Ever since the Libertarian Party was formed in December 1971 there has been a hope by some that electing libertarians to high office could slow or reverse the march to greater government control over private affairs.
We just had a crystal-clear proof that it’s a fatally-flawed theory.
In 2016 the American electorate voted for a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pledged to repeal the Democratic-Party-passed Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate crafted a bill that was alleged to do that. It would have repealed the tax penalty for those who did not purchase health insurance. But that’s about the only “repeal” that would have been meaningful since nothing in the bill would have lowered healthcare insurance premiums or expanded healthcare options.
Even that bill failed to pass, leaving the current laws unchanged.
Debates endlessly rehash everything except the obvious: only a small caucus of Republican legislators had any desire to repeal the ACA and the GOP replacement bill was merely a reshuffling of how government-provided benefits were to be managed.
After two terms of railing against the Democratic Party’s health-care law the Republican Party turned out to be derailed even for its own.
There’s a lesson here for all political observers, but particularly libertarians: socialistic programs, once enacted into law, can’t be repealed. Politics, itself, foils it.
Republicans and Democrats — and Libertarians, if ever elected to political power — are constrained by the nature of politics: a game of Three-Card Monte by which a mark is cheated out of his money. A politician shows only the benefits available to the mark and conceals the costs to the mark.
The Republicans never had any intent to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It was empty campaign rhetoric.
Donald Trump knew that.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan knew that.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knew that.
Freedom Caucus member Senator Rand Paul knew that.
The only people who didn’t know it were the marks — the poor working American.
If Republicans want to repeal the Individual Income Tax ACA Mandate they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal to purchase health-insurance policies across state lines they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal for medical doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and witch doctors to practice throughout the United States regardless of where they studied and previously practiced, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to allow Americans to buy drugs and supplements across state and national borders without federal interdiction or penalty, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to stop the War on Drugs, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
But they won’t because just as much as Democrats, Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s medical choices or well-being. All they care about is maintaining their ability to fleece you and hand out the benefits to those from whom they want votes.
Two of my favorite authors – Robert A Heinlein and Ayn Rand – favored a limited government that would provide an effective national defense against foreign invaders and foreign spies. Rand died March 6, 1982; Heinlein on May 8, 1988 – both of them well before domestic terrorism by foreign nationals or immigrants was a major political issue.
Both Heinlein and Rand, however, were aware of domestic political violence, industrial sabotage, and foreign espionage by both foreigners and immigrants, going back before their own births — Rand February 2, 1905, Heinlein July 7, 1907.
Both Heinlein and Rand wrote futuristic novels portraying totalitarianism (including expansive government spying on its own citizens) within the United States. Both authors also portrayed in their fiction writing and discussed in their nonfiction writing the chaos caused by capricious government control over individual lives and private property.
In their tradition, I’ve done quite a bit of that, also, in my own fiction and nonfiction.
So has my libertarian friend author Brad Linaweaver, whose writings I try never to miss an opportunity to plug.
Brad, like myself, writes in the tradition of Heinlein and Rand – more so even than I do, since Brad also favors limited government while I am an anarchist. Nonetheless I am capable of making political observations and analysis from a non-anarchist viewpoint.
We come to this day in which Brad and I find ourselves without the comfort and living wisdom of Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand. We are now both in our sixties, old enough to be libertarian literary elders.
Oh, we’re not the only ones. L. Neil Smith still writes libertarian novels and opines on his own The Libertarian Enterprise. There are others of our “libertarian writers’ mafia” still living and writing, but none as politically focused as we are – and often, in our opinion, not as good at keeping their eyes on the ball.
We see a duly-elected president whose legitimacy has been severely compromised by the very national intelligence agencies tasked with protecting that legitimacy.
We see in the United States official government intelligence operatives tasked with detecting and disrupting foreign threats yet by ubiquitous domestic surveillance and selective leaks instead act to advance their own partisan policy objectives. This clandestine force has invented a completely false narrative — paralleling the John Birch Society’s paranoid charges against President Dwight D. Eisenhower — that President Trump is a Russian agent.
We see a foreign-based journalistic service, Wikileaks, that acts as the Fourth Estate intended by the American founders – informing the American people of what our government is up to behind our backs – while our domestic major media almost universally have replaced independent news coverage with partisan talking points and debate.
Our president, in his belief that the military needs to be well-outfitted to perform its job of national defense, nonetheless seems intent on outfitting the military to fight the last war, not the next ones.
We see the two major political parties debate existing and even new entitlements as if the government — already twenty trillion dollars in debt and with ten times that in unfunded mandates — has a way to pay for these transfers of earned wealth other than life-destroying taxes combined with increased reliance on Federal Reserve issued fiat money leading to life-destroying hyperinflation.
Oh, national defense? The excuse for that “limited” government?
It doesn’t work.
The American military is so bogged down in foreign quagmires there isn’t even enough money to pay for as basic a national defensive force as the United States Coast Guard.
The Transportation Security Administration — charged with stopping “another 9/11″ — commits daily sexual assault on airline passengers while attempting (often not even successfully) to disarm the very civilian passengers who time after time have been the only effective militia stopping terrorist attacks.
The government is so focused on keeping out foreign workers to “protect” American jobs that it fails to recognize that these same foreign workers – because of their local proximity — must be deputized as the front line of defense to detect the terrorists camouflaged among them.
Writing in the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks – before there was even a Department of Homeland Security joining a shadow government/deep state in being more afraid of the American people than actual foreign threats – I noted that the American people, well-armed and staged at points of weakness, had to be the primary defense against terrorist attacks planned in secrecy and launched without warning.
Instead we have a Security State that disables the people’s ability to defend and protect ourselves, and instead has become more of a threat to the people’s privacy and liberty than foreign and immigrant terrorists post-9/11 attacks.
That Security State is now a direct threat to whatever government Heinlein and Rand would have seen as necessary — especially the Executive.
I don’t know what to tell you to do to fix this problem since as an anarchist I have no faith in government to begin with.
I do know, however, that there are good people – I include in that President Trump and Brad Linaweaver – who think it conceivably can be fixed.
Short of a revolutionary libertarian underground such as the one I’ve portrayed in my novel and movie Alongside Night, I ask them:
We’ve been hearing a lot in the news about applications for a “FISA court” warrant by someone in the executive branch — possibly by request of the 44th President, or the previous Attorney General, or by someone in the FBI, or elsewhere in the “intelligence” community — to conduct electronic surveillance in a building owned and occupied by the then Republican nominee for president, and currently the 45th President, Donald J. Trump.
But no application for such a warrant was ever made to a federal judge, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
So what is this so-called FISA court?
Let’s start with everything the Constitution of the United States has to say about the federal Judiciary and its jurisdiction:
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;– between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit, in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ….
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Note the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution, which limit the jurisdiction of the federal government to only those powers specifically mentioned in the Constitution:
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Now, here’s what Wikipedia tells us about FISA:
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee. Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”
Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. For roughly thirty years of its history (prior to 2009), it was housed on the sixth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records – including those for domestic calls – to the NSA.
Main article: United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and enabled it to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies (primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the U.S. The court is located within the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The court is staffed by eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve seven-year terms.
So, these 11 judges are not part of the federal judiciary. They are not appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. Their appointment by the Chief Justice of the United States may qualify them as clerks to the Chief Justice but the Chief Justice has no constitutional authority to appoint other judges, and such appointments made by the Chief Justice certainly do not meet the constitutional standard for considering or issuing warrants for anything — and certainly not in a secret kangaroo court.
We see now the “shadow” government has its own secret court and its own goons to carry out its secret orders.
The President of the United States is now learning that such powers have been targeting him and his administration in what appears like nothing other than an attempted coup d’etat by his political enemies, likely loyal to the previous president.
This is something that belongs not in our daily news but in a play by Shakespeare.
Edward Snowden went rogue to alert the American people to this danger.
President Donald Trump, who during his campaign declared Edward Snowden a traitor (he’s not; see the Constitution’s definition of treason quoted above) should reconsider his campaign statement and pardon Edward Snowden so that Snowden might return to the United States and advise President Trump as to what intelligence tools are being used by a hidden and unaccountable power structure to target whoever might attempt to bring them to justice.
Good morning. It’s Monday morning, February 20, 2017, and this is J. Neil Schulman with commentary.
Today the Internet Movie Data Base — IMDb — deleted all its discussion boards. These were message boards for starting topics and posting replies on movies, television, and individuals who were credited in movies and television.
In 1999, seven years before I listed Lady Magdalene’s, my first movie, on IMDb, I started and replied to comments in the IMDb message boards. I found the discussions collegial and enjoyable.
IMDb.com is a division of Amazon.com, as is Withoutabox.com, a service for submitting independent films for festival play. IMDb encouraged indie filmmakers such as myself to make as much use of IMDb as possible to promote our films, including posting background info in the IMDb message boards.
So I did, and that’s when the message boards turned into a nightmare for me.
Withoutabox asked first-time directors to fill out a survey and encouraged us to share it to the IMDb message boards. One of the questions was obvious: what movie directors did we consider influences? I answered with my favorites: Kubrick, Hitchcock, Preminger.
The next thing I knew was a spate of messages: “Schulman thinks he’s the next Kubrick, Hitchcock, Preminger!”
Anything I replied after that was a Chinese finger trap: the harder I tried to pull away the tighter it held me.
From that day in 2006 through the shut down of the IMDb message boards today I was followed by what I soon learned were “trolls” — anonymous writers using multiple “sock puppet” accounts — who worked to destroy the lives and works of anyone working in the film or television business that they could.
Did it require any actual reasons? I don’t know. I think it might be that it was the use of power for the sake of power. They did it because they could and it felt good to feel empowered, even if it was only the power to destroy. I don’t think any personal animus was even required.
I was a prime target. I was accused of making up the film-festival awards Lady Magdalene’s won. I was accused of writing the positive reviews my movie received, or having my friends write them. When I announced Kevin Sorbo would be starring in Alongside Night I was accused of lying about it.
IMDb has user ratings for movies that have started play, ratings from one to ten. The trolls used their multiple accounts so that overnight hundreds of “1″ ratings appeared for both my movies on days the movie had played nowhere for months, and from countries where the movie had never been seen. These ratings are quoted all over the Internet, including on Amazon’s own catalog pages.
Positive user reviews were called “fake” and downvoted while negative user reviews were lauded by dozens of accounts.
Complaints on “Help” boards just increased the trolling exponentially. Asking for help from IMDb staff did too, convincing me that some of the trolls worked inside IMDb, and that IMDb was encouraging trolls to increase the site’s traffic — likely as a statistic IMDb management could show the parent company, Amazon.
It didn’t stop at IMDb. The trolls went to Amazon when Lady Magdalene’s first appeared as a streaming video and a DVD, and dozens of killer one-star reviews appeared, many with the exact same paragraphs, word for word. The trolls found my books and started trashing them, too. I pulled Lady Magdalene’s off sale from Amazon for several years in an attempt to mitigate the damage to my overall reputation.
I was accused of writing my own Wikipedia article and that was stripped of almost all true bio info posted by my fan base, replaced by vicious falsehoods put there by my detractors.
I’ve written about most of this before. Why am I bringing it up again now? To gloat that the IMDb trolls have to find another swamp to infest?
I’m here to point out that trolling has become mainstream. The issue is no longer destruction of indie filmmakers on a now-defunct entertainment media message board. It’s that IMDb was a Potemkin Village to train an army of mainstream pundits who are now using the same strategy and tactics to destroy political opponents.
Milo Yiannopoulos has made a meal out of outrageous behavior, trolling liberals on college campuses and in the media by pretending to dark positions only because doing so triggers them. It became unfunny when it resulted in rioting, vandalism, and arson.
Richard Spencer giving a Nazi salute to Donald Trump was similarly performance art designed to gain attention by feeding into the Never-Trump narrative that Trump was surrounding himself with bigots. Spencer is a low-grade tribalist whose nationalism is so wimpy no actual historical Nazi — or even neo-Nazi — would be as broad-minded and inclusive. He’s a poseur.
So we get from the little fish to the whale.
Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, is now reduced to being me, with his hand stuck in the Chinese finger trap.
TV comics — Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, John Oliver, even the “nice guys” Jimmy Fallon and James Corden — have turned their shows into non-stop Trump Trolling. Saturday Night Live has become Trump Trolling Central.
The mainstream news media do to Trump exactly what the IMDb trolls did to me: find nothing good and spin everything bad, even when you’re saying something the trolls had previously stated as their own position.
Trump trolls the trolls back like I tried to do, only he has an immensely bigger fan base than I ever had. But Trump has counter-trolling skill sets I never had.
When Kellyanne Conway misspoke and made a reference to a non-existent Bowling Green Massacre, the news, commentary and comedy media obssessed on it for days.
I think Trump has a learning curve.
So in a Florida rally when President Trump referred to something horrific in Sweden that also never happened, these same media jumped on the red meat again. I don’t think this second time was accidental. I think it’s a calculated diversionary strategy to move the attention-deficit news cycle away from the false narrative — already refuted by Julian Assange — that Russia put Trump in power.
My friend, writer, filmmaker, publisher Brad Linaweaver, has been warning me for years of the destructive potential of the Internet. I always argued back that without the Internet I would be completely invisible since the major mainstream media — right, left, and even libertarian — tend to downplay me if not marginalize me completely.
But when I see how this destructive creature of the Internet has now spread to all other media — when I see a civil war between a crazy far left and a demented far right — I see Brad’s point.
I see the remaining sane libertarians who haven’t been body-snatched by puppet masters already, drowning in a polluted ocean between them.
Changing metaphors, as I must:
The IMDb troll is now the size of Godzilla, and God save Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, and us all.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his 2/18/1997 “Vulcan Mindmeld with God” novelist/Twilight-Zone writer/filmmaker/actor/talk host J. Neil Schulman makes two of his Kindle books free for a few days.
Las Vegas, NV-AZ (OPENPRESS) Today, February 18, 2017, is the 20th anniversary of author J. Neil Schulman’s eight-hour, noon to eight pm “Vulcan Mindmeld with God” that ended his atheism without resort to religion, scripture, or faith.
To celebrate that two-decade anniversary Schulman is making the Kindle editions of the two books resulting from that experience — his comedy fantasy novel Escape from Heaven and his autobiographical The Heartmost Desire — free on Amazon for a few days, beginning Saturday February 18th.
What would you do if God prayed to you for help?
“This is Duj Pepperman and you’re on 680 K-TALK.”
“Duj, this is God, calling from Heaven. I can’t believe I got through. I’m one of your biggest fans!”
With this first-ever call-in from God, an L.A. radio talk-show host is sent on a mission from God that takes him to Heaven – then back to earth – on a rollercoaster adventure that includes meetings with the most famous celebrities in Heaven and on earth. Along the way he learns the origins of our universe, the meaning of life, and how the War between God and Satan will turn out. A comic journey that is inspiring atheists, agnostics, Christians, and Jews, and is generating controversy even among Evangelical Christians!
The Heartmost Desire is author/filmmaker J. Neil Schulman’s most personal book, containing his manifesto for why liberty is necessary for human self-realization and happiness, and his autobiographical description of the experiences that led him from atheism to God, but still relying on reason and rejecting religion, scripture, and faith.
J. Neil Schulman is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His 1979 Prometheus-Hall-of-Fame novel Alongside Night — endorsed by Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, and Ron Paul — projected the economic meltdown. It’s now his second feature film, available on Amazon Prime along with his award-winning comic thriller, Lady Magdalene’s, starring Nichelle Nichols. His 1983 novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, won the Prometheus Award, was adapted into a Laserium show, and Robert A. Heinlein told the 1983 L-5 Society, “Every libertarian should read it!” Schulman scripted the CBS revived Twilight Zone episode, “Profile in Silver.” Full bio at http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/jnsbio.html
Special thanks to my daughter, Soleil, for convincing me to write this, and to my friend Brad Linaweaver for pointing out I needed a new ending. (Sorry, Brad, I couldn’t figure out where to put in your “Don’t take any silver nickels” line) — JNS
Vamp Until Ready
A short story by J. Neil Schulman
“Whadda we got?”
It was difficult for the detective to be out during the day, but a combination of a classic Burberry trench coat, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, gloves, and 10,000 SPF sunblock made it at least possible, if not comfortable.
“Just what you’d expect in this neighborhood,” the uniform, a lycanthrope, said. “Human on human. Body parts all over the street. You taking over, Detective … ?”
“Vladimir,” said the detective, flashing his gold shield. “Yah. Secure the alley and start a canvas for witnesses.”
The wolfman snorted. “These cannibals never talk to us.”
Detective Drac Vladimir grinned, exposing his fangs. “They always talk to me, once they look me in the eyes.”
After filing the witness reports back at the precinct, Vladimir and his partner, Detective Bela Sipos, sat down at their usual cop bar, Blue Bloods.
A cute vamp sauntered up to their booth in the back. “The usual, Vira,” said Vladimir.
“Two Bloody Mary’s,” Vira wrote down, and headed to the bar, swaying her behind for attention.
“You ever going to ask her out?” Vladimir said to his partner.
“Too young for me,” Bela said. “Not even two hundred. We’d have nothing to talk about.”
“Anything about today seem strange to you?” Vladimir asked.
“We’re off the clock and you want to discuss the case?”
Drac cocked his head to the side.
“Okay. What did you see I missed?”
“It’s not what I saw, “Vladimir said. “It’s what I didn’t see. Human body parts all over the alley but not a drop of blood.”
Vira arrived with the drinks. Bela took an appreciative sip but waited until the vamp was out of earshot before he spoke. “You think it was one of us.”
“Maybe. I’ve asked the M.E. for an expedited report.”
“On a humacide?” Sipos shook his head. “Drac, this is Daytown. These creatures never grow old enough to learn not to eat each other.”
“Precisely,” Detective Vladimir said. “They’re babies. So if one of us is a pedo, I take a special interest.”
“Okay,” Bela said. “When have I ever not played second fiddle to you on a case? Speaking of that, you playing this weekend? I’m bringing a new string quartet by Mala Deutscher.”
“Absolutely,” Detective Dracula Vladimir said. “Amazing child prodigy. The vamp’s only forty and she’s already composed a violin concerto, an organ cantata, and a grand opera.”
Both detectives sipped their Bloody Mary’s in concert.
“Vladimir! Sipos! My office. Now!” Captain Stoker’s voice bellowed through the squad room.
“Pay me,” Drac said to his partner as they got up from facing desks.
“How do you always know the exact time?” Detective Sipos asked, tossing a gold coin in a perfect arc.
Vladimir swiped the coin mid-arc and dropped it into his vest pocket. “When you can answer that, boychick, you can be lead detective.”
The two detectives went into their captain’s office and sat down opposite the ornate mahogany desk. Constantin Dimitrescu’s “Peasant Dance” was playing softly out of the Captain’s desktop computer.
Captain Stoker used his desktop guillotine to cut the tip off a Havana cigar and struck a wooden match, waiting for the flare to die by half before lighting it.
He blew a perfect smoke ring which expanded over his detectives.
“Why is it always you two?” the Captain asked.
Sipos opened his mouth but before he could get out a word, Stoker shook his head.
“That was a rhetorical question,” Stoker said.
“Captain,” Vladimir started.
Stoker interrupted. “I have IA asking me why two of my detectives are walking on their turf.”
“I walk where the forensics lead,” Detective Vladimir said. “The M.E.’s report says the heart didn’t have a drop of blood left in it. We’ve got a pedo.”
“Or a zombie,” the Captain said.
Detective Vladimir shook his head. “Zombie wouldn’t drain the heart and leave the valves perfectly intact. Would’ve eaten the whole thing. No, Cap, it has to be one of us.”
Sipos added, “And someone who knows enough about police work to make it look human-on-human if you don’t care enough to look carefully – which Drac always does.”
Stoker puffed the Cohiba again. “If it’s someone on the job you bring it to me.”
“Yes, Captain,” Vladimir said. Detective Sipos nodded.
“If I get even a hint of what you two did on the Van Helsing case,” Captain Stoker warned somberly, “I’ll have your shields.”
The two Detectives genuflected before the altar at Saint Alastor Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, drank the blood and ate the wafer, then took seats in a rear pew with a clear view of the entire congregation, just as Black Mass began.
The Bishop read from the Book of Medici, the choir sang from Carmina Burana, and the Detectives focused almost all their attention on a figure cloaked in black, two rows ahead of them.
Detective Vladimir nodded to his partner, and Dracula and Bela slowly and softly began moving apart … when the Figure Cloaked in Black turned around and looked Detective Drac Vladimir directly in the eye. “Not here in this Unholy space,” she said.
It was Vira, the vamp cocktail waitress from Blue Bloods.
Vira metamorphosed into a bat and flew high into the belfry, smashing into a bell before crashing through a stained glass window into the freedom of the night, the bell ringing and ringing, underscoring her melodramatic escape.
“Call it in, I’m after her,” Drac said to Bela, just before metamorphosing into a bat, himself. Then Detective Vladimir tossed the gold coin he’d won from his partner back to him. “For the collection box.”
February 15, 2017
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his most famous speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke in favor of discrimination.
I’m a writer. Words are what we writers use to communicate. I’m using words to communicate with you right now. So the defined meanings of the words we use matter because differences matter.
The word “discriminate” was originally used to mean an ability to recognize core differences and render judgment. A person who exhibited discriminating taste for fine food and wine, for example, would have taken the sentence, “You discriminate” as a compliment, because a judgment was being rendered between food and wine which was more enjoyable to food and wine which was mundane or disgusting.
But, as often happens for reasons of propaganda, this use of “discriminate” was replaced by a sinister meaning: to render an unjust distinction. The original use was largely buried.
Dr. King wanted the original meaning of “discrimination” to be present in the future world he fantasized about. He wanted people not to refrain from discriminating judgment, but to make such distinctions based on character, which is a measure of moral worthiness, instead of ancestry or appearance, which is largely meaningless to judging a person’s worth.
Dr. King was teaching a moral lesson, one he’d learned from his background as a Christian and from fairly recent to him exemplars of moral philosophy such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. These moral lessons transcended politics. Thoreau was a philosophical anarchist, Gandhi an East Indian nationalist, and King, himself, a Christian democratic socialist.
I call myself a libertarian when that term is not conflated with electoral partisans. I’ve frequently called myself an anarchist when that term is not conflated with vandals, arsonists, communists, or nihilists. I’ve called myself an Agorist since I was closely involved with launching that individualist-anarchist free-market movement founded by my friend and mentor, Samuel Edward Konkin III. Since I consider many calling themselves Agorists are instead stealth communists, I’ve recently considered newer labels such as Konkinist or – pinning it down with my own brand – Alongside Night Agorist.
But whatever label I use, I’m attempting to narrow the meaning to a moral philosophy based on natural law, natural rights, and making meaningful moral distinctions between individuals.
Be clear: the libertarianism I hold to is judgmental. Tolerance is not necessarily a virtue. It depends on what one is tolerating. My friend, author/filmmaker Brad Linaweaver, will be writing eventually about “That Hideous Tolerance,” expanding the concept from the title of his favorite C.S. Lewis novel, That Hideous Strength.
Nonetheless the libertarian moral judgment is narrowly drawn. Taste alone, such as the food and wine connoisseur’s discrimination, allows for one’s individual choice but does not allow for imposing one’s individual choice on unwilling others. So it is within my individual choice what I eat or drink but I may not choose what others may eat or drink – well, at least so far as I’m not holding cooks at gunpoint or murdering other people to drink their warm blood or eat their tasty flesh.
Rendering such moral judgments does require study, thinking, and discussion.
This could go on for volumes but I’m now going to zero in on a current controversy: the deportation of lawbreakers.
As I said, I’m an anarchist. But I do conclude that law and order is necessary even in an anarchist condition – that condition where the State no longer decrees what is punishable.
As an anarchist novelist, filmmaker, and essayist I’ve repeatedly made the point that work and travel are basic human liberties, so I reject the idea that government may rightfully (again, this is a moral discussion) restrict or license who may travel to somewhere else one is welcomed, and to exchange labor for pay when both buyer and seller of the labor freely reach an agreement.
But please remember that this essay of mine starts out by discussing discrimination – rendering judgment on essential differences.
In this instance the statist and the anarchist can agree: there is absolutely nothing wrong with expelling those who rob, rape, defraud, maim, or murder other individuals. Discriminating against others based on race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or even bad character if they have not victimized others by violence, menace, or deceit, is not a morally just reason for deportation. Having committed invasions of the rights of others and their justly-acquired property is a good reason to be a candidate for exile – allowing for mercy and mitigating circumstances.
Statistical analysis of risk that one might commit a violent offense is not a good enough reason for deportation. “Working off the books” isn’t a good enough reason. Passively accepting benefits that others have been swindled out of by politicians isn’t a good enough reason. Taking a job that someone else wants isn’t a good enough reason.
Murder is a good enough reason, assuming a response more severe than deportation isn’t called for. Planning criminal invasions of other people’s peaceful celebrations is a good enough reason.
Being an anarchist it would be neglectful of me not to make what Fox News pundits would call “moral equivalences.” Yes, the operator of a drone who kills innocent bystanders while eliminating terrorists may not be guilty of murder. But this anarchist might hold them to the same standard of negligent homicide that is used against reckless drivers.
If an anarchist can advocate for gated communities drawn up by contract, it’s hard to convince a believer in statist law-and-order that countries can’t have borders and use them to keep out enemies.
But, yes. It would also be so much easier if those same statists were able to discriminate between laws which defend people from being mugged and laws which prevent people from ingesting whatever food, drink, smoke, vapor, or chemical they have decided is necessary to their pursuit of happiness.
I seem to recall that this last was important to those who said countries should be based not on the divine right of kings but on the divine rights of everyone.
So there’s the problem. It isn’t discrimination. It’s that the wrong things, and the wrong people, are being discriminated against.
I became, first, a photographer, then a writer, then a filmmaker, because I did not learn to play the violin like my father, Julius Schulman.
My father, simply and demonstrably, was one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, a century noted for master violinists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., Mischa Elman, David Oistrackh, Isaac Stern, Zino Francescatti, Leonid Kogan, and of course, Jascha Heifetz.
I grew up in a house where I could hear my father practicing the violin for hours every day.
I have a vivid memory of sitting enraptured at age four in front of a record player upstairs at my grandparents’ house in Forest Hills, New York, as my grandmother Sarah played for me radio broadcast transcriptions of my dad performing violin solos.
In the past few days I’ve had a “proof of concept” how good my father was on the violin. When I released one of my dad’s old radio recordings onto YouTube, I received a copyright infringement notice from RCA Red Seal records saying I had used a portion from one of Jascha Heifetz’s RCA records. Someone else might have been upset at the accusation of theft. I took it as one of the greatest compliments my father had ever received that my dad’s playing could be confused with Heifetz’s.
I’m told I sang the entire Mendelssohn violin concerto when I was four. Why I wasn’t started on violin lessons at that age is something I don’t know. I do know that when I did start violin lessons at age eight, with one of my father’s colleagues in the Boston Symphony as my teacher, I heard the sounds coming out of my violin — and compared it to what came out of the violin when my father played it — and quit practicing.
Whenever I was introduced to any of my parents’ friends I was always asked first thing whether I played the violin.
Consider that when Hercules murdered his children in a Hera-induced fit of madness Hera was probably doing them a favor. My father premiered his career at eight-years-old when he performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall. In classical music this is called being a “prodigy.” In movies it’s called being a “child star” — and we know how many child stars have emotional problems when they grow up and are no longer treated as entitled. A grown-up child star often regards their own child as competition. Maybe that’s why my father wasn’t eager for me to be a violinist. Or maybe he was noble and just didn’t want his son to have to eat the shit that comes with being in such a ruthlessly competitive business. I sure showed my father, though. I became a novelist and filmmaker, totally secure professions in comparison to music. *snort*
So I grew up in hero-worship of my father and sixteen years after his death that has never gone away.
My father twice gave up chances to tour as a solo violinist with only expenses covered because it was the Great Depression and instead my dad accepted orchestra positions with a weekly paycheck, so he could send half his pay to his parents whose fortune had been wiped out in the Crash of ’29. My father bitched about that for the rest of his life but my mother, sister, and I wanted for nothing in a career in which my father got a steady paycheck for all but one year in an orchestra career stretching over a half century.
When in the 70′s I gave my father a copy of Harry Browne’s book How I Found Freedom in An Unfree World — which introduced him to the concept of “family slave” — my father said he wished he’d read that book before he made his career choices. I didn’t tell my dad that it would have created a time paradox because if he hadn’t made the choices he did I never would have been born so I couldn’t give it to him to read.
By the way, I got the idea for calling my dad’s YouTube music videos, play list, and YouTube channel “Julius Schulman Violin Hero” because “Jimi Hendrix Guitar Hero” is what rock music’s greatest guitar virtuoso was called.
Here’s some trivia regarding my dad:
- My father’s given name was Julian, not Julius, but his family called him Julie — as did most of his colleagues throughout his life. When his older sister Geri brought him to register for school she called him Julie — which the registrar wrote down as “Julius.” The name as registered for school stuck with him for the rest of his life.
- My father had no middle name.
- After my father passed my mom and I sold my dad’s Guarnerius violin, but I still have his first quarter-size violin that he learned to play on.
- My father went bald in his late twenties. He started wearing a toupee when the Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra began television broadcasts in the 50′s and the lighting crew complained that reflections off my dad’s bald head were flaring in the television camera. He quit wearing the toupee as a member of the Boston Symphony in the 60′s.
- His favorite author was Robert Ruark, who wrote novels about Africa. I had the pleasure of telling Nichelle Nichols — who got to name her Star Trek character “Uhura,” a femininization of the Swahili word for “freedom,” “uhuru” — because at the time she met with Gene Roddenberry regarding the role she was reading Ruark’s novel Uhuru — my father’s favorite.
- My father played in pit orchestras for Broadway shows, and his favorite musical was Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.
- My father was a lifelong anti-Communist, which often caused him problems and certainly lost him jobs in a music industry rampantly populated by card-carrying Communists. But that didn’t stop my father from being close friends with fellow Boston Symphony violinist — and card-carrying Communist — Gerry Gelbloom, whom my dad picked to be my violin teacher. My father told me he distrusted Fidel Castro even before Castro came out as a Marxist-Leninist. My father told me, “I didn’t trust Castro because he smiled too much when there was nothing to smile about.”
- As a member of the San Antonio Symphony my father bought a bright orange Volkswagen camper for overnight trips with my mother, but he also used it to commute to work. The orchestra members immediately dubbed it “Orange Julius.”
My father’s influence on me didn’t end with music. When at age fourteen I borrowed his Nikon and Ricoh 35mm single-lens-reflex cameras (the lenses were swappable) to shoot a junior-high basketball game — which led to my regularly selling photography to local Massachusetts newspapers — I developed those photos in my dad’s basement darkroom.
My dad shot movies of his orchestra tours around the world with a Bolex 16mm movie camera — movies so professional they were played on TV and got my father an offer to become a union cinematographer for a Hollywood studio — and later in life, after my father’s death, I became a movie director.
My first lessons both in shooting guns and their usefulness in defense against criminals came from my father. My dad was an NRA member and every month I read in his subscription copy of American Rifleman the “Armed Citizen” column with newspaper clips detailing ordinary people using their guns to stop crimes.
My dad held a license to carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California. He defended himself with a handgun from gangs of muggers following late-night concerts in Boston and New York on five separate occasions, wounding no one and only having to pull the trigger once. On another occasion he saw a woman being carjacked on 72nd Street and used his handgun to order the carjackers out of her car. The would-be victim sped off safely.
My dad applied for a license to carry a concealed handgun as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, when after a late-night concert a fellow violinist in the orchestra was mugged, beaten up, hospitalized, and his violin smashed. My father played in orchestra concerts a Guarnerius violin dating back to 1716 — an irreplaceable antique. This was not going to happen to him.
My dad made his license application at our local police station in Natick, where we lived. The Natick police captain licensing my dad told him the story that one of the first times my dad deposited his symphony paycheck at a local Natick bank the silent alarm was set off. My father had opened his violin case (which he also used as a briefcase) to take out the check. The clerk who set off the alarm had thought my father was about to pull out a machine gun from the violin case.
At the time my father was given a license to carry a concealed handgun in New York City — 1970 to 1975 — only ex-cops, family of cops, private security agents, and private detectives were given carry licenses, although exceptions were sometimes made to wealthy applicants who slipped the desk sergeant $5000 and a bottle of Chivas Regal scotch. My dad didn’t have to pay the $5000 — only the bottle of scotch — because as a concertmaster for the Metropolitan Opera he was considered New York royalty. But my father nonetheless took his responsibilities as a gun-carrier seriously and practiced regularly at the firing range where — he told me — most of the security guards, private detectives, and cops looking for extra practice “couldn’t hit anything.”
Later in life I wrote Op-Ed articles about gun defenses on the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, and in National Review. These articles and much more were collected in my 1994 book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, and my dad got to see the front book cover with this praise from Oscar-winner and NRA President, Charlton Heston: “Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”
The truth be told in full, my fascination with the violin and classical music has influenced my entire professional career as a writer and filmmaker.
My first novel, Alongside Night, contains in the quotations on the novel’s frontispiece, “Tzigane — Maurice Ravel.” That gypsy-style violin piece played by my dad — “tzigane” being the French word for “gypsy” — was on my mind while writing about gypsy cabs, the counter-economic transportation Elliot Vreeland uses during a collapsing New York City’s unending transit strike. In the movie adaptation of Alongside Night the Ravel Tzigane became the musical theme of the movie’s underscore.
In 1980 my short story about a violinist “The Musician” — in 1981 published in the magazine Fantasy Book — was broadcast as a radio play.
My second novel published in 1983, The Rainbow Cadenza, took all my musical knowledge to adapt the idea of contemporary planetarium-based Laserium shows into a futuristic fully-realized visual music. I wrote most of the novel in 1981 while staying with my parents in San Antonio, so I could pick my dad’s brain as necessary.
After the sale of my script “Profile in Silver” to CBS’s Twilight Zone broke me into screenwriting, my first feature-length screenplay was No Strings Attached, about a violinist who must learn to play again after suffering a hand injury. That script was published in my 1999 book Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings, for sale on Amazon.
In the first feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Lady Magdalene’s, one of the characters is a violinist. Despite the character being the bad guy the movie is dedicated to my dad. All violin playing you hear on the Lady Magdalene’s movie soundtrack is by my dad.
So here’s to my father, Julius, my violin hero.
His official web page, Julius Schulman: Life With A Violin.
His Official YouTube Channel, Julius Schulman Violin Hero.
Oh, and here’s my mom talking about her life with my dad, an interview I did with her on Mother’s Day, 2007.
Standing in front of the Queen
As an American, intimate at Court
Her nation renders sovereign honors.
I copy them and say to her, “First time.”
“What was it like, for you?” I asked her.
“Not the first time. I imagine that
Must have been a thrill.
But the third time
Or the twentieth?”
The Queen tells me, “I knew there must be
A Mystery buried within it.”
I ask the Queen,
“Do you try to unravel the Mystery?
As I do while saying a prayer…”
The Queen slaps me. “Cheeky!”
“Was that a wrong question?”
I ask the Queen.
The Queen glares at me.
I do not apologize.
I was, after all, invited.
Later that day I learn
There is discussion
Whether I am to be banned from Court.
This play was performed in a table reading at Samuel Edward Konkin III’s Agorist Institute in Long Beach, California, with Konkin reading Dan Conrad, J. Neil Schulman reading Joel Rosenbaum, Victor Koman reading Vincent Andrews, Bob Cohen reading Mark Levy, and J. Kent Hastings reading Peter Braun.
CULT OF THE INDIVIDUAL
A play in One Egoistic Act
by J. Neil Schulman
SCENE: Four furnished but as-yet-unoccupied one-room
apartments in a low-rent district, one implied stage-
right of and two implied above the set we see, with a
backdrop showing a Palm-tree-lined street and the Queen
Mary in harbor–visible through open windows and doors
upstage–establishing this as Long Beach, California.
A door from upstage, kitchen appliances, and a dividing
wall establishes this as a separate apartment, with an
“outside” walkway behind the apartments connecting
them. The usual apartment accoutrements: dining table,
couch, desk, etc. A door off left represents a
bathroom door. Morning light is flooding in the
apartment through uncurtained windows.
When first we will meet him, PETER BRAUN looks
like a typical muscular California beach bum–T-shirt,
shorts, and sneakers–and talks with a California drawl
that’s got the cadence of John Wayne thrown in. He’s
Three of the others whom we are about to meet–JOEL
ROSENBAUM, DANIEL CONRAD and MARK LEVY–are dressed in
black turtleneck sweaters and black slacks, cowboy
boots, with gold medallions on gold chains hanging down
their chests. In contrast to PETER BRAUN and VINCENT
ANDREWS, they look as if they’ve stepped into this
world from the Twilight Zone. But, physically, they
run the gamut.
MARK is 29, short, wiry-thin, with curly black hair,
thick glasses, and a permanent Five O’clock Shadow.
Outwardly he’s a shzlub. This takes three words if you
don’t know Yiddish–”slob,” “jerk,” and “loser.” His
clothes don’t quite fit him, he speaks hesitantly with
lots of pauses, and his Queens, New York Jewish accent
is so thick you could spread it on rye bread. He is,
perhaps, not anywhere near as bright as the others–and
is treated patronizingly by them–but underneath
ineptitude and uncertainty lies–somewhere–the sort of
man whom women refer to as “sweet,” and an innocence
that cuts through social conventions like a knife.
Nevertheless, he fancies himself to be an intellectual
and “cool.” He has got to be kidding.
Both JOEL and DANIEL are tall–the six-two range–and
both are geniuses, but the resemblance stops there.
JOEL is 22, overweight, light-brown haired with
mustache and beard–a New York-Jew without portfolio–
he has the New York personality without the New York
accent, though he speaks with the speed and
overcrispness of the New Yorker. He fancies himself a
But DAN CONRAD is older–the oldest of the arriving
four at 30. He is an inveterate smoker of a pipe which
only leaves his hands when he is eating–it is his
crucial and favorite prop. He wears glasses and has a
paunch, balding with long brown hair hanging down to
his shoulders and a bushy mustache–no beard. And, he
talks with an Anglicized accent–perhaps an American
accent with occasional Anglicisms creeping in; in any
case, he speaks with the pedantry of a recent Teaching
Fellow in Theoretical Physics. It is obvious right off
that he is the leader of this motley crew.
VINCE ANDREWS is the youngest–20–about five-ten,
slim, blond, clean-shaven, a native Californian, and
the best-looking of the bunch–perhaps a Chris Reeve
before he did the Superman body-building bit. VINCE is
also dressed in a casual California style–perhaps an
open-collar shirt and designer jeans. It is obvious
that VINCE is in awe of the three new arrivals–
particularly DAN–wishes to be considered one of them,
but doesn’t know them very well yet. VINCE is just as
bright as DAN or JOEL, and with his good looks should
be a lady-killer, but he’s too nervous and insecure to
We hear footsteps, and the California drawl of PETER
It’s just lucky for you guys that the place emptied out the way
[A key is inserted into the door of the apartment and
as the door opens, PETER BRAUN--wielding the key--steps
in first, followed close order by JOEL ROSENBAUM, DAN
CONRAD, MARK LEVY, and VINCE ANDREWS. JOEL, DAN, MARK,
and VINCE start looking around, inspecting this
[A long pause as what he sees does not particularly impress him;
proclaiming:] There is no such thing as luck. [Producing cloud
of smoke] Why did the last tenants in these apartments leave,
[Reacting to smoke] They were Gypsies. And I mentioned that
back in the great Long Beach Earthquake of 1933, some guy had a
heart-attack in one of these apartments and died. The next thing
you know, the Gypsies are out of here so fast you could hear the
wind rush in.
You mean these apartments are haunted by the ghost of the guy who
[CONRAD shoots JOEL a sharp glance.]
Nah. They were just superstitious.
Of course they were just superstitious, Joel. The only ghost is
the Spirit of the Times which is leading us into revolution.
[To DAN] Can’t you go five minutes without mentioning
revolution? From the moment we left New York–for 3,000 miles–
you haven’t talked about anything but revolution. It’s
[DAN blows a jet of smoke in JOEL'S direction]
Gosh, that sounds exciting. I wish I could’ve driven out here
with you guys.
[JOEL looks at VINCE: you'll learn.]
You see, Joel? Now Vincent’s a man who’s got the anarchist
[Defensively] Don’t give me that, Dan. I’ve got the anarchist
spirit. I’m loaded with anarchist spirit. I’ve got anarchist
ectoplasm coming out my ears. [Gestures toward MARK] What
else–if not anarchist spirit–could have induced me to climb
into his Demon Datsun?
Uh, what–uh–is wrong with my–uh–Datsun? [MARK doesn't have a
speech impediment; he just drives everybody crazy with his "uhs"
What’s wrong with your Datsun, Mark? What’s wrong with three
grown men moving across country in a car that’s about the size of
a moped? What’s wrong with a car that blows out three tires on
one trip? What’s wrong with a car the hood of which flies open
at 55 miles per hour in the Rocky Mountains? What’s wrong with a
car that–because it hasn’t had an oil change since you bought it
two years ago–can’t even break the 55 mile an hour speed limit?
Nothing’s wrong with it.
[Sarcasm going right over his head] Yeah, I–uh–thought it did
pretty good on the trip, too.
So which of you guys wants which apartment?
How much–uh–did you say the rent–uh–was?
Eighty-five dollars a month for the upper apartments and ninety
for the lower ones–plus utilities.
[No hesitation this time] I’ll take an upper.
I’ll take this apartment because it’s facing the street. It
might give me several minutes warning when they come to arrest
The cops are after you? For what?
[Ashamed] Well, nothing, yet. But I’m working on it.
[To JOEL] That leaves us. Do you want the back lower apartment
or one above it?
The lower one. I never climb stairs when it can be avoided.
As I told my physics students when I was a teaching fellow,
“Always observe the Law of the Conservation of Energy.”
DAN AND JOEL
[In chorus] “Never run when you can walk. Never walk when you
can stand. Never stand when you can sit. And never sit when you
can lie down.”
You guys wouldn’t've lasted a day in my Air Force outfit in ‘Nam.
You were in Vietnam?
In the Air Force?
Yep. Still am … Air Force Reserve.
But, Braun, in your letter you told me you were a fellow
Best place for an anarchist to be is in the military. They give
you all sorts of weapons, train you how to use them, and aren’t
too good at keeping track of them … if you catch my drift.
I do, indeed. Feeding the dragon’s tail back into its mouth,
while simultaneously providing the knights with leather armor.
Sound revolutionary doctrine.
[Translating] Taking arms away from the government and giving
them to revolutionaries.
Nah. I don’t give it away to anyone. I just sell the stuff to
Hard core! Taking resources stolen from the private sector out
of the public sector, where they are used for further predations,
and reintroducing them into the private sector.
[Translating again] The government uses tax money to buy guns,
then uses the guns as a threat to collect more taxes. By taking
the guns away from the government, you reverse the process, and
help the revolution.
[Dan and Joel both nod.]
Well I don’t know about that. I admit, I haven’t been paying
much taxes, but if there’s gonna be a revolution I wouldn’t want
the commies to take over.
The inefficient communist economies are utilizing the maximum of
their resources oppressing their own people. How, then, should
we expect them successfully to extend their economic resources
invading the far-more developed capitalist economies of the West?
What he means is–
[Interrupting] I got it that time. [To DAN] Capitalism didn’t
stop the commies from taking over ‘Nam.
Not an equivalent case at all. The American puppet regimes in
South Vietnam did not have the loyalty of the Vietnamese people
because they were more corrupt than the communist regime in North
Vietnam which–though more oppressive than the South–co-opted
nationalistic idealism to focus a poor people’s envy against the
wealthy Americans who occupied their country.
I don’t know about that. It seemed to me that if we just stopped
fighting with one hand tied behind our backs we could’ve won that
war. And if I’m weakening our military to make it easier for the
commies to take over here, too, I guess I just better stop
ripping off the Air Force, and start paying taxes again. [BRAUN
starts toward the door.] If you guys are all set, I’d better go
get the keys. [BRAUN exits.]
Well, Dan, we’ve converted another anarchist. To statism. When
are we going to start converting statists to anarchism?
[DAN takes a long drag on his pipe, blows smoke, and
You guys–uh–converted me. I used to be a welfare worker.
[JOEL raises his eyes to Heaven.]
No kidding, Mark? What are you now?
[Like Clint Eastwood] Yah.
[Starting a speech] My friends, this is an important day to mark.
[Interrupting] Why, is it his birthday?
[Annoyed] Whose birthday?
[Pointing at Mark] Him.
What does Levy have to do with this?
You said, “This is an important day to Mark.”
[Resuming] And so it is, for today–
[Interrupting] It’s–uh–not my birthday.
[Losing his patience] Nobody said it’s your birthday.
Vince–uh–said it was.
No, I was just asking if it was.
Why should you ask if it’s Levy’s birthday?
He asked because you said it’s an important day to mark. To
Mark, get it? Mark?
[DAN gets it. VINCE gets it.]
I didn’t say anything to you. I was talking to Dan. Dan was
starting to say that this is an important day to mark.
[Trying once more] And so it is, for today–
[Interrupting] But I’m Mark.
[Exploding] We fucking well know who you are.
You–uh–could’ve fooled me.
[DAN, JOEL, and VINCE all raise their eyes to heaven.]
May I please continue? [MARK nods. Proclaiming:] This is an
auspicious day, which should be marked well. [Glares at MARK just
to make sure.] We three–Joel Rosenbaum, Mark Levy, and
[Interrupting] My–uh–birthday is in February.
Nobody cares when your birthday is!
Is there something going on between you two that we don’t know
[Into the routine] I just met him.
Let’s hear it for Marx and Lennon.
Groucho and John.
[JOEL and VINCE shake hands triumphantly.]
[Clearing his throat very loudly] Gentlemen, might I continue?
[JOEL and VINCE look innocent and nod. MARK continues to look
confused but doesn't say anything. Proclaiming:] We three–Joel
Rosenbaum, Mark Levy, and myself–have made a hazardous journey
West to the frontiers of freedom, leaving the decadent East
behind, to join our Western ally Vincent Andrews in a noble
enterprise. Today we four begin here the nucleus of a new
society–a free society. By integrating theory and practice–
through both word and deed–we shall cast off the yoke of the
State, first from ourselves, later from the entire world–nay,
the inhabited universe–and future generations will look back at
what we do here today as the beginning. It is in this spirit
that I dub these apartments: “Anarchy Village.”
VINCE AND MARK
[Not quite together] Huzzah!
JOEL, VINCE, AND MARK
[In chorus] HUZZAH!
[All four shake hands all around.
PETER BRAUN enters again]
[Handing keys to each in sequence] Dan Conrad, Apartment One.
Joel Rosenbaum, Number Two. Vincent Andrews, Apartment Three.
Mark Levy, Four. Bring your first month’s rent to my apartment–
Number Five–and you’re all set.
[Amazed] No credit check? No rental agreement? No last month’s
rent? No security deposit? Not even a key deposit?
My friend, you’re in California now.
[BRAUN starts to exit again. DAN stops him.]
Oh, Braun. [BRAUN pauses.] If you’re against communism so much,
why do you think the United States military–which is organized
like a communist heirarchy–is the best way to defend the
country? And if free private enterprise is the exact opposite of
communism, then wouldn’t private companies do a better job of
defending us against the Russians than the military?
[Examining the idea] Well, I don’t know …
[Going in for the kill] Wouldn’t you say, Braun, that it’s the
God-given right of self-defense for every American to have a
nuclear-missile silo in his back yard?
[Delighted by the idea] Well … I never thought about it that
way. But, come to think of it, I don’t think the commies would
be too quick on the draw if they had to worry about everybody
shooting back at them. [Points his finger like a gun at DAN and
makes a clicking sound. Like John Wayne:] Thanks for setting me
straight, Pilgrim. [As he exits] I wonder what Fred would pay
for one of those babies …
[To DAN: Cockney accent, miming action] Me ‘at’s off to the Duke.
[Puffing] All in a day’s work. [Flips key in his hand] Shall we
start unloading, gentlemen?
Need help with your stuff?
Well, we might need a hand with our pamphlets and back issues of
We only took the stuff we could fit into the Datsun–we shipped
Where are you parked?
[They exit, and we hear their voices off right.]
Mark, help me get the one off the roof rack while Vince helps
Joel with the one in the back seat.
[We hear the sound of metal scraping against metal,
assorted grunting, and cursing.]
[Grunting] Where’s your stuff, Vince?
[Grunting] In the hall of my old dorm at U.C.L.A. It’s just
lucky these apartments opened up when they did–next week they’re
turning the dorm into a sorority.
[Grunting, carrying in a preposterously large trunk with VINCE]
And you call moving in here lucky?
[Grunting, dropping trunk] Well, yeah. I mean, they wouldn’t
let me stay anyway after I dropped out.
[JOEL gives VINCE a look of wonder. Then DAN and MARK
enter Dan's apartment carrying an equally large trunk.]
You need any help with the other two trunks?
A Week Later
Lights come up in DAN’S apartment, which has now been settled
into. This is the apartment of a hip, but right-wing, anarchist
intellectual. Books are everywhere. There are radical pamphlets
and magazines cluttering the place. Revolutionary posters–SMASH
THE STATE! & OFF THE PIGS!–are pinned up next to a poster of
Howard the Duck and one sexy one of Linda Ronstadt. A black flag
is on a pole, fluttering in the breeze provided by a standing
room fan. On tables, chairs, and floor are things needed for
mass-mailings–rubber stamps, postage guns, sealers, labels,
saddle stapler, stacks of envelopes, stacks of unfolded and
unstapled offset magazines.
As lights come up, DAN is alone in his apartment–dressed as
before in black turtleneck, slacks, boots, medallion, etc.–his
pipe in his mouth, making preparations for mailing.
He stops, for a moment, to look at the poster of Linda Ronstadt.
[Wistfully, to poster] Ah, Linda! How can you corrupt your
sweet soul by dating that granola-eating statist in Sacramento?
[Knock at the door] Come in!
[JOEL and MARK enter--both still wearing black
turtlenecks, slacks, boots, medallions, etc.]
The ‘zine is back from the printer?
[Nodding] New Individual Notes Number Thirty-seven is ready to
course into the ideological bloodstream of an anemic world.
[Sees one copy already put together and reaches for it] Great!
Let me just see if our new printer eliminated the cut-lines in my
paste-up. [Flips pages, starts to read.]
You’re not looking at cut-lines–you’re reading your own article
on C.B. radio. [Snatches it away] Collate first, read later.
Aw, c’mon, Dan, I haven’t even had supper yet.
Are you going to put your stomach before the needs of the
Damn straight! [Quoting] “The needs of others are never a claim
check upon one’s own life.” From “Moral Imperatives–Do They
Exist?” Editorial by Daniel Albert Conrad the Fourth, New
Individual Notes Number Two, October, 1970.
[Putting his arm on JOEL'S shoulder; like a Taoist Master:] “You
have learned the Way of the Self truly, my son. You have done
well.” But I got in a new subscription and two renewals today.
If we get this mailing out tonight that should just about pay for
a late supper at Hamburger Henry’s.
[Grabbing some unfolded pages] Why didn’t you say so in the
[Reluctantly] Oh, why not?
[From walkway] Hi, guys, what’s going on? [VINCE enters through
the open door. He is now dressed exactly like the others--black
turtleneck, slacks, boots, medallion, etc.]
We’re mailing out En-Eye-En then I’m taking the loyal workers out
to Hamburger Henry’s.
I never said my loyalty couldn’t be bought.
Splendid. We have five hundred copies that need to be collated,
folded, stapled, shoved in envelopes, sealed, rubber stamped with
return addresses, address labelled, postage-stamped, and mailed
You want to save the world? [Extends VINCE a stack of 11" X 17"
JOEL, DAN & MARK
[In chorus] FOLD!
[They quickly organize themselves into a production
line on the couch with JOEL collating, VINCE folding,
and MARK saddle-stapling on the coffee table. DAN is
at his dining table rubber-stamping 9" X 12" manila
envelopes. The rhythms of their work punctuate their
conversation, and should be choreographed for as much
physical comedy as possible to contrast the cerebral
dryness of the following discussion.]
[To DAN] I still can’t get over the way you turned Peter Braun
around so fast. I’ve been arguing anarchy for a year and I never
It was simple, really. I merely had to make my argumentation to
Braun even more right-wing than he was used to. He’s worried
about communists taking over so I started using his own right-
wing thinking against him. You can use the same basic technique
Okay, how would I turn around a Marxist?
Quote Karl Marx’s Das Kapital where Marx said capitalism must
produce wealth before the communist society can be achieved. So
why aren’t good communists backing capitalist investment in the
Third World to make them rich enough for a communist revolution?
Not bad. Whad’dya say to a liberal?
I just say that my favorite Jane Fonda movie is Barbarella.
I just hit liberals with the other side of the argument I used
against Braun. [Enacting] “You say you want a society that can
provide education, health care, clean air, help for the poor.
Well, since a State produces nothing itself, how can it provide
any of these things without first taxing the people–after
setting up a self-serving bureaucracy which gives out only a
fraction of the taxes it takes in?”
[MARK--bored by this conversation--is stapling more and
I’ve used that argument. Liberals just say that we need
regulation otherwise corporations would take over everything.
Then who shall guard the guardians? [Enacting] “The agencies you
set up were taken over by industrialists who used the agencies to
regulate their competitors out of business.”
Then you get over to their left–you can always intimidate a
liberal by being more left-wing than they are–by telling them to
read the Marxist historian Gabriel Kolko, who gives historical
proof that monopolies only arose when private companies used the
State to create them.
[MARK is dozing off.]
Okay, so you convert people using all these different arguments.
But, if you’re saying different things to different people, isn’t
this all–I don’t know–manipulative? Debate tactics? Making a
case not because you think it’s true but only because you want to
win the debate?
Not in the least. The weaknesses we’re pointing out are inherent
in the inconsistencies of each of these other ideologies. Once
you’ve logically demonstrated why their viewpoint isn’t self-
consistent, then you can start arguing that our ideology is self-
consistent–a logically self-consistent ideological map.
[MARK is now asleep--nobody notices.]
What if the ideological “map” doesn’t accurately describe the
You can either change the map so it matches the real world, or
try to change the world so that it matches the map. Most
ideologues try to force everyone to act the way their map says
they’re supposed to act. Once it’s clear that won’t work, they
give up their ideology and become pragmatic powermongers.
Since we draw our basic premises by observing reality, we have to
make sure we’re being both self-consistent and consistent to the
real world, or reality will prove our ideology–like it has with
communism–to be nothing but a beautifully described, but
What do you do with someone who doesn’t believe in the concept of
ideology–someone who thinks ideology is the problem in the first
You point out to them that being against ideology per se is an
implicit ideology itself–the ideology of preserving the status
But what most people mean when they say they’re against ideology
is that they’re afraid that anyone with strong ideas wants to set
themselves up as some sort of new dictatorship. They’ve got
history on their side to give them a lot of good examples.
Napoleon, Lenin, Hitler.
All we can do is try to demonstrate, by practicing what we
preach, that we’re not interested in power–that power is,
itself, the evil we’re trying to eliminate.
[MARK lets out a loud snore.]
I think the only evil power we’ve eliminated so far is his
ability to stay awake.
Why is that? I mean, I’ve spent a week with you guys now, and
we’ve spent most of that time just arguing politics and
philosophy. I haven’t been bored once. I’ve been waiting years
to find someone who I can have these kinds of discussions with.
[Gesturing at the sleeping MARK] Most people are as bored
arguing about ideas as he is. You try to talk about ideas with
most people, and they either spout something they heard in a
Channel Seven editorial, or they insult you and walk away. All
they want to talk about is cars, or movies, or who’s fucking who.
Whom. It gets so I feel like I’m a freak–or worse, that I’m
normal and everyone else is a freak. [Angry] Do you know how
many conversations I’ve had which consisted of someone telling me
the entire plot of some TV show?
[Softly] It’s even worse the other way. You mention some of
your ideals to a relative or a friend and you can never talk
about anything else with them–all they want to do is convert you
back to “the real world”–and it’s for your own good, too. It
finally gets to the point where you start hanging around with
other anarchists simply because they’re the only people you don’t
have to argue with all the time.
You seem to like arguing with me.
[Smiling] That’s because you argue logically, and you’re actually
willing to do something based on the logical conclusions of an
It’s paradoxical. We’re individualists, but we end up having to
form a cult simply so we can have someone rational to talk to.
We are driven by our passionate interest in abstract ideas.
These bore most people, because they are things which cannot be
killed, or eaten, or copulated with. Without planning it, we
become what the Marxists accuse us of being: the Cult of the
But after a while–when we’ve argued everything out three or four
times and you’ve heard everything we’ve had to say–you’ll get as
bored with repeating the same arguments over and over again as I
am, and you’ll be happy to talk about cars, and movies, and who’s
[Puffing pipe] Soft core, Joel. I’m willing to argue with anyone
until we have enough allies to defend a free society from the
remnants of the State.
Isn’t he amazing? After Dan comes the deluge. Me, I’m writing a
science fiction novel so I can show people what we’re talking
about, instead of having to argue about it twenty million times.
[Excited] You’re a science fiction writer? Me, too!
Fantastic! You publish anything yet?
One short story. I wish I hadn’t now. I wrote it before I
became an anarchist, when I was still an ecological fascist. I
ended my story with my hero blasting off into space after the
Earth has been made unlivable by pollution. As he’s taking off,
he broadcasts a speech to Earth that goes, “People of Earth! You
can eat your sewage, drink your radioactive milk, breathe the
stink of your effluvia, mainline drugs into your disease-ridden
flesh! As for me, I’ll have none of it!”
[Amused] That sounds a lot like my first story, in New Individual
Notes Number Nine. Only, before my hero blasts off, he gives a
speech against John Cage and Jackson Pollock.
Why did you guys come out here?
I came out here because the movement back East was dying. Most
of the anarchists we knew were getting involved in elections just
so they felt they were doing something. Never mind that you
can’t bring about the absence of a State by participating in the
very ritual that justifies its continued existence. Anarchists
out here tend to know better than that.
You wrote in an editorial that were getting your doctorate in
theoretical physics. Did you get it?
No. I finished all my course work, completed my Ph.D. thesis,
had the thesis approved by my faculty advisor, then refused to
turn it in.
For Chrissake, why?
After I got my Master’s degree I realized that the only
employment for which I could have used my doctorate would have
been paid for by defense contracts. I would have spent my life
serving the very system I wish to destroy.
So “Atlas Shrugged.”
“Atlas” started to practice what he was preaching–make a new
start out West and try to turn New Individual Notes into
something that could support me. Until that happens, I’m
typesetting a porno paper out here. And I can use the
typesetting equipment to typeset my magazines.
[VINCE turns to JOEL]
I came out here because my parents were kicking me out. Besides,
Hollywood is out here–maybe I can turn my novel into a script.
How are you going to support yourself in the meantime?
[Sheepishly] My parents are sending me money. What about you?
I started out majoring in engineering on a Navy Rot-see
scholarship, figuring that would be a way into the Astronaut
Corps. The Navy thought it was training me to command ships, so
I quit. Then I switched majors to TV-film, until I found out
that the only way you learn anything is by doing it. I want to
write novels and screenplays, same as you.
And in the meantime?
In the meantime, I’m working as a security guard. [Gesturing
toward the sleeping MARK] Where does he fit in?
Oh. He showed up at one of our meetings back East. He came
hoping to meet girls, and switched from being a Democrat to an
Yeah, but why did you bring him out here with you?
I should think that’s obvious. The only one of us with a car was
[Awakening at the sound of his name] Did–uh–somebody call me?
[Not unkindly] Yeah. You’re holding up the production line.
Don’t you ever want to eat?
[As they start collating, folding, stapling, and
stamping again, we BLACK OUT]
A Month Later–September, 1975
Early afternoon, but the apartment shades are down–doing the
best they can to block out the sun–and lights are off. The
couch is open as a fold-a-bed, and DAN is asleep, buried under
There is a loud knock at the door. The covers move–as DAN tries
to ignore whoever is knocking. Then the knock gets more
[From under covers, loudly] Piss off–I’m trying to sleep.
[Through door] Dan, it’s me–Peter Braun.
I’ll give you the rent later! Now go away–I haven’t slept in
Dan, it’s not about the rent. Come on, pardner–let me in. It’s
Oh, for God’s sake. [Throwing off covers. DAN is wearing only
men's designer nylon underpants and a black sleeping mask, but is
too sleepy--and hung over--to know he has the mask on. He
stumbles out of bed and puts on a bathrobe, then puts on his
glasses over the mask. Muttering] Everything’s always important
to someone. [Mask still over his eyes, he stumbles toward the
door, and stubs his toe on his coffee table. In agony] Jeee-
sus! [He hops the rest of the way to the door, mask still on,
and opens it. We don't see BRAUN yet.] Christ, it’s dark. What
time is it?
[Opening door. He is now wearing a U.S. Air Force uniform.]
It’s two in the afternoon, pardner. Up and at ‘em.
I can’t even see ‘em, it’s so bloody dark. Are you sure it isn’t
two in the morning?
[Removing DAN'S glasses and sleeping mask, then putting the
glasses back on DAN'S face.] This any better?
[The shock of the blinding light] Jeee-sus! [DAN covers his eyes
again, and stumbles back into his apartment.]
[Following] How come you’re sleeping so late?
[Closes door, turns on an inside lamp, plops down on bed, holds
head, rubs eyes. Still not looking at BRAUN] I just spent the
past three days at the North American Science Fiction Convention.
Yeah? What’d you do there?
Stayed up for three nights. Drank Guinness Stout. Watched The
Day the Earth Stood Still. Drank tequila and lime. Went to a
panel discussion on orgies in the thirty-first century. Drank
Jack Daniels. Got into an argument with some fascist science
fiction writer who threatened to stab me if I didn’t recant my
anarchism. Drank the bastard under the table!
No wonder you look like a rattlesnake got to you.
It was wonderful! Best con’ I ever attended. [Finally notices
BRAUN] That’s a better costume than the ones in the masquerade.
That’s no costume, pardner–that’s the uniform of the United
States Air Force!
Same thing, if you ask me. Why are you wearing it?
I’ve been called back to active duty. I’m leaving in half an
But why? We haven’t gone to war in the past three days, have we?
I’ve been bombed for three days, but surely somebody would have
mentioned it. That fascist writer never would have let a
rhetorical opportunity like a war pass unused.
Nah. We’re not at war. The Air Force just has a special project
they want to send me on.
What is it?
My friend, that’s classified information.
Well, if you’ve already chosen to abandon your principles and
serve the Rockefeller empire, I suppose there’s little I can say
to stop you. How long will you be gone?
Don’t know yet. Possibly a long time. That’s why I need a
couple of favors from you. For one thing, can you take over
being the apartment manager? All you really have to do is take
the rent every month and give it to Mrs. Wellman, show an
apartment if it opens up, call a repairman if anything breaks
down. You get forty-five a month off your rent.
I can certainly use that. All right. What else?
I need you to keep something for me until I get back.
If it’s something I’ll have to feed or clean up after, the answer
Nothing like that. You won’t have to do anything with it at all
except store it for me. It’s sort of valuable, and I want to
make sure nobody rips it off.
Well, what is it, Braun?
You remember the day you moved in, you were telling me how it was
the right of every American to have a nuclear missile silo in his
back yard? Well, I got to thinking that I had a friend in Orange
County who would agree with you on that. So I started looking
around, and found out that there were a bunch of H-bomb warheads
from the early sixties that the Air Force wasn’t using anymore–
fifty megaton jobs–very dirty. The Air Force doesn’t need them
that big anymore, now that electronics make missiles pretty
accurate. Anyway, the Air Force had decommissioned a bunch of
these things, and some clerk had listed them as military surplus.
So I bought one to sell to my friend. Cost me two hundred bucks,
then my friend said he didn’t want it. So I’m stuck with it.
It wouldn’t still work, would it?
Depends how long ago they replaced the plutonium in the fission
trigger. My guess is it’s good for another five or six years at
You mean it’s got plutonium, deuterium–everything?
Ready to go. The whole shebang. And I do mean “bang.” This
baby goes up, it takes the Southland with it–from San Diego to
the San Fernando Valley, if the Santa Ana winds are blowing.
Anyway, I can’t leave it in my apartment–and there’s a law
against keeping explosives in a public storage locker. So I
figured you’d be a good man to hold onto it for me, you being a
physicist and all.
It’s not leaking radiation? I’d rather not get cancer.
All checked out. It’s less radioactive than the water we drink
from the reservoir. Beside, there are some dosimeters with it
that I also picked up surplus. Okay?
Sure, Braun. Okay. I’d be happy to.
You’re really doin’ a buddy a favor, Conrad. [Punches DAN on the
shoulder.] Can you give me a hand getting it in here?
[They go out to walkway and, working together, wheel in
a large crate on a hand dolly.]
Easy does it!
Don’t worry–I’ve got it.
[They leave the crate in the middle of the room.
Well, that's that. [Takes an envelope out of his jacket, hands
it to DAN] Here are the duplicate apartment keys, and all the
phone numbers you need.
I’ll remember this, Conrad. What goes around, comes around, I
always say. Hasta la vista, amigo. [Starts to leave.]
Oh, Braun. [BRAUN pauses.] Why didn’t your friend in Orange
County want an H-bomb warhead in his back yard?
Oh. He did. But he already had one. [BRAUN exits, taking hand
dolly with him.]
[DAN closes the door, and looks at the crate curiously
for a few seconds. Then he puts his eye-shades back
on, climbs back into bed--pulling the covers over his
head--and his hand reaches out to turn off his lamp.
As he turns it off, we BLACK OUT.]
A few hours later
Dan is now awake, in his bathrobe, and cooking breakfast. The
fold-a-bed is a couch again. The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK
is playing on Dan’s stereo. The crate is still in the middle of
the living room.
There is a knock at the door.
[JOEL enters, leaving the door open.]
Hangover gone yet?
Mostly. How come you never come back from cons hung over?
Because while you’re at the room parties getting drunk, I’m down
in the film room watching movies all night.
What a waste of a good con. Want some breakfast?
Thanks, but I had breakfast this morning.
You’re turning down a free meal?
I didn’t say that. Since I already had breakfast, this will be
–um–late-afternoon high tea.
That’s more like it.
[DAN gets out additional food and continues cooking.]
[Noticing the crate] What’s in the crate?
A fifty-megaton nuclear missile warhead. One egg or two?
Right. Mind my own damn business. Two eggs, thanks.
Actually, it’s Peter Braun’s business. He’s been called back to
active duty in the Air Force–poor bastard. Made me the new
apartment manager on his way out.
Yeah, I know. I ran into him.
[There's another knock at the door.]
[Still cooking] Enter!
[VINCE enters, holding an empty salt shaker.]
Dan, you have any spare salt? I used my last shaker on supper
Sure. [DAN gets salt from cupboard, tosses it to VINCE.] I’m
preparing us some breakfast. Care to join us?
[Pouring salt into shaker] Thanks, don’t mind if I do. Saves me
[Looks at VINCE strangely.] Didn’t you get up nine hours ago?
[Still pouring] Uh-huh.
And you haven’t eaten yet today?
[Screwing lid back on] Uh-uh.
For heaven’ sake, why not?
[Looks up] I forgot.
[JOEL and DAN exchange glances, look down at their own
bulging middles, then across at VINCE's perfect
DAN AND JOEL
[In unison] He forgot.
[Noticing the crate] What you got in the crate?
A fifty-megaton nuclear missile warhead. One egg or two?
Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. One egg.
[There's still another knock at the door.]
[Still cooking] Cross my threshhold!
You having a–uh–party?
Just breakfast. You hungry?
One egg or two?
Can I have–uh–three?
I suppose my generosity can be stretched that far.
But not that far.
Then okay–uh–three eggs is fine.
[To MARK, amazed] Didn’t you just finish dinner?
[Thinks a long second] Yeah.
[Looking at MARK's wiry frame] And you’re hungry again?
[To DAN] There is some fundamental metabolic principle which has
it in for the two of us.
[Noticing the crate] What’s in the–uh–crate?
A fifty-megaton nuclear missile warhead.
[MARK thinks about this for a second.] Can I–uh–see it?
[JOEL and VINCE exchange glances: "what a sucker."]
Oh, very well. Just be careful opening it.
[While VINCE and JOEL watch in amazement, MARK goes to
the crate, looks at it a few seconds, then lifts off
the lid. The sides drop down, revealing the Warhead.
MARK begins looking at it. After a few seconds, JOEL
and VINCE go over and begin looking at it. VINCE sees
a technical manual and picks it up.]
[Reading aloud] “United States Air Force Maintenance Manual
309,576, Thermonuclear Missile Warhead, Air Burst Type, Megaton
Yield: Fifty.” [To DAN] Boy, this is terrific!
Who makes it? Mattel? Revell?
I don’t know. Does it say on the manual?
[Scanning manual] Let’s see … okay, here we go. [Reading]
“If unable to effect on-site repairs to Warhead, return post-paid
to the manufacturer, Lockheed Corporation, Nuclear Weapons
Division, Seal Beach, California.” Huh! I didn’t know that
Lockheed has a toys division.
[Laughing lightly] Vince. You didn’t say “Toys” Division. You
said “Nuclear Weapons” Division.
Right. That’s what the manual says.
[Starting to get nervous] Er, correct me if I’m missing
something. But … wouldn’t a division of a company devoted to
making toys be called the “Toys” Division?
I’d think so.
And let me take this one one logical step further. Wouldn’t a
division of a company called the “Nuclear Weapons” Division be
devoted to making not toys but, say, nuclear weapons?
I’d have to agree with you on that.
[Both JOEL and VINCE stand there, blankly, for a few
JOEL AND VINCE
[Shouting simultaneously] It’s a fifty-megaton nuclear bomb!
Right, tell the whole neighborhood, why don’t you?
[JOEL and VINCE start making shushing sounds to each
other. JOEL creeps over to the door and shuts it.]
[Lecturing JOEL and VINCE] Yeah. If the neighbors find out Dan’s
got a nuclear bomb then–uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh–everybody will get
one and it won’t be special anymore.
[VINCE and JOEL roll their eyes.]
Dan … what in the name of God are you doing with–[whispers]–a
nuclear bomb in your living room?
[Finished cooking, now serving.] I told you already. Peter Braun
left it with me. He didn’t have anywhere else to leave it.
[VINCE is looking over the manual.]
But’s it’s a–[screamed whisper]–nuclear bomb! In your living
Since both of your statements are directly observable, they are
true … but redundant. What’s your point?
Dan. This is a nuclear bomb. They have a technical term for the
place where it goes off. They call it “Ground Zero.” They also
have a technical term for anything at Ground Zero when a nuclear
bomb goes off. The term is “ex.” If this bomb goes off, this
will be an “ex” living room, and everything within fifty miles of
this living room will also be “ex.” This will be an ex-apartment
in an ex-Anarchy Village. There will be an ex-Queen Mary, ex-7-
11′s, ex-Winchell Doughnuts, ex-freeways, ex-Disneyland, ex-
Knott’s Berry Farm and–most importantly–ex us.
[Looking up from manual, enthusiastically:] Hey, this thing is
designed to detonate at a five hundred feet above sea level.
Vince, we are at sea level now. So is the bomb. Are you trying
to tell me that it should have already gone off?
Interesting question. Let me just flip a few pages …
[VINCE begins reading, casually, while JOEL waits,
growing more agitated with each passing second.]
Ah, here it is. “Warhead must be enabled, and altimeter set,
before Warhead will be in Detonation Mode.”
–Thank God for that.
“…For Enabling Procedure, see Operations Manual.”
[MARK reaches down and picks up a second manual, hands
it to VINCE.]
“United States Air Force Operations Manual … Thermonuclear
Missile Warhead, Air Burst Type, Megaton Yield: Fifty.” Thanks,
Gentlemen, breakfast is served.
[DAN, VINCE, and MARK take their seats around Dan's
table immediately. JOEL looks at them dumbfounded.]
Have you all gone crazy? Do you expect me to eat breakfast at
thermonuclear Ground Zero?
Joel, you’ve lived within the circle of total nuclear destruction
for your entire life. There’s no evidence it’s affected your
appetite so far.
[JOEL considers this for a moment, then joins the
So, Dan. You’re an anarchist. You’re a committed revolutionary.
You’ve got a bigger bomb now than any revolutionary or anarchist
in history. Just what do you propose doing with it?
Doing with it?
Doing with it. For example. You hide it in Washington D.C. and
demand the U.S. Government disbands … or else.
Or else what?
Or else you set off the bomb.
But Vince. While a lot of people who deserve to be dead would be
made that way by setting off the bomb, if even one innocent
person were injured, we would have violated every principle we
stand for. Even threatening to set it off would violate
individual rights. But all this is theoretical, anyway, since
it’s not my bomb. It’s Peter Braun’s bomb. And I can’t use it
without permission because that would be violation of contract.
[VINCE begins flipping through the manuals.]
[Slightly relieved] Then you’re not going to do anything with it?
Well, I’ll probably get around to moving it nearer to the wall.
It’s in the way in the middle of the living room.
Has it occurred to you that more than several people in the
government might be upset with you if they knew you had a nuclear
[Grinning widely] Yes! I’m finally doing something sufficiently
illegal to justify my revolutionary existence!
[Looking up from manual] I’ve been looking through the
maintenance log. This thing didn’t exactly pass its last
Well, it was sold as government surplus.
You mean we don’t know if it’ll even work?
[Everyone is silent, while eating, for a few seconds,
Then why don’t we–uh–try it?
[As the other three look at MARK with wonderment,
Anarchy in the UK rises in volume and we BLACK OUT.]
Two Weeks Later, Night
DAN is at his desk, typing away, puffing on his pipe. The
Warhead has been removed from its crate and placed over to one
side of the room. The door is closed. There is a single RAP at
the door, a pause, TWO RAPS, a pause, THREE RAPS, a long pause,
ONE RAP, a pause, FOUR DOUBLE-TIME RAPS, pause, TWO RAPS. DAN
gets up from his desk and goes over to the door. He RAPS TWICE.
[Behind door, after a pause] “The Horn Blows at Midnight.”
[To door] “The Emperor has No Clothes.”
[Behind door] “My Dog Has Fleas.”
[To door] “Karl Marx Wore Pink Pajamas.”
[Behind door] “The Moon is Over Poughkeepsie.”
[To door] “The Desert Sand … ” [Pauses, tries to remember] “The
Desert Sand …” –I can’t remember what the bloody sand does.
[Behind door] “The Desert Sand Blows West.”
[To door] Right, right. “The Desert Sand Blows West.”
[Behind door] “Fifty Five Saves Lives.”
[To door] “Whip Inflation Now.”
[Behind door] You missed your third counter-sign. How do I know
it’s really you?
[Puffs on his pipe, long pause. Then he opens the door.] This
[VINCE comes in, carrying a large shopping bag, but looks at DAN
suspiciously. Speaking deliberately] For all I know, you could
Vincent. The purpose of these idiotic procedures is to make me
paranoid about who’s outside, not to make you paranoid about
[Thinks a moment, then slowly] Well, I’ll let it go this time,
Conrad. But I’m watching you.
Did you bring the stuff?
Yep. [VINCE removes a small metallic device and sets it on the
coffee table.] The last set of dosimeters came up clean.
Replacement is tomorrow at thirteen hundred sharp. And Mark
better not lose his again.
If Mark isn’t worried about dying from radiation sickness, isn’t
that his business?
Are you crazy? Do you know what’d happen if a coroner determined
Mark’s cause of death as radiation poisoning? We’d have fifty
federal agents over us in minutes! He either uses his dosimeters
properly or he doesn’t get into this apartment again!
[Avuncularly] Vincent, Vincent. This is my apartment. I decide
who gets in here.
And you appointed me as Radiation Safety Officer. [Hurt] Of
course if you’re asking for my resignation …
I wouldn’t dream of it.
Well, okay then.
[There is a single RAP at the door, a pause, TWO RAPS,
a pause, THREE RAPS, a long pause, ONE RAP, a pause,
FOUR DOUBLE-TIME RAPS, pause, TWO RAPS. DAN goes over
to the door. He RAPS TWICE.]
[Behind door] “J.D. Salinger loves company.”
[To door] “The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog.”
[Behind door] “My Mother’s Dress is Green.”
[To door] “Art Linkletter has Twelve Toes.”
[Behind door] “I buried Paul!”
[To door] “The Queen Mary sails at noon!”
[Behind door] “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain When She
[To door] “Doo-dah, doo-dah!”
[DAN opens the door and JOEL comes in.]
Well, are we dead men?
Our personal dosimeters show we haven’t been exposed to any
measurable radiation. [JOEL crosses himself.] Joel … you’re
Sure, but try doing a Star of David on your chest.
I was about to try out the Geiger Counter. Okay, Dan?
[VINCE picks up the device from the coffee table and
unclips a microphone-like sensor.]
I brought along a radium-dial wristwatch as a control. [He holds
the watch out at arm's length then puts the sensor up close to
it. A loud burst of static results.] Okay, it’s working. Now
the moment of truth.
[VINCE takes the Geiger Counter around the apartment,
pointing at various items. Silence. He is getting
closer and closer to the Warhead until, finally, he
sticks the sensor directly toward the Warhead and scans
up, down, and all around it. Complete silence.]
[Relieved] Well, so far, so good.
[There is a single RAP at the door, a pause, TWO RAPS,
a pause, THREE RAPS, a long pause, ONE RAP, a pause,
FOUR DOUBLE-TIME RAPS, pause, TWO RAPS. DAN goes over
to the door. He RAPS TWICE.]
[Behind door, after an endless pause] “A–uuuuhhhh–black–uh–
[DAN throws open the door, grabs MARK by the arm, and
bodily yanks him inside, shutting the door after him.]
[To DAN, after a pause] A–uh–black cat has three kittens.
Mark. You don’t have to go through all that once you’re inside.
Only when you’re outside.
[MARK thinks about it, then starts toward the door
again. DAN throws himself against the door, blocking
Mark! Stay! [MARK stops.] Sit! [MARK takes a seat on the
couch. DAN sees a bowl of potato chips sitting on his coffee
table, grabs a chip, and shoves it into MARK's mouth.] Good boy!
[MARK giggles good-humoredly.]
Dan, are you starting to get the feeling that, perhaps, that
device over there has taken over our lives?
The universe does seem to warp around it, doesn’t it?
Frankly, I’d prefer going back to a more primitive lifestyle.
I’m sick of paranoia. I long for a return to simple fanaticism.
I don’t suppose you can suggest how we can transform this longing
of yours into a practical plan?
Couldn’t we find some way to, er, give it back?
To Peter Braun? I have no way to track him down.
I wasn’t thinking of Braun. I rather had in mind–er–the folks
who made it.
Soft core! I can’t believe you could actually consider, for a
moment, arming the State.
In practical terms, returning it isn’t likely to alter the
balance of power very much.
Won’t it? How many anarchists do you know who have a nuclear
But I thought you said there’s no moral way we can use it.
Not true. I said that there’s no way we can morally explode it,
or morally threaten to explode it.
Well how else can we use the damn thing?
We can not explode it.
I beg your pardon?
He can’t pardon you–you’ll have to see the Governor.
[Ignoring the line] I said, we can “not explode” it. We can take
the explicit action of possessing a nuclear weapon which we will
not explode and which will not be exploded. Not only is this one
less nuclear weapon that the State can use for its nefarious
purposes, but by possessing a nuclear weapon which we pointedly
do not explode, we are giving the world a strong demonstration of
Some demonstration. We’ve been skulking around for two weeks,
making sure that nobody knows we have it. How are we supposed to
demonstrate anything if we keep this secret?
A point well taken. And, I think it speaks to the issue you
raised earlier. The bomb has not been interfering with our
lifestyle. Our attempts at secrecy have been doing that. I
suggest that we simply stop keeping the bomb secret.
Vince, the phone book is over there. Get the number of the FBI,
will you? I’m sure they’d be interested.
I assume you are attempting a rhetorical point?
Dan. If we don’t keep the bomb secret then–as the song says–
“the Man will come and take us a-way.”
Then don’t tell them.
Don’t tell them. The FBI and their ilk are unlikely to be
impressed by the moral significance of our demonstration anyway.
Are you seriously contending that you can keep a nuclear weapon
as an open secret and not have any of several hundred police
agencies learn of it?
And just how do you expect this to work?
Well to start off, who would be naive enough to believe that it
could possiblY be the real thing?
[JOEL and VINCE both look pointedly at MARK.]
A statistical anomaly, I assure you.
[Suddenly, there is some unmistakable rumbling.
Furniture rattles, sways, etc.]
DAN, JOEL, VINCE, AND MARK
[All together] Earthquake!
[Both VINCE and JOEL immediately try to crawl under the
coffee table. Suddenly, just about as the rumbling
stops, the STAGE LIGHTS BLACK OUT and we hear the
static crackle of the Geiger Counter going crazy. The
rest of the scene is IN BLACK OUT:]
Oh, my God.
Dan, you got a flashlight?
Hold on a second.
We’re all gonna die.
Wait–here you go.
[We see the beam of a flashlight scan around for a few
The Lord is my shepard, I shall not … shall not … what the
hell is it I shall not?
It’s okay, guys. The bomb’s still secure. The Geiger Counter
was picking up my wristwatch.
[After a long silence] Okay, which one of you guys farted?
[Another long pause] I hope one of you guys farted.