Sunday, August 25, 2002

Getting wrecked on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The First Mate was drunk and he smelled like a skunk
And he puked out his guts on the railing
The Captain was stewed and he acted quite rude
And all of his senses were failing

The Captain wired in he was all out of gin
And drank grain alcohol from the barrel
Later that night he was feeling quite tight
Getting wrecked on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Sunday, August 4, 2002


ANNOUNCER: Welcome to “true stories of the FBI” featuring real actors pretending to be loosely-based composites of real agents and no cross-dressing. Ever. Tonight’s story: “NONE DARE CALL IT BOOTLEG.” We take you back in the summer of 2001. We’re deep inside the heart of the FBI’s Intelligence Analysis Division. As our story begins, an earnest, young rookie agent is just coming in from the field. He learns something. You will too.

AGENT JONES comes running in waving a file stuffed with papers.

JONES: Director! Director! You’re not going to believe…

DIRECTOR: (not recognizing him) And you are…?

JONES: Agent Jones.

DIRECTOR: (considering this – it doesn’t ring a bell) Jones. Jones? I don’t think I …

JONES: It’s been awhile, sir – six months, actually. I’ve been undercover – deep cover – but I think it’s finally paid off.

DIRECTOR: Refresh my memory.

JONES: I’ve infiltrated six different flight schools and …

DIRECTOR: (totally confused) Flight schools?

JONES: Yeah. What I found out was, they all contained disproportionate numbers of Middle Eastern nationals. Weird guys. Creepy-looking guys. Some approached me and attempted to rent crop dusters.


JONES: It adds up to terrorism, sir. A new kind of terrorism.

DIRECTOR: (scornfully) Terrorism? Six months undercover, and all you come up with is “terrorism” …? This is the FBI, Jones. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.

JONES: Like what?

DIRECTOR: Like video piracy, that’s what.

JONES: Video piracy?

DIRECTOR: Yeah. While you’re playing Junior G-Man, we reorganized the whole bureau. Today’s FBI is totally focused on video piracy.

JONES: You got to be kidding me.

DIRECTOR: I wish I was, Jones. It’s a crime wave. It’s big.

JONES: How big, sir?

DIRECTOR: International. We’re working with Interpol now. Terrorism’s just not priority.

JONES: (digesting this) Uh. Maybe it’s just me, sir, but …

DIRECTOR: Spit it out, Jones.

JONES: Shouldn’t international terrorism take priority to video piracy?

DIRECTOR: Is that what you think, Jones? Yeah, it figures. You would think that – snot-nosed academy punk. You want the headlines, the sexy assignments – “Terrorism”… “drugs” … “organized crime.” You think video piracy’s not important? Listen up, Jones. Let’s say we turn a blind eye, what happens then? They teach you that at the academy?

JONES: Uh … no.

DIRECTOR: No? No. I didn’t think so. Well they should, Jones. (tapping Jones' forehead) Think Jones. Let’s play it your way. Let’s forget the bootleggers and go after the so-called “terrorists.” While you’re off hunting Carlos the Jackal, the pirates board and loot and have their way with Hollywood. What’s the harm? A few bootleg copies of “Zoolander,” a DVD rip of “Training Day.” What’s the harm you say?

JONES: I didn’t…

DIRECTOR: (cutting him off) I’ll tell you what the “harm” is, Jones. What happens to creative artists who don’t get fairly compensated for their intellectual property rights?

JONES: Sir ...

DIRECTOR: What happens when your local Blockbuster goes bust? Ever think about that? Barry Dillar’s out on the street – not to mention all the moms and dads at MCI and Sony with hungry mouths to feed. What happens to the studios, Jones? No subsidiary rights, no secondary income from video and DVD. They’re forced to cut back on production values – you know what that means? No more explosions for Jerry Bruckheimer. He starts doing chick flicks – lotsa talk, hugs and kisses, relationship stuff. Little Johnny grows up watching that, little Johnny grows up soft. And what about little Johnny? He can’t go down to Blockbuster anymore, let alone some Mom and Pop porno stand. Where’s he go? The street, that’s where. Back alley video. He comes home with third generation bootlegs full of scan lines, Jones. Scan lines and bad synch and bad audio to match. Johnny’s up in his room watching some knockoff of “Pretty Woman” that looks like a dirty car windshield on a rainy night ‘cause that’s all he can get. His eyes go bad, his ears go bad, and little Johnny grows up light in the loafers ‘cause he grew up watching chick flicks. Little Johnny, and all the little Johnnies across America. So America grows up soft. And before you can say “Me so horny,” the commies are drinking Starbucks in Seattle – Why? Because you’re worried about a few towelheads in cropdusters. That’s what happens if we play it your way.

JONES: I didn’t think, sir.

DIRECTOR: No. You didn’t. Ever notice that FBI warning at the end of every video?

JONES: Yeah.

DIRECTOR: Ever read it?


DIRECTOR: Well you should Jones. Read it. Memorize it. Think about it. The FBI stands behind that warning. Don’t you ever forget it. (addressing audience) And that goes for you too, America. It’s time to just say “no” to copyright violation and turn in your friends. They’ll thank you for it. So will the FBI. Goodnight, America.

ANNOUNCER: This has been a “true story” taken directly from the video piracy files of the FBI. Any resemblance to persons, places or things represented in this teleplay is purely coincidental. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Mr. Large

NARRATOR: (Walter Winchellesque) Crime. It’s the cancer of society, the scourge of civilization. After years of scientific study, there’s one thing we can say with absolute certitude about it. (long dramatic pause) Crime is caused by lawbreakers. Here’s a look at one of them – a man known only as “Mr. Large.”

“Mr. Large” enters. He’s actually kind of short.

NARRATOR: He started out stealing statues of the Virgin Mary from Irish churches and reselling them to Italian churches frequented by the Chicago mob. “Fighting Father Flanagan” tried to talk him out of it …

MR. LARGE and three HOODS are huddled together. He watches approvingly as the HOODS file serial numbers off statues of Jesus' Mom. The PRIEST enters and confronts LARGE.

MR. LARGE: Ya lost, Father?

PRIEST: No, son. You are.

MR. LARGE: Get him. Ya got a lotta guts, Father – good for you. Now beat it. Drafty old place like dis ain’t so good for an old guy like you. (pulling out gun) Bad for your health, know what I mean? Better go back to yer nice warm mick church.

PRIEST: I'm not leaving from this spot.

MR. LARGE: (cocking gun) Not alive, you mean.

PRIEST: You wouldn't shoot a priest, son.

He shoots him.

PRIEST: I guess I was wrong.


NARRATOR: Large made his mark with extortion during the 1930s. His victims included the British Prime Minister…

MR. LARGE: (on the phone) No, no, no, I ain’t threatening. I’m just saying London’s a real nice place. Be a shame if something happened to it. Like I don’t know what. Like say the Germans got a hold of some rockets and started firing ‘em at you. Real big rockets. I’m just speculating. As a friend. (hangs up)

NARRATOR: And the Emperor of Japan.

MR. LARGE: (on phone) Cute little town, Hiroshima …

NARRATOR: By playing both sides against the middle, he helped start World War II. He was equally ruthless with his henchmen.

Three mobsters huddled together, cleaning guns, etc. MR. LARGE enters room and confronts them.

MR. LARGE: Something's up.

THUG #1: It's strictly legit, boss.

MR. LARGE: Yeah? (sniffing) Well I say something stinks here. (gesturing to one of the THUGS) You. Take out the garbage.

THUG #2: Sure ting boss.

THUG #2 leaves with garbage.

MR. LARGE: How many times I gotta tell you mugs? No food garbage in the office garbage – paper garbage only.

THUG #1: What about food that's wrapped in paper and you eat the food and there's just paper?

MR. LARGE: What about you clam up?

THUG #1: Su – (he clams up)

MR. LARGE: Something still stinks.

MR. LARGE just pauses, studying them. They’re all terrified. Then he points to THUG #1 and walks up to him. The other THUGS back off.

MR. LARGE: I smell a rat and his name is you. What gives?

THUG #1: Nothing.

MR. LARGE: Nothing, eh?

THUG #1: Yeah, boss. N-nothing.

MR. LARGE: You think I'm paying you to sit around and do nothing?

THUG #1: No.

MR. LARGE: Oh, so you did do something?

THUG #1: Yeah.

MR. LARGE: Like what?

THUG #1: Like what I'm s’posed to.

LARGE: Yeah? You wanna know what I think you did?

THUG #1: Whaddya think I did?

MR. LARGE: You tell me.

THUG #1: I didn't do it.

MR. LARGE: Sure, sure.

THUG #1: Honest, boss. Ya gotta believe me!

MR. LARGE: Oh I believe you, I’m a real trusting guy, I’m a real sap, I believe anybody – (whipping out gun) but my pal here Roscoe don't.

THUG #1: (shaking, obviously terrified of “Roscoe”) Listen....

MR. LARGE: I’m a real easy-going Joe, but Roscoe’s a skeptic, see. Like them pre-Socratics. (cocking gun) Roscoe’s gonna need some convincing…

THUG #1: (sweating) Listen, boss…

MR. LARGE: Don't talk to me, talk to Roscoe.

THUG #1: (bending over, talking to the gun) Listen Roscoe, I didn't do it.

MR. LARGE: Roscoe thinks yez lying.

THUG #1: I ain’t lying! I don’t even know what you think I did.

MR. LARGE: Then how do you know you didn’t do it?

THUG #1: (forgetting himself and talking to MR. LARGE, not the gun) Cause, uh …

MR. LARGE: Not me, Roscoe.

Bending over again to talk to the gun.

THUG #1: (addressing the gun) Cause I ain’t…

He can’t think of anything to say.

MR. LARGE: Roscoe’s waiting.

Abruptly, ridiculously, he starts pour his heart out to “Roscoe.”

THUG #1: (practically babbling) Uh, y-you know how loyal I am, Roscoe. Da boss means a lot to me! Most mugs wouldn’t even think about doing the boss no dirt on account of nobody screws wit de boss and gets away with it, but me I wouldn’t even do nothing if I could get away with it on account of it ain't right cause da boss done good to me and I wanna do what’s right, so … (losing train of thought, has to think for a second) …so dat's why I didn’t do nothing I ain’t supposed to do, Roscoe, honest.

He looks up hopefully but it’s no sale. MR. LARGE gets even more belligerent.

MR. LARGE: Roscoe ain’t buying. Something's up!

THUG #1: No, boss!

MR. LARGE: You've been walking the dog!

THUG #1: No!

MR. LARGE: Charking on the farklebark!

THUG #1: I wouldn’t do dat!

MR LARGE: Jamming on the floyfloy!

THUG #1: I don't even know what none of that means!

MR. LARGE: Oh you don’t, eh? Well maybe you’re just playing dumb. Maybe you’re some kinda wiseguy. Are you some kinda wiseguy?

THUG #1: I ain’t no wiseguy!

MR. LARGE: Sure you are! You’re a regular Einstein!

THUG #1: No boss!

MR. LARGE: A real bright boy!

THUG #1: No!

MR. LARGE: Think you’re real smart, don’t you?

THUG #1: No boss I don’t. I don’t think I’m smart. I’m real stupid. I never thought nothin’ in my whole life, boss. I sweartagod I ain’t smart!

MR. LARGE: Yeah?

THUG #1: Yeah.

MR. LARGE aims “Roscoe” and shoots him.

MR. LARGE: If there's one thing I can't stand it's a dummy.

NARRATOR: Through fear, violence and wise investment, Large’s criminal empire grew – eventually including mail-order delivery of orphans to slave labor camps by the late 1970s. In the 80s he moved into basic cable but got out again because he found it unethical. It seemed like nothing could stop him – but the long arm of the law was closing in. In 1998 it grabbed him where it hurts – in a hospital suite in Schenectady.

At this point the NARRATOR assumes the role of a cop and walks over to MR. LARGE who is lying in a hospital bed.

NARRATOR: Vincent Divanziochicanziawhatever, a.k.a. Mr. Large, you’re under arrest for the… (noticing he’s dead) …ah crap, he’s dead. (quickly closing curtains on hospital bed and addressing audience) Well, I guess in his case crime did pay, but it doesn’t happen often. Let this be a lesson to hooligans and scofflaws everywhere. (opens mouth, can’t think of anything else to say) Goodnight.

He walks off.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Elizabethan House of the Rising Sun

Here's the Animals' famous garage band standard in Elizabethan rhythm ...

In New Orleans a house there is
Of the rising sun ‘tis named.
Full many a poor wight
His ruin hath he met there.
Of that company am I numbered,
God knoweth.

A tailor's trade my mother plied.
In Genoa's azure garb shod I.
My father favored games of chance
In Crescent City’s vile expanse.
Cask and pistol, loaded each
Just such a gambler's trade requires.
Oblivion of sherry-sack
'Tis all a drunkard's soul desires.

O mothers!
Unto thine brood instruction give
My practice not to emulate
Lest in sin and misery
Their lives be spent.
New Orleans!
Bound am I
To return unto that city.
I stand upon the platform.
Enchained. Half sent.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Foul Stench

An alternate scene from the original Star Wars ...


Admiral Motti enters the quite control room and bows before Governor Tarkin, who stands before the huge wall screen displaying a small, green planet.

Motti: We've entered the Alderaan system.

Vader and two stormtroopers enter with Princess Leia. Her hands are bound.

Princess Leia: Governor Tarkin. I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.

Tarkin: Foul stench? Seriously? You recognized it?

Princess Leia: Governor --

Tarkin: How about this? (cuts one) Recognize that?

Vader, Leia, Motti all react.

Leia: Gahhhhhh.

Vader: Apparently, something has died inside your ass!

Tarkin: How about this? (another loud fart) Does that one ring a bell?

Princess Leia: Stop it!

Tarkin: (sniffs) Why, that smells like Tarkin! I love the smell of Tarkin in the morning!

Another prolonged blast of methane. The lights flutter, go off. The death ray shuts down.

Vader: Damn it, Tarkin -- you blew out the Death Star electrical system! It's highly sensitive to methane, you idiot.

A stormtrooper enters.

Stormtrooper: Hey. Let’s get some light in here.

He lights a match. The Death Star explodes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I Want My NKVD

(to the tune of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing")

I want my, I want my NKVD.
I want my, I want my NKVD.

Russian mobster, look like a lobster
Got a Lubyanka mamma in a dacha on the old Black Sea.
That ain't freedom; that's the way they screw you.
It's freedom for nothin' cause nothing's free.

That ain't freedom; that's the way they screw you.
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain't dumb.
Sell your sister, like a transistor.
Suitcase bomb, you can have some fun.

We stocking GUM with crates of fucking blue jeans.
Designer label posteriors.
We got to please these Euro tourists.
We're working for the nomenklatura.

Here comes the new boss
Just like the old boss.
Lemme tell you, these guys are worse.
A bullet in the brain can be an act of mercy.
A brain that's full of pain is a lifetime curse.

We stocking GUM with crates of fucking blue jeans.
Designer label posteriors.
We got to please these Euro tourists.
We're working for the nomenklatura.

Look at them prestoopniks.
That's the way you do it!
Brains just like a monkey's.
They do what they do and don't know it's crime.
That ain't freedom; that's the way they screw you.
Papa Joe made the trains run on time.

I want my, I want my NKVD.
I want my, I want my NKVD.

David Lynch's "Psycho"

The following is my response to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive -- which struck me as Psycho edited with gardening shears. Then I wondered what Lynch would do if he actually directed Psycho ...

OPEN, NORMAN BATES in an insane asylum. He’s listening to doctors talk about him. The sound is distorted so we don’t understand what they’re saying.

NORMAN: Why. I wouldn’t even hurt a fly.

ZOOM in on fly on his face. Keep zooming to impossible, microscopic closeness.
Watch fly crawling around for ten minutes.


Ice machine. Static shot.

Audio: Crashing noise. Ice falling down inside. Audio continues (OS) over --

Montage: Stack of money. Blood going down drain. MARIAN screams. MARTIN BALSAM climbs up stairs. Wrecker pulls NORMAN's car out of swamp.
NORMAN’s MOM in rocking chair, a grinning skeleton illuminated by a swinging light bulb. MARIAN screams. NORMAN, on his knees, cleaning and cleaning. Silence.

Sound, ice crashing down. Impossibly loud.


MARIAN leaves BATES motel, walking backwards - film footage in reverse. Her entire journey repeats, backwards, from her arrival at Bates motel to the time she leaves her office with the money she embezzles.

Extreme close up of ice falling backwards, up into the ice machine mechanism, in slow motion of the tune of freaky-deaky industrial synth track.


NORMAN in office, watches MARIAN through peephole. We watch him for twenty minutes. Hold on the same static camera angle. The scene goes on far too long. Andy Warhol would lose patience. Finally, the camera tracks left. Slowly. Keeps tracking.

Zoom up on stuffed MOOSE HEAD.

Zoom in to MOOSE’s nostril.

Keep zooming down long, dark, endless corridor of MOOSE’s nostril.

Weird industrial noises. Get louder and louder.

Pull out into corridor of BATES motel.

Camera tracks aimlessly through motel corridors.

NORMAN’s POV. His mother is screaming at him. NORMAN, being a psycho, doesn’t realized she’s a stuffed dummy in a rocking chair. Neither do we. We have no clue what’s going on.

NORMAN'S MOM: How dare you bring that slut in here! How dare you! I demand respect, Norman! R-e-s-p-e-c-t!

The room burns to brightness in the fierce light of heaven. We see a caricature of a 1960s GIRL GROUP -- sluttier than the real thing, drawing on that coarse, whorish, gum-chewing fetish imprinted on DAVID LUNCH’s mind at the age of 13. One is a dwarf.

They start doing the jerk and singing. Backwards masking effect. I.e.: singers sing phonetic transcription of a backwards song to a backwards music track, then the film is shown in reverse.


Another montage. Stack of money.

Blood going down drain. A commercial for Old Dutch cleaner.

MARIAN screams.

BATES house. MAMMA BATES' voice.

MAMA BATES: (O.S.) Norman! Norman!

MARTIN BALSAM climbs up stairs.

Knife stabbing in shower.

MARIAN screams.

A MOOSE sitting on a couch.

Another shot of the wrecker pulling MARTIN BALSAM’s car out of swamp.

Motel hallway.

Footage of two lane blacktop. Night.

NORMAN looking through hole in the wall.

Endless corridors.

We move to room 99. Enter.


The MOOSE FAMILY is watching TV. The program they're watching is --

MARIAN’s COUSIN and her BOYFRIEND looking for MARIAN. The footage has been edited badly and it’s out of order. The sound is terrible. There are Cantonese subtitles. And a laugh track.

We watch the badly edited Whodunit segment for 35 minutes, almost forgetting that it’s the show on the TV set the MOOSE FAMILY is watching. We're thinking, perhaps, what we're seeing really happening. But there are commercials for taxidermy, unbreakable shower curtain rings, cleaning supplies. and plastic sheeting, MARIAN's insurance company and other crap that doesn’t make sense. Perhaps it’s all in NORMAN’s mind. Perhaps it’s in DAVID LYNCH’s mind.

ANNOUNCER:(almost unintelligible) Will they solve the mystery? Tune in next week.

OLD DUTCH cleanser commercial.

The OLD DUTCH CLEANSER LADY comes to life. It’s NORMAN’S MAMA. She starts shaking her rolling pin.

MAMA: Chase the dirt, Norman! Chase the dirt!

Pull out. Of TV screen. Weird industrial noises.

We’re back in the motel room.

We see the MOOSE family again.

One MOOSE irons a shirt.

We track up to the wall to the mounted head of a squirrel. ROCKY the FLYING SQUIRREL. He laughs.

ROCKY: And now here's something we hope you'll really like!

Camera goes out the door.

The number now says 666.

Laugh on laugh track.

More endless footage of hallway.

Stack of money.

Insurance forms.

MAMA: Norman!

Blood goes down drain.

MARIAN screams.

MARTIN BALSAM climbs up stairs.

Knife stabbing.

MARIAN screams.

MAMA: (backwards) Namron!

ROCKY THE STUFFED SQUIRREL: Ekil yllaer ll'ouy epoh ew gnihtemos s'ereh won dna!

A MOOSE sitting on a couch.

Neon sign. Flickering.

Norman’s record player.

Money blowing in wind.

MAMA: Norman!

NORMAN, dressed as the OLD DUTCH CLEANSER lady. Cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.

MAMA: Norman!

The GIRL GROUP, dancing backwards.

SINGER: Stop stepping on my foot, bitch!

MARTIN BALSAM walks up stairs.

Shot of wrecker pulling MARTIN BALSAM’s car out of swamp.

Shot of motel hallways.

Footage of two lane blacktop. Night.

NORMAN looking through hole in the wall.

Pull back, we go through another hole.

NORMAN is looking through that.

Pull back.

Another hole, another NORMAN.

Oooh. Clever. This goes on for awhile.

Camera moves away from the last NORMAN in the series.

Long tracking shot of stuffed animal heads in NORMAN’s office.

Pull out of motel office.

15 minute static shot of flickering neon sign announcing BATES motel. VACANCY . The NO next to VACANCY flickers to life.

Two lane blacktop.

Endless corridors.

We move into a dark corridor.

Loud industrial noises.

We pull out of the Moose’s nostril.

We see Norman inside it, a tiny figure, two centimeters high. A tiny little human with the head of a fly.

NORMAN: Help me! Help me!

The ice machine rattles.

Ice crashes down.

We zoom in. Go inside the ice machine. Impossibly scaled detail of ice machine mechanism. We see the little crescents of ice pushing out. Pushing out.

We hear a loud CRASH!

NORMAN wakes up in bed. The stock is now color.

NORMAN BATES is now played by VINCE VAUGHN. He sees himself in the mirror.

NORMAN screams.