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.

Falls.

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.