While going through some old website pages, I came across this great essay that Dirk wrote about 5 or 6 years ago. Those who were on his first cruise had the priviledge of him reading it aloud to them during a seminar. Watching the tape of the seminar, and being absorbed in the essay and it's contents, I asked Dirk's permission to post it here.
While the website went under "re-construction", it was taken down and tucked away for future use.
The story is so thought provoking and humorous, that I had to bring it out and repost it for those who haven't had a chance to view it.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
By Dirk Benedict
"My Dad was an attorney in the small cowtown of White Sulphur Springs. His law practice, however, covered much of Montana and therefore required a lot of travelling. I frequently joined him as he plied his trade.
This particular trip, from White Sulphur Springs to Browning, one hundred and fifty miles north, was special as it was our first trip in my dad's new "wheels". The year was 1955. I was ten years old. The "new wheels" came in the form of a Jaguar XK-140 Sports Roadster. White with red leather interior.
In those days, the most exotic automobile one ever saw on the narrow black-top of Montana's highways was a Cadillac Coup de Ville or, if you were really lucky, a Chevrolet Corvette or Ford Thunderbird. Needless to say people gawked and traffic stopped as my Dad's Jaguar whizzed through Neihart, Belt, Choteau, Conrad, and other ranching, farming and mining towns as we made our way to Browning, just east of Glacier Park and in the heart of the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. This wasn't my first trip to the reservation, nor would it be my last, but it was to be my most memorable.
Dad was a sucker for the underdog and had built his practice, made his considerable reputation, representing the little guy. Sheepherders, ranch hands, and in this case, the Blackfoot tribe. We had traveled all this way so he could speak with the Chief of the tribe about the particulars of their case. I sat quietly in the corner counting the minutes until we could get back into the Jaguar and go whizzing into the rest of our day. Our whizzing would have to wait, for after concluding their meeting, the Chief invited Dad (and his ten-year-old son) for lunch. The Chief's wife had prepared a special meal in honor of this great man who had offered to represent them (pro bono) when no one else would. It just so happened that Dad and I had other plans for lunch. White Sulphur was a drinking man's paradise with its eight bars. (All of which made a living. Quite remarkable, considering the entire population always hovered right around 1,000.) A drinking man's haven, but alas only one cafe. So it was always a treat to visit the big cities of Helena, Great Falls or Billings and have a meal in a "real" restaurant.
In those days, it mattered what a public eating-place was called. If it was a Truck Stop you knew it had greasy, inexpensive, food designed for the professional drivers of the many big rigs that hauled the timber, cattle and grain so necessary to Montana's economy. Cafes were coffee shops. Gathering places to which the local barbers, bankers and hardware store owners went for lunch or to have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. But Restaurants were the real thing, dining out, and could only be found in the "big" cities. Any Cafe caught trying to slip the word Restaurant onto its signage was soon out of business. Folks didn't go much for those who pretended to be other than what they were. So Dad and I were looking forward to dining out in Great Falls, in a restaurant, on our way back to White Sulphur. But it was not to be.
Dad knew how important it was for them to share their food with us. To refuse would have been insensitive and rude. Eddy's Supper Club on First Avenue North in Great Falls would have to wait for another business trip. The tar paper shack, with the wind, common to the Eastern plains of Montana, howling through it, was going to get the benefit of our now enormous appetite.
The table around which we all sat was made of rough lumber. There were only three chairs. Dad, being the guest of honor, sat in the one at the head of the table. I sat on my Dad's right, and the Chief sat in the third chair at the foot of the table opposite my Dad. Three or four of the Chief's sons made up the rest of the luncheon gathering. They sat on boxes. The lack of women served further notice as to how important the occasion.
Once seated, the Chief's wife brought an enormous pot from the lean-to kitchen at the side of the tar paper shack and set it in the center of the table. The Chief handed my Dad a large tin spoon and gestured for him to start the meal by serving himself. Dad rose slightly out of his chair of honor to reach the pot and dip the spoon into it.
"Dig deep. Puppy in bottom," said the Chief as Daddy dipped. Only I, being my father's son and knowing he never hesitated, noticed the slight moment of stillness before my Dad did as he was told and dug deep. It looked like chicken to me, but then I didn't know my way around the reservation. I looked to Dad for some sign.
"Puppy," he said, in a way that I now understand to be rhetorical, and handed me the digging spoon. Some sign!
I took the spoon and with it a big breath. Dad smiled. "Why puppy?" he said to the Chief as he nodded to me and I realized that the jig was up, the dog was cooked and there was no way out. I stood and dipped. Scraping the surface in hopes that if "puppy was in bottom" then maybe deer was on top. A kind of Native American Bouillabaisse. The Chief, perfect host that he was, mistook my shallowness for short arms, took the spoon and dug deep for me. I watched as chunk after chunk of puppy plopped into my metal bowl.
The Chief smiled broadly.
"Old dog tough. Puppy very special. My wife make just for you. You like it?"
"Delicious," said Dad and I knew he meant it.
All I could think of was all the dogs I had seen running around outside when we first arrived. I had been afraid we might run over one. Is today's road kill tomorrow's lunch? I stared at my bowl. Something was floating on the surface. The oil of dog? The meat of mongrel? Filet of fido? I dipped. And sipped. Mmmmm? Slid one of the smaller pieces onto my spoon and began to chew. Hot dog!
"Dad! This is good!"
And I'll be dog gone, (as he soon was) if it wasn't.
I'd killed deer and pheasant and duck and geese and eaten them all with gusto. Even had some horse once, eager carnivore that I was. I may not have known my way around the reservation but I'd gnawed enough bones to know my way around a dead carcass and I ranked this veal of dog right up there with muskrat and duck. A boy and his dog. The resonance of this experience was beginning to take effect. I would never look at the world, to say nothing of man's best friend, with quite the same innocence. Yes sir, I had really gone to the dogs.
I knew Mom would not approve. It would have to be Dad's and my bloody little secret. I wondered how soon before the Sagebrush Lawyer would be paying another visit to the Indian Chief. I had always been a blood thirsty little boy. One who insisted on cleaning all the ducks or pheasants or grouse after bird hunting. One who loved most of all the inner organs of animals...heart, liver, tongue. One who would give up ice cream for a year if he could have all the marrow out of the bone and not have to share it with his brother. All this blood letting would eventually get me in a lot of trouble. But for now, it was just one more adventure with my Dad, growing up in Montana.
The funny thing about flesh is, once you get it off the hoof, or paw, and put it on the shelf in a cellophane wrapper, or into a stew in the center of the table, it all looks pretty much the same. You forget that it was once a cow or sheep or horse or monkey or calf. Or puppy. Ashes to ashes. Flesh to flesh. Blood becomes blood. Only the hypocrites in line at McDonald's or Carl Jr's, or the meat counter at Safeway, point their fingers. Let he who has not gnawed, cast the first bone. And it's a short throw from the tar paper shack of dog to the burger stand of cow. And so I discovered that one man's feast is another's famine. One man's joy is another's pain. One man's pet is another's pot roast. I learned that taste, like all sensorial experience, is relative. Or, as the Trapeze Artist said to the actor..."If there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's certainly more than one way to cook a dog."
From 1963 to 1973. From Montana to California. From the Sagebrush Lawyer and the Indian Chief to the Trapeze Artist and the Actor. Like the practice of law, the Circus makes strange bedfellows. Not that I have ever been a member of Ringling Brother's Barnum and Bailey Circus or traveled on the blue or red trains or played Madison Square Garden or had a dwarf for my best friend. I haven't. However, my friend Leonard had.
Leonard started out to be a Boston Red Sox, couldn't hit a Triple A fast ball and became a male nurse; discovered he was better at deadpans than bedpans and became a clown for Ringling Brothers...until the pansexuality finally got (around) to him and he became a clinical psychologist for a parole board in Washington State's penal system. He's a career counselor's nightmare. In 1973, I was holed up in Hollywood in an 80 dollar a month walk up trying to spread my actor's wings in a sky of rejection, when the circus came to town and with it Leonard, or "Lenko", as he was called during those three-ring-days of slapstick and pratfalls and dry gin and greasepaint. Before he gave it all up for Jung. Given Lenko's eccentric career choices and fascination with the darker side of human experience, I should have seen it coming. Or smelled it.
"I don't know Lenko, I'm not much for blind dates."
"She's beautiful. Looks like a UCLA cheerleader."
"What's she doing in the circus?"
"She's a flyer."
"A daring young girl on a flying trapeze."
"You're kidding me."
He wasn't kidding me. She was beautiful. Very beautiful. She had a friend who lived in Long Beach that she was visiting while the circus was in Los Angeles and was determined that Lenko meet her. Lenko told the trapeze artist about me, his pal from acting school now living in Los Angeles, and suggested a double date. If flying through the air a hundred feet above the ground with no net doesn't scare you, a blind date with an unemployed actor certainly won't. So she had none of my trepidation.
Our double date was to be dinner in Long Beach and the Trapeze Artist was cooking. Lenko and I traveled from my humble abode, where he had been camping during the Circus's stay in Los Angeles, to the quaint little California bungalow in Long Beach where the Trapeze Artist had been staying with her friend.
I brought wine. Red or white had been my big dilemma. I shouldn't have worried. The flying young girl from the circus was everything Lenko had described. And more. Much, much more.
We put the wine in the refrigerator and began with gin and scotch. Lenko and I could both see that this blind date was going to be truly a match made in three-ring heaven. Lenko had told me wild stories of the circus. Of it's isolation from the 'real' world. (How's that different from show business I wondered?) Like being in prison. Except for the inclusion of both genders and animals and...pansexual he called it. I looked it up, and according to Webster, the circus had nothing on Montana. Or so I thought.
My girl from the circus, gin in hand, turned on the radio. Tom Jones. "Love Me Tonight". Perfect. Took me in her arms. "Fly with me." And I did. Scotch in hand. And Lenko and his girl and me and mine and the booze and the music and laughter and wasn't long before I knew that if this was the circus, I was ready to run away with it. Her body in my arms was unlike anything I'd ever known. Indescribable. She had Goldie's giggle, Raquel's purr and my complete attention. I'd come for dinner. But food was the last thing on my mind.
As we danced and sipped and twirled and dipped, Miss Trapeze began to tell Lenko and I about the problem she'd had earlier that afternoon.
"You know Thelma had babies," she says to Lenko, who nods, busy, gin in hand, trying to slow dance a fast song.
"Well it's just too crowded...", she laments.
"Thelma?" I ask.
"My sweetheart", she says. "Come on I'll show you."
And her hand of steel pulls me into the backyard where I see immediately a rather large German Shepherd. Being a Montana boy, and wanting to show this Circus Lass how "good" I am with animals, I bend down to give Thelma a loving pat on the head. As I reach, Thelma lays back her ears, growls, and bares fangs the size of a Siberian tiger. Montana boy or not, I jump back.
"Thelma!" Says the high flying love of my life. Thelma stops growling and immediately three little puppies appear out of nowhere.
Miss Trapeze ignores my brilliant observation.
"My babies." She says and I get this very small but definite tingle in my spine. It gives me pause.
"Aren't they cute?" She asks.
"As a button."
"That's what's so hard." She says. "But there just wasn't room. I had to do something and I couldn't stand the thought of giving them away." She's beginning to lose me just a bit.
"You can't take them on the train?"
She gives Thelma a kiss. French. I get another tingle.
"I love animals, don't you?" She says as we climb the stairs back into the bungalow.
As we enter Lenko's date is getting my bottle of wine from the fridge as he entertains her with drunken bits and pieces of his clown routine. The table has been set. Dinner is served. Lenko rubs his stomach, winks at me,
"Didn't I tell ya?" He says.
Tell me? Tell me what? I have no idea what he means. Before I can pursue his cryptic remark, Ms. Trapeze pulls a covered roasting pan from the oven and it hits me! Oh my God! With all the excitement; the dancing to Tom Jones; French kissing of puppies...this is the first time I notice that there is something in the air besides the smell of scotch and the prospect of sex. There is now also unmistakable aroma of well cooked meat. It is everywhere. It replaces even the sensual fragrance of Ms. Trapeze. Which is not good news. Not when you're at a sit down dinner for four with a blind date who has spent all afternoon preparing it for you. Not when you hadn't eaten flesh since 1970 and don't want to fall off the tofu-truck after three years of carnivorous sobriety.
"I have something to tell you." I begin, not knowing exactly where I'm going. "See, I don't really...that is I'm not really a big fan of...red meat." There. I've said it. And I haven't said it. I pray the moment will pass.
"Oh this isn't red meat," she says as my prayers go unanswered. "It isn't?" At least I bought the right color wine.
"Sort of like veal." She says, and I get another distant tingle.
"I think if it's older, it's red, I wouldn't really know, but puppy is definitely more white. Like chicken."
There is a significant silence. I'm back on the reservation in a tar paper shack with the Indian Chief and my Dad. Back to my meat eating days, with the Puppy in the bottom and the oil on top; when a Native American was an Indian; and I was a blood thirsty little boy and I didn't know about sex, least of all that it could hang in the air. And I realize what a far, far way I've come. And sensed that it is only the beginning.
"You're in the circus now." Says Lenko, with enigmatic glee.
"It's an act of love you know." She says by way of explaining the sacrificial dog that is our main course.
"I'm Catholic," she continues, "and we eat the body of Christ."
I'm stunned, definitely not Catholic, and ill equipped to take this leap with her from pot roasted puppy to a crucified Jesus. A truly trapezian segue. I feel myself getting dizzy as she talks and carves.
I have only seen puppy dipped from the pot, but this is puppy on a platter and requires carving. Her muscular arms are certainly up to the task.
"When you eat something it becomes part of you, of your blood. And you are never apart."
An interesting slant on the consummation of love. The heat of my passion was gone with the first whiff of dog and I know the evening is over but I find myself incapable of pushing away from the table. The vision of this gorgeous girl carving up her darling puppy while she waxes philosophical is mesmerizing. Forever etched in my mind's scrapbook of carnivorous memories.
"I love my dogs too much to just abandon them to the street. God! How horrible. They'd probably end up in the pound, or be put to sleep or something."
If this isn't sleeping, I don't think the puppy can tell the difference.
"How 'bout giving the rest of them away?" I suggest, hoping she won't think I mean to feed the homeless.
"I could never do that. Like giving away your children."
As opposed to eating them, I wonder?
"This is the only way. They become part of me. Go with me wherever I go. Forever."
Jesus, I think, I gotta get out of here before this girl falls in love with me. Wants to take me along wherever she goes. Forever. A guy might have trouble getting a good night's sleep next to her and her Barnum and Bailey Catholicism.
She slices pink flesh from the puppy's hindquarters and puts it on Lenko's plate.
"That's beautiful don't you think?" She says.
And I wonder. Does she mean the pink flesh or the sacrifice itself? You always eat the one's you love, is that it? I think the Greeks wrote about this. I want to pursue this line of thought but my mind has room only for the vision of Ms. Trapeze as she cuts and slices and muses on the texture of the meat and how perfectly cooked it is and how the puppy knows, the puppy understands. I'm glad some one does. She slides a piece of the understanding puppy onto my plate.
"I can't. Really. I can't."
"Maybe with ketchup, eh Dirky?" Says Lenko, with a gin grin. Enjoying the awkwardness of the moment.
The plate full of puppy hangs in the air. The same air where used to hang the sex. I see hurt creep into the eyes that hold the carving knife, that hold the sacrifice and I know my reason for abstinence had better be good.
"Doctor's orders." I say.
"Puppy's not good for you?" Says Lenko. Still the wise guy, but I notice he isn't digging in.
"Too much...cholesterol." I stammer.
She gives me a look. Oh no. She's going to pull out charts showing me how dog meat has less cholesterol than beef, than pig, than tofu. My mind flashes on puppy's past and other meat eating memories and I assure her it isn't the "taste" that forces me to decline. Oh no. Because...
"Actually. I've eaten dog."
"One of yours?" She brightens.
"Did you raise it?" She asks. Or did I get it at the local pet shop, is that what she means?
"Oh! No. On an Indian Reservation. In Montana. Long time ago."
"Really?" She says. I can tell she's impressed.
Terror grips my heart as I sense that this shared culinary experience is aphrodisiac to her twisted tastebuds. She hugs me forcibly with her muscular arms. The carving knife dangling somewhere behind me.
"Long time ago," I repeat in case she missed it the first time. "'Course now I have this problem digesting food from an animal source."
Like pet shops. I hope she won't notice I'm switching from cholesterol to digestion as an excuse. She doesn't. She lets her hand drop (but not the carving knife); goes soft and helpless; slides onto my lap; puts her big brown eyes directly in front of mine. I can smell the oil of dog on her breath.
"It would mean a lot to me." She purrs.
Oh shit. If I don't stand up for my herbivorous self, I'm afraid my goose is going to be as cooked as her puppy.
I just wanted to get out of there, find a dog, any dog, and give it a hug. I made a mental note to get a sticker for the bumper of my Volkswagen...
THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR DOG IS?
I knew the fate of the three siblings of our roasted puppy as they each in their turn would be lovingly turned into the blood of their mistress so that they too could join the circus. But there was nothing I could do.
The exit wasn't graceful. She slid off my lap, out of her softness and into the hard life of the circus. Carving puppies to thin the litter to fit the train that takes her to audiences who thrill at her high flying artistry.
To this day, the circus is a tough act for me to swallow. And when it comes to the daring young girl on the flying trapeze...send in the clowns.
Lenko went back to the circus. Pleased, as only a future psychologist could be, that the evening had been such a success. I returned to my little hole in Hollywood, fixed myself a dinner of broiled tempeh, brown rice and vegetables sauteed in sesame oil and mulled over my two brushes with the oil of dog. One as an innocent omnivore, the other as a recovering meataholic. Both food for thought.
To be perfectly honest, if nearly three decades of heavy meat eating and other environmentally unfriendly dietary habits hadn't led to a malfunctioning prostate gland, arthritis, skin problems and other malingering, All American, maladies, I probably never would have given up my blood-letting ways. In which case, I would have been more than happy to have had a second helping of pot-roasted-puppy and the evening of trapezian passion that was sure to follow.
Let us be done with hypocrisy. With our sentimental notions of what species is fair game to be slaughtered, sliced and served and which is not. The line between McDonald's and McDoggie is much finer than anyone wants to admit. More a matter of culture than anything else.
Parents all take their children to their favorite fast food joint to eat pieces of cow but would be horrified to discover it was rat, or dog, or horse. When in fact rat, dog and horse are considered everyday faire in many societies throughout the world. McDonald's could easily sell McDoggie Burgers in Bangkok without causing the slightest stir. While in Calcutta serving cow to the local populace in the form of a patty, would get you in very big trouble. Let us call a spade a spade, a cow a cow, a dog a dog and be done with it. Flesh is flesh. It comes on the hoof, the flipper, the paw, and the claw...but it is all from the kingdom of animal. Indeed, in some parts of the world an evenings main course comes on foot, for there are those that consider the flesh of their fellow Homo sapiens the highest cuisine on this earth. It wasn't until I left Montana and went off to College that I discovered there were those of my generation who had no idea the meat in the cellophane wrapper that you bought at the IGA came from. Had never considered that it had to be killed, gutted, and butchered before it could be wrapped in cellophane and sold. Prior to College, all my carnivorous needs were met by my own hand. Our freezer was full of venison, elk, duck, pheasant and beef. All killed and butchered by my brother or myself. When I cut into my venison steak at breakfast, I remembered the cold fall morning when I held it in my sights and pulled the trigger. I was the one who slit its throat and let the blood flow. Sawed through the brisket. Pulled out the guts. Hung it in the garage to cure then skin and butcher. On many of the ranches where I worked, the cook would go out in the morning before breakfast or evening before dinner and simply cut off what he needed for breakfast or dinner. Hunting was for meat. Not sport.
All this hands on experience in the killing fields of my youth had given me a very clear understanding of the process by which living animals became dead meat became "tonight's special" at your favorite restaurant. I was always very upset when my dinner date would order a filet mignon or porterhouse or T-bone steak...take several bites and push the rest away. As if that were a sign of sophistication. Or femininity. Or control. I knew what was involved in getting that piece of meat onto her plate and the sheer waste, the ingratitude of her casual treatment of it, disturbed me more than I dared say. These same girls would cry real tears of compassion at the thought of their pet cat or dog being left out in the rain for an evening. Let it be run over by a car and the world may as well end.
It was quite stunning to me when my best friend in College, with whom I had rented an apartment, was upset by my money-saving suggestion we buy a "side of beef", rent a locker and store it. Thereby cutting out all the middlemen who drive up the price of meat that you purchase steak by steak at the grocery store. My friend had gone with me to the butcher shop. The butcher took us into his giant, walk-in freezer, where hung in rows the carcasses of slaughtered beef cows. I told him we wanted to start with a hindquarter. He started to saw and my friend headed for the door. My friend was a defensive end on our football team. Stood six foot four, weighed 210 pounds. A real, red-blooded, All-American boy. For whom the sight of red-blooded, dead, cows was too real. He wanted his meat handed to him wrapped in cellophane, or better yet, cooked and on a plate. I wondered what he would do if it were necessary for him to go out and kill and field dress the animal himself. Would he get over his abstract perceptions of just where in heaven all the hamburger comes from? Or would he starve to death? And if it was puppy instead of cow? What then? And what is the difference?
The fast food burger chains can only function and survive by assembly line slaughtering of millions of animals. The world's appetite for dead flesh is insatiable. And growing. Not because hamburgers, or animal flesh of any kind is what anybody needs to be healthy, but because it is profitable. Efficiency is the key and to give people what they want to eat is inefficient because different people want different things at different times of the day and different times of the year. Some want cow, some dog, some horse, some tofu, some pasta with garlic and oil. When it is hot they want salads, fruit; when it's freezing they might crave seal blubber or dog or pig or brown rice or kasha.
The dietary habits of the world before the 20th century, (prior to refrigeration, industrialization, airplanes and McDonald's) were wildly varied and dependent on an infinite number of factors. All very chaotic and inefficient. And disastrous if your primary goal is to make money. What had to be created was a way to get everyone to eat the same thing! (Never mind that they don't want or need it.) The trick, the goal, is to get the Inuit of Alaska and the Malaysians of Borneo to both eat the same food. Seven days a week. Twelve months a year. To achieve this efficiency requires a rationale and the organization of advertising and marketing to implement that rationale. So that people in Kuala Lumpur, in Tokyo, in Rome, in London, in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney, Moscow...are all eating and drinking, not what they want, certainly not what their ancestors ate, but what they are told. And what they are told to eat and drink is a McDonald's hamburger and a Coke. Or Burger King and Pepsi. Or Carl's Jr. Or Kentucky Colonel Fried Chicken. This makes the production and marketing of "food" very efficient. Rational. And, most importantly...very profitable.
The Indian Chief offering the best food he has to friends from afar is an expression of gratitude. It has nothing to do with money, except perhaps the lack of it. The experience is not marketable. Indian chiefs, eccentric Montana Sagebrush Lawyers and adventurous teen age boys sharing puppy dog stew are a hard act to follow and a tough sell no matter how many sixty or thirty second commercials you make. No matter how many billions you have in your budget. Even the flooded market of professional celebrity whores that are only too willing to leave the basketball court or football field or movie set to be seen drinking/eating their "favorite" food/drink might drag their Air Jordans at this. "Be Happy. Think Young. Eat dog." It's a tough sell.
What the Indian Chief and the Sagebrush lawyer shared was not puppy dog stew, but an act of love and love, as we all know, is irrational. (Perhaps the one irrational act still considered socially acceptable.) Like life, that is to say real life, love is not only inconsistent, it is connected to the real world. The global marketing of hamburgers, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the chaos and inconsistency of reality, but is an abstract and rational result of a rational system. Not designed for anything but the making of money. It isn't that hamburger is the best food for the world to be eating, or the cheapest, or the least difficult to produce, or the most environmentally sound. It is in fact none of these things. It's sole function is to make profit for the corporate entity which produces it and anything that interferes with that function is declared irrational and destroyed.
Hitler was the most rational person of this century, indeed, the most rational in the history of the Age of Reason. That he was a lunatic and certifiable goes without saying and misses the point. He was the epitome of a supremely rational man. He had a "rationale" for everything. Efficiency was his god. Once his systems were put into effect, they were followed blindly to their logical conclusion. Morals, ethics, were rationalized to fit the demands of the greater goal of increased efficiency. If it wasn't for Hitler's lunacy he would have conquered Europe, for it was his lunacy, not the Allied Armies, which was responsible for his defeat.
He would have made one helluva mid-level manager for McDonald's. Marketing and Public Relations were his genius. As it is McDonald's. If the hamburger chewing masses knew the process, the reality, of the corporate system we call McDonald's they would be horrified for, like Hitler, McDonald's is concerned not with morals or ethics, but only with greater efficiency. The unhealthful properties of their product are of no concern to them. (Except as it affects efficiency, profits.) Eating a greasy Big Mac and chasing it down with Pepsi, or some other chemical concoction, is an extremely dangerous act, considering it's physiological consequences. However, it is an act that is completely rational. Logical. The image of beautiful young people chewing big Mac's and guzzling Coca-Cola has become almost as popular as Mickey Mouse. It is no accident that large corporations are forever in cahoots with one another when it comes to advertising and proselytizing. Coca-Cola and McDonald's and Mickey and Pepsi and E.T. and Michael Jackson and In Sync and the Back Street Boys...all rational products of systems designed to make money. And the logic is so pure and the system so reasonable that anyone who would argue against Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald or Coca-Cola is considered a troublemaker. A contrarian. Madhatter. They must be silenced. Marginalized. Because such a person might just be living in the real world of common sense; might possibly know, from experience, that "soft" drinks are carcinogenic; that to kill an animal is not an easy thing and to kill them by the millions can be done only by those who have Hitler as their hero when it comes to such efficient barbarity. How many technocrats for McDonald's (managers, corporate executives, C.E.O's) have ever actually had hands on training in bringing their product to market, which is to say slaughtered a cow? Much less ever visited one of their thousands of supremely efficient slaughter houses. Bovine Auschwitz's.
Someone from the real world of blood and guts and not the board room of graphs and charts and profit margins may not be bothered by the idea that some people raise dogs and eat them, just as some raise lambs, chickens and pigs for the same purpose. I may have lost my stomach for blood letting, realized how unnecessary it is, in all it's forms, for health and happiness, but I have done so, not because I've climbed on some trendy, sentimental, band wagon, but because I've lived in the real world of blood and guts. I have killed my meat and eaten it too. And become sick from the doing of it. And this sickness has given me compassion for the Trapeze Artist when she takes the life of her puppy and eats it's sacred flesh; has made it possible for me to understand that that act is more honest, real, nourishing and morally responsible than the constant gobble of endless patties of dead cow flesh by billions of blood thirsty minions, programmed to do so by the food conglomerates. Corporate mongers of crimes, logical and efficient, committed against Natural Law and Common Sense. And all in the name of Divine Profit.
After twenty five years off the slaughter house diet, much of them spent discussing the journey and sharing the road map towards a healthier happier existence, it is generally known that when it comes to staple I spell it G-R-A-I-N. There is however that rare occasion when some over-proteinized individual, his high blood pressure getting the best of him, challenges me to a duel in mastication.
"Ah, come on just try it." He says, as if I may have forgotten it's like and as soon as I sink my incisors into the dead animal of choice I will immediately join him for further adventures in the flesh trade. "What are ya afraid of?" He says. And I tell him...
"What I'm afraid of, the only thing I'm afraid of, is that I am going to have to pick up the tab for your by-pass surgery. Your heart transplant. Your angioplasty. Your pace maker. Your prostoctomy. Your gall bladder surgery. And that when the Wheelchair Bill becomes law, I will be asked to not only buy the damn thing, but push it. I'm afraid that the time has come when our sicknesses will be added to the ever-growing list of things for which we are not responsible. I'm afraid that the time has come when to be sick is to be a "victim". And I will be required to help those poor sick "victims" less fortunate than I. As if my health were mere coincidence and no fault of my own. I can see me now as I push you and your colostomy bag in your wheelchair to the nearest McDonald's for your double cheeseburger, Coca-Cola and fries. All at a discount due to the Federally subsidized entitlement program created for you and all your sick brother's and sisters, because after all it isn't your fault you're un-well and therefore somehow it must be mine, in the same way those who have money are responsible for those who don't. National Health Care they will call it. And yes, I'm afraid of it. Because some one has to be healthy enough to hold the pen and write the check. And I'm afraid that somebody is going to be me and, God forbid and over my dead body, my healthy children, for I have taught them that they are responsible for their health. And their happiness; For their sickness and their misery. That's what I'm afraid of. But what I am not afraid of is food. In fact, I look forward to the time when some meat eater like you lays down the dietary gauntlet and challenges me to a flesh eating duel. Because I have eaten it all. Cow, moose, buffalo, chicken, duck, pheasant, muskrat, dog, horse, rabbit, grouse, squirrel, rattlesnake, deer, elk, and the liver, heart, kidneys, tongue and stomach of most them. So okay let's go at it. You and me."
The Meat Eater cannot wait to call my bluff. His eyes light up at the prospect of seeing me...a dyed in the grain herbivore...with blood dripping off my pearly whites.
"But since it is you," I continue, "that have challenged me to this dining duel...it is only fair that I get to pick the menu."
"Sure, fine, no problem," he says.
"Dog." Say I.
"That's right." I tell him. "Puppy or full grown. Makes no difference."
"You kidding me?"
"Kidding you? No. Kidding would mean goat, right? I'm dogging you."
This is too much. The dietary duelist has realized that I take my food very seriously. He retreats behind uncomfortable laughter.
"Oh right, sure, we'll just go to the supermarket and by a dog steak."
I assure him that, like any sober alcoholic, I may not imbibe anymore, but I haven't forgotten where it comes from.
"How tough can it be", I say, "to find a stray dog? And don't worry I've butchered lots of deer, it'll only take me a half-hour or so and we can start cooking. So what do you say? You're stove or mine?"
Never give a meat eater a bone to pick, is my motto. At which point, invariably, he beats a glib retreat. Hiding his hypocrisy from himself behind intellectual babble regarding cruelty to animals and the sanctity of "pets".
"No civilized person would eat a dog." He whines.
"That so? So I suppose no "civilized person" would slaughter millions of dumb animals every day, not because it makes sense or feeds people or makes them healthy but simply because it's rational and logical and makes money."
"You're not making sense." He says.
I begin to suspect this is all going over his meat-eating head, but I'm on a sushi roll and can't stop myself.
"Neither did Hitler's massacre of six million Jews make sense. Didn't even make him any money! He already had all their property and wealth. If "making sense" had been his concern, he should have used them as slave labor instead of devoting large amounts of time, energy and manpower, all of which were in very short supply, to the carrying out of his "plan", his Final Solution. The Jews were no threat to anybody. Least of all him. Neither as a people or a religion. Jews keep to themselves. One of the few religions that doesn't proselytize. They contributed, God knows how much to German society. And it's economy. The whole thing didn't "make sense". In fact, it was insane. HOWEVER,...it was very efficient. And rational and logical and could not be helped. The system for slaughter, you see, was in place. And "systems", as you know if you have ever dealt with the any Government and the technocrats that run them, are very difficult to dismantle. Once in place, they have a life of their own. To get rid of them is to admit error and no bureaucrat ever does that. Certainly not Adolf, the granddaddy of all bureaucrats. So his systems were carried out. By very educated, very civilized, people. Who may or may not have eaten dog. The greatest atrocities in the history of the world have always been carried out by reasonable people. Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon...all very charming men. Beloved by their people. (Napoleon and Stalin, by the way, were responsible for the deaths of more people than was Hitler.) War is an insane act but it is declared, conducted and fought by very sane people."
My diatribe, painting Hitler as the role model for efficient administration, put the run on my meat-eating friend. Probably ran to the nearest Golden Arch to get me out of his system, sit amongst fellow traveler in the flesh trade and reassure himself that burger's benign. I hope he chews on what I said. Why is the act of eating one dog considered bizarre, mad even, when the eating of millions of other creatures is accepted as a normal, everyday activity? Only those totally disconnected from reality, that is the real world, can so blithely draw such distinctions between the killing of dog and the killing of cow. Only those who live in the abstracted world of television and movies and political fancy talk and cellophane wrapped meat and politicians and movie stars can look down on those who kill Jews when they themselves have killed others from other faiths and traditions and cultures. It is not a question of dog or cow. Nor is it a question of Jew or Gentile. Israeli or Arab. Catholic or Protestant. It is a question of morality. Of human value. It is a question of the taking of life and the giving of death.
All else is fancy talk and hypocrisy. There are so many answers, that we have forgotten the question. We live our lives terrified by our certainty. Imprisoned by our fear of doubt, when, in truth, doubt should be that quality in our lives that gives us greatest satisfaction, for it is the surest sign that we are questioning those that would tell us what to feel and think. Tell us who we are and what we ought to eat. And for what or whom we ought to die.
There is a profound wisdom in doubt and insecurity and anxiety and panic, for they all defy reason and logic and rational thought, and the tragic obeisance by all of us to false gods and idols and distorted images of worship.
The German people of 1939 should have been riddled with doubt, anxiety. A little panic would have gone a long way. So too, now, as we live our abstract and superficial lives totally disconnected from Natural Law, we should pay heed to that doubt and anxiety with which we are riddled in spite of our calm facade and all the self indulgent band aids we apply to maintain it.
What this country needs is a good dose of dog. Of reality. For those of you with the courage to try, remember, dig deep...truth in bottom."