what it looked like on the TV. I wanna be able to see the Hajis blowing up in close-ups.


Back to Contents


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Cut Scene

(It is February 15, 2003 - the day of the mass rally in New York City that attracted over a quarter million people in protest of the imminent war with Iraq. The rally was coordinated with thousands of other protests across the world involving millions of people. The location is a street corner between 60th Street and 3rd Ave. Ten police officers stand behind blue barricades warning 'DO NOT CROSS'. Most of the police officers are talking among themselves. Iron holding pens are lined up in front of the stage to the left of the officers to control the crowd.)

(To the left of the officers is a crowd of at least twenty-five visible people packed to the edge of the curtains. The protestors are multi-ethnic and range from young to old. A few hold radios broadcasting speeches from the rally. Many are recording the scene with camcorders and digital cameras.)

(A mom with a baby carriage - decorated with antiwar stickers - stands near the front of the stage. A group of five young-to-mid teenagers dance and jump around while enthusiastically beating on tom-tom drums, plastic buckets and metal pots. At least six signs held by protestors read 'No Blood For Oil.' A man wearing a George W. Bush mask carries a sign that says 'Empty Warhead' with an arrow pointed down at his head. Three old ladies dressed entirely in pink hold a sign that reads 'Pink Ladies for Peace.' Two women of Middle Eastern descent are dressed in full burqas and veils. An enduring hippie carries a sign declaring 'US Socialists against the War.' A man in his thirties, dressed like an anchorman while wearing a cardboard television set that covers his shoulders and head, renders propagandistic news reports.)

(Though upset that they are being prevented from attending the designated rally area on First Avenue, the crowd, for the most part, is calm and mellow. Most are relieved and overjoyed to see how many other regular people are in agreement.)

(TED WOLF pushes his way, methodically, through the crowd until he reaches the police barricade. He is wearing a blank, blue baseball cap, black Ray-bans, and a press pass dangles around his neck. A small notebook and pen are clutched tight in his fists. Two policemen, both white and young and with dark moustaches, guard the barricade while the remaining officers hang back and shoot the shit.)

TED - How's it going, officers? Can I cut through? I'm press.

(TED flicks his press pass with his pen. POLICEMAN #1 ignores the request while POLICEMAN #2 scowls and turns away.}

TED - Come on, my boss will ream me out unless you let me cross over to report your side of the story.

POLICEMAN #1 - Glad to see that you care. Don't go quoting me, though. My name in the paper won't help me put bread on the dinner table. But some of the other boys love to shoot their mouths off.

(POLICEMAN #1 pulls back the barricade and allows TED to cross through. TED heads off stage right, in search of some colorful quotes from more forthcoming policemen.)

(Seeing an opening, a few people in the crowd attempt to sneak through. But POLICEMAN #2 rams into them with the barricade, using more force than necessary. Some of the other police officers in the background watch the proceedings with amusement, yet make no motions of becoming involved.)

POLICEMAN #1 - Please, people! Listen to me! For your own good, get back!

POLICEMAN #2 - Move back! Everybody better get the fuck back NOW!

(Some of the people near the front take a step back and try to urge the crowd behind them to do the same. PROTESTOR #1 - a young woman with peace marks written in black magic marker on her cheeks - slips through the crowd and approaches the barricades to address POLICEMAN #1.)

PROTESTOR #1 - Let us through, damn it! You cops don't have the right to stop us from getting to the rally!

(PROTESTOR #2 - a young man in his thirties carrying a 'No Blood For Oil' sign - begins an ubiquitous protest chant while cupping his hands over his mouth.)

PROTESTOR #2 - Whose streets?

(Most of the people in the crowd, including PROTESTOR #1, back him up.)

CROWD - Our streets!

PROTESTOR #2 - (louder) Whose streets?

CROWD - (even louder) Our streets!

(POLICEMAN #2 waves his club in the air at the awakening crowd.)

POLICEMAN #1 - Look, lady, it's for your own protection. The city wasn't expecting this many people. You should be thanking us. We're providing public safety.

(POLICEMAN #2 stops taunting the crowd with his nightstick.)

PROTESTOR #2 - Safety for who, all the merchants and storeowners? None of us want your 'neighborly' help.

POLICEMAN #2 - Merchants and storeowners are what make this city. They've earned the right to not have a barrage of punks smashing in windows with bricks and looting!

PROTESTOR #1 - This isn't Seattle with so-called rabble-rousers busing in to wreak havoc. They're busy protesting in their own hometowns. We represent New York City and we have a legal right to get to the court-approved rally site! So step your asses aside and let us through! You're holding up half-a-million people!

POLICEMAN #2 - What did you say? You best apologize to the people who, night and day, risk dying for you. (raises his nightstick at the crowd.) You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Do any of you comprehend the vast amounts of money and attention that the city's wasting on your selfish nonsense instead of working to keep you safer? You're depleting valuable resources from America's War on Terror!

PROTESTOR #2 - I just wanna know one thing. Did you rip-off that speech from Bill O'Reilly or that fat tub of lard - Rush Limbaugh?

POLICEMAN #2 - Don't you dare provoke me!

(PROTESTOR #2 timidly takes a step back.)

PROTESTOR #1 - This isn't about you guys. We're protesting against George Bush and his Neoconservatist warmongering!

POLICEMAN #1 - You're making it about us! Why don't you just go home so we can too and spend time with our families?

PROTESTOR #1 - Well, boo-hoo for you! The country's in a recession and the unemployment rate is skyrocketing; meanwhile you're being paid over-time pay to do your job, which seems to be stand around and menace!

POLICEMAN #1 - You're pushing it, lady. I'm trying awful hard to play nice.

POLICEMAN #2 - Well, one thing's obvious here - who has jobs and who doesn't.

PROTESTOR #1 - Is that a fact? I'm a computer programmer.

PROTESTOR #2 - I'm a veterinarian.

(Two twenty-something protestors - jointly carrying a banner that reads 'We Don't Want Your Fucking War!' - edge up closer. PROTESTOR #3 has duct tape wrapped around his body and PROTESTOR #4 is clad entirely in black.)

PROTESTOR #3 - I'm unemployed.

PROTESTOR #4 - Awesome, me too.

(PROTESTOR #3 and PROTESTOR #4 have obviously just met at the rally even though they are carrying a banner together.)

POLICEMAN #2 - You scumbags are all pro-Saddam instead of supporting your own troops!

PROTESTOR #2 - Just because we're against the war doesn't make us pro-Saddam!

PROTESTOR #1 - We support the troops so much we don't want to have them die so Donald Rumsfeld will have enough oil to rub in his hair!

PROTESTOR #2 - Stop watching Fox News and at least try to read a newspaper!

POLICEMAN #2 - (through with arguing) All you people need to back the fuck up!

PROTESTOR #1 - I'm not moving any-the-fuck-where until you let us get to our rally!

(TED reappears onstage and instantly joins the mini-commotion, beside the officers.)

TED - Look, I know you people are emotional and pissed but the police are just doing what they were told to do.

PROTESTOR #4 - That defense didn't go over well at the Nuremberg Trials!

TED - Let me give you some personal advice, man in black. Calling the police 'Nazis' will not help your cause.

PROTESTOR #1 - If you're a journalist, aren't you supposed to remain impartial?

TED - Well, yes.

PROTESTOR #1 - Then why are taking their side?

PROTESTOR #3 - (quietly so the police can't hear him) I saw you smiling and joking with the pigs before. Are they your buddies? Do you make it a point to pal around with them?

TED - I'm not on anybody's side. My only aim is to not see anyone get hurt.

POLICEMAN #3 - an older veteran - appears in the background carrying a tray filled with donated coffees from a local merchant.)

POLICEMAN #1 - (softly to POLICEMAN #2) We better go get our free coffees before they're all gone and we have to pay out of pocket.

(POLICEMAN #1 and POLICEMAN #2 back away from the barricades and join their fellow officers for coffees, leaving TED alone to stand in.)

PROTESTOR #3 - Bull-fucking-shit. As a reporter your only true aim is to get the story and if someone got hurt that would make it a bigger story.

TED - Maybe that's not the kind of story I want to write.

PROTESTOR #4 - But you'd prefer the story of the reporter who stuck his neck out for the cops.

TED - Well, pardon me for caring. I don't know why I do. Go off and do whatever you think best serves your cause.

(As TED turns away, PROTESTOR #1 grabs hold of his left shoulder.)

PROTESTOR #1 - And what's your cause? The reason we're out here is because you people haven't done your job correctly!

TED - What do you mean?

PROTESTOR #1 - This administration has crammed the airwaves with half-truths, out-and-out lies and deliberate propaganda in this bloodthirsty push for an unjust war. All the while, you people cheer them on and back them up by providing mealy-mouthed amplification.

TED - And what's the motive for this alleged conspiracy?

PROTESTOR #1 - The same boring motive that it always is. Money, money and money. War is bullish for newspaper sales and television ratings. The purpose of the press should be to serve as a check and balance in our system and you have failed as miserably as the Supreme Court in Election 2000.

TED - (so mad, he's sputtering) I resent that. Just last week, I wrote an expose on how Secretary of State Colin Powell's report on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN Security Council had been partly plagiarized from a college student's thesis paper written over a decade ago. Does that make me a cheerleader?

(TED grips the barricade with his notebook and pen still in hand.)

PROTESTOR #3 - Oh yeah, well if you're such a fucking liberal why aren't you out here standing with us? And why are you reporting from behind a police barricade?

(TED releases his grip on the barricade.)

TED - I came here with the intention of telling your story to the world. Or at least the ones that read me.

PROTESTOR #4 - The only intention you distorters really have is to ensure inattention.

PROTESTOR #1 - Who do you write for, anyway?

TED - New York City Magazine, I'm Ted Wolf.

PROTESTOR #2 - Hey! I read that story you wrote about the faked documents. He's cool, everybody. But - wait - wasn't your dad Alexander Wolf?

PROTESTOR #1 - Really, Alexander Wolf?

TED - (taken aback) Uh-huh.

PROTESTOR #2 - Your dad was at the March on Washington and all the big rallies against the Vietnam War. He proudly stood on the people's side of the barricades.

TED - Well, I'm not my father. Nor am I Norman Mailer. While my heart might partly agree with you, I need to maintain my neutrality.

PROTESTOR #4 - What part of Bush's 'you're either with us or against us' speech didn't you understand?

PROTESTOR #3 - Hey, if you're a reporter, where's your camera?

PROTESTOR #4 - Yeah, doesn't this story rate any pictures?

TED - Of course, we're taking pictures. (points at sky) Our photographer is shooting a wide aerial shot of the crowd from a chopper as we speak.

PROTESTOR #3 - That's it, an eye in the sky? Why aren't you taking close-ups of the crowd?

PROTESTOR #4 - He's probably afraid that some of the signs we're carrying might make too many people think.

(Some of the people in the crowd mutter in agreement.)

TED - Guys, I'm the writer, not the news bureau chief. And I don't make the photo layout decisions, either. I just go where they tell me to go.

PROTESTOR #4 - And report what they tell you to report.

TED - What makes you so sure of yourself? How do you know for certain that you're doing the right thing? Surely, you don't believe that Saddam Hussein is a benevolent ruler.

(PROTESTORS in the crowd hiss and boo Ted's comments.)

PROTESTOR #4 - I know that most of the planet condemns this war. There are millions of us demonstrating in hundreds of cities all over the world today. Besides, it's not our country's duty to play policeman and try to force democracy everywhere in the world. Especially since they can't even do it right here.

(PROTESTOR #5 - a thirty-something male with a camcorder - waves his hands frantically at the crowd.)

PROTESTOR #5 - (points at the left off-stage) Watch out, everybody. The horses are coming! Fat pigs riding horses are going to trample us!

(People in the crowd begin to scream and rush forward to get out of the way of the charging mounted policemen - who are offstage. The policemen on stage lock their arms in front of the barricades, as the panicking crowd pushes into them. POLICEMAN #2 takes a swing at PROTESTOR #4. The crowd is packed tight. TED cowers behind the policemen.)

PROTESTOR #1 - (hysterical) Why are you doing this to us? We're just regular people.

POLICEMAN #1 - I told you to go home!

PROTESTOR #2 - But we can't even if we want to. You have us packed into a pen!

(PROTESTOR #6 - a teenaged African-American girl - begins to scream over and over again.)

PROTESTOR #6 - (shouting at the top of her lungs) LET ME GO HOME! LET ME GO HOME! LET ME GO HOME!

PROTESTOR #1 - This is madness!

PROTESTOR #2 - You don't have the power to stop this tidal wave of anger! THE PEOPLE!



PROTESTOR #4 - Who do you protect?


(POLICEMAN #2 addresses PROTESTOR #6, who is still screaming.)





Cast & Credits

NEXT PERFORMANCE - MAY 24th, 2004 7:30 PM - T.H.A.W. (Theaters Against Wars)Freedom Follies - Cherry Lane Theatre - 38 Commerce Street - Greenwich Village. A reading of Act IV Scene II. Alex Emanuel as NYC writer Ted Wolf, Ron Brynaert as New York Magazine Editor Harold Reynolds. Direction by Thomas Abbey.

December 8th, 2003 - T.H.A.W. FREEDOM FOLLIES - The Alwan Center for the Arts - 16 Beaver Street #4 - New York City. A reading of Act II Scene II


November 17th, 2003 - Another Urban Riff - 320 West 37th Street - New York City. First Public Reading.


This play is dedicated to the unilateral journalists murdered in Iraq.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Iraqi Mad Cow

Unnamed U.S. officials are telepathically suggesting that the Washington dairy cow infected with mad cow disease came to the United States in August of 2001 from a secret laboratory in Baghdad, Iraq. [Embedded] reportedly, the cow was to have been the 20th (or is it 21st, 22nd or 23rd) hijacker in the September 11th conspiracy. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt with nary a trace of evidence that Saddam Hussein personally instructed the cow in hand-to-hoof combat techniques and jet flight training. A mark on the cow's back is also said to suspiciously resemble (more or less) the prophet, Muhammed (others believe instead that it is a dead ringer for Abraham Lincoln or maybe Elijah Wood as Frodo from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings).

One or two outspoken yet wishing to remain anonymous federal officials who-threaten-to-Guatanamo-anyone-that-reveals-their-names pooh-poohed the notion that the cow (if able to bypass the security juggernaut that existed on 9-11 with his Islamic comrades) would not have been able to fit in the pilot's seat. "We're dealing with thugs and terrorists that are trickier and more diabolical than anyone can imagine. Secret documents hidden in a gold tooth extracted from Saddam's dirty mouth prove everything we say, allege and imply." When asked when the public will be able to see the evidence of Saddam's Mad Cow Plot, officials promised, "When pigs fly."


Trading Iraqi Spaces

According to assorted sordid sources in, on and outside the gates of the Fox World Order the following vowel/consonant hybrids are undecidedly reported:

Fox Television and PNAC Productions have combined forces again (to advance the cause of freedom, justice, liberty, profit and all that) in order to create the realest reality show ever realized: Operation Trading Iraqi Spaces. The tag team co-hosts for OTIS will be the Fox Fab Five of Geraldo Rivera, Bill O'Reilly, Oliver North, Brit Hume and Simon Cowell. The Fox heads promise all sorts of fun and excitement for the whole family (as long as they don't have relatives wounded or killed in prior operations).

Watch US Marines invade "The Simple Life" of a quaint Middle Eastern country in order to properly ensure the freedom for Iraqi Paris Hiltons to strip off their burqas and provide Internet content. Marvel at "The Fear Factor" that our boys will face as they stand guard over off-the-hook gasoline lines, protecting the interests of our vested corporate advertisers. Our "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is a little bit "Big Brother" and "The Real World" version of "Survivor." It's up to the viewer to decide who's really getting "Punk'd"; the Iraqi civilians, the "Coalition" troops, or the future generations of Americans (whose taxes are bankrolling all this quality entertainment). Instead of watching "Pop Idol" or "American Idol", watch Americans "Apprentice" to get popped and fired upon while you remain idle.

Our cracked team of experts (sifted from the cream of the crop available at the Brown & Root division of Haliburton) knows what's best for all the towel wearing people. Watch as we redesign opulent presidential palaces with carefully placed cluster bombs and mini-nukes so that our commanding officers, administration officials and future USA WMD CEOs can feel at home. Witness as Iraqi museums, libraries and oil refineries are improved and Americanized via awesome uranium-depleted munitions. God (and the vice president) only knows what we'll eventually put in all that there great space we create.

Our unprecedented budget (87 billion dollars and counting) ensures that all American cable subscribers will be able to see the biggest and baddest explosions courtesy of the best of our country's currently existing technology.

And coming to the fall schedule, just before the next Presidential election, we'll be back with Season Two - guaranteed to take place in a nearby disadvantaged Middle Eastern country (actual location subject to evaluation of that country's computable net worth in natural resources).

Don't ask what you can do for this country. If you're proud to be an American, you'll watch our show and continue to support our sponsors (and make sure your neighbors are doing the same). Otherwise, the terrorists (i.e. "the liberal media") will win!

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Bush Vs. Bigfoot

Bush Backs Billion Dollar Bigfoot Hunt

President un-elect Bush on Thursday set a goal of capturing the fabled monster, Bigfoot, by no later than 2020 and eventually using its pelt as a launching pad to search for Osama bin-Laden. "It is time for America to find out who's been leaving all those big steps."

Although it has been nearly twenty-five years since the last semi-official sighting of Bigfoot (full-motion video exists of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, wrestling with 70s actor Lee Majors), some big-time officials in the Bush Administration and at Haliburton believe that time may be running out. "We need to stop Bigfoot, quite impossibly, one of the most evil thugs that has ever, possibly, existed - in order to insure that he does not one day seek to align himself with al Quaeda factions or, even worse, the Abominable Snowman and Loch Ness Monster."

Best of all, Bush's carefully plotted course of distraction will be bankrolled by future generations of Americans (or whatever we're called after Dubya is done leadin' us) so there really aren't any legitimate concerns. "What's another billion or two? And who's counting?" Of course, initially, the money will be sent as a blank check made out to Haliburton, but the public is assured that there will be a trickling down effect of some sort to be worked out in the future. "Mankind is drawn to the Bigfoot for the same reason we were once drawn into the Bermuda Triangle, the lost city of Atlantis and the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein. We choose to explore myths because doing so improves the net worth of Fortune 500 companies and lifts our national spirit. So let us continue the diversions."


Lethal Weapon Psalm 6

After impressing the world with his prodigious acting abilities in front of international audiences, Colin Powell has been tapped by officially official officials to share the lead with Mel Gibson in his next movie, "Lethal Weapon Psalm 6." Mr. Gibson will be returning as the one-man army Martin Riggs, the only LA cop registered as a lethal weapon and Holocaust denier.

The sexiest secretary was cast as Mr. Gibson's new partner, Tom Tio (Tio is Spanish for uncle), replacing the MIA Danny Glover, whose character, Roger Murtaugh, has - at last, mercifully - been allowed to retire. In what passes for real life, Mr. Glover was last seen at a New York City street corner quixotically attempting to hail a cab, and there are currently no leads on what kind of vehicle may have actually stopped to pick up the amply proportioned African-American actor.

Although Mr. Powell has never had any formal training, he has acted as a mostly obedient lapdog for the Military-Industrial Complex ever since he covered up for the My Lai massacre as a Major in 1968. Although he was assigned to investigate the matter of a letter written by a guilt-strickened, participating soldier, he left it to the journalist Seymour Hersh to root the truth out, and instead referred to the relationship between the American soldiers and Vietnamese people as "excellent" This is not Mr. Powell's first foray in the film world, as he is a credited co-writer of the first Bill and Ted adventure, which he also labeled "excellent."

During the filming, Mr. Powell will not be asked to leave his post as Secretary-of-State-in-name-only, anymore than he has already been asked since the day he accepted and assumed his humiliating position. The one-and-the-same officially official officials referred to earlier in this article suggested, alluded, then yelled in my ear that the forced acting gig had nothing to do with Mr. Powell's occasional slips and breaks from the neo-con script.

In the forthcoming Warner Brothers-Fox-PNAC co-production, Mad Max and Mad Dubya's Lackey will team-up to quadruple-handedly take on tactless teams of thugs and terrorists originating from Syria (but "suspiciously" possessing Saudi Arabian passports) who [it is written] have gathered, glommed, or gobbled up Saddam Hussein's personal stash of Weapons of Mass Destruction and bootlegged DVD collection. Also missing will be frequent Bush critic, Chris Rock, whose comic relief will be replaced with ball-less Dennis Miller's snarky and pretentious nonsensical blather.

According to a Papal smeared source, the Pope has already pre-approved the script, written by David Frum and Peggy Noonan, and declared, "It is as they say it was, so there."


CBS May Fry Guy at Bowl


Evidently, an unidentified dentist with a subscription to TV Guide alleged today that CBS may scrap its lightly-anticipated halftime extravaganza (that was to feature the as-of-yet unindicted Jackson, Janet), set to air during this year's Super Bowl (also lightly-anticipated unless you live in New England or Carolina). CBS intends to "get a move on to give the people what they really-really-really want: real live drama, real live drama, and real live death. We want to fry a guy."

CBS dreams of broadcasting the first execution to be officially scheduled and promoted (previously televised murders such as that of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald were not officially scripted or planned). "You know how they say, "when in Rome you do as the Romans do." Since the Super Bowl's in Houston, we should do as Texans do: zap high voltage doses of electricity into a man until he's sufficiently dead." If it happens, the execution will take place on a stage set up on the 50 yard line, and will be hosted by the Everybody Loves Raymond star (who everybody in the GOP loves), Patricia Heaton.

Although the extremely, old men at CBS still haven't decided upon who the lucky contestant will be yet, they have their hopes set high for America's next sure-to-be reality star. "Of course, out of all the resumes and headshots we've gone through, one guy stands out: the mother of all would-be evil tyrants, the Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah, Saddam Hussein. But the staff writers for the Bush Administration are still busy with the script for his upcoming trial and we need it A.S.A.F.P. so we can run it during a future sweeps week. Maybe we can arrange something patriotic for Saddam on the Fourth of July. Anyway, now would be too soon, since Bush's Supreme Court re-selection won't take place until at least December."

Luckily, Saddam's not the only fish to fry. "For our sake, we got our hearts set and our fingers crossed that Osama will agree to do it. We've been talking to some of his people at Central Intelligence and his business associates in the Bush family. The best thing is that there really wouldn't be any need to wait for a show trial because the public has already accepted his guilt without any questions."

Insidious insiders also insinuate that if Osama is in the line-up then CBS will switch the Super Bowl to pay-per-view. "We know that the Super Bowl is the number one show of the year, and that Americans have always been able to watch it for free, but we're not retarded (no matter what David Letterman thinks). Folks'll pay big bucks to see this. Who can possibly be offended? This will not be a violation of our advocacy rules. If you can find somebody responsible (and not from Vermont) who thinks that Osama might be innocent, then it would be a credible rebuttal of our policy. We don't allow stances on controversial public-policy issues unless they're okayed by the Republican National Committee."

There are reports that CBS has also been holding talks with people that have heard of O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant and the former king of pop. "Although any of those three guys would bring in ungodlike ratings, and they meet the non-white standard, we're not sure they're evil enough. Where's an Idi Amin or Edward Said when you need one? If Kobe had a sex tape we could promote on the Internet, it would be a done deal."


Saturday, January 10, 2004

Jayson Blair & Me

The following is a transcription of an interview that occurred on a Wednesday afternoon in late October at a Flatbush Avenue coffeehouse in Brooklyn, New York. The product of a chance encounter between the notorious ex-Timesman, Jayson Blair, and the author of a controversial new play about the Media's role in the ongoing war in Iraq, first-time playwright - Ron Brynaert. Prior to the interview, Mr. Brynaert insisted on purchasing a tape recorder at a nearby Radio Shack. After the interview was concluded Mr. Blair gave Mr. Brynaert an hour to transcribe the conversation. As a result, the following may not be word-for-word. It is the belief of Mr. Brynaert that Mr. Blair is still in possession of the tape recording and so should be the object of any future scrutinizing as well as the projection of any conceivable skepticism. Jayson Blair - So...let's start the interview. Ron Brynaert - I'm good to go. Let's roll. JB - Bare with me, it's been a while since I last did this. Tell me again the title of your play... RB - "The Rules of Embedment or Why are we back in Iraq?" JB - Can you explain the title? RB - The first half alludes to the conditions that all journalists had to agree to in order to embed with the [cough] Coalition forces during the spring invasion of Iraq. The latter is a nod to a Norman Mailer novel entitled 'Why are we in Vietnam?' It was about a father-and-son-hunting trip in Alaska that served as an allegory for the Vietnam confli-...war that dealt with big business, patriotic Americanism, the counter-culture and masculinity. JB - Why two titles? RB - Stanley Kubrick is another big influence. It's a reference to "Dr. Strangelove or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.' I liked the idea of posing a question and offering an answer at the same time in the title. It's like a response by a contestant on Jeopardy. JB - Then shouldn't it be 'What is the Rules of Embedment?' RB - I said it was like it was on Jeopardy...metaphorically speaking...there's no need to be that precise. What's the difference to you anyway? JB - There's no need to go there. RB - I'm sorry if I've misspoken. You can understand I'm under a lot of stress. JB - I hear you. So tell me why you chose to write this play. RB - Mostly its because of you people. JB - Excuse me! What did you just say? RB - No, excuse me. I'm not pulling a Ross Perot. I didn't mean to imply anything racial. By you people, I meant the Media. JB - Understood. Although I'm not sure they still qualify as my people. RB - You were there when it counted. The Times led the rush to war. JB - Most people see it differently. That The Times was against the war and aggressively against George Bush. RB - Of course, there are a few liberals there - like Frank Rich, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd - who aggressively attacked the credibility of the litany of pre-war excuses. But the Times' true guilt lies in printing off-the-record comments by unnamed Administration if they were whistle-blowers and in need of protection. Those off-the-record comments were treated as news and policy. Countless times on the front page, Judith Miller wrote about different weapons of mass destruction that Iraq was alleged to possess without any real proof, evidence or a hint of disbelief...and so it became a part of the public record. Many of her sources were exiles from Iraq that hadn't lived there for decades. She was also one of the last people to correspond with David Kelly before he [cough] killed himself. JB - So are you saying The New York Times is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy? RB - No...well...William Safire and Judith Miller are definitely card-holding members...but no...The Times is firmly centrist rather than liberal. If they were truly liberal they would have embraced the antiwar movement, not just local but international. The Times had a daily war in Iraq section...there should have been a separate one for dissent. The huge protest in NYC on February 15th that attracted nearly half a million people was barely even covered. JB - That's the first scene in your play. RB - Yes, I think it was a pivotal moment in our history...and it will be treated as such...there were too many of us.... JB - You were there. RB - Yes, and many other marches and demonstrations. The New York Post even ran a picture of me at one rally...under the headline - 'Flocking Sheep'. JB - Ha! RB - it took me a while to get the dream is that The NY Post prints a picture of me with the head of a weasel.
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