Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Gave the Cat Half of My Sandwich to Buy My Life

This by Matt Taibbi is making the rounds:

I simply don't believe the Democrats would really be worse off with voters if they committed themselves to putting people back to work, policing Wall Street, throwing their weight behind a real public option in health care, making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as ordinary people, ending the pointless wars abroad, etc. That they won't do these things because they're afraid of public criticism, and "responding to pressure," is an increasingly transparent lie.

A question needs asking: there's no power to be had, no celebrity, no notoriety, as an honest advocate for progressivism or as a Clintonian fraud, a cynic of especial skill and duplicity? No money to be made? In a country that celebrates the entrepreneur as Avatar One and the con-man as Avatar Two, that holds the right to exploit motherfucking rubes as the Most Sacred Law in a society that proudly considers itself just, no power to be had? No fortune to be won, large or small, filling the obamavacuum roobish pwoggles like me luxuriate in?

Yes I've asked before. I'm rube enough still to be astonished there's not.

The adoption of Clops may have hit a speedbump. His foster parents are making wannakeepem noises. They have our blessing, I told the guy so, told him we'll uphold our commitment but PLEASE keep the cat if they want him, we have seven already and the world is full of cats that need homes, we'll get one of them.

Here's Napoleon, a wonder cat.


Gerald Stern

This was gruesome—fighting over a ham sandwich                  
with one of the tiny cats of Rome, he leaped
on my arm and half hung on to the food and half
hung on to my shirt and coat. I tore it apart
and let him have his portion, I think I lifted him
down, sandwich and all, on the sidewalk and sat
with my own sandwich beside him, maybe I petted
his bony head and felt him shiver. I have
told this story over and over; some things
root in the mind; his boldness, of course, was frightening
and unexpected—his stubborness—though hunger
drove him mad. It was the breaking of boundaries,
the sudden invasion, l but not only that it was
the sharing of food and the sharing of space; he didn't
run into an alley or into a cellar,
he sat beside me, eating, and I didn't run
into a trattoria, say, shaking,
with food on my lips and blood on my cheek, sobbing;
but only that, I had gone there to eat
and wait for someone. I had maybe an hour
before she would come and I was full of hope
and excitement. I have resisted for years
interpreting this, but now I think I was given
a clue, or I was giving myself a clue,
across the street from the glass sandwich shop.
That was my last night with her, the next day
I would leave on the train for Paris and she would
meet her husband. Thirty-five years ago
I ate my sandwich and moaned in her arms, we were
dying together; we never met again
although she was pregnant when i left her—I have
a daughter or son somewhere, darling grandchildren
in Norwich, Connecticut, or Canton, Ohio.
Every five years I think about her again
and plan on looking her up. The last time
I was sitting in New Brunswick, New Jersey,
and heard that her husband was teaching at Princeton,
if she was still married, or still alive, and tried
calling. I went that far. We lived
in Florence and Rome. We rowed in the bay of Naples
and floated, naked, on the boards. i started
to think of her again today. I still
am horrified by the cat's hunger. I still
am puzzled by the connection. this is another
insane devotion, there must be hundreds, although
it isn't just that, there is no pain, and the thought
is fleeting and sweet. i think it's my own dumb boyhood,
walking around with Slavich cheeks and burning
stupid eyes. I think I gave the cat
half of my sandwich to buy my life, I think
I broke it in half as a decent sacrifice.
It was this I bought, the red coleus,
the split rocking chair, the silk lampshade.
Happiness. I watched him with pleasure.
I bought memory. I could have lost it.
How crazy it sounds. His face twisted with cunning.
The wind blowing through his hair. His jaw working.


  1. What, exactly, is your question?

  2. As long as he gets a good home is what matters, but here's hoping you guys win the future.

  3. There's no profit and fame and power to be had as a progressive (real or fake) demagogue in America? And if yes, why? And if yes, what does that signify?

  4. Seven? Really?? Wow. And here I thought we had a lot (five once, now four). Ours are exclusively indoors, and we've come to the conclusion that more than two, unless they all get along famously, is too much. I'm figuring yours are indoor-outdoor to ease the territorial burden?

  5. Three indoor - Fleabus (wonder cat), Sarah, Jess - and four outdoor, ferals that adopted us - Momcat, Creamy, Frankie, and Napoleon (wonder cat).

    Momcat won't come near us but she no longer runs from us, Frankie comes near us, sings, rolls on his back, then runs when we try to pet him, Creamy is a cuddle slut but disappears for weeks at a time, Napoleon is a cuddle slut who comes and goes in and out of the house constantly.

    We weren't (aren't) looking for an eighth, was going to adopt Clops as a favor to a friend at work (who has six cats herself and has been told by family NOT to get a seventh), though I think now the current foster family will end up keeping him, which is cool - the current cat dynamic in the house is great, and introducing a new cat can only fuck it up, though I'm sure I'll adopt a new one by the end of the summer (if Clops doesn't arrive) now that I'm thinking about it (and badgered all of you to rescue one too).

  6. I'd be in danger of becoming one of those crazy cat ladies if I allowed my heart to overrule my head. Every time I see one of these precious, lovable creatures who needs a home, my heart breaks. But one can't save the world.

    We've also taken care of tons of feral cats over the years -- something about our back yard attracts them -- I think there's a kitty newsletter that goes around the neighborhood.

  7. Heh, that's why Planet and I buy Earthgirl new garden statuary every Mother's Day - she can't be a proper crazy cat lady without a yard full of garden statuary.

    And while I have some control over who I adopt, I can't help it if feral cats adopt us. There are two neighborhood cats now feeding on our porch, one with a collar, one without. Neither will let me near yet, but the one without the collar is curious.

  8. I don't think one can be a real progressive demagogue. But fake? Sure. I give you Ralph Nader. (But I don't think that your question is implied by Mr. Taibbi's quote.) Let's reverse it. Imagine a scenario where there is money/power/stuff to be gained. What might that look like?

  9. The question is: who's gonna' buy Clops an eyepatch? Seriously, you should think about posting the above pic on the internets. Photoshop in "I can haz iPatch?". Monetize said post. And watch the bucks come rolling in. Seriously.

    The quest is: to find a rational politics—one not under the influence of ideology, money & influence, cynicism, religion, ignorance, etc.