"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

"The Best I Can"
Text and annotation by Josh Koenig

Source texts for this piece are available "here":/wiki/source_text_best_i_can.

Originally staged 11/12/2001 as part of "RADIO/active" (produced by Frank Boudreaux) at The Cutting Room, New York City. Directed by Josh Koenig with Josh Koenig as BIKEMAN and "Johnny Nicholls":http://www.myspace.com/mrnichollsmusic as GUITAR PLAYER.

@ON STAGE: In darkness, a GUITAR PLAYER with a free standing lamp enters. Also a roughly dressed bicycle repairman wearing gloves, baseball cap and yellow-lensed sunglasses. BIKEMAN is working on a bike wheel in the darkness with a mag-light attached to his glasses so he can see. Shortly, the guitar player switches on the light and begins to play his interpretation of Radiohead's Optimistic on acoustic guitar. Stage lights come up. The bicycle repairman realizes he's not alone in the theatre and begins speaking to the audience. He bristles with the manic energy of an outgoing street person, a friendly madman.@

BIKEMAN: Man oh man oh man it's getting hard. It's getting real hard right now. You know what I'm sayin'? It's like, it's like, it's almost like the four horsemen are out there on the loose or something. I mean, you've got people hungry, people starving, there's famine, you got plagues, your disease, your pestilence, you got tons of death, you got, you got war. I mean, Fuck! There's war!

And it's not like you have to look all that far to see this kinda stuff, you know what I mean? You go outside and there's people sleepin, there's people sleepin' in the streets, and then there's people driving down the street in $100,000 cars, and what's that all about, you know? You don't have to look that far, no you don't have to look that far.

@shift in music, more relaxed@

But I'm - You know - you know where I'm looking? And I'm not feeling all that bad about it? I'm looking up at the moon. And it feels allright, you know? The moon? That pure white moon? That virginal moon? That... moon.

Man, you look up there are you start, you start to get a sense of it, you know? You get that... sense. That we're all animals down here, all hoppin' and jumpin' around in the jungle, you get that cosmic sense, you know, like we're all one tribe, we're all in this together. It's like, it's like a smell, like that smell, like fresh baked bread sitting in the other room, you know? Take a whiff of that, man. Smell that utopia. That's a moment, man. You wanna just stay in that moment, but you reach out to get it and...

@shift in music, becoming more agitated@

It's changing. Everything's changing, all the time, every little thing, it ways we don't understand, we don't even know about, that we have no control over. It's who we are: we're changing. You got changing governments, you got changing people, you got changing... atoms, changing atoms. Hang on! stops music I'm serious about that, we've got change going on the atomic level...

Like, like, an atom walks into a bar...

@turns cap backwards, assumes nerdy "atom" character@

"Hey, man, you seen an electron lying around here anywhere? I think I lost one last night."

BARTENDER (the guitar player): "You sure?"

BIKEMAN (as "atom"): "Oh yeah, man, I'm positive."

@laughs. music starts again. realizing the joke is corny@

Yeah well, you know, it's like... if you could figure out how things are changing though, like the code to change, like the rhythm, yeah the, the wavelength - there's a, there's a wave of change, and you could hop up on that shit. You could surf that change, you know, bust some serious Big Kahuna Che Guevara moves.

Man you could get it together, the change, like all the spare change lying around, get it together and it's a real thing. Change, man. Real change. Real-World change. Real-world "change the world" change, man. Not like, new fall lineup change: Fuckin' the real deal man, we need that!

Yeah, ok ok ok.. That's heavy. I'm not, not like trying to lay anything on you guys. You know? Like, ok, here's another joke, ok?

So I go to my doctor and I'm like, "Hey doc, what's the prognosis?"

DOCTOR (guitar player): "We'll it seems that you're schizophrenic"

BIKEMAN: "Ok, cool, yeah, so what's the damage?"

DOCTOR: "That'll be $10,000"

BIKEMAN: "Hey, ok, yeah, I'll can give you like $5,000 but you gotta get the other 5,000 from the other guy!" You know what I mean? laughs a little too hard. realizes he's making people uncomfortable. picks up coffee cup

So you guys like coffee? Man I love coffee. I drink a lot of deli coffee because I... drink a lot of deli coffee... you know? But I'm sittin' here with my coffee and I'm looking out and it's like "Starbucks Starbucks Starbucks" And I'm like, "Fuck you fuck you fuck you".

And it's not because they're putting local coffee shops out of business. And it's not because they're perpetuating the uh, the horrible rape of the natural world. It's like, you know their coffee is like twice as expensive as mine? All these people walking around with Starbucks, they like have twice as much money as I do to spend on coffee, and I love coffee. I'm just, you know, I guess I'm prejudice against rich people.

But you know, you gotta protect yourself, you can't just, you know, people'll come in and... and they'll take your tools, they'll take your wife, they'll take the dinner off your plate, and I don't go in for that, you know, that school of thought, you gotta stand up for yourself, you know, even though...

GUITAR PLAYER (singing):
You try the best you can
You try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

BIKEMAN: starts spinning bike wheel

GUITAR PLAYER (singing):
You try the best you can
You try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

BIKEMAN: spinning wheel faster, growing more and more agitated You know, I try to be a good person, I try you know, I try the best I can, but it's real hard, you know. It's a noisy - it's a noisy world we live in. I mean, you've got neon signs buzzing and helicopters hovering and plains landing and cars going this way and trucks going that way and subways running underground. And you got people talking on cell phones and people shouting in the streets and radios playing and sirens wailing and stock quotes on the jumbotron and NOBODY'S FUCKING LISTENING!.

Nobody's listening to anyone else because everyone's saying something, everyone's got something to say, running at the mouth, can't stop fucking talking. Like me. There's no a lot holding this thing together right now, if you know what I mean.

@transfers spinning bike wheel onto outstretched palm, like a top. Total shift in tempo and mood@

But. Fuck... It's so easy to be sad. It's so simple to be miserable. It doesn't reflect greater intelligence or a deeper level of understanding, man. It reflects ignorance and sloth, you know?

If you can't just reach out sometimes... and be overcome by all the truth and beauty in the world... I know: It's hard. It's real hard. But it's there. Jump in the river, man.

@puts down wheel, removes glasses and hat... manic energy draning away, character begins to fall away@

Look, yeah, I know. You - ahh - you want some bread? It's fresh baked, you know, and I brought it with me tonight, and I want to share it with you if you want to share it with me.

@descends into audience, distributing bread. lights fade on stage@

Smell that utopia, right? I know it's a simple thing, but it's here if you want it.

@exits through back of house. lights out on stage. guitar player finishes final phrase, turns out his lamp. blackness. finis.@