Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Helen Browning's Totally Organic

By now you have realized that the farm is the epicenter of the suicidefood movement. It is here where the need for rationalization is most urgent, and so it is here where the message is most potent. Farms are where it all goes down. Life, death, blood, gore, and the final bleats, kicks, and spasms. This can be dressed up only so much. No matter how "organic," no matter how "humane," how "free range," butchery is the order of the day.

Our first glimpse of Helen Browning's Totally Organic is a slice of pure absurdity: one pig on a motorcycle (!) and another watching on in bloated contentment. Their interlude occurs at night, with no farmers visible, no fences to keep them in. And yet, they play. Livestock at leisure. It's a farm farce: "It Happened at Happy Meat Farm."

The problems with Helen Browning's extend past the ridiculous imagery, however. We can see more of these problems and take their measure when we look at the farm's "Good Veal Guide." The Guide is a hymn of conscientious stewardship, of a deep and abiding love of animals. Here, let's see what the Guide has to say.

The zeal with which organic farmers pursue their animal welfare does not stop at dairy cows—they rear their dairy calves with the attention they devote to their other stock... The typical male dairy calf will never turn itself into a great beef animal, but good farming will produce superb meat from these livestock, at a younger age. (Emphasis added, dizzily.)

“…will never turn itself into a great beef animal.” There are worlds contained within that phrase. The key to an entire way of life, to its towering, teetering philosophy, can be found inside it. Imagine it! The sense of failure felt by the “typical” male dairy calf! How it stings, knowing he lacks the wherewithal, the grit, the starch to turn himself into a great, walking chunk of meat!

The Guide gushes on:

This is robust… mature meat, pink in colour, aged for flavour and a good bite. Food to grace any table. This is not veal from dimly lit crowded pens.

These animals enjoy a very full life, with plenty of space and light, inside suitable buildings over winter and outside at pasture for the rest of the year; a varied diet; and the care of a foster cow when available.

We want to remove the stigma attached to these animals. With a life span of six months, they live twice as long as even the slowest growing chicken; they have the same life span as a good organic pig, and longer than many organic lambs.

According to various sources, a cow with a less “zealous” upbringing could expect to live as long as 25 years or so. (The world-record holder appears to have lived for 48 years!) But Helen Browning’s crows about the “very full life” they afford their "veal" calves. Six months! Note that they compare their track record with others in the industry, not with people who have a vested interest in providing long life to animals.

Return to the pigs-with-motorcycle image. Does doing so make your mind feel funny? Do you wish there were something solid to hold onto? Such a loopy juxtaposition—the carefree pigs, the nocturnal motorcycle jaunt, and the calves granted their "very full" six months.

Of course, this sort of bracing dissonance is the suicidefoodist's stock in trade. H.B.'s is also the institution that stages Pigstock every year, an event featuring both spit-roasted pigs and, for the kids, a "petting pen."

And may we please take a moment to appreciate Helen Browning's clever dig against the cretinous vegetarians, those who—what perversity!—would rather not spit-roast the pigs after petting them?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Silver Leaf Lard

Back before the days of strong labor unions, in the genteel, yet gritty, 19th century, Chicago—hog butcher to the world—was home to a de facto caste system. Proletariat pigs propped up hogs of wealth. The upper crust lorded over the workers at the bottom of the heap, workers who could only dream their simple dreams of freedom.

Enter Silver Leaf Lard, the great equalizer! Through Silver Leaf’s divine order, pigdom is once again at peace. All are welcome at the lardworks. All are worthy.

While their divisions linger, now the classes are revealed for all their irrelevancy! They are the stuff of petty fashion, of bristle-thin loyalties. Yes, yes, it is left to some to pull the lardbucket carriage along. It is for others to enjoy the ride with their walking sticks and topcoats. And yet!

And yet all are going to the same place. The factory awaits them all, to render them all to their porcine essence. All are reducible to pure, sweet lard!

The draft-pigs, those six sturdy gallopers, strain at their traces. The passengers chatter excitedly. How impatient they are! Onward! Tally ho! How handsome the sows in their Sunday finery! How eager to face the culmination of their lives, wherein they will finally achieve their truest equality, their noblest brotherhood. If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you render them, do they not become a succulent, silvery, Swift and Company-blessed lard?

Lard! Lard! Glorious lard! Uplifter of the laborer. Humbler of the aristocrat. Scourge of the tyrant!

(Thanks to Dr. Pes for the referral and the image. Do yourself a favor and visit Pes's brilliant site.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Special Report: Pig Logo Exposé 2

Entrailpreneurs might seem like a fiercely independent bunch, rolling out one clever, meaty image after another. It might seem that way, but—oh, greedy illusion!—it is not always so. There are times, disenchanted and disenchanting times, when their muses refuse to heed the call. Times when the tinder will not catch the spark of genius. The result is knock-off pig logos. Our mission requires us to reveal all the tawdry details.

And so, in the grand tradition of the world's first pig logo exposé, we present to you Pig Logo Exposé 2!

(Clockwise from the top left: The Hog & Lamb Spitroast Co., Pig Out Catering, Steakout Catering, Boys and Girls Club BBQ, Happy Chicken, The Great American Barbecue Roadshow.)

Some observations:

  • Innovation and differentiation are confined, mainly, to color changes.
  • The Boys and Girls Club went all out with the addition of a knife.
  • Happy Chicken offers a design mystery: Why modify such an inappropriate illustration instead of creating your own from scratch? (At least copy an image emphasizing a chicken, fellas!) And, assuming that their cartoon version was not the original, what credence can we give their boastful "THE ORIGINAL" claim?
  • The first two rows of logos all bear a peculiar deformity: the right trotter (our right, not the pigs' right) is curiously sliced clean. In the Boys and Girls Club logo, this affliction is rectified (but notice that in this logo only, the trotters have but two, and not three, "fingers").

    If we had to hazard a guess, we would say that, of the six logos shown here, Pig Out Catering (the upper-right corner) is the earliest exemplar, with the Hog & Lamb Spitroast Co. (the brown and orange) next in line. After that, our forensic instincts fail us.

    Something, some full-trottered version, antedates the iterations with the amputated appendages—so slavishly aped—but what? Additional evidence is welcome.

    (We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Mrs. Suicidefood in the preparation of this report.)

    Addendum (12/16/07): The clip-art cavalcade continues!

    (Left to right: Classic Rock 96.9 [eastern Virginia] Work Force Pig-Out, Phil's Pig Out BBQ, Lynn's Cakes)

    Addendum 2 (2/15/08): Dave's Pit Smoked Bar-B-Que! That's 10. (Why has no one taken care of that hand deformity?)

    Addendum 3 (4/20/08): Finally, someone retained the services of qualified surgeons. Our pig's left hand is once again whole! For now. (Image source.)

    Addendum 4 (6/12/08): And that's a dozen. The urge to retain the "PIG OUT" tagline is well-nigh irresistible!

    Addendum 5 (10/11/08): Big Daddy's Real Pit Bar-B-Que makes it thirteen.

    Addendum 6 (12/07/08): Number 14—Red Roof BBQ. At last we see this pig's whole body. And it ain't pretty.

    Addendum 7 (1/03/09): This sample shirt design for a family barbecue is number 15. Notice that the problem of handling the left hand has been neatly skirted by simply erasing the fingers.

    Addendum 8 (2/01/09): Number 16 is the mascot for Etobicoke, Ontario's Bustin' Loose BBQ Team! See how they tackled the vexing Left Hand Issue? They flipped the pig so his left hand becomes his right hand!

    And here, following right on Number 16's heels is Number 17! Now he's representing Smokin S Bar-B-Que.

    Addendum 9 (2/04/09): And here's Jaymer-Q Southern BBQ with Number 18.

    Addendum 10 (9/01/10): Has it really been more than a year and a half since we last checked in? The nineteenth specimen is here, looking a little shabby. A little lumpy. A little crazed. But come on. It's him. Take note of the characteristic clawlike hands, the eyeballs, the bandanna. The turnip-shaped snout! Oh, yeah. It's him.
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Pho Bac

    The (surely deliberate) juxtaposition of the smiling neon cow and the BEEF NOODLE SOUP sign says it all. It's a real pleasure to discover such a graceful crystallization of our thesis.

    In that one bovine Buddha's smile, volumes can be read. The neon cow’s eternal, placid smile chases away all misgivings as surely as dawn chases away night. It ratifies the meat-eaters’ every habit, every belief. It belittles doubt, shames the naysayer. It offers an orthodoxy of indulgence, a fun-loving counterpart to a worldview requiring tough choices. This one requires nothing of its adherents. “Come! Eat!" the cow says. "All is well. All is forgiven.”

    And so they do. They enter. They order. And their beef noodle soup is delicious, not because they are grateful, but because of the gratitude the cow feels for them. Theirs is not the humble pleasure of the thankful, but the smug satisfaction of the insincere do-gooder, whose assumptions are free to remain unexamined for yet another day.

    (Thanks to Dr. Wanderley for the referral and the photo.)

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    All Smoked Up BBQ Catering

    Pig hits the road with chicken perched in the bitch seat.

    These two examples of the Accomplice Animal archetype are so obsessed with visions of their own consumption, they will even bring the means of their cooking to you!

    Talk about "Born to be Wild!"

    Forget fleeing from the deathly footsteps of the executioner. Forget facing the end like stoics. Forget the resignation of the condemned. These two treat the lonesome walk to the death chamber like it's a joy ride. Paradoxically, this is what they live for (if you can call it that). They will do anything to make eating them easier on you. If they could, they would cut themselves into Forkette™-sized chunks, so you wouldn't wear yourself out sawing through their tough flesh.

    All of which makes these two the lamest rebels since this miserable pack of let-downs. Look at that bird, her wings spread out, a crazy grin on her beak. "Hey, everybody! The food's here!" And the pig just diggin' his old lady, diggin' the whole suicidal scene. How they sicken one.

    Addendum: (Yes, it's more of Patrick's work.)

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Bar-B-Q Heaven, Inc.

    Like much heaven-centric suicide food imagery, this illustration merely pushes suicidefoodism's agenda to its "logical" conclusion.

    Before we go further, we must insist that you ignore the disarmingly poor draftsmanship. Please ignore especially the right leg twisted and turned up unnaturally at the knee, and the crude rendering of the ribs. These sins are undeniable, but they distract us from our real purpose: the unflinching exegesis of Bar-B-Q Heaven, Inc.'s "text."

    What do we know of the pig? He is dead.

    Why is he dead? Man killed him.

    Why did man kill him? To make him happy.

    Why does being dead make him happy? Because he is finally freed from the moral and biological injunctions that had prevented him from eating pigs.

    Why does he want to eat pigs? Man has told him that pigs are good to eat. He identifies so closely with man that he wishes to mimic man's habits. Notice that his spirit inhabits man's heaven. Notice also that he doesn't want to eat all pigs. He wants merely to eat of his own flesh.

    If they're his ribs, where is the gaping wound in his body? He has been healed and made whole again by heaven's blessed hand.

    But what about the checkered flag? Simple. The pig's race (his earthly life, his carnal sentence) is done. He has reached the goal of all obedient "food" animals: dear, dear death. He lives lived to serve.

    Such is the bizarre worldview announced and bolstered and bolstered again by the Church of Suicidefoodism. It's for the animals! That's why we torment them so! For their own good. They want this! Their very souls cry out for it! This—and suffering, of course—is how they experience their utter fulfillment.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Eat Your Children: a digression

    Halloween costumes are a cherished part of autumn. Children's spirits soar as they experiment with make-believe and the assumption of new identities. It's a way of making real a small and friendly magic. And who hasn't oohed and aahed over little ones dressed for the season as teddy bears or tigers or kitty cats? (For our first Halloween, so many long, tedious years ago, we were a humble, brown mouse.)

    But these are not that kind of costume. No, when you dress your child in these costumes, the magic quickly curdles. You are pretending for your baby, imagining she is food, meat, a dead and cooked animal.

    It won't escape your attention that these costumes—featured on Martha Stewart's television show and website—are specifically not depictions of living beings. That livid red lobster is fresh from the boil. And the plucked turkey is wearing those paper shoes, the dead-turkey equivalent of heavy rouge on a corpse. The babies are even posed on platters, swaddled in garnish!

    In that modest, unassuming way of ours, we refer to this as Ironic Aggressor Sublimation, and we've discussed it before (here, for instance). It's the supposedly hilarious identification with animals classified as victims, inferiors who could never threaten our status. It is never less than a laugh riot!

    "It's a morbid thing."

    Addendum (2/12/08): Another one. So cute! Hey, it's not like they feel pain or anything. (Image source.)

    Addendum 2 (5/03/08) Of course, some people don't need to imagine their food babies as animals at all. For them, it's enough that they simply be identified as human chefs. No, wait. This is making less and less sense. (Photo courtesy of Dr. William.)

    Addendum 3 (3/02/09): You may also choose to eat your child in sandwich form.

    Addendum 4 (9/12/09): Or just cut out the middleman and eat a baby made from meat. Can you remember a time before you had ever seen this? Neither can we.

    Addendum 5 (2/21/10): Children are edible in many, many forms.

    Addendum 6 (12/26/10): Another example of the Grandmother Effect in action?