Pedro Pietri & The Masses are Asses (Pages 27-55)

“Beware of Signs”– Performance Poetry

Trying to replicate the speech of a con salesman, in this poem, Pietri presents how Latino people that are not fluent in English are at times fooled with rigged offers at department stores. Thinking they got a good deal, the clients end up with unpayable debts.



The Masses are Asses: Speed Dating Reading (1 minute per couple)


Themes to discuss in trios

.Stereotypes about poor people

.Speech, slang as a mask

.Reality check: Europe vs. the South Bronx/ to be or to pretend

.Proper English = Education/Civilization?

.Hunger/ Welfare

.Exploitation of workers/ Cheap Labor

.Deception of the self/ Losing grips with reality

.Crimes against women

.A theory of pretending/ a theory about theater

.Social interactions as performances


Response Paper: Definition of an academic genre


In a response paper, writers respond to one or more texts they have read. It requires students to understand each text individually. If you are responding to multiple texts, you must also discover how the texts relate to one another. If responding to just one text, you might need to situate it within the broader context of class discussions, readings, etc.

Response papers require you to synthesize the intellectual work of others—that is, bring it together into an integrated whole.

Questions to Ask:

Consider texts individually:

What is the main problem or issue that the author is addressing?

What is the author’s central claim, argument, or point?

Why are the problem(s) and the argument(s) exciting or essential?

Consider texts collectively:

How do they relate to one another? Do the authors agree? Disagree? Address different aspects of an issue? Formulate a problem in different ways?


Possible topics to discuss on Response Paper # 1 on The Masses Are Asses

.Stage Directions as reality checks

.The representation of rich people vs. poor people

.Division of class


.Commentary about crime

.Distortions of reality

.Political satire


Comments 28

  • Reflecting on the ideas of the Gentleman, do you think that in most social interactions, “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything”?

  • Reflecting on the gentleman I do believe that we pretend to talk but not actually say anything. In certain situations people tend to not even think twice about what they tell others. Some people just like to talk and are not even sure about what they say. There are people who don’t do good in social interactions, even though they are in a conversation with another in their minds they are thinking “can this person stop talking?” Studies show when you meet someone for the first time, most of that conversation is made up/ lying. Many people want to make themselves seem interesting to others, so they say things about themselves which is not always true. They start to lose a sense of reality and only put out there what they want others to believe about themselves. They try to keep up with this “look” they’ve given themselves and others.

  • In context to the idea of the gentleman, i agree that in most social interactions, “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything” because it is a formality that we follow. Like when we greet someone by saying, ” hello, how are you?” we don’t actually want to hear about how they are actually doing, but do it because of etiquette, and vice versa.

  • In the beginning of the play, when the Gentleman and Lady are complimenting each other constantly. In my opinion, is a good example of talking and not saying anything. They are interacting with each other but not truly saying what they have in their minds. Gentleman and Lady are saying what it is convenient and what the society expect from them. Therefore, I agree when mentioned “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything”. When pretending to be rich, the couple, is very repetitive. Mostly, talking over and over and not meaning much. Nowadays, the society expect that when talking or meeting someone it is important to show how much one knows or how smart a person is. It may be a reason why some people talk a lot but not say much. Trying to be someone who they are not just to impress.

  • I do believe that there is times when “we just pretend to talk but not actually say nothing”. As a personal experience, the cross guard I see every morning, she greets me I answer her back and the talk is over. Our conversation is more to make use of a few words to Simply comply with the requirements of etiquette. When we don’t even know each others name.

  • At some point I do agree with his statement, because sometimes it’s much easier to follow the “formality” by saying what we have to say instead of what we really feel in order to get more convenience of something or make a desired/expected impression of ourselves to others. Even in everyday greeting “how are you” one side pretends to be really interested and the other side pretends to tell he/she is ok.

  • Absolutely! I would say they’re never listening, their waiting for you to shut up so they can speak. It even exist on social media. I like your post you like mine. I send a birthday message, you out do mine. It’s a competition.

    The gentleman and the lady are talking but saying nothing. My classmate wrote people don’t even think twice about what they tell others, I agree and sometimes they don’t think at all.

  • I do agree that in most social interactions, especially if someone who has more knowledge in any profession (let’s just say) and has the upper hand to express themselves more diligently in a work setting than those with less experience. For instance, my manager whom had years of managerial experience in Verizon for 15 years and has been working with us for a few months, knows how to control and manage work duties accordingly. As an employee, I will listen to him and when I know I have a particular question for him, I’ll will bring it upon his attention. But when he gets me upset at times, I don’t say anything to him. Even though I can be right at times, I don’t want to say something to jeopardize my job. There’s no win win situation at this point.

  • I do agree that in most “social interactions we pretend to talk but not actually say anything “
    It could be that we are so use to saying things to others that we have created a habit forgetting the true feeling and meaning of what we say. Almost like a robotic interaction, instead of a social interaction. For example, when a couple meet, than fall in love, and say I love you for the first time . There is an amazing feeling that goes through their whole body. But after time saying it so much to each other it becomes a everyday habit that is not the same. I’m not saying that they lost love for each other. What I am saying is that the true feeling of those words died. Just like in the story, the lady and the gentleman saying these empty words to each other have forgotten the real feeling.

  • I believe this phase has a very strong meaning behind in all honesty. When participating in a conversation with one another we don’t really think about the topic of the conversation or what we’re actually saying. Sometimes we forget about the conversation we’re really indulging in, like the gentlemen.

    For example sometimes people indulge in conversations that they wouldn’t normally indulge with somebody else. The lady was pretending to live a lifestyle she wasn’t actually living, as for the gentlemen, he actually believed that by pretending and having everyone around him think he was upper class, that he would then be upper class. There are times when one is just trying to fit in, instead of actually fitting in.

  • I agree with the ideas the gentleman expressed in that we do often just pretend to talk in most social interactions. In many settings and circumstances, whether it be at work, school, a first date, or even a dinner at a restaurant, we often talk only in the sphere of what “we ought to talk about” because there is always a specific societal expectation on the content and style of our conversation. The world has a general understanding of how we should speak and what we should talk about at any given time. Should we veer too far from these confines of conversation, often we are judged or there is a stigma associated with our informality.

    At times though, when we realize we should talk in a genuine manner, no matter the circumstance, THAT’S when we are actually saying something.

  • In my opinion, in most social interaction people just pretend to talk and have meaningless conversations because people talk out of courtesy but, not because they really care to listen others people opinions or ideas.

  • Yes, I do think in most social interaction we pretend to talk but not actually say anything. Like the gentleman in the play, he makes no sense to the current situation he is in. He pretends to be a rich gentleman, having a butler, chauffeur and a maid. Trying to be delusional to the fact that in reality they are poor without much to eat, yet he speaks as a rich person. Similarly, in today’s society, everyone speaks but do they actually say anything? We just go through the motion of saying things because we think we have to. Sometimes we even forget what we said a minute ago!

  • Do we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything? I agree with the gentleman and his thought that we don’t actually have conversations with substance to them. Even in my own life I greet people on the street and ask them about how their day is going or ask my coworkers if they enjoyed their weekend. I do not actually wait for an in depth response but prefer the typical “It was good” response and it’s the same for them.

  • i do agree with the gentleman in the text “Masses Are Asses”. That people just talk to talk without saying nothing because that just want to be courteous and respectfully with short conversation or just being nosy and try to find they way into a conversation.

  • I, as many of my classmates agree with the “gentleman”. Often times we are listening to respond, and not to listening to understand. We have become desensitized to the feeling’s of others and self absorbed. In my opinion empty word are just “Lies”, because what are word without meaning? Most people do not want to live their “Truth” as displayed by the “gentleman” in the play.

  • I do think that we just pretend to talk without actually saying anything in conversations with certain people. I believe that the only reasons we do this is because we want to seem polite or to avoid awkward situations of silence. We make conversation out of simple questions and most of the time hope we get simple answers in order for the conversation to end briefly or in time for the situation to be over.

  • I wanted to make a comment to the class whether anybody knew about the concept of code-switching. There are different definitions for it but my understanding of it is when a person switches their manner of speech depending on the social context or conversational setting and specifically to whom they speak with. It was this concept and more that came to mind during the class. Authenticity comes up in parallel when people are judging politicians in how they approach the Bronx crisis. They either try their best or neglect. I think politicians code switch all the time. Code-switching for them can be essentially seen in many countries today. I guess it can be negative when it becomes contagious when everyday people, even the poor, start acting out delusions of grandeur.

  • Reflecting on the ideas of the Gentleman, I think that in most social interactions, “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything”. I think this is because we live in a time where most real conversations happens on social media. People are more concern with the attention they receive from saying something than actually having something to say.
    Now when the opportunity comes about where people are actually listening, nothing of what is said is productive. Kinda like the Gentleman. We are listening to the conversation he is having with the woman, but most of it is crap.

  • Yes, I think in most social interaction we pretend to talk but not actually say anything. For example, the Gentleman in the play who pretend that he is living the good and rich life. In today socitiy most people use social meida to as a tool to shear their opinion and personal life. but the question is, how much of it is true.

  • I do agree that most of our day to day interactions lack substance. We talk about what is narrowly accepted, we make small talk and stay away from any topic of conversation that might either upset our conversation partner or the carefully curated air of the conversation itself. We are taught to not speak the full truth but instead a highly edited version of it.

  • Everybody in the group agrees to some level with the ideas of the Gentleman regarding the banality or lack of substance in our daily interactions. Some observations and reflections shared by the groups are that people, for the most part, curate their conversations based on courtesy, social ritual, automatization, to avoid upsetting the others or out of fear of awkward moments. Some people prefer social media validation and falsification to real connections. Some change the tone and the content depending on the listener, they “code switch” responding to societal expectations and roles. At times folks aren’t listening, they just want to hear their voices or indulge in their own “trip.” Meanwhile, some get too far from their “truth,” meaning they lose their identity.

  • i agree with the gentleman with the fact that we talk the talk without actually meaning anything with the words coming out. Its somewhat a way to fill in the conversation and keep it going. The same could be said with social interactions, saying words just to fill in the conversation without meaning anything to it.

  • I do agree that in most social interactions, “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything”, especially in the era of the polit-correctness and double standards. But I do not agree with this statement as the reflection on the ideas of the Gentleman because the idea of this statement becomes new kind of norm; it is what it is and – deal with it… Instead I’m saying that “it is what it is and – we should change it”.

  • In my opinion I do believe “we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything”? This is because sometimes in my personal experience I dont tend to listen to people while they are talking, but I do act like I am.

  • In my opinion In context to the idea of the gentleman, i agree that in most social interactions can be exaggerated most of the time. its part of the “Game” where we try to talk a big game but then try our hardest to back it up when the time comes to prove it. others have no shame and will let you know it was just a game once they receive what they were looking for.

  • In my opinion, in most of the social interaction we just pretend to talk but not actually say anything because most of the time we do it out of courtesy and sometimes we don’t want to be engaged in the topics that really does not matter at all. Also, a conversation will end peacefully if we just say yes or no in many occasions.

  • I believe that most of us just make small talk with people as it socially acceptable part of American culture. Some conversations take on a tone of genuine concern but in the end its about people being nice or polite but no real concern. I myself have been guilty of being this way in an effort to get along or to feel more comfortable among strangers. But I can tell when people are just making conversation and I actually respect those that don’t engage than those who do and are phony.

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