Sun Ra - Column for 7/15

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I like hot dogs. Sure, I know that they are lips 'n' assholes (and that would be a good brand name, wouldn't it?), but they are tasty, dammit. And here in Washington D.C., at least, they are affordable, too - one dollar will get you a delicious, regulation-size hot dog from a vendor down on the Capitol Mall. Compare that to a price of two dollars in New York. And the larger, beefier hot dogs are only a buck-fifty here, versus three dollars there. More asshole for your dollar, for sure.

When I was in college, back before I had this subaceous cyst on my neck (sounds a lot yuckier than it looks - it looks like a bee sting, and it's getting excised on Aug 15th for $250) and when I still thought that an MBA from a top fifteen school could get me a job, I once went with one of my housemates to Wienerschnitzel. Now, I really like Wienerschnitzel, despite the fact that it's called "Der" Wienerschnitzel when in fact the german word Wienerschnitzel is of female gender, and thus is "Die" Wienerschnitzel. It always bothered my aunt (who is from Germany), but frankly it only amused me. Mostly because it's the sort of thing that would inherently really, really annoy Germans.

Anyways, every now and then I get a craving for a good corn dog, or my particular Wienerschnitzel favorite, a chili cheese dog. A few years later, in Santa Cruz, my girlfriend (now, in these older, bitter years, my fiance, a fact which underlines the angelic levels of patience she has) lived only two blocks from a Wienerschnitzel, which was great. If she wasn't home, it was corn dog time. A win-win situation no matter how you slice it. But in college, the closest one was twenty minutes away in El Cerrito, so it required a particularly strong craving to get me out that far.

But that evening, the craving was strong enough, so Jake Thomas and I hopped in my little red pickup truck and drove up there. I was planning to get my usual, two corn dogs and two chili cheese dogs. Two slighly crunchy, bready treats, and two goopy cheesy ones. It was a formula I'd held onto since high school.


We got there, and they were having a special. Twelve chili dogs and six small fries for twelve dollars. Now, corn dogs were a buck each, and chili cheese dogs were a buck fifty or sixty. So this was quite a bargain.

We bought two. No, not two dogs, two sets of twelve.


And then we got home, and sat down, and we ate them. One after the other. I think I managed nine. It was incredible, really, how they easily they slid down the gullet. And they were so tasty. Jake and I (I'm thinking it was only the two of us, now) gorge ourselves. And then, for an hour, we lay on the floor and moaned. I don't think, at any time else in my life, I have ever been quite as full. It was funny, except when you laughed, your stomach hurt, so we'd lie there and moan, then chuckle a bit, then moan louder for a little while.

We never touched the fries.

Ah, to be young and foolish again. Hell, we went back only a few weeks later, but that time I stuck to the two corn dog / two chili-cheese dog paradigm, and was a happier man.

I just like hot dogs. I like weird german ones, bockwurst and knockwurst and weisswurst. (And trust me, you do not want to know how those white sausages are made.) The more dubious they are, the more I like them. I know how meat is "mechanically separated".

And soon so will you, so strap in.

"Mechanically separated" meat refers to the bits that are adhered to the bones so well that they don't cut off when the good parts are removed. Well, you don't want to waste any of that salable organic material. So they wash those bits off the bones with a high-pressure hose, collect them, and grind and press them into shapes. That's "mechanically separated". Chickens, having a high proportion of bone, provide a large chunk of M.S. meat - and it's only "meat" in a technical sense, really. It's mostly ligaments and that sort of stuff. You don't see it on butcher charts.

Luckily for me, I don't care. No matter how dubious, how non-meat, if it's been ground into atoms and boiled, it's good enough for me. I even like those 7-11 hot dogs that have been on those greasy rollers for years, that when the roller machine breaks are simply lifted out and put onto the new, replacement roller machine to slowly twirl on the greasy metal for another decade or so before I arrive to eat them. Tasty.

I think it's a survival instinct. Remember, as capitalism triumphs, we are moving inexorably to a world of the lowest bidder. So those who can eat and like cheap meat are better suited for the future than those who turn their noses up at it. My primitive ancestors are, somewhere, proud of me.

As they lie around groaning and rubbing their bloated stomachs.

- Sun Ra

Columns by Sun Ra