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.
to the ever-ladder-climbing individuals
who deem personal and professional progress
a product of constant social manipulation–always.
Standstills may seem intoxicating
every once in a while
to the few who always rush around everywhere,
and for good reason!
Nothing but pep in your step
and constant “progress”
makes for a dull type of existence–
no room to misstep and fall
(or even sidestep and plateau).
We’ve all become acquainted with these folks–
always on the lookout
for something that offends,
imposition rather than inspiration.
These are the dodgeworthy people,
the dilettantes at the way station
between sanity and clarity.
A piddly little posy of pansies
left the station an hour ago
(off to Cleveland of all places),
running late. All alone,
the colorful collective thinks
to itself, “I should have had
a better breakfast.” A freight train
is no place for a flower
to be lollygagging around, fretting
about its appetite and desperate need
for sun rays, but that’s neither here nor there
at the moment. This bundle has an agenda,
and time is of the essence.
There’s no window in the car,
just that played-out open sliding door (the one
that may have Woody Guthrie’s initials
carved into it, whether by a fanatic,
the legend himself, or
just some schmo with the initials “WG”).
The posy, steeped in darkness, wonders
if it can gather the strength to flit
over to that certain patch of light
(the one there always seems to be),
when a breeze picks it up
and slaps it against the door,
just inches from being jettisoned.
A crash landing
in this stretch of rural Pennsylvania
would almost certainly mean a grisly death
at the hooves of the local Holstein population.
But now is no time to panic. Anxiety
will get you nowhere
in the face of a looming deadline
and quarterly financial report presentation.
Chin up, fair posy. We’re not giving up on you yet.
Mickey The Mantelpiece
has it on good authority
that Dinkins’ Corner
smells like hot dog water
and scorched sand
after the bungled boogaloo last Tuesday.
It’s more than likely
a result of that notorious
Basketweaving Barrelmuncher Brigade–
they usually leave a lasting impression
in this naïve neighborhood.
The Brigade, forever unsure of its tenuous future,
kept right on hoarding canned meats
like it was going out of style–
ever since we thought we’d licked
those midcentury wartime tendencies.
Never an organization keen on listening to reason,
the BBB (not to be mistaken
with the power-wielding force
that calls the local business shots)
must have leaked some spiced ham remnants
while making their hasty getaway
from the street that birthed their tendencies.
We’re gonna need to hold them responsible
for the odorous hullabaloo
they always leave in their sloppy wake
(as though they think we’re meek enough
to take it lying down, the cretins).
Mickey The Mantelpiece will head up the posse.
I have come to more thoroughly understand
being a man in the context of the great
regret machinations of our time
[a sensation not unlike finishing
the stinking shawarma you left out
that one time then decided to eat
because your fatigue caused a lack of interest
in unwritten expiration date consideration],
and have chosen to fish away my days
in lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, where
the skeletons all around you,
to the bluegills
while they inspect your lure
grinning at your little boat],
ears naturally aglow.
striders dot the scene,
checking for proper surface tension
(it’s like they don’t know about physics
and the evolution that specifically adapted them
to traveling in a manner that will never not be useful
in our particular iteration of the universe).
Considering how rampant–and frequent–they are elsewhere throughout the universe, I know you’re not really surprised that the chance for any number of phantasmagoric happenstances to play out at this pediatric-leaning syndrome symposium would remain slim to none (as one might say when pressed), right? As we usually observe, the only guarantee at one of these gatherings would be that at least one poor soul is coming away with a scraped knee (left or right is another question).
Hey, haven’t you been here just as long as I have?! I’m having a hard time getting over the bald complacency responsible for such a critical misinterpretation of our most sacred pemmican rulebook! It’s been nigh on six years since that last grand gesture in semantics peppered our idealized fields of vision, and I won’t have this unqualified jabber jockey over here just go on and on about 21st Century-specific chesterfield modulation practices (his favorite spotlight-stealing topic) more than once per full moon, no matter how persuasive he happens to be when the stars come alignin’.
Albacore dreams float soundless,
drop to sediment, petrify
and wash up:
broken empty shells
inflicting wounds at will.
All the lost blood
on the beach,
the sand gulps it and dives
Burrowed in muck,
all the ‘O’s and ‘AB’s
reaffirm their common lineages,
summoning up a plume of sanguinary vitality
(luring jerky lurker sharks
near the shore to nip some ‘A+’
from a lazing boogie boarder–
that type’s always running low
for some reason).
Original draft posted to WHARVED on 3/2/12,