To Change or Not to Change? To Stream or Not to Stream? Statues In Perpetuity? What Are the Questions?

(Featured Image Courtesy of CBS Photo Archive)

___________

A Forward By Ernest Kearney

In times of radical events, it is both courageous and proper to take action to address the failures of society and to try to right the wrongs of the past.

The protesters marching, the demands for an end to both racial and economic inequality, the calls for serious legislation that will: bring transparency to the nation’s police forces, assure that officers are held accountable when they exceed or abuse the mandate given them by the public, and curtail the ability of police unions to prevent officers guilty of excessive force from ever facing consequences for their wrong doings.

These are noble objectives, long overdue, and I have participated in the recent marches to bring them about and will continue doing so.

I am, you see, a rabble-rouser with credentials.

I marched in opposition to the Vietnam War including on October 15, 1969 with the nationwide Moratorium against the War demonstrations.

I took part in the national protests of May 4, 1970 here in Los Angeles against Nixon’s extending the war into Cambodia . This was the protest in which the Ohio National Guard fired indiscriminately at Kent State students; killing four, two of whom weren’t protesting but merely walking to classes.

Ten days later, Mississippi police moved against protesters at Jackson State College, a historically black school. They opened fire killing two students and wounding 12 others.

I was involved in the marches calling for justice for these murdered students. We didn’t get it.

After the March 3, 1991 beating of Rodney King by police, following a high-speed pursuit, I was involved in protests demanding that the four officers be tried and that Police Chief Daryl Gates resign.

In 2001, I joined in the demonstrations against the fraudulent election of George W. Bush, and in January of 2003 participated in protests opposing the Iraqi War.

In 2006, I supported the “Justice for Janitors” movement and marched with the National Hotel Workers Union in downtown L.A.

I was with Occupy Los Angeles for May Day 2012, and in October of that year participated in the Hollywood Halloween riot against the police. (NOTE: To be honest that night I actually went to Hollywood to give out candy to the kids there, but one thing lead to another.)

I went back to D.C. in January 2017, to protest at Trump’s inauguration and was there for the Women’s March the following day.

And I have been in half-a-dozen other protests against Trump since then.

As I said: I have credentials.

So you see, I think I know when an act is worthy of the cause it claims to support, and when that act is simply bull shit.

Let us look to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for an example of what I mean. After the assault on this nation that cost the lives of 2,996 Americans and others, airport security suddenly came to the forefront. The Transportation Security Administration was established, and new procedures were instituted: full body scans, the occasional pat down and where prior to 9-11 only about 5% of all baggage was screened, today all of it is.

Pilot cabins are now securely locked during flights and some pilots are even trained to carry firearms.

These are sensible precautions to guarantee the safety of airline passengers and crew.

Making us take our shoes off to pass through security check-in at LAX is also bull shit.

I suppose there are two things we should be thankful for regarding Richard Reid’s attempt to detonate plastic explosives aboard American Airline Flight 63 on December 22, 2001.

First, naturally, was that his attempt failed so dismally, and he was subdued by other passengers (Reid is now serving three life-terms plus 110 years without the possibility of parole.)

The other reason we should be thankful is that he smuggled the explosives aboard concealed in one of his shoes and not in his underwear, otherwise we might all be required to pass through airport security wearing our underwear on our heads.

I’m sorry, but I have a low tolerance for the jerked-knee reactions that tend to be part of the process when a nation enters into periods of redressing social wrongs.

During the 1970s, there was a push for greater racial diversity in film and television. While this struggle is still ongoing, I think we need to celebrate the success we have had. Every time I see an insurance commercial with a black husband and a white wife, or an Asian wife and Chicano husband, or an LGBT couple I smile, because I remember when Captain Kirk on Star Trek ( “Plato’s Stepchildren” 1986) kissed Lieutenant Uhura; an act that sent sections of this country into hard core conniption fits.

Diversity, and making this nation color, ethnic and orientation-blind is a noble undertaking.

However, sometime during the holiday season of the late 1970s, I was driving down Sunset Boulevard when went I came across a J&B Scotch Whisky billboard that had five Santa Clauses doing the Can-Can, the second from the right was a black guy.

That was Bull Shit.

With the outrage over the murder of George Floyd, and the national embracing of the objectives and demands of the Black Lives Matter movement we have a noble undertaking.

But the recent removal of certain TV series from Netflix and BBC iPlayer is, wait for it, bull shit.

Now HBO Max’s removal of Gone With the Wind, I personally find unnecessary. But I am a student of history. I scoff at the whole “Lost Cause” dodge, know that slavery was a vile and degrading institution and understand that the film’s depiction of all those happy souls in bondage was a twisted fairy tale dreamt up by the same folks who gave us Jim Crow laws and lynching.

But I’m also aware that there are knuckleheads out there who mistake GWTW for a history lesson instead of what it is—a movie.

A spokesperson for HBO Max has assured film buffs that this is not an act of censorship and that GWTW will return but “with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions.”

I do wonder if HBO Max is going to apply this resolve to other films like King Kong, the 26+plus Tarzan movies, flicks like Strangers on a Train and The Loved One (very unflattering depictions of gay characters), the Charlie Chan series and, of course, every western where the cavalry charges to the rescue. But the addition of commentary on the historical perspective of a film and its production I am fine with and applaud HBO Max’s undertaking.

The removal of such comedies as Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen by Netflix and BBC iPlayer however is censorship and – well, you know.

David Williams and Matt Lucas of Little Britain spared no one from their satirical assaults. They have gone after pushy women with great sagging breasts, cross-eyed dim-witted Scots, big white American body builders with very tiny penises, neurotic gays and yes the occasional Jamaican or Afro-American.

Anyone who has watched Little Britain, or Williams and Lucas’ other series Come Fly With Me (which has also been pulled by Netflix) knows that as performers the two go all out – wigs, insane prosthetic suits and make-up.

Their skits work because they are keen observers of humanity’s foibles and because Williams and Lucas are amazingly talented. If there was even the slightest mean-spiritedness involved the skits wouldn’t work.

One character on the series that exemplifies this is Lucas’ Daffyd Thomas, the vocal “only gay” in his small Welsh town. Daffyd maintains his claim of being the “only gay” even when other gays come up to him. Over the run of the series we learn that despite nearly everybody in the town being gay or “bi-curious,” that Daffyd has never actually had a homosexual experience – or for that matter any sexual experience. Lucas’ rendering of Daffyd is a touching expose of someone who is terrified of embracing what they long for most.

Two skits from Little Britain about race came to mind when I heard of Netflix’s removal.

One did not involve either of the two comics portraying members of other races, but concerned Benjy (Williams) as a very uptight white guy who tries to display his racial tolerance by befriending every black person he meets despite having nothing in common with them and little interest in knowing them as individuals.

The comedy is sharp and uncomfortable because we have all known individuals of such stunning shallowness.

The other skit did feature Lucas in dark face. It was set in a typical Anglican Church whose parishioners are upper class, conservative and white as only the British can be. They are being treated to an exchange pastor from America, Jesse King who is a high energy prosperity gospel preacher.

The humor is not directed at King’s race, but those Billy Sunday clones that prey on the faithful, both black and white. I suspect Lucas’ performance was based on John Gray of the Relentless Church; a South Carolina megachurch which got some bad press when he gave his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini as an anniversary gift.

Now do not confuse The League of Gentleman with the Alan Moore’s graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which became the worst Sean Connery film since Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

I am talking here The League of Gentlemen written and performed by Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, Jeremy Dyson and Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock fame) a BBC series that focuses on the townspeople of Royston Vasey a fictional hamlet in the North of England where visitors are greeted by a sign that reads: “Welcome To Royston Vasey – You’ll Never Leave!”

Originally a collection of shows performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, LOG, as it is known by aficionados, is probably the most bizarre TV series ever aired; a brilliant fusion of slapstick and The Black Mirror, guaranteed to make your skin crawl while you laugh yourself sick.

Netflix’s ban of this show is more than simply bull shit, it is corporate idiocy at a high-water mark.

The series’ writers portray the 70-plus characters that inhabit Royston Vasey, and Papa Lazarou, who only appears in four of the twenty-two episodes, is performed by Reece Shearsmith.

Papa Lazarou is the proprietor of The Pandemonium Carnival, a travelling circus and freak show that hides a sinister secret. Shearsmith performs in the classic minstrel blackface, not because Papa Lazarou is intended to be an individual of African descent, but because Papa Lazarou is a baleful grimacing lunatic.

So, what next Netflix?

Will you be banning the segments of Saturday Night Live where Eddie Murphy performed in white-face? Then there are those episodes of The Chappelle Show with Dave Chappelle in white-face, and I guess you’ll be getting calls to pull Lenny Henry in True Identity and White Chicks with Shawn and Marlon Wayans.

Now frankly, I don’t want to see any of those banned. But I would like to see Netflix retract their heads from their sphincter muscle and reconsider their actions.

Now, in light of the renewed calls to remove the statues of those who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War, I offer a piece I wrote on the issue (inserted below).

The politician Al Smith once said, “The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.”

Couldn’t agree with him more.

But I would also say, “The cure for the ills of history is more history.”

   *    *    *

Statues In Perpetuity? That is the Question

(First published 2017)

By Ernest Kearney

Okay, leave the statues alone.

I know, you’ve already started to pigeonhole me as some mouth-breathing, Tiki torch hoisting knuckle dragger; but you’re off the mark.

I’m a big mouth white guy of Irish descent who, most likely, has ancestral ties to former President Barrack Obama, and that statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, and those statues of Jefferson Davis and P. G. T. Beauregard in New Orleans; they all belong to me.

Those statues in Charlottesville and New Orleans belong to my editor Darwyn C. a black woman, with family still in her home town of Denver and a nephew who has toured the world as a member of a renowned Celtic dance company.

Those statues belong to my friend Josh S. a Jewish guy from Philly who after working his ass off for about six years starting up a pretzel company, made his first million and transferred his political affiliation to the Republicans.

Those statues belong to my wife Marlene, a seventh generation Angelino who bears the bloodline of Aztec royalty in her profile.

Those statues belong to my old roommate Colin G.; formerly a Brit art critic presently a naturalized college professor in Northern California.

Those statues belong to my friend “Trash” ex-con, Nam Vet and biker who writes pretty good poetry.

They belong to my friend Bo a computer junkie and native of South Korea.

They belong to my friend Jim F. gay retiree and former Universal Tour Guide.

They belong to my friend Gybi who is in Southern California studying to be a psychiatric nurse and is a prince back in Ghana.

They belong to my niece Veronica who I neglected to call in order to write this, they belong to my friend Lily S. who missed the last play I produced because it coincided with Ramadan, they belong to my friend Jim L. who is still trying to defend voting for Trump to me and to my political fellow traveler Jules B. who just lost his “long time companion” Don M.

Robert E. Lee Statue Unveiling

Unveiling of the Equestrian Statue of Robert E. Lee, May 29, 1890. Richmond, Virginia. (Sculptor, Antonin Mercié) (via Wikipedia)

Those statues in Charlottesville, New Orleans and elsewhere in the South are our history and, as such, belong to all Americans.

Even if you don’t want them, like it or not those statues belong to all of us –

They are not the exclusive property of David Duke and the rest of those marching miscreants.

Let me give you my reasons for this rather unpopular stand – and then I’ll give you my solution to the problem.

First and foremost, I don’t think those statues should be removed, because I don’t believe a nation’s history should be retailored to fit the constantly shifting fashion of society.

Now this does not apply to those monuments the likes of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi or Felix Dzerzhinsky.  When Dictatorships fall so should their symbols by way of purging the soul.

But when the statue of Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood was moved to a less conspicuous location in 1972 because of lingering hostility regarding his political views I was outraged. I disagreed with the statues of Gambetta, Rousseau and Jean-Paul Marat being carted off to seldom visited parks by the authorities in Paris when the political climate of that city took a sharp turn to the right.

And even though I would have been rooting for the rioters, I’m displeased that Chicago removed from its original site the memorial honoring the seven police officers killed by a bomb during the Haymarket Riot on May 4, 1886.

And I think it was wrong of Penn State to “disappear” the bronze of Joe Paterno.  (I’ll get letters for that one.)

Believe me, I can understand why those statues and the one in Charlottesville would upset and disturb some.  Because they’re opposed to bigotry, and police brutality and sexual assault and these are right beliefs.

But right beliefs should not foster foolish actions, or what I like to call the “Pirates of the Caribbean Bungle.”

I’m not speaking here of the celluloid lobotomies starring Johnny Depp, I’m referring to the classic Disneyland attraction, the very last one that Walt himself had a hand in designing before his death in 1966.

A year later the ride opened in the Magical Kingdom.

You’d climb into the boats at Laffite’s Landing as the fireflies flickered about you, float pass the rickety houseboats to the soothing stridulations of crickets, only to plunge down the darkened waterfall and suddenly it’s –

“Strike yer colors, ye bloomin cockroachers, by thunder we’ll see ya to Davy Jones!”

Cannons booming, cannonballs whistling and pirates pillaging the port of Puerto Dorado on Isla Tesoro in their frenzied search for booty all to the rousing chorus of “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me!”

But something you may not be aware of; the ride has been altered from Walt’s original design.

You see he had the pirates doing…well pirate stuff.

Threatening to drown the mayor unless he hands over the treasure;

Auctioning off female captives;

Putting the town to the torch;

Chasing wenches.

Well after 30 years of those pirates pursuing the damsels, it suddenly occurred to some Disney executive what the pirates had in mind once they finally apprehended those fleeing females.

So in 1997, kowtowing in the most inane fashion imaginable the Pirates received a PC makeover.

And all the distressed damsels were given heaping platters of yummy goodies that had the hungry pirates dying to sink their teeth in….  Yeah.

Secondly, history is deeper than most people realize.

Now Marlene holds very strong opinions about Robert E. Lee, she feels he was a traitor to his country and should have been hanged after the war.  It’s a topic guaranteed to plunge us into a royal argument.

Few men are better than their times, and Lee was a man of limited imagination except on the battlefield.  He opposed slavery as an “evil in any country,” but could foresee no remedy for that evil nor conceive of the black man as his equal.

He was a great general in the war, but it was in defeat that he became a great man.

After his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in April of 1865, Lee rode back to his army’s camp, where upon some called on him to steal away to the mountains and continue the struggle as guerrilla warfare.  Lee refused.  The war was over he insisted and told his army,

“I have done the best I could for you. Go home now, and if you make as good citizens as you have soldiers, you will do well, and I shall always be proud of you.”

In his memoirs, Grant wrote of Lee,

“…there was not a man in the Confederacy whose influence with the soldiery and the whole people was as great as his.” 

Lee saved this nation from a bloody Balkanization that it is doubtful we would have survived.

That alone deserves a statue in my opinion.

What of the other Confederates with memorials honoring them, those whose reputations are stained by their actions?

There are three statues, of which I am aware, in the United States honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  One stands on private property in Nashville, a particularly shoddy depiction worked in fiberglass.

Now there’s a home in my neighborhood where the owner has gathered on his rather narrow lawn about twenty-five life sized bronzes of elephants, gorillas, giraffes, lions and other wildlife.

It looks as if he were trying to imagine the waiting terminal for Noah’s ark.

I don’t like it much, but like the kitschy fiberglass Forrest in Nashville, a man’s home is his cheesy castle.

The second statue of Forrest is in a cemetery in Rome, Georgia.

The third and most grandiose is found in the Memphis, Tennessee Park that bears his name and is the resting place for both him and his wife.

Forrest was perhaps the most feared cavalry leader the Confederacy produced.  Grant called him “that devil Forrest.

There are two great stains against his name.

The first is the Fort Pillow Massacre of Henning, Tennessee, where Forrest allowed his forces to kill hundreds of black Union solders and white Southern Unionists after they had surrendered.

Then there was Forrest’s early support and membership in the Ku Klux Klan for which he served as his region’s Grand Wizard.

It would seem cut and dry that Nathan Bedford Forrest no more deserves a statue in this country than does John Dillinger.

Yet the waters of history tend to be murky.

Forrest came to view the conduct of the KKK with some trepidation.  After a year as Grand Wizard he issued an order to try to stem the violence against blacks by robbing the clan members of their anonymity by ordering that their masks and costumes “be entirely abolished and destroyed.”

The violence did not stop however, and in 1874 after the murder of four black men, Forrest wrote to the Governor of Tennessee volunteering

“to help ‘exterminate’ those men responsible for the continued violence against the blacks.”

He extended his services to the state

“to exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes.”

Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial

Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial and grave in Memphis, Tennessee – Photo by DoxTxob  (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Forrest lived to regret his Klan involvement and would even become an advocate for the admission of blacks into law schools.

In 1875 Forrest was invited to speak before the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, an organization of black Southerners seeking reconciliation between the two races.  No one expected Forrest to attend, but he did.

He told the black audience,

“I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe that I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to bring about peace.”

In ending his speech, he expressed a sentiment perhaps gathered through the wisdom only time bestows,

“We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment.”

He was widely condemned by the Southern press for the

“disgusting exhibition of himself at the negro [sic.] jamboree.”

Forrest would die in October of 1877.

So… do we take down his statue?

There are some incredibly stupid sculptures on display in the South.

The Boll Weevil Monument of Enterprise Alabama and the Mothman statue of Point Pleasant, West Virginia just to name two.

Idiotic as they are I don’t think they should be yanked off their pedestals.

According to the LA Times there are approximately 700 statues in the South commemorating the Civil War.

Do they all come down?

Flags are a different matter.  Flags are the symbolic representation of a nation.

I don’t want the Crown of Castile flying over Florida, the French Fleur-de-Lis over New Orleans or the British Union Jack over Boston.

The Confederate flag therefore has as much legitimacy in being displayed over Richmond as the flag of Mexico does over Los Angeles.

But the statues….

I understand how black Americans and others can see some hidden threat or hushed taunt in having Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee peering down on them.  But in pressing for their removal, they have allowed the knuckle draggers to usurp our history, and worse.

In fighting to destroy the liberalism they despise the Fascists always employ the very freedoms which the liberals have provided.

With the cry to remove the statues the Alt-right, Aryan Nation, White Supremacists and the rest of their peniculas clan have taken up the cry of “liberal censorship.”  They are pounding us with the club that we handed them, and that is my primary concern for taking down the statues, I don’t want those dung beetles to be able to convince themselves that the rest of us are anything at all like them.

So what do I suggest?

One of the great truisms of our political system was spoken by Al Smith, the democratic Governor of New York for much of the 1920s.  He said,

“The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.”

I say the cures for the evils of those statues are more statues.

My proposal is to reclaim our heritage from those seeking to use it as a means to divide us not by removing the statues, but by adding to them.

I would suggest on one side of Robert E. Lee be placed a statue honoring the most committed of all abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison who began publishing The Liberator in 1831 which would tirelessly voice its condemnation and spread anti-slavery sentiment across the nation.

On the other side of Lee, I’d place a statue of Alexander Augusta.  Born to free black parents in 1825, prior to the war, Augusta had been engaged in a battle of his own fighting against opposition to his entering medical school.

Dr. Agusta

Alexander T. Augusta, (1825-1890)

He had traveled to the gold fields of California to earn the funds necessary to pursue his goal of education and to pay for private instruction from a doctor.  Finally, finding no college in this country that would accept him, Augusta traveled North to Canada where he was admitted to the University of Toronto, and from which he would received an M.B. in 1856.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Augusta wrote to President Abraham Lincoln offering his medical skills.  In April of 1863 Augusta was commissioned a Major and appointed as a surgeon to the African- American troops.

Augusta would be the first of eight black medical officers to serve with the union army, saving countless lives by their presence.

In 1866 Augusta left the army as a lieutenant colonel, the highest ranking black officer in the country’s military.

Augusta would continue to fight racial discrimination in this country, and in 1868 was welcomed into Howard University to teach anatomy, becoming the first African American to teach medicine in this country and the first to be appointed to a college faculty.

At his death in 1890 he would be the first black officer to be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

Next to the statue of Jefferson Davis in New Orleans, I’d place one of William A. Jackson.  Jackson was still held in slavery when the Civil War erupted, in service as coachman to his wealthy southern master.  Jackson resolved to make a break for freedom at the first chance.  Most slaves if they succeeded in reaching the north arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs.  Jackson however realized he could take to the North a commodity that would be valued — information.  So Jackson began to collect whatever he could pick up by spying on his master: Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.

Dismissed as a “non-person,” as something “owned,” Davis would meet with his generals and openly discuss issues of vital importance while Jackson was present, with no more concern than if he were a chair or a hoe.

In 1861 Jackson “cut stick”” for the North and safely made his way the 90 miles to the Union line bringing with him information on supply shortages, as well as size and distribution of the Confederate forces.

Next to P. G. T. Beauregard I would erect a statue of Harriet Tubman.  If Lee represents for a certain segment of our nation this iconic image of the Civil War, for many Tubman its mirror image.

Harriet Tubman sculpture-Jane DeDecker

Harriet Tubman Sculpture in Ypsilanti, Michigan by Jane DeDecker, Photo by Dwight Burdette (via Wikipedia)

A short, runaway slave, illiterate and given to seizures after having her skull cracked by a slave owner, she would prove to be a popular speaker on the evils of slavery, and would stealthily return to the Deep South more than a dozen times to lead other slaves to freedom in the North.  For her courage and determination to see her people free Tubman would come to be admired by nearly all who met her.  For her efforts in bringing other slaves out of bondage, William Lloyd Garrison, would nickname her “Moses.”

For most of the Civil War there was little certainty of what Robert E. Lee looked like. His youngest son would write,

“I believe there were none of the little things in life so irksome to him as having his picture taken in any way.”

Grant and Lee had ended the war, and Lincoln was assassinated.  Famed photographer Mathew Brady was in Richmond photographing the ruins of the former Confederate Capital when he learned that Lee was nearby.  Brady managed to have Lee agree to posed for six photos in uniform.  After the session, Lee would put the uniform in a trunk and never touch it again.

In these photos you see a man a mere five years from death, who looks older than his 58 years.  You see a man resigned but not defeated.  You do not see humiliation but dignity; not a subjugated man, but a vanquished warrior.

To me, Lee has always represented the end of slavery in this country.

So beside Lee, I would put the beginning of that end.

Benjamin Lay was born in England in 1681 and would eventually adopt the Quaker faith and settle in Abington, Pennsylvania.

Lay was perhaps the first abolitionist and he possessed a striking sense of the theatrical that he would employ when making his points to others.

Once the whole town was in an upheaval when the young son of a Quaker slaveholder had disappeared.  Panic consumed both the father and the township until it was learned that it was Lay who had kidnapped the man’s son so that he might learn how an African parent might feel when slavers took their children.

Lay, who was a strict vegetarian, would not wear, own or eat any product that resulted from an animal’s death or slave labor.  He also wrote hundreds of pamphlets by hand, which he would pass out to all he came across, which condemned not only slavery but capital punishment and the brutality of prison.

In 1737 Lay’s All Slave-Keepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates became his only published work when he gave it to a printer in need of work, a friend of his, the young Benjamin Franklin.  It would be one of the most fervent polemics against slavery ever written in this country.

Lay would die in 1759 but his legacy was such that pictures of him could be found in the homes of early abolitionists for decades to come.

Those depictions of Lay were easily identified as he suffered from dwarfism and was a hunchback.

A small frame with a surfeit of righteousness.

So there my statues would stand Jefferson and Jackson, Beauregard and Tubman, Lee with Garrison, Augusta and Lay, rich in the fullness of history.

Our history.

♦    ♦    ♦


Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @theTvolution
Stay Updated: Find our Subscription Box on the Left Rail
Contact Us: TheTvolution@gmail.com
We Thank You for Supporting Independent Voices
The Tvolution

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

Latest comments
  • AvatarAvatar

    Statues Of Limitations

    Humankind has been toppling monuments and desecrating historically important sites for a very long time by now. Should there be any difference in how U.S. society behaves? Particularly now when it appears that, America’s 244 year run as an empire is coming to a close. Of course the country’s manifest is responsible for centuries of monumental historical, and otherwise, destructions.

    So, Greetings…! Saludos!! Y, salud…. From 30,000 feet in the air…!!! Delta 770. I am flying into LAX, from Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX. While it has been over a couple of years that I have left any document of my thought on the internet, anywhere; I do appreciate the opportunity to splatter on your walls here.

    By way of introduction to the readers, my name is Esquizito. I am a musician and performer from New Orleans. I was responsible for bringing to the 2019 HFF my adaptation of a rare work by an obscure Jazz musician, also of New Orleans, Danny Barker (1909-1985). Clark Wade – A Jazzy Tragedy, tells the story of the changes that took place a hundred years ago in the underworld society of the old southern town’s infamous Red Light District. For me, Barker’s work has become the perfect mask to don; allowing a wild and vibrant arena of expression.

    Of course, a good portion of the tale is not nice. And, most of the characters are not what we might consider as favorable. Nevertheless, they are human and the story is full of truth embellished with lies. (What Barker would refer to as, “monkey shine.”) The play chronicles the rise and fall of a country boy – good to his mama and eager to please with his genuine charm – as he developed into a loved leader of the denizens of purchased flesh. Indeed, Clark is America itself.

    The work allows me as a performer to do a number of various characterizations in which I use my vocal abilities on a much wider canvas than what I’ve been used to on the bandstand as a jazz singer. In an early pivotal scene, I get to play a white woman! Not only that, a foul-mouth whore who has had too much to drink. She’s been gilted; and begins to take a shine on Clark, while he serves as her waiter. The white woman’s language is loud, vulgar, and derogatory. During my first public workshop of the adaptation in New Orleans, a white woman in the audience proceeded to walk out, after this scene. OK, it wasn’t enjoyable for her. I can accept that.

    And that’s all part of my/our job. Although I do have some mixed emotions over the need to obliterate societal conventions through performance, I still charge on; and just keep dancing! And I say: I’ve encountered my share of hostility from audience and club owners/managers resulting from mere bandstand patter that got “politcal,” than at least what the 4th Wall keeps me safe from. At this point in my life, (I was born in 1963) I’d rather discuss how performers are beyond state or societal censorship.

    And Delta ship is landing so, at you later.

    Back in America

    I’m sitting in the historic Sante Fe Depot in San Bernadino, CA; awaiting the passenger bus that is the last leg of a day-long journey from Redondo Beach to Big Bear. Including last night’s ride from LAX – I have already traveled on, three Metro buses and one Metrolink train. And after a trip like that… Yea, let the face cover and the monuments fall…!

    [as a note: My border crossing was a cake walk, surprisingly. The only tedium brought on by the ubiquitous touch screen – which has replaced the familiar half-page handout customs declaration.]

    We are in a time of great change. Many ideas and assumptions that are considered to be the proverbial fabric of society are coming tattered and unraveled. And, I’m kinda surprised that this land is not in greater shambles by now; the hypocrisy in government having risen to a sickening absurd level. Indeed, to the point where hope is waiting for an elective procedure.

    7K High…

    I made it! I am awakening in a small cabin surrounded by large Pine trees. It is terrifically quiet up here; and my thoughts are clear and loud as well. It is written, “Hope is a whore.” And I’m beginning to see the light. I’ve been pondering, what does this idea really do for us? Are our desires ever fulfilled? Or, just a “feel good” trip? Does hope motivate us to do, and not just be, and have? (Indeed, at the rate we are going, Having is distancing herself too.) Perhaps if Pandora had actually done something about all the things in her box, she wouldn’t have to rely on the diminished returns at the bottom.

    As artists the bottom line is certainly, Will. Not Hope; and my chief occupation is battling on the lines of my own censorship, I.e. How far into the fight am I willing to go? With my weapons. In closing, I’d like to shine some artistic light on, Sasha Baron Cohen for exhibiting a form of, near death defying fearlessness which we have not seen since the one and only, George Carlin. SBC takes Carlin’s worldview beyond the mic stand. And this next level of confrontation is where we are at now; and perhaps from this moment on.

    July 8-10, 2020

  • AvatarAvatar

    Statues Of Limitations – Humankind has been toppling monuments and desecrating historically important sites for a very long time by now. Should there be any difference in how U.S. society behaves? Particularly now when it appears that, America’s 244 year run as an empire is coming to a close. Of course the country’s manifest is responsible for centuries of monumental historical, and otherwise, destructions.
    So, Greetings…! Saludos!! Y, salud…. From 30,000 feet in the air…!!! Delta 770. I am flying into LAX, from Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX. While it has been over a couple of years that I have left any document of my thought on the internet, anywhere; I do appreciate the opportunity to splatter on your walls here.
    By way of introduction to the readers, my name is Esquizito. I am a musician and performer from New Orleans. I was responsible for bringing to the 2019 HFF my adaptation of a rare work by an obscure Jazz musician, also of New Orleans, Danny Barker (1909-1985). Clark Wade – A Jazzy Tragedy, tells the story of the changes that took place a hundred years ago in the underworld society of the old southern town’s infamous Red Light District. For me, Barker’s work has become the perfect mask to don; allowing a wild and vibrant arena of expression.
    Of course, a good portion of the tale is not nice. And, most of the characters are not what we might consider as favorable. Nevertheless, they are human and the story is full of truth embellished with lies. (What Barker would refer to as, “monkey shine.”) The play chronicles the rise and fall of a country boy – good to his mama and eager to please with his genuine charm – as he developed into a loved leader of the denizens of purchased flesh. Indeed, Clark is America itself.
    The work allows me as a performer to do a number of various characterizations in which I use my vocal abilities on a much wider canvas than what I’ve been used to on the bandstand as a jazz singer. In an early pivotal scene, I get to play a white woman! Not only that, a foul-mouth whore who has had too much to drink. She’s been gilted; and begins to take a shine on Clark, while he serves as her waiter. The white woman’s language is loud, vulgar, and derogatory. During my first public workshop of the adaptation in New Orleans, a white woman in the audience proceeded to walk out, after this scene. OK, it wasn’t enjoyable for her. I can accept that.
    And that’s all part of my/our job. Although I do have some mixed emotions over the need to obliterate societal conventions through performance, I still charge on; and just keep dancing! And I say: I’ve encountered my share of hostility from audience and club owners/managers resulting from mere bandstand patter that got “politcal,” than at least what the 4th Wall keeps me safe from. At this point in my life, (I was born in 1963) I’d rather discuss how performers are beyond state or societal censorship.
    And Delta ship is landing so, at you later.
    Back in America
    I’m sitting in the historic Sante Fe Depot in San Bernadino, CA; awaiting the passenger bus that is the last leg of a day-long journey from Redondo Beach to Big Bear. Including last night’s ride from LAX – I have already traveled on, three Metro buses and one Metrolink train. And after a trip like that… Yea, let the face cover and the monuments fall…!
    [as a note: My border crossing was a cake walk, surprisingly. The only tedium brought on by the ubiquitous touch screen – which has replaced the familiar half-page handout customs declaration.]
    We are in a time of great change. Many ideas and assumptions that are considered to be the proverbial fabric of society are coming tattered and unraveled. And, I’m kinda surprised that this land is not in greater shambles by now; the hypocrisy in government having risen to a sickening absurd level. Indeed, to the point where hope is waiting for an elective procedure.
    7K High…
    I made it! I am awakening in a small cabin surrounded by large Pine trees. It is terrifically quiet up here; and my thoughts are clear and loud as well. It is written, “Hope is a whore.” And I’m beginning to see the light. I’ve been pondering, what does this idea really do for us? Are our desires ever fulfilled? Or, just a “feel good” trip? Does hope motivate us to do, and not just be, and have? (Indeed, at the rate we are going, Having is distancing herself too.) Perhaps if Pandora had actually done something about all the things in her box, she wouldn’t have to rely on the diminished returns at the bottom.
    As artists the bottom line is certainly, Will. Not Hope; and my chief occupation is battling on the lines of my own censorship, I.e. How far into the fight am I willing to go? With my weapons. In closing, I’d like to shine some artistic light on, Sasha Baron Cohen for exhibiting a form of, near death defying fearlessness which we have not seen since the one and only, George Carlin. SBC takes Carlin’s worldview beyond the mic stand. And this next level of confrontation is where we are at now; and perhaps from this moment on.
    July 8-10, 2020

LEAVE A COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.