I haven't attended an actual theatrical farce since the late 1980s, when I went to see Joe Orton's "What the Butler Saw," accompanied by a woman with whom I was hopelessly infatuated. My strongest memories of that evening – in the darkness of a tiny theater somewhere on Charles Street in Boston (need to check the facts on that) – are less about the comedy itself than the revelation that we humans spew an incredible amount of saliva when we talk.
The director of this production had backlit the stage, such that every time the actors yelled – especially the balding guy playing the central character of Dr. Prentiss – the audience saw impossibly huge clouds of salivary droplets spewing into the air. It was both comical and disgusting and went on for a couple of hours. At times it was hard to follow the play because I was so awestruck by the bursts of goo coming out of the actors' mouths. It didn't exactly provide the romantic atmosphere I was hoping for that evening.
One day, when I was in grade school – call it fifth grade – a teacher angrily hollered at us for treating English class as a farce, which made me laugh because, as a French Canadian, I had many times eaten a meat stuffing called "farce." Then she yelled "Patrick McVay wipe that smirk off your face now!" I might not remember many of the world's thorniest crises of that era, but I remember her saying "farce" and me laughing about it.
Calling our behavior a farce was, to be honest, inaccurate. It was more of a circus. Farces, to my mind, have a pattern to them. Several doors as well. There was only one door in my fifth-grade English class, and our unruly behavior had no discernable pattern.
I've never written a farce, but I did once claim, in these very pages, that I was going to write one called "Gun Farce." I'm guessing that I posted that blog entry shortly after a mass shooting occurred. I won't even bother to check what mass shooting might have happened around January 13, 2013, because, let's face it, they happen just about every day in these increasingly disunited states.
Sometimes, I feel that penning a play around the general contours of my Gun Farce blog entry would be worth the effort, if nothing else to assuage the guilt I feel for doing otherwise little to combat the conditions that enable teenagers to waltz into gun shops and purchase semi-automatic rifles without a license and use them to murder children in their classrooms en masse. However, I don't think it would end up being terribly funny. It's hard to lighten the mood when a minority of Americans are arming themselves to the hilt. It feels eerily like preparation for war, except the enemy is, apparently, young people in school.
Maybe what I'll do instead is write a farce about the US Senate. After all, the Capitol has lots of doors, the principal characters are mad, and there is a decades-long pattern of defending the purchase and sale of guns at any cost.
I was a regular viewer of standard 1970s and 1980s television serials – sitcoms like the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family (or “The Poopridge Fartilee, as my big sister dubbed it) – as well as hourlong dramas like Emergency and Starsky and Hutch.
And occasionally I’d watch shows like the hip urban high-school drama Room 222, or the cop/detective drama The Mod Squad.
The Mod Squad were mod because they had diversity: Pete, the white cop with a mop of hair and sideburns; Linc, the black cop with an afro and a gap between his front teeth; Julie, the “girl” as we used to call adult women back in those days, played by Peggy Lipton, who would later appear in Twins Peaks.
In the opening credits, this squad of mod cops (as the creators may have called them in pitch meetings, or maybe when one of them was writing the first line of a haiku) individually emerge into view, where they are fleeing some unseen menace in a dank, urban tunnel. The camera freezes each in a closeup; the second one frozen is Clarence Williams III, who played Linc. Once together and in full view, Pete and Linc take Julie by the arms and they run off, suggesting that she’s not strong enough to keep up.
I remember almost none of the Mod Squad episodes, but somehow one scene was seared into my memory from the moment I saw it. As I recall it, some strange malady (or maybe poison, or drug) is afflicting people, causing intense headaches and paranoia. Maybe Pete is suffering from it as well. Linc is trying to save someone – maybe Pete? (can’t remember that detail) – who is in the throes of the malady, but when he approaches, the ailing victim doesn’t believe this black dude with an afro is actually a cop, until Link pulls out his badge and flings it across the room yelling, “Believe it man!” That line – “Believe it man!” – is one that I somehow can’t shake from my memory, many decades later.
As we are about to go to press, I ask my band of editors for a few extra minutes so I can scan the Mod Squad episode list on Wikipedia (I know, you hate Wikipedia; so do I, except almost every time I call upon it to give me information like this). Very likely, the episode in question is "Find Tara Chapman!" The summary of this episode is that the mod cops are trying to track down a "dying girl on the run" who may unwittingly spark a "meningitis epidemic." Hmm. That makes some sense. Meningitis affects the brain and can make people incoherent.
Alas, we lost Clarence Williams III in early June. Believe it man.
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of crazy stuff (also called “crazy shit” by people whose blogs aren’t quite as decent as mine), but among the crazier stuff is that the latest and sexiest article of impeachment against old whatsisname (former president, heavy dude, blond-esque hair, golfs a lot – you know who I mean) is being “walked over” to the Senate from the House.
What the heck! If you stood up for justice and truth, like several politicians did, you can’t even walk yourself down the street these days, let along walk a document indicting the plump, red-hat wearing dude who incited an insurrection. Are the articles being walked over with armed military personnel protecting the brave person doing the walking, or is some page skipping along to grandmother’s house without protection from the wolves? If it’s me, I get on my bike and ride like holy hell, flipping the bird to would-be articles-of-impeachment-thieves.
Anyway, don’t they know that we keep copies?
Hang on. I have people jumping up and down and waving their arms to get my attention. OK now they’re making that circular motion with index fingers around their temples to indicate that I’m crazy.
Ha, well, it turns out that it’s walked over because both houses of congress are in the same building. Except, wait, that’s the Capitol building.
I still think we need a robust security detail walking this one over.
Not that I have any idea how to manage this website, or that you’re actually reading it, but I think it’s the right time to announce that the sidebar to the right, which I stopped adding content to some years ago when President 45’s rhetoric stopped being merely idiotic and became downright incendiary, be retired in favor of something more uplifting.
Pictures of puppies!
I’m going to see if I can find in the inaugural words of our next president, Uncle Joe, an apt haiku to post to this sidebar. Basically, I have no idea how to get rid of this sliver of vertical verbiage. Maybe the refreshed haikus will become “a thing” (as my son tends to say) and the world will finally pay attention to me.
Yeah, probably not.
J'Biden Era Haikuage
People's Arms. That's right!
200 million shots
In 100 days
We are good people
But we still have far to go
Repair. Restore. Heal.
There's nothing new here
The Affordable Care Act
We're restoring it
Democracy is fragile
The world is watching
Strategy is based
On Science, not politics
Truth, not denial
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