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.
Dealing With Your Alien
By J. Neil Schulman, D.oC
Dedication: To Be Figured Out Later
The idea for this book came to me in a dream I had early this morning, November 6, 2016, the Sunday just before the presidential election between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Yes, I know some people will be voting for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein. Yes, I know some people who are eligible to vote in this election will decide not to vote at all. I live in Nevada, which has early voting. I already voted.
In my dream I was talking with Dennis Prager, the radio talk-show host. I was not calling in to his show. I no longer listen to talk radio nor call in to talk-radio shows.
In this dream I had just been a guest on Dennis’s radio show and I was talking to him in the studio parking lot afterwards.
This was not something that ever happened in real life but it’s close to things that happened in my real life.
Back in the 1990’s I was an in-studio guest on Dennis Prager’s radio show.
On one occasion afterwards my parents and I had dinner at Dennis’s house along with his wife Fran and step-daughter Anya, and on another occasion I visited Dennis at home along with my friend and fellow author, Brad Linaweaver. I also ran into Dennis a few times while eating at Souplantation.
In my waking life I haven’t seen or spoken with Dennis in almost two decades. Anya is, however, one of my Facebook friends, although we haven’t written to each other in about a year and a half.
Back to my dream.
In the radio studio parking lot (in my dream) I was discussing with Dennis the important difference between what people said they believed ideologically and how they treated other people in real life.
I’ve spent time hanging around (physically or on line) people who despise welfare and speak out for rugged individualistic capitalism, yet when I’ve been unable to pay my bills have generously given me thousands of dollars with no desire or expectation ever to be repaid.
I’ve spent time hanging around people who consider themselves socialists, progressives, and liberals who have also been generous to me.
I’ve also spent lesser amounts of time hanging around people who consider themselves socialists, progressives, liberals, or rugged individualistic capitalists who wouldn’t give someone a sip of water if they were dying of thirst.
In my experience – I was telling Dennis Prager, in my dream – what people claim they believe is not a reliable predictor for how someone acts in their personal life.
In political discourse – especially in this year’s presidential election – people have said the most awful things not only about the presidential candidates but about their supporters. I, myself, have done this – gleefully. But I’m also confident that while no doubt there are people who would drive by a motorist stranded with their children without stopping because of a bumper sticker for the opposing candidate, there are also people who would ignore the bumper sticker, pull over, and do whatever was needed to render assistance and make them as comfortable as possible.
Why was Dennis Prager in my dream? Maybe it’s because both Dennis Prager and I have frequently quoted Viktor Frankl who wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two — the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist. An older term for this is “alienist.” This older term suggests that study of the inner human finds something inhuman and alien.
Alienigena (Grey Alien) by LeCire
I think that’s true in the sense that the ideas people believe – in politics, in religion, even in what people consider science – constitute an alien influence on human behavior. Ideologies – ideas – act as alien influences on human beings, and to one degree or another separate us from the empathy that allows us to recognize others as fellow humans.
As I started writing this I thought it would take a book to say that.
I now realize it doesn’t.
Once you know that the ideas you believe are standing in the way of your acting like a human being you’ve dealt with your inner Alien, whom you can regard as a body snatcher, a puppet master, or a zombie.
Oh, the “D.oC” after my name means: Drop out — College. I have no degrees.
Later in the day, in response to email:
My article wasn’t about absorbing a set of ideas by joining a party or a religion or a cult. It wasn’t about getting ideas from voices in the head. It was, I suppose, about what Max Stirner called “wheels in the head.”
I’m not identifying the source of the Alien within us as anything other than human nature as a thinking being. Desmond Morris, the zoologist who turned the tools of his primate studies onto homo sapiens in The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo, focused on what behaviors we have in common with the other higher primates, apes and chimpanzees. I’m injecting what both Rand and Korzybski would notice first, that which we don’t have in common with the other primates — intellect.
It’s when we are at our most human — as abstract thinkers — that we invent the State, and War, and Politics — as well as limited government, Bills of Rights, property, and Agorism. Intellect can do both. Intellect may, possibly, invent the religions or ideologies of Good and Evil as Stirner, Nietzsche, and the God-awful Crowley would note.
But Stirner, Nietzsche, and Crowley would all miss what C.S. Lewis taught us about the Tao that precedes any intellectual formulation of codes of ethics or morality. That Good and Evil is perceived, not conceived.
It was the point I was making, mostly directed at my own life’s history, when I wrote the first part of The Heartmost Desire, “Unchaining the Human Heart: A Revolutionary Manifesto.” Autobiographically, the second part of The Heartmost Desire — “I Met God” — came first, but the point I was making (again, mostly to myself) was that human decency does not arise in our species as an intellectual exercise, but in experiencing feelings. I will admit one unresolved issue in my self-examination. I think the feeling of love is not intellectual. I consider the possibility that the feeling of hate requires a base of intellect.
My fellow Americans.
No, wait. This is written also for the unAmerican.
What happens at the polls on November 8, 2016 in the U.S. presidential election simply does not matter.
It’s not unimportant because balloting itself will be tampered with, which is how the media spin it when Donald Trump says the election is rigged.
Uh-uh. The fix is in for the popular voting because both the major political parties and the free press necessary for anything approaching “honest” elections have been corrupted, not allowing for a fair process — for example, not including Libertarian Gary Johnson, a candidate on all 50 state ballots, in the crucial televised debates.
Additionally, none of the cultural traditions that kept debates focused on policy issues exist anymore.
At this moment the media are focused on making the October 18, 2016 final presidential debate mostly about Donald Trump’s sex life.
The major media ignore all the Wikileaks documents from Hillary Clinton and her supporters, just as the Obama/Lynch Justice Department earlier directed the FBI to do.
The Clinton campaign — in coordination with major media — accuse Donald Trump of being paranoid when he talks about their obvious coordination while, simultaneously, Hillary and her supporters talking about Trump conspiring with Putin sound like Robert Welch of the John Birch Society accusing President Dwight Eisenhower of being a Russian stooge.
In a coordinated attack designed to bury Hillary-damaging Wikileaks the major media are obsessing over the endless Clinton-supporters claiming Trump molested them. Liberal/feminist attorney Gloria Allred getting involved is a clear indicator of the set-up.
Then consider the episode of NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 18, Episode 6: “Rape Interrupted,” scheduled to air Nov 2, 2016 — six days before the election. Here’s IMDb’s description of “Rape Interrupted”: “A politician’s campaign is jeopardized when several women come forward with damaging accusations.” Such an episode had to be scripted months ago. NBC, the network which aired The Apprentice series and was the employer of Billy Bush, certaintly knew about the Access Hollywood tape for a very long time.
Update/Correction October 26, 2016: The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode I referenced is “Unstoppable” and was originally scheduled to play tonight, two weeks before the November 8th election; as of this writing it has been re-scheduled to play November 16, 2016. — JNS
The coordinated media-smear strategy was simple.
Step One was release of the illegally made Access Hollywood tape. Unless the recording was made with all parties’ explicit consent the taping was illegal under California law. On this private recording Donald Trump bragged to Billy Bush about what a stud The Donald thought he was, even as Trump told Bush a story about a married woman who said no and whom Trump did not have sex with but whom Trump says he ended up taking furniture shopping.
Step Two was when Anderson Cooper relentlessly asked Trump in Debate 2 — interrupting Trump three times to force an answer — if any of the braggadocio on the tape was true. Cooper and his handlers had to know Trump would have no choice but to deny committing anything that could be spun as sexual assaults.
Then in Step Three major media unleashed what the Clintons charmingly called “bimbo eruptions” when it was about Bill Clinton — female accusers.
Nazi Germany’s propaganda master Joseph Goebbels would have been more subtle.
But here’s the ultimate reason the November 8, 2016 election doesn’t really matter.
The American people do not elect the President of the United States the way they elect United States senators, federal, state, and local representatives, governors, mayors, sheriffs, and dog catchers.
The real and only binding presidential election in 2016 takes place on December 19th when the Electoral College votes.
The 538 Electors chosen by voters to cast presidential and vice-presidential ballots in the Electoral College have zero legal obligation to vote for the candidate they’re theoretically pledged to vote for. There is no penalty if they don’t.
If somehow, despite the media’s best efforts, Trump’s November 8th popular vote is like the surprise upset of Great Britain’s Brexit vote and despite media-commissioned polling is greater than Hillary Clinton’s numbers, then changing the Electoral College electors’ vote will be trumpeted as necessary by all major media.
If the electors selected don’t give Hillary Clinton the 270 pledged votes she needs to win I have zero doubt that the Democratic/ liberal/ progressive/ Clintonista/ left would encourage electors pledged to other candidates to come over to them.
Another long-standing American political tradition will be dead.
Republican Elector Roger MacBride taught us the freedom of the Elector in 1972 when he broke his pledge to vote for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, instead casting his electoral ballot for Libertarians John Hospers and Tonie Nathan.
2012 Electoral College Votes by State
The media is currently so focused on the November 8 balloting they’ve forgotten the popular vote is not how the United States elects its president and vice president.
The Electors of the Electoral College pick the president.
Just because electors have traditionally voted as they have promised in the past means absolutely nothing in the unprecedented presidential election of 2016.
Every instinct tells me that the only people who have to be convinced of anything this time are the electors.
And nobody has even polled them.
Note: After reading the above several correspondents in email and on Facebook have pointed me to articles discussing 34 states that “bind” electors and impose legal penalties (usually fines maxing out at $1000) for “faithless electors.”
First, most legal scholars conclude such laws are unconstitutional and unenforceable, Second, not a felony. Those states usually max out with a $1000 fine — and withdrawing money prematurely from a CD or prematurely switching to an alternate satellite TV or cell phone company usually has the new company picking up the penalty. Out of the 538 electors only several might have to go against their state law and with a 4-4 Supreme Court it’s all politics anyway.
“Indeed, when it comes down to it, electors are ultimately free to vote for whom they personally prefer, despite the general public’s desire.” — Fair Vote — States that Bind Electors
As I wrote in response to an email earlier today:
Party pledges of supporting the party’s nominee were obtained from all primary candidates including Jeb Bush and John Kasich, both of whom reneged on supporting nominee Donald Trump with no party penalty. Such party pledges from electors are likewise meaningless and unenforceable beyond an elector perhaps not being selected again and that’s a big, “So what?”
Fines likewise would be paid by the team acquiring the elector’s vote, just like a new cell phone company offers to pay the remainder of your contract to your old cell phone company if you switch.
Nullification of a “faithless elector’s” vote? That will be decided by a 4-4 Supreme Court — that is, left undecided and the vote left intact.
The first life lesson I had in how a witch hunt works was when I was an elementary student at Center School in Natick, Massachusetts, 41 miles and less than an hour’s drive from Salem. But in my case it wasn’t 1693 but 1963.
Our fifth-grade teacher, Miss Masterson, stepped out of the classroom for a few minutes and we were instructed to remain at our desks. When she returned a pile of books had been pushed off a table at the front of the room onto the floor. Miss Masterson asked the class who did it. The entire class pointed at me, sitting at my desk near the back of the classroom.
I was sent to the office of Principal Paul Wadleigh. For close to an hour Mr. Wadleigh grilled me to get me to confess that I had gone to the front of the classroom and pushed the books onto the floor. I denied it, but with an entire class as witnesses against me, why should he believe me?
Why should the class accuse me if it wasn’t true? I didn’t know.
I didn’t know about anti-Semitism from a classroom full of Protestants and Catholics when I was the only Jewish student in the class, the only student not reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of class.
I knew I was frequently bullied and beat up after school but didn’t know it was because I displayed a vocabulary in class beyond any of the other students. (Two years later the entire Natick K-12 student body was tested for reading level and I had the highest score in the entire system.)
So I was grilled. “Confess!” and I could go back to class and nothing more would be said about it — no punishment.
I would not admit to doing something I had not done and stubbornly pled innocent despite the principal’s plea-bargain offer.
Finally, Principal Wadleigh relented and sent me back to class.
A family member who’s a supporter of Hillary Clinton suggested to me that the reason I defend Donald Trump against his detractors is that I have a soft spot for the underdog. I don’t deny it because the underdogs I defend are the victims of mass hysteria driven by mass media.
I wrote an entire book — The Frame of the Century? — defending one such underdog, O.J. Simpson, who the entire mass madia attacked as a murderer, despite the only evidence and testimony against him in court indicating that he might have been at the crime scene. Could Nicole have called him there with the murderer’s knife at her throat — the murderer intending to use O.J. as his alibi — and Simpson arrived to walk into Nicole’s blood with Nicole already dying or dead? Could Ronald Goldman have seen O.J. standing over Nicole’s body, attacked him, and O.J. picked up the murder knife, stabbing at Ronald Goldman in self-defense?
It could explain all the blood evidence. But what I just wrote is a fictional construct as much as Marcia Clark’s prosecution theory, and just as open to interpretation and skepticism.
I have never seen a shred of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that O.J. Simpson had a motive to kill his ex-wife. What I just wrote is not even one of the half-dozen equally-valid alternate scenarios I put in my book that explain the evidence presented against O.J. Simpson in both a criminal and civil trial.
Even before the Simpson trial we have had other media-frenzy cases which turned out to be bogus. Among the most infamous are the McMartin pre-school trial prosecuted by Los Angeles District Attorney Ira Reiner. There were other such trials in Florida and Massachusetts. They all used testimony from children led into making up stories — the same prosecution methods used on adults to generate witness testimony for the actual Salem witch trials.
After the Simpson trials we have the Duke lacross case where student athletes were accused of rape and convicted in the mass media — only to have it come out that the accuser was a serial liar. This is the only such case I can think of where the prosecutor, himself, ended up fired, disbarred, and even going to jail — for one day.
President Bill Clinton was brought up on charges of impeachment — and cleared in a Senate trial — for perjury he committed while denying various sex acts — and his accusers have even accused Clinton of rape — a charge on which he has never been arraigned or tried.
Anita Hill was brought in by opponents of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas to accuse now Justice Thomas of serial sexual harrassment. Today whether you believe Hill or Thomas depends entirely not on indisputable facts but on political leanings.
So we get to 2016 Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, bragging to Billy Bush of being sexually aggressive (in Trump’s own words ending not in a sexual conquest but in furniture shopping), and now what the Clintonistas referred to as a “bimbo eruption” is bringing forth accusers, many years later, accusing the current Republican candidate of unwanted sexual assaults.
As I write this there are 27 days until the populist presidential balloting. The actual presidential electors selected on November 8, 2016, vote on December 12, 2016 and are legally unbound to vote for a candidate; they can elect whom they wish.
For either election there is no time to investigate these brand-new charges against candidate Donald Trump and find out whether there are any truth to these women’s allegations or alternatively their fantastic political constructs.
What we do know is that major media made up almost entirely of liberals, progressives, and radical leftists who find Donald J. Trump poisonous to their agendas will obsess on these charges to the exclusion of any discussion of policy debates and charges against their own preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, defender of Bill Clinton.
I can only hope that — unlike all the other times — the witch hunt is exposed and foiled before it’s too late to matter.