Tag Archives: Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas carol

NRA Absurdists and Gun Proliferation in America: time to debate the Ninja Amendment?

This Sunday from 8-9am, Our Town and Revolution and Beer on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT invite you to join us for the first real and honest debate on reasonable gun control, the Second Amendment and the proliferation of guns since the Newtown tragedy. Many are calling this issue a mental health issue and not a gun issue. On both the Left and the Right the rhetoric around the mental health issue has taken a dangerous, wrong-headed, uninformed and regressive tone. The debate over guns in general has taken a decidedly perverse turn.

In fact, within a week of the Newtown tragedy, the NRA’s long awaited statement, following an unusually long silence, was in a word, absurdist. Their answer to the tragedy was not reasonable gun legislation, or even reasonable gun debate and responsibility. The NRA, instead, as a way of prevention for the next Newtown or Columbine was more guns, forcibly armed and trained school teachers, or roving gun-toting guards for every one of the nations 138,900 schools. Militarize the schools!

It is an easy sell to a knee-jerk trained populace, particularly on the Right.A trained man with a gun would certainly have a deterrent effect on a would-be gunmen intent on mayhem, right? But the money-changing marketing on the Right, like the effort by the gun-lobby and the NRA to use these stories as a way to accumulate cash through fear, is flimsy at best. That’s why they have to shout at you, or cajole you through fear and hysteria or false sincerity constantly through the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs or Mike Gallaghers in the media. That’s why they have consolidated and dominated fully their concentrated and fully one-sided message in the media. Drive, as I have done many times,through the south and you will be shocked at the proliferation of pro-Rightwing propaganda, and the absolute desert of unfiltered information.

But under any reasonable thought their absurdist ramblings of the Right and the NRA fall apart quickly. For example, who will pay for the 400,000 sainted and trusted armed guards for our schools who will be necessary to guard multiple entrances, recess, open and large campuses and the fat target of would-be gunmen of masses of kids going to and from buses? Or do we require all kids entering and leaving school straight to secured vehicles to serpentine to cover? All of those armed guards will need sick days, vacation days, mandated lunches and breaks, right? Who will pay that enormous bill? More taxes? Is the Right and NRA now arguing for greater taxation? What would the tea party say?

First and foremost, the ultimate flaw in logic with the gun pimps and absurdists deals with the gunmen themselves. Not a single school gunman has been stopped or brought down by police or anyone else with a gun. They usually kill themselves, or occasionally surrender. Always the would-be gunman comes prepared to shoot, often with greater firepower, more ammunition and body armor, whereas those who may confront them are always reacting.

Perhaps then we’ll simply engender an army of volunteers. Who will oversee and screen them? What if they don’t want to volunteer anymore or one day? Do we use the unemployed as free labor? How will they look for work on school/business days? Or maybe we arm teachers. Would we then require teachers to be armed? As part of teaching degrees would they be mandated to take firearms classes, and pack a weapon to every school and every class on everyday? I could make a joke about how well-behaved classes would suddenly become, but is that the reality and environment we want our children to learn in? Talk about a loss of innocence! 20 children died at Newtown. Does the arming of every school in America now victimize its 55 milliom-that’s million students? http://www.edreform.com/2012/04/k-12-facts/

So, in keeping with that, or in keeping up with the absurdity on the Right, I am proposing what I believe to be an equally workable, and perhaps even more practical solution to the gun issue: 900poundgorilla and Revolution and Beer propose THE NINJA AMENDMENT for school safety?ShinobiNoMono

Ninja’s are all privately funded, apparently. Never have I been at a job and said, “Hey Bob, what are you doing for the weekend?” only to hear, “I’m a part-time Ninja on the weekend.” So, it would seem, there would be no liability to taxpayers. A guard with a gun is also very apparent walking the halls of our schools, whereas a Ninja would drop unseen from a ceiling, burst from a locker or spring from a trash can above, behind or beside the gunman. A gunman could likely hear return gunfire and concentrate his heavier weaponry in hallways or stairwells with little or no cover. A swarm of silent Ninja stars could drop an assailant in the blink of an eye. And there are never costly funerals for Ninjas. Ninjas take care of their own. You’ll never hear a tearful relative at a ceremony lament, “I told Dave this whole Ninja life-style would catch up with him one day, but he just wouldn’t listen.”

Share this with friends, and ask them to send this post to your Congressman and Senator in Washington, the NRA, President Obama and Vice President with a respectful demand to sponsor the Ninja Amendment if they insist on the absurdist course Washington, the Media and the NRA are currently on with regards to guns and our children.

Contact the NRA: https://contact.nra.org/contact-us.aspx, and call, 1-800-672-3888

Contact your House Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Contact your Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Email President Obama here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/fellows/contact

Contact Vice President Biden: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact-vp

Stay tuned for the exact wording for the proposed NINJA AMENDMENT.ninjacatva11

Listen to 900poundgorilla every Sunday morning 8-9 on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT am820 and streaming live worldwide for the Revolution and Beer show only on Our Town with Mike Sanders.
Catch the beer of the week review with 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck and Brian Murray each Sunday 8-9am only on Our Town, at Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT AM and FM, and streaming online. Friend us on Facebook  at Revolution and Beer. And find all of the great beers we review each week at Louis Glunz Beer Inc., http://www.glunzbeers.com. And check out their fine beer glasswear selections  at the “Beerables” link  at the bottom of their page. 


Gender and Revolution: The World from the Outside

I grew up in small towns in the 60s and 70s. There were four types of people. There were boys and girls, which could then be safely and neatly subdivided down into kids and adults. You were a kid until the age of 16, when you could legally drive and hold a part-time job. From 16 to 18, you were kid-ish, until the time you could order a beer, vote and join the military. From that magic stroke of midnight on your eighteenth birthday, a literal blink of an eye, where only a second before midnight you were legally a child, you became an adult.

Somewhere, during those seemingly formative and all too confusing and frustrating adolescent and teen years we take agency in the further sub-divisions of the assumed realities of our lives and our world; Race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexuality, gender.

Where, as young children we were cloaked in the paradigms of our parents, or the principle adults in our lives, we begin to fashion or challenge those paradigms to fit our perception of reality. We either reject, redefine or redouble those assumptions and paradigms. No small part of that is the rigidity of culture and society, channeling us into a larger paradigm. The constructs of culture and society provides necessary structure, but it can also be a trap. And whether you are an ardent defender of the unwaivering status quo or a radical revolutionary we struggle against  our own innately limited perspectives.

I am no different. I have, and continue to struggle with my own perspective of the world. I do battle daily with assumptions and prejudices that seem to out-pace my desire for better perspective and understanding. In my defense, I have learn to stop mid-judgment and scrutinize my ignorance, tearing  at issues from every conceivable angle, often out loud in the car driving my wife to work in the morning before she has had her coffee.

“How are you that awake?” she frowns. “I can’t think until I’ve had my coffee.” 

On tomorrow’s show our guest will be Rebecca Kling, a trans-gender woman, whose autobiographical book, No Gender Left Behind, http://www.rebeccakling.com/ is one of the bravest and most honest books I’ve read. Our show is called Revolution…Revolution and Beer. But what do the experiences of  a trans-gendered woman have to do with community activism and revolution? It is a valid question, at least within the narrowest constructs and assumptions of society and gender.

First, revolution, at least the positive revolution that preserves and defends individual human rights and dignity, in a sustainable system is not possible without properly enfranchising and including all people in that communal definition of freedom and dignity. And second, no innovative and lasting change is possible without gaining the power to intelligently and sensitively deconstruct the conventions, assumptions and constructs of society, religion, economics, sexuality and gender.

Rebecca is a dear friend, and we have worked together in the theater, but I have lots of friends, all of them far more brilliant than I, but I don’t have all of them on the show. I found something critically important both within and behind Rebecca’s story that I thought merited a greater discussion. That is that gender is fundamental to each person’s identity. The scope and temper of that identity is profoundly imposed by society around us, but also from within us. All too often people stop at their own perspective on gender as defined by their individual reality, and the influence of society around them. The essence of positive change and lasting dignity-based revolution is about shattering all of that.

Reality is a potentially dangerous trap. Whose reality is being defined, and from what perspective? Philosophically there may be absolute realities, but we may never, as sovereign and autonomous, and separated beings, ever truly comprehend absolute realities. Our reality is our own, and ends at the limits of our bodies. It is when we recognize that limitation, and accept the perception of reality for others that we begin to collect shared realities. And that, I hold firmly is the cornerstone of a truly dignity-centered community, and the beginning point for lasting and a sustainable peaceful and positive revolution that humanity so badly needs right now.  

Catch 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck with Brian Murray and the whole Our Town gang every Sunday 8-9am on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCTP during the Revolution and Beer segment, and find out more about all of the great craft Beers we feature by googling Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. Like us on Facebook at Revolution and Beer, or subscribe for free to 900poundgorilla.wordpress.com.

https://900poundgorilla.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/revolution-and-beer-of-the-week-st-bernardus-abt-12-and-the-art-of-the-journey/

 


Occupy My Heart anniversary: Which cast member was the FBI mole?

One year ago today the Occupy inspired play, Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol, hit the stage for the first in what would be a series of standing room only  shows across Chicago. Amid revelations this week that the FBI gathered extensive intelligence on the Occupy movement, according to formerly secret documents recently obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. The documents clearly show that the FBI gathered and shared intelligence about the movement, which it acknowledged as “peaceful and non-violent” that was then shared with corporations, Wallstreet, banks and media, all groups that w ere clearly and loudly in opposition to Occupy’s demands for reforms, transparency and an end to government corruption and collusion with corporate and banking interests to the detriment of the so-called 99% of the nation un represented, or under-represented. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/27/the_fbi_vs_occupy_secret_docs

Despite the increasingly overt violent rhetoric by the Tea Party, a corporate and media invention playing on the  base fears of a predominently male and elderly conservative constituency,  there was no parallel scrutiny by the FBI. Tea Party members regularly showed up at rallies with weapons, including a presidential stop in Arizona by Barack Obama, all implicit threats.

The FBI gathered extensive intell on Occupy movements across the country in a coordinated effort with proxies, local law enforcement and private agencies such as Stratfor to undermine and discredit Occupy. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, told Democracy Now this week that “there is repeated evidence of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, American intelligence agencies really working as a private intelligence arm for corporations, for Wall Street, for the banks, for the very entities that people were rising up to protest against.” Click the link below to view the documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund: http://www.justiceonline.org/commentary/fbi-files-ows.html#documents

The documents show that the FBI rationalized its actions, by stating that Occupy might “provide an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.” Interesting that they did not apply that same template to the Tea Party movement, which was openly hostile to the government, and whose rhetoric maintained and built on an underlying threat of violence.

Occupy My Heart, the Occupy inspired play arose from the Chicago movement in November of 2011, drawing its small cast from within the movement. The play made national headlines, filled theaters and generated a radio play on WCPT, Chicago’s progressive Talk radio. The play helped change the national media’s negative narrative about Occupy. Now, in light of these recent revelations, the question arises; which member of the auspicious and talented cast was an FBI mole. As writer and producer of the play, I can confidently exclude myself, failing some Manchurian Candidate scenario. So, I will offer the suspects, and ask the readers to hypothesize which of the cast was a possible FBI infiltrator?

Zachary Johnson-Dunlop: “Josh” in the play, Zach played the banker who is visited three spirits in the play. Over the past year Zach has changed his appearance several times, and has become a vegetarian. Zach is an imposing figure. At first, recalling the outdoor play in Chicago’s Grant Park, I recalled that Dunlop’s suit was wrinkled and a bit tight, something I had trouble imagining any self-respecting FBI man would allow. Does that remove him from suspicion, or was it pure genius for an undercover agent?

Teresa Veramendi: Playing the female lead. Teresa is brilliant. Perhaps too brilliant. She played the part of  a passionate Occupy protester, and Josh’s love interest almost too well. A founding member of “Theater for the Oppressed” in Chicago, could she still be gathering intelligence among the artists and actors she openly associates with?

Timothy Calwell: Tim’s contribution to the play was incredible, helping to bind the cast and production. He played several parts, including the Spirit of Christmas to come, an unemployed worker, homeless man and security guard. Within months of the end of the run, Tim moved to New Orleans. He claims to work for a film company there, but what  a perfect excuse to have a lot of surveillance and camera equipment around. Tim remains, in my book, a  strong candidate for FBI informant.  

Hannah Friedman: Appeared out of no where, offering her amazing talents as director for the show. We met surreptitiously one evening at  coffee shop, as if she did not wish to have too many witnesses around. Throughout the month-long rehearsals Hannah disappeared several times, traveling east to “visit family.” Hannah still directs and produces with the “Theater for the Oppressed” group, as well as other theater efforts. Theater and the arts has always been a breeding ground for subversives. Is Hannah, if that is her real name, a deep mole?

Rebecca Kling: Rebecca delighted audiences playing several characters in the play, a TV producer, Josh’s mother, and Josh’s cruel and heartless boss, as though she was trying extra hrad to gain their trust and favor. The ease with which Rebecca moved between those characters makes her suspect as  a deep mole. She continues doing theater and recently released a new book, “No Gender Left Behind,” available on Amazon. Does that only deepen her undercover profile?  

Donier Tyler: Donier, impassioned and talented as Zach’s floosey girlfriend in the play is in my opinion the least candidate for an FBI mole. She is outspoken on middle east affairs, having travelled there several times. Earlier this year she portrayed another character from my last novel, The Last Man, in a dramatic reading in which she wrested the part of the Black male character in the book and redefined it as a feminist/humanist piece; both which in the released documents the FBI have shown themselves to be opposed to. It might have been the perfect cover.   

Keith Glab: He played a cop in the play, and nailed the part, almost as if it was part of his past. Hmm. He also played the jilted boyfriend to Teresa’s character. Keith lived through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He worked at Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and was the In-stadium operator of a system used to track and locate every pitch thrown in baseball games at Wrigley and US Cellular Field, both perfect covers, and excellent places to pass sensitive intell over to FBI contacts without being detected.

Agnes Otap: A student at the University of Illinois at the time, her parts as the “Corporate” journalist, who becomes disillusioned with the corporate slant on Occupy, and also as the quirky street-kid spirit of Christmas past were  stand-outs. She was quiet and reserved, even nervous before rehearsals, but came alive during her parts. It was almost as if she was two different people. Suspect?

 Write in with your suspect, or like the Revolution and Beer facebook Page for regular updates, and you choice.

Tune in every Sunday 9-0am only on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT for the Revolution and Beer segment as Brian Murray and I sample the beer of the week with the Our Town gang, and run down the grassroots calendar for the week. If you’re tired of talk, talk, talk radio, this is do something radio. Have a beer. Get involved.

Catch the beer of the week review with 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck and Brian Murray each Sunday 8-9am only on Our Town, at Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT AM and FM, and streaming online. Friend us on Facebook  at Revolution and Beer. And find all of the great beers we review each week at Louis Glunz Beer Inc., www.glunzbeers.com. And check out their fine beer glasswear selections  at the “Beerables” link  at the bottom of the page.  

With thanks to the good people at Louis Glunz Beer Inc, a family owned business for 125 years in Chicago. Happy Holidays! Visit them @ http://www.glunzbeers.com/Site/SeasonalBeers.aspx?hd=1


The task of the writer: be bold and daring

The Last man is a big novel in a small package. As a reader told me recently, it begins introspectively, inside the Last Man’s head and then “it punches you right in the face.” This was the novel I was meant to write. It challenged me as no other novel I have written, assailing unexplored frontiers and realities, not just within my heart but those beyond my normal experience.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see  a theater piece by friends and former cast members of my play “Occupy My Heart” For the play my director cast a black woman, Donier (pronounced: Donyay) Tyler, in the role of  a ditsy girl, but in this new piece I recall watching her come to several parts with this amazing strength and confidence. The realization was instant and powerful; The Last Man could be, or should be a woman!

The whole point of the book, and the stage adaptation is to besiege paradigms on systems of power. I’d written the main character as a black man on trial for his life. Casting Donier in a dramatic reading for the stage and Youtube later this month revealed a whole new dimension to the story, one I exalt in realizing and lament for not realizing earlier.

And so, this past weekend I sat down to read the piece aloud with Donier. The piece is from the trial, in which the Last Man is arguing for his very life. Alone, with the court and odds stacked plainly against him, he remains defiant, if for no other reason that to show pride and disdain for his accusers and would-be executioners. She paused a moment, pulling herself into the part. Slapping her hand hard to the table she began, with all that strength and passion I’d glimpsed earlier. Her voice rose in the still of the livingroom. She was the Last Man.

“Kill that dog!” Her hand fell loudly against the table.  “If a man uses a dog to keep you from what is yours, kill that dog! Violence is the last domain of the downtrodden. Power concedes nothing without demand, said Frederick Douglas. There is an implicit power behind any demand, or it has no value. The only true power of the powerless is violence. Or the potential for violence. It must be a possibility when power is unbalanced. You must understand, that when your power overcomes reason and justice and mercy, that I may rise against you, and that our very existence becomes part of the negotiation…”

Against those who hold and abuse power, the words of the writer are violence, and are thus met with their ultimate rage. It is the reason that oppressive regimes and rulers single out the writer and artist first for destruction. and whether under benevolent or oppressive government, the writer has a responsibility to be bold, to dare to tell the truth that resides within the human heart, and which ultimately guides or rampages in human society. In that way, The Last Man might well be applied to the responsibility and the danger of writing and writing the truth.

“…I must justify my existence,” Donier continued. “Men must tolerate men by right of agreement. You must know that my rights are inviolable, and that no man may ‘give’ another man rights, for if you can give those rights then you may take them away.  No one gives me rights. They are mine, and if taken away then they are stolen, and that is the difference. Hence the words of Malcolm X; Kill that dog! I have done nothing. This right to exist is mine by virtue that I am, and if you remove that from me then it is you have committed the real crime!”


Occupy Nashville action highlights bank’s hypocrisy: Mobilizes effort to keep disabled grandmother and 78 year old Civil Rights activist in her home after JP Morgan Chase threatens foreclosure.

JP Morgan Chase & Co. recently unveiled, “Preserving the Inspiration and Sharing the Passion of Martin Luther King Jr,” designed to better the company’s image by attaching itself to the King Center. While it was promoting its own goodwill and “selfless” benevolence it was foreclosing on, among many others, 78-year-old Civil Rights activist, Hellen Bailey. The foreclosure date is set for February 15th.

But the story is not about JP Morgan Chase, accused in a lawsuit by New York Attorney General  Eric Schneiderman, along with Bank of America and Wells Fargo of deceptive and fraudulent mortgage practices. The story is about Miss Bailey who, on a fixed income, found a buyer that would allow Bailey to remain in her home freely until she dies, but Chase refused to negotiate on the deal, and opted instead to foreclose on her.

Occupy Nashville stepped in to help, collecting more 50,000 signatures and acting to keep Miss Bailey in her home. Kudos to ON. Can anyone think of a single effort by the so-called Tea Party to do anything to help their neighbor on anything approaching the scale of Occupy? 

Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol, An Occupy Chicago theatrical event, which made national headlines this past Christmas, spoke to this very abuse and inhumanity on the part of TOO-POWERFUL-TO-EXIST banks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3pTBFNmijU

Add your name to the petition below.

http://occupynashville.org/2012/01/09/chase-dont-foreclose-on-helen-bailey-petition/

Read more:

http://www.justmeans.com/Chase-Bank-Abusing-Legacy-of-Dr-Martin-Luther-King-Jr/51778.html

http://www.thegrio.com/money/helen-bailey-civil-rights-activist-may-be-foreclosed-by-jp-morgan.php

On You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcDx2-bTjYg


What is the Occupy Movement about? Ever wondered? Ever been asked? Here you go.

Having done better than a dozen interviews for the play, and now the book, both local and national. I hear 4 recurring themes.

The first is, when will Occupy, locally or nationally advance a leader or spokesperson? How can the movement continue or succeed without a leader? The best answer I’ve found for those questions is the following: The Occupy movement is not leaderless. It is filled with leaders, taking action, stands and initiatives on personal, local and national levels. The strength and blessing of the movement is that it is about the empowerment of the individual towards a better community. It is about a 1000 or 10,000 leaders working for a better world, rather than a 1000 or 10,000 followers behind a single personality. Furthermore, for a “leaderless” movement, Occupy has managed to scare the hell out of the interests opposing it.

The second regards, what has the movement accomplished? My answer is that at the very least it has dragged the national discourse towards issues of morality, conscience and community by highlighting the extreme and dangerous inequity in the country. But the movement is far more than protests and signs. It is community outreach, it is action and assistance for families foreclosed from their homes, and it is the growing embodiment of the community, nation and world it demands. It demands that the constitution is upheld with respect to free speech and freedoms to assemble and redress the government, and that laws and statutes that side step or infringe upon those freedoms, such as curfew laws and permit bureaucracy are fundamentally unconstitutional.

More and more lately I have been asked whether the occupy Movement would ever get together with the Tea party. I have been asked this question from the corporate media and so-called progressive personalities. My answer has always been, that anyone is free to join the Occupy movement and stand for those things Occupy champions. But the Occupy movement and Tea party movements are fundamentally different, in structure and ideology, with the Tea Party organized and tied directly to individuals, organizations and institutions that oppose the Occupy movement, and that any insinuation that the two could join feels like an effort to co-opt, undermine and overtake the true citizens grassroots efforts of Occupy.

Finally, this question, why is Occupy trying to divide the nation between the 99% and the 1%? My answer, is that it is not dividing the nation, but seeks to unite the 100% through an understanding of everyone’s shared commitment and responsibility to the society and especially those suffering the greatest. The 1%-or some of the 1% seeks to divide the 99% against one another in order to avoid their responsibility. The Occupy movement actually stands for unity, but unity is difficult when part of that whole stands in opposition, and flouts their irresponsibility to the detriment of the rest. Morality demands, in that case, that people of good conscience stand in opposition.


Occupy My Heart: The radio Show on Best of the Left

The Play that made national headlines, changed hearts and energized a movement is now available on Best of the Left at the link below:

 
Filled with heart and truth, Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol is not just a story for the holidays, but a tale of our times. You will be touched in this modern retelling of the Dickens classic.

Please share it with your friends, especially those who still think the struggle of our times is not the co-opting of our great nation by corporate and financial greed.


Staging a protest — on a makeshift stage: Outdoor reworking of ‘A Christmas Carol’ makes use of actors who have been drawn into the protest movement

originally published in the Chicago Tribune. All ights reserved by B. Brotman and the Chicago Tribune:

December 24, 2011|By Barbara Brotman, Chicago Tribune reporter

The audience members began to arrive, walking behind a man carrying a sign reading, “Where are the jobs created by the tax cuts for the wealthy?”

Occupy Chicago was putting on a show.

The set was ready. In front of the memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park, a bench was hammered onto pieces of plywood to keep it from being blown over. Rolling wardrobes on the sides were anchored against the wind by backpacks. Scene lists were duct-taped to the tall columns on each side.

“I like that Abe Lincoln is looking over us,” said Teresa Veramendi, looking up at the president’s somber, seated figure. “I think he would approve.”

“Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” by writer-activist William Turck, is a modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”:

On a cold, snowy Christmas Eve, an ambitious Chicago banker loses his job and his money-hungry girlfriend, encounters a former love who is part of the Occupy movement, is visited by three spirits who show him painful truths, and finds redemption.

“It really stays pretty true to the classic Dickens tale of somebody who has sold out all their values to the pursuit of money and isn’t really happy,” said Zach Johnson-Dunlop, 28, who plays the banker.

The action is set amid a protest, and last week it was seen by audience members who had just come from one. The premiere — a single outdoor performance Friday afternoon — was coordinated to begin at the end of a protest march that set out from LaSalle and Jackson.

The small and chilled crowd, joined by several perplexed tourists, watched and occasionally participated, to director Hannah Friedman’s delight.

The actors gently shooed away a man who had walked on stage to take close-up pictures of what he thought was a real TV newscast but was actually part of the show. And one Occupy regular kept joining the actors portraying protesters in the show.

Turck conceived of the play just before Thanksgiving. As he attended Occupy Chicago’s general assemblies, he was struck by how many theater people he was meeting.

“I thought, ‘Boy, if we could channel this talent, there’s no better form of communication, heart to heart, than art,'” he said.

Christmas was a little more than a month away. And Turck happened to be a great fan of Dickens.

“On DVD somewhere, I’ve got just about every version of ‘A Christmas Carol,'” he said.

Turck had his concept. He banged out the script in a week, returned to Occupy’s general assembly “and tried to convince people I was sane.”

“He jumped up and said, ‘I have written a play,'” said Veramendi, 26, an actress who teaches theater in Chicago schools. “People were very excited. … Everyone cheered.

“It’s a great vehicle to get people interested and to bring more people into the conversation who might not come out to a protest — but who might come to a play.”

Friedman, 22, who has been an assistant director and stage manager at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Piven Theatre Workshop and Chicago Dramatists, saw a notice on a Chicago theater website asking for actors and a director for an Occupy play. She met with Turck and Veramendi.

“I got a chance to read the script, and I really liked it a lot,” Friedman said. “He’s taken this classic — it’s almost become an icon in American culture — and turned it into a revolutionary story.”

Turck’s version differs in one important respect. “Our banker, Josh, is a likable character. He’s not Scrooge,” he said. “His arguments are compelling.

“We tried to be very realistic. We didn’t want to be cartoonish. We really wanted people to think.”

On Friday, actors changed costumes — all of which included coats — on stage, in the open. No one used mics, and though traffic hummed, sirens yowled and trains whistled, the actors generally made themselves heard.

The audience, standing behind or sitting on the steps up to the memorial, chanted along with the play’s protesters and tried to stay warm. One young man passed out chemical hand warmers; another, cookies.

At the end, people wiggled upward-raised fingers, an Occupy expression of approval, and gave enthusiastic reviews.

“It was funny, but it also had real events and actions. And I liked the turnaround of the main character,” said Ryan Griffin, who added powerful praise for an outdoor performance in winter:

“I was really getting cold, and I wanted to get out of here. But I really wanted to see the play.”

“Occupy My Heart” will be performed indoors, for free, at 8 p.m. Monday at the Prop Theater, 3502-04 N. Elston Ave., and at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave.

A radio play the cast recorded was to be broadcast at 10 a.m. Saturday on WCPT, 820 AM, during Marshall Stern’s “Awakened America” program. A podcast of the show was scheduled to be posted soon at bit.ly/uH3oBb.

bbrotman@tribune.com


Art, Occupy and the Illusions of the One Percent

Achievers. The one percent. Winners. Those who are so adamant about not raising taxes on corporations the wealthiest in the nation would have us believe that there is some inherent quality, something unique and sacrosanct in this supposed talent. Set aside the responsibility to the nation fostering a nurturing environment for business(political and social stability, laws, courts, infrastructure, an educated and healthy populace) argument. Talents are for the arts, or sports, for positive intellect and in healthy and uplifting relationships. 

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” wrote John Donne in meditations XVII, in 1624, “every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Achiever is in itself an insult hurled at the rest of us by the selfish and greedy. It implies that the jobs we go to daily, the place we’ve arrived at in life is not an achievement. It screams that raising children, running a home, going to school, struggling with poverty, prevailing through an illness is somehow a lesser achievement. It presumes one person’s experience is greater than another’s. It pits one person’s struggle against another’s, which is a fool’s game.

Reverend Billy at the Occupy Chicago General Assembly Wednesday evening spoke about community and the responsibility of the 1%. One is indeed the loneliest number

The way it is used becomes an assertion of power and right and privilege. Their achievement is presumed to have value above all others. It is an assumption of rule and of a ruling class, which is antithetical to the declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.

It also betrays a lie the so-called achievers pretend to themselves. It is the ultimate lie because it ignores the very thing Donne wrote about. Life is impossible alone. A soul alone writing a novel relies upon the history making the computer usable, upon the society nurturing freedom of thought, of the luxury of not having to forage through the day for food, shelter and sustenance, and even of the craftsman who constructed the desk and chair upon which that novelist writes.

A month ago I wrote a play. I am proud of that play, but as such it is little more than a semi-interesting collection of two dimension words upon a page. In the coming weeks a passionate and talented cast will bring those words to life, moving them around in three-dimensional space, adding inflection and history and textures I would never have imagined. We will perform on a radio station, the play expanded and re-envisioned  by a producer who will add sound effects to create a new and as yet unrealized world. We will perform upon a stage built by dreamers who wished for a space that actors might create as yet unimagined works and as yet unwritten words. Those stages are maintained by electricians, lighting experts and others who make each performance possible.

Sadly, what has happened in America is that the one percent has all but convinced us that only the writer matters, and that all the rest should bow before them. The Occupy movement asserts a different reality, one consistent with the constitution, in which all citizens are imbued with a god-given dignity and that all of us have a responsibility to maintaining the greatest measure of human dignity that can be maintained. The limit placed on that dignity is a measure of the cynicism inherent in a heart.

No man is indeed an island, except in his own heart, and upon that island is loneliness and nothing more. There is an old pop song that says one is the loneliest number. If there is salvation from that loneliness, it must be among the 99%.


Halftime at the CNN GOP NSD on TV LOL LMFAO(National Security debate)

Here’s how things break down right now at the CNN National Security debates on CNN, hosted by the same Heritage Foundation that promotes Rush Limbaugh and FOX News. This of course being the 720th Republican debate since August, which some might say amounts to a media saturation to drown out the Obama Administration. Some might say that.  But we are learning some incredibly important things in this paranoid white-guy fest. For example:

1. Ron paul is amazingly lucid at moments, his positions cogent and logical up until the point he drives that car around crazy curve right into nut valley.

2. Try picturing Rick Santorum’s mother spitting on her fingers and slicking back his hair before the debate, and that his underwear is bunched at the top of his pants and he is wearing white athletic socks. “Vladimir Putin, meet the President of the United States, Ricky Santorum.”

3.We also learned from Santorum that Africa, once considered a continent by egg-headed Geographers, is in fact a country.

4. Rick Perry taught us that the Monroe Doctrine which prohibited European powers from interfering in the Americas also applies to that other great European power, Mexico.

5. Iran has lots of mountains. Thanks Herman Cain. Also, Iran has lots of mountains.

6. Amazingly we learned from Michelle Bachman that BARACK OBAMA CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY. Much like superman. She will not change the course of history, but instead will allow it to meander and skip and frolic and, oh, sorry, I thought we were talking about her husband.

7. Iran has lots of mountains. All right Cain, we heard you already!

8. Newt Gingrich is an expert in history, especially the history he rewrites.

9. Mitt believes that amnesty for illegal aliens is a magnet. I agree. Now that American and multi-national corporations have left America, why would anyone want to stay in those poor corporate-raped foreign nations?

10. All of the GOP candidates believe that immigration is a national security issue. Be afraid America of all those dangerous busboys, cooks, cleaning ladies, economic refugees and gardeners.

11. Gingrich stated that “if we were a serious country” we’d drill everywhere in the US for oil. That would collapse the  global price of oil, he said. Wasn’t he  saying the oil companies had a right to their record profits and subsidies a year ago? Now he wants to collapse the industry? How many jobs would that cost?

12, Wolf Blitzer referenced the continuing violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. No mention that twice the protesters won, first deposing a brutal dictator, and then forcing an end to military rule in favor of freedom for Egyptians.

13. Apparently no one at the Heritage Foundation or any of the candidates look  at newspapers or anything other than FOX News. If they had, the questionwould have seemed silly regarding a pro-Islamist/Al Qaeda group in Somalia which is now under full-scale military attack from Ethiopia, is hardly a credible threat to anything beyond the sand dunes and ruins of what was once Somalia.

14. And something I never realized before, and that is that China is  a significant threat and enemy to the United States, unless we are talking about cheap Chinese-made Walmart crap, in which case China is good.

And finally, I learned that if Governor Huntsman was a Democrat I might just consider him a second choice to whoever I was actually supporting.

 


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