Chicken Sandwiches. And Other First World Problems.

September 24th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I spend most of my time wearing a blazer with elbow patches, sitting in a book-lined room beside a roaring fire with a pipe and tumbler of dark liquor. So I have never found myself standing in the middle of an enormous field on a hot summer day with a homemade sign.  This is unfamiliar territory for me. It is with great trepidation and care that I am treading into these turbulent waters of modern American culture war.

But I fear that it will not be long before I am found sipping on Polynesian Sauce in a dark corner, feverishly nibbling at an illegal chicken sandwich. We are only a few months away until The Chik has to go underground. I will be forced to procure the orange oil on the black market, furtively sneaking into dark alleys to execute my transactions.

Chick Fil A

I will be forced into this life of crime. I will be yet another of life’s victims, swept away by the changing tides of the populace’s fickle sentiment. I was unaware, oblivious, ultimately, innocent.

It wasn’t my fault. I was busy.

I was busy avoiding Wal-Mart and Monsanto, saving the trees, saving the whales, buying a hybrid car, participating in car share, riding my bike, being a vegetarian, taking a composting class, taking a yoga class, going primal, going paleo, fighting factory farming, fighting global warming. I was recycling. I was being sustainable, empowering minorities, respecting women, worrying about homelessness and poverty and autism and breast cancer and AIDS and bank fraud and Alzheimer’s and corruption and public schools and sex predators and natural disasters and unemployment and veterans hospitals and divorce and terrorism and famine and war. I was running a marathon.

I don’t mean to brag, but I do a pretty good job of being a savvy consumer: my wife’s diamond is blood-free from Canada, all my Poodle skin watchbands were sourced from local neighborhood dogs, and I only eat horses that I’ve ridden.

So this Chik-Fil-A thing. I really think we’re losing by railing against a fast food chain known for its pious Sunday closings and sending their employees to college. Can’t we just be upset that our government and political system can be dominated by bigoted rich people?

And aren’t we upset by brand identification? Our only value is as consumers.

I appreciate and am ultimately glad that we are having a discourse about the lack of freedom and equality for all in America, but why must it be boiled down to consumption? The only conversation our Country can have is about, “What’s For Dinner?”

Like cattle, we are owned. And we have been branded.

I’m sick of being a brand. Our only power is not as consumers.

What if we could come together as a community to demand Equal Rights for all, regardless of what chicken sandwich we eat? It’s embarrassing for the conversation to have sunken to the culinary. We are quibbling over sandwiches instead of pontificating on the moral superiority of fairness. And the common good. And shared sacrifice. This is a moral argument. Not a backyard cookout.

The real issue, the actual problem is that there are rich, bigoted blowhards running for president, running our companies, and running our country. Your very own boss and/or brother are probably bigoted blowhards. I am probably an asshole too.

Don’t debase deserved and appropriate vitriol and outrage by directing it at a chicken sandwich.

The problem is that there are wealthy business owners using their wealth to monopolize a corrupt system. The problem is that money equates to power and influence.

This is not about chicken sandwiches. This is about corruption and unfairness. This is about how our only value is as consumers. And how we let it happen. We can’t just demand equality and fairness, we have to protest with how we eat.

Interesting tidbit: even former slaves and descendents of former slaves and people of color do not want gays to marry. Even people who, more than anyone, know our country’s capacity for hate and unfairness and persecution, even they (!) do not want to grant equality to homosexuals.

So maybe it’s not the rich bigoted blowhards…

Why, as a community, are we so fond of constantly drawing lines in the sand? Do I really have to be defined by how I feel about gay marriage and what kind of chicken I eat? (For the record, and to say nothing of the Poultry Principle, my friends are allowed to disagree with me. It’s practically encouraged, if not official policy.)

I have an idea: stop talking about “gay marriage.” Demand Equal Rights for All. Make blacks, women, and immigrants stand with you. We are a country of foreigners, strangers, outcasts, reckless friends, fiends, struggling families, hard workers, students, coaches. Challenge, struggle; it’s kind of What We Do. We struggle. We all fight and scrap and try our damnedest. We are oppressed and downtrodden by the Powers that Be. We are all helpless. We must stop fighting each other. All we have is each other.

This is about Fairness and Equality. Not chicken sandwiches.

Vote with your mouth sure, vote all the time, in every manner you can: what you buy, what you eat, who you fuck, where you work, who your friends are.

But don’t let them convince you that all you have to do is know what chicken sandwich to eat.



Dullness Leads to Power

September 9th, 2012 at 10:09 am

It is the time of year when we find ourselves reaching for Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

“The assholes who run politics in this country have become so mesmerized by the Madison Avenue school of campaigning that they actually believe, now, that all it takes to become a Congressman or a Senator – or even a President – is a nice set of teeth, a big wad of money, and a half-dozen Media Specialists.” -HST

But before you contemplate the prescience of 1972 political literature, consider this. We now know what Mitt Romney was studying when he was dodging the draft and camping out in Paris. He was getting back to his roots.

Back in 2000 there was a bestselling book by David Brooks called “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There.”

Early on, Brooks gets to talking about France in the 1830s. The Bohemians (the artists, intellectuals) did not appreciate the Bourgeois (the merchant middle class).

These Bohemians, like Gustave Flaubert, were infuriated by an abundance of obvious shortcomings exhibited by the corporate middle class. These bourgeois were materialistic. They valued money and productivity instead of creativity and imagination. They were unheroic conformists.

Despite the fact that the French corporate middle class in the 1830s was a bunch of dull, joyless, prosaic, punctual philistines, it was these very drawbacks that led to the group’s success.

I will quote extensively. It’s worth recounting:

“It was the merchants’ petty-minded efficiency that allowed them to build successful companies and amass riches. It was their icy calculation that enabled them to devote themselves to the bottom line. It was their mechanical tinkering that enabled them to build the machines and factories and so displace the craftsmen and artisans. It was their concern for money that allowed them access to power and position. Nowadays we are used to the fact that sometimes the people who devote their lives to, say, marketing soap or shoes get to amass fortunes, live in big houses, and attract dinner party flattery, but in the 1830s all this was relatively new and shocking. It was the bourgeoisie’s dullness that led to its power.”

Dullness leads to power.

It’s the world we live in.

“A man on the scent of the White House is rarely rational. He is more like a beast in heat: a bull elk in the rut, crashing blindly through the timber in a fever for something to fuck. Anything! A cow, a calf, a mare – any flesh and blood beast with a hole in it.” -HST