Live Encounters Magazine April 2021.
Kathleen Mary Fallon most recent work is a three-part project exploring her experiences as the white foster mother of a Torres Strait Islander foster son with disabilities. The project consisted of a feature film, Call Me Mum, which was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize, an AWGIE and was nominated for four AFI Awards winning Best Female Support Actress Award. The three-part project also includes a novel Paydirt (UWAPress, 2007) and a play, Buyback, which she directed at the Carlton Courthouse in 2006. Her novel, Working Hot, (Sybylla 1989, Vintage/Random House, 2000) won a Victoria Premier’s Prize and her opera, Matricide – the Musical, which she wrote with the composer Elena Kats-Chernin, was produced by Chamber Made Opera in 1998. She wrote the text for the concert piece, Laquiem, for the composer Andrée Greenwell. Laquiem was performed at The Studio at the Sydney Opera House. She holds a PhD (UniSA).
Credibility Gulf is a one-woman performance piece. The author performed it over many months, and at many venues, during and after the first Gulf War. Presently, Kathleen is working on a collection titled ‘X marks the spot: writing on violence – war and race’.
Credibility Gulf was a short piece written and performed by Kathleen Mary Fallon during the first Gulf War at a women’s event at the Sydney YWCA in 1991.
In January, February and March 1991, we, the public, at home in Mediadrome , audience the terrorist tactics of a media carpet bombing, courtesy U.S. of A. Productions. Deliberately induced into an altered state of consciousness, a traumatised state (are we still in that state?) by 24-hour, live-death coverage we were shocked, suspended out of our normal consciousness and routines into the televised, sanitised, horror of the first Gulf War. The instant, participatory-event information with which we were smart bombed relied heavily on the ephemeral nature of TV reporting. In my fury and horror at the war itself, and also at the media coverage, I took the language sludge of this coverage and tried to make some sense, my own sense, out of this non-sense. The simple act of conscious intelligence, which perhaps makes us human, was something deliberately made impossible by sound-bite, visual-grab, photo-opportunity reportage. It looked like information, it sounded like language but it wasn’t. This strategy for mass and massive dissociation relied upon the ephemeral nature of the reporting, on media-induced memory loss, a memory as thin and vulnerable as the A3-sized piece of newspaper we wrap the garbage in, as fleeting as a click of the TV remote. My strategy was to turn TV into theatre, the throw-away language into the relative permanence of performance, the puffed-up, self-importance of Pentagon decision-makers into material for stand-up comedy. The weapons I chose were humour and satire. Let’s laugh at the war-mongering buffoons – Sir General Buck Blackhead, Resident Shrub, CNN’s comedian-journo Weasel Stark, Bobby Do-I-Listen-To-My-Head-Do-I-Listen-To-My-Heart Hawke. It’s a start!
Performer wears military-style costume of camouflage cap, mirror sunglasses and khaki T-shirt printed with skull and cross-bones and text – ‘KILL EM ALL LET GOD SORT IT OUT’. Four silver Christmas stars on red, white and blue ribbons are pinned ostentatiously to the left breast with large safety pins (‘a mess of fruit salad’ as the Yanks call this military medal shit) as well as the insignia for his knighthood hanging from ribbon around his neck. The performer also wears a large silver-banded wristwatch and black leather boots. Around the hips on a cammo belt hangs a large, sheathed knife, a water-bottle, an American flag with a yellow ribbon tied around its handle. Two pencil-sharpener hand grenades hang like testicles off the front of the belt.
Technical requirements and props
A lapel microphone, a lectern, a clipboard a ceremonial box with Blackhead’s fifth star in it.
Sir General Buck Blackhead (BB)
Resident Shrub (RS)
CNN’s comedian-journo Weasel Stark
Bobby Do-I-Listen-To-My-Head-Do-I-Listen-To-My-Heart Hawke
(By MC or taped)
‘You should know about Adolf Eichmann…a man who couldn’t bear to be unsuccessful; who spoke in slogans until the very end…a maser of that lethal use of language which brings yearning for absolute political equality to some and annihilation to others – annihilation at the hands of persons who are permitted to commit murder without remorse by a language stripped of conscience.’ From A Model Childhood by Christa Wolf.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are honoured to have with us, all the way from n DC (Dissociation City) and Conberra, live and in real-time a number of very distinguished guests. I will, for once, break with protocol and introduce the General before the Resident. I speak of none other than the recently beknighted, brilliant, military, Mensa-minded four-star General – Sir General Buck Blackhead who is here, in Melbourne this evening, anticipating the presentation of his fifth-star by that convicted technophile and thyrotoximic, Resident Shrub.
CNN comedian-journo, Weasel Stark, will anchor this deeply moving and historic occasion.
(Voice from off-stage) Make way for the Sir General! Make way for the Sir General!
BB: Way to go! Way to go! Way to go!
(Making cross-hair signs with fingers and targeting audience) Take-it! Take-it! Take-it! (Exploding bomb) Oh yeah!
(Removes his cap and mirror sunglasses)
OK Scudbusters settle down, settle down.
(Counting his stars) Four-star – one, two, three, four … one’s missing – Sir (yes, I’ve been beknighted by Queen Elizabeth herself) (He presents the knighthood insignia hanging from his neck) General Buck Blackhead, redeploying, mission accomplished. Everything you got from World War 2 in a fraction of the time. We gave the Iraqis some good advice, they didn’t choose it, now they’re gunna lose it. We cut it off and we killed it. Six weeks, six days of picture perfect assault. A text book war and we’ll write the text books.
BB: (Checks watch) Twenty-two hours. (Bends over and farts.) Fart! (Takes hand grenade pencil-sharpener off his belt, sharpens pencil and writes on his clipboard) Ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and nighty-eight sorties.
WS: (Puts pencil on hand grenade and uses it as a microphone) Good evening viewers. This is your stand-up, lie-down roll-me-over- and-I’ll-whistle-Dixie-for-you comedian-journo, Weasel Stark reporting live − Bang! Dead! (Does a sort of pratfall) from Rhiad.
Hey! Ever seen a news starved, pool reporter, in a media blackout, looking for a visual-grab, sound-bite scoop to deploy? (Thrusting microphone frantically into audience) Were you on the scene? Was anyone an eye-witness? Did you see the blood, the body bits? (Back to being reporter) Oh! Folks! It’s ugly, ugly.
Tonight! I’m speaking to a man who really knows how to put steel on his target – Sir General Buck Blackhead. Sir General, I hear they call you Buckin’ Buck. Why is that?
BB: Gee! Shucks! I dunno.
WS: Could it be that you got a bit of a temper there, Sir General?
BB: Well… blush, goof aww … they say I throw things when I get mad but, ahh, I don’t throw things.
WS: What about the Jackpot Road to Basra Sir General?
BB: Designated killing box 87B, the most target-rich environment in the whole darn theatre of operations. 170k of bumper-to-bumper, going-to-the-beach-on Sunday type traffic coaxed into the killing fields. EXPAND ORDNANCE! (Makes cross-bars sign with fingers and then explodse. All as if masturbating and then orgasming) Take it! Take it! Take it! Ooh yeah! It’s a turkey shoot, man. It’s fish in a barrel, rabbits in a sack, target practice. Thousands of carcasses of soft-skinned vehicles, belly up. Killing box 87B impacted, rendered non-operational – a healthy days bombing.
WS: Yes, there are images of war out there folks.
What about co-lateral damage Sir General? Has there been substantial interdiction of the live-ware component of the enemy war machine?
BB: You’re not going to draw me out on that one Weasel. What I can say, on that point, at this time is that Pentagon Central Casting is in negotiations at the moment with Totally Hidden Video for sole rights to the footage shot from the camcorders attached to the nose cones of the laser guided missiles. They have already developed one pilot show called ‘The Unluckiest Man in the World’ featuring an Iraqi’s face as the sophisticated smart bomb travels elegantly down the highway towards him, travels through his windscreen, through his cranial casement and impacts, directly on target, killing the military transport behind him.
WS: Ever thought of joining NTNA Sir General? Nana-Techno-Necropheliacs Anonymous? (To audience) The war is over but endo-colonisation is only just beginning.
(Saluting)You know winning Sir Generals are national heroes back where I come from, Sir!
BB: (Overexcited) Oh boy! Oh boy! You got my fifth star with you …?
No Weasel, it’s the common-s-mud foot-soldier who is the real hero. (And especially the forty percent Black contingent who couldn’t even get jobs pumpin’ gas for the oil companies we’re fighting for.) Over the past months he has sustained and absorbed massive numbers of sports injuries, road accident fatalities and friendly fire. It’s hell out there man. He’s out there in the desert playing Worst Case Scenario Charades and Hey-Buddy-Wanna-Come-Over-Saturday-Night-And- Write-A-Programme-For-My-Missile. No, he’s the real hero. I just wanna get the job done and get home to my beautiful wife of 32 years, my two lovely daughters, our six-year-old dog, a parakeet, two cats and especially my sixteen-year old son, Buck Junior the Third.
WS: Could you share that Best Case Scenario with us Sir General?
BB: We’ve been to chapel, after roast turkey and apple pie the whole darn family is standing around the log fire and I’ll say, ‘Son, I want you to have these’ and I’ll pin my wings on his chest just above his heart and he’ll say, ‘Oh boy! Oh boy! Daddy does this mean I can be a Scudbuster too? … Thank you sir. I sure hope I can stop neutralizing the dog, shooting crack and live to be worthy of them.’ And his Mom and his sisters will be smilin’ and cryin’ as he sings, ‘America! America! …’
WS: Ironically, these are the things a soldier thinks about out there on the battlefield – the good things of life. Could expand for us Sir General?
BB: Twenty-three hundred hours. (Bends and farts) Fart! Nine-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine sorties.
Yes, Weasel. It brings back memories of my old Daddy, (Salutes to the heavens) ‘Sir’, when he was head of the secret police for the Shah of Iran. He handed me his high-voltage cattle prodder and said, ‘ Son, now go out and cut your teeth on Middle-eastern politics’. (Maintaining salute and getting very sentimental and emotional as he speaks to his Daddy in heavens) Watch me take this bad boy Saddam out Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Are you watching?
WS: Sir General, we have just crossed live to the nerve centre of the war machine. Let me guess. The khaki camouflaged phone on my left must be your command phone and the (Salutes) the red, white and blue one on my right must be THAT OTHER PHONE. Tell me Sir General, do you ever call Him on it?
BB: No, actually, He calls me.
WS: Well, viewers, just who does Resident Shrub call? We know he calls Sir general Buck Blackhead in Rhiad cause he just told us He did. We know He didn’t call Prime Minister Kaifu in Tokyo cause now the Japanese aren’t going to give us any more money, but He also called Bobbie (no not Bobbie Batista CNN Atlanta, not that Bobbie but Bobbie Do-I-Listen-To-My-Head-Do-I-Listen-To-My-Heart Hawke in Conberra, Australia. Crossing live now to Prime Minister Hawke in Conberra, Australia.
BH: (A submissive fem. Bent over to take it in the arse. Using microphone/telephone as dildo. Speaks coquettishly to audience) Well, I took a twenty-five minute phone hook-up from Resident Shrub in the early hours of this morning. I think that shows you what kind of relationship we have.
WS: Hell, I wouldn’t want to job of cleaning the telephones where he lives.
We’re about to cross back now in real-time to Wishington DC(Dissociation City) where Resident Shrub is about to address the nation. Is that you CNN? I’m sorry CNN, you’ll have to repeat that, you’re breaking up … We’ve got some real interference here. (Crys) Techno-fault! Techno fault! It seems someone has activated one of those rogue portable telephones again. Techno-fault! Techno-fault!
Poet: On the eve of the Gulf War, in the shadow of the new Citistate Novatele Luxury Hotel Complex in Darling Harbour kids play Tank Tag in a camouflaged enclosure. They shoot at their little brothers and sisters from their mini-tanks while, on the other side of the wire, their brothers and sisters shoot back from their machine gun nests. ‘Good shot!’ shout Mum and dad at the fence.
And what will the women weave into their carpets now, the women who have already learnt to weave the tank, the machine gun, the man kneeling with the bazooka on his shoulder? Large looms will be necessary to weave the Persian carpets showing B52 and BLU82 carpet bomb attacks and around the border will they weave, in Arabic script, the story of the thousands of soldiers suffocated in their bunker-tombs deep under the desert? Are the women sitting now where the cross-hairs meet above them, on the receiving end of the sign of the cross?
and so the kids play Tank tag at Darling Harbour
and Mrs Warboys, the army wife, cuts the grass
and Schwartzkopf reads his camouflage-covered bible
and the stock-market reached its Gulf Crisis peak in October
and prostitutes in Sydney say their workload has doubled since the war started
and camo-chic hits the streets of new York
and a truck driver spends his weekend painting NUKE THE KOOK on the side of his van
and I redesign the Australian flag with Old Glory where Joh Bull used to be and two white domes for Nerrunga and Pine Gap to replace the Southern Cross
and I draw scaled-down rectangles of my TV screen with lines
converging to the point in the middle
and in the green-brown water of the Dawn Fraser Pool I kick a quick
desperate freestyle to avoid that vortex, that point in the middle I long to slide into
and I wonder if some woman in Baghdad or Basra is doodling cross-hair censors all over the inside cover of her notebook
and I dream that the US is playing cats cradle with thousands of kilometres of red tape around the fertile crescent. Our cradle of Civilisation is enmeshed in an intricate, sinister and web-like entanglement. And thousands of Iraqi POEs file across the desert from the right of my TV screen to the left and I make rough calculations – 65,000 POWs, 650,000 Iraqi troops, that leaves 585,000 – where they? After 100,000 bombing raids, where are they?
And then Mr Godfreys, the vacuum cleaner salesman commiserates with a customer, ‘Looks like there’s been a Desert Storm on your Persian carpet lady but sit back and let Godfreys do the work.’
WS: CNN? CNN? Is that you? We’re back. Dissociation City, real-time, CNN State.
Standing by for Resident Shrub’s address to the nation.
Can you information me yet CNN as to whether it will be the intimate-fireside-chat format, the whoops-a-daisy-dashing-to-the-john-when-you-caught-me-caughtshort-in-the-Rose Garden al fresco or the let’s-talk-grown-ups-over-the-Big-Brown-Desk-in-the Oval Office assemblage?
RS: (Standing behind the lectern, he speaks in the soft, slow voice of a hypnotist in the process of inducing the hypnotic state in his subject. He holds up two fingers in the up-you gesture) Pax Americana! (Then he does the thumbs down)
We don’t want to destroy Iraq, its people, its culture.
I promise I won’t come in your mouth.
We are Americans, we have a unique responsibility to do the hard work of freedom and when we do freedom works.
We don’t want to destroy Iraq, its people, its culture.
This is hurting me more than its hurting you.
The New World Order, quite simply will be a time when war is obsolete. NO MORE WAR! It will be a rule-writing period and America will write the rules.
No more war! No more United Nations! No more church! No more Pope! No more Freedom of the Press! No more Nature! No more History! A New World Order − a virtual reality. A New World Morality – a virtual morality.
MIGHT! MIGHT! MIGHT!
Yankee MIGHT, MIGHT MIGHT.
Is RIGHT! RIGHT! RIGHT!
Work can be fun when you’re holding the gun.
Where the Liberators are the terminators.
(Makes the ‘read my lips’ sign) We don’t want to destroy Iraq, its people, its culture.
I’m doing this for your own good.
The War is over. The Peace has just begun.
The Total Peace of Deterrence is Total War by other means. Speed is the essence of War and technology is the producer of Speed, a technology that has replaces nature. Pure, 100 percent guaranteed, 24 hour, 7 day a week, War. Build your bunker in the suburbs and stand firm on a PWF, a Permanent War Footing. Fight the War on Crime, the War on Drugs, the War on Words, the War on the Media, which ever War you want – Canon the Big Gun in copiers, Pea Beau – a better kill for your money, Nintendo Gameboy – picking it up is the easy part but, when you have the designated friends and foe codes, putting it down is a different story.
Peace Protesters: (Beside the lectern, sings inanely as if stoned while making a peace sign)
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is snowflakes in hell.
RS: (Continues in his soft, seductive hypnotic induction voice) Fellow Americans, from midnight Eastern Standard Time I declare America a Geo-religion and CNN is its State. A State of Telecommunications, populated by its target market, with its own regulating international Time-zone, drawing on a Captive Ausience.
BB: (Clearing his throat) Mr resident, Sir, with all due respect, aren’t you forgetting something? (Indicating space on his ‘mess a fruit salad’ for his missing fifth star)
RS: It is with profound afterthought that I here present you, Sir General Buckey with your fifth star. Wear it as a decorative anachronism, just like the ground war, which was, militarily speaking, also a decorative anachronism. (Dropping fifth star on the floor beside BB)
And now here is Miss Batte Midler to sing our new National Hymn, which I am told was top of the Iraqi hit parade last month.
Batte Midler: (Making the cross-hairs, take-it sign with her hands into the audience)
God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance
(Making explosion gesture with her hands)
BB: (Picks up star and pins it on beside other four stars) That’s it Scudbusters. (Putting on his cap and sunglasses) I have a literary career to get off the ground. Thanking you, and, as we say in Dissociation City, ‘Stay on the right side of the censors now, won’t you. (Making the cross-hairs sign to the audience) Take-it! Take-it! Take-it! Oh! Yeah! (Making exploding bomb sign with his hands)
(As he exits) Way to go! Way to go! Way to go!
© Kathleen Mary Fallon