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This American Life Ira Glass Man-Fatuation Post: Poultry Slam 2011

“Nature is not obedient little birdies having sex the way we’d want them to.”

– Ira Glass

Best Poultry Slam ever.

This week’s episode of TAL was the 2011 installment of the the show’s one annual theme, “Poultry Slam.” Based on the notion that during the holiday months, America consumes far more poultry than during any other time of year, TAL puts one episode aside per year to talk about fowl, and this year, they took the theme to new heights.  2011’s Poultry Slam dealt with three of my pet subjects: the death penalty, wild turkeys and goose sex (or is it geese sex?)

In Act I, a man is on death row and about to be executed.  However, this man like many on death row shows signs of insanity.  What constitutes insanity for you?  How about a person using their own feces to bind their own dreadlocks?  So, the appeals lawyer for this man, in trying to prove that he’s insane has  him evaluated by a psychiatrist who ultimately concludes that he’s perfectly sane, pooplocks and all.  Why?  Apparently during their interaction, this psychiatrist challenged her subject to a game of checkers (how pissed would you be if your shrink suddenly whipped out the ol’ checker board?)  Since this man was able to beat the shrink at checkers, he was deemed sane.  Well, instead of trying to prove this particular psychiatrist was merely an awful checker player, the attorney recalled a chicken she’d once seen at a county fair who was able to play and win at checkers.  She spent the next few years searching for the Bobby Fischer of chickens until she was eventually able to save this man from the chair.  The moral of the story?  Before executing a man, challenge him to a game of Scrabble.

A personal note:  when I was six years old I woke up on a cool morning in early Winter and looked out my window, spotting something on my front lawn unlike anything I’d ever seen.  It was thin, beige colored and large with a wingspan bigger than my own young body.  I quickly ran into my parent’s room screaming, “There’s a Pterodactyl on the lawn!”   My parents assured me on that day and many times since that what I saw was actually a wild turkey, however, I know that it was something more.  Act II of this year’s Poultry Slam told the story of an ornery wild turkey named Tom who terrorized a small town to a mothman like degree until the cops finally gunned him down on the front lawn of his owners.  The episode ends with the TAL presenter comparing Tom the Wild Turkey to Scarface in perhaps the most hyperbolic TAL moment of all time.

Trust me when I say this: if you’ve been a vegan for any significant period of time, and you eventually go back to eating meat, there’s certain things you just never eat, Foie Gras being the best example.  Many know that this creamy gunk is made in some kind of inhumane way, but this week TAL was kind enough to detail about the process for us, describing the way a goose is bound and force-fed until its liver looks something like Charles Bukowksi’s, which it somehow makes it taste delicious.  Act III tells the story of a kooky Spanish guy, a character perhaps best compared to the subject of Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop documentary, who finds an alternate, humane way to producing Froes Gras. Turns out that Geese like people, if left to their own devices will gorge themselves for winter.  However, it turns out this process means running a goose farm that’s a cross between a hippie commune and Canyon Ranch, and no one besides this strange Spaniard have been able to reproduce the method.

This year’s Turducken of a Poultry Slam reminded us all that poultry all people too, and if you’re ever fortunate enough to watch two geese go at, you might want to wear goggles.

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