El Rancho Deluxe employs, part-time, a strong-willed, eccentric rancho hand named Chuck. Chuck’s job description is “do chores.”
To my mind, “chores” are activities like splitting logs, making piles, digging holes — pretty much anything involving backbreaking labor that is not directly related to spinster aunting. In Chuck’s mind, “chores” means arguing with me about every little goddamn thing and then doing whatever the hell he feels like doing until it’s time to kick back with a Miller Lite tallboy, which daily sacrament he refers to as “beer-thirty.”
Once I arrived home from a trip into town to discover that, in my absence, Chuck had taken a sudden dislike to some opuntia cactuses that were minding their own beeswax in a field near the bunkhouse; he’d ripped out about 20 of’em before I could, after much vituperating, intervene and stop the madness. Another time, for no discernible reason, he spent hours scouring the environs for 20-pound rocks, which rocks he repurposed as weird little Stonehenges here and there, ignoring completely my warmly and oft-expressed antipathy toward the wanton erection of weird little Stonehenges.
It is with a shudder that I recall the Great Straw Bale Debate of Aught-Eight. In that harrowing episode, which endured for the entire month leading up to Christmas, I prevented only by the narrowest of margins Chuck’s unilateral implementation of a nauseating Yuletide decoration scheme. The scheme involved festooning the front gate with giant, cutesy, ornamental “presents” made of straw bales and oversize red ribbon, objects with which Chuck had become unnaturally obsessed, having espied with an increasingly envious eye similar creations embellishing a ranch entrance down the road.
We had daily arguments about it, Chuck yearning for straw bale presents like a kid begging for his first puppy, me explaining that I would never in a million years sanction gunking up the countryside with tacky Christmas crap, particularly tacky Christmas crap copied from godbag neighbors. The arguments always ended with Chuck scowling and sighing heavily in such a manner as to express his opinion that my failure to comply with Christmas Spirit on a straw bale level was an affront to Truth and Beauty. I never succeeded in impressing upon him the wrong-on-so-many-levelsosity of his horrible idea, and in the end was only able to quash his Tex-imental outburst of xmas-induced nostalgia by consenting to stick a dumb wreath on the gate.
Thus it is that my relationship with my rancho hand has been compared to the 60’s sit-com Green Acres, where I am the stodgy killjoy Mr. Douglas who doesn’t get it, and Chuck is Eb, the liaison from a fun-loving alternate universe.
But I digress.
In addition to being wacky, Chuck is also considerate, and often brings me wine, tacos, pretty rocks, animal bones, pizza, and newspaper clippings on such riveting topics as power washers and tool shed shelving. The article he brought yesterday, from the Austin American-Statesman, was about the sad plight of one of my favorite wild birds, the Rio Grande turkey.
Drought is the defining issue in Texas right now […]. Not only do months without rain mean there’s nothing to eat for the turkeys living there now, they also mean that turkey hens can’t find suitable thick cover for nesting and hatching eggs.”
You might surmise, based on the excerpt above, that the author laments these conditions because of the suffering they impose on the endangered turkeys. But you would be wrong. Instead, the article focuses on the drought’s tragic effect on turkey hunting. The author suggests that hunters bait starving turkeys with feeders, lest they (the hunters) altogether “miss out on the thrill of calling to and interacting with a hot gobbler.”
Indeed. “Interacting with” is apparently a bloodsport euphemism for “blowing the head off of.”
At this juncture I will take the liberty of awkwardly segue-ing from the practice of killing animals for fun to the practice of eating animals for fun, with today’s link to the Non-Radical Feminist Yet Still Patriarchy-Blaming Blog of the Week. Blamer meerkat suggested it a propos of yesterday’s discussion on women and food. The website is Suicide Food, which focuses its deadly charm on marketing imagery that portrays food animals as joyful, accommodating, and thrilled to sacrifice their lives to ghoulish human appetites.
We are all accustomed by now to the coarsening of our culture, the cheapening of our history, the defiling of our profoundest yearnings. It has happened so often, many of us no longer know the difference between authentic lives lived and the greasy speeches and grimy lies of the advertisers, the hypnotizers, and the bamboozlers. [From this post]
Primo stuff! Smiling cartoon pigs throw themselves onto flames, anxious to become palate-pleasing morsels; beer-guzzling crawfish contentedly paddle a soup-pot down a river of broth with celery oars; libertine barnyard animals yuk it up pre-mortem in a full-blown debauch. And yes, blogger Ben addresses one of the most repellent TV commercials ever aired, the one where a couple of talking pigs, seated at a restaurant, tuck into an enormous plate of ham and toss off one-liners about enjoying the “flavors of a fallen friend.”
The parallels between the myth of the happy hooker and the myth of the self-sacrificing meat animal are legion. Both prostituted women and livestock are the creations of a culture of domination. Both are controlled by organized systems of oppression. Both are ostentatiously and gluttonously consumed by a privileged class. Once consumed, both are left to rot with last night’s garbage. Both represent the privileged class’s celebration of itself and its contempt for anything it happens to debase in the course of its daily pillages. And the myths about oppressed individuals choosing to serve the vulgar interests of their oppressors have been created to allow the dominant culture’s beneficiaries to sleep at night.