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Johnny Passion’s Oxford University Commencement Speech (from the novel The Love Muscle)

Oxford Commencement speech

“Limerence” by F. Barnett

May 21, 201_

It’s a beautiful, warm evening.

Lord Gene Chandler, the 44th Duke of Earl and the latest Dean of the University of Oxford (Oxford, England, est. 1096 ) steps up to the podium to introduce the University’s special guest who was chosen to give the 2018 commencement address:

(Hearty applause. Chants of “Duke. Duke. Duke.”)

Lord Duke Chandler: “Calm down everyone. Please. Thank you. I beg you, please quiet down…..Students, faculty, colleagues, you’re all aware that our very special alumnus speaker this evening is the recipient of countless Grammy Awards, the American Medal of Honor, three Purple Hearts, five Medals of Freedom and eight Olympic Gold Medals. He is also an honorary member of Legion of Honor of France and had once been awarded a scholarship, here, as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. I almost forgot. Our most special guest also proudly wears The Victoria Cross of United Kingdom, and has won three Academy Awards for best original score, acting in a lead role and best screenplay for The blockbuster Louis Louie, in 1997. The title song, Louie Louie, which has been rightfully and finally attributed to him, has become the National Anthem of The United States.

Students and faculty of Oxford, may I present the great man himself. Born John Pasiune in New York, in 1950. We’ve known him for years by the name Johnny Passion! Or The Rocker Boy! Please come up, Johnny.”

Applause and standing ovation…. A pair of panties lands on stage.

* * * *

(Background noise — foot stomping, cheering, squealing…)

Johnny: “Please. Please. You’re so kind. Please, let me continue. (Aside: Whose panties are these?) Thank you, faculty and students, Your Royal Highness and Mrs. President.

It’s nice to be back here on this storied campus. Today, I am here to tell you the most incredible true story. I hope that it will inspire all of you young people in pursuit of ‘true meaning’ in your lives.

I received a message a short time ago. That is why this night is so special for me. I can confidently proclaim, that I am the luckiest man in the world. No, let me correct that. The universe. Not because of my fame in the world of show business. Not because I’ve just been awarded a third Nobel Prize. Those things alone, could be as much as any person could dream for. Bless you all, but there are higher honors beyond riches, accolades, women’s undergarments and acclaim and, I suspect, even beyond deification, though, while in Rome yesterday, over martinis, I was canonized by Pope Francis.

In all sincerity, there can be no honor, no great honor that means as much to me … as the spectacular gift bestowed upon me by my dear friend who also happened to be my first love and my first lover, an amazing woman, who rediscovered and saved my hungry soul years after I thought that I possessed all and done it all. But, still there was an emptiness. A few years ago I assumed that my life was complete and done.

Many accomplished people have had places, highways, statues cities, states, mountains, bodies of water and even countries named after them. They should be proud. I’ve had most these honors as well. But again, monuments mean little to me compared to the compliment bestowed upon me by the woman that I’ve kept in my heart, though I hadn’t seen nor heard from her in almost five decades. She found me, again, a short time ago.

What I am struggling to explain is …well, this, yes THIS, is a message, a gift for the young people everywhere, the starry-eyed young folks, those of you sitting out there who are about to graduate, full of hope, on this starlit evening, and those who are listening to my voice over the internet and the airwaves right now.

I cannot stress the importance of what I have to say.”

(Reflective pause, wipes tear from eye, sneezes, farts and drinks water).

“Before you youngsters venture out into the terrifying world and begin your adult lives, let me tell you about what I have learned about the true meaning of honor and remarkable achievements (pause). Sorry. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.”

(grumbling from the restless audience, taking out and checking their iPhones…)

“When I go home tonight and slip under my covers, I will drift into my dreams with a sigh and a grateful smile, because I know that I’ve accomplished something magical as if I had reversed climate change or better yet, invented tacos…. just because I know… one … thing, a secret that I have guarded until now. No. It is not the mere secret of life or if we are along in this universe. It is much more. It is this. Someday you will want to pass this knowledge on to your own children..…I’m so sorry for dragging this big, important revelation out for so long. I’m still having trouble dealing with this knowledge, myself (holding back tears). Okay…Here goes. Is everyone listening? Please put away your phones…”

(The audience leans forward in anticipation)

“Whew” (adjusts tight trousers).

“Tonight, I know, yes I am certain that a woman, not just any woman… Since my #1 best-seller biography, Sailing the Estrogen Sea, the entire world has known her as Rebel Girl. Rebel is alive and well, and has been pleasuring herself with a personal vibrator that —- through its many incarnations — has always been named after me. You heard me correctly. Rebel named it Johnny – after me! Yes, me, Rocker Boy! Her most recent pocket rocket carrying my esteemed name is a blue Buzz Lightyear model. I was flattered when she told me about the new ‘Johnny’ and was, at first, a bit jealous knowing that ‘he’ was having all the fun, as my love and I are still thousands of miles apart tonight.

I know deep in my heart that I, along with my pulsating namesake, will always be welcome inside the true Gates of Heaven … that is, unless the batteries die.

The love of my life …and of lives before and beyond has taken me into her heart and deep, deep into her …Oh, my god… Pardon my tears (*requests a tissue*) I’m sorry. I…I am most humble and grateful.

I hope that all the graduates of this esteemed university will someday receive such a personal and pleasurable honor as I have. May you all live so long. It certainly beats the poop out of another danged parade or another billion dollar endorsement from another boring multi-national conglomerate.

Listen to me, my bright, shining young faces of the future. I have come to the realization that most everything else in life, outside of having a vibrator named after you, is bullshit. Bullshit…(Inaudible. Sobbing).

“This is what God must feel like. I repeat,

This is what God must feel like. I…I can’t go on…please, excuse me…”

(It was at this point that the great Johnny’s bodyguards led the tired, shaken old rocker off the Oxford University stage. Humbled and crying, he was led through the dark toward his forlorn limousine.)

“Home, Jeevette,” Johnny said to his chauffeur standing outside the idling limo. When Jeevette opened the rear door Johnny’s senses perked.

From deep within the dark car, came a greeting, “Nice speech, Rocker Boy,” and the magical lure of pachouli.

* * *

Captain Anne Bonny (Perdido)

(Sketch by Anita Benson Bradley)

Carol Portnoy looked up from her History of Pirates book.

“ I just read this chapter about a 18th century pirate ship called the Black Widow and about its notorious woman captain, Anne Bonny. For decades, Captain Bonny was a successful pirate who disappeared into thin air, sometime in 1782.

Listen to this, my buccaneers. “Captain Bonny is a statuesque beauty with a treacherous temper to match her maelstrom of devilish red hair. At sea, she stands proudly upon the Black Widow’s prow, presenting a fine figurehead to the winds while scanning the horizon and commanding her vessel. Bonny often brags that she was raised by sirens after a shipwreck that killed her family and she can ‘sing with a siren’s song’ that sailors find ‘intoxicating.’

The lure of her song and the spark in her eyes have drawn many-a-lovelorn-suitor’s hearts into an abyss deeper than the Marianna Trench — Hearts never to be seen again.

Yet, Captain Anne’s finest gift may be her cooking!

At the slightest whim, and after the best pie they’d ever had, Anne Bonny may persuade a discarded lover to happily – jauntily, walk the plank —  directly into the bellies of the devoted sharks who follow The Black Widow’s legendary bill of fare — as it pursues spices ‘more precious than gold’ across the Carribean.

The sharks absolutely love sailors stuffed with pie. Especially the cherry and peach.”


Killer Kelly

First mate and head chef




An Interview with Kālī (from Shark Fin Soup)

New Shark Fin Titled copy

It was 6 p.m. The end of Bernie’s first day at the Interpol office in Los Angeles. He was beat. The agent’s job at the agency was based on his ‘talent.’ Bernie had been hired because he was not only able to see, but also communicate with religious apparitions.

Bernie’s first day on the job ended with a short, unscheduled, but action-packed interview in his office with the Hindu goddess  काली (Kali).

A few minutes earlier, Kali, being her usual sweet self, looked down at Bernie through the splinters of his new desk and grinned her blood covered rack of 14K gold teeth.

“I AM THE GREAT KALI!!!!” She circled the desk and castrated its four legs with a swipe of the four Jambiya  घुमावदार चाकू in her four hands, pinning Bernie to the floor in the middle of the rubble.

“Please, stop, काली!” he pleaded.

“Call me DOOOOOOOOOMMMM, Agent Benedict,” the Goddess of Destruction hissed, “AND you will thank me for beating this lesson into your sappy skull. My गुंडापन Thuggee followers, who number in the millions, still send me sweet little boxes containing their progeny’s still-beating hearts on Saint Jack the Ripper’s Day. I just want you to know that what, I, THE GREAT KALI!!!!, am capable of. What I can do to you…is NOTHING…Mwahahahaha…Nothing, compared to what that Brazen HUSSY Dauna Robinson will do to your maracas before you leave the building TONIGHT! … By the way,” Kali said, while grooming her fluttering eye lashes with her flaming jalapeño tongue, “This is hard for me to ask.”

“What? Anything! Anything! Spare me, oh, great Kali! Your wish is my command, oh fearsome goddess!” said the fetal quivering loogie named Bernie.

“Stand up, Agent Benedict. I was only joshin’ with ya,” Kali said, while brushing the wood dust off of her armored golden sari. “Do you think that you can set me up on a date with your friend, Frankie?”

“The Sumatran?”

Kali softened her voice. “I’m asking you as a friend

.…Or else, Worm!”


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