ON BULLSHIT — AND MY STINK FANTASY IN THE AGE OF TRUMP — AND MY STINK OPERA DEVELOPING. . .
Bullshit — lies plus stink — is the perfect word for our time
by Frank Gagliano, Playwright
When CNN political reporter John King used the word bullshit in the discussion following the Trump second impeachment acquittal trial, I was delighted that the word wasn’t bleeped out — or finessed to the feebler BS. Bullshit is the perfect word for our time: The “bull” parts of the word are the blatant lies and deceptions and often evil intent; the “shit” part is the stink that follows, that lingers — the stink that is now in the American air and zeitgeist.
Lately I’ve come across headlines like these: “The Stench of Trump’s Racism Will Cling to His Enablers Forever.” “The Stink Of His Family is nearly impossible to get off.” “If you’re still working for Trump, his stink won’t ever wash off.” “Trump’s stench will cling to Republicans long after he’s gone.” Stink. Stink. Stink. . . .Just Google “Trump Stink” and see the variety of Trump Stink headlines you’ll find.
Amazing. Because, over the last four years, I found comfort in developing an inner fantasy centered on an epic Trump Stink — now developing toward a new theatre piece (See PIVOTING below).
Odors often play important parts in my writing. In “SMELLS,” my hero, Harold Icarus Hubris smells trouble coming. He even smells death coming and he’s convinced he can outrun it. In my current work-in-progress — “THELO,” a Dr. Seuss-like musical theatre-piece saga that takes place in the country of Fakaktaville — a climactic battle takes place in Fagàgada County, with its atmosphere of “rotten eggs-farts.” In my novel, “Anton’s Leap,” smells of sex abound.
THE FANTASY BEGINS
My Trump Stink fantasy started as a fragmented inner dibble and developed into a cohesive back-burner creative project during this Covid plague period. I never outlined anything — just kept an inner Trump Stink-riff scenario going in my head through the day — a riff that helped keep me sane. It was a useless fantasy, of course, but fun to diddle with. For awhile. I even riff-created an invisible, voiceless deity that wrote in bible lettering and signed itself DEM.
On one eventful day — and via cell phone and tablet, television, newspapers, radio — DEM (Deus Ex Machina?) scrolls out a judgement to the world that “a Trump Stink will strike with a vengeance on such-and-such a date.” And it does. In my fantasy. At a typical Trump MAGA rally of Mock and Hate. And the stench drifts from every pore of Trump’s body and through his clothes, and wafts over all the Trump acolytes in that arena — every MAGA-hatted and “You Can Grab My Pussy” middle aged Trump-lady T shirts — and has them vomiting en masse as the crowd stampedes out.
Again, this was my inner stink fantasy scenario. Always knew it wasn’t real. Kept it to myself.
CHARLOTTESVILLE and OLFACTORY HALLUCINATIONS
Then came Charlottesville, Virginia, and the white supremacist, American Nazi, out-for-blood, violent invasion — an invasion that led to people being injured and dying. Olfactory hallucination (Phantosmia) is the medical term for phantom smells. My fantasy Trump Stink became Phantosmia precisely at the moment when President Trump in Charlottesville announced his “fine people on both sides” doctrine. Suddenly — and I swear this happened — the grease trap smell from my basic training Korea Army days, when we trainees had to clean out the traps during KP duty and the smell would make me gag — that smell filled my nostrils and I had to rush for the remote to turn off the Charlottesville “fine people” Trump Conference, in order to abort that KP-trap stink.
The next Phantosmia Trump Stink came when President Trump’s DNA was at the height of its hate, cruelty and revenge mode, and his so-called nasty “rhetoric” became nasty “policy,” when he was allowed, by his Republican and white Evangelical so-called Christian enablers, to blaspheme nature by separating brown children from their parents, placing the children in what resembled American animal cages. That new Stink mix then was the stink that I was told wafted from the animal-like cages where the children — wrenched from their parents — had to stew in their own pee and poo. So. Pee and poo stink was added to my Phantosmia KP trap Trump Stink.
The new smells-riff increased over the four years of the Trump administration, overwhelming my nostrils with an even more complex mix: From the Helsinki Summit (where Trump isolated himself with one of his authoritarian figurative lovers — poisoner Putin of Russia — and during which the President undermined his own American Intelligence community . . .Stink; right through to Trump’s Ukraine first impeachment. . .Stink; and continuing through to his inciting-the-attack-on-the-U.S.-Capitol-on-6-January-to-overturn-his-being-the-loser-in-the-2020-Election (with Capitol police-being-beaten-and-murdered) . . .Stinks.
STINK GAME CHANGER
The bloody 6 January Trump insurrection was a Stink game changer for me. The Trump Stinks were coming too hot and heavy and were too complex for me to absorb. They overwhelmed my rambling Stink fantasy. Now, in addition, there was the total emergence of the Trump Republican Party (fast becoming the party of Lawlessness and Disorder) . . .Stinks: The “Grim Reaper,” human cadaver, Mitch McConnell . . .Stink: The Hypocrite Incarnate Sen. Lindsey Graham . . . Stink: The contempt-for-the-Senate-and-Constitution Senator’s Cruz-Hawley-Rand Paul . . .Stinks: The murder-and-beating-of-the-Capitol-police-by-Trump acolytes. . .Stink: The defecating and peeing in the Capitol halls by one or some of the Trump invaders. . .Stink (and I’m convinced a selfie of that event will surface). . . and then, of course, the emergence of the QAnon Marjorie Taylor Greene . . . Stink.
I now must pivot and do what I’ve always done when my fantasies need to be made manifest; when my need to organize the chaos of my fragmenting inner fantasies congeal into a cohesive piece, until I find myself in the condition of being what playwright (and my Off-Broadway producer) Edward Albee used to call, “pregnant with play.” In this case, pregnant with — what? — A theatre piece? An animation piece? A screen play? A graphic novel? An opera?
I’m not at that Albee pregnant point yet. But some ingredients are beginning to drop in that might reach that Albee pregnant threshold. It’s important for me, as a dramatist, to have a human protagonist as engine to drive whatever the dramatic journey might be. So. Here’s a possible diddling start:
POSSIBLE DIDDLING START
I’ll call her Paula. Perhaps 21 year old Paula Rabinowirz (nicknamed Moxie) suddenly emerges from a two-year deep coma on February 7, 2021. Let’s say that Moxie Paula had fallen into the coma two years before when her mother and father, Jerry and Anna Rabinowitz, were murdered by a white supremacist anti-Semite who had gunned down 15 members of her synagogue (emulating the infamous Tree-Of-Life massacre in Pittsburgh).
Background: Moxie Paula and the Rabinowitz family had always been a member of a small synagogue congregation in Georgia’s 14th congressional district — the same district that QAnon Marjorie Taylor Greene represents.
Beginning (Why this day is different from any other day): Moxie Paula is suddenly awakened from the two-year coma by an unclear female rabbi presence carrying a magical Stink Saber that can engulf the enemy in a putrid stench. Paula bolts upright in the hospital and screams in Yiddish, “Der shtink kumt!;” and in Italian, “Cattivo odore qui.”
National attention! World attention! “The Paula miracle!”
Miracle, because Paula recovers from the deep two-year coma — and miracle, because she never learned Yiddish or Italian — screaming herself hoarse, in multiple languages, as she pulls the intravenous tubes from her body. — And miracle, because the Shtink does kumt!
More background: Moxie Paula Anna Rabinowitz was named after Paula Ackerman and Anna Salvo. Paula Ackerman was the first woman in the United States to perform rabbinical functions; Anna Salvo was Paula’s Italian/American progressive activist mother. Her beloved father, Jerry Rabinowitz, was a respected MD and world renowned ethicist. Powerful lineage.
The unclear Rabbi Paula Ackerman — with her Stink Saber — might well have been the presence that awakened Moxie Paula Anna Rabinowitz from her from her two year coma and might be at Paula’s side when — . . . Well. . . .It’s a possible start.
I have no idea how this will develop. Or if it will develop at all. I do have a notion to bring on to Moxie Paula’s side, the made-of-clay protector of Jews, the Giant of Jewish mythology — Golem. The Golem Giant and — Yes!: The ghost of Paula Ackerman and her mighty Stink Saber will help Moxie heroine Paula Anna Rabinowitz battle the Cruz-Hawley-Rand Paul-QAnon Marjorie Taylor Greene newly formed cabal — a powerful evil Stinking cabal that has created it’s own giant — a made-from-turd devil monster they call — “Belial.”
I have the notion, too, to have the climactic battle take place on the once achingly beautiful rolling hills of bluebonnets around Austin, Texas that — after years of climate chaos and State political mismanagement — will have become an Arctic tundra, and —
[ — Wait, Frank. Isn’t Jerry Rabinowitz the name of your former doctor who was murdered at the Tree-Of-Life synagogue in Pittsburgh? In the middle of the Trump age of Stink? Two years ago?
— Is this also, then, an homage to Dr. Jerry?
“Perhaps. . . .I am, after all, still grieving for our murdered doctor . . .as I grieve now for my country.]
Stay tuned. If interested.
Bio, career, Off-Broadway plays, musicals, songs, stories, essays and more can be found on www.gaglianoriff.com.