Feb 17, 2011

Always Wear Clean Underwear...Or None at All


*cue soundtrack*

If you’re fortunate enough to have a lovingly neurotic Jewish mother like mine, you know that you should always wear clean underwear with no holes.

Because God forbid you’re in a car accident and have to be rushed to the hospital—the doctor will undoubtedly judge your nasty-draws-wearin’ ass and, as a result, give you substandard medical care.

However, what your momma won’t tell you is, if the paramedics do rush you to the hospital, you will likely be c-spined and immobilized for several hours, during which time there is a good chance you will soil that clean underwear because those by-the-book ER motherfuckers won’t let you get up to take a piss/shit.

Fortunately, when I was in a car accident several days ago, I wasn’t wearing any underpants at all. I was wearing stretchy yoga pants that I’d pulled on commando-style that morning, because I didn’t have the energy to dig through the laundry basket for a clean pair of panties.

(This is the part where my mother disowns me.)

Curiously enough, however, my minimalist choice of asswear that day facilitated my kind ER nurse and me in my novice utilization of a bedpan that afternoon. Because let me tell you, it ain’t easy to maneuver a crippled, immobilized ass onto one of those disgusting things, and the less pants, under- and otherwise, the better.

Okay, now that I’ve totally disgraced my family and friends and cashed my last remaining shreds of self-respect, my job here is done. Besides, this shit hurts bad. Ugh.

Feb 11, 2011

I'm Not Racist, Some of My Best Friends Are Field Hockey Players


Probably the most unawesome thing for me, as an awkward Jewish kid growing up in New England, was how poorly I assimilated into athletic WASP culture.

While I don’t understand completely how it works, I am confident that what I’ve witnessed extensively over the years serves almost-scientific proof that there is a direct correlation between a silky blonde ponytail and certain kinds of athletic prowess, specifically in the arenas of field hockey and lacrosse.

Although I was forced to participate in both these ridiculous New England stick rituals as a schoolgirl, my ability therein was so pathetic that I, like so many other unathletic young Jews, resorted to comedy to deal with the social anguish that befell me in gym class. And by “comedy”, I mean I would insert the curved end of my field hockey stick down the front of my sweatpants in order to give my best impression of Mr. McFahey, our perpetually aroused PE instructor. While this never failed to elicit a laugh from the hyper-competitive blonde chicks, it still didn’t spare me their rebuke or mockery when, later on the field, I’d trip over that same stick and make our team lose. Awkward Jew Fail = relentless cries of “RETAHHHD!” and “LOOSAAAH!” from Minnie and Miffy and Meg.

And so I was slightly disappointed when I heard that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) addressed the House Tuesday in regard to this Pepsi ad that aired Super Bowl Sunday, which she called “demeaning”.

With all due respect to the distinguished gentlewoman from Texas, I’m having a hard time—in between fits of hysterical laughter—determining to whom this commercial is demeaning. As a fellow Democrat, I also vehemently oppose the use of violence as a method of conflict resolution, but hey, that shit is funny!

I’m guessing it was the historical dearth of field hockey and lacrosse in Texas that caused Ms. Jackson Lee to fail to see the humor in the smug, athletic ponytail's can-to-the-head. Because if the congresswoman had been in my PE class, I like to think she’d be laughing right along with me.

You go, Pepsi lady.

Feb 9, 2011

This Post is *Not* About Chicken


Okay, maybe just a little.

But really this post is about applauding last week’s Oprah show, entitled “Oprah Goes Vegan”.

This wasn't just another one of the talk queen’s attempts to share her unhealthy relationship with food diet and lifestyle advice.  In this episode, her reporters managed to score a tour of a meat packing plant, following a herd of cattle from the feed lot to the grinder.

Such graphic television exposure is something to which higher-ups in the meat industry rarely consent, and according to Oprah, producers contacted twenty companies before they found one that would agree to have its facilities filmed. Even guest Michael Pollan remarked that persuading Cargill's Fort Morgan meat processing plant to open their doors to the cameras was quite a coup, stressing that watching the disturbing footage is something everyone who eats beef should have an opportunity to do (although he was quick to add that Cargill is one of the cleanest and most humane of the major American meat-processors).

The footage, which showed every step of the process with the exception of the moment the bolt was driven through the cows' skulls, was extremely graphic. Yes, I cried.

Indeed my own decision to stop eating birds and mammals came years ago, shortly after I saw similar television footage in an episode of 60 Minutes exposing the inner-workings of a meat packing plant. It just so happens that my aunt had been scheduled to be on the program that same evening, in another segment that unfortunately never aired, focusing on the much tamer subject of occupational therapy. Our family watched for an hour, patiently waiting for my dear aunt and her therapy practice and their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame, but all we were shown was dismembered cows and fat people eating tri-tip.

Something in my head clicked during that episode of 60 Minutes, a connection was made between my longtime dormant discomfort about the practice of meat-eating, and the stark, unflappable reality that we all have been trained (both by ourselves, as well as by the food industry and society in general) to deny—denial that is aided tremendously by the industry’s tightly closed doors and securely drawn blinds.

Click. No more burgers, steaks, or chops for me.

However, as I watched Oprah last week, as I wiped the tears from my big emo eyes, I also, strangely enough, got a tinge of nostalgia when I saw Oprah reporter Lisa Ling walking amongst the scores of hanging carcasses.

That’s because my grandfather was indeed himself a butcher and meat packer.

He gave up the profession relatively early in life, but I still can remember, as a small child, pit-pattering through his industrial meat cooler, bits of cold sawdust sticking to my button-clasped mary-janes as I’d slap a side of beef here and there, trying to exert enough force to swing it like a punching bag. And the smell—I can remember it decades later—the sweetest, cleanest smell of death you could conjure. Sanitized, pasteurized death.

While the idea of meat coming from animals bothered me from an early age, I don’t remember being repulsed or frightened by the huge, partial animal corpses in real life. Again, my introduction to those carcasses began in the packing room, not in the feed lot, and thus rendered them things rather than beings in my eyes. Even as a child, I possessed that supremely Darwinian coping mechanism that allowed me to disassociate from reality those things in the physical that in actuality deeply troubled me in the psychological. The meat was just another part of the store, like the white coats hanging on the wall or the cold, steely grinder.

Incidentally, the one thing in my grandfather's store that did fascinate me on an intense level had little to do with meat at all.  It was in the cheese case.

Oh, did I forgot to mention, my grandfather’s butcher store also carried a small selection of cheeses? Well it did, and that case was of great delight for me. I didn’t really care about the banal bries and mundane muensters that I’d seen so many times in my parents’ fridge. No, I was obsessed with that psychedelic star of the 70s hors d’oeuvre scene: port wine cheese.

For a five year-old girl, love and light befall all things pink, and of course, it goes without saying that cheese exists in the universe to make everything better. The fact that my parents vehemently refused to bring home this extraordinary foodstuff only served to persuade me that they were evil villains set forth to bring misery and longing to my existence. We don’t eat dreck—my mother’s succinct reply to each of my pleas for port wine cheese— served as no consolation in this regard.

But back to Oprah going vegan; so far she successfully persuaded (read: forced) her staff to join her in giving up all animal products for an entire week.  In addition, she's vowed to institute "Meatless Mondays" at Harpo studios.  I have no doubt that this on-camera tour from the feed lot to the slaughterhouse will change the way many viewers think about meat. Will it change lives? Probably a few, just as my viewing of similar footage changed my own life many years ago. Plus, she’s the omnipotent Oprah; if she could pick our president for us, she can definitely coax a girthy Tofurky sausage down America's throat. 

Regardless, this little episode was way better than Oprah's last effort to get our nation eating right (see below).

Feb 6, 2011

Is That Socialism in Your Jockstrap, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?


I don't generally post stuff on here without adding my own little schpiel, but since I don't give a shit about the Super Bowl (which, most likely, the majority of you will be watching today instead of reading my blog), I'll just let Bill do the talking this time. Besides, like most of what the venerable Maher says, this needs no embellishment.

Watch the video and/or read the transcript here.

Oh, and God bless America.
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