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The Jane Awards - A Camberwell Tale By: Rick Heller
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Here in Camberwell, we like to think of our town as New England's most progressive community.  In other towns, people gather round their TV sets to watch the Oscars.  In Camberwell, our activists missed the Oscars, so they created their own awards.

Nick Dahlen looked at his digital watch.  The Academy Awards ceremony would be starting soon, but though he was a big film buff, he would miss the broadcast this year.  Nick was on a chartered bus headed back toward Camberwell after a weekend in New York protesting against the War Machine.

 "If we had a better bus, there's be a TV mounted over the aisle," Nick grumbled.

Grace Livchuk, a psych major, was sitting in the seat next to him.  She said, "There's nothing worthwhile on TV." 

"Are you kidding? The Oscars are tonight," Nick said.  "And Bush made me miss it."

"That's tonight?  With what's been going on, I completely forgot about it."

"Wait a second," Nick said.  "Screw this.  Let's have our own awards ceremony.  For excellence in protesting."

Grace snapped shut her book.  "Sounds better than Virginia Woolf."

Nick stood up in the aisle and faced the rear of the bus.  "Everyone.  Can I have your attention?"

The happy hempsters in the back of the bus kept on chattering, so he raised his voice.

"As you may know, there is an awards ceremony going on.  Many courageous film professionals will be making political statements against the war.  We're missing it, so to take its place, I give you the Jane Awards, for excellence in protesting, obstruction, and being civilly disobedient.  Why are they called the Janes?  In honor of the actress who inspired us by her solidarity with the people of Vietnam in their struggle against the War Machine a generation ago."

"We've got a long bus ride ahead," Nick continued, "so why don't we start with one of the dinky awards that no one pays any attention to.  May I have nominations for best sound?"

A student three rows back sporting a goatee shouted, "The crash of glass breaking at Saks."

"Excellent," Nick said.

Grace stood up in her seat, turned around, and led a chant.

 Bush was not elected
 The President is Gore
 Invasion is illegal
 Gotta stop the war

Others joined in, stamped their feet and repeated the chant, until it resounded throughout the bus.

"I got one," a hempster shouted. "The roar of bombs bursting over Texas."

"I don't think that one makes the cut," Nick said.  When no one else shouted out a nomination, Nick said, "I don't have an envelope.  I don't think we have an accountant on board to tabulate the votes.  So I'd like a show of hands."

The chant won easily. 

"Unfortunately, I don't have a statuette to give out," Nick said.

A grandmother five rows back asked, "Would these do?  I picked up a tray of chocolate Easter bunnies at Rite Aid."

Nick stepped forward and picked a foil-wrapped bunny from the tray.  "Perfect."  He gave it to Grace.  "The Jane for Best Sound goes to Grace Livchuk."

"Thank you."  Grace unwrapped the foil bunny and bit off its ears.  After swallowing, she added, "I'd like to thank Jacques Chirac, Hans Blix and the Dixie Chicks, Martin Sheen, the late Paul Wellstone, and all of you on the bus who made this possible.  I'd also like to thank my mother, who showed me that a woman could be strong and a great mom at the same time, my Aunt Lisa, who.."

Someone in the back started singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and other people joined in.  Grace smiled and sat down.

"Best animation," someone shouted.

"Should we do best animation?" Nick asked.  There were cheers.

"The poodle pinata on Seventh Avenue," someone said.  A few British expats had marched, carrying a papier mache sculpture of a French poodle.  The sculpture wore a sign around its neck reading "The Blair Poodle Project," branding the British Prime Minister as a lapdog of the United States.

"Captain Morgan Rumsfeld," another suggested.  One marcher had taken to wearing a red pirate costume inspired by the Jamaican rum, along with a Donald Rumsfeld mask.

A man in his thirties stood up.  "Quiet, please.  I have important announcement."

"A special Jane for lifetime achievement in opposing imperialism," the goateed student said.

"No.  I'm serious.  I'm tuned in to a Hartford radio station, and they say the war is over."

There were cheers.

"The Iraqis have surrendered," the man said.

The cheers faded into silence.

He added, "The United States has won."

The hempsters in the back hissed.

Nick sat down in his seat.  It was over, and he was devastated.  If the United States had won, it would encourage more military adventures. 

The next hour of the bus ride passed in depressed silence.  Somewhere near Worcester, the man with the radio stood up.  "I have a Boston station now.  It says the Iraqis have rejected surrender terms.  The war continues."

People on the bus broke out into applause.

Nick stood up.  "The struggle continues, and so do the Jane Awards.  May I have nominations for best protestor in a supporting role."

Rick Heller is a comedy writer who lives in New England near the fictional town of Camberwell. He also produces the Smart Genes weblog.

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