Chernicia and her loyal band of
roving youth choir administrators
saw no choice
other than to take up stopgap freelance work.
Due to a general malaise
and rapidly-growing apprehension
toward patronizing or participating in
the performing arts (the anti-exceptionalist
herd mentality showed absolutely no signs of
dissipation as professionals of all stripes
traversed the barren corporate landscape
(a hell to be wished upon no soul)), all hope
seemed lost on the fearful.
Interest in the once-alluring
middle and high school competitive circuit
had been waning steadily for a generation or so,
to the point where even the most stalwart
paper-shuffling masochists out there
had to admit they were licked.
In this devastating climate, Chernicia figured
that some places out there
still need to enlist the services
of highly-competent youth choir administrators.
They took an oath in front of the children,
for Christ’s sake!
They vowed, on bended knee,
to make themselves
available for freelance filing (and HR concerns)
at the drop of a hat, whenever duty may come calling.
So just like that, they picked up and left–
no matter what their guts happened to be
telling them (the group’s average duodenum
could paint you the idyllic picture
where they’d carved out a sort of haven
in this life of more uncertainty than trust).
Many tearful (and gut-wrenching) goodbyes
after they developed the steely resolve
to give up their past selves
(for the children, dammit),
the brave and intrepid band set out
on their first assignment: Gurnee, Illinois.
They never did look back.
And to this very day,
rental cars and hotel rooms
still serve as their only refuge
from the vast desert of abandoned office complexes.
Elegant transmission signals
discriminate rather wildly, you’ll find
(if you were to bother thinking much about it).
Well, we’re thinking form over function here, right?
Or is it function over form whenever possible?
Who can even remember anymore anyway?
At any rate, instead of bit-champing
and tooth-gnashing, I’d rather have
a consistent plateau of mountain plush toy friendliness,
if you know what I mean.
And of course you don’t know what I mean;
I don’t even know what I mean
most of the time.
It’s an issue, I’ve been
trying to get out in front of it
(and it’s just kicking my ass, man).
So I’d eventually like
to reach the point where
I can talk to just about anyone
about just about anything,
and that’ll satisfy me
in lieu of actual achievement in this life.
Entombed in the cedar
Mac Rebennack-ness of it all,
I stood still with a Wisconsin
kind of appendage, the wishbone apparent
through those ill-begotten stockings
left behind that one night
when the pistons swayed
against the moon spritzers
with their glittering doom
(so transparent to everybody
save the few middling marmoset dealers
known around the district as
generally pretty good guys
in their own regard, if you insist on
getting down to their brand of parlor parlance
after a bit of tea and perhaps
a scone while we’re at it).
Alls I knows is
my black bean taquito factory
couldn’t have shut down
at a worse possible time for me
and my chicken brethren. Now,
I know what you’re thinking. Can
chickens collectively be considered
brethren, or would that be omitting
the female sex entirely?
For you see, my enlightened peers
in this common quest
for some kind of satisfaction–
if at all possible–
chicken is the lazy layman’s
blanket term, and we can’t be
bandying improper pronouns around
over here, ya dig?
Oh, and I suppose it would also mean
that my clucky compatriots will have to incur
the ultimate sacrifice (their lives)
on the company’s behalf
for the sake of avoiding
cuisine production cessation (if even
for a minute).
I can’t jeopardize our investors’ success
within this capitalistic apparatus–
especially after that botched public offering
a couple summers ago. Egg
on my face, I said to myself (I said).
No-good trubish remedy sentinels
just continue to badger me
as I TRY
to make my way to Sand Hose “A”
(what a jerkwater berg anyway, am I right?).
An impartial influence
on the growth region
of my intercontinental mental health
has got me reeling for an alternative
to cheesy misheard lyrics.
There is, however, none to be found.
It would appear, my dear mentor once told me
(over scones and stones, I wasn’t fond
of the stones but I tolerated the scones)
that black and white considerations
have torn this here nation limb from limb,
while the attemptive peacemakers
intervene at inconvenient intervals,
knocking rhetoric around
like any of it makes a difference.
I’ve batted at this idea
for far longer than I’d care to admit,
so I’m just gonna shut my mouth
before the weight of my convictions
puts a pox on my house. Or
was that a box on my mouse?
I wasn’t paying attention.
The more senior members of the corn-fed trophy mounting union (local 1776) always manage to find opportunities to regale their greener counterparts with talk of a simpler time–when common salmonella held a place in all of our hearts and opinion-dominated politics held sway in the public arena.
The information age was still in its infancy and the shady web traffickers used all their powers of persuasion to convince the good ol’ god-fearing people that doom was just around the corner for all non-believers (when a quick search would reveal that the sedentary nature of these chosen-by-default disciples was actually the exact behavior leading us all to armageddon).
The billionaire false prophets for social normativity laughed all the way to the bank, just the way they always had (and always would, assuming the government they’d purchased would continue to carry out their various people-crushing biddings). Nobody with enough influence could get the gears of social justice turning, due to their lack of tenure as stock market manipulators and robber barons; the folks who figured they could inspire a positive change in discourse were all too late to the party.
Or that would be the narrative that Joe and Stu want to perpetuate at social gatherings (sock hops, ball games, charity galas, what have you), usually after a beer or two. I wish they would talk about fun things instead.
Of Nice and Men is a snappy, genre-driven play predicated on your typical hero’s journey through the heartland once regarded as antiquated–cornball, even–in the pseudo-sophisticated shadow of a cultured society we’ve been thrust into by the more majorly militaristic manchildren among us (trading individual liberties for big boy toys and candy).
Since we occupy an epoch where modern delineation truly has strangled the life out of chronological concerns (that is to say we’ve had our fair share of allegorical parallelograms in our time, no doubt about that, no siree), if you find yourself charged with taking in this three-hour beauty, you can–and should–simply attend the theatre as a pilgrim of the arts, allowing yourself to become awash in a different reality, even if only for a glimmering moment.
Other than the obvious sociological implications afforded to us by the title, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the tap dance sequences that pop up seemingly from out of nowhere (even though I’ve just spoiled the twist for you, but you pay that no mind). In a nutshell, this tour de force pits Americana versus whimsy at the intersection of Leap and Gamble Avenues.
For all my field trip aficionados out there, I recommend bringing a schoolbusful of primary school students to see the Wednesday matinee, as tickets for 12 and under are free.
Mannequin rest is a sign of weakness
and cheap plastic.
My stock at the Sears downtown
believes that since they look human,
they should receive pay and benefits
like my flesh and blood employees.
I’m so tired of emphasizing
to these hollow Betties and Bernies
that they were designed, built and purchased
for the sole purpose of displaying garments.
I’m not the one to blame
for their poor quality of life.
Even if their plight was real
or at all justifiable,
how am I supposed to provide
services for company property?
I’m just a shift manager!
I’ve tided them over for now
by letting them form an in-store mannequin union
in the basement (Thursday and Saturday nights
from 7 to 9), but until they’re legitimate,
I’m not breathing a word of this to the higher-ups.
Originally published as part of inaugural post (12/20/2010)
First titled “Swivel Rights”