A Prospective Setlist For Jaws: The Musical

Grace claims that “notes of Lin-Manuel predominate,” which I think unwarranted, and not just because I’ve never liked him — I think we’re two very different branches of the same Gilbert-and-Sullivan pastiche tree, one sprung from Sideshow Bob singing a truncated score of the HMS Pinafore and the other from that scene on The West Wing where Ainsley Hayes and Lionel Tribbey fight over whether “He Remains An Englishman” is from Pinafore or Penzance. (And I know when I’m being cheeky. He thinks he’s always being cheeky, which isn’t the same thing at all.)

I know, by the way, that “supply-side economics” wasn’t actually seen in print until 1976 and Jaws was released in 1975 (the book came out the year previous), but I can assure you, that’s just another example of cheekiness.

Here’s the set list for a Jaws musical I’m working on.

On Amity Island

TOWN FATHERS: Come on over to Amity Island

Where there’s nothing to see but the sea view

Take the ferry to Amity Island (Launching off Plymouth Dock at ten, eleven, and two!)

Where summer is on a perpetual preview!

Where genus Carcharodon is seldom remarked-upon,

Let the fathers of Amity gallantly receive you!

The gift shop’s open, beaches too, the canoe club has had a queue

Since yesterday morning, we’ve lifted the warning,

We feel like a swim — how ‘bout you?

Drop on in, stay a while, just don’t say you’ve seen a fin

(It’s not that we don’t believe you, it’s just that’s such a naive view)

It’s an old summer prank — just some ropes and a plank — just let us undeceive you

Why, there’s no need for a cull —

TOWN DOCTOR: I’d say ze danger was null!

TOWN FATHERS: Let us lay out out a chum line for you!


(Im)partial Remains

BRODY: Larry Vaughn says this’ll be a record season —

The beachfront rents should settle all the bills

Just once, please trust my subject expertise in

Supervising Paradise, its market price looks green about the gills

It’s a great start, first goddamn weekend of the summer

Ellen’s travel brochures taped above the sink,

Sweet reminders, like I stole vacation from her

While there’s tourists going missing in the drink

If this new domestic augury should fail to cut me down,

This evaporated ferrygoer’s sure to set the fathers of this town

Into twenty different frenzies swearing no one here could drown,

That the water’s never slaughtered any true-born island daughter,

Who Australian-crawls to safety like her trawler-father taught her,

Who correctly and directly swims a perfect route to shore,

Always waiting half an hour after eating lunch before

She would dream of hazarding the most minute seafaring chore —

POLLY: It’s the telephone, the Coroner is on the second line

Says he heard that there’s been word you’re looking for the BEACH CLOSED sign —

BRODY: Look, just tell him I’ll return

With the cause of death still pending as a matter of concern

There’s a Scout troop swimming Avril Bay whose laps I must adjourn

And Sammy’s down in South Chop beach warning boats to watch astern —

POLLY: Ben Meadows wants to know if you’re declaring martial law —

BRODY: I’m only asking questions after those* remains I saw —

*[SIMULTANEOUSLY] POLLY: — Partial!

BRODY: Fine, withdrawn —

POLLY: Could it have been a boat propeller?

BRODY: Tell him his intuition’s stellar — yes it might have been a boat,

If boats grew teeth and tore out throats, there’s your on-the-record quote,

First goddamn week of summer! Never better! Never outlook looking bluer,

“The beach is even lovelier a couple tourists fewer!”

There’s your headline, cut and print it, throw a beach towel on the stains —

Why call off a record season for some (im)partial remains?


Boating Accident (The Mayor’s Theory)

It’s one chance in a million! Two million, even three! A chance,

A scrap of likely, that a shark left this debris!

If you’ll stop to think about civic responsibilities

I’m persuaded you’ll upgrade your sense of possibilities!

Think of what can go wrong in the water,

Think of all the different ways a boat can founder,

A late-night swim, a sudden cramp, an unexpected spot of damp,

A misfired engine or misplaced eel, a sudden listless, listing keel!

A coral reef, a buoy loose, a leitmotif, an errant seal,

If all that rises must converge, let the truth rise and emerge

The girl’s submerged, but gentlemen, municipal thought must not surround her —

Redirect your minds from leaping for a cartilaginous scourge!


Summer Economics

MAYOR VAUGHN: It’s summer economics — simple summer economics!

If we just lean on the supply-side, drop restrictions, wait for high tide,

Let the tourists fill the beaches (for the nervous, other services like candle shops and bike rides)

For heaven’s sake, it’s just July, and cost of living’s gone sky-high

We’ve got two months to just get clear of our expenses for the year

That’s a one-in-six remainder! If I’m wrong, it’s my attainder,

But it’s here in black-and-white, a busy beach will see us right,

We’ve all been given quite a fright, and it’s a pity, Brody’s plight,

But I won’t invite civic blight for a hypothetical, half-asleep and half-poetical, both frenetic and splenetical, hallucination of a mere crustacean bite!


I’ll Gut Your Fish For Ya

QUINT: Twenty-five grand and understand that’s just to go for it,

Even if I sail her back with nothin’ else to show for it,

Another twenty-five in case I land it, too,

And after, any boat repairs, assuming she pulls through,

New rod from Haydy’s, a Playboy subscription,

A TV, a four-track — a bargain conscription!

Your shark’s never choosy. Know what I found inside ‘im?

Half a dozen examples of each little tide’s-whim:

Fish plenty an’ jumbled, from monkfish to haddock,

Scup, Porgy, and Cod (both the Black and Cycladic)

Four spools an’ ten cables, a six-pack of Coke,

Four shinin’ brass buttons, a license place, socks,

And a dog. Ate ‘em all, then that girl. Shark’s no joke,

It’s a pro you want, [to Hooper] no debutantes, [to Brody] nor commandants,

HOOPER [sarcastically]: And what jouissance!

QUINT: And only Quint can stem his island jaunt!

All aboard — rough ready down — good money up — and sharks avaunt!


Only A Tiger Shark (Mistakes In The Dark)

HARRY: It’s my catch — gerroff, I hooked it!

PRATT: Your catch? Yank, you’ve mistook it — that’s my chum and that’s my gaff

HARRY: Let’s split the prize money in half!

QUINT: That’s not our boy, boys, that’s a calf

PRATT: He’s ten feet long from stern to aft! Landing him nearly swamped my craft!

HARRY: You’ve landed nothing yet, you small fry! Ah, he’s breaching — clear off —

PRATT: My eye!

HARRY: So you’re a little understaffed?

PRATT: God, help me, man, toss me the haft —

QUINT: You can’t land sharks on broken rafts

With busted tools and leaky draughts

PRATT: Well, if you’re only here to laugh

QUINT: I’ll shoot it, sure, and I can land it

But my boys, let me be candid

The search will have to be expanded

Get your pictures in the paper, offer quotes about your caper

But you’ll never get your shark by blindly shooting in the dark at the first fish you can spot,

Drag it home behind your yacht, show the mayor what you’ve got, just don’t forget

Today’s prize-winners make tomorrow’s fishy dinners!


Summer Economics (Fourth Of July Reprise) 

MAYOR VAUGHN [slowly]: It was just summer economics — simply arithmetical —

Goods and markets, products, values — now the matter’s paramedical —

Analyzed each separate odd but forgot — God, the boy was edible —

It won’t do as self-defense but it all made good market sense

Between what is and then what ought to be, a distance wider than the sea

A grave — so small — so watery —

The merest morsal, now a dorsal myotomy —

A few dollars and cents can’t offer half the recompense


Checking The Lagoon

BRODY: You’re not going to the ocean in that thing, are you?

MICHAEL: Oh, come on, Dad —

BRODY: Now let’s not argue. Stick to the ponds —

MICHAEL: They’re for old ladies!

BRODY: They’re wet, refreshing, close, and shady. That’s good enough just for today,

Just ‘till we’ve checked and cleared the bay

MICHAEL: Just this once, then, as a favor

BRODY: Don’t forget your red lifesaver

[Break for spoken dialogue. The beach is briefly disturbed by what turns out to be two kids swimming with a fake fin, after which point the lifeguards realize the real fin is speeding past the narrows and into the ponds…]

BRODY: Check the lagoon! Clear out! Make way!

My god, we’ve laid a shark buffet —


Stay Ashore, College Boy

QUINT: I don’t take college boys to sea, for mackerel nor manatee,

There’s no enlistees in my corps, so stay ashore, you college boy!

You may talk of knots and tying, swear you’re shipboard-qualifying,

All you’ll do is throw off my avoirdupois. You college boys!

You pretend to be a sailor from a summer on a whaler

With fancy goddamn toys that clutter up the deck

I don’t need a rapid learner, I need hands to clear and turn her

When he’s taking too much line and the engine threatens swamp

I need the reel respooled and wetted, not a lecture on Duchamp —

You college boys!


Chums On The Chum Line

QUINT: Roll the barrels out

If you’re in peril, shout

Just be sure you’re not a-cringin’ at a feral trout

HOOPER: What’s the point of hooks and cords against the chairman of the board?

QUINT: To get it to the surface! Christ, you college boys are nervous —

Get him up so we can jab him, use harpoons until we grab him

Thought I’d reel him like a catfish?

BRODY: Not at all —

QUINT: You bunch of flatfish! Unload another drum,

Feed him bloated, happy, dumb,

Just keep those buckets churning, chums, and make this Whitey’s final swum


A Pair Of Doll Eyes 

Sometimes the shark looks right at ya

And sometimes ya look right back at the shark

The idea was — Ave Maria, was

You’d pound and holler, shout and kick

And try to keep formation

Sometimes the shark, he’d swim away

And sometimes — decimation

Some sank, some prayed, some prayed then sank

While others merely bled out

They averaged six an hour at first

And then they put the lead out

But the only thing that I could see

Was a pair of black doll’s eyes just searchin’ for me


Summer Economics (Cutting The Transom)

QUINT: He’s comin’ up —!

BRODY: He’s going in —

HOOPER: I’ve got the winch —

BRODY: Reel’s running thin!

QUINT: The gunwale’s down —

HOOPER: I’ve lost the fin —

QUINT: Loose the ginpole — let go — don’t flinch —

BRODY: Maybe we killed it?

QUINT: Then where’d the barrels go?

HOOPER: How many left?

BRODY: Six gone. Three to go. Engine’s out —

QUINT: Then we’ll row.


Swimming For Amity 

[Brody is laughing maniacally and swimming for shore alongside Hooper]

Come on over to Amity Island

Where there’s nothing to see but the sea view

Let’s swim over to Amity Island

Where the best of humanity is always on preview

There’s clear horizons ahead

Ignore those headlines you’ve read

The water’s perfectly — blue

The summer’s ready, now how — about — you?

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