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.

Thwart Apostrophe Catastrophe

September 4th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

All proper grammar consists of Cool Rules.

Fresh Herpes

September 3rd, 2010 at 8:00 am

Fresh Herpes

This is not merely humor derived from words lost in translation.

We are in a recession and this symbolizes the thousands of English majors who are out of work and  could be using their degrees and areas of expertise working as translators.

Wine Country

August 9th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

If Sugar is sex, this wine's a whore. - Authwhore

Funniest Thing I’ve Read in 2010

August 5th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Thanks, February 2008, for publishing the funniest thing I’ve read all year. From Steven Millhauser’s short story “Cat ‘N’ Mouse” in Dangerous Laughter:

“The mouse is sitting in his chair with his feet on the hassock and his open book facedown on his lap. A mood of melancholy has invaded him, as if the brown tones of his room had seeped into his brain. He feels stale and out of sorts: he moves within the narrow compass of his mind, utterly devoid of fresh ideas. Is he perhaps too much alone? He thinks of the cat and wonders whether there is some dim and distant possibility of a connection, perhaps a companionship. Is it possible that they might become friends? Perhaps he could teach the cat to appreciate the things of the mind, and learn from the cat to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures. Perhaps the cat, too, feels an occasional sting of loneliness. Haven’t they much in common, after all? Both are bachelors, indoor sorts, who enjoy the comforts of a cozy domesticity; both are secretive ; both take pleasure in plots and schemes. The more the mouse pursues this line of thought, the more it seems to him that the cat is a large, soft mouse. He imagines the cat with mouse ears and gentle mouse paws, wearing a white bib, sitting across from him at the kitchen table, lifting to his mouth a fork at the end of which is a piece of cheese.”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

March 1st, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I have a passing interest in writers and writing.

Someday, I aspire to be an aspiring novelist.

And some days, the good days, my vanity and stubbornness subside enough so that I am open to advice and instruction.

So recently, on one of these rare days of clarity and calm, I picked up a copy of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

While  not as practical and straightforward as Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, nor Kundera’s Art of the Novel, nor even Wood’s How Fiction Works, Bird by Bird is far more enjoyable to read. It’s the writing guide for the budding scribbler looking for their writing advice to be translated to them by a moody, pessimistic Sarah Vowell who is absolutely hilarious and kind.

Lamott proves to be frankly blunt and honest about writing, limiting none of her acerbic sarcasm. She relates a story about a friend’s imaginary company whose business was having cats put to sleep; the slogan being “The pussy must pay.” Lamott encourages writers to let someone do this with their manuscripts.

Inbetween parables relating the act of writing to the act of executing family pets, Lamott peppers her memoir on writing with straightforward advice:

“To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care.”

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”

At the very most, I will eventually write something. At the very least, I will have a few Lamott quotes up on my walls. Like this one:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

The Times Revives Reading

February 25th, 2008 at 6:39 am

The New York Times recently ran a few articles beautifully illuminating the more writerly things in life.

There’s Immigrants and Gatsby.

Timothy Egan eloquently (and thankfully) rendered Steve Jobs’ silly dismissal of reading Out Of Touch.

And then there’s a gorgeous piece about a semicolon. Yes gorgeous. And yes a semicolon.

Though Kurt Vonnegut hated them, I have always considered the semicolon to be the second sexiest punctuation mark. Second chair only to that undulating harp that is the ampersand.

Author Zadie Smith Refuses to Award Willesden Prize

February 7th, 2008 at 6:15 pm

As if I wasn’t already enough in love with Zadie Smith for being hot and a great writer, now I love her for being more bad ass than Simon Cowell.   In declining to award a Willesden Literary Prize this year Smith explains that, “We simply wanted to see some really great stories. And we received a
whole bunch of stories. We dutifully read through hundreds of them. But
in the end – we have to be honest – we could not find the greatness
we’d hoped for. It’s for this reason that we have decided not to give out the prize this year.”

Smith continues, “The little Willesden Herald Prize is only about good writing,
and it turns out that a prize faithfully recognizing this imperative
must also face the fact that good writing is actually very rare. For
let us be honest again: it is sometimes too easy, and too tempting, to
blame everything that we hate in contemporary writing on the
bookstores, on the corporate publishers, on incompetent editors and
corrupt PR departments – and God knows, they all have their part to
play. But we also have part to play. We also have to work
out how to write better and read better. We have to really scour this
internet to find the writing we love, and then we have to be able to
recognize its quality. We cannot love something solely because it has
been ignored. It must also be worthy of our attention.”
Haha! Isn’t that great??? What integrity! What confidence! What a depressing dose of reality for the state of letters in this country. But also, what a cowardly and easy path for already-established writers to take. How many stories have we all heard of amazing, legendary writers being rejected and rejected and rejected? Isn’t is possible that someone like that was in those submissions somewhere and the judges failed to see it?

But can you imagine how great it would be if Simon Cowell were to refuse to award someone American Idol (which he should do)?

I’d personally like them to award the $5,000 prize to John Grisham for at least having the self-awareness, humble gumption, and lack of vain delusion to recognize himself as an Entertainer and not an American literary Bard.