Log in

No account? Create an account
16 July 2008 @ 10:29 am

The scene opens in a dockside bar in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. A jukebox stacked with 78's is currently playing the 1950 recording of 'Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia' by The Dinning Sisters.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: I am so sick of this shit. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.


JAMES POWER: What the Dinning Sisters?!


DEATH IN THE MORNING: No, no! I love the Dinning Sisters! They’re my girls! Jean, Ginger, and Lou.


JAMES POWER: And they’re all still living, ya know?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: You’re telling me? …  No, I’m sick of one damn bloodbath after the next. The day-to-day carnage… You’d think I’d have built up a more stoic nature about it by now.


JAMES POWER: Tough week?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: I knew when I was given this gig what it was all about, but when you see the same damn thing, day after day, dipsticks destroying their lives, it’s more than a bit exasperating!




DEATH IN THE MORNING: The other day, right, there’s this kid, named Steven Hafto from South Jersey, he’s all jammed up, and it’s not even 10:00 in the morning! He get’s into a Chevy Monte Carlo coupe, going over 90 MPH on I-95 south through Philly. He’s all over the road… Fuck! I’m screaming at him, “Pull over, man! Pull the fuck OVER!” … I always let ‘em know they got one more chance before they permanently fuck up their lives... This kid’s about 25 years old. I know exactly what’s going to happen next.


JAMES POWER: He was killed?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Fuck, no! He plowed into a pickup truck, it cart-wheeled into the northbound lanes, both the passenger and driver in the truck were ejected onto 95. The driver, Ferdinand Ramirez-Villaneuva, 50 years old, was run over and instantly killed, his passenger, Anna Torres, wasn’t killed but is hospitalized at Hahnemann University. Fuckin’ horrible!


JAMES POWER: And the kid in the Monte Carlo?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: He’s fine …. except that his life is fucked… other than that he’s fine. Believe me, I have another appointment scheduled with that dude soon.


What gets to me, more than the death, is watching what happens to those that survive. Sure, some who kill don’t give a shit, it rolls right off them, but the ones that do care that they’ve taken a life often implode... It’s not just guys coming back from some goddamned military conflict.  The most peaceful neighborhoods become a war zone when you lose your way…. And instantly, your life forever changes. Everything that mattered enormously yesterday doesn’t matter for shit now… People are constantly playing a game of Russian roulette with their lives and they don’t give a shit…. until the gun goes off. Then it’s too late.


JAMES POWER: Well, that may be true DEATH IN THE MORNING, but aren’t you just propagating the whole process? Sort of like a necrophiliac setting up a hotdog stand in a graveyard? … You make sure you’ll enjoy yourself -- one way or another.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Woah! A necrophiliac setting up a hotdog stand in a graveyard!? Jesus, I thought your friend Luther was sick!


JAMES POWER: Luther should be here soon…. He’ll top that.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Well, listen, what do you want me to do? It’s my job!


JAMES POWER: “It’s my job.” That’s what the guys who work for Blackwater say.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Hey, hey! Don’t lump me in with Blackwater! I’m not a fuckin’ government terrorist!








LUTHER BRIXTON: So, what have I missed?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Your musical friend here was equating what I do with terrorism .. or necrophilia .. or hotdogs .. or some fuckin’ thing.


LUTHER BRIXTON: That’s strange. I never heard James say anything bad about death before. Especially you, DEATH IN THE MORNING…. Hey, I heard about that 2 hour backup on I-95 Friday morning. Traffic came to a dead stop … Nice work!


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Hey, I didn’t DO that! I “oversaw the proceedings” …. <glug, glug, glug> … AAAhhhhhhhh … I “oversaw” it!


The jukebox begins playing Andy Williams 1963 recording of ‘Can't Get Used to Losing You’.


LUTHER BRIXTON: Good song!! .. “Gonna spend my whole life through, Loving Yo-o-o-ou!”.... Hey, James, why don’t you ever write a song like this?


JAMES POWER: I’m too busy living it …… So, DEATH IN THE MORNING, are Luther and I going to be safe tonight? Considering its evening?


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Depends …. I haven’t talked to DEATH IN THE EVENING today.


LUTHER BRIXTON: I heard a great song on the way over here. ‘Angel Face’ by the Captain and Tennille.


JAMES POWER: You’re always listening to the Captain and Tennille these days. Why is that?


LUTHER BRIXTON: That’s not true! Not at all!


JAMES POWER: What do you mean, Luther? Last time we talked you mentioned them. ‘Muskrat Love even! Jesus!

LUTHER BRIXTON: Hey, that’s not fair!. I was recalling a situation and that song, for whatever reason, always reminds me of poignant moments in my life.




LUTHER BRIXTON: FUCK YOU, DEATH IN THE MORNING!!! So, did you enjoy taking Anna Belle Lee last month?! You prick!




DEATH IN THE MORNING: Hey, Luther, easy, man! Do you think Anna Belle Lee was happy being alive? Do you?!! Do you really not understand how happy she was to leave this place? .. You’re just thinking of yourself. Believe me, no one who ever died wished they stayed here longer, no matter what they had happening for them. I can’t emphasize enough that the mortal pain you accept as a human being is NOT something you’ll miss for a split second when it’s gone! … That seems pretty damn obvious, so no wonder I can’t make you understand it.




JAMES POWER: Luther, I understand... You find solace in the Captain and Tennille. For me it’s an opposite problem. I tend to not want to hear certain songs because they bring back memories… To this day I can’t listen to ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’ by Frank Sinatra, even though I will always say that’s his best album.


LUTHER BRIXTON: So why can’t you listen to it?


JAMES POWER: I just told you. You listen to Muskrat Love and you think of Anna Belle Lee …




JAMES POWER: KNOCK IT OFF! … If I listen to ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’, I think of the late 90’s and a redheaded country girl from Ohio.




JAMES POWER: What? You didn’t whack her, did you?! For Christsakes, DEATH IN THE MORNING!!


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Um, no ….. no ….. Did you plan on seeing her again?


JAMES POWER: I seriously doubt it.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Then no. Of course not!  She’s fine. Looks hot as hell!


JAMES POWER:  You want to field this one, Luther?




DEATH IN THE MORNING:  Hey, guys! C’mon! I told you I’m having a rough week. Ease up!


JAMES POWER: Alright, DEATH, I got a question for you. It may or may not be above your pay grade…  but this whole death thing…




JAMES POWER: I sort of figure our spirit goes on, but I certainly don’t believe that with the ramshackle, haphazard nature of a human life, as incredibly short and insignificant as it is, that somehow each person is rewarded with an ‘eternity’ for it, or that we dwell forever on the mistakes we made over what is really a very, very few years -- regardless of how wonderful or horrific that life was.




JAMES POWER: But I do think that whatever that spirit is, whatever that energy is, what some people consider a soul, continues on, either being absorbed into one larger energy force or generated back into one single spiritual being…  A lot of people believe some version of that, whether they believe in a god or not.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Sure… <glug, glug, glug> … right …


JAMES POWER: My question is … is it possible that our spiritual energy, our life force, ONLY remains part of a larger consciousness or essence as long as our planet or solar system survives? … In other words, as way of a comparable example, take water. Water dehydrates and is gone, it rains and then it’s back. We consider this sort of an eternal process. BUT it’s only eternal as long as the planet exists. Should earth explode – say, if some asshole of limited intellect thinks Jesus tells him to nuke some non-Jesus-loving country and enough warheads go off to obliterate earth -- THEN the eternal water process will stop. Millions of years of water, that we’ve always thought of as never ending will suddenly end. ….. My question is: Do you think that may happen to the same spiritual energy that has caused humans and life on earth to continue? That spirit will no longer regenerate – god or no god -- once this planet and/or its solar system is gone? And everything we are, or ever have been, will cease forever? What we consider eternal -- or heaven, if you’re religious -- will end when our solar system is gone?


LUTHER BRIXTON: That’s a good question.


JAMES POWER: Thanks, Luther. 


DEATH IN THE MORNING: One problem. What makes you think the energy will cease to exist beyond this solar system?…. <glug, glug, glug> ..


JAMES POWER:  It’s just a theory.. I don’t necessarily feel strongly about it… I’m just thinking how all the other things on earth we consider never ending will all suddenly cease if earth ceases….. I've said before that I think what will happen to us when we die will seem incredibly obvious when we finally experience it, but we're overlooking it because of some boo-boo imagery that we've been told to believe... Everything in life follows a natural progression ...  Trees can live on a mountain for centuries, but once that mountain is gone, so too are all traces of that once thriving life continuum.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: <glug, glug, glug> ..


LUTHER BRIXTON:  <glug, glug, glug> ..


JAMES POWER:  Sorry, guys… just a thought…  I didn’t mean anything by it … I just wondered if you knew, DEATH... I wondered if you knew death.


LUTHER BRIXTON: This must be where he gets his sunny disposition.…


The jukebox begins playing Sister Janet Mead’s 1973 recording of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.








JAMES POWER: Whoever put that on should be shot!


DEATH IN THE MORNING: If only it was earlier in the day!




The jukebox begins playing Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs 1959 recording of ‘Stay’.


JAMES POWER: Much better

LUTHER BRIXTON: So if you avoid ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’ what do you listen to for solace?

JAMES POWER: Any soul music record made between 1963 and 1968. Basically, from the time Otis Redding first picked up a microphone and recorded ‘These Arms of Mine’ until he died, everything done in the world of soul music was flawless. It was almost as though he was the overseer of soul during that period. I can pick up the most obscure LP by an unknown 60’s soul act and 9 times out of 10 it grabs me. The vocals, the melodies, the structure, the harmonies, the rhythm section, the horn section .. everything.


LUTHER BRIXTON: So it’s soul music?


JAMES POWER: Generally, but not only that. If I want to leave the world behind I put on some house-wrecking gospel quartets. Julius Cheeks is probably the most ferocious in that area. I swear to God I leave my body when that man sings. I can feel myself rising up out of this world.


LUTHER BRIXTON: And you’re an atheist?


JAMES POWER: Sure. I listen to David Bowie and Pete Townshend and I don't have any interest in having sex with men, why do I need to have an interest in God if I listen to gospel? The great thing about gospel is that the vocals go so far beyond the words that the English language is really just there for the ride. It has nothing to do with the emotional intensity being communicated. True, honest emotion gets to me in a way nothing else does. Strangely enough, that’s exactly what I loved about James Cagney. He projected a soulful, earnest desperation in all his best character portrayals, and it gets to me in the same way soul music does.


I’ll tell you what was probably one of the greatest soul vocal performances ever. Do yourself a favor and pick up Irma Thomas’ original recording of ‘Yours Until Tomorrow’ from 1967. She did it a couple times, but that first version was so Goddamn powerful it breaks me up every time I hear it! The second time she gets to the chorus, she belts out, “Just let me be yours”, but before she gets to the “until tomorrow” part, she lets out this audible gasp, like her lungs are collapsing. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear it, it’s so damn compelling. I don’t know what was going on in her life, but she had someone in mind when she did that. You really have to hear it…. It’s much better than the Captain and Tennille.




LUTHER BRIXTON: Alright, DEATH IN THE MORNING, what do you put on when you need to find some relief?


DEATH IN THE MORNING:  I have this recording of 8 or 9 baby weasels tied up in a duffel bag getting beaten to death with a baseball bat.


LUTHER BRIXTON: Oh, for Godsakes!


DEATH IN THE MORNING:  No, no, no. You asked me what gets me going, and that’s what psyches me up for work every day .. to each his own… what can I say?

LUTHER BRIXTON: Ya know, DEATH IN THE MORNING.. I didn't want to say anything ... but that chick over there’s been checking you out all night.

DEATH IN THE MORNING: Mm-hmm. I’ve been checking her out, too.


LUTHER BRIXTON: You gonna make a move?


DEATH IN THE MORNING:  In exactly 3 hours


JAMES POWER: That’s a shame. She doesn’t look that old.




LUTHER BRIXTON:  I like ‘em a bit older.


JAMES POWER: Luther, I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing here.


LUTHER BRIXTON: Don’t be so sure.


JAMES POWER: I’ve got to stop hanging around you…


LUTHER BRIXTON: We should probably settle up now.


DEATH IN THE MORNING: Yeah .... <glug, glug, glug> … Look at the time. It’s after midnight. It’s a new day… Watch yourself on the drive home, guys.



Current Music: Marion Williams - Death in the Morning