Background and History
The True Story of the Bridgewater Astral League, in it's original form, is a play with two acts set in Bridgewater, New Jersey, telling the story of the rise and fall of a young criminal syndicate. It was adapted, put to music, and released by the World/Inferno Friendship Society in 1997. It is a tale of redemption and is about finding salvation through crimes committed in the service of poetry, not greed.
The origin of the story is shrouded in obscurity. It's history is difficult to trace since it's in the public domain. What is known, however, is that the World/Inferno Friendship Society is credited with writing the music and lyrics. The play was first produced in Brooklyn by Stephe and Marina's Suicide Hall and premiered on December 23rd in 1996. The connection is shady, but it just so happens that the Suicide Hall is very close to W/IFS' mailing address*. Additionally, the New York and New Jersey punk scenes have a long, winding history together, so the conjecture regarding the relationship between the play, the Suicide Hall, the W/IFS, Brooklyn, and Bridgewater just barely makes sense.
*W/IFS' mailing address, 475 Keap Street, is, in fact, fake. The street ends at 473.
Act the First
The play begins some number of years after the Astral League's story in 1995 with Joe Tennis at the age of 17 in a dark wood. He stops at a large, gnarled oak tree, naming it Deviltry. He is waiting for his boss, Dante Alighieri, a revenge obsessed former presidential candidate. When Dante arrives, he explains that they must wait for two other businessmen, so to pass the time, he tells Joe a little story.
Dante tells of his more youthful days that he spent with Jon Giltch and a teenage car-jacking gang. Jon makes himself known and promises untold insights into crime to Dante and friends, if they only commit to Jon and follow him. The group was derisive at first, but Jon came to them each that night in their dreams, leading them from their material bodies to a flying crime spree over the town, overjoyed with a feeling of liberation.
What was once a small suburban gang of delinquents had become The Bridgewater Astral League, with Jon Giltch as their sworn leader. For the next year, the League lived lavishly, reigning from New York to Philadelphia. However, that which burns brightest goes out the quickest; the League was not fated to last long. Jon is visited by his spirit guide Nosliw Pilf and his power goes to his head. Jon challenges Pilf on the Astral Plane; Pilf assaults him. Jon realizes his overbearing pride, but too late to save his dignity. He returns defeated and abandons the League.
Dante's narrative ends. The other two men arrive. The first act ends.
Act the Second
Back at Deviltry, Dante is about to leave but is stopped by Joe. Joe urges him to continue his story of the League. Dante pauses to tell more of his story.
The Astral League is leaderless and can no longer fly. After various foiled crimes, several members are arrested, including the particular Marc Geary, first generation Astral League stormtrooper, a man who enjoyed his job and his way of life. Unable to fly, Millicent King, one of Dante's original gang and a high-held member of the League, kills herself. At the wake, Millicent's younger brother Jack King presents her eulogy. His words are harsh, but joyful of the presence his sister once had. He remembers when Millicent was hassled by a gang of kids. It was this provocation that gave Millicent the chance to prove herself. Jack ends his speech, urging his friends to not forget Millicent.
Jack and his friends proceed to have a post-wake drink at a near-by pub. Jack spreads a deck of tarot cards for he and his friends. Whilst reading the results, his friend Marc Geary suddenly arrives, released from prison. In a fit of revised joy, Jack King calls the attention of all who is there to hear. Witnessing bar patrons threaten him, but Jack calls for more drinks and a greater perspective. Jack drives his point home as the entire bar erupts with violence. They must see the world as a world of endless possibility and demand more of life than is given to them. Their future will be hard, but they have the spirit of camaraderie and poetry. As the curtain closes, Jack is struck.
The story ends with Joe Tennis riding into the sunrise, admiring the stars.
The album by the World/Inferno F.S. was released in 1997 on Gern Blandsten Records. It was entirely recorded at Keap Street Studios in Brooklyn, except for "Tarot Americaine", which was recorded live at Stephe and Marina's Suicide Hall on the premiere of the play. The two acts are adorned with fours songs each, more or less in order with the story. Lyrics can be found at http://www.worldinferno.com.
A Night in the Woods - Song the First
Told from the perspective of Dante, he meets Joe Tennis in those dark woods and tells him a story. The first line of the lyric, "I plan to outlive my enemies, so I'll stick around 'til that's done", is apparently a reference to political intrigue in Florence, Dante's home city. Specifically, there was a quarrel between the Black and White factions of Florence's Guelph party (the names have nothing to do with race). The dispute ended in overt violence following a murder. Afterwards, Dante was exiled from his home city when the Alighieri family escaped to New Jersey.
The Evil Dance of Nosliw Pilf - Song the Second
Pilf - spirit guide and nemesis to Jon Giltch - is believed by some to be a modern moniker to the Demon Leader of the Malebranche, Barbariccia. Whatever he is, he lures Jon into the Astral League and messes with him.
Incendiarism - Song the Third
Dante and his gang are inspired by Jon Glitch and the fly through the city, singing, laughing, and creating havoc.
Lust for Timing - Song the Fourth
The Astral League is at it's apex, two years after it's formation. They're still a sloppy group of delinquent teenagers, but their skills in the Astral League allow them their luck and liberty. Jon Giltch is finally at the end of his rope and is about to lose it all.
Millicent Didn't Want to Wait for It to Get Better - Song the Fifth
Millicent's farewell song to her friends. The Astral League was not a group of coffin-nail-hard criminals, but a bunch of kids with high hopes. This song shows just that.
One for the Witches - Song the Sixth
Jack King gives his sister's eulogy and tells the story of how she first proved herself. A flashback within a flashback.
Tarot Americaine - Song the Seventh
Jack is revitalized and gears his friends up for a new look on life and the world. The characters in the middle of the song are a Tarot Divination he casts. He is using The American Tarot deck, as described by Steve Erickson in his novels Arc D'X and Amnesiascope.
Joe Tennis Redeemed - Song the Eighth
Dante is gone, and Joe is left to ponder the story he (and we) have been told. What is there to learn? He finds his idea twice, meaning he will find it again and will be redeemed. He is the Everyman for us all to relate to.