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Op-pen dat societeee, bitch
The thinking couch potato's musical

June 20, 2003
The Iranian

Like I didn't have enough worries (anxiety, perpetual hunger), now the Euro has gone up. Every mouthful is 10-15% more expensive. I've started picking breadcrumbs with a wet fingertip, as our housekeeper used to do in Tehran, decades ago. Is this as good as it gets?

We all have a story to tell, I once said - only mine doesn't make sense. My next life project is, I suggest, a rap musical of the life of Karl Popper, the philosopher and enemy of dictators. Naturally it would be called "The Open Society".

Karl could do a few rap numbers, pointing his fingers sideways at the camera with attitude, singing "op-pup-pup-pen dat societeee, bitch". That would be a topical song on the need for democracy ("democracy: dat's wass best man" is the refrain).

The love interest: his girlfriend, called Zulu Queen (played by Dame Maggie Smith) is, like, heavily into drugs and dies. So Karl does another song and breakdances around her corpse outside the A block residence ("U-tuk megirl Pablo Escobar, I'll diss you" he sings angrily, peering into the camera, his baseball cap reversed).

The details, some may say, have but a tenuous basis in Karl Popper's life, and miss out his years as an Oxford professor. I say, that is a fair criticism that merits a considered response: how about "dauntcha gimme nunna dat sh*t man"?

I intend to explore the Oxford theme with another musical soap opera. It's the story of a distinguished scientist, Archibald Shtutzelberger, a refugee from Nazi Germany (but he wears gold chains and breakdances), who discovers a time reversal machine, the Fuzzle Machine.

The Fuzzle concept is explained in a song at the start, where Archi breakdances in his lab holding a test-tube (bubbles and steam everywhere) and sings "Man, I love dat science sh*t". I just know that's going to be a hit.

He also falls in love with Edna the librarian, whose glasses keep sliding down her nose. There are some poignant scenes too: Edna asks 'Shtutz' if he loves her as he peers distractedly at a test tube - so she sings her poignant song "I ain't no library mat - I wantya respecc").

This is the thinking couch potato's musical. I admit science wasn't my strongest subject at school. I cordially detested the biology teacher, a drab specimen who wore the same tweed jacket, year in year out. They should have pickled him in a jar, not let him offend my artistic sensibilities.

I loved history though: endless tales of drunken despots reclining on beds, ordering rape, pillage and mayhem as they wiped the wine off their mouth with the back of their hands. My Latin translations were full of "they laid waste the entire country up to the Rhine", "they sacked the city for three days running", "the Parthians amassed an army of thousands in Syria" ...

What does mathematics have to offer in return - the triangle? (yawn) What is history other than drama follows tragedy follows disaster? I was moved by the death of Cicero, the Roman statesman and enlightened conservative, a Churchill of antiquity, killed for speaking up for the law and denouncing the gangsters of his time.

One of the gangsters, Marc Anthony, had him murdered: Cicero's hands and head were cut off and displayed in the Roman forum, and as Anthony's wife passed by, she took out her hairpin and stuck it in his tongue, because, she said, this tongue had maligned her husband.

Or consider the Roman emperor Eliagabalus, a lascivious teenager from Syria, who murdered yesterday's friends by suffocating them under a bed of rose petals at a party, or the Byzantine emperor Andronicus III, who after a brief rule of madness and terror, was seized by the Constantinople citizenry, mutilated and castrated, paraded around the capital on a donkey, beaten and spat on as a rival took his purple garb and imperial throne. How's that for the wheel of fortune?

History is fun - in retrospect - and I wish to share my excitement. Why isn't there a musical of the French Revolution? ("I'm lovely Antoinette [pom pom] I love my choc'lat cake" - what a great opening number. Later I want courtiers and fishwives tap dancing up and down the scaffold steps).

If the health authorities will not let me stage a musical, nor the business community give me a desk job, then for goodness' sake, give me a small third world country to run. I have always had a philanthropic (and privatising) streak that needed expression. My people would be happy, they would ride bicycles, use wind energy and sing songs.

My interactive shrink Barbara will be proud.

- "Now did you do a positive task this week Alidad?"

- "I sold Zimbabwe to Starbucks, is that good?"

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By Alidad Vassigh





Book of the day

The Clash of Civilizations
The remaking of world order
By Samuel P. Huntington

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