The Organic Books Movement
AUSTIN, TX: I was standing around with my hands in my pockets, watching my new friend Coral unload a truck full of organic tomatoes at the organic grocery store where he works. My other new friend Sutphin was down on his hands and knees behind a dumpster decorated with "END THE WAR!!!" graffiti, trying to coax a stray cat to eat a coconut-flavored Lifesaver from his hairy hand.

Austin has the nicest dumpsters...

"Come on kitty," said Sutphin. "Come on, come on, come on!"

"So what's the deal with these organic tomatoes," I asked. "They are ugly, bruised, small, and disgusting. Compared to delicious synthetic tomatoes, they are garbage. How come they cost twice as much?"

"Because they are real, man," said Coral, not meeting my eyes. He was working hard, bending to pull crates from the pick-up truck and straining to stack them by the back door of the grocery store. I squinted at his tomatoes like a dentist, noting all the pits, bug bites, and rot. He wiped sweat from his beard and flung it to the concrete with an aggressive grin.

"You can't make real shit in a lab," explained Coral. "Real people can taste the difference."

Would you feed your baby POISON?

"I can't taste the difference," I said.

"Uh-huh," said Coral. He and Sutphin looked at one another.

"Come on, come on, come on," said Sutphin, returning to the dumpster. "Come on, kitty."

"How come you want that cat to eat your Lifesaver so bad?" I asked. "Is it an organic Lifesaver?"

"No," said Sutphin, sulking. "Just bein' friendly."

He stood up, popped the Lifesaver into his own mouth, and glared at me.

"Look," said Coral, taking off his work gloves and slapping them down in the truck's bed. "There are TWO companies that make all the food you eat, and the same rich assholes serve on the boards of each. They've got a vertical corporation scheme, where they are able to act like a monopoly even though the government actually subsidizes what they do. They put all this shit in our food -- all these hormones, supplements, and pesticides -- and the additives make us sick, crazy, and weak. Also, they treat the animals terribly and the way they farm sucks up all the nutrients from the soil, drying out our country faster than a jellyfish in hot sand. Local farmers can't even afford to farm their own land anymore because they have to compete with these bastards! It is our patriotic duty to eat organic food. It's what real people do who want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror every day."

"I guess that makes sense," I said. "Kind of like literature. Only nobody is so smug about organic books."

"How is that like literature?" asked Coral. "Why is every goddamn thing like literature to you?"

"Well, there are really only six publishing companies in America," I said. "And only two of them are American."

"Oh yeah?" said Coral.

"The largest publishing company -- Random House -- is run by Germans. In fact, it's owned by a company called Bertelsmann who got so big by publishing war pamphlets for the Nazis. Bertelsmann was the Volkswagen of books."

Sutphin stepped closer to me.

"Slow down," he said. "There are too many chemtrails in the air today. The barium sulfide is making my brain slow."

"Think any of this has to do with Bohemian Grove?" whispered Coral, lighting a cigarette. Sutphin lit a cigarette too.

"No," I said. "None of this has anything to do with Bohemian Grove. However, I wish more people were as passionate about supporting local writers as they are about supporting local farmers. Fiction from the big publishers is just as chock full of chemical poison, pesticides, and dangerous gene supplements as any giant tomato. The good shit -- the crazy, radical interesting shit that real people actually like to read -- comes from the independents and from small presses."

"I can't tell the difference," said Coral.

"Uh-huh," I said, knowingly.

Coral picked up a tomato like he was going to throw it at me, but then Sutphin's stray cat finally slunk out from under the dumpster and he threw it at the cat instead. The cat escaped down the alley as slick as a whistle.

Posted by miracle on Thu, 05 Nov 2009 16:37:12 -0500 -- permanent link

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