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Gary Sullivan

Two plays

link Gray Matter

link PPL in a Depot

Gray Matter

for Stan Apps

[They are on television]

JENNY: I sat on this for a bit because I didn’t wanna bring any undue tension to you in lieu of Tuesday’s tragedy. I’m talking about your album cover. It depicts a giraffe holding a detonator blowing up the World Trade Center.

DEWEY: When my daughter was little, she was terrified of giraffes and we didn’t know why. We finally figured out that every time she heard someone say to shut a window because a draft was coming in, she thought a giraffe was trying to get into the house!

JENNY: Seriously, man: In a new Mariah Carey song a rapper says 3 keys, 8 hammers, lobster shrimp. Several other references to “shrimp and go”. What does this mean? Checked rap dictionaries — no reference.

DEWEY: “To shrimp” means to suck on someone’s toes in order to give or receive sexual gratification. “Shrimp and go” is what I think it takes to make a revolution. I definitely espouse revolution and overthrowing the system. So that a topless bar could mean everyone has to be topless (men and women).

JENNY: If you think America is so bad, why not leave and go to another place?

DEWEY: When people say you aren’t patriotic, it’s usually white or European Americans. While on a car journey with my grandparents when I was about six my Nan told me you could tell how much milk a cow had inside them just by looking at how white they were. So obviously a cow that was mostly white was due for milking.

JENNY: When I was little, I believed that hamburger and steaks and pretty much all meat in general came from a cow. Only, I believed that somehow the cow chose to give it away, kind of like milking a cow, but more friendly. I think I even had an image in my head of a cow talking to a farmer, saying “Ok, you can take a little off my belly for hamburgers today.” I thought cows were so thoughtful; and I cried when I found out that that’s not how it works.

DEWEY: A lot of people don’t know that Kuwait used to belong to Iraq and it was America and Britain that separated them. That’s where you get BP gas stations which is British Petroleum Gas… also your boy Noriega in Panama. He was part of the CIA.

JENNY [Raising her hand]: I for one plead guilty to still getting off on “Rap Declares War” (a collaborative venture featuring seminal funkologists War with the southland’s brown cream, most notably Kid Frost, A.L.T. and A Lighter Shade of Brown)! [Laughter] Seriously, tho. When listening to last year’s hit “Because I Got High,” words like “deep” and “enigmatic” don’t usually come to mind. But upon further examination, the words make sense: Many a blunt has been lit and a bong been hit as the familiar bassline kicks in.

DEWEY: Smoking weed is cool, and I fully love doing it.

JENNY: Yeah, but what happens: I was talking to you about “big, hairy yaks” and you said, “Hairy? You mean feathery, don’t you?” After a few quick questions it turned out you thought a Yak was a big gray bird.

DEWEY: The most effective lie, according to Cees Hamelink, is a gray lie. A gray lie contains an element of truth or assumptions that cannot be verified. Until I was eight or nine I thought you could tell venomous and non-venomous snakes apart based on the simple fact that poisonous snakes can talk.

JENNY: So? I used to believe llamas had two heads!

DEWEY: See, this really is a colony. The thing about moving to another country is that the U.S. is running the whole wide world. It would not help at all to move anywhere else.

JENNY: I would just add that anyone who has what we may consider an informed perspective step it up a notch and involve themselves in this ongoing discussion by writing or calling to keep these perspectives out there so people don’t fall prey to only what is being handed down by mass media.

DEWEY: It’s obvious the corporate media is structured in a way that protects and furthers the interests of state-corporate power in the absence of any conspiracy, or even overt interference. You grow up believing that the people on TV can see you and so you don’t do anything.

JENNY: I used to believe that I was constantly being filmed by a secret hidden camera. I always tried to look my best and not to pick my nose… just in case!

DEWEY: I’ve gotten emails from people who were soooo mad that I would put out such a cover… with or without a giraffe. People just believe that everyone is constantly being filmed. This is due largely to crime reconstruction programs. But people should be mad that the U.S. has used the death of these people at the World Trade Center to beef up the military and to further oppress people not only here but all around the world.

JENNY: Like, if you hit the TV with a hammer and the screen breaks then whatever you were watching might come out of the TV. When I was very little, I thought that TV shows “stayed inside the TV” until it was turned on. When we watched TV, the shows were “leaking out.” When I started going to school, I would come home in the afternoon, try to watch “Sesame Street” and find that it wasn’t on. I then asked Mom not to watch TV while I was at school, as it “wasted” “Sesame Street.”

DEWEY: That’s the interesting thing about propaganda. The old tricks still work the best. [Clears throat]:

You have a ring of yellow flowers and a ring of white and a ring of blue

and so they are on television and on radio and everything and they

are sorting the blocks they used to complete the flower picture into

their favorite television shows and the time they were on television

b/ c they’re a sacred cow when on television or related to flowers

on a flat trailer being pulled by a car like a float with flowers

for example, in the illustrations, the ground and the flowers soak up

puddles of rain portrayed as characters as they are on television

in time to music hanging in baskets on television and in magazines

the economy and its flower, civilization, who are there with Valentines

and flowers for the veterans, depicted as if they were on television

or in movies, newspapers, magazines, like egg cartons cut up into

individual cups —

[Long, uncomfortable pause.]

JENNY: I used to believe that nobody loved me, and that everybody was taking advantage of me. That’s when I got involved in a team of 120 people who lived the life of the heavy metal music in sin and uncleanness. I could not sleep at night. I thought that somebody was next to me, and wanted to take my soul.

DEWEY: Why do educated people believe in demons? I can’t fathom this. I have absolutely no idea why you would believe in demons.

JENNY: Well, I think because it’s fashionable, it’s crazy, and you have to let your hair down sometimes. I used to think our house was haunted, so every time I had to go to the bathroom in the night, I would drape a blanket over my head and shuffle toward the bathroom going: “Wooh, wooh!”

DEWEY: Yeah, but your education should have covered this, or you should have applied enough of your education to come to this realization. Maybe it would have to be inspected on a case-by-case basis to get to the bottom of it.

JENNY: Empirical evidence is not enough to claim that a function is biologically determined —

DEWEY: But if belief is genetic, it’s influenced by multiple genes acting simultaneously. With the recent completion of the human genome project, it may eventually be possible to find a belief gene or two.

JENNY: Well, here’s what I believe: I believe rap involves brains, talent, skill and imagination, and to make it truly art, heart — even if it’s very angry heart. Still… are rappers really like they are on television?

DEWEY: For the most part, yes. In the short term, they’re easy to switch on and off. Sometimes that thing is only the thoughts in my own head.

PPL in a Depot

A bus depot. Dawn. A bus pulls in. Doors hiss open. FAITH, an old woman carrying a tattered gold handbag, staggers from the door.

FAITH: Let go of me, Baldilocks, I got GLITTER fever! Cough! Rasberry swirlz… sody-pop dreams. I’m duckie crazy in the summer bliss of this chocolate bumble bee wonder! This is MY rainbow fantasy, MY star dusted misty hopes. Fuckin’ vanilla candles. Red fuckin’ tulips, pink fuckin’ drink. Quote takes a long hard drag on her cigarette, which has been out since 1976 unquote. Kiwi sparklez…

DICK [He wears a white suit covered with graffiti.]: New in town, right? You got that new-in-town look. Dangerous part of town this time of night for a young lady… by herself.

FAITH: My kiwi dreams are a crazy monkey with my yummy blue sugar kisses from tootie pop lips.

DICK: Mm-hmm. Lot of people down here try’n take advantage of a situation like that.

FAITH: Well, I got a lot of lilacs.

DICK: In the distance you can see flames rising from a five-gallon drum.

FAITH: Draffidol dreams. [Belches.] Alcoholocaust.

DICK: Warm is my middle name.

FAITH [Extends her hand.]: Captain Crunch and let’s do lunch.

[DICK reaches out to take her hand. She pulls it away.]

DICK: I know you. You need money… and a place to stay.

[They stare at each other for a moment. DICK starts to take off his jacket.]

FAITH: You know what the Ass Baboons of Venus tell me?

[When DICK’s jacket is halfway down his arms, FAITH blurts out:]

FAITH: “Anthrapology” will remain spelt like that… forever!

[FAITH throws an elbow, smashing DICK in the face. DICK is stunned. FAITH grabs him and slams against the building.]

FAITH: And she’s on him, hitting him again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and —

[POLICEMAN enters.]

POLICEMAN: Everything okay here?

FAITH [Lets go of DICK who drops to the ground.]: Just fine, Ossifer. I started Xenadrine yesterday and noticed a two-pound weight loss but that’s only because of the diarrhea.

POLICEMAN: Well, keep me informed, ok? I’ll tell you, lots of appetite suppressants are great at first, then they start losing their power — fast.

DICK: I’m up to about 4 Dexatrim Naturals 3X per day and I’m still hungry for at least 500 calories/ day.

POLICEMAN: You might have to start switching pills half way thru the bottle from now on.

FAITH: I think all the name brand stuff is a waste of money. They cost a lot more and most of the ingredients don’t do anything.

DICK: I take ephedrine and caffeine that I order online — those are the two crucial elements of “stacking.”

POLICEMAN: Some people also take aspirin to prevent the body from deactivating the drugs too fast, but there’s no proof that works.

DICK: The critical thing is that the E:C ratio is 1:10. Most people take 25 mg E (because it comes in that dose) and 200 mg C.

POLICEMAN: All I understand is blah blah blah blah me horny blah blah blah blah.

FAITH: Parte ng liriko ng kanta? bakit ang kantang “I’m horny blah blah blah” pwedeng patugtugin sa radyo at sa TV?

POLICEMAN: Ya’ll are talented blah blah blah I’m horny blah blah blah who is going steady who is horny blah blah blah. Give me some real conversation! Is anyone CURRENTLY on Stackers?

DICK: I just started taking them yesturday and have had no desire to eat and don’t feel hungry at all. I am starting off with taking 1 a day and so far I haven’t had any major side affects other than being a little shaky for about 2 hours after I take it. I bought a bottle of 100 capsules at RiteAid for $30. Expensive yes, but worth it if they help me reach my goal.

FAITH: I was on stacker 2’s and i loved them but i didn’t really lose too much just because i am always up and down in weight and i didnt have that many anyways cause me and my friend split a bottle of 20 for 8 bucks but at gas stations in my town you can get a bottle of stacker 2’s for 8 bucks but since i am a bag lady and i am in the southern part of Indiana they dont sell stacker 2’s at gas station so praise the lord on this one i have a friend that works at gnc (lol) so he got me a bottle of stacker 3’s that comes w/ 100 capsuls and he gave them to me for 10 bucks yah but they are regular 40 bucks here too damn much for me but i will start them tomorrow and kepp you informed!!!

[FAITH goes to survey the candy machine.]

POLICEMAN: I’m not going to eat today, I’m not going to eat tomorrow, and I’m not going to eat the next day… cuz I’m going to be… a Supermodel! ;)

FAITH: God DAMMIT! [Smacks the candy machine.] I don’t see ANY cards, NO text OR the Rabbit. Why!??

POLICEMAN: There jus’ ain’t no convincin’ evidence for the existence of God… He don’t exist!

DICK:… then… what are we… left with… a buncha… ELVES?

FAITH [To DICK]: I did a search on Yahoo: “I want to kill myself” and your page was the first to pop up. [Spits on him.]

DICK: Ghhaahhgghhh. [Holds head in hands.]

FAITH: “War on terror” makes it sound like we’re battling this emotion, and not certain actions. I mean, donkeys leading lions: that’s a new one!

POLICEMAN: Yeah, there are a lot of freaky people who do freaky things that are very… what’s the word? Oh, man. Like, a good chunk of them were caused by people who were messed up because of the rye. I’ve seen all sorts of diagrams and studies and stuff, so I think a lot of it was that. [Shrugs.]

FAITH: I honestly think the Rye Bread thing has been overexaggerated. And it’s kind of known several Witch Trials where held in areas without the Rye Bread being around. So I ponder the amount of the effects. It doesn’t explain why they had thumbscrews and torture. If the Rye Bread did cause anything, it caused the worst that was already in some people to be brought out.

DICK: I sware to GOD ppl are stupid I sware to god ppl are SO stupid like would you WANT to know what it says!!?? God I HATE politics! Why can’t we all just play guitars and smoke pot all day? I mean, go read my “Blue skies” poem, it’s more concerned with the anarchy of a government running this country than wanting to do our duty and serve the “good old US of A”!

POLICEMAN: That’s manly… Good poem huh? Try something more melancholy: “What makes a man?”

FAITH: You should read my poem to the Queen esp. the crucial info section (a full explanation of how governments should spend and tax locals).

POLICEMAN [To FAITH.]: Your poetry is as calming as dawn and most inspiring. I thank you.

FAITH [To POLICEMAN.]: Your poetry is special because YOU are special.

POLICEMAN: God, your poetry is so amazing! Ecspecially “Fantasy.”

FAITH: Your poetry.


FAITH: No, YOUR poetry.

POLICEMAN: Girl, you KNOW you’re poetry. *winkz*

FAITH: You are a wonderful, unselfish, giving man!

DICK: What about MY poetry? Huh?… Is that an accurate description of your beliefs? My poetry implies atheism? That I see recurring themes of finality in death? Do you know how hard I work on this shit-ass language?

FAITH: I know how hard you work at being easily dismissable!

DICK: A guy should get a little recognition, shouldn’t he? Yeah, so sure I didn’t create the world, and I’m not a fallen archangel, and I may not have the hottest body around, but I’m a man (no offense to you femminists out there) who gets the job done. I wrote this poem using refrigorator poetry magnets… Listen: “Adam MD./ Refrigorator Thief/ Clubing heads under moon/ Rob and yet stop death no sleep.”

POLICEMAN [Clears throat.]: “On the Death of Allen Ginsberg”

Allen, so far from me,

I such a little circle in your enormity,

the mystery of your hands,

the never-shown in photographs —

suddenly the sunset reeks of you,

the silent dots of streetlights on the road,

fading points of night in the blackness that is

being destinationless.

A little tiny mist of rain falls and I wonder about your friends,

about their ends.

Neal froze to death and Jack?

Jack i don’t remember.

You old, still writing, still subtly molding

the fleshscreen of human culture,

still publishing quietly, interviewing with

Vin Scelsa, still loving? Dying.

Jack Kent Cooke died too and he got a front-page

spread in the Washington Post and a spot on

the local news.

I cut out your obituary it didn’t have a picture.

Allen you were not so old. Seventy is

not a good stopping place. My grandma

still played tennis at seventy. You

lived on the Lower East Side.

I was in New York this weekend,

sleeping while you died. Not so far from you;

my first time in the city, your last.

Driving home, crying, I remembered most of that part at

the end of Sunflower Sutra, but I

misquoted a bit — not many things

are perfect in this world — your words

were one.

Never did i dream your words would outlive you.

You were meant to exist. I don’t

know how to be you, I can’t

replace you. Dream your poetry,

spring rain, a knock on my

door. Opportunity, the hand

of the dead.

Gary Sullivan

Gary Sullivan

Gary Sullivan lives in Brooklyn, NY. His books include How to Proceed in the Arts (Faux Press) and Swoon (Granary Books, with Nada Gordon). The first issue of his comic book Elsewhere was published in 2005. “PPL in a Depot” was published in Arras and performed at Small Press Traffic’s first annual Poets’ Theater Jamboree in San Francisco.

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