Looking Out – 7:55m., © 1988
"Looking Out", (Part 3 of "Suite for a Democratic
Republic") poses a story in joke form which
probes the role of rumors and appearances in
the process of incrimination and, by extension,
implicates the media in this process. By
presenting three disparate sets of information,
the tape engages the viewer in actively unraveling
stories and images much like the way s/he
deciphers news reportage. The result raises the
questions, "Who is telling me this and what do they
have at stake here?", "Who is keeping tabs on this
source", and "WHO ARE THE WATCHDOGS?".
voice over script:
(transcribed from the readers' performances)
Three guys come into a bar.
The first guy comes in, walks up to the bar and
motions to the bartender. This guy looks nervous.
His eyes are darting around the room. He leans
against the bar and he says to the bartender,
"You wouldn't believe what I just saw in the alley.
I turned the corner and saw the garbage cans all
dumped up in a pile and garbage all over the place.
But in the pile was a really nice suitcase and an
expensive suit jacket. So, I started picking through
the stuff and I saw the pants that matched the
suit. Then I realized there was somebody in those
pants and started digging through the stuff to see
what was going on. Under all this stuff was this
guy all beaten up and bloody. I think he's dead. I
need to use the phone. Do you have one here?"
The bartender says, "Yeah, there's one in the
office in the back. Just go through those doors.
There's one on the desk."
As the first guy is going into the office the second
guy comes into the bar, stuffing something into his
pocket. He's got his hand in his pants holding
something in his pocket. He approaches the side
of the bar and in a low voice says to the bartender,
"Aaaah, you have a phone I could use? I just ran
across something in the alley you wouldn't believe."
The bartender waits for the man to continue his story.
"I saw the trash in the alley, then I saw this pile
of clothes heaped up around the cans. They smelled
really awful. So, I was pushing them around with
my foot, sort of kicking them. When all of a sudden
I see a body under the clothes. So, I cleared away
the clothes only to see the guy was dead – and
looked like he'd been dead for a while. I looked in
his pockets but couldn't find any I.D."
The bartender takes all this in with a curious
look and then slowly says, "Yeah, there's a phone
in the office in the back. Just go through those
doors over there."
And in the door comes the third guy as the
second guy goes for the phone. He looks real
anxious and pale and sweating and scared. He
walks straight up to the bartender, slams his
hand on the bar and starts yelling at the bartender.
"I need a phone to call the police. I just saw these
two guys jump this man in the alley. They beat
him up, rifled through his suitcase, took his money
and threw him in the garbage. I think he's dead."
The bartender says, "Hey calm down buddy, what
did you actually see?"
"I haven't got time, I need to use the phone.
Hurry, where's the phone?"
The bartender says, "You get a good look at
And the other guy says, "No, not really.
Where's the phone?"
"Well", says the bartender, "Phone's out of order."