There Goes the Neighborhood
There Goes The Neighborhood
Published in The Hopkins Review, Fall 2013, New Series 6.4
In all forms of narrative art, highbrow or lowbrow, we love sequels. Visit any multiplex and half the movies may be part of what the trade calls “franchises.” But these are generally the easiest kind of sequel: products of the same creative team with most of the same elements. Even if set chronologically after the first work, they essentially revisit its world. Holmes and Watson, the Hardy Boys, Rocky, and the James Bond novels come from this world (though an intelligent disagreement is possible about the Bond of the movies). The audience for this kind of sequel generally seeks and generally gets repetition of whatever appealed to them the first time round.
More Advanced Stunts
Sequels that truly advance the story are a step up from this. Think of the Shakespeare history plays, or some of the most intelligent television series.
More challenging still are sequels that reimagine the initial work, build around it and in some sense subvert it. The two works combined in the Roman de la Rose (one an allegory of courtly love, the other a blowing up of the mystique of courtly love), are of this type. Wordsworth’s bathetic narrative poem Peter Bell provoked Peter Bell parodies by other hands (it was easy to poke fun at), and one, by Shelley, a reply in satirical form that was at the same time a bit of a takeoff from the original. Pamela and Shamela would be another example. From a strictly narrative standpoint, the second of the Back to the Future movies deconstructed much of the plot of the first, and I think qualifies as the same kind of feat.
Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, which I wrote about in these pages last year, was a stunt of this more advanced type. Visiting “another part of the forest,” the fictional Chicago-area neighborhood of Clybourne Park, to which the Younger family of A Raisin in the Sun was preparing to move, it purported to show what was happening there at exactly the same time as the center city action of Raisin – and then leapt forward half a century. Raisin (1959) was an encyclopedic exploration of black concerns in its era; Clybourne Park (Off-Broadway 2010, Broadway 2012), audaciously covered an enormous amount of territory in the ongoing and probably endless national dialogue about race. It has been widely acclaimed (winning the Tony, the Pulitzer and the Olivier awards), and justly so. However, there can be no denying it is in some ways subversive of Hansberry’s views. And, though hilariously even-handed in some ways, it was definitely a white take on many of the issues Hansberry opened up from a black perspective.
This whiteness of Norris’s take (and no doubt the commercial hope of riding the coattails of Clybourne Park as, newly released from the exclusivity of Broadway, it makes the circuit of regional theater throughout the country) has provoked playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, a Briton of Grenadan and ultimately Ghanian heritage, now artistic director at Centerstage, Baltimore’s foremost Equity company, to try his own hand at a Raisin sequel. Earlier this year, Centerstage premiered Kwei-Armah’s own entry in the Raisin sequel sweepstakes, Beneatha’s Place, in repertory with Baltimore’s first revival of Clybourne Park, packaging the two together as The Raisin Cycle. This artistic “twofer” was well covered in the national press (see, e.g. here and here), and is the subject of an upcoming hour-long special on PBS. Centerstage, which never does a play other than impeccably, of course served up these two plays in customary style, with a great cast (singular, as we shall see) and great direction by Derrick Saunders (a protégé of August Wilson). So this was An Event.
As theatrical events go, it was admittedly oddly shaped: two sequels without the original seminal work. But Beneatha’s Place is, no doubt by design, written to be performed by nearly the same-sized cast as Clybourne Park (one additional actress is required), and the cast (with that addition) required has the same racial breakdown (these being plays in which racially unconventional casting would be a non-starter). The racial breakdown is completely different from the nearly all-black cast of Raisin (which also must be conventionally cast). Moreover, Beneatha’s Place is structured similarly to Clybourne Park, in two acts set in different time periods, with the cast from the first act doubling in different roles in the second (except that the character of Beneatha appears in both acts of Kwei-Armah’s play). So the packaging of the two plays gives almost every cast member the responsibility to play four roles (and Beneatha young and Beneatha old are in effect two roles as well), posing the opportunities and challenges of an instant repertoire for each actor, and conjuring up an instant repertory company from amongst the performers.
Beyond that, Beneatha’s Place is clearly a response to what Kwei-Armah in interviews has suggested may be the implicit message of Clybourne Park. And beyond even that, the latter is a provocative expansion of the subjects of both earlier ones. So there is much logic in placing the Norris and the Kwei-Armah plays together. (Baltimore audiences have also been provided with a recent well-received Raisin revival courtesy of the Everyman Theatre, the city’s other major-league Equity company.)
The implicit message in Clybourne Park that Kwei-Armah perceived and which he has stated bothered him was that whites build and blacks destroy. Critical to an understanding of the interplay of the two plays is how this at least perceived message is conveyed and how it is rebutted.
Sympathy for the Blockbusted Devil
To recapitulate a little of what I formerly wrote in these pages about Clybourne Park, when, at the time of Raisin, black families moved into previously white neighborhoods, the effect was historically not the integration of those neighborhoods but merely a movement of the boundaries between black and white. I cited Not In My Neighborhood, Antero Pietila’s detailed 2010 study of the process in Baltimore, which showed how laws and covenants had bottled up an expanding African-American population in an area too small for it, and how, when the existing boundaries ruptured because scattered white homeowners broke ranks and sold, the entire machinery of real estate commerce combined to turn on the previously white neighborhoods, evacuate all white residents, and sell those neighborhoods exclusively to blacks – all, of course, at a considerable profit to the middlemen, bankers and builders. And what happened in Baltimore happened in the Youngers’ Chicago and pretty much everywhere else as well. From the perspective of certain characters in Clybourne Park, this process, a matter of historical fact of which contemporary audiences are well aware, would appear to be blacks destroying what whites had built.
Certainly it appears that way to Karl Lindner, the one character who crosses over from Raisin to Clybourne Park. Lindner, the representative of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, says in the latter play:
…I’m not here to solve society’s problems. I’m simply telling you what will happen, and it will happen as follows: First one family will leave, then another, and another, and each time they do, the values of these properties will decline, and once that process begins, once you break that egg, … all the king’s horses, etcetera ….
– and some of us, you see, those who don’t have the opportunity to simply pick up and move at the drop of a hat, then those folks are left holding the bag, and it’s a fairly worthless bag, at that point.
In Raisin, Lindner is presented as simply despicable. He calls the Youngers “you people” and patronizingly urges them that “our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities.” And he tries to buy them out, at a price which Beneatha Younger, the daughter of the family, tellingly refers to as “Thirty pieces and not a coin less!” But in Clybourne Park a good side of him is posited and presented, his solicitude toward a deaf wife and an unborn child. So in Norris’s dramatic universe, Lindner’s dismay has some basis, even if the audience is not invited to share it, and does not make him utterly despicable. He is plainly the same character as Hansberry’s, yet more fully realized.
Mean and Lena
In commensurate fashion, when in Norris’s Act II Steve and Lindsey, a gentrifying white couple, are trying to buy and remodel the same house in 2009, after it has become a derelict property in what is now a black enclave, they are opposed by Lena, the great-niece of Lena Younger, the matriarch in Raisin who bought the house. Lena’s arguments are vague, but the thrust of them seems to be that allowing young white gentrifiers to fix up a house, even one that is clearly in dire need of repair, when it happens on black turf, would challenge the pride of the neighborhood. It is left unclear at the end of the play whether her campaign to repel the white invaders (by invocation of building codes to frustrate their redesign of the house) will succeed. But clearly this too fits within what Kwei-Armah sees as the dialectic of the play: black characters trying to prevent the rebuilding by white characters of what black characters ruined.
Kwei-Armah has tried to reverse this dynamic. In the fictional world he evokes, it is the arrival of the white people that wrecks things. The central character in both halves of the play is Beneatha Younger. In Raisin we see her being wooed by Joseph Asagai, a Nigerian graduate student, and resolving to go with Asagai back to his homeland, study medicine there, and help him with his mission to assist the Nigerian struggle for independence. In Beneatha’s Place we start with Beneatha recently arrived in Nigeria and, in Act II follow her upon her return there in 2013. When she first arrives, the country is in the throes of independence, which Kwei-Armah depicts as a corrupt, bloody business, the source of whose problems is white colonialism and white neo-colonialism.
There Goes the African Neighborhood
Aunty Fola, a basket vendor in the market, a font of common sense and folk wisdom, describes the genesis of the problem in a way that is no doubt intended to echo Lindner’s speech reproduced above:
My grandfather use to tell the story of the old man on the hill who saw the first white men coming from the sea. He warned his chief but the chief could not see for the gifts they were offering were so bright. So he ran to the bigger chiefs and he proclaimed in his most prophetic voice “This is how it will happen! One will come. Then another, then another, and each time they do, the value of our ancestral land will be reduced. For us at least. And before you know it, the ground we are all standing upon will be like an empty bag. Worthless.[“] But they did not listen. And here you [Beneatha] are in Crescent Grove–surrounded by their children, a stranger in your own land. Beware of white people carrying gifts, Alaiyo.
And while it seems as if frank colonialism is about to end, all of the other leaders of the independence movement have been bought out by the departing British and/or by the corporations. Chillingly, Asagai, now Beneatha’s husband, is also solicited by one of them, a “white person bearing gifts,” a neighbor who claims to work for the multinational company that runs the telephone system and offers a cash contribution to Asagai on behalf of the chamber of commerce. As of the end of Act I, Asagai has not clearly rejected the buyout (as the Youngers rejected Lindner’s). Then, with that issue unresolved, he dies in a car-bombing which itself is clearly the result of factionalism fomented, directly or indirectly, by the nascent neo-colonialists like the shadowy neighbor.
There Goes Academia
Act II features a different, at least potentially destructive, kind of white arrivisme: the displacement of what had been an African-American studies program at an American university by white academics with a different academic focus. This is not so clearly a case of “there goes the neighborhood” as is the colonialism and neo-colonialism limned in Act I. In the universe of the play, after her husband’s assassination, Beneatha left the study of medicine and became a professor of social anthropology, becoming a member of the vanguard that pioneered black studies in American academia. As Act II opens, she is the dean of the college of social sciences at an unnamed University of California System institution. Things have changed since Beneatha and Black Studies got their start, however, as described by one of Beneatha’s white colleagues:
Dean, you think when the new college President arrives he’s not going to see that six outta ten of your lecturers of African American studies are Caucasian? Two thirds of your students are white?… He’s gonna see that and he’s gonna change it up, because the truth is the few black students we do get at this university are not interested in race any more. And that’s why we, if you wanna put it that way, are the rightful inheritor because we care and we, I, don’t want this subject to whither on the vine of yesterdays struggles.
In place of this focus, “looking at the subject of race and identity through the lens of the black,” as that colleague puts it, the colleague proposes to substitute Critical Whiteness Studies. These were helpfully described by Prof. Gregory Jay in language quoted by Khalid Yaya Long in the Centerstage program notes in this fashion:
“Whiteness Studies attempts to trace the economic and political history behind the invention of ‘whiteness’” devised as a warrant for systems of power, privilege, and superiority. It offers a lens to understand, and in theory to challenge “the privileges given to so-called ‘whites,’ and to analyze the cultural practices (in art, music, literature, and popular media) that create and perpetuate the fiction of ‘whiteness.’”
A shift to this may be what Beneatha’s Nigerian colleage describes as “colonizing all over again.” Or it may be the natural way forward for the discipline. The dilemma of Kwei-Armah’s Act II, then, is whether Beneatha should give her critical support to the supplanting of Black Studies with Critical Whiteness Studies.
The Nigerian colleague’s characterization of the prospective change as “colonizing” comes from the second act’s now-obligatory “there goes the neighborhood” speech, which I now quote at greater length:
This is what these people do every time… Must the Caucasian voice be dominant in everything?!!! Climb and conquer every….because that’s all you’re doing … call it what you will but you are colonizing all over again. Covering for white people … who are … simply fed up of having being made to feel guilty about standing on the wealth of all your racist forebears.
A Serious Question
The Act II question in Clybourne Park is not truly whether the white arrivistes are destroying anything valuable; Lena’s vague speech evoking “pride” never pinpoints anything truly valuable that is under threat, and seems irrational. The gentrification of any poor neighborhood, black or white, brings destruction of a sort, but Lena is not talking about that kind of destruction. She is defending incoherently against an attack on racial solidarity. By contrast, the Act II question in Beneatha’s Place is serious. Black Studies has served an important function in the African American community. It was critical to the civil rights movement, and provided intellectual context to what came in that movement’s wake. It may also be played out, at least in the format and with the focuses that worked well at one time.
John McWhorter suggested in a 2009 essay that Black Studies programs across the country were so devoted to chronicling the structures of oppression and so politically alienated from the mainstream of American society that they were in effect preaching hopelessness and estrangement, and thereby courting irrelevance and unpopularity within a black community that was neither hopeless nor disengaged from the larger society. His proposals for reform were African-American-centric, not progression to Critical Whiteness Studies, but he stands as witness to the perception held by some at least that the discipline as originally formulated may be played out.
Beneatha does not show her hand in this dispute until late in Act II, but it is clear she is listening carefully to the white colleague’s pitch to change the program’s focus at her school. Still, replacing African-American studies, her discipline and her legacy, with a discipline in which white players may predominate requires trust, to say the least. The question Kwei-Armah seems to be posing in Act II, then, may be summarized as whether the black characters, who in their own lives and in those of their ancestors have seen what happened to “the neighborhood” when white people arrived, should make themselves vulnerable again?
A Victory in Hand
The answer seems to have something to do with mutuality. To engender trust, the game must be one black people have a fair chance to win. Beneatha goes through the meeting knowing she has a victory in her pocket, knowing (though her colleagues as yet have no idea of this) that she has been chosen president of the university. And consistent with that, her last action in the play, the last action before the fadeout, is her placing a portrait of President Obama in the center of the set. The symbolism is unmistakable. Lena in Clybourne Park may not be able to bring herself to say yes to a white presence on black turf, but Beneatha can manage it, because for her the trust is justifiable if not yet fully justified. And when the two plays are packaged together, the sour, inconclusive note on which Norris’s play ends is in effect transcended by the way Kwei-Armah’s play ends. (To be clear, I do not speak of the sad note struck at the very end of Clybourne Park when the ghost of a suicide from before the beginning of Act I appears and banishes all frivolity, but of the conclusion for the 21st-century characters; they disperse before the fight over building codes, which is a fight about racial turf in thin disguise, is resolved, with their reserves of goodwill and tact badly depleted.)
The pairing of these plays works not only by the interplay of their messages but also by that of their styles, which may be every bit as important. Act I of each play includes a confrontation between basically clueless (and hence tactless) white people and more sensitive black ones, played for laughs, but with a tragic undertext. Act II of each play is a savage comedy of race.
Jokes That Double-Bind
Norris’s Act II success surely owes much to both transgressiveness and evenhandedness. The characters stereotype, disrespect, argue with, and joke about each other. The jokes are really important; in the second Act of Clybourne Park, there are four jokes told, playing on various racial and sexual stereotypes that, in a crescendo of tactlessness, cause embarrassment and umbrage to just about every character. It is a kind of laboratory demonstration that the jokes people tell reflect various kinds of group animosity, and that the animosities linger. Once a joke is told, the dissed party faces a double-bind choice: get angry (and thus appear unable to take a joke) or not (and show oneself lacking in group solidarity and self-respect). Either response is a loser. But similarly, the choice whether to tell the joke is an index of one’s capacity for dissimulation of one’s real anxieties and animosities, and it too presents a double bind: tell the joke (and give offense) or don’t tell the joke (and be dishonest about how you feel about those elephants that may inhabit the room). This melee, a kind of humorous war of all against all, is hilarious, the major point of which seems to be that everyone is double-bound all the time.
Kwei-Armah’s Act II tries for much the same effect, without the jokes. As the academics enter a free-for-all over the proposed curriculum change, there is a similar sense that everyone is stuck trying to speak his or her mind without giving offense and failing, sometimes in comically unpredictable ways. This group, a bit more given to abstract thinking than Norris’s second-act crew, may be a bit slower to give or take offense over jokes. In fact at one point Beneatha and an African-born colleague discuss a joke the audience will surely recognize as one that sparked Norris’s Act II:
BENEATHA: …You know I sat in the cafeteria of our very liberal campus the other day and I heard a young man recite a joke he’d heard. “What’s long and hard on a black male?”- “First grade”! …and all around, black and white started laughing.
WALE: You dealt with him good, right?
BENEATHA: Oh no, I didn’t say a thing. I was pleased that he felt free enough to say it in my presence. It indicates either great social progress or…
WALE: …that we’re the butt of everyone’s jokes?!
But even without the transgressive jokes, there is the same sense that everyone is walking on eggshells, ones that keep cracking. It is the same device and produces much the same tone.
Work to be Done
So this coupling of plays shows real promise of a future. It may become as predictable as couplings of The Sorcerer with Cox and Box. But Beneatha’s Place will require some further polishing first. It is manifestly a work in progress, whereas Clybourne Park is bright and shiny, and ready to be rolled out in every town and hamlet. Beneatha’s Place still has problems, great and small.
One problem – and at this juncture it’s hard to say whether it is great or small – is the continuity with Raisin. The events of Raisin take place in the second half of 1959. The first act of Beneatha’s Place must also take place in 1959 or early in 1960, because for plot reasons it precedes Nigeria’s independence, which came in October of 1960. And indeed, the script says it is 1959. We are presumably meant to understand that Beneatha marries Asagai and moves with him to Nigeria over the course of 1959.
So far so good; but if so, when and where did Asagai receive his education, and how far did he go? Hansberry’s Beneatha describes Asagai as “an African boy I met on campus. He’s been studying in Canada all summer.” From this it would appear that Asagai and Beneatha are fellow-undergraduates. Yet later that year, if Kwei-Armah is to be believed, Asagai has a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. There are various complicated scenarios that might barely make these things compatible, but they are clumsy, as is what seems to have happened in a few short months to Beneatha’s academic career – transitioning from American undergraduate in the fall of 1959 (after the summer Asagai spent in Canada) to medical student (already using a stethoscope for diagnostic purposes) in Nigeria before the end of the year, one who also has considerable command of the Yoruba language – after, in Raisin and hence only a little earlier in the year, having had to have the Yoruba endearment “Alaiyo” translated for her. It is obvious that somewhere in Kwei-Armah’s conception he wanted to have the couple be a little older, but then also wanted to put the action of Act I before Nigerian independence, and probably wanted to echo the temporal closeness of Norris’ play’s first act to the events of Raisin. So he cheated a little.
Does it make a difference? I would argue that it does. The rules of this game call for continuity with Raisin; whether one is going to subvert it or amplify it, Raisin, its events and its characters, are a given. And if Beneatha and Asagai are going to transition over from Raisin to Beneatha’s Place, they can grow and develop in the second play, but they must start as the same characters. And I think they do not quite do this, and not merely because they seem to have considerably more education under their belts at the beginning of Beneatha’s Place than they had at the end of Raisin, a point that must be a matter of scant weeks earlier in their fictional lives. Their characters are subtly but significantly different.
The alteration in Asagai is more disturbing. In Hansberry’s play Asagai’s hallmarks are serenity and good cheer. When Beneatha is in despair because her brother has squandered money that was supposed to fund her education, among other things, Asagai tells her that he “live[s] the answer” to despair, and voices a confidence that he “will teach and work and things will happen…” Remarkably, he even foresees the possibility that he may die in the struggle for the betterment of Nigeria (“perhaps for it I will be butchered in my bed some night by the servants of empire”), and even this does not disturb his equanimity. Yet from the moment we see him in Beneatha’s Place he is apprehensive, resistant to Beneatha’s calls for affection, apparently jealous when he mistakenly thinks Beneatha is flirting with the telephone company man who brings bribes, very concerned indeed that she make the right impression on Asagai’s colleague – and worried that he might be killed (as indeed becomes his fate). This is just not Hansberry’s Asagai.
Beneatha, at least the Beneatha of Kwei-Armah’s Act I, does not suffer white fools with much grace, first playing along with their condescension, then showing them up. The contrast with the way Hansberry’s Beneatha handled herself in Lindner’s presence is subtle but definite; Hansberry’s Beneatha was immediately prickly and on guard, showing an increasing level of hostility as Lindner laid out his case for the Youngers to accept his buyout. There was no holding back of sarcasm to tempt the white fool to go on being foolish a bit longer.
The rehearsal script that was shared with me bears clear evidence that Kwei-Armah had at some point intended part of the action to take place in 1971, and the discontinuities I have just mentioned make sense for a Beneatha and an Asagai twelve years older than their counterparts in Raisin. People do pick up plenty of education over a period that long, and their personalities can change materially. But that temporal setting seems to have been discontinued.
Location, Location, Location
Besides the discontinuities, there is the improbability of the setting of Act II. Following Norris’s example, Kwei-Armah situates both Acts in the same location, in this instance a house in Nigeria. For the action of Act I, this makes perfect sense; Act I is about developments in Nigeria. But Act II, as already indicated, concerns American academic disciplines and politics. In order to present a plausible reason for a circle of faculty from a single California university to find themselves in Nigeria, Kwei-Armah must conjure up a conference they are all attending. It would be a bit more probable if they were all in the same discipline, but we have a social scientist, a professor of African American studies, a cognitive scientist, an economist, and a professor of ethnic studies. How all these disciplines might be organized in a real-life university, or for that matter, at Beneatha’s institution, is not entirely clear, but that an entire multidisciplinary academic committee would find itself at a single conference in a faraway country is just not credible.
This begs the inevitable question whether anything would be lost in setting Act II in California, where logic indicates it ought to be. Apart from evoking the wistful notes that are struck whenever any character revisits the scene of long-ago momentous events in her life, I can see no dramatic advantages accruing from Kwei-Armah’s choice to keep Act II in Nigeria. His real motivations may be the understandable extra-dramatic ones of saving companies the expense of building two sets and echoing Norris’ use of the single set in different time frames so as to emphasize the “package” nature of the two plays. But improbability in a play that purports to be realistic can tell on an audience, and there were sound logical and dramatic reasons for the single set in Clybourne Park that do not apply in Beneatha’s Place.
For all these reasons, as Kwei-Armah continues to polish this work, I foresee some tough choices. He absolutely has to do something about the discontinuities between Raisin and Act I; the simplest choice would be to move Act I forward a few years into the 1960s. (I know that Nigeria did not lose all factions and tribalism after 1959, nor did neo-colonialism go away, so the external conditions would remain quite similar.) Granted, that temporal shift would mean that the parallelism with Clybourne Park would be diminished, but the head-scratching among those who remember Raisin would stop. And for my money the smart thing for Act II would be to move it back to the United States, even if that further diminished the parallelism with Clybourne Park. The real continuity between Kwei-Armah’s two acts is not a house; it is the character of Beneatha, who is sturdy and interesting enough to support a whole play.
How To Do It
I would also like to see Kwei-Armah drop a conceit that Asagai collected a vast trove of “coon memorabilia,” kitschy art that plays on white racial stereotypes about blacks. One of the items is a Sambo mask, behind which white speakers are encouraged to give vent to their inner racist – at least I think that’s what’s going on, though it’s a bit clouded by a sense of mysticism or magic surrounding it. How Raisin’s sunny-spirited Asagai could have morphed into someone who collected this assemblage of mean-spiritedness (even as a memento of what he rejects) is not explained, and the mystical magic mask echoes the most incoherent moments of August Wilson – which is not a good thing. The play has enough going for it without this messy and pointless trope.
As already noted, Beneatha’s plot resolves in a way that the plot of Clybourne Park does not. It is no good pretending that Beneatha’s Place is merely Clybourne Park’s mirror image, Clybourne Park in blackface, if you will. Norris’ play suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same: that, regardless of the colors of the players’ skins, the old turf battles and the old rationalizations persist, generation to generation. Beneatha’s Place on the other hand suggests that we may after all be making some progress. When, at the end, all the characters who have been squabbling throughout Act II and have left Beneatha’s house learn that Beneatha has been named the new university president, they dash back to help her celebrate, and in their congratulations to her there is no note of reserve; they all see it as a happy ending. And in light of her triumph, we can look back and appreciate how this came about. Kwei-Armah has believably created a character of simultaneous forcefulness and tact, a natural leader who has learned from every bit of her experience, including not only the ones that incline one to watchfulness and distrust in matters of race but also the ones that tilt you in the opposite direction. With reasonable luck, such a person would be handed the great responsibilities of such an office.
Hence we can all agree that the conclusions of Beneatha’s Place, both dramatic and thematic, make the play as a whole a satisfying contrast with Clybourne Park, if not yet its equal. The jury is still out on this coupling, however. I predict much greater success for it if Kwei-Armah, a man who seems incredibly busy on two continents, can find the time to work the kinks out his half of the pair. Paradoxically, the less slavish his adherence to Norris’s template, the greater the likelihood his play will be invited along on Clybourne Park’s victory lap.
Copyright (c) Jack L. B. Gohn