Tuesday, 25 September 2012

NOTORIOUS P.R.G. by Naomi Elana Zener

The crowd was restless awaiting the announcement of the results. Who would remain on the roster and who would be kicked off were the two questions reverberating in each attendee’s brain. After a year of incredible news-making headlines, the under producers with lackluster performances knew that their days of being represented by the agency were numbered. The air in the boardroom was so thick due to the body heat emanating from the collective throng’s overtaxed sweat glands racked with anxiety that it could be cut with a knife.

“Attenzione! Attenzione!” a voice cried out over the loud speaker. “Bee L. Zee has arrived.”

Everyone rose from their seats to welcome Mr. Zee’s arrival out of respect and deference to the star maker. Draped in a black mink-trimmed red velvet cape, Mr. Zee commandeered his way to the dais where a solitary throne cushioned his landing.

“Please be seated,” Mr. Zee advised. “I will dispense with the pleasantries as my roster is anchored heavily by weight that must be shed.”

Silence shook the room with the strength of an earthquake. Many   understood that Mr. Zee’s proclamation meant that their D-list status would result in being voted off the A-list island. 

“If your name is called, please come to the front of the room. Please read the list,” Mr. Zee instructed his first assistant.

“Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, Frank Sinatra, Steve Jobs, Ayatollah Khomeni, Osama Bin Laden, Idi Amin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Helen Gurley Brown, Liz Taylor, Torquemada, Joseph Stalin, Atila the Hun, Elvis Presley, Christopher Hitchens and Adolph Hitler,” the first assistant chimed.

“If your name has not been called, you are safe and may leave. Or, you may stay, relax and enjoy the entertainment. Those whose names have been called have the best and the worst notoriety on Earth. I keep a tight roster of nefarious troublemakers as residents here in Hell, and if you cannot remain relevant on Earth, then you can no longer be represented by the Notorious P.R.G.” Mr. Zee stated.

Cheers of joy (tinged with jealousy of those with the greatest scandals who basked in the glow of Mr. Zee’s hallowed praise) erupted amongst the crowd of names that went unmentioned without regard for those whose necks were on the chopping block. Few left the boardroom, since there was no greater theatre than that which played out annually in the blazes of Hades, where its despicable inhabitants vied for the title of the most evil person of the year. More often than not, Adolf Hitler was the odds on favourite to win, but with each new underworld dweller arriving daily, there was always the auspice that a new individual would acquire the crown.

“Allow me to introduce myself, I am Bee L. Zee. You may know me by the colloquial nomenclature of Satan, the Devil, Angel of Darkness, Lucifer or even the Antichrist. In this day and age, with the influx of so many of today’s youth taking up occupancy in my soulless kingdom, I felt that it would make me more relatable if I changed my name to something a bit more Beelzebub 2.0.” Mr. Zee explained.

“Ahem,” muffled the voluptuous crimson-haired first assistant signaling to Mr. Zee that he was becoming long-winded.

“I digress. Some of you are new to my little disco inferno, so welcome. All of you neophytes are safe since your descent into Hell is at its genesis,” Mr. Zee advised. “Osama – we’ve been waiting for you. I apologize that you were lied to about the vestal virgins. Everyone here has had sex before and then upon arrival with multiple partners, regardless of sexual orientation. You may have cleverly deceived the world about what went on in those caves, but you and I know the truth. Ms. Gurley Brown, I look forward to the bacchanals you will organize, but please remember that I have an insatiable fire in my pants so you had better keep things spicy. Liz, I hope you brought some of your famous perfume with you, as it will offset the natural aromas that bake down here. Mr. Jobs, your technology cabal is impressive and I hope that you will help us automate some of our processes. For instance, our traffic gets so backed up on the Styx that too many new tenants are waiting in limbo in Purgatory. And last, let’s not forget you Mr. Hitchens – all that ‘God is not Great’ chatter really pissed off the Big Guy upstairs! Maybe in your next life you will believe in the Lord?”

The newcomers, having adjusted to the realization that their work on Earth was not Heaven-blessed, were confused by the reality-show like competition that was playing out amongst some of the biggest names in history.

“Excuse me Mr. Zee, but what is going on here?” Steve Jobs inquired.

“Do not directly address Mr. Zee,” the buxom blonde second assistant scolded.

“That’s alright,” Mr. Zee admonished, “they are entitled to be confused. You see, Mr. Jobs, people with the greatest immoral accomplishments on Earth, after domiciling in Hell, undergo my regimented selection process and are siphoned off into two camps. The first being the ‘general population,’ who are condemned to an eternity of hard labour suited to each individual’s nastiest transgression, and the second being those worthy of being represented by my agency, the Notorious Public Relations Group.”

“So you are our agent?” Liz Taylor inquired.

“Of sorts dear Lizzie,” Mr. Zee explained. “The lucky ones who become my clients only do so to the extent that they are able to maintain their relevancy amongst the living on Earth. If they can achieve that through establishing everlasting wicked reputations that outlive them, then with my helping hand, I assist in maintaining that significance and in return they enjoy the incorporeal pleasures that Hell has to offer.”

“Respectfully, I still don’t know why I am here,” Jobs advised. “My devices bring happiness to millions if not billions of people. I’m a techno-saint.”

“Do you really believe that people are thrilled to bear witness to their gadgets becoming obsolete within months of their release? Honestly Jobs, the fact that I have to pay to connect my new iPhone 5 with legacy devices is tantamount to extortion!” Mr. Zee exclaimed.

“No, extortion is issuing an IPO at thirty-eight dollars a share for a social media platform that has nowhere to grow and cannot really be monetized and then tanks leaving investors in the hole,” Jobs retorted.

“There is a special place in Hell reserved for Mr. Zuckerberg,” Mr. Zee advised. “As for you, your ability to render society en masse dependent upon and obsessed with the Apple brand is the best form of addiction I have seen since the Columbian cartels began distributing cocaine. Thus, you were given a first class ticket aboard the Netherworld express. Aloha!”

“Perhaps we should get back to the task at hand?” the second assistant hinted as she handed Mr. Zee a clipboard containing a carefully prepared list of the malevolent deeds of each party named, ranked from bad to worst. Mr. Zee perused the list while his audience carefully took note of his displeasure or excitement of its contents, which was punctuated by the constant change in the tonality and range of redness in his cheeks.

“Let’s get this party started!” Mr. Zee exclaimed. “Al Capone, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, the four of you are fired. You are all practically extinct but for some bad Hollywood biopic flops, so you are out. Cybercrime is what is hot, bank robbing is not. Auf wiedersehen!”

“But I’m the father of organized crime!” cried Al Capone as the first and second assistants dragged him out of the boardroom. “Is this because I gave a few ladies the syphilis?”

“Marilyn my darling – you will forever be on the A-list. Same goes for you Frank baby and Elvis,” Mr. Zee crooned ignoring Al’s pleas. “You know I can never lose my party people.”

“Ayatollah Khomeni, I am sorry but you have been voted off of my client roster,” Mr. Zee said sorrowfully. “Osama Bin Laden is the new black. And, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inevitable arrival, you have been outwitted, outlasted and outplayed old friend.”

“But my fatwa on Salman Rushdie still stands and lives on in infamy!” the Ayatollah exclaimed.

“Be real Kho Kho, the man does not live in fear of it and the world laughs in your fatwa’s face,” Mr. Zee replied. “Das Vidanya!”

“I will wipe Hell off of the map!” the Ayatollah promised as he bade farewell to his fellow inmates.

“Will the rest of Idi Amin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Torquemada and Atila the Hun please step forward,” Mr. Zee requested. “Each of you really only remains relevant because of classroom history lessons. Were it not for the fact that those lessons are re-taught year in and year out, you would all be off of my roster! Go be seated with the rest of the audience and think of new ways to remain germane to the land of the living.”

Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler remained standing familiarly before Mr. Zee.

“My two favourite hellcats stand before me. Who will earn top honours this year?” Mr. Zee squealed with delight.  “As much as I love torture, I won’t keep you waiting. Adolf, you’re my main man sixty-seven years running now! Congratulations, you are the most evil person of the year.”

Fireworks lit up Hell’s eternal brimstone sky. Vangelis’ melodic “Chariots of Fire” cheered on Adolf as he ran his celebratory self-congratulatory laps around the boardroom. The déjà vu was met with an underwhelming sense of ennui.

“I’ve had enough!” shouted Joseph Stalin shattering the merriment of Adolf’s repeated and less than triumphant moment of glory. “I am so sick and tired of being the Susan Lucci of the ‘Most Evil Awards’.”

“Why so sad Stalin?” Mr. Zee asked rhetorically. “Did you really think that this was you year to win despite the fact that Adolf broke into India, a market that none of my followers has cracked in centuries? Not to mention that his influence transcended from monster into mentor?”

“Just because some dumb schmuck named his clothing store ‘Hitler,’ he gets the award again? I should be more popular in India. I can see India from my old house in Russia!” Stalin cried.

“We are not talking about one store. Hitler is a phenomenon in India. In 2006, there was ‘Hitler’s Cross,’ a café in Mumbai. With a film called ‘Dear Friend Hitler’ in development, he’s even been a source of inspiration for Bollywood! Nazi memorabilia is huge business in the land of spices. Notwithstanding all of these exploits, then Mein Kampf hit the bestseller list in 2009 selling ten thousand copies in six short months. Ordinary business students bought it for its inspirational value!” Mr. Zee retorted. “Hitler has managed to become the Tony Robbins for Indian youth.”

“First, I took Germany by storm. Now, India. I will be bigger than Ghandi. Listen, Indians gave peace a chance and look where it got them: slums, a caste system, inescapable poverty and an overgrowth of call centers! Hitler is the new stimulus package for India,” Hitler exclaimed.

“If it was not for me, there would be no Hitler! I am the father of mass murder. Sixty million killed and they are still searching for the bodies!” Stalin bellowed. “Take a math lesson Lucifer, sixty million is ten times greater than six million.”

“I may have fewer notches on my belt, but Stalin bubbie, my derivation of your initial operating system resulted in a recognizable consumable global brand. Steve Jobs knows what I’m talking about,” Hitler said defensively. “I am a triple threat: cultural and style icon, motivational speaker, and captain of industry.”

“You, a style icon? You have no eye for fashion!” Stalin yelled. “You copied my mustache.”

“Ha! Ha! Don’t make me laugh Joey. You call that rat under your nose a mustache? Your untamed facial pubic hair is recognized by no one. Everyone knows the Hitler ‘stache. I am huge during Movember,” Hitler replied haughtily.

“All you did was trim the handlebars,” Stalin shot back. “My manscaping is making a comeback!”

“What a joke! My mustache was the final solution to yours,” Hitler laughed.

“Boys don’t fight, you’ve made Papa proud with all of your achievements. Stalin, have you ever been in the bottom three? No. Have you ever been voted off of the island? No. And are you out now? No. You are still number two and if you asked anyone in the crowd, hell if you asked Al Capone or the Ayatollah, if they would trade places with you, they would in a heartbeat if they had one,” Mr. Zee cajoled. “Hitler and Stalin you are both exemplary evil role models to emulate. Now, in the great winning tradition, Adolf will give his acceptance speech.”

“Thank you Bee L. Zee, my fellow hell-mates, countrymen, and Stalin for this wonderful and unexpected award. That you, my peers, all recognize my achievements and hold me in such high esteem is an honour that makes me feel almost as great as the buzz I get from using Zyklon B. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Joey Stalin specifically for being my source of inspiration, my motivator, the Wile E. Coyote to my Road Runner. My speech is not about how you can celebrate me, but rather what can you learn from me. As you’ve seen with my influence on India, the broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. And I give good rhetoric, regardless of substance. What good fortune for me that the people do not think. He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.  And I own the youth of India who clearly do not think before acting. I ask of you as I queried the people of Germany, who needs the truth? Nobody who wants to party with me in Bee L. Zee’s bastion does. Just call me Hitler Houdini, for great liars are also great magicians. Who says I am not under the special protection of God?  Bee L. Zee, that’s who! Under his guiding hand, I have managed not only to stay relevant, but I have remained a force to be reckoned with more powerful than that of any living being. By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise. Thank you Hades!”

Dumbstruck and awed, the audience sprang from their seats with a renewed sense of evil aroused deep from within. Even the expelled and ex-communicated D-listers, Al Capone and Ayatollah Khomeni who eavesdropped from outside of the locked boardroom doors, had tears in their eyes upon hearing the words of the omnipotent orator.

“Hitler, you give a nice little speech. Underlings, you should all embrace a little more Adolf in your lives,” Mr. Zee advised. “Remember my little reprobates, Notorious P.R.G.’s goal is to make each one of you a recognizable everlasting universal wanton brand for the Earth-dwellers to consume and copy! Now let’s hit the after party!”

© 2012. Naomi Elana Zener. All rights reserved.