Monday, January 29, 2007

Big Fat Mable's BBQ and Beer

Speculate no more! Our suspicions have been borne out. From within the grimy walls of Suicide Food U. comes this succinct description:

"[A]t the heart of all this activity is the pig, of course—but not just any sedentary, humorless, passionless pig. Everywhere you turn you’ll see singing, dancing, knife-and-fork-and-napkin-bearing porkers, eager to join the celebration of our barbecue nation."

Exactly as we have been saying. Trust to crystallize our entire mission and distill it to 43 words.

And why shouldn't the porkers eagerly join in? They are at the very heart (and hocks and ribs) of "all this activity!" Only an effete could object to being roasted, grilled, char-broiled, slow-cooked, and flash-fried.

Which brings us to Big Fat Mable's (brought to our attention by the very BBQ calendar mentioned above). For if there was ever a pig who looked slow-cooked and flash-fried it is this pig. Sow is played out. You are gazing at the bbq equivalent of the truck stop whore: Feet crammed into high heels, stretch velvet peek-a-boo dress that advertises her assets up-front and around-back, fraying fishnets, and a wig gone limp from diesel fumes.

Her fantasies of rescue in the form of a courtly long-haul driver are long since dead. Is it any wonder she longs for the grill? What else does she have to live for?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Famous Dave's

One can only surmise that the trademark Psychotic Dave's® was already taken.

For how else, apart from psychotic, could we describe this porcine chef? He grills up pig ribs—his own ribs?—not grudgingly, not under duress. And not only willingly. Or merely eagerly. Or enthusiastically. He shoves them into the fire with wild, tongue-lolling abandon. As though trying to impress God (or Napoleon or the talking doorknob) with his ecstatic fervor.

We can only look on with pity as we bemoan Reagan's policies that brought us to this sad state, where the mentally ill, having been deinstitutionalized en masse, were free to be employed by "legendary" pit bar-b-ques.

Addendum (1/01/08): Alas, our alarm went unheeded. And now, look! Thornton, Colorado, is menaced by a Famous Dave's pig of Godzillish proportions!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Grills Gone Wild

From somewhere in the vast, smoking barbecue wastes of the South comes the Grills Gone Wild “competition BBQ team.”

If we attempt to tease apart this image and the legend that appears above—to deconstruct them—something pops out: it isn’t the grills that are shown having “gone wild.” It is the (obviously inebriated) young sow. The pig’s risqué dance—note the spotlight beneath her!—is merely prelude to the main event. The real action, the rampage of the grills, happens later, off-stage. It is there the pig will find herself, as might have been said in more tender times, interfered with.

For isn’t that the only interpretation that makes any sense? An innocent pig, cast in the role of would-be starlet, intoxicated by free beer and the attentions of a father figure (at last!), is thrown to the wolves. Or, in this case, to the searing boudoir.

One final point to provoke anguished contemplation: the official name of this logo on the GGW web site is “clean_logo2.” If that doesn’t fill you with dread (just imagining what the unclean logo must look like), then I fear for your mental integrity.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Crabcake Factory USA

Here is the self-abnegation we have come to expect from our suicidal (and demented) “food.” This crab cake could hardly be more delighted. Raising his frosty mug, he offers a toast: “To the chef! To me! To my consumer!” This is optimism and suicidal fervor unbounded. The cake’s attitude is breath-taking in its surreal chipperness. For what is a crab cake? What hell must a crab undergo on its journey from living thing to that ignominious final form, crab cake?

First, of course, the crab must be trapped. Then boiled alive. Then pried apart, the shell split, legs wrenched free. The flesh is scooped out. Minced. Transformed from carcass to “ingredient.” Folded into other ingredients. Sautéed. Shaped. Baked. And all of this on the uncaring factory floor, no less.

After all this—the injuries, assaults, mockeries, and insults—the crab cake, a one-time living being, still smiles! His only regret? That he can die but once.

Bad Byron's Butt Rub

I offer you this.

And now, for the first time, I have almost nothing to say. Thoughts shrivel. Words wither.

The effect of this image is downright bewildering, disorienting. Discombobulating, even.

It might not be suicide this saucy chef has in mind, but whatever it is, it’s unseemly. The nakedness—not just unclothed-ness, but nudity. The crude innuendo. It baffles and unsettles.

What can be said for the zealous barbecue aficionados—in thrall as they are to the whole gruesome enterprise of their craft—who can witness this and still feel moved to gorge on pork butt? Can they be reached? Is it too late for them?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Heads & Tails Seafood

Ah! To soak in the ol' cauldron, sipping on a brew. That's the life, ain't it? Well, not for long, at any rate. Mr. H&T here wants nothing more than to let his life ebb away as he cooks from the inside out.

And yet… Is it conceivable that this lobster has already expired? Have we mistaken his languid posture for the rapture of the final moments? And if so—if we are witnessing not the suicidal impulse—perhaps this is not self-destruction at all. Could this, in fact, be murder?

It is here, when conjecture takes a breathless jog to the left, that the unknown illustrator's canny subtext makes itself plain. The supine subject, the bubbling tub, the arm draped over the side... You have seen this image before!

(The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, 1793.) Our crustacean Marat has been silenced, struck down for the threat he posed to the ruling class. The Heads & Tails Seafood logo takes on far more meaning when observed in this light. Hail, the firebrand lobster, freedom fighter, upholder of justice! Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

Or, well, no. He's just some bug offing himself so someone can eat him. Move along.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Starkist's Charlie the Tuna

And now, our tribute—long past due—to the spiritual grandfather of the Suicide Food movement: Charlie the Tuna. This is the fish who started it all, blazing a trail leading from Nature’s hallowed fastnesses all the way to our kitchens, lunchrooms, and stomachs. The very phrase with which he is associated—“Sorry Charlie”—has entered our collective unconscious, even if, over the years, it has become divorced from Charlie’s innumerable schemes to get himself hooked and filleted.

Our fine, finned apologist first made a disreputable name for himself in 1961. He went on to star in more than 80 commercials, each extolling the benefits of attempting to end one’s life by means of iron barbs and asphyxiation.

The tropes of suicidal “food” animals having become assimilated into popular culture so thoroughly, it can be difficult to remember just how obscene the whole matter truly is. A fish goes to great lengths—now taking up the harp, now sealing himself in a crate of spring water—to connive, to trick, to persuade The Man to kill him. He grabs for the hook, only to see it snatched away again and again. And again. And again.

We are meant to pity him. And we do. But not for the ineptitude of his ploys. No, we pity him for forgetting. He lost himself 46 years ago and has yet to rediscover the real Charlie.

Addendum (8/14/09): Charlie has been resurrected by his corporate masters!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Alberta Turkey Producers

And now we come to it at last. The use to which suicide food was born to be put: the pacification of children’s fears. If the wee ones can be led to overcome their suspicions that adults are perpetrating a grisly fraud upon them, all will be well. The status quo—the very State—will be safe. Thus, the “educational” materials put out by Alberta (Canada) Turkey Producers. Here, in page after page of lullaby, is the soma of the carnivore class. Read, kiddies, read! The turkeys are counting on you to deliver them! Every forkful snaps another link in their chains!

Why, just look at this happy Tom! Here he is, lifting the veil, parting the curtain to reveal not the inner workings of the necropolis, but the good people behind the propaganda. Cheerfully, he lends his support, proud to be affiliated with such caring turkey “producers” as these. We see—how could we not?—that he is being used. His smile, his jolly way—his very presence—are ATP’s method of moral suasion. How else to explain the (front and reverse) art on this bookmark?

Yes, yes, the joys of reading are many. Perhaps the turkey should take the time to read the reverse of the very bookmark on which he appears. Do you think he would agree that spicy turkey tacos are, indeed, the “perfect party food”? Could he be that far gone? So seduced by those south-of-the-border spices? Does he have a pound of flesh (500g) to spare?

Judging by this "mariachi" illustration, it appears he would be willing to serve as cheerleader to the whole enterprise. “Turkey entrees with a Mexican theme? Hand me my sombrero!” Tom! Please! Your dignity! You came this close to being the symbol of a great nation, and now… this?

(See Exhibits 5 and 6, below)

His identification with the oppressor is complete. Dressing up as a pigrim—that archetypal turkey-killer—he smiles through the shame that has eaten away his soul. When the bespectacled boy recites the litany of Native American invention, vis-à-vis their thorough exploitation of the turkey carcass, Tom just smiles. Does anything rattle this bird?

The last nail in Tom’s coffin:

This is beyond using his meat and the meat of his kin, or using his feathers, quills, and spurs (whatever they are). This is sadism unadorned, the equivalent of a pilgrim pointing his blunderbuss at Tom’s feet and sneering: “Dance, turkey! Dance!” We’re making a game of our turkey finding his way not to luxury—not to a sports car or something—but to water, and, naturally, Tom is game.

Ha ha! Run, bird, run! Will he make it? Will he die of thirst? Aw, who cares? Stupid turkey.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Foster Imposters

After years off the air, they're back. Do you need your memory refreshed? These two delightful chickens are on the run, toward the Foster Farms compounds of the West. That's right—they're making a jail break... in reverse. They are just dying to die under the Foster Farms flag, such is their devotion to the agro-industrial complex. And to pull off this caper, these chronically malnourished birds must impersonate the coddled poultry of Foster Farms.

They brave barking dogs, outraged mothers (this is where the obligatory choking-the-chicken image comes in), and the tedium of life on the road:

Yes, yes, it's a proud testament to the honor and scrupulous standards of the Foster Farms regime, blah blah blah. But it is also, undeniably, a twisted vision of animal zombefaction, loathsome in every way! The truth is first executed and then hacked to bits, there to be pecked and picked at by enslaved birds. (Imagine, if your brain can handle the strain, American slaves clawing their way back to Dixie.)

Says a Foster Farms mouthpiece about this travesty: "Since the Foster Imposters were first hatched, we’ve received hundreds of letters and calls from consumers hailing the commercials and the antics of these two Imposters...." She goes on to shovel praise on her firm's Way of Death, noting with apparent sincerity that it represents the "care that makes Foster Farms chicken the standard to which every other chicken aspires."

Please, take a moment to collect yourself before you continue.

The full-on media onslaught propping up these so-called "perennially popular" mascots is truly disheartening. Can you imagine, even at your drunkest, calling or writing to this company to applaud commercials (!) of such base motive and aesthetic? Of course not. But somehow, somehow, people lap this stuff up. These Imposters (I'll say!) have been spun off into web sites of their own, complete with "imposter-themed interactive games and family entertainment."

You are in the shadow of a nightmare that makes 1984 look like See Spot Run. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. We cheer—the whole family cheers—as these poor chickens fail again and again to be murdered by the method of their choosing. As cryptic support for the Hemlock Society, the ads are successful indeed. As commentary on American custom, however, they are stomach-turning. They induce a vertiginous shock such as that faced by visitors to post-War Hiroshima.

Addendum (3/04/08): We don't even know what to make of this latest development: a Foster Farms parody ad. That is, it parodies a successful soap ad about media-manufactured standards of beauty. In this Foster Farms version, one of the "lovable" imposters is retouched and airbrushed until he resembles something that doesn't even look like an actual chicken. We have decided simply to be more turned off than ever.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Barbecue on the River

Although it is, technically, possible that the chicken and pig believe the good folks of Paducah, Kentucky, have gathered to honor them, I believe they know this is meant to be the other kind of “roast.” And so, here they come, holding "hands," playing to the balconies, strutting onstage to greet an adoring (and salivating) public. The actors know their lines well: “We, who are about to die, salute you!”

Organizers of the Barbecue on the River Tournament and Pig-Out promise “family entertainment” (including “balloon buffoonery” and marionettes) and 25 tons of grilled chickens and pigs. This is clearly the big time. Which explains why the chicken (adorned with lipstick and an earring, if not lips and earlobes) looks for more than her usual ancillary role. Yes, she is making the most of her one big shot. All tarted up, flashing those baby blues, she is ready to face the critics' knives and forks.

The checkered flag motif of their Bandannas of the Damned could hardly be more apt. Chicken? Pig? You have reached the finish line. Take a bow. Your public's waiting for you backstage.