MARGA & MATT: a militant, vegan, love story...
MARGA & MATT - a militant, vegan, love story…
by David Conway
Near Future America.
The Great Pollen Collapse begins with a crash, when over 90% of America’s commercial bee population suddenly dies in the almond fields of California, sending shockwaves through the country’s industrial food system. Now as the food system comes apart at the seams, people go hungry, and Big-Food desperately plugs holes in the system, with Future-Foods rushed to market.
But in New-Brooklyn, now a sustainable green city that made The Switch long before The Collapse, two unlikely characters find love: Matt, an off the grid Street-P (homeless hunter-gather), and Marga, a Creagan (purity obsessed vegan). Nestled within the sustainable safety of New-B (New-Brooklyn), Marga & Matt swim into an intoxicating love affair. Until the struggling world outside of New-B comes crashing in, and Carni’s (industrial food junkies) over-run the farmers market looking for something to eat...
THIS IS THE BIGGIEST BEAT IN MARGA & MATT’S COURTSHIP AND IS PROBABLY THE MID-ACT ONE CLIMAX.
Everyone was on something: self-screens, web-glass, V-goggs. And with everything that was going on, people were getting more fucked up, and so the Abbey was gathering a crowd. A night out always felt good. I loved bars. Just sitting at them. You don’t even need to drink, well you do, but it was just great to be here at The Abbey with Marga. I was nursing my favorite canna-beer, Summit. There was a sorghum gluten-free one, Alpine, but this was way better. Marga was drinking a local vodka martini, with cucumber ice cubes and a splash of marinated aloe, and then garnished with a skewer of pickled coconut.
We were sitting on two stools flanking the bar’s best corner and watching through the big front window, how as dusk approached the street lights ignited over the carts. The post-grunge-reboot band “The Solar Messiahs” was streaming. Marga and I were on edibles and we were digging everything. And after a few sips of her local martini, Marga exhaled and her wiry frame relaxed inside of that tight and sexy tank she lived in. She smiled big and I couldn’t stop looking at her. Marga just made my heart sing!
“What are you looking at?” She asked.
“You.” I said, as I put my hand on her thigh and felt her body’s warmth through her jeans. She didn’t look away and I didn’t either. How could somebody make me so hopped up? So happy? We we’re the only two people in here actually connected to each-other!
Then the three flat screens that hung over the main bar kicked on and there was random applause. It must be after eight. Marga didn’t want to fuck up her circadian rhythms and donned her orange glasses. And immediately after she did, as if the gods were fucking with her, it came on. And she hated it. That Kulture commercial. They called them chicken, but we knew what they were. America’s favorite meat was hamburger, but people ate chicken the most. So a fried crispy nugget was the best place to mask your bug and chemical mix, and to maximize your profits. And organic? How could you call that organic, you fucking Green Washers?!
Kulture tried to set up a fast-food outpost in New-B. And I must confess, I liked how its sign looked lit atop that high steel pole at night. And for a future food chain it was a very simple sign, very retro: A white circle brightly lit from within, with a classic red chicken silhouette on one side and a big red “K” on the other. And on a cold night out hunting, I’d be happy to step into that Kulture to warm my toes and to smell those bug nuggs a’ frying! But someone grafittied a mantis over the chicken and the Creagans chased Kulture out of town. They considered it a victory.
I like chicken. It’s comforting. There’s nothing like catching a stray New-B hen and eating her wood roasted and salted legs- slim but mighty tasty. And I don’t mind bugs. There’s not a single Street-P who doesn’t suck down a stick of termites now a then. But I hated the lying. Saying that those nuggets were organic chicken. Like we’re stupid! But Kulture did nail the whole faux chicken thing. The grasshopper meal gave their nuggets that lean meat chew, the grubs lent their unctuous fat, and that good ol’ crunch came from ground z-corn. But most of all, there were the secret synthetic spices whose aroma was somehow more intoxicating, than the most romantic Pondicherry Pepper Corns. Another secret formula and another rags to riches story, but this one was built on bugs.
The commercial neared its end and cross dissolved into its classic farm and chicken shot: America the wholesome! A rising sun showering its hopeful rays on an iconic silo, barn, and robust rooster crowing right back at it! Then there was another cross dissolve into the obligatory nugget beauty shot: A close up of the breaking of that golden brown nugg in two and the releasing of wafts of scented steam. The meaty inside revealed to be moist and surrounded by a perfectly fried and crunchy coating. You could hear the oil sizzling!
“Fucking disgusting.” Marga said after the commercial ended.
“Come on, a society can’t give up their nuggets. It’s the new white meat!”
Marga did her best Carni impression, “Me want Bugg Nuggs.” Then glared back at me, “Carni.”
I responded with my best snotty Creagan impression. “I only eat vegetables, so I know everything.” We laughed.
Bugg Nuggs weren’t bad. You could chill them like polenta and fry them in some bacon fat. Which I’m hearing is getting harder to come by, I mean not here in New-B, but almost everywhere else. And then suddenly in the middle of my Bugg Nugg critique, an emergency news tweet flashed onto the bar’s screens, and simultaneously onto every device in the place. It was a major interruption of everyones augmented-virtual-self-selected-reality, and it looked like a major fucking problem for the real world!
I don’t know how you dig such a big hole. At the bottom it was black, and at the top it was all crumbly around the edges, and the minerals oxidized all chemically-like, so that they turned colors, and made the hole’s edge look like a sore. Towards all of this, they herded the cows. Just rounded them up. Used prods and precious grass to steer and bait them for miles in the right direction. Until they were close, where they had the sol-dosers strategically spaced out in concentric circles, so that they’d form a pen at the end.
For the last mile the cowboys really got this mega herd huffing, and you could see the dust cloud before you heard the syncopated strikes of millions of hooves. Whips cracked, and the dusty slick of diseased cow sweat slathered. Close to the edge, the cowboys puled down their gas masks to cover their sad faces and filter the reek, before they broke off and let the sol-dozers take over. Tired emaciated cows stumbled, fell back, and the dozer tracks snagged the tired cows hind legs, dragged them down, under, and fully pressed their starving bodies into the angry dirt.
Above on a super-scaffold, there was a mix of robots and men suspended over the abyss, hyper-rifles at the ready. Soon the mega-herd crossed the line of no turning back, and driven to get away, the cows stretched a wave of fore hooves into nothing, where after a flurry of futile air-borne strides, they fell ass down, sad bovine eyes wondering what had happened to their deal with the humans. The robots fired a matrix of bullets, while the crack fire humans cleaned up the anomalies. Entropy set in and the bodies twisted and cracked, but for some humanitarian reason, animal lovers said, “We can’t let them just lay there, mucus covered, limbs twitching, while organs decayed, and released the stench of a species dying!” So it was a bird shoot, where bullets tore through hides and vaporized blood, flesh, and bones. It was way past horrific. And yet everyone out there, outside New-B, and maybe even a few animal loving Creagans around here, were satisfied to see the problem go away.
Marga held her gaze to the flat screen as long as she could, tried to steel herself, but soon ran into the bathroom. I watched every fucking pixel, and from the growing thud of bodies, I could tell that this great whole in the earth was actually filling up. Rounds of cow herders, driving millions of cows towards the brink. It took all day to fill, but it did, and then we got the money shot: A mound of sick torn and twisted cows piled up and blistering like sore. I remember seeing one cow in close. Its insides busted open, its pale liver sticking out through a distended emaciated belly, all the red gone, just a squalid pinky color, that made you feel dead. I saw Marga come out of the bathroom, she was wiping her mouth, and I didn't want her to see this, so I headed her off and suggested that we go outside for some fresh air and a coconut water.
HITTING THE CARTS
Through hemp plastic straws we sipped fresh sweet young coconut water as we strolled along V-Street. Powered by batteries that soaked in the days sun, the strung lights were hot and bare in the cool early spring night. Then there were all the carts. Carts! Carts! And more carts! Why bother with bricks and mortar, when you could just crowd surf and find the hottest spot to hawk your vittles. V-Street was a mosaic of vegan vegetable beauty. And we were suddenly hungry. So to start off we got some molecular pineapple! Some dude deconstructed the meat, then in a vat of liquid nitrogen, he put it back together. It was fresh frozen fruit meets pop corn!
We walked past vegan wraps of every kind. Marga’s favorite was the summer tomato and fermented mung bean with red pepper, avocado, and sprouts, tossed in a tangy amino acid charged dressing. We shared one. But passed on the mason jars of micro greens. Portable salads shaken in the jar and then fished out with chop sticks, in dressed and refreshing bunches. Another dude figured out how to inject one hundred year old balsamic vinegar into cherry tomatoes, she even made the liquid hold together at its center, so that when you bit down on one, it exploded with a deep and orgasmic flavor. We called them sex bombs and downed a bakers dozen.
There were things for the kids too. Like purple and pink carrots, with smiley faces drawn on them in an edible ink. Or, cucumber popsicles with raw cacao flecks sweetened with stevia. I dug the avocado almond ice cream myself. So we got some. Turns out Marga and I both loved to eat dessert before dinner, which, was a shared bowl of raw tofu meatballs, simmered in a magical green chili curry. Let the tea totalers drink their pints of super green juice with a sprig of stinging nettles, we were fucking drunk and high, and chowing down!
Marga and I held hands, which swung happily, as we walked to let our first round of plant based fuel settle in our busting bellies. Then I smelt it. The grill. Marga knew that I wanted to pretend, so she let me get one. A grilled seitan kebab, stuffed in a warm quinoa flat bread, hit with a stream from a squeeze bottle of garlicky nut-milk sauce, and then finished with a healthy sprinkle of Coney Island Sea Salt. Marga even had a small bite. She was feeling good. I scarfed down the rest, and its’ combination of toasty quinoa bread crunch and that faux meat chew, made my my meat mind growl! So we put on the breaks a little and washed it down with two double shots of an astringent chi-tonic.
There was street art too. On a hemp sheet spread out right in the middle of V-Street, one artist made the face of the goddess, out of cut vegetables. While another took a Recessa-Anney doll, the kind you practice CPR on, and in its toro’s cavity represented our organs, with vegetables: The esophagus was a sturdy leek. The lungs were halves of cauliflower, that really looked like lungs, with all those fresh white villi. The liver was a dark eggplant. And what I imagined was the pancreas, was a pear. The large intestines were a large cucumber, and the small ones were convincingly arranged ginger hands and fingers. And of course at its center, the heart was a swelling juicy apple.
At a vendor, Marga picked up a head of giant blue moonlight kale. She hugged it, let the large moist leaves touch her face and cool her skin. And as Marga let the Giant Blue Moonlight Kale wipe from her mind those vile images, the wind changed and that smell from the P-Yard broke through the wall of fragrance that the magnolia trees provided. The Creagans had planted the trees years ago to separate us, and it made me think about my buds, and our canal-side camp. And how when you’d walk into camp, it hits you first high in the nostrils, barbecue. Then it rolls down to your lungs and fills your body with wood fired wafts of sweet meatiness. Real fat and real flesh burning. Meat memories were uncaged: Suckled Squirrel, Canal Carp, Peppered Pigeons, we could barbecue anything! More stuff flowed. About my crew. Amanda. Different days… “You’re perfectly adapted to eat large portions of animal flesh on a daily basis.” I could see myself saying that, as I held tight in my hand a huge barbecued Prospect Park Pastured Pork Rib, so heavy it strained my wrist. And I’m wearing my favorite t-shirt: “DEAR CREAGANS…If you are trying to save the animals, why are you eating their food?”
In my mind, I’m chomping on that rib, my incisors cut through the meat, rip off chunk after chunk of smokey goodness mixed with warm melted fat. Until I get to the bone and all that tight rich connective tissue. That’s where my incisors get down, both the tops and the bottoms, especially the bottoms, which would get between the fascia and rib bone, peel it up, tear it off in big sheets, then suck it into my mouth for a long chew between molars. And soon, I would have nothing but the bone left and I would wonder, “Could I put this to good use too?”
“Isn’t this kale to die for?” Marga’s voice brought me back. And man that Summit must have really kicked in, because there Marga was, holding her giant blue kale, like it was just moments ago. But to me it felt like years.
Marga, “Ground through your feet Sugar Monkey.”
I kinda liked Marga’s constant reminders. And I guess there are times for restraint. Cleansing. Not eating cheese and stuff.
“Where do you go?”
I just shrugged. And instead of lecturing me, Marga leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. And I was grateful, cause I wasn’t in the mood for another episode of, “Ways Matt Can Grow.” Her kiss was soft. A baby kiss. Like when you play that game where you kiss someone so lightly, that they can barely feel it.
And then, from out of her pants coin pocket, Marga dug that micro-mesh bag she kept stuffed in there, shook it out, and slid the giant head of kale into it. You could stuff five heads into one of those micro meshes. Then, with anticipation in her voice, she reminded me that we had to go back to The Abbey.
And I remembered, “Yea, we were at the Abbey…”
“Let’s go!” She implored. “I wonder what films they chose?”
Marga called Pre-20 flicks by their proper name- FILMS. And that night in the fresh Spring air, the way she said it, made everything seem perfect, like there wasn’t any problems anywhere, and I was so happy that we were here and we were together.
BACK AT THE ABBEY
Back at our seats in The Abbey, fresh Summits were ordered, and we locked our eyes to the screens, anticipating what trio of films our proprietor would mix. But first, we were forced to watch that government sponsored PSA, that was supposed to make us feel better about “The Collapse”. It was always that same bullshit montage: Grow platforms. Re-Vegetating deserts. Bio-Bees buzzing. Some blue chemical spinning in a centrifuge. Sprouts in test tubes. Steaks replicating in beakers. Floating salad bowls growing their own greens. The sun rising over hover crafts that tended to amber waves of future grain. And that cute little spider droid, holding under its glass dome, super grapes that could resist fucking anything.
But what they didn’t show you was: The grey barren and dusty fields surrounding starving cities, that did not make THE SWITCH. The mercenary protected mountains of corn. That heirloom rooster hawked on the net for a million bucks! Cows in metal crates stacked three stories high, with only their heads sticking out, and a bar code stapled to their ear. Hungry wolves terrorizing towns. Trays of bluish-yellowish grubs holding the country’s emergency protein. And perfectly cresting ocean waves, thick with garbage, crashing on mile after mile of parched California coast-line.
What happened to the revolution? Now, it’s just a fizzling Food Consciousness… But in New-B, we believed that The Greenies were actually winning. What a hand job we were giving ourselves. I mean the Carnis out there are the ones who decided. And they went for the VCR not the Beta-Max. Cause people don’t want better if it costs more. They want more for less. For which, they’ll ignore Big Food’s hidden costs. And now, after fucking destroying it, Big Food tells us it’ll save the world, while Washington chimes in that this is all in the interest of national security. No wonder the shrill, grizzled, ranting, and raving Michael Pollan was found dead in a ditch!
But I get it, the changing world scares the shit out of everyone. And God Bless America, here we were again, ready to assume control through our monolithic mono-cultured mega-farms. With science and leverage, we were at the threshold of making the good ol’ U S of A the world’s refrigerator. Until something, or some one, fucked up the bees, and we weren’t! But we were here to watch films. Movies. Not worry about our collapsing food system. And boy did Aggey of the Abbey pick ’em!
There were three screens: On the left there was some cheesy looking film named “Dirty Dancing” starring some dude named Patrick Swayze? Was that a real name? And on the right there was this cool looking action flick, “Speed”, starring some stoner matinee idol named Keanu Reefs, or something. And in the middle, against a backdrop of a roaring ocean at sunset, super imposed words passed through each other, backwards so that you couldn’t read them, until the words separated into their proper places within the frame, and the middle films title was revealed- POINT BREAK. And it stared both Swayze and Keanu. Two film actors. On the left and the right screens each one was in a film of their own, and in the middle, they were in one together. Another throw back Thursday triple treat curated by The Abbey’s great proprietor!
That mountain resort dancing film was cool to watch cause it was an old movie about an even older time. And that Speed flick was action at it’s pinnacle. And at least when that sassy chicks around, that Reefer dude can act. But then there was modern vs. wild. Order vs. chaos. Apollo v. Dionysus. Keanu vs. Swayze. Point Break! Just look at that opening! A long haired surfer crashes the lip of a fierce wave? Then a clean cut stud, t-shirt tucked into belted jeans, opens fire in a shooting range. Dudes living opposite lives on a collision coarse! Our drinks came and Marga and I moved our stools closer and settled in for a great fucking night.
THAT FLOATY FEELING
When you love someone, the cool thing is, that you finally know that feeling. But it’s not the actual feeling of love that so excites, it’s knowing for the first time, that, that love feeling is actually real. You hear about it all the time, in all the stories, and you think, “Could love be real?” And you try to imagine it. And that’s the problem, you had to TRY and you had to THINK. Cause when you’re in love, there’s none of that. The bliss thing just happens! I mean, everyone’s love tone must be different, but I bet for everyone, “the feeling, that THE FEELING, is real, is happening”, is universal. That’s why lovers look so happy, true love’s first flames just burn, you don’t have to do anything!
And so it was with Marga and me, as hours later we sauntered back to her apartment. I swam in that feeling. That it was actually happening! And the night was so cool and misty. Not a thick mist, but a thin mist that takes time to notice. This was the in-between season, and it was short, but it was amazing. And somebody told me that this Spring thing used to really go on for a long time.
Budding public fruit trees lined the street, and as the mist settled onto their leaves, gravity collected water at their tips, where it then dripped to the ground, was funneled, and collected. That’s how us Street P’s got our water. There would be fruit on the trees soon, so much so, that the city would deduct points from your ever monitored carbon footprint if you delivered fallen rotten fruit, to your local compost station. The less points you had, the less tax you paid. And if you were super virtuous, like Marga, you actually went carbon positive and got a refund.
Marga broke the silence, “That scene on the beach at night! Where the bonfire roars? Boddhi’s crew looking scared but surfer cool, were arguing about whether to fight or flee. Then Boddhi, with that beach blond hair washed only by the sea, captivates them with his soliloquy about why they rob banks. It’s not for money. It’s for the freedom! That’s so fucking cool! Right?”
“Totally”, I replied.
“Yea. It was fucking awesome. They don’t make them like that.”
“Nobody would have the attention span to.”
The fresh night air poured down Norman Street.
Marga, “So tell me Sugar Monkey. What do you love?”
And I thought, “That’s the second time she called me that, but I’m not gonna ask why, not yet…” And then I thought, “Marga’s tight tanned arms…How she accepts my love handles and stuff…the Boddhi that I see in her beautifully determined face…” But I just blurted out, “Music Videos. Yea, I would love to have been there when the first came.”
“You wanna know what I love?” Marga didn’t wait for my confirmation.
“Like the mother goddess, I love using what I need and then putting it down. And I love when people stop talking, so that I can start. And I love having an experience, even if I'm the only one having it. And I love, when my pants fit and my tits look big in the mirror, even though they're not. I love being warm and then being warmer. Green leaves: the sun shining through transparent skin; dark veins holding them together; light that does not hurt your eyes… The sacred in nature. I look for it. Everywhere.”
As we walked, we did that thing where you bump into each-other and don’t pull away. Until your pressing against each-other, like your connected.
“And I love running out of ideas and knowing that I'll get more. It’s like I'm cruising down some steep windy hill in San Fran. On my long board. Big OJ wheels. Sweet trucks. No guards. The cool Pacific breeze through my hair and the warm sun on my face. Downhill. Free falling. Not worried about the world for once…”
I was enraptured and kinda nervous, so I could only ask simple stupid questions, “Why didn’t your board have any guards?”
Marga looked at me like I was ignorant. “Because truck guards are for pussies.”
Reaching Marga’s place we stopped. I looked at her beautifully retro-ed brick walk up, and read its address, “72 1/2”. I counted how many floors Marga was up. Five. And looked to the left where her window must be and I saw that the light was on.
“That’s your place? The one with the light on?” I said.
“How could it be on?”
“I left it.”
“But this is a smart-res?”
“Then how’s the light on?”
Marga looked sheepish. “I plugged one in.”
“Into a socket? On its own? Off the net!?” I said.
Her luscious eyes turned away.
She pulled back a little.
Matt, “Come on.”
“There’s gotta be a reason.”
“It’s just that all night, while we were out, the photons were pushing the darkness back, not letting it set-in. I mean. It just felt good to have it on.”
“That’s fucking cool. Weird and wasteful. But cool.” I said and thought, this Creagan is fucked up and I really dig that, it’s like we have something big in common.
“Now I look weird.” Marga said as she pulled back more.
I took her hands and she let me.
“No. Totally not.” I said.
“I do. So to make it even. You have to say something. Something deep.”
“Yea. Deep. Know what that is?
“Because you left some maverick bulb on to make your space safe?”
She shot me a weighted and wicked look.
“All right. Fine. Something deep. Like philosophy? Well I don’t know any. Or at least I can’t remember any.”
“You’re wasting electricity,” Marga said in a seductive tone.
“Waisting? Fine. OK. That morning when I left. After I promised that I wouldn’t. I wrote a poem. About you. How you made me feel.”
This made her trust me more and she came closer. “Really?”
“Well then go ahead. Read.”
I pointed to my head, “It’s in here.”
“Then sing Bard.”
“And look like a dork?”
“Is it deep?”
“Fine. But you can’t laugh.”
I took a moment then began, “Like a flower…”
“OK right. Go ahead.” She pretended to zip her lips up with her hand.
“OK. Hold on. Wait.” I closed my eyes. Relaxed. Breathed, made sure I remembered, and then recited:
Like a flower.
Like a flower opening.
Like a gymnast dashing for the sky.
I left the mad man on the ground.
Kicking and screaming.
Because I put two stars on a paper.
Drew them in ink.
And found you.
These random thoughts and feelings made Marga come even closer, “You know what else I love?” She said as our faces drew near. “The sound keys used to make when they turned the lock in a door…” I wrapped my arms around her. Squeezed her. Settled into her eyes, and then leaned in to kiss: Our lips sealed, our tongues probed, saliva secreted, and the warmth grew, as we moved through a chemistry and into a magnetism that drew us tight against each-other.
And it gave me this floaty feeling, like I’d never felt. It was just happening. And that scene from “Point Break” flashed into my head. The one out in the ocean, at night, where that Reefer dude kisses that surfer girl. Just the two of them, in the dark ocean, floating alone but together on surfboards. And then we see them from underwater, looking up, moon beams illuminating the dark, their boards bobbing, the water swirling like quicksilver, while they hold hands. And right there, right in front of 72 1/2 Norman, pulled together like magnets, with the light burning in Marga’s window, Marga and me were floating. We were floating in a sea, a sea of each-other…