A Conspiracy of Bacon: Strange Rumblings in Porklandia

Endangered species?


In our last post, I was busy relating the Bohemian Radio Institute’s latest findings on pointless fascination with things that never happened when I encountered an example of what the poets and travelling salesmen call serendipity – which seems to be a form of coincidence in which something pointlessly trivial becomes trivial in a much more meaningful way. Or so my gut tells me.
 
Many of you dear readers happened to remark that, just as I was conveying the magnificence of the never-to-have-had-existed Bacon Toaster of Future 1975, something was happening in our contemporary, real future in a way that may or may not actually happen in our actual future lifetimes: A worldwide shortage of the most important ingredient of our imaginary toaster: Bacon!
 

Also the main ingredient in canned emergency bacon. Because you never know …


Now, being somewhat a student of the science of circular logic and unfalsifiable propositions, I immediately became intensely suspicious and paranoid: Something was happening in the world that I, as an individual, couldn’t quite understand or control – elegant proof that someone or something ELSE was controlling things beyond my ability to understand or control things beyond my understanding or control, wouldn’t you say?
 
Resisting the temptation to immediately go off-grid, living out of dumpsters and public libraries while going under the nom de voyage Susan P. Bugblatt (long story), I instead settled down for some intense research on the subject of bacon. My first step was the laborious typing of the word “bacon” into the search line on Google. I was expecting to learn something, but … I wasn’t quite expecting this:
 

Something wonderful


“How clever,” I thought. “Devilishly clever.” A certain fast food restaurant had just introduced the brilliant and tantalizing combination of fried heavenly goodness and a vanilla-esque soft-serve iced cream-like substance, calling it the Bacon Sundae. And just as a years-long drought threatens the supply of feedstock that may or may not result in a shortage and slight increase in the price of the most important ingredient. I was deep in the rabbit hole, with no electric carrot to light the way.
 
Before I go on, a little history may be in order. I know most people, like I do, think of bacon as a carefully cultivated result of the Apollo astronaut programs of the 1960s, along with Tang, Velcro and Richard Nixon. But did you know that it was actually discovered by our ancient human ancestors of thousands of hundreds of years ago – serendipitously – that the giant monster pigs they had been spearing for food actually tasted like delicious fried bacon? Or, at least, they would when they eventually discovered fire and pan-fry cooking.
 

An animal that just happens to taste like delicious bacon, eh? Nice try, Evolution.


Bacon was so useful and greasy that the Romans paid their soldiers with giant slabs of bacon called petaso, which they mixed in a bag with wine, spoiled figs, spices and feral cats before drinking. And the ancient French, when not making up words far too complicated for modern Americans to pronounce without local anesthesia, eventually domesticated some wild Germans accompanied by their porcine lords and masters, thus acquiring not only the Germanic bakkon, which means “delicious treat from filthy swine,” but also the magnificent animals they would ride gloriously into battle during the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.
 

The history of the Norman Conquest.


During World War II, the U.S. government required all bacon aficionados to save their bacon grease and send it back to the Government Men to make into bombs. Just how many kitchen grease bombs were made is not recorded by the military – quite possibly because it was total bullshit – but my theory is that since Hitler was a vegetarian, he’d have been extra-offended by bacon-derived explosives. Who’s to say who hasn’t really bothered to look it up? Not me, my dear readers. Not me at all.
 
Even people named after the foodish substance were disproportionately influential on world history. Sir Francis Bacon not only invented the Declaration of Independence and Shakespeare, but his grandson Kevin Bacon is never more than six degrees of awesome away from anyone else on earth.
 

Is there any mane bacon grease can’t tame?


So, now that you know all these arcane, knowledge-like factlets, can you really believe that it is a coincidence that much of our most dearly delicious natural food resources – bacon, ham, pork chops, sausage, pizza, beef jerky – all come from the same amazing animal? It’s almost as if someone had planned the biggest mass dependency on a staple food item in the history of planned mass dependencies, only to then ruthlessly make it slightly less convenient to obtain.
 
There’s no telling how far this conspiracy of consumption goes. I’m not telling – mostly because I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be a lot more on the Internet about the Great Bacon Conspiracy other than what I have just posted right now. Or did I just Blow Your Mind?
 

Just a brief note here to thank everyone who stopped to read, like, comment or temporarily glance at my blog over the last two days; it’s a been an overwhelming privilege to be Freshly Pressed. I hope you enjoy what’s to come. Also, an especially grateful and loving thank you to my wonderful friend and benefactor Courtenay Bluebird of Bluebird Blvd., whose brilliant writings are always a pleasure and an inspiration.

Bacon in a Toaster: A Future Too Awesome to Happen

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the TV show The Jetsons. What was awesome about The Jetsons is that it showed us a marvelous 21st century future of flying cars, robot slaves, two-hour work weeks, semi-articulate dogs and push-button … everything.
 
It was all bullshit, of course; practically none of it came true. Sure, buttons are everywhere, and dogs are closer than ever to speaking in adorably dog-accented English, but domestic robot technology is still limited to minor vacuuming and assisted masturbation duties. Two-hour work weeks only exist for members of Congress. And don’t even bring up the flying car.

Damn right, Randal. TV does lie to us. But that’s not all. Books lie too. I’ve read entire books full of lies, and I’m not just talking about David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson here. I’m talking about books like 1975: And the Changes to Come by Arnold B. Barach, which was published in 1962, the same year The Jetsons debuted. It was one of those vaguely edu-taining books about how incredibly awesome The Future was supposed to be – in this case, the far-off future world of 37 years ago – by making tantalizing prognostications about cool technological innovations that were certain to come. Only one thing about this book is really certain, however: 1962 was a huuuuuge year for bullshit.
 
Here are a few of my favorite failed dreams of awesome-itude from 1975: And the Changes to Come:
 

Bacon in a Toaster. In a goddamn TOASTER! No more searing flesh burns from spattering pan grease or from flipping the strips over with your tongue. The bacon would come pre-fried, hermetically sealed in a futuristic aluminum space-pouch to keep away future bacteria and roving bacon-hunting Totoros. All you do is slide the pouch in your friendly 1975 toaster, set it to “Baconate,” and – a few minutes and searing flesh burns later – Instant Bacon Goodness. In a futuristic aluminum space-pouch, because, you know, the Future.
 
 

The Hi-Fi Sphere. In the same way that bacon tastes better when re-heated in an aluminum pouch, sound sounds better when it’s coming from a round aluminum thing. Long-playing Hi Fidelity records are round. Rolling Stones are round, Barry White is round. Your ears are round. Your head is round, and your face-talking hole is round. So should your high-fidelity, sound-barking, audio-making equipment set be: Round. EXTRA BONUS: Round(ish) speakers on an extendo-matic telescoping antenna-looking thingy, for maximum head-injury potential. When not in use, the giant round sound thing closes to form a perfectly symmetrical aluminum sphere, blending in naturally with all your other giant ball-shaped décor.
 
 

Giant Television … Something. We all knew the future of big-screen TV was going to be dozens of cluttered dials and twisty control things all crammed in together at convenient standing eye-level for maximum getting-up-out-of-your-chairability, and here our technological miracle stands – about six feet from your chair. The ultimate in deluxe televisions comes over-the-air, wired-antenna ready, able to receive grainy state-of-the-art analog signals from dozens of miles away, or maybe from around the world if something something. Set-top dials can be set to different time zones just in case you have that urgent OCD need to tell time that way, or maybe they’re kitchen timers for the bacon toaster. Plus a world map so you can keep track of where orbiting astronauts are. In the Future.
 
 

The Turkey Gun. With all the astronauting we will have had been doing in 1975, naturally we’ll have had needed revolutionary new food-to-face-hole delivery devices to take advantage of the huge pain-in-the-ass convenience of Zero Gravity. Based on absolutely no evidence or experience, the top futurologists of 1962 determined that earthly utensils, dishes and even solid food itself would be absolutely useless, if not deadly – and possibly Communist – in 1975 outer space. The answer? Based on the same physics principles that modern, 21st century pastry bags employ, this marvelous “Expelling device screws onto punctured can and is operated by squeezing to force food through the nipple.” Say that again: “Force food through the nipple.” Science!
 
I could go on, of course; there’s plenty more. In 1962 people were both anxious and hopeful about the future in that special way that only a culture on the cusp of both conquering space and self-annihilation could appreciate, and I suppose predictions like these held a special fascination for them. By now, of course, we’ve long since figured out that ball-shaped sound is for chumps and that we could hire other people to toast our pre-fried bacon for us, so perhaps we don’t look at the future in quite the same way – or maybe we do. I don’t know, I’m not fucking Carl Sagan here.

Photos from the book 1975: And the Changes to Come, by Arnold B. Barach; Harper, 1962

See more information about all things bacon in my next post.

Constellations

 

Time of silk scraping and delicate shallows, kisses like bee stings, the ripple of air is too much for the breathing, the taste of her flesh is too rich for the blood

Flow tresses like rainfall in cool draughts unlasting, starlight strikes beaming through shadows of doubt, prey slinks through the brush of her mind’s tangled weaving

Sprays of sweet sangre within lips cracked by wanting, desires a fortune of cares without hope, in passing we touch with our magnets and fingers and gazes long gone

Whither the Glow-In-The-Dark Baby Jesus?

A constant reminder throughout the darkness that you are just a goddamn sinner.

When I am at my best, I can lose myself in writing. I am no longer a weary bag of flesh and neuroses when in the grip of muse – I become sounds and words and letters and the very punctuation of thought, the tiny impulse of electric fire that darts from neuron to nerve fiber to finger to plastic keys. Consumed by the wash of electromagnetic foam, springy globes of cognition floating in the salty brine, one shiny saliva bubble perched tenuously on the tongue tip of God – it’s the perfection of creation that thrills my gills.
 
That, I remind, is when I am at my best. That has not been the case most of these late days. Most of the time, when I sit down at the keys of my chosen instrument – a compact and extremely scruffy netbook of dubious origin – I feel like Bigfoot attempting a rendition of Moonlight Sonata on a Pianosaurus. Anyone remember Pianosaurus? What about Bigfoot? If not, then perhaps you see part of my problem.
 
I was born in 1967, but spent the bulk of my formative childhood in the 1970s. Richard Nixon, Sesame Street, Apollo 13 and the break-up of the Beatles were at the top of my hot cultural 100 just when cognition began to settle in within the confines of what would turn out to be a rather elastic mind of mine. Vietnam, Watergate, Cambodia and the Munich Massacre unfurled before my incredulous eyes and ears every evening around dinner time, usually after heavy afternoon doses of Leave it to Beaver, Lost in Space and Batman. A glow-in-the-dark Baby Jesus was my nightlight lamppost to salvation and Evel Knievel was my stunt cycle hero in red, white and blue. In my eyes they were probably about equal back then.
 
When I was a child it was easy to think of them as equal, because back then they were both very popular and equally ubiquitous, like Dick Cavett and Hong Kong Phooey, and it was easy to suppose they had similar or perhaps complimentary superpowers. Kneivel would smash his bones to bits attempting to jump a dozen greyhound buses, while baby Jesus could heal those broken bones and turn water into gasoline to power those greyhound buses, and perhaps they would tour together in a great bus caravan across the highways and byways of the land, righting wrongs and getting into adventures as they discovered Richard Nixon’s America.
 
These days it’s a little harder to find Evel Knievel’s toy stunt cycles or glow in the dark baby Jesuses on store shelves. Evel soared too close to heaven when he attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in a slapped-together, steam-powered rocket cycle, and subsequently had his wings clipped. I’m not so sure why glow-in-the-dark Baby Jesus disappeared, except that the glow-in-the-dark fad went away with Pet Rocks and lawn darts, and by the time the 1970s ended I was well stuck in the muddy ditch of puberty, and you’ll note that the Bible makes nary a mention of the smelly, insecure, girl-crazy and Star Trek-obsessed teen-age Jesus. So perhaps you see another part of my problem.
 
Then we also had Bigfoot, that cryptozoological superstar whose own career peaked around the time he did a guest shot on a two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, where it turned out he had a robot arm like Darth Vader, years before tall, dark cyborg anti-heroes became the rage. Around the same time he had a Saturday morning program in which he played single parent to an orphan waif known as Wildboy, again ahead of the single parent craze that seemed so cutting edge back then.
 
Now, of course, such cultural icons are simply nebulous, misty vapours of memories sloshing about in my brain’s chemical soup mix, and the simple joys they once engendered are as much a part of the past as my virginity, my appendix and a simple faith in a better world to come. Not all of these things are bad to lose, but it’s a shame nevertheless to brush against those little hollow gaps in my soul they once filled up.
 
Those gaps are particularly keen on those days when the muse won’t come, and the feeling of Bigfoot uselessly mashing his fingers against the keys of a dinosaur-shaped toy piano comes again to mind – which is not such a bad thing as it could be, when you get right down to it.