I've been reading this piece at a few performances lately and people have asked me to post it. Given the recent oil spill and BP's abhorrent response (or lack of), the greed that drove both the spill and the response by BP, and the devastating ecological impact that is unfolding and will continue to do so for decades it seems a timely piece...it was originally for a quarterly salon that I do in Seattle. Each performance has a theme and the theme for this one was Notes From the Ledge, Suicide and Other Stories…
Yo—hey there Mr. Corporate CEO, Mr. Wal-Mart Exec, Mr. Exxon Mobil, Mr. Chevron, Mr. General Motors, Mr. GE, Citigroup and WA MU (or is it CHASE now? My bad.). Let’s be clear. I know you don’t like me. And I know I’m not particularly special in this regard. I know you don’t like me or any other rabble rousing, fist waving, protest supporting, community organizing, free thinking lover of imagination, alternative medicine and alternative realities, non-prescription drug taking, non-monogamy relationship participant, slow food movement lover, chicken raising bee keeping, spoken word artist.
I know it would be a lot easier for me to simply jump off the ledge or go crazy or simply get diagnosed with bi-polar disorder or major depression. I get it. Your monopoly, you mortgage, your marriage and you manhood depend on people like me not making too much of a stink about things. And when we do, people like me can easily get labeled Angry. Disgruntled. Pissed off. Unsettled. Unstable. Unhealthy. And we can get diagnosed, arrested or otherwise disposed of.
But here is my dilemma, Mr. CEO Guy…I want to jump off the ledge. I want to free-fall for a moment of eternal bliss followed by a quick slam-dunk into a permanent black out. I want to jump, Mr. CEO because of the hopelessness you manufacture. I want to be free and I am not. So I go crazy. Just a little. I want to be ok but life is not ok. So I drink. A little more than I should sometimes. Pain is abundant and so are money, land, water, housing, food and other resources and yet we starve and suffer. Children die because their mother’s and fathers can’t afford $80 medications. Doesn’t that make you want to shoot, punch, kick, or kill somebody? And if the somebody is an amorphous, asexual, ambiguous corporation that doesn’t have kneecaps to break and wraps itself in a national flag and a pink ribbon campaign designed to distract like shinny things in a store window, it makes sense to feel helpless because you don’t know where to land your fist. And the next little boy is dying because he can’t get medical attention and another mother gets cancer from prescription drugs, another man looses two fingers to a greedy assembly line, and another infant is born into poverty so you can maintain your swimming pools and tennis courts. And if you don’t know where to slam your fist it can make a wide arch back into the side of your own head. It makes sense, then to want to kill yourself because you can’t shoot a corporation, Mr. CEO Guy. And we do kill ourselves. Suicide is on the rise in many communities, the actual numbers hidden inside reports of overdoses, lethal accidents, and medial mysteries. And when suicide seems too complicated or messy, we can numb out and you will be there making soothing noises as you hand out pie charts showing the unexplainable rise in depression, autism and MS, the inexplicable cancer clusters, the confounding new chemicals like Premarin, Tirmox, Zoloft, Prilosec Lipitor and Loanoxin found in our drinking water (which are all on the top ten prescribed drugs in America list—but that’s another piece), the baffling disappearance of the middle class and perplexing expansion of the working poor.
Mental health is not compliance. Mental health, in a system of subjugation, denigration violence and abuse, is resistance. Mental health by any means necessary and that for me means looking over the edge of the precipice we stand on, and saying Mr. CEO man, fuck you.
You take the hit this time and If I go down I want to be holding you like a make shift wrap ‘n wear baby wrap. Motherfucker, I want to sew my legs around your thick martini midday waist and take you with me in a chokehold designed for stranger attacks by a bunch of rich white men afraid of strangers. (Men, who, it could be argued are afraid of their own worst shadow selves, but that’s another piece as well.) In any event we focus on stranger attacks, on muggings and rapists in part because they are messed up and we need to be able to defend ourselves, but also because you Mr. CEO man are too ambiguous, amorphous, unidentifiable to design a self defense curriculum around. What’s your target point? How do I de-escalate a verbal encounter with a corporation? But I know your face Mr. Walton, Mr. Rex Tillerson, MR. John S. Watson, Ed Whitacre, Mr. Vikram Pandit and Don Blackenship. I can simultaneously hold any and all of you close to me in a vice grip, whisper sweet incriminations of the families you have destroyed, babies you have murdered while holding your freshly scrubbed and exfoliated cheek to mine in a mortal combat caress. I can free fall with you any day of the week. I can sustain whatever diagnosis or dilemma you describe to corporate media. I am willing to be labeled to get close enough to put you in a sleeper chokehold and plunge head first over the balcony of your sins. I can jump. But I want to do it with you, my mortal Mr. CEO man. I itch to wrap you in my sultry embrace, wrap my fingers around the back of your neck and with a smile and a quick snap yank you close inside my very personal space and then with a surprising delightful “let’s roll CEO Man. Let’s roll.” Take. You. Down. I want to rock your world, MR CEO man. And instead of sushi and sexy time romp in my panties, we’ll roll 30 stories to the pavement that is made of gravel and guts from your victims. To a sidewalk full of blood and seamen; sweat and salty tears; unsung heroes and untold stories. Asphalt that has absorbed so much in-humanity and a blacktop that will absorb your sins and my teeth and bones which bounce off that hard surface then land with a satisfying splat embracing your sins and my sin of embracing you to be here, with you, 30 stories below in a bloody tangled mess of skin and muscle and bone.
And while I know taking you out won’t stop your brothers, your brethren from continuing to breathe in financial number crunching and exhale the cells of corporate lust for constant expansion, Mr. CEO man I’m willing to be a symbol of reckless abandon. I am willing to be arrested in time like Massey Forman are arrested for hazardous working conditions while you and your buddies, Mr. CEO take a ski vacation in Switzerland or surfing lessons in Maui. I am ready. I have been ready for a long time now. I can sleep eternal at peace knowing that my 15 minutes may be forgotten by the next news deadline by those who choose to ignore reality, but that my choice to take you down will be remembered as both a gesture of resistance and a powerful psychological reminder to people everywhere that while you may run the world, my friend, you do not own it.