Paul’s Song

 

“Paul’s Song” is a musical in 3-acts (or radio episodes) about a campus love triangle between a junior, a female graduate assistant, and a professor.   It’s subject is the destruction of the two men’s heroes – Paul Robeson and Henry George – how they represented two centuries of American utopian dreams, and about renewing those dreams again today.

 

The objective of this musical  is to engage the audience in the subject matter, so that some will have a desire to carry on the ambitions of Robeson and George by delving into the political economics and history of the 20th century.

 

Characters: their Songs

Marie (graduate assistant in her late 30’s):   [what’s the question, oh that guy, big bluff, friends don’t grow in bunches, Somethin’ Biggern’ Me]

Leon  (African-American student, ex-marine in his late 20’s) [when you’ve got strength, tabasco, tango to war, paul’s song,what’s the question, my way]

Barry Bartle (professor in his late 40’s) [I’m all You, Economist’s March, Spirit, Somethin Biggern Me]

Betty Edelweiss (professor in her early 60’s)

Jossie (Marie’s 8-yr old daughter) [Somethin’ Biggern’ Me]

Newscaster [Ham’n Eggs]

News technicians [Ham’n Eggs]

Bernie, Helen, Walt, Pattie (students) [Clever as a Porpoise, Problems, Outsource Me]

Tabasca  (African-American law student in her late-20’s) [Somethin’ Biggern’ Me]

4 economics students (including a drummer, fiddle, banjo/guitar, and bass for finale) [Somethin’ Biggern’ Me]

3 Stagehands (students)

 

Plot Summary

“Paul’s Song” is the story of Leon, a young African American basso, a junior at a music college, who has discovered the story of Paul Robeson as well as the reason why Robeson was forgotten.  He is in the midst of writing a musical about Robeson with Marie, a talented female teaching assistant, several years his senior.  

ACT 1

Act 1 Scene 1 opens in Marie’s class on Film Scoring, where she has students watch three clips from Robeson films, with an assignment to transcribe them. We see/hear Paul Robeson performing “My Way” (Jericho), “Deep River” (Proud Valley), and Old Man River(newsreel).  Marie dismisses the students for a break. 

Act 1 Scene 2  the students are accosted by a news team looking for youths’ comments on world affairs [“Ham and Eggs”].  The students respond caustically with a song and dance medley voicing student apathy [‘Hey Let me Tell you My Problems,” “Clever as a Porpoise”], but as soon as the news team packs up they sing a bitter satire of today’s economic system [“Outsource Me”].  Leon steps in and changes the song to one of hope [”When You’ve Got Strength”].  The students question Leon, and he explains the connection between the utopianists of the 19th century and the birth of economic theory…. about his teacher’s favorite economist, Henry George, and his proof that ownership of natural resources essentially robs the economy (and productive capital) of its source of growth.  He says this is fundamental to our problem of Global Warming.  Marie, who has been helping Leon with his musical on Paul Robeson is overcome with his eloquence and tries to make their relationship romantic.  Leon puts her off, saying he only hooks up with trashy women [“Tabasco”], and Marie stalks off indignantly.

Act 1 Scene 3 is in the office of Leon’s economics professor (Barry).  Barry and Marie are discussing a musical score.  As soon as Marie leaves, Barry sings of his love [I’m All You”].

Act 1 Scene 4 finds Leon, Marie and her 8-year-old daughter Jossie at the piano in her flat [for performances, an electronic player-piano].   Though carried out in a part-rapp part-recitative duet, the atmosphere is cold, only broken by the daughter’s innocent questions, set-ups for Leon and Marie’s musical barbs at one another.  Leon finds out that Barry studied under Marie’s father, and is known by the family as “Uncle Barry.”  As the two argue over the plot and setting of songs we hear details of Robeson’s story [Tango to War.]  Marie likes the song but considers the project overblown and is ready to drop out.  Leon begs her to wait until he has the title song done, and she agrees.

ACT 2

Act 2 Scene 1  starts where Act 1 left off, in Marie’s apartment, the following week.  Leon arrives with the title song for the musical completed and sings Paul’s Song.  Marie wavers and is finally overcome when she hears the song set at Robeson’s destruction because of the connection to the Soviets [What’s the Question”].  Her love re-ignited she sings  [“Oh, That Guy”].

Act 2 Scene 2 is in Professor Barry Bartle’s classroom.  His mid-term exam consists of the song he had been discussing with Marie, [“The Economist March], the lyrics of which Leon and the other five students must use as the basis of an essay on the application of economic theory to current affairs.  Barry overhears a remark about his hero, Henry George, and assigns Leon a compulsory term paper.  Marie, who is the accompanist, again tries to flirt with Leon, who is too preoccupied to respond.

Act 2 Scene 3 is in a hallway, where Leon meets Betty Edelweiss, an elderly professor of ethics who is returning several books to Barry – books promised to Leon for his paper.  Betty is lost, and Leon explains that room numbers are based on their distance from the founder’s hat in the center courtyard.  Leon takes Betty ‘My Way” through a classroom window and across the courtyard.  Stopping at the statue, Betty admits she has been trying to get Barry to co-author a book on economics and ethics with her. At the same time she provides Leon with the central thesis for his term paper on the reason Henry George was forgotten.

Act 2 Scene 4 commences as Leon enters Barry’s classroom (through the window) where he meets Marie. She tries to get him to return her flirtatious jokes about their project together, but Leon is engrossed in academic theory.  Marie decides he’s just ignorant [“Just a Big Bluff”].   Leon is totally nonplused, because Betty and Barry have just entered, and he’s got little patience for Marie’s emotional entanglement with him.  Marie leaves the room in tears, as Leon confronts Barry and challenges him to be a political activist.

 

ACT 3

Act 3 Scene 1 opens at the bar.  Marie is through with the project and has told Leon to get the scores she’s finished.  A boor tries picking her up and she tell him to get lost.  Disconsolate over her failure with Leon, sings of years of lost friendships [“Friends don’t Grow in Bunches Anymore”].   Then, instead of Leon,  Betty and Leon’s fiancée, Tabasco show up.  Tabasco tries apologizing to Marie.  She is a graduate law student behind the Robeson musical (Leon has only written the songs).  She admits responsibility for putting Leon up to getting Marie to work on it, because she didn’t think Marie would have done it for another woman.  Betty adjudicates before a lovers’ quarrel ensues, and the two women try to talk Marie into a scheme to get Barry to co-author Betty’s book.   With Betty’s help, Marie realizes Barry is not the Groucho Marx he pretends to be, but the intense genius her father believed in.  Betty suggests he may have taken a lowly position at the music school in order to be near Marie.

Act  3 Scene 2 is in Barry’s classroom.  As the class is being dismissed, Betty and Marie enter, and with Leon try to talk Barry into reconsidering publishing his findings.  Marie, to avoid the tediousness of three academics, sits down at a piano, suggesting to the audience they’re in a piano-bar with some boring professors talking loudly at the next table. She commences a rendition of Oscar Peterson’s Night-Train (reprise of “Just a Big Bluff”!).  The conversation ends with the song.

Act 3 Scene 3 unfolds in Barry’s class.  Leon raises his hand, and instead of asking a technical question, asks ‘why does the muskrat guard his musk in the misty mist and the dusky dusk?” as Marie opens with the background of the Cowardly Lion’s Song from “The Wizard of Oz.”  When Jossie strolls over dressed as Dorothy, Barry knows he’s being put on, and, ham actor that he is, must do the entire song.  It ends with the class shouting that he’s got no courage.  At which point, Leon poses his real question to Barry about fighting for what you believe in, Marie plays a fanfare and the class (all being music students) take out their instruments, forcing Barry to respond in a song and dance medley, accompanied by his class and joined by Marie and Jossie [“Spirit,” Somethin’ Biggern’ Me”].  This is immediately followed with the finale as the class sings “Pauls’ Song along with Leon, who sings Robeson’s “My Way” in duet.

ACT I

Act I Scene 1

[- 3 -] Marie’s Classroom

(Doorframe, piano, chalkboard, desk, large screen facing audience, computer projector on a stand, student chairs)

Marie has entered and begins organizing her papers, then sits at the piano.  She is working on her own fanfare and opening strains of “Spirit” as the stagehands leave stage-right and the students enter stage-left.  The stagehands return as students.  Marie gives one of the students a stack of papers to hand out)

 

Marie:

(to a student looking at the door number and hesitating)

You look lost?  This is Dr. Shaw’s Orchestration 312.  Film Orchestration.

(she/he checks their schedule and walks off, as another student squeezes past)

 

Dr. Shaw is at a conference for the rest of this week.   We’re going to look at typical problems associated with film orchestrating after watching three clips.  (to another student who’s just walked in) James, you can find your seat without talking to Christie.  Here is the handout.

 

Your handouts give you all the melody line.  I want you to choose any one of the three, and reproduce the orchestration to the best of your ability.  I will be in the lab tomorrow from 2 O:Clock to 6, for those of you who haven’t used the software.  You can take an automatic ‘C’ for just submitting the correct progressions on all three….which is like your final for Theory 101.  I’ll also accept guitar tablatures with notes as to the orchestration, but you must also submit all three, and you can ONLY get a ‘C.’

 

It would be helpful to take notes as you’re watching - but if you just wish to watch you can download everything you’ll need on our classroom site.  

 

The first one is from an old 1933 film called “Jericho.  The actor singing is Paul Robeson.  

 

Leon.  Leon, hit ENTER please.

Robeson singing “My Way“ from Jericho

 

The next two are also Robeson clips.  I didn’t see too many of you jotting down notes.  I’d suggest you try it.  It’s a bit more complex.  It’s from a film called “Proud Valley.”  We’ll go right a typical  problem orchestrating documentaries –from the last four minutes of Sidney Poitier’s film, “Robeson – Portrait of an Artist.”  I want you to supply your own background for the opening song, which Robeson sings a capella.  (exhausted) Christie, James, I suggest you write that down. 

James

You want our own background for the opening song. 

 

Marie

You’ve got the melody line there for entire clip.

 

[2] Robeson singing “Deep River”from Proud Valley

[3] Robeson singing final  bars of Old Man River,”

plus final  minutes of Poitier documentary.

 

Marie:

I want you to break into groups and discuss what you just saw, as if you had been assigned to the film and had to score it.   Let’s see if you can pick out the main problems with each.   Break into groups to talk it over.  Look at your schedules to figure out when you want to meet me at the lab.   I’ll be over at Starbucks in 15 minutes or you can email me. 

 

Students get up and begin to leave as Leon walks over to Marie who begins closing up the projector. 

 

Helen

My God!  I couldn’t take notes, I was in tears

 

Walt

Same here.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen films like that today.  Who was the actor again?  How come I never heard of him?

 

Pattie

Good LOOKING in that first clip!  Where was I in 1935 ?!

 

Bernie

Paul Robeson.  All-Time All-American football.

 

Leon:

Y’know, maybe we can do something like this to get Robeson’s own voice into the musical.

 

Walt

AND a singer, AND an actor!!  Like I said.  How come we never heard of him?!

 

Marie:

How’s your grant going?  It would be great if you could pay me for the orchestrations before you tried to produce this thing.  I just found out Jossie’s got to have braces.

 

Helen:

I don’t know where you’ve been, but I’ve heard of him.  Never seen him before, though.  That was super…

 

Leon:

It’s almost done.  The entire script doesn’t have to be written to send it out, you know, but the money could take months if her teeth can wait.

Act I Scene 2

[- 5 -] Street outside classroom

Performers exit stage-left.  Stagehands enter stage right and remove the props behind the exiting students.  A stage-flat representing the rear of a TV news-van is wheeled on from the right by the News Team, followed by the students.

 

Before Leon and Marie have left, a newscaster and two assistants begin unloading the van, singing.   As they sing, other props including a curb, street sign on a pole (which touches the ground but is actually hung),  a fire-hydrant and a fountain/statue surrounded by a circular pool wall are put into place.. 

 

News Team:

Begin by whistling the tune, then sing:

Ham and eggs, a little salt and pepper,

Shake a leg, sophisticate and dapper

On your way, with news and pleasure every day,

            because we’re

Your news team, we’re on the national  and local  scene

And we’re so rationally cute, it seems

Our job’s in every children’s dreams

(spoken)Publicity, it’s your world that counts

History, by the pound not the ounce,

Every shot, on the spot, while it’s hot!

(singJ

For our polls, we need your each opinion

Bare your souls, cause they’re public dominion

Mystical, that the world is so statistical!

 

Walt:

You guys must be lost?

 

Newscaster:

No.  We’re from Channel 9 News.  (to the camera)  We’re here on the LaCrosse Campus today to explore what students today are thinking of todays’ events.  (holding out a microphone to Walt)  and you are?

 

Walt:

Walter Tibbett, from Grovesville

 

Newscaster:

Walter.  Can I ask you a few questions?

 

Pattie:

(leaning into the mike) Did you ever think this is a MUSIC school?

 

Newscaster:

OF course.  What are you and other …. Unh, music students thinking about when it comes to the future?   (regaining her composure) You can sing, if you want.

 

Pattie:

Well in THAT case!

(jumps up onto the fountain wall and sings):

I’m as clever as a poor puss, in a swimming pool –

but if this world don’t get no better,

I think I’m quitting school!

Walt:

I’m as testy as a squirrel, around his gathered nuts! (gestures to his friends)

Like to give this life a whirl,

But I ain’t got the guts!

Pattie:

I like the U-nited States of A….

Walt:

Hey, let me tell you my problems

            I just bought a new car but gas is pain in the

                        Ask anyone on the corner

It’s an ornery world out there!

Pattie:

I like the U-nited States of A….

Walt:

There ain’t no end to my problems

            Why my salary won’t buy half I’m plannin’ on

                        I’m like that slick advertizin’

It’s surprizin how much I need!

Bernie:

I’m as jumpy as a bullfrog, without his croak

Wanta tell the world, I’ve been thinkin’

It’s just one big joke!

Helen:

I’m as fresh as a crocus, pushing up in spring

Get those cameras into focus

While I do my thing!!

(she jumps up onto the pole like a go-go dancer, a dance number starts – all students)

 

News Technicians

(as they pack up in failure)

Hard-boiled eggs, with mayonnaise & relish

Seen all the dregs, to the classy polished

On your way, with gory details every day!

            You know we’re

Up to date, our modern methods are sophisticate

They even teach us to enuci’ette

And there’s courses just to get jokes…unh.. straight!

Newscaster: (leaving)

            There’s news of

Every kind,  why we’re the closest friends you’ll ever find

(your) eyes and ears you’re information lined

No wonder we can speak your mind!

 

All:

We like the U-nited States of A….

Bernie:

Try to consider my problems

That to conquer the system, pissed’em

off and your world’s at the mercy of Google

Pray your GPS stays in-range!

 

All:

We like the U-nited States of A….

 

There ain’t no end to our problems

With ears glued to our cellphones hell groans                          LYRIC IDEA ONLY

Under the weight of pic’ messaging software

So my I-pod is all I need!

 

Walt:

I really despise their kind of arrogance, don’t you?

 

Bernie 

Did you hear about the news channel that got outsourced to a studio in India

And it took three months before anyone realized they were getting their local  news for the wrong town!

Pattie:

You’re kidding me!

 

Bernie:

(in a mock Indian accent) I swear to Google !

 

Pattie:

(in a mock Indian accent)  and the Wisdom of the Internet!!

 

Walt:

It wasn’t the fault of the Indians.  No one from the damned news syndicate was watching their own news, and nobody in the town gave a shit.  The Indians were just doing our job..

 

Bernie:

From Calcutta!    But really, I just heard that one at the bar.  I think it was a redneck joke.

 

Helen:

Redneck joke or not,

[sings]

Outsource ME and I’ll guarantee

that some jerk’ll prove your workin’ more efficiently!

Accounting never lies, so your stock is bound to rise,

To support the Economy!

 

Walt:

[sings]

Why it’s utopi-a, we all agree-ah,

That our needs can all be met by technologee-ah

 

Walt & Pattie:

Cause the system knows it all,  it’s got us up against the wall: 

And we’ll support a little Tyrann’yA-Vol!!

 

Pattie:

[sings]

We all see a new century,

Where emotions are life’s notions borrowed from T.V.

 

Pattie & Helen:

Addict us to our soaps, wash our brains until we’re dopes: 

And we’ll tell you it’s democracy!

 

Accompaniment goes quiet as Leon motions ‘quiet’ with his hands and steps in 

Leon:

[sings a capella]

If your mind has still got strength, Gotta go to any length

to uncover the ROT, whe’ere they like it or not;

Standin’ proud, gonna sing out loud

that the old human spirit’s got hope!!

            And the humanistic spirit’s still got hope!

 

All (except the Newscaster):

[sing]

When ya got strength, gotta go to any length: 

Gotta use whatcha got, to unravel the knots

Standin’ proud, gonna sing out loud

that the old human spirit’s got hope!

 

(the news team wheels their own prop off stage)

 

Walt:

Come on Leon, do you really believe that?

 

Leon:

Of course I do.

 

Helen:

You believe those old films we just saw.  I don’t know why we should have any hope.

 

Leon:

Economics.

 

All:

What?!

 

Leon:

You heard me.  Economics!  

Professor Bartle’s Economics class has finally given me some REAL hope.

Not just the love of hope – we all like that;

or the faith in hope – let us drop to our knees!; 

and not just Hollywood hope for hope. 

But real hope. Real scientific pragmatic nitty-gritty hope

 

Bernie:

Economics.  You gotta be kidding.

 

Walt:

Uh-unh.  He mean real Craftsman Brand Snap-on Tools Ex-Lax

gonna do ‘da job kinda Hope!

 

(stagehands begin dismantling the props and clearing the stage entirely during Leon’s peroration, which follows)

 

Patty:

I put my faith in Beano

 

Leon:

Enuf.  You see Robeson – the guy you just saw on those films – along with all the Progressives up to the Hippies – were fighting for a just society through some kind of collectivism.  Massa Gov’ment Help Us!!!  

 

But “The ‘System’” – made up of all them greedy and selfish people

believed the world was JUST LIKE THEM –

that justice meant free markets and private ownership. 

Their argument was the right of entrepreneurs to raise capital

put people to work… instead of the government. 

the “hidden hand of God and Science” were behind their argument

equilibriums, statistics chaos theory and scientific reasoning 

 

Walt

Oh YEH!  ‘the hidden hand of God and Science.’ 

That’s the SYSTEM alright!

 

Leon

If you believe scientists are trustworthy!  

But you see, being made up of naturally greedy folk,

real conservatives distrust the themselves,

They’ll do anything to destroy Massa Gov’ment. 

Collectivism’s a path to slavery.  

 

Helen

Massa Gov’mint!  I love it.  When’dju think of that, honey?

 

Leon

(Shrugs)

If you’re on the capitalist side of the road,

anything run by the government is communistic. 

If you’re driving a collectivist’s direction,

anything run by the government is totalitarian!

 

Well.  Robeson, and the progressives were wrong. 

But so was the system!  Because they left out one thing --- one major thing. 

 

Ownership of Land!

It is NOT the same as having rights to private property. 

 

Professor Bartle has been showing us that everything –

I mean everything changes when you redefine the basis of obligations,

Land includes natural resources,

But if you get rid of land & resource ownership,

YOU STILL GOT FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM.

Profits from natural resources are key to

dealing with global warming. 

THAT’S why I have hope.

 

Walt:

What does land ownership have to do with it?  Sounds pretty lame to me.

 

Leon:

It’s a cloverleaf to an overpass across a divided highway. 

Capitalists going one-way and collectivists the other

Obligations on resource extraction, on “land rental”

Lets them both exit and get to a new road --

Capitalists and collectivists gotta look at resource ownership again,

And our long-term obligations to a single Mother Earth. 

The analysis was all done by this guy named Henry George

before Paul Robeson and the progressives of his generation were ever born ….

But raping the earth of resources,

Or giving everything over to the state

Is not where it’s at.  We gotta give back to the earth, like farmers do

Henry George’s analysis was buried by the powers that be.

 

You never heard of Robeson, Bernie, because he was destroyed –

wiped from our memory because he got mixed up with Communists. 

His failure was predictable in Henry George’s failure–

the both of them together represent the failure of the 20th century.  

The betrayal of the 20th century

 

Helen:

I asked ya when you thought up that bit about ‘Massa Gov’mint,’ honey!  (sliding up his side) ya’ don’t wanna be my slave?

 

Leon

(directly at Helen, with false indignity)

That’s just why I have hope today. 

The answer to global warming is not through reducing emissions

– that’s poppycock. 

It’s in basic economic theory.  And we can still get it right.  I know it!

 

Walt

Nothin’ reduced emissions is going to stop at this point, anyway.

 

Bernie:

Economic theory!  I think you’re crazy!

 

Leon:

What if everyone was obligated to put back into the earth something of what they took out?  If there were “earth taxes” for all profits made on natural resources.  Farmers could show that you were husbanding the earth – and the resources were being renewed by the land itself.  But who else?  THAT’S basically what George was after… a tax fund that couldn’t be used for military, or healthcare, or large public works… but monies reinvested in earth-sustaining technologies and… to answer Walt,

 

Walt

Me?  Whadd’I say?

 

Leon

That we’re too late to stop things with reduced emissions. 

Close the door after the horse got out

All of Siberia’s thawing out.   Methane out the gazoo! 

The earth’s biggest most enormous fart ! 

An it’s gonna heat up the car!!

An lots of us got no place to go!  Get real.

We gotta repopulate millions of people

We gotta rebuild new ecologically-sustainable human communities

Who’s gonna pay?   Abu Dhabi?   Some new Massa Gov’mint?

Or is nobody going to do it and we’ll just let all the poor people die?

Figure out our economics an we can do it –

but if we don’t, gonna be a totalitarian nightmare

I got hope…

Gotta have hope

 

Helen:

(to Bernie)  There!  Have you got anything better to offer? 

(turning to Marie)  Did you still want to get together?

 

Marie:

No.  I’m as exhausted as the rest of you.  I’ll contact everyone by email with the assignment and a lab schedule. 

 

(sidling up to Leon)  You are a pretty captivating speaker when you get going.  All you need is a good woman behind you and you could go far! 

Glad you didn’t fall for her ‘wanna be my slave, now would ya?

 

Leon

You kiddn?  That’s just goofy street-corner stuff.

 

Marie:

Coulda fooled me….‘Cause I’d do a much better job.

 

Leon:

Hey!  You got an 8 yr old girl! 

 

Marie:

What if I do?    Have you got a girl?

 

Leon:

(nervously) I… I got too much on my plate! 

…. And… and I only do one-nighters. 

You don’t want to be a one-night stand, now do you?

 

Marie:

I don’t believe you….

 

Leon:

(posturing) I like my women fast and trashy so’s I can get on with my work and pay’m no mind, y’hear?

 

Marie:

Leon, THIS isn’t YOU talking! ? 

 

Leon:

You think I’d confuse myself with my idols?  

I’m a pragmatist.. and a bit of chauvinist as well!.

 

Marie:

I don’t want to hear any more!

 

Leon:

Well then, I guess I have to tell you. 

I DO have a girlfriend, and her name is Tabasca!

 

(sings in a Cab Calloway voice:)

An’ she’s cooking wi’ hot sauce

You just ask’a, Tabasc’a

And she’ll cook YOU in hot sauce…

Just go profile on down-town

With this lil’ peppa on your arm

She’ll be Tabasca,

Your Louisiana Hot-Sauce!!

I like mushrooms, fish and chips

But ain’t no san’wich pass my lips

Wi’out Tabasca, my Louisiana Hot-Sauce!

Marie storms off in disgust, as Leon continues to ham it up, oblivious.

I like mushrooms, fish and chips

But ain’t no san’wich pass my lips

Wi’out Tabasca, my Louisiana Hot-Sauce!

and her name’s Tabasca.

An’ she’s cooking wi’ hot sauce

You just ask’a, Tabasc’a

And she’ll cook YOU in hot sauce…

 

[spoken]

Ha ha!  Really got HER goat!   WHAT did I do that for?

 

Act I Scene 3

[- 13 -Barry’s Office (desk, bookcase, 3 chairs):

Barry, Marie

Marie:

(laughing, and leaning over the desk and pointing to music)

So you want me to play under you here with this line, and keep repeating bar three until you’re done your rant.

Barry:

Right.  The ‘I got a million of’m.’  I’ll always say it twice  though, remember.

 

Marie:

Then I go back to A.  …. One more thing.   I stop playing here.  Does that mean you go into a long gag ?   How do I know when to yell ‘Drop the vaudeville!’?

 

Barry:

I’ll give you the ‘I got a million of’m’ cue.  But I only say it once, and you cut me off.

 

Marie:

(sighs, picks up the music and walks off)  Oh my.  I never thought the T.A.-ship would include learning vaudeville (laughs)

Barry

It’s part of a minor in musical  theatre!

(to himself rolling his eyes as he watches Marie leave)

They also called it burlesque.

(Sings):

I’ve had a great romance

Daydreaming of each chance

That I’d flirt with a girl like you

But now you’re here I’ve gotta stear

Away, because my only fear’s

what eggs me, begs me through. [depression breaking through?]

It’s not just your figur-

-atively speaking scrumptious

Sure I’d like to make you feel this way

I’ve fallen for your laugh

You’re gorgeous when you laugh

And now these feelings are here to stay:

 

You’re my every daydream, Marie

Single pulse is beating through me

Syncopating all I do, cause I’m all you.

My eyes, my lips, my ears

Just see just breath just hear for you

You see I’m senseless Marie

I’m all you

My brain can’t handle figures,

Just yours;

Statistics all slip through my fingers

It’s your bell-shaped curve that lingers.

There’s nothing else that I can think of

All my work is on the brink

My papers all begin to stink

As the whole room

disappears in your perfume.

Marie:

(sticks her head back in the door)

I don’t even wear perfume!

 

ACT I Scene 4

[- 14 -]  Inside Marie’s apartment.

Jossie

(from off-stage) Mommy!  My scab just fell off!!!

 

Marie

I’m sorry.  Excuse me second.

 

Leon:

(loudly to Marie in the other room

Did you hear Bernie’s comment?  How come he’d never heard of Robeson?

We are so full of sports stars, movie stars and Robeson was a whole constellation of stars, and nobody can remember him!!  I mean – he wasn’t just Orion’s Belt – he was every damn star in Orion!!   and  a star attorney?   And then nobody can remember him?

 

Marie?!

(to himself, mimicking Marie’s anticipated answer)

 You ever think it was because he was defending himself and the Head of the American Communist Party in Senator McCarthy’s Un-American Activities hearings ?

 

Doesn’t sound like a musical  to me, sweetie.

 

When is she EVER going to believe this is musical material?

 

(begins singing to himself)

[Sings]

When ‘ya got strength, gotta go to any length….

 

In a ‘sing-songing’ voice [rapper voice?]

That’s not bad, if I say so myself

Gotta put them lines up on my musical shelf

[spoken]

This isn’t any regular musical, anyway. 

[‘rapping’]

An’ I say musical lecture lives

Just like ol’ doctor Bartle gives. 

 

Marie returns to the room with Jossie in tow.

Marie:

I wouldn’t go bragging ‘bout that old ham,

He’s a bit of a sham

with his new form of artle

Jossie

She said Uncle Bartle was just an old fartle!

 

Marie:

[spoken]

I never said that!

Jossie

[spoken]

YOU called him that yesterday when you got home.

Leon:

[spoken]

Uncle Bartle?!  That’s why you play in his class?

 

Marie:

[sings]

Let it pass.

Leon:

[Spoken]

NO.  Are you two related?

Jossie:

He was pop-pop’s student

when mommy was little

just like me

and she called him her Uncle

because of, you see

he brought her music and books and thing

 

Marie:

You don’t have to rapp Jossie,  just because Leon here wants to talk ghetto.

 

Leon

And so that’s why you’re into music!  I get it. 

And now you call musical lectures a sham!

And rapp has brought hundreds of ’, ‘scuse me m’am

thousands of kids – like your daughter here, jam’

‘-min with words and with sounds and findin’ meaning

 

Jossie:

But NOW I think HE wants to give her a ring..

 

Marie

Jossie!!! 

I think you’d better go into the kitchen and tend to your scab.

(to Leon)

You’re going to have to send me the script real soon. 

Cause I don’t exactly understand how you plan to fit it all together. 

 

Do you tell anything about the college scholarship he won?

 

Leon:

And when he went for the big test they told him he couldn’t take it without the qualifying test, so he told them he’d take both tests together, which they said was impossible cause they took three hours each?  No I don’t.

 

Marie

He finished with time to spare and got the highest rank in the state. 

How can you leave a story like that out?

 

Leon:

It sounds too much like Washington and the cherry tree..

 

Marie:

That’s crazy.  How ‘bout his dad getting thrown out of the ministry in Princeton for speaking up against lynchings.  ….

His dad was his model. 

From slave to the minister of the Presbyterian Church of Princeton,

thrown out for protesting lynchings!  

Becomes an ash collector and cab-driver,

Then starts his own church in Somerville. 

 

Leon:

I can’t start with his father. 

I begin right after his Valedictorian at Rutgers in 1919,

When he’s putting himself through law school playing pro ball.

Essie is tending to him in the hospital.

I’ve built it on the dramatic tension between Essie and him – I mean, she was big part of his story, like …. like Bill and Hillary’s story.

 

Marie

Talkin’ about Bill and Hillary…and Obama. 

Did YOU know that Paul Robeson turned down the Vice President slot on Wallace’s Progressive ticket in 1948?  

 

Leon

No.  I didn’t know that.

 

Marie:

You should do some more research on your main character.  

I’m  really surprised at this attention to Essie,

given your opinions on the use of women for a man’s career!

 

Leon:

(rolls his eyes)

Maybe it shoulda been a musical about Essie!  Right?

 

Marie:

Maybe.

First doctor of color on New York Hospital’s staff

Grandfather was the first black US Senator,

Her brother moved to Russia right after the revolution.

a political insurrection all by herself, that woman!!!

 

Leon:

So that’s where the Russian communist connection began! 

Robeson’s brother-in-law!

 

Marie:

Uh.  Like I said.  Maybe you should READ that big biography you gave me before you try to write this musical.

 

Leon:

I know enough.

In the second scene Paul and Essie are in England: he’s a Shakespearean star.

 

Marie:

That quick?

 

Leon:

You’ll find out from the dialogue about why he quit law,

about the Cotton Club and how they get to London. 

This way we’re right into political action,

working against British colonialism in Africa and India. 

 

Marie:

Alright.

 

Leon:

They’re meeting Jomo Kenyatta and his wife

and Patrice Lamumba for dinner. 

It’s not exactly undercover, but there’s a waiter who’s a spy for the Brits. 

 

The conversation switches from British colonialism to Mussulini’s invasion of Ethiopia and Spain, with the Fascist army using German help to put down the new democracy.  And the waiter is taking notes all this time, and then Paul decides to take the next train to Spain to rally the troops.  Paul’s train stops at a smoking Basque town.  Guernica--- bombed to shreds by German pilots helping Franco’s troops. That’s when he sings “Tango to War.”

 

You can picture it, right?  Dazed old men on the platform, children crying for their parents,... maybe some German Stukas still divebombing in the distance ….

 

Marie:

I’m having a hard time picturing it on stage, Leon. 

 

Leon:

Uh…. That’s where we’ll need a little help – making it work on stage…..  

 

Marie

We’ll need help?  You’re the one writing the script – I’m just scoring it.

You use a painted flat and a sound-track behind it.  It’s REAL tacky!!

 

Leon

Well, me… I mean.   I see Paul getting out of the train, looking around, and he asks one of the old men what happened, and says angry to Essie that it never got reported in the news. 

 

Marie

O.K. So then what does he say to Essie?

 

Leon

He says “Essie - This carnage never got reported in the news back home!”

And she says, “Don’t complain, Big Boy”

‘Big Boy’ is the title of the movie they were making in Marseilles, then. 

An’ then she says “They just tell us what they think we should hear!”

And that is HIS cue to throw out his arms and sing “Tango to War.” 

Whatta picture!  Am I right?

 

Marie:

Right.  I think I prefer you talking in rapp.

“Tango to War”!   in C.  I’ll give you a lead-up. 

 

Leon:

(sings)

Papers speak,   Radios speak, All the news they think is,

Truth to hear, for our ears - Question not what's under the meaning;

Editors in their little offices giving truth a screening!

 

Squads of youth their chromium steel-plate, belching flesh a blood-slickened meal!

Chewing up a quiet-dreaming village --  Vitamins of war are REAL!

 

Hand me my tools I'm gonna build the caskets for wide-eyed children!

Cover the graves already filled with their parents, their hatred quenched!

Hand me down my textbooks for farms I'm gonna seed resistant to germs of hunger;

Study the laziness and greed that makes simple folk want blood!

Hand me down my tools for we must rebuild!

 

Marie:

I like the original you gave me better now I hear YOU singing it. 

Real good transition between the tango rhythm and the verse…

I would keep the tango going under the verse…. Like this

 

(she plays the tango rhythm and sings)

Hand me my tools I'm gonna build the caskets for wide-eyed children!

Cover the graves already filled with their parents, their hatred quenched!

[spoken]

a little short, though. 

You could use a few Stukas dive-bombing overhead, and a couple more verses. 

 

I heard what you said about Orion when Jossie called me. 

You know the Greek heros got turned into stars as part of their tragedy. 

The star became a myth and the myth became a star.

 

Leon:

Well, Robeson was a Greek tragedy right here in modern day America. 

Coretta King said they shot her husband, but they buried Paul Robeson ALIVE!!!

 

Marie:

Yes, I READ the biography you gave me!

 

Leon:

Ro-be-son was the REAL John Henry –

hewing down mountains

slammin’ injustice

They named a nash’null holiday for Paul

In Indja,

a mountain in Russia,

And at home he got a swamp!

 

Marie

A SWAMP?  They named a swamp?

 

Leon

Noooo…

[sings]

with his hammer in a swamp wi’out glamour wi’out pomp

at mosquitos he was swingin’ all the while his spirit singin’

as he stepped on snakes and gators, laughin’ loud at colored haters an’ the Jim Crow integrators

all them bigots wi’‘deir tickots to ‘der

frilly silly lily white heavns’

 

Marie:

Very good, Leon.

Leon:

with his hammer in a swamp, with no glamour and no pomp

he got bit by a mosquita, by some agent incognita, with a little L.S.Dee-ta

that they gave him in his drink, made him crazy so they’d think

consul doctor’s plan, was give treatments to our man

thirty sev’ electro-shocks like chigger bites mosquito mocks

massive soul our world had known, a Hercules his mind was blown

and John Henry went to Philly twenty years he sittin’ silly

to what had happened he was vacant and the rest of us mistaken’t that his voice was God-forsaken’t

how mosquitos killed our Robeson buried hope’s son buried Rope’son

That our man was just too Tired to Sing again

 

Marie:

That was good, Leon.  That was real good, but I don’t think you can say that in a musical, or steal an aria from ….

 

Leon:

“Andre Chenier”

But don’t you understand, Marie?

This IS an opera.  This is about the greatest tragedy we know as men!

 

Marie:

Where do you get that?

 

Leon:

The greatest living symbol of hope and justice HAD to be destroyed by …

 

Marie:

What??   By what?

 

Leon:

The defenders of hope and justice.  

Robeson and Essie weren’t just fighting against European colonialism in Asia and Africa.

He wasn’t just fighting bigotry in the states.

Paul Robeson fought tooth and nail to defend the communists. 

And even if he never joined the communist party

– he was their biggest voice in this country. 

And THAT’S what makes Paul Robeson’s story almost impossible to tell!

 

Marie:

Why was he was that dangerous?

 

Leon:

After the war, he and W.E.B. DeBois organized a march on Washington

to demand Congress put an end all the lynchings

Black G.I.’s coming home to the south seemed too ‘uppity’ after they’d fought in Japan and Germany and Italy to defend America’s freedom. 

They came home and acted like they deserved respect –

so they were lynched all up and down Dixie!

 

Marie:

After World War II?  In the 1940’s?

 

Leon:

Bullshit!  You knew that!!

So Robeson put it to THE PRESIDENT himself that if he didn’t sign a bill, the negroes would just have to take the lynching into their own hands! 

Well, that raised a few eyebrows in the newspapers!!  

Malcolm X was still a little boy in 1948 you know!!

The NAACP was already holding him at arms’ length ---

and a couple weeks later he was subpoenaed for his first hearing on Un-American Activities!  

Now he was the FBI’s Public Enemy Number One!!  That’s how dangerous he was!!

 

Marie:

Well I don’t see how you can tell it at all then!!

Maybe you’d better put together a few more songs,

and then show me how it can really work on-stage

before I spend any more time on this, O.K.?

 

Leon:

Yeh.  I read you loud and clear, Marie. 

Say good-bye to your daughter for me.

How ‘bout next Tuesday morning before class?

END ACT I

Between acts, Robeson’s voice  singing “Joe Hill”

ACT II

ACT II Scene 1

[- 22 -] Inside Marie’s apartment.

 

Marie:

How bout we try  “Paul’s Song,”  (sarcastically) in C.

 

Leon:

I write all my songs in C, cause that’s my best register. 

 

Marie:

(commencing to play through the opening)

‘Paul’s Song’ is a good title for your film Leon. 

Simple melody….. nice, I like it.

 

Leon:

I’ve got this theory, see, that Robeson was a child of the utopianism of the 19th century. 

I did a paper on all the utopian movements in high school.

 

Marie:

[still playing] I’ll bet you did.

 

Leon:

The Owenites, Fourier’s “Phalanxes” of the 1850’s  – John Brown’s revolution of the slaves comes right from the religious utopian fever of those days….. 

 

Marie:

How about I’ll give you a four-bar lead.

 

Leon:

(talking over her introduction)

 Then there was Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. 

It was one of the biggest selling novels all through the 1890’s. 

Catch this…. Looking Backward was about a guy

 who wakes up in the year 2000 and finds

that capitalism has become so big and efficient

that it has taken over the functions of the state. 

 

Marie:

You missed your cue.

 

Leon:

No, listen!  Looking Backward was written in 1887! 

It was about the year 2000 – when we lived on credit cards, and…. 

 

Marie:

Look.  Do you want to sing this song for me or do I have to sing it? 

It really looks good.  Or do we need to wait for a few dive-bombing stukas?

 

Leon:

Are you still on that?   Let me hear you sing it. 

 

Marie:

(sings very tentatively)

Gonna sing my song all around the world

Gonna make it ring an' ope'neir eyes!

Gonna sing that song all around the world

So the folks can harmonize!

 

Leon:

O.K.  Give me my cue again!

(Sings)

A re-birth, our next domain, we can find the ope’ning

Happiness needs patience and will,  and I’ll say it loud

            don’t mind if I draw a crowd..

There’s a lot of hope around here still!

 

My Re-birthday’s comin’ up, It’s my resolution

that I’ll tolerate and go my way!

Won’t my kids be proud, can’t stop cryin’ it out loud

That all our arrogance WILL END SOMEDAY!

 

Gonna sing my song all around the world

Gonna make it ring an’ ope’neir eyes!

Gonna sing that song all around the world

So the folks can harmonize!

 

Gonna write my will leave it in my song

Gonna sing so clear that when I die(s)

You will hear my will sung around the world

‘til the day it’s realized!!

 

Marie:

Wow!   It’s certainly not Phantom of the Opera

or Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber

but it could be Oklahoma or Music Man.. 

I take back what I’ve been thinking,

you might actually have the makings of a musical  here.

 

Leon:

Thank you, but do you realize what I just told you?

 

Marie:

No.

 

Leon:

That at the time Paul Robeson grew up,

the biggest-selling novel around the world

was about a totally capitalist utopia

controlled by economic efficiency experts!

The economy was totally planned. 

This was 1887 that Bellamy wrote this! 

His novel reads like a dream cooked up in Hollywood. 

 

Marie:

So?

 

Leon:

I forgot to tell you.  Bellamy’s followers called themselves “National  Socialists”

– that’s just what the Nazis called themselves twenty-five years later.

Mussolini coulda lifted his description of fascism right from Bellamy when big business capitalism and government hook up to run things. 

 

Marie:

What does this have to do with Paul Robeson?

 

Leon:

The two most influential books when Robeson was growing up

were Karl Marx’s Das Kapital  and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward.  

Doesn’t that say something? 

World War II was about Fascism against Communism and Free Market Capitalism.

It was a war between those two books!!

 

Marie:

And your film about Paul Robeson?

 

Leon:

Oblivious, goes to the piano and hits a chord

(sings)

There were three in the bed and the middle one said, “roll over, roll over”

They all rolled over and the Fascist rolled out

of the Cold War bed and the one left said…

 

Marie:

There were TWO left

 

Leon:

There was ONE left

and ONE right. 

Paul Robeson was on the left. 

It wasn’t til Reagan proved who was right

that the Soviets dropped out of the game

and the only ones left were us.  Then WE were left.

 

Marie:

We were the only ones on the left because we were right.  Right? 

 

Leon:

(smiling) Right…which is why the Republicans are the RED states now.

 

Marie:

OhmaGod! 

(Marie throws up her hands and picks out a piece of music… starts playing “Joe Hill”)

 

Marie:

How is your fractured brain ever going to write a musical  ?

 

Leon:

Now do you see why all this is important to the score?

 

Marie:

Vaguely.  I’m beginning to see something very vaguely.

 It’s awful foggy out there, Leon! 

(sits at the piano to start playing the Russian song, “What’s the Question”)

 

Leon:

Old man Robeson built up the A.M.E. church in Somerville when Paul was in High School….

Paul’s big brother Ben ….

 

Marie:

was minister of Mother Zion church in Harlem.    (I know)

 

Leon:

Paul Robeson wasn’t any communist.  He was a Christian utopianist!!

– but Stalin and his cronies used Robeson’s good faith for propaganda. 

Without ever knowing what they were doing to people in Russia,

Exterminating millions,

Paul let himself become their tool!!  

 

Marie:

Robeson still believed in a planned, collective economy

Justice treating everyone alike – so he backed Russia. 

I got that much.

 

Leon:

The problem is, any kind of central planning

becomes totalitarian. 

It’s bound to happen. 

Lippman, Belloc, all kinds of people were telling us that even back in 1937! 

Hayek, Galbraith said it after World War II.

But nobody as famous and influential as Robeson –

who believed in collectivism –

could keep singing his songs or talking on radio. 

And so we shut him up.

 

Marie:

How about you shut up a second and sing this for me, alright?

 

Leon:

Alright.  I have him singing this song near the end. 

It is real  tragic, because he’s already been blackballed by the American system. 

It’s the late 1950’s. 

Marie:

Nobody will speak his name or they’re accused of being a communist and might lose their job. 

 

Leon:

He’s almost penniless, but he’s fighting back with a will.  

After ten years’ fight, the U.S. Supreme court rules in his favor, and he gets his passport back and can travel…. That’s when he goes for his last European tour.  That newsreel you showed in class is from then. 

 

He sings this just before they give him his passport back.

 Just give me a C.

 

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole.  There’s a hole…..

(he motions to Marie to start)

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea, an' I don't know why, an' I don't know where;

But I swear it's going to be the death the death'o me

gonna plug it with my body when I get'it there

I say fear's an iron mountain reflectin' mens' eyes,

an' I know just how, an' I know just why;

And my fingernails'll bite into that mountain in the sky;

gonna rip it, gonna drag it til I die!

 

Leon & Marie in Russian

What's the question?  I don't know,

Lyesda polya-neui byez-lyu           

million souls are crushed for answers,

deui kru-gom V’yuga ee-plachyet

No suggestions from below -

ee-stoneyet; Chuyet-sya boodto -

Life is stifled still!

- va, mrakeh nochnom!

What's the reason?  I don't know, 

Zlaya, godto, xhorokit,

million souls are crushed at random

Vtemno-tyeh smyert obnimayet 

Watch the treasonable show,  Liberty lies still!

Glayad, tak eeyaiste! Smyertse laskayet!

Long's the time that symbols dwell

Skaz ku da ta ku…u…    you    

in the sands of propaganda

chtob vsyou nochtya ny las chtob p’yan

Molding words to silence sense,  casting minds to kill!

--chu gye kryep-ko pod nyeh’yo  za-snu los, snu los

What's the power to corrupt,

Skaz ku da ta ku….u… you

is it ego, is it pleasure?

chtob vsyou nochtya ny las chtob p’yan -

Social  spirit's so bankrupt, to act against our will!

-chu gye kryep-ko pod nyeh’yo  za-snu los, snu los!

 

I say fear's an iron mountain reflectin' mens' eyes,

Ah ah…….

an' I know just how, an' I know just why;

An I know just how, an’ I know just why.

And my fingernails'll bite into that mountain in the sky;

Ah ah

gonna rip it, gonna drag it til I die!

Ah…..

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea

an' I don't know why, an' I don't know where;

an’ I don’t know why, an’ I don’t know where

But I swear it's going to be the death the death'o me

But I swear it’s going to be the death the death’o me

gonna plug it with my body when I get'it there

gonna plug it with my body when I get’it there

 

Marie:

Wow.     That’s beautiful.   You didn’t steal the tune from “Moscow Nights,” did you?

 

Leon:

Hell no!   But what were you singing in Russian?  That’s not in my song!

 

Marie:

Some sweet old lyrics by Moussorgsky

 

Leon:

It’s not a sweet song, Marie…

 

Marie:

…about a drunkan peasant dying in a blizzard.

 

Leon:

That’s good.  It was super with the drone!

 

Marie

Thanks –But only because of your tune.

So lemme see.

When Paul sings this we already know that he has no job anymore.

Anyone who let him sing in their theatre or on their show was boycotted

the media industry would close you down.

Anybody who spoke his name was suspected of being a communist

and would lose their job – so no one spoke his name. 

 

Leon:

But what he DOESN”T know when he sings this is that

by the mid-1970’s when he died alone

at his sister’s house in Philly, he’d be America’s first non-person. 

When the Berlin Wall fell, no one under thirty had ever heard his name.   

That’s what he didn’t know, and no one could ever have believed.

(his cellphone rings and he reads a message)

 

Aw shit.  I’m late for Tai Chi !   I guess I’ll see you at Bartle’s class, right?  

 

Marie:

I never stay til the end, you know that.

 

Leon:

Gee  …. (to himself)

Never thought of it til now….

Paul’s career ended just like his dad’s…

 because he tried to stop the lynchings.

(to Marie)

Take it easy!

(runs out)

 

Marie:

Shakes her head and sits at the piano and begins playing a blues number

Oh that guy,

What does he do to

He and I…

Do to me!

Oh that guy,

Makin’ me wonder –

Tearin’ me all asunder inside!

To me, a love is a vision, of something that’s coming, a life to become

It seems to make each decision, of everything happening, and all that I’ve done

That kid has got the energy to jump the moon

Why am I attracted to that crazy loon?   I tell ya’

Oh that guy,

What does he do to

He and I…

Do to me!

Oh that guy,

Makin’ me wonder –

Tearin’ me all asunder inside!

Every time I look at him I feel my brain

Fallin’ outta joint, like on a subway train, I tell ya’

Oh that guy,

What does he do to

He and I…

Do to me!

Oh that guy,

Makin’ me wonder –

Tearin’ me all asunder inside!

Act II Scene 2

[- 29 -] Barry’s Classroom (blackboard, piano, 3 rows of seats. On the blackboard is written: “Economics 101 – Prof. Bartle x415. M. Copley T.A. x113”)

Barry, Marie, Leon, 5 students

 

Barry:

 (to Leon, who has just walked in) There are another six or seven free seats up front here,  Mr. Johnson, if you wish…..

 

As you should realize by this point, we have been studying the history of economic analysis, based on the Table of Contents of this 1300-page text by Joseph Schumpeter.  

 

We have also learned classical economic theory from several chapters of a very old and once very popular book entitled Progress and Poverty, by Henry George.  Both of these were issued to you on the first day of class and some of you have opened them.  If you haven’t opened them yet,  today is the day.  As you were warned, today is your mid-term, and it is an open book exam.

 

But of course, this is a music school, and you are not expected to apply anything that you learn here – so I thought that your mid-term exam should be based on something that you will apply – which is lyrical analysis. 

 

In a few moments I will sing my magnum opus.  It is a highly opinionated number entitled “The Economist March.”   You will pick any four of the early economists we have discussed so far – Xenophon, Quesnay, Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, or Marshall - and tell me what they would have thought of my lyrics, and in doing so, you can tell me what you think of my lyrics.  Are there any questions?

 

Leon:

I have two questions.  One.  Is there a reason you open every lecture with a song?

 

Barry:

Yes.  And it’s a wonder that every professor who was raised on Sesame Street doesn’t do the same.   Your second question?

 

Leon:

Are you planning on grading these mid-terms? 

 

Barry:

Of course.  I am grading ME, so please try to do your best and take this exam seriously.   I do.

 

Leon:

So you mean, this mid-term doesn’t go against our grade?

 

Barry:

As I believe I explained at your very first class, your grade is based on two things:  your final paper, and the quiz you took that day.  Since several of you flunked the quiz on the first day, today is your chance to make the grade.  The quiz will be repeated immediately after the song, at which time you will have the opportunity to get the answer right.

 

Mr. Johnson, since you passed the quiz already, I’d like you to explain why Henry George was discounted by classical  economics and almost entirely forgotten by the 20th century – even though great economists like Milton Friedman – a Nobel Laureate – and Henry Simon, President Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury, considered him to be a great theorist.  The rest of your grade will be based on your answer. 

 

Leon:

Due when?

 

Barrie:

Six weeks.

Any other questions before the exam?

No?  John.

Student (Cecil)

Cecil.  Aren’t you going to give us a copy of the lyrics?

 

Barry:

No.  What if you got a job as a music critic one day? 

You’d need to be able to concentrate on the lyrics,

take notes on the music and delivery!

Nobody’d give you the lyrics first.

I want you to be productive, to succeed.

Exams are practice for real life…

a test of my teaching

not the natural bumbling of 80% idiots

So THIS, Johnnie ma-boy, is a test in PRACTICAL Economics!

Shall we begin?

Anda one, anda two, anda three – Marie!

 

Barry: (sings)

Gotta understand the economy

If not you ain’t got what it takes to stay free

Each civilization’s a living thing

It can sicken and die, it can grow, it can sing

but if brains controlled all the nourishing

You bet they’d forget that its flourishing

Depends on more than just heart and lungs,

Stock market, industry, flow of funds!

(holds up a book on Animal  Husbandry)

As they USE the science of economy for social  husbandry!

MOOO, grunnnnt, NEIGH!!..... 

CAUSE…..

Liberty’s an old political  song,

the right to hold our different views

Barry:  (spoken)

Stop the music!  STOP the MUSIC!

Marie, did I just say ‘liberty’s an old political  song, the right to hold our different views?”

 

Marie:

Yep

 

Barry:

That means free elections, right?

 

Marie:

Yep.

 

Barry:

what else?  Got any idea?

 

Marie:

well…… I suppose along with free elections is free market capitalism

 

Barry:

THAT’S IT!  THAT’S IT!!  Free market capitalism…. Where all the people making up the market decide what sells and what don’t… what the price should be, etcetera etcetera, etcetera!

(sings)

When EVERYBODY’S choices are made all along

Based on Madison Avenue’s!

(drum) Ddl ddl du du doo du Ddl ddl du du du (for)

Economics tells us all the curves and facts and numbers

What it thinks are optimal  and minimum of needs

It lays out all the plans and charts for governmental  blunders

Proud of all the growth it shows, for what?

It’s nothing but a farmer growing WEEDS!

Ddl ddl du du doo du Ddl ddl du du du

Barry:

(spoken)

Kudzu!  That’s the military industrial  complex!

Conspicuous consumption, (cough cough)…morning-glories vines choking my tomato plants. 

Then there’s Hollywood! 

STOP THE MUSIC!!  STOP THE MUSIC!!

Wait’ll to you hear this one!

 

Barry:

Marie, ask me what we’re having for dinner.

 

Marie:

What are we having for dinner, Barry?

 

Barry:

I just picked up the new Batman movie

 

Marie:

No, I mean what are we having to EAT for dinner?

 

Barry:

A couple bushels of honeysuckle – it’ll keep your mouth busy!  

I got a million of’m !!  I got a million of’m !!

(sings)

The system is essentially an information business

Planning and controlling the politicaleconomy

A cornucopia of goods and services we value

Who cares what it takes to keep it pumped, then dumped!

(making as if to hold large beachballs on his chest)

The mountains we don’t need!

Barry:

(Spoken)

It’s pornological  !!  makin’ us drool over all them overstuffed shelves !

PORNological.  Ya’ get it?  ----I gotta million of’m!

 

MARIE:

that’s enough vaudeville, OK?

Barry:

Alright

(sings)

Liberty’s a value cast into law, A human right that is our due

The Economy’s the debt against which we draw

Our livelihoods without a clue 

That holding it together are our mutual  obligations

Faith in something greater than creators of the law; 

Barry:

(spoken, with hand in shirt like Napoleon)

‘da Hidden Hand

(sings)

Ddl ddl du du doo du Ddl ddl du du du

That Nature is our governor, Society’s our privilege,

But all that stuff bout the PROFIT motive drives.. our lives

Is the screwiest scummiest FLAW !!

 

Full participation, each of us finding roles 

Is the golden key to civilization’s health

Old-time education with citizenship its goal,

Will keep uncovering Nature’s wealth!! 

 

Gotta understand the economy

If not we ain’t got what it takes to stay free

Our lives depend on our Mother Earth

We shape her and rape her for all that we’re worth

But the world has eons of her own time

To patch the mess, reclaim our crime

To arrest ourselves first you’d think we might find

-- a science of the social  mind

Economics is just  half the philosophy for farming Liberty !

 

Barry:

Alright!  That’s it. 

Marie.  Could you step up here a second, and read them the quiz topic.. 

 

Marie:

Of course.

(she slithers up from the piano stool like a porn queen on a quiz show, making overt sexual advances in the direction of Leon, who pays no attention)

Mr. George endeavored to prove that economic analysis must be based around LAND, while Professor Schumpeter proved over and over that it is based around CAPITAL.  There was once a Mr. Marx who endeavored to show that the entire economy was based on the fruits of our LABOR.    

 

Barry:

Now for the quiz question!

Marie:

Name the three principle components around which classical economic analysis is based.  

 

Barry:

We have discussed this for the last six weeks, but you can open your binders.   No cheating please, Cecil.

 

ACT II Scene 3

[- 34 -] Hallway outside Classroom

 (Door frame center proscenium.  Piano, stage-right.  Window, center rear, facing stage left.  Founder’s Statue and bench rear left stage behind the curtain.)

 

Betty:

(to Leon, walking towards him down the hall)

I’m lost.  Where is 214?   That room says 229 and the one down there is 152 !!

 

Leon:

This whole building’s screwy.   

We’ve figured out that the room numbers were actually based on their linear distance from the founder’s hat  

On the statue in the center courtyard. 

Really logical, isn’t it?

 

Betty:

Certainly “out of the box,” so to speak!     So where is 214?     How does anyone find their way?

 

Leon:

I don’t think the coordinates are that fine on your GPS.  

Ya find your way there first by accident,

then you just recognize where you are and remember the way. 

Ya forget all about the room numbers – they could just as well be 

Thomas Jefferson room, Star-Wars room, X-Files Room.

 

Betty:

But I don’t have time to find it by accident,

I’ve got to return these books to Professor Bartle before his lecture starts.

 

Leon:

Now THAT’s a coincidence!    I’m on my way to Bartle’s lecture.  

It’s around the other side.  But we got time.   I’ll take you MY way.    

(he takes them through the door to the window)

 

Betty:

Accidents do happen.

 

Leon:

(opens the windows and puts his leg through it)

Listen, if you want I can take the books to him.

 

Betty:

I’d rather face Barry myself.  I feel a little guilty.

 

(as Betty gets through the window, two stagehands come across the stage and take it to the front stage-left,  the door to rear stage right,  behind piano, and the founder’s statue and a bench to center stage.)

 

Leon:

What are the books?

Betty:

(hands him 3 books)

Here.

Leon:

This IS a coincidence!  These are the books I need for my final!  

Maybe you can tell me why everyone dropped Henry George like a hot potato. 

Wow!  Original  editions.  Who the hell would to read SPENCER now?

 

Betty:

Me.  I’m Betty Edelweiss. 

I teach history of ethics and philosophy of history at the seminary.

 

Leon:

A religious seminary?

 

Betty:

What other kind of seminary is there? 

Herbert Spencer is our primary source for the culture of science …

He was the high priest of the Darwin cult - of survival of the fittest – and he explained all history and existence through it. 

 

Leon:

So at the seminary you study the religion of science, too?

 

Betty:

That’s what I said.  The culture of science. 

He’s been forgotten,  but he’s still quite important.

Back in those day’s no one who called himself a scientist

could call Spencer a scientific fraud! 

Which is just what Henry George did in THIS book.

He attacked the Sacred COW of the intellectuals.

 

Leon:

(Looks at his cellphone and sits down at the bench)

I think you’ve written my term paper for me.

(Points to the window)

That’s Bartle’s room.  So we got time.

 

(Marie enters and sits at the piano and begins softly playing improvs on “My Way”)

Betty:

Henry George spent his whole life proving that Spencer’s ideas from 1850 on land ownership gave classical  economic analysis greater coherence. 

Forty years later - by 1890 Spencer was famous ….and rich …

and he denied what he’d said about land ownership

and left George out to dry.   

 

Leon:

Lemme get this right. 

If I admitted I’d read Henry George,

I challenged Spencer’s religious creed

His religion of science. 

To PROTECT the new religion, you had to ignore

the scientific analysis of the rights of land and resource ownership

Because that showed Spencer wasn’t scientific?

 

Betty:

Not anymore. 

He’d become as subjective and opinionated as any religious bigot.

But Henry George was still addicted to pure scientific analysis

And he ended up proving what “capitalism” really could be

Yet capitalists lumped him in with the collectivists and communists

because resources and land had to, in theory, still be entrusted to the state.

The ironic thing is he’d discovered the true “Middle Path” of balance.

For the state, in pre-Biblical days,

was understood to be holding the land

In stewardship for God.

 

Leon:

You call it a ‘Middle Path,” I call it an overpass

over a divided highway. 

Either way you’re going, you can take the clover-leaf

and get to Henry George’s analysis of Land Rents

where (he makes the sign of parenthesis with his hands for each word)

( Labor ) and

(Capital ) transform

( Resources ).

The equation always has labor and capital together against land on the other side.

 

Marie stops her improv’ on “My Way” as she notices Leon outside with someone.

Betty:

Well.  You’re talking to the wrong person.  I study ethics, cultural  history, philosophy of history – economics is Barry Bartle’s thing.

 

 

Leon:

So?  Aren’t we all trying to get to the same place?   

Don’t we all want to create a just world that will still feed and clothe us all? 

Isn’t that ethics?

 

 She gets up from her piano stool to see who he is with.

 

Betty:

At whose expense?  

We might want to get to the same place.

But everyone expects somebody else to pay for it.  

 

 She sits back down and begins improvising again around Oscar Peterson’s “Night Train” or “No Girl in the Whole World who can love me like you do” --- which is the lead-up to the song, “One Big Bluff.”

Leon:

You just rape the earth of its natural  resources

and call it capital, and the call the owners capitalists

Up to now it seemed almost infinite

The cleverest capitalist would end up owning the most resources

And there was plenty to go around

 

Betty:

I know where you’re going, but you see (Sarcastically)

Technology will figure out a way to survive when we get there! 

some super logical  scientist somewhere will find the answer. 

 

Leon:

The religion of science. 

Betty:

It’s still Mother Earth and big Uncle Sol up there,

the sun, who are paying the bills. 

We’re no different than the most ancient human beings on this planet.

Leon:

(gets up and walks to the window)

And we’re gonna be just about as helpless, too.

Cause the capital’s running out

and our time’s running out!

 

Betty:

(sarcastically) You mean you’ve no faith in science?

 

Leon:

(straddling the window-sill)

I don’t know what I think anymore.

 

Act II Scene 4

[- 37 -] Barry’s classroom from a different angle.   Piano right proscenium.  Window center stage left. Door rear stage-right

Marie:

You lost or something?  Thought you’d sneak in the back without being noticed, eh?    It’s pretty hard not to notice you!.

 

Leon:

Like you at the mid-term?

Let me introduce Professor Edeweiss! 

(Betty sticks her head through the window, trying to decide whether to climb in)

 

Marie

What’s that first comment supposed to mean?

 

Betty:

Excuse me, but I think I can find my way through a more conventional entrance.

 

(Betty wheels the statue off-stage with her)

Marie:

(to Leon)

I always heard that fools walk where angels fear to tread.   SO?!

 

Leon:

Marie, please.  I don’t need this now.   Dr. Edeweiss got me upset.  We were talking about faith in humanity’s future.  I’m losing it. 

 

Marie:

You are so full of it.  Mr. Walking Hopeful.  Mr. Dream a Dream!  All you are is just like all the rest of’m – put one over and take what you can.  

Everything leads one direction.  You’ve got ethics as big as your crotch!

 

Leon:

You kiddin?  What was that little shuffle of yours last week if it weren’t to make my ethics big?   If that’s your ethics, it doesn’t turn me on, Marie. 

You’re a wonderful lady. 

Stop trying to be some girl you used to wanna be.

 

Marie:

So now you’re righteous. 

Then you’ll start talkin’ that Robeson of yours. 

I read enough about him and some of his leading ladies.. 

 

Leon:

You gotta take all of us men to the cleaners at once?

 

Marie:

Yep.  ‘cause I don’t think there’s a man that’s all that clean!

(sings)

You’re just

one big BLUFF

You can try me if you want to

You can take

all your STUFF

I don’t care where, any place will do

Ya won’t catch me botherin’

Over

anything

anything to do with you.

 

(two class members enter the door and stop to watch Marie’s performance)

Leon:

[spoken]

And women, being the source of all living men, are. 

Naturally clean and pure –

Marie:

[spoken]

Get lost..

Leon:

[spoken]

….living water, the source, the spring –

no purification needed!

Marie:

(sings)

You are just

One big BLUFF

I’m tired of this silly game

Y’see I’ve

Had E-NOUGH

I think I’ll treat you to a bit of the same

And  your high-fly’n morals

Make you

even more

all the more to blame!

 

(Barry enters with Betty, along followed by the third member of the class.  They are met by stagehands bringing in classroom chairs)

Leon:

Dr. Bartle!  You must have been working on a new formal  economic system all these years?

Barry:

Why do you say so?

 

Betty:

(looking at Leon) Because of his religious faith in science.

 

Barry:

That man, the God, will discover the solution to all his problems?

 

Leon:

No.  That God will provide somebody here and somebody there and somebody else with a solution – and will accidentally bring them together. 

So haven’t YOU been working on something for years?

 

Barry:

Yes.  But only because that’s what I do.   I’m paid to teach about my oldest hobby.

 

Leon:

But you’ve never published anything!

 

Betty:

Why do you think he teaches at a music school?

 

Marie:

You can forget about me working on your musical, Mr. Johnson!  (storms out. And while Leon seems exasperated, he takes it in stride.  Barry seems the most upset.  Fidgeting for several moments, he suddenly bolts for the door and disappears after her.)

End  ACT II

 

Between acts, Robeson’s voice singing “Ezekial Saw the Wheel”

ACT III

Act III Scene 1- 

[- 40 -] Bar (bar with bartender, 2 tables and several  stools)

 

Marie, students, Leon

Marie is sitting at a table.  A young man is poised alongside holding a beer bottle.

Marie:

Get lost!

The man ‘saluts’ with his beer bottle and walks back to the bar with his back to us.

I should never have agreed to come back here.  You always expect it to be the same place.

 

(she gets up and puts a dollar into the computer jukebox, punches some keys and it plays the background to a C&W ballad)

(sings)

Some say that friendships are like very good wine

Mellow through the years, and getting better with time

But wandering through those vineyards never tended

Under arbors left un-mended

Friends don’t grow in bunches anymore!

Those old friends, they all had vintage labels

But there ain’t too many bottles sitting round the tables

So many drunk and tasted, so many spilt and wasted

How my glass can be so rich  -- but none too pour!

Some say that friendships are like very good wine

Mellow through the years, and getting better with time

But wandering through those vineyards never tended

Under arbors left un-mended

Friends don’t grow in bunches anymore!

 

Tabasca hesitatingly sidles up to Marie’s table, looking a bit confused

Marie:

(to Tabasca) You look lost.

Tabasca:

(relieved Marie is talking to her) I’m not used to bars much.  My fiancée wanted me to meet him here.

 

Marie:

That’s not too polite of him not to show up on time if he knows you don’t go to bars.

 

Tabasca:

Oh no, he’s not late.  He won’t be here til 7:00.

 

Marie:

Take a seat then.  Can I get you something?

 

Tabasca:

You don’t think they’d have chai, do you?

 

Marie:

I don’t think so.  How about a ginger ale, OK?

 

(As Marie steps over to the bar Betty enters)

Betty:

You must be Tabasca.  Leon has told me a lot about you.   

 

Tabasca:

Have you read the script.?

(Marie comes back with the drink)

 

Betty:

I like it a lot.  I just don’t know how you get the time to write theatre when you studying for the bar exams.

Tabasca:

I have to clear out my head to see if I’ve retained anything I’m reading.  Cramming just gets you through the test, but I need to use all this before I ever become a partner in a law firm.  ( to Marie)  Excuse me, Marie, this is Dr. Edelweiss…

 

Marie:

Wait a second.  I know Betty, but I don’t think WE’VE been introduced yet! ….what’s going on?

 

Tabasca:

I’m sorry.  My name’s Tabasca…..   (winks) and I’m cookin’ wi hot sauce.

 

Marie:

…and Leon’s your fiancée?!

 

Tabasca:

He just writes the tunes, I write the lyrics.

 

Marie:

OhmyGod!  

Oh maa God!!

You’re kidding.  Who comes up with all the ideas?  You?

 

Tabasca:

I think… it’s a collaborative venture…. Which is why we thought you’d better get to know me, if we’re going to put this musical into shape.  Betty has just read over the script.

 

Marie:

And you’re trying to talk me back onto the project.

 

Betty:

Well, not exactly.

 

Tabasca:

You see, Leon told me that Betty’s been trying to get Dr. Bartle to publish his work for years.  She’s even offered to co-author a book with him, and … well, he’s a hard-head.

 

Marie:

Uncle Barry has always been.

 

Betty:

That’s the other thing Leon told us.  That he’s, well, sort of part of your family.  Your dad was his thesis advisor at Princeton, and well,…

 

Tabasca:

He’s sweet on you.  Very sweet on you.

 

Marie:

Aw shit.  Where are you two going with this?

 

Betty:

Well, you know if it got an old serminarian like me

into a pub like this it had to be pretty good!

 

Tabasca:

Did it ever occur to you that Dr. Bartle could have been teaching anywhere in this country, and he took a sniveling little position at a music school?

 

Marie:

Maybe it’s because he’s a sniveling little guy.

 

Betty:

Are you kidding?   I’ve seen transcripts of things he’s said at national meetings, and international gatherings of economists.  He’s no sniveling little guy.   I could never figure it out myself, but now it’s beginning to make sense.

 

Marie:

What do you mean?

 

Betty:

I think he’s here because of you and your daughter.

 

Marie:

WHAT?!

 

Betty:

That’s what I said.  He might be a hard-head, but he’s from the old school. 

An idealistic romantic mush.

 

Tabasca:

This may be stupid, but we think you could might help us turn him around and become the man he’s supposed to be.  I’m not exactly sure how, but here’s Leon’s plan.  And no matter what you may think of my fiancée at the moment, he’s another genius that needs a good woman behind him…

…. to keep him straight, of course.

 

Betty:

Tell her the plan.

 

Tabasca:

First off, we want you to ask him to help with the Robeson project… because, uh…

you need to inject some of his humor into a difficult story….

 

Marie:

His humor is sarcasm..

 

Tabasca:

That doesn’t matter …. just get him on the project.

 

Act III Scene 2-   

[- 43 -] Barry’s Classroom

Barry, Betty, Leon

 

Betty:

I find it interesting that you’d agree to work on Leon and Marie’s project.  

Why Paul Robeson is almost as forgotten as Henry George!

 

Barry:

Well, let’s say he was a whole lot more famous than George ever was, and he disappeared from the limelight into oblivion a heckuva lot faster than George.  But he’s making a slow come-back.

 

Leon:

For the wrong reasons.  His comeback is about being an exemplary black man – an athlete and artist in the years before King.   Hell, HIS book Here I Stand laid out the strategy Dr. Martin Luther. 

 

Betty:

King, you mean.  “Here I Stand” is the title of Martin Luther’s tract when he refused to recant before Rome and was excommunicated.  That Martin Luther began the Reformation that changed the West.

 

Leon:

Of course.  “Here I Stand” was Robeson’s book  when everybody had to shun him to save their own skin.   I didn’t realize he took it from the original Martin Luther.

 

Barry:

I’m surprised at you.

 

Leon:

Oh well.  Robeson stands for more than the struggle for Black Liberation.  Here I Stand is about the liberation of mankind.   To me, Robeson represents the 20th century and our betrayal of it.   What we might have been.  

 

Betty:

Robeson had so much power…. greatness. 

So did the 20th century when it began. 

 

Barry:

Yeh.  The World’s Fair of 1900 – when they built the Eiffel Tower. 

People from the remotest parts of the world

came to share ideas and learn from each other.

The entire machine age

all of industry, technology, and science had been born since 1800! 

What magic!  All that Potential,

ready for the future!  

Well, this is where it led us.

 

Leon:

Fighting over mosquito-bites,

millions and millions suffered just to be relieved with death.  

God, what hard work, what great hopes were smashed.

What a waste that century proved in the end!

 

Barry:

Come on!  That’s pretty harsh.

All the new intellectual capital –

Microelectronics, microsurgery, the human genome

micro-industrial everything

We’ve practically re-invented the cell!

Don’t you have hope we’re finally turning a corner?

 

Leon

Not if people like you keep their work to themselves I don’t!

Do you think without figuring out

what economics and wealth are REALLY about

that we could make anything any better,

even if we had another go-around at the 20th century?

 

Betty:

And you think Barry has as good a shot at it as anyone. 

And so do I.…. Which is the real reason I came over today. 

I was going to suggest we distribute the blame

between us and co-author a book, Barry.

 

Leon:

(trying to sound like he’s hearing it for the first time)

That’s a GREAT idea!   How could you package it?  A History of Economic Ethics? 

 

Betty:

That’s what I had in mind.

 

Barry:

Again?  Hate to spoil your fun with me, but I won’t buy it. 

 

Leon:

Why?

Betty:

This better be better than the last time, Barry.

(Marie walks in and Barry follows her with his eyes)

 

Barry:

Because you and I could work on it for a decade

and die before we’d covered the topic properly.

And if I published my current thoughts on economics alone, I’d lose my job and with it, my ability to think and write anything more. 

I would welcome you at Wal-Mart:

“Hi.  Welcome to Wal-Mart!  Can I interest you in any of our specials today?”

 

Leon:

That’s horse-shit.

 

Betty:

Barry, have you ever heard of the 24/7 Lecture

where you have to cover your topic in 24 seconds

and present a summary in 7 words. 

I think that’s your forum. 

Tell me, what is economics?

 

Barry:

Here is the sweet and elegant answer you want, but it will take me about 50 seconds.

 

Leon:

Shoot.

 

Barry:

Any reasonable child who looks at the real  world knows that money is man-made and not a natural object.  So what is it?  Money is a tool: a technique for sorting, measuring, and exchanging one thing for another. 

 

 Marie:

OhmyGod.  This is SOooo boring.  (to the audience) How can they continue standing up?

(She walks over to stage right, and wheels the piano a few feet on-stage with the help of a stage-hand)

Barry:

(super-fast)

To make basic changes in our system of capital will require a new set of accounting practices.  But the accounting practices won’t be simple.  Sorting, measuring, and exchanging one thing for another is about equivalences.  In the world of value, there is no such thing as equivalences.   Try to find equivalences in emotions, or art, poetry, or music.  Everything is subjective and fuzzy.  The only science of equivalences that has ever existed is what the Greeks worked out – the science of rhetoric… the tropes.  And there are more of them than you think.  Remember – money is simply a measuring instrument for assigning equivalences – so an economics based around the science of equivalences makes sense, right?

 

Marie:

I am going to play a little Oscar Peterson number called “Night-Train.”  You can just pretend you’re at a piano bar restaurant and there’s a loud conversation going on at the next table.  (imitating The Count)  …and a-ONE, and-a-TWO, and-a-THREE (she plays)

 

Barrie:

All I can tell you is that in the future, if we are to make it that far, Good Accounting Practice will recognize that accounting itself is a fundamental and creative act of making order out of chaos.  It might even become a methodology for measuring chaos.  Taking inventories and book-keeping may be the most boring of the boring – but

 

Betty:

but it was the discovery of double-entry accounting in Europe that brought us out of the Middle Ages into the Renaissance – and that was the rebirth of hope.  SO maybe we should all take up accounting!

Barry:

I look at accounting like our founder’s famous hat – the one that gave us the room numbers in this mixed-up building.  

 

Leon:

And you are saying that nothing short of a new science of accounting will do the trick!?

 

Barry:

That’s right.  And if you were to take the lead that Rhetoric provides --you’ve got what looks like a topological tropological metaphysics, and the LAST thing economists or politicians or environmentalists want is an economic theory that looks like metaphysics.  Which is why I’m keeping my mouth shut, thank you.

 

Leon:

OK.  Marx and Engels under a new capitalist metaphysical umbrella.  

 

Betty:

Because they’re are happy with their shabby old Darwinian one.

 

Leon:

That’s right.  They’ve already got their umbrella, haven’t they?  Survival of the fittest.  The business exists for the sake of the stockholder. 

 

Barry:

More complicated than even that.  I think Henry George was a victim of conceptual overloads.  In that respect, his generation was no different than today.  Economic basics can no more be reconsidered today than private ownership of land and resources in George’s time.   It would just blow our circuits.

And a tropological metaphysics as the basis of value, as the source of value and production would look too much like religion.

 

Leon:

You’re just chicken.

 

Barry:

Now I’m chicken.  Before I was horse-shit.  Let’s bring on the farm-yard, Mr. Johnson.

(he walks over to hang at Marie’s piano)

 

Betty:

I guess we’ve got our answer, Leon.  He’s given us an answer.  The Ethics and Economics idea is out the window as far as I can see.

 

Leon:

I think he’s just chicken.  But at least he’s on the project.

 

Betty:

You or Marie might still turn him around.

 

Leon:

I don’t think Marie is really into it. 

But who knows?  You and Tabasca got her to stay on the project. 

 

Betty:

And the project is? 

You better remind me.

 

Leon:

Creating a popular musical

That gives people courage to listen to Robeson’s voice and dream again –

Not the collectivist voice they thought was communist,

But the utopian one – the one for human justice

The one where we got the economics right, finally

And got down to building that just kingdom here on earth

 

Betty:

Whoah!

 

Leon:

All the musical’s gotta do, Betty, is get a buzz goin’

Robeson’s the spirit of the buzz..

But the buzz is people talking about the definitions again.

That’s all we need to get where we gotta get

 

Betty:

Well, Leon, slow and steady wins the race.

 

Leon:

Slow and steady… (that’s )

Mista Tortoise & Breya’ Rabbit!

He Mista Chicken! …. but I’m Mista Lion…

Betty, I think I just got another idea.

Act III Scene 3

[- 47 -] Classroom (blackboard, piano, 3 rows of seats)

Cast

Barry:

Now that we’ve been following Henry George’s argument on the rise and fall of wages along with gains in productivity, I’m sure there must be several questions.  I know this part put ME to sleep several times.  Are there any questions?

(Leon raised his hand)

Leon.

Leon:

Yes, Dr. Bartle.  I’d like to know what makes the Sphinx the Seventh Wonder?

(Marie has snuck up to the piano is begins playing the Cowardly Lion’s song from “The Wizard of Oz”)

Barry:

What?

 

Leon:

What makes the dawn come up like thunder?

 

Barry:

(recognizing the music, the joke dawns on him)

Courage!

(he can’t help taking the challenge, and leaps up on his desk to imitate Bert Lahr)

What makes the muskrat guard his musk through the misty mist and the dusky dusk??

Courage.

What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?

Courage.

What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?

Courage

What makes the Hottentot so Hot?

What put the Ape in Apricot?

What have they got that I ain’t got?

All:

COURAGE!!

 

Barry:

You can say THAT again!!

(Barry sits down on the desk)

Leon:

But you had the courage to tell us in class last week what you thought about the PROFIT MOTIVE.  But your VALUE-MOTIVE isn’t worth the paper you won’t write it on, if you won’t write it!  If it doesn’t make you tick like the profit-motive and whatever turns the rest of on!

 

Let’s hear your answer to THAT, Professor Bartle!  

 

Hit it, Marie! 

But Just give him a little chance to collect his thoughts

… cause THIS is gonna be a SONG!

 

(Marie hits her fanfare opening, with the soft minor segue which serves as a background to Bernstein’s “Maria”, which Barry sings softly to himself, as the students take out their instruments and prepare the opening riff to the next song which Barry does with a full country he-man twang)

 

Barry:

What turns the dials on my old gas range?

Spirit.

What cools my gears when the oil ain’t changed?

Spirit.

What makes me tick when life’s rearranged?

Spirit.

Marie’s fanfare

Guitar riff

Banjo ho-down shuffle

You might turn me on but you don’t make me tick

Don’t make me sick!

You might push my remote but you can’t make me sing

Don’t jerk my thang!

 

Profit motive? Sex and lust?

Greed or hunger, fear you’ll bust?

I’ll tell ya’ what – in God we Trust!

A motive power (that’s) true and just.

 

There’s a fellowship around me

And the fellows are all some’pn

To be part of some’thin  ~ ~ ~ ~ biggern’ me!

 

Friends all around here

don’t know that they’re some’pn

they’re all part a some’thin ~ ~ ~ ~ biggern’ me!

 

(Marie leaves the piano and joins Barry)

Barry & Marie

There’s a partnership I long for

For a partner that’s real some’pn

Long for part of some’thin ~ ~ ~ ~ biggern’ me!

 

Profit motive? Sex and lust?

Greed or hunger, fear you’ll bust?

I’ll tell ya’ what – in God we Trust!

A motive power (that’s) true and just.

 

Barry (alone)

You might turn me on but you don’t make me tick

Don’t make me sick!

You might push my remote but you can’t make me sing

Don’t jerk my thang!

 

Barry & Marie

There’s a place o’ work I work for

That is equal to its business

And I’m equal to my work w’some’pn ~ ~ ~ ~ biggern’ me!

 

There’s a peace of mind I long for

And serenity that’s some’pn

And a struggle that I’ll work for

And the fellows that I’ll work with

And the business makes me equal

And the partner that I’ll wait for

And my spirit’s got me yearning

for that some’pn ~ ~ ~ ~ biggern’ me!

 

Profit motive? Sex and lust?

Greed or hunger, fear you’ll bust?

I’ll tell ya’ what – in God we Trust!

A motive power (that’s) true and just.

 

All:

Gonna sing my song all around the world

Gonna make it ring an’ ope’neir eyes!

Gonna sing that song all around the world

So the folks can harmonize!

 

(Leon begins singing ’My Way’ in counterpoint)

My way leads to good green pastures

Gonna write my will leave it in my song

My way leads to big high mountains

Gonna sing so clear that when I die(s)

You will hear my will sung around the world ‘til the day it’s realized!!

Lonely road with a heavenly load

Brother will you walk my way?!

 

My way is no field of clover

Gonna work my life all around the world

My way is no puff of glory

Gonna make you think to open yer eyes!

Gonna work this life all around the world Til the earth is harmonized!

Lonely road with a heavenly load

Brother will you walk my way?!

 

When you start you’re weary at heart

Maybe it’s the heaviest thing

But as you go, your strength seems to grow

And you lean to the task and sing:

 

My way leads to rosy dawning

Gonna help my fellows help’m wi’ my song

My way leads to golden acres

Gonna sing so clear that when I die(s)

You will hear my song sung around the world ‘til the day it’s realized!!

Lonely road with a heavenly load

Brother will you walk my way?!

 

Segue to

Finale from Economist March