Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have I Ever Mentioned that I'm a Brilliant Artist?

I am, I admit, very mysterious. The only thing that many of you, my Dear Readers, know about me is that, in the world of film and literature analysis and criticism, I have no equal. But I can't help imagining many, if not all of you, sitting at home, or at work, reading my humble little musings and thinking, "Who is this man?? Where did he come from?? Why have I been so blessed that I have his words in my world??"

The answer to your first question is that I am but a man. Extraordinary? Perhaps, but still simply a man. The answer to your second question is that I come from everywhere and nowhere. In a sense -- and this is important! -- I am "everyman". Or actually it should probably be "Everyman". I am like you! Or like Old Gus, who delivers your morning paper, or like Kim Sook, your Korean grocer, who always has a kind word and a wink for you! Or like Danny, the little boy who loves collecting bottle caps. I am all of them! And none of them... The answer to your third question is "I don't know, but thank you for the compliment."

It is not my intention today to reveal very much about myself, because I have my own life to lead, and I'd rather it not be cluttered up by strangers knocking on my door and asking if they can touch my shirt, or sending me letters, asking if I can send them a piece of my shirt, or whatever it is people like you do. You're like lampreys, every last one of you (no offense). However, I would like to open up one part of my life to you, Dear Readers, that has hitherto gone unreferenced on this "blog", and that part of my life has to do with one of my great creative passions. For I am a monologuist.

I can hear you asking, "You mean like Eric Bogosian??" Yes, but better. When my monologues are at their best, which is most of the time, they showcase my stunning ear for human speech in all its gritty, idiosyncratic poetry, as well as a complex understanding of social issues -- you might say that, as an artist, I've been cursed with a social conscience. You will not find easy stereotypes in my work, for I do not see the world, nor do I paint it, in black and white. No, I paint in shades of grey. And incidentally, when I say "paint", I mean "write monologues". Of course, writing monologues is only half of the creative process, and it is true that I also perform them on stage. I will perform them anywhere, really; you might even spy me opening the eyes of the world through my art on a street corner in your city! All I need, really, is my vast collection of wigs and character-appropriate costumes, as well as some kind of bucket, in which admirers are required to place money. And please note, if you see me performing, that I did say "required". My art is not about money, but come on. You don't steal cable TV, do you?

Today, I would like to offer to you the transcript of one of my finest monologues. It is called How Much is a Hero?, and our character is a gruff, hard-drinking fireman named Paddy Hoolihan, who is ending the night's shift at his favorite watering hole. While this is a monologue, Paddy's words are being spoken to a bartender. You'll just have to imagine that part. That's what art's all about, you know. But that's enough from me! Let's hear from ol' Paddy Hoolihan. I think you'll find him quite a character...

Hey there, Mickey! Yeah, that's right, you got it, it's me, ol' Paddy Hoolihan, just comin' in for a few drinks! What's that you say?...Naw, I won't start any trouble tonight! I'm just an old fireman, takin' a load off. People say I drink too much, but I don't think so, do you?...Haw haw! I'm keepin' you in business, did you say? Well, that's true enough, old friend! Haw haw! Give me a glass of whiskey, and also two beers. That's right, the regular! Boy, I sure do need it tonight, I don't mind tellin' you. Saw some shit tonight, my friend. That pre-school down on Abraham Lincoln Street went up like it was made out of fireworks. Yeah, that's right, the one on Abraham Lincoln Street . That's right, the one where all the African-American kids go, the ones from Abraham Lincoln Projects...I agree, Mickey, that name is ironic. All them kids...I tell you, it makes you not want to get up in the morning. One little kid ran out and he was on fire and he was holding his stuffed animal toy, and he was screaming "Why!?" After I put him out, all's I could say was, "I don't know, son. I don't know!" But you know, it got me to thinkin', seeing that little boy's stuffed animal toy. The other day, you see, I took my little nephew out toy shopping, and he was all crazy about buyin' that new toy, what do they call it? Oh, yeah, that's right, it's called the Action Hero Toy. Now, my little nephew, he's just a little kid, and he can't say the whole name, so he just calls it a "Hero". Also, he can't read numbers, which is important to my story. So we're in the toy store, and we get to these what do you call them's, oh yeah, the Action Hero Toys. So my nephew says to me, he says, "Uncle? How much is a 'Hero'?" Now, he was talkin' about the toy, you understand. But it got me to thinkin', how much is a hero? A real hero?...What's that you say? I've had too much to drink?? I've only had a glass of whiskey and two beers! Gimme another round, before I sock you one! So anyway, like I'm sayin', I thought, because of what my nephew said, "How much is a hero?" Why, I imagine to some people, a hero's cheap. You know, like politicians and corporations and whatnot. Those people, they see a hero, and they think, "Well, I can just get a picture of that brave fireman who saved that poor family and slap it on a t-shirt with the word 'Hero' on it, sell it for forty dollars, and I'll be rich in a year!" Heck, you could maybe even buy the t-shirts on "Hero dot com"! (pause for laugh). But heck, Mickey, forty dollars? For a hero? A hero's a guy who says that danger isn't enough to keep him from doing the right thing. He's a guy who thinks that maybe his neck's no more valuable than the next guy's. A guy who sees smoke, and smells fire, and he don't think about runnin' away from it. He thinks about runnin' to it, with nothin' but a bucket o' dirty water in his mitts. He's a guy who would say to Mr. Politician, "Stick your forty dollars, you ain't puttin' me on no t-shirt!" (there will probably be applause here. Pause until it ends) What's that, Mickey? Next round's on the house? Why, that's mighty good of you. But can I ask why you're being so nice all of a sudden?...Because you think I'm a hero??? Aw, that's just loony talk! I ain't no hero. I'm just a guy doin' his job. Doin' an honest job for honest pay. If that job means I gotta put my life on the line to save a bunch of kids, well, that's what they pay me for. Ain't that right?...Huh? Whuzzat? Well, sure, Mickey, of course I want my regular again! Why do you even gotta ask?...Huh? Because you changed the name?? Well, what are you gonna call it? I'm the only one who ever orders it, after all!...Whuzzat?? You...you're gonna call it...the Hero???

The End. And you're most welcome.

21 comments:

Fox said...

I really admire monologuists. It's like the art of stand-up comedy to me. I guess the pacing and rhthyms can be kinda similar, yes?

Some of my favorite monologues come from openings to talk radio shows (of all stripes)... sports, politics, etc. I just love hearing a guy or gal riff like that.

bill r. said...

I don't know...this was supposed to be a joke...

Jonathan Lapper said...

Somewhere Garrison Keillor is weeping... tears of envy!

bill r. said...

Mr. Keillor shouldn't be envious. Should Updike be envious of Nabokov? Well, yes, but you see, Updike and Keillor should be proud of the gifts they do have, however meager, and not pine for the higher talents that have been denied them.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I'll let him know.

Fox said...

Well... still, I DO admire monologuists.

Fox said...

Keillor should stick to what he's good at (his thing) and stay away from column commentary (ohhh... so so bad he is at that.)

Fox said...

I also like monoroguists.

bill r. said...

Jonathan, tell Garrison that Bill R. said "Keep your chin up!" He'll know what it means.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Will do.

bill r. said...

Thank you.

Krauthammer said...

Aw man, there's nothing like a good case of mono!

Fox said...

I got mono from Bill after we shared a lemonade at a John Mayer concert last year.

(Watch, now he's gonna act like he doesn't like John Mayer... well, if you saw his bathroom you would know the truth.)

Krauthammer said...

He's keeping John Mayer locked in his bedroom?!

Krauthammer said...

bathroom?!

bill r. said...

That's nobody's business but mine! Somebody change the subject!

Jonathan Lapper said...

There's a subject? A caution to you Bill: Be weary of Foxes bearing comments.

And one last thing before I just outright make it a post on my blog: Where the hell is Marilyn?!?

I'm starting to get worried.

Matt Zoller Seitz said...

This piece is great. It really needs to be a short film, starring Eric Bogosian.

bill r. said...

Thaks,Matt. And unless I'm much mistaken, Matt, you're a filmmaker! You can take the reins!

Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Hmmm...Well, Eric Bogosian's beyond my pay grade, but gotta admit, I'm intrigued. I can kind of see it in my mind already. Email me and let's discuss. reeling@aol.com.

Adam Ross said...

No, I see it as a Christopher Guest movie about the fictional dog-eat-dog world of monologuists (and the puppeteers who swear death to them all).

Your monologue reminds me a lot of the pieces you would find in monologue "collections" written for aspiring actors in auditions. I read a few of those in college for audition monologues, and never got called back. Damn monologuists.

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