©2016 E Maria Shelton Speller. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
XN is a new initiative from Northeastern University (NU) that offers graduate and professional students and sponsoring organizations experiential opportunities to collaborate on short-term, real-world projects in the best co-op program in the country, and positions NU as the global leader in experiential learning! Organizations move forward on project-based work and connect with rising professional talent while students gain real work experience and valuable learning opportunities.
Students have a range of skill-sets including digital media and marketing, data analytics, corporate and nonprofit project management, regulatory strategy, communications management and the Creative Digital Solution for a VR/Game-Inspired Concept for Explode – The Writer’s Environment during the Summer, Fall and Winter Terms of 2016!
Details included the Project Description:
Explode – This Writer’s Environment is a Kick Starter Project 2.0. The first launch is what Rita Gunther McGrath calls, “failing by design”. The launch was admittedly, a treatment to direct investors to Explode, as well as a serious foray, to define content while using the Writers Environment as a springboard to other experiences. That unsuccessful project was a lost opportunity, but an intelligent fail. Explode — The Writer’s Environment is space for visionaries — Poets, Writers, Coders, Programmers, Filmmakers, Thespians, Graphic Designers, Artists, Musicians, Directors, Cinematographers, Designers, Educators, Historians, Actors, Conceptual and Performance artists, Photographers, and finally, Virtual Reality Developers and Designers. It is a platform for curated content, in an interactive meta-environment – that pulls and pushes information. The Environment facilitates content and other stories – using digital media for curated art to redefine how artists, their audience and visitors experience real and virtual content. The project details included problems to be solved, goals, and deliverables — scheduled for completion March 2017.
Please stand by. See updates! Thank you for your continued support! Let’s rock and roll!
WAR AND PEACE BURIED HERE
I sold a rock opus to the best Black rock band on the planet. A band that lost its capacity to dream. Formulaic guarantees skewed their imagination for platinum discs. The male coward covered their lifework, literally. My story reminded them of what ‘rushing’ felt like, how complete, how deep blushing could be obvious. And they bought it, and produced it. And it was good — it was better than good. It was thought provoking and it was an African-American affirmation of our realities and our fantasies — no matter how unrealistic.
Suddenly, they were very significant and the world truly believed, that rock music is black music and black music is everything. Power is aesthetic. Aesthetics is politics and being black is philosophical and our philosophy is phenomenology and being black, is being real.
No Hip Hop could say as much as this rock opus did, ever — no matter how many stories they sampled. So, this black rock band were crowned kings and were exulted, and revered; incandescent icons, the envy of friends, the consumption of man, the image of immortality — like the stained-glass heaven you summon before you close. And they loved me. I was the wick in their candlestick and without me, there was no burning flame. I was the source of their energy. I, was the unstained virgin encamped.
Sooner than anyone imagined, there was nothing more important, than our collaboration. The media was our medium. They stopped referring to me as a writer, and started calling me, a Love Supreme…..
Copyright 2016 by E Maria Shelton Speller. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Parallel Discussions (In Medias Res) and Overtaken by Events
Behind Pushkin’s Coffeehouse, Aristotle Michelangelo and Louis Picasso sat on the remnants of a barge, trading barbs in Ibiza… swinging high top leather sock hip hop sneakers, and creeper boots in blue green virtual water, with Rick Owens’ reflection in the pool, burning fat ones – away from the beautiful ones — in a Period Piece. The Darlings of today’s literati — visionaries during the Harlem Renaissance, play themselves in a satirical throwback in VR.
Louis Picasso: “In RL, it’s 6 P.M. You just got home from work or you work from home in your virtual office. You decide to spend the evening in space! You scan Balmain for your Avatar – dope fashion — with as much audacity as Hype Williams’ black lacquered Keisha in Belly — wearing Versace!
You decide to download your brand new Porsche designed by Porsche and Atari for Microsoft, on the Pacific Coast Highway — Malibu on the left, Pepperdine University on the right, you’re on your way to virtual LA in the fast lane — your thighs are burning. Other avatars and their cars share the PCH too — driving Vipers, Corvettes, the white BMW X6 and you are speeding at 100 MIPS, streaming Coltrane.
Aristotle Michelangelo interjects: “Then you decide to go to BET’s virtual Nuyorican Café in Gotham City for the Open Mike – Saul Williams and Jessica Care Moore are featured (as themselves) tonight. You hand the keys to the valet — pay at the door with your password, sit front row center no matter what time you arrive, sign up to read your poem — because you can start over from the beginning or resume. Gender! Lame. Race is unimaginative in Space. Ethnicity is a brand — at best. The Open Mike is over at 10 P.M. but there is still time to go to Bar Pitti. You walk in and Claude McKay is at the bar in a heated debate with Ralph Ellison about literary ownership — by Netflix.
McKay shouts and then nearly whispers to Ellison, ‘It takes more than creative androgyny to “embody” the opposite sex. The storytelling responsibility of all writers, whether female or male is to fill the void. When a woman creates a man, she must imagine the sensation of “owning” a penis. When a man creates a woman, he must imagine the sensation of “owning” a vagina. It is a void, not a vacuum. A vacuum would imply the all-consuming black hole — the feminization of sex. It is not trained comprehension or chromosomes — it takes pure imagination to get the story straight…’
Louis Picasso: “Then, at Midnight, you blow kisses and wuggles to your friends, and log off. You stand and stretch your back, and your bladder is bursting because you forgot about your biological realities. The television is off; it has been off for weeks. Why watch television when you can be your own audience? Randall Walser said it best, “The filmmaker says, ‘Look, I’ll show you.’ The space maker says, ‘Here, I’ll help you discover.’ We will be our own creators functioning like actors in high culture — tools of the taste public! We will create our own universes — our own planets. We can superimpose our images circa 6 BC – AD 30, and follow Jesus to the Promised Land, witness the crucifixion – and how we feel and what we think is utterly private and without commercials! Because, global messages with common appeal will forever change with today’s technology, the challenge is to make communication visual, images symbolic, and still sell product… I want to propose arcane ideas…”
Aristotle Michelangelo interjects: “I want to develop, manage, and direct vision. My goal is to be where imagination and business are indistinguishable, because imagination without business, and business without imagination is as incongruous as capitalism without consumers… I found a dope quote dog!”
“When, she was still in her teens, well before she met Caesar, Cleopatra already had slept with Antony… though Caesar was fifty-three and she but twenty-three or so she proved ready enough to bed her third Roman. It is said that Cleopatra was a woman of lively turn and enticing talents. She also had a keen sense of the political. That this Roman [Caesar] conqueror had the power to secure the Egyptian throne for her must have added to the attraction she felt for him…Caesar established her in a sumptuous villa across the Tiber, from which she held court, while political leaders, financiers, and men of letters, including the renowned Cicero, danced in attendance.” Michael Parenti
Louis Picasso: I’m reading the same book, and I have a better one!
“In a prologue to Caesar and Cleopatra [George Bernard Shaw] that is almost never performed, the god Ra tells the audience how Rome discovered that ‘the road to riches and greatness is through robbery of the poor and slaughter of the weak.’ In conformity with that dictum, the Romans ‘robbed their own poor until they became great masters of that art, and knew by what laws it could be made to appear seemly and honest.’ And after squeezing their own people dry, they stripped the poor throughout the many other lands they conquered.” Michael Parenti
Aristotle Michelangelo: Shrugged his shoulders unconsciously, “Chez Bricktop in Paris?”
Louis Picasso: Not now. I am having a violent reaction to prescription drugs! My body is like, ‘Don’t put that shit down here again!’ They gave me all this medication for Acute Caesarion whatever — and I took it! Of course, you don’t exhaust the shit. You’re not an idiot. But, what the fuck? Where the weed at?”
Copyright 2016, E Maria Shelton Speller. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Why does black on black crime matter less than black lives matter?
Black on black crime is the consequence of a broken man
Black lives matter is the consequence of a broken system
Fix the broken system
fix the broken man >>>>
Copyright 2016 E Maria Shelton Speller. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
CAST RETURNS TO THE STAGE — DANCE CLOSE
If you can, imagine Seven Whole Days on repeat… and you were raised in the city of Boston — where Playhouse in the Park is the only alternative to hot house parties, in Orchard Park or Ruggles Street — and dancing room is a premium for a chilly Bostonian, with a New England attitude.
When four seasons and rapid transit affords you the opportunity to go anywhere at any time, wearing everything a Bostonian can — properly — weather be damned… then you know how much space love demands. In an apartment when body heat is canned and cool, you learn to slow dance in the place you pick with just the space between grace and pressure. Boston, is the only city in America that knows how to have sex on legs. If you think it’s a mere grind — you can’t dance in a vacuum. The only thing a man can do, if he’s not a Bostonian, is let the lady lead when she is a Bostonian, and hope — its a long song.
Copyright 2004, and 2015 by E Maria Shelton Speller (Explode: Epic Poetry ~ Excerpt from (Behind Pushkin’s Coffee House)), and the One Act Play — Springboard! All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
*This is not a curtain.
Duration: 10 mins
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Cece – Art Curator, Poet
Tess – Communicator
Lena – Data Scientist
Wife – Analyst
Wife — Homemaker
Said – Data Scientist
Etan – Consultant
Luda – Data Scientist and aspiring Poet
Kent – Data Scientist
ACT 1 — Installation Art (Sit next to me)
The scene takes place in a private home theater under a Proscenium arch. Stage right is a door to the dining area. Stage left is a door to the great room. Upstage is a grand screen.
It is Tess and Said’s turn to host the Football Sunday dinner party for three married couples – their closest friends. Tess’ single BFF, CeCe with the gratuitous beauty, on everyone’s dream team (and it is rude to stare) is visiting from the city – and having so much more to offer, as usual she is flying too close to the sun and upsetting the social balance.
CECE: I have a story to tell! I promise you — you’re going to love it! You simply must experience it. The absolute audacity of the writer is stunning. She’s THAT motherfucker. (Giggle) That bitch. Tricky — Romanticist. Epic like the Iliad…
We’re watching the game… in a minute.
CECE: But, wait…
CONVERSATIONS HAPPENING IN THE ROUND END DOWNSTAGE
SAID: Of course you have data. Do you know how to use it? Give me data. I’ll give you algorithms… synced with the principles of Six Sigma. It’s over.
TESS: I said, If you don’t knock on my door, someone else will.
ETAN: Evidently, you’re attracted to me, and I applaud you for knowing who you want. I’m flattered. But, I don’t sway that way.
WIFE: What did he say?
ETAN: “It doesn’t matter.”
WIFE: Oh! O-kay… (LOOKS AWAY STAGE RIGHT WITH A GAFFAW) He’s funny.
ETAN: Define funny.
WIFE: Funny is funny.
ETAN: What’s funny to you, may not be funny to me.
WIFE: Are we going to go back and forth on what is funny? I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about Project #99 (GAFFAW) Again. You pushed me… But, it was good. It’s true. Where was I? I’m crazy! Yeah. No doubt… (LOOKS AWAY) But, I love you.
WIFE: I’m kickstarting my project this week. (THROWS HEAD BACK DEFIANTLY)
(BEFORE WHISPERING IN HER EAR)
ETAN: “Sex packets …”
WIFE: (SUDDENLY) You said, I would be your wife, not your slave.
DOWNSTAGE LENA WHISPERS TO LUDA AND THE AUDIENCE
LENA: So, what if it’s all true? Does that give you the right to kick my ass and keep it moving? You’re a mutation. It does not sound like we’re the lazy ones. We will survive. You will not… and if that’s true why would I compete with you, when you are doing all the work? You cannot survive without us. We’re going with. Wouldn’t you?
LUDA: Human DNA enlarges mouse brains.
(LENA LOOKS AWAY STAGE LEFT WITH A THROATY LAUGH)
(LUDA TURNS TO THE AUDIENCE WITH A SOLILOQUY
HOMEMAKER: Look babe, it’s tulle and mesh — and if I bend over just right…
KENT: I am not going to kiss your ass (Chuckles)
HOMEMAKER: Why not? You’ve been kissing it.
KENT: Don’t try to goad me into an argument to justify your own.
HOMEMAKER: I’m just saying… if it’s in our heads, it’s pure fantasy. Don’t float what you imagine out here in the void, like what you think is really real. If it’s not real… like your hands on me — it’s fiction. You cannot possibly know what I think, how I feel, how I will respond to your bullshit… or even how you will respond to mine. I thought? When was the last time you imagined a confrontation? Of course, it never happens like the movies in our heads. Not even close! But, to be content to covet the same dreams, is so… unimaginative. Is that the best we can do? To be part of a crowd? Look at me. (VOGUES) I am the fastest swimmer in a sea of zoon!
KENT: (Chuckles) Who the fuck are you reading lately?
HOMEMAKER: (Playfully) We have to spend more time together! I do have a wonderful quote… “I have a lesson for you. Do you want it?”
KENT: “I have a lesson for you. Do you want it?” Who said that?
HOMEMAKER: My mother… in so many words.
KENT: He called me Money.
(HE BEGINS LIKE A STORY SHE’S HEARD BEFORE)
KENT: (CONTINUES) He said, I want a boy who gets what he came for. A boy who knows he’s the strongest swimmer in a sea of zoon. It’s true, a boy could have been pushed by stronger swimmers behind him. Like Mad Max. I want a boy who would survive the hood. A boy that knows changing direction is nothing. The trick is to breathe again. That’s the boy I want. Do you think you could be that boy? I would sit up straight, tip my head, and say, Yes Sir. I’m that boy.
HOMEMAKER: Every time you tell that story I’d forget to mention, it feels like he’s looming over you. What were you sitting on?
KENT: My potty chair… I thought you knew?
HOMEMAKER: Oh no. He didn’t! (GIGGLES) Your father is bananas.
KENT AND HOMEMAKER LAUGH TOGETHER
KENT: Jules Winfield reciting Ezekiel.
HOMEMAKER: That’s why you’re so ambitious. I love that about you, Honey. Look at us! We’re a Stupid Power Couple.
KENT: (CHUCKLES) The first time we met, I wondered… how does THAT work? (LAUGHS)
(HOMEMAKER FIGHTS A SMILE)
KENT: You said, “I’m not looking for a husband.”
(BOTH LAUGH ON KEY)
HOMEMAKER: You want to play with me? Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure?
(HUDDLING WITH HIS SILENT WIFE)
ETAN: Conscious decisions are all that I can respect. Don’t cling to insanity, or criminal passion, or peer pressure, or social expectations. Don’t talk to me about losing control — momentarily. Or, the poverty and violence of pain heaped upon more pain because you’re black. This is not a gang-rape. This is not Dionysia all over again, where women and children are sacrificed, and blood is beer. If I change my language, the outcome will still be the same… (STOP)
ETAN: Jack Kerouac… likened writing to dreaming and fantasizing, as a substitute for life. So, he wrote The Subterraneans, in three days and nights of speed typing energized by Benzedrine — to imitate the rhythm of Bebop like free energy flow and unrestrained association to reveal the unconscious… because he wanted to flow from inside out in spontaneous prose! Am I going to read that trippy book again, with absolutely no punctuation period, when I can imagine my very own Mardou Fox?
STARING OPENLY AT ETAN, LUDA STOPS LISTENING AND LOOKING UP TO THE HEAVENS, STROKES HIS BEARD, AND TURNS TO THE AUDIENCE WITH A SECOND SOLILOQUY.
LUDA TURNS AWAY FROM HIS AUDIENCE AND LOOKS STAGE RIGHT AT KENT
A PHONE HELD IN KENT’S HAND ILLUMINATES HIS FACE. KENT SPEAKS LOUD [AS IF] SIGNALING THE END
KENT: A black man is charged with burning black Churches in St. Louis Missouri…
KENT LOOKS UP FROM THE SCREEN. HIS FACE IS STILL. EYES UNFOCUSED. HE MOVES HIS LIPS.
HOMEMAKER: I’m gonna’ need to pinch him.
KENT AND THE HOMEMAKER THROW THEIR HEADS BACK IN HEARTY LAUGHTER. THE HOMEMAKER SUDDENLY STOPS AND LOOKS AT KENT. WHISPERS.
HOMEMAKER: Wake up, blue pill.
THE HOMEMAKER LOOKS AT THE AUDIENCE — IN A MONOLOGUE — LOUDER THAN KENT.
HOMEMAKER: It’s the Age of STEM. With VRs for your fancies, imagining aggressions you never lose. Where are we going? Who are we doing? How shall we dress for the joie de vivre? I want to meet the best Black Rock Band on the planet and their Muse; to be the woman in the Dolmus, the Driver, Simon… I want to hear Luda deliver his soliloquies in a courtyard enclosed by trees, with stapled bark once covered with flyers — for missing pets, and outworn, archaic, and unimaginative campaigns and trade for sale or giveaway. I want to be where someone says, I have a story to tell, and those who’ve heard the story reply, we’re watching the game in a minute… I know how the story ends.
(WITH A MONA LISA SMILE)
HOMEMAKER: (TAGGING) I am sorry, but, honestly, the 21st Century is so… contrived. (STOPS SHORT OF LAUGHTER) Let’s move along.
CECE: We have plenty of time! Indulge me. I’m going to read it.
(MORE RESTLESS MOVEMENT)
CECE: Come on! It’s my birthday! Okay, it’s not my birthday….Listen! This is a quote from Interview magazine. I think it’s poetic. “I use pot for depression, and I am depressed often. When I am high, I am very creative, and because my word is work in progress, I have no regrets. Self actualization is anticlimactic… I am the hopeless writer. I spent most of my life being angry that I, didn’t have an audience that would pay for my work. Girls, gotta’ make a living. It’s amazing what turns people on. It’s not at all what I imagined. I spent too much time trying to create a persona, when I am one. I suppose it’s okay to spend your life chasing a dream. You have to have one or two to live for.” She’s extra… Did I mention Ovid?
If you don’t like it (PAUSE) I’ll blow every cock in the room.
Whoa! What? Fuck? Really?
Shut up! Girl! Bitch! Are you crazy?
Like all writers, I rewrite, combine, borrow, loot, recreate, change my own work, and play with metafictional devices and the relationship between what is real and what is imagined. I combined “TP’s Muse Board” with “The Foreword to Insomnia.” Perhaps it will be a triptych, or perhaps three panels of an octaptych, a short story, novella, or perhaps a novel. It’s a WIP.
The Foreword to Insomnia
“All our crimes are the crimes of a phantom: God.” Octavio Paz
Is the girl necessary? Can you abandon her? Yes and no. She’s the curtain-lifter and the scout! Always. I cannot forget her. I was there, talking to myself, as if I were someone else. Like now.
She’s as necessary as the galoshes on her feet, paused in a puddle, with her binary reflection obscured by polka-dots, vector and speckled umbrellas billowing from ordinary windows like parachutes, or the multi-colored aureoles in the virtual vertigo — of an art installation.
She is as necessary as umbrellas on a rainy afternoon under golden arches and digital displays of saucer eyed anime faces in Tokyo during rush-hours, or the dark city around the corner with a hole in the ground — over rainy subway stairs she lost a galosh on.
When she was nine, and her sister seven, they shared a bedroom in the attic of an old Victorian house, in New England. They loved that pink triangular room, and the imaginary line that equally divided that sanctum, and it was not lost on them, that they were far removed from their extended paternal family, parents and the Irish triplets who shared a room of their own — downstairs.
It was not just the physical detachment, but on the heels of “making believe,” they began to transport each other to fictional realities at bedtime that began with a question, followed by an answer and finally a bidding, “What are you doing?” “I’m thinking.” “What are you thinking about?”
Her stories would often begin with something truly extraordinary. Diana Ross had ten kids in 1964! She was twenty years old and married to Jorge — the Ebony Fashion Fair model who was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, and one of Diana’s children was her fourth grade classmate — a Puerto Rican named, Sorah Sanchez. He told his classmates to call him Willie. He was so cute!
Theirs was the perfect family! Jorge wore gray suede shoes and cardigans advertised in Jet and Ebony magazines, and the children wore clothing from Alden and Spiegel catalogs! Images were accessible and appropriated. The stories epic and uninterrupted — unless clarification was necessary, like “What time do the kids have to go to bed?”
She loved The Supremes! In the Sixties, Diana Ross was a delicate and beautiful remix, of freedom from ugly restraint. She could scan a page for “Diana Ross” and find her like code. Ditty Bop! She could imitate her voice, her tone, inflection, her vibrato, choreography and her mannerisms!
In the Summer of 1965, she sang A cappella, “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” and “Come See About Me,” on a makeshift stage in her back yard, and became an accidental star with a teenaged fan base; but, she just wanted to be left alone to adore Diana Ross — the beautiful one! Those oral narratives in the dark — were contiguous, on a continuum, interconnected — in medias res.
At seventeen she hadn’t seen her Father in four or five years. Her mother and six children took the last bus to a safe haven twelve hundred miles from Boston. But, when father walked into her home, the house her mother managed to “negotiate” by “befriending” the most unattractive man she had ever seen… and barely past the threshold, he said, “I know, I know, I know, and I know.”
It was the most honest response she’d ever heard. It made sense. No apologies. No explanations. What else could he say? Last year, she wondered why she and her sister screamed their hearts out of their mouths, eyes, and ears crouched in a closet — as if screaming would make a difference — as if screams would stop unmeasured and random assaults on her Mother in a Commonwealth where the Rule of Thumb allowed husbands to beat their wives as long as the stick was no thicker than his thumb!
In that house, little girls might not stop screams with their own. Who could scream the loudest? Who could silence the noise? Eventually, she realized the house was on Rockledge Street before pre-K, so they were one and three, or two and four years old, perhaps. In a one mile radius, the same thing happened on Cedar and Alpine Streets. On Hartford Street, her Father cut her Mother up with a meat cleaver.
She can still summon the smell of Sugar Smacks decayed and stinking in bowls of spoiled milk abandoned on the kitchen table like so much blood and flesh on the floors, doors, the papered walls, and ceiling where on her Sister’s 9th birthday, “the accident” happened.
The blood of donors rushed from other jurisdictions, the white sheet that hid her mother’s head from her children, the paddy wagon where her mother was slung like a criminal, the crowd outside the window oohing and awing, jeering, and cheering her Father, who changed into a brown silk leisure suit, brown suede shoes, cocked a fedora on his head and walked tall, proud, and un-cuffed to the Police car. The footnote in the Boston Globe, “Negro Man Attacks Wife with Meat Cleaver.” The rise and fall of orphan’s tears, swollen eyes, praying hands and bargains with God in zombie disbelief.
But, I don’t feel sorry for that little girl. Tall and proud. She could have been a psycho killer — and I would be her muse, a tiny detail, a paper doll from an Alden’s catalog — paused in a puddle for the amusement of children.
I am the one who cannot sleep. Aside from occasional drifts from the pollen consumption of moths, to the dignity of a ski-lift nose…
Copyright 2004, 2013 E Maria Shelton Speller. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.