Turkey In Wholesome American Guts: Thanksgiving Prayer 2011

  grim holiday traditions

We began posting this Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs back in 2006. And something weird has happened in the years since. The deadpan list of Bloody American Triumphs sounds less like sarcasm in our Terrible Year of the Lord 2010 2011, and more like an elegy.

The stuff that drove Burroughs nuts — “thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business, thanks for a nation of finks” — is still here, of course. It’s in the phony smile of Michael Bloomberg, the smug fat face of a campus cop finally able to go nuts and pepper spray a bunch of kids. It’s in the drones circling the cities, night and day, at home and abroad.

But the victories, vulgar and brutal as they were, are all in the rapidly receding past. Even the Indians are getting a last laugh, as they shake down the once-wealthy white American, desperately gambling away his last unemployment check on Thanksgiving Morning, unsure whether to go home and kill himself or stop at the Wal-Mart for some ammo and barricade himself in the foreclosure and let the Sheriff’s Department finish the job.

And on a day when Americans once celebrated the bounty of their land by sharing a rare extravagant feast, the modern inhabitant of this doomed nation will only notice that the overflowing platters of greasy poultry and mushed bread were prepared in the kitchen at home for some reason, rather than picked up at the drive-thru. And then it will be time to drink “suitcases” of Bud Lite (less filling!) and plop down before the widescreen to watch towering slabs of humanity slam into each other and scratch at their anuses through tight polyester leggings. Unless … unless it’s all crashing down, finally, and this thanksgiving is also the funeral for thanksgiving. Remember to Buy Nothing tomorrow!

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

Hola wonkerados.

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154 comments

    1. Dashboard_Jesus

      I think this is the BEST Ken Layne *observation* on the sad state of affairs in 'Merka EVER! He summed up my feelings better than I ever could even if armed with a dozen monkeys with typewriters…why I think I'm actually gonna BUY his book now! (or maybe tomorrow?)

  1. memzilla

    I have been noticing that television commercials have lately been getting more desperate in their visuals.

    Teevee commercials aimed at the .001% have a visual style that's calm, cool, non-zapping to the eyeballs — watch the ones on the Sunday morning talk shows for the investment houses, the food and oil conglomerates. Those commercials are calming, visually.

    But the teevee commercials and promos aimed at the 10% who are hanging on, and the 80% who are getting sucked down the abyss, have a busy, retina-zapping, imperative, hurry-consume-now! visual style of desperation about them. Faux Network promos and Hollywood-gossip shows are the sine qua non of the phenomenon.

    Like looking at faint stars, the best way to see this for yourself is out of the side of your eye, rather than straight-on. Mute the audio. Then sense the zoom-ins, the zoom-outs, the shaky camera moves, the cutaways, and most annoyingly and tellingly, the quarter-second flash of white before the next scene.

    As well, count the number of scene-lets in 30 seconds. The lower the socioeconomic class the message is aimed at, the more scenelets there are, and the more visual trickery there is.

    The hot moist fetid breath of American consumerism is coming faster and faster but more shallow, as if the entire beast were suffering cardiac arrest, having reached its logical limit: you cannot have a sustainable economic system based on infinite growth if you only have finite resources.

    1. chascates

      I watch Austin's local channels around noon and the commercials are for high-priced private colleges, lawyers who guarantee they'll get you money for your car wreck or social security disability and the very visual dental implant people who'll help you open your mouth without embarrassment any more.

      1. PalinzADummy

        If you could catch some of the 0.000whatever percent who perpetrated this economic ass-raping, and beat them in time to a rhythmic reading of this, it should be a real best-seller!

    2. MaxNeanderthal

      I enjoy counting the maximum length of any one shot on whateverthehell is the latest Karaoke competition on TV. Anything over 10 seconds is cause for incredulity. 5 to 7 seconds is the norm. That's why when the horror is finally over, you find you can recall almost none of it whatsoever, it's all blended into a mush of visual cortex memory pap. Training humans to have the attention span of a guppy….

      1. memzilla

        Particularly the technique of flash-of-white, zoom-in to next scene, is designed to keep you watching and salivating for the next visual morsel. It's like having Vance Packard's seminal work, "The Hidden Persuaders," stabbed through your eyeballs directly into your brain.

        1. coolhandnuke

          On occasion, if you nail the pause button just right, you'll get Jessica Rabbit fellating Daddy Warbucks.

      2. Dashboard_Jesus

        yes exactly…I just happened to turn on the teevee to see Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special (AGAIN) and when the commercial breaks came on I saw the horror of some American Idol-like show being promoted…I swear it hurt my brain just in the few nanoseconds it took me to hit the mute button

    3. not that Dewey

      We ditched our teevee subscriptions, as Ken recommended, and I have never been happier. I've got a Roku with streaming netflix et al, and I have a four-year-old daughter who doesn't know what a commercial is (except for movie trailers), doesn't know who Ronald McDonald is (except some random nameless clown) and never says "I need that!" at every fucking thing she sees in the store.

      Maybe someday Adbusters will be successful. In the meantime, we can each do our insignificant part to uproot the branches of entrenched consumerism. Those who need most badly to be freed from the vices/vises of shopaholism, the poorest/most teevee-addicted/most dependent-on-walmart among us, may not ever know the freedom that comes from breaking the chains. That makes me sad. An internet subscription is cheaper than a teevee subscription; making a Halloween costume out of rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters is cheaper than buying one. Eating food is cheaper than eating crap. Poverty in America could be so mitigated by applying the simple "break free" philosophy of Key Layne, and sadly, many will never hear this evangel.

        1. MaxNeanderthal

          S'easy. Look up what you're planning on buying new on e-bay, and see what it's worth used (check the "completed listings" box on the sidebar), or indeed, if any one wants it used at all. If it's worth four fifths of F.A. – DON'T BUY IT! Or buy it off e-bay…

      1. Dashboard_Jesus

        amen brother, I have never subscribed to cable teevee and rarely if ever watch commercial teevee and my brain is better for it, along with my pocketbook…good on you for doing this for your children, that's the best gift you could ever give!

    4. Biff

      Crystal meth gives me the visual accuity to really see what the hell is going on, and the mental paranoia necessary to process my rage.

    5. Dashboard_Jesus

      excellent, you NAILED IT! this observation is EXACTLY why I don't watch commercial teevee anymore, it just fucks with the synapses in my brain too much, like I can actually feel the neurons decomposing when exposed to the mind-numbing display of *images* projected on the wall of the cave

  2. Tundra Grifter

    How about we all be thankful Mr. Obama is our President – and not George Bush?

    We can be thankful the Republican crop of presidential candidates looks like a complete failure. They can't agree on much of anything – for once, imitating the Democratic party to our advantage.

    We can be thankful there are people willing to serve our nation – while that service exceeds the nation's response, I'm grateful those women and men are out there doing that.

    We can be thankful for those with the guts to Occupy Wall Street and show the 1% the 99% is pretty fucking fed up.

    For those of us with good health, strong families, and the love of someone special – we sure as hell can be thankful for that.

    And, if none of the above applies to you – be thankful you've got the good sense to continue to read Wonkette!

    1. Dashboard_Jesus

      well said my friend and I'm thankful for all those things…as liberal as I am and wish we could have a much more progressive approach to governance in this country, I am SOOO thankful we do NOT have these crazy Repugnant mouth breathers in the President's office cuz they have proven how much damage they can do with that power…while President Obama (and I'm proud to call him that) has been faced with the most vile, hateful, bigoted *opposition* form Repigs in Congress he HAS manged to promote and pass some effective legislation and lead us out of the morass that Cheney/ Bush left us in…and yes I am truly thankful for Wonkette which had consistently helped me to face the dark years of the 21st century with humor, wisdom and even optimism that there are at least SOME folks who think the way I do and are able to express it freely and frequently in response to the insanity

  3. Mumbletypeg

    So this was recorded in 1986? In a few more years after that I would be introduced to Burroughs via his cameo in Drugstore Cowboy — fostering a profound enthusiasm for all things Gus van Sant *nearly* on par w/ the burgeoning Lynchian craze — and, come to learn the source of longtime-endeared Steely Dan's name was a dildo in his earlier penned work, I guess was Naked Lunch.

    I haven't gone on to read much of Burrough's actual work, but the influence he's had on any number of my favorite works & creators is significantly vast.

  4. chascates

    Where goest thou America, in thy shiny black car in the night?

    [Speedy black car? When you forget your Kerouac you know you've past your prime!]

    1. memzilla

      When you forget your Kerouac you know you've past your prime

      No. You know your prime has caught up with you!

    1. Geminisunmars

      I think I may quote you this afternoon when we go around the extended family table saying what we, as individuals, are thankful for.

    2. mayor_quimby

      I'm inexcusably short of one of those items today. Now, where's my Mastercard… Clicks on craigslist…
      Purchase made, my painting will be here Tuesday.
      I can't paint.

  5. valgal2342

    I'm thankful for emergency room nurses and docs as I had to bring my best friend here this morning. And here I sit for awhile.

      1. valgal2342

        Thankful for the all clear now. And thanks Wonkette for giving me something to read while waiting around and thanks for replies. As soon as antibiotic drip is done we're outta here!

  6. Master Janitor V572

    Burroughs was grandson of the founder and heir apparent to the Burroughs adding machine fortune, and the tony prep John Burroughs School in St Louis is of the same provenance. Ol' Bill kinda spooked 'em, though, what with his having affinity for heroin and hanging around with Kerouac and Ginsburg and the Beats. So they put him on a remittance to stay away, and we are the beneficiaries — Naked Lunch is an amazing read today; it was mind-blowing at 21: here I'd just gotten a degree in English, and nobody said anything about Steely Dan and Dr Benway! Burroughs invites you to look at "what's quivering at the end of your fork."

    Happy Thanksgiving, all. Shop, drink and be merry.

    1. Neilist_Returns

      Given what Burroughs did to to his wife: May one suggest that "mind-blowing" might not be the most appropriate description of his work?

      How about sometime like, "a brains-splattered all over the wall kind of read!"?

      Neilist
      Frantically thumbing through his anthology of Dorothy Parker quotes looking for something of the right . . . .(wait for it) . . . caliber.

  7. not that Dewey

    Thank you to all my Wonket family. Despite Ken's best efforts to the contrary, I am closing in on 5 months of sobriety, and I am a happy, cynical, productive citizen again, and it's all because of you guys. You were there through the highs and lows, kept me smiling when I needed it, let me vent when I needed it, and (believe it or not) taught me about about the basic goodness of humanity (but mostly the communist ones).

    Peace.

    1. ChernobylSoup

      I'm about to hit the 8 month mark without a drink. It's going to be a tough holiday season. Sure am glad I've got Ken to cheer me up.

      Heading outside to deep fry the turkey now. It will probably be safer this year what with no mixing booze, four gallons of boiling peanut oil, open fire, and a propane tank on full blast.

      1. not that Dewey

        Woo hoo!

        Isn't it amazing that you ever managed to fry anything without a visit from the EMTs? As I said before, last year I remember getting the food INTO the oven, and nothing after that. @Three round-trip tickets and two rental cars, it sure was an expensive blackout!

      1. not that Dewey

        I was amazed to see, on that Newt Gingrich post last week, just how many Wonketteers seemed to know AN AWFUL LOT ABOUT the Big Book. Glad to know I'm in good company.

    2. Neilist_Returns

      /snark off

      Good job, Dewey

      /snark on

      "The basic goodness of humanity"?

      Say WHAT?

      You SURE you quit drinking?

      1. not that Dewey

        Say WHAT?

        You SURE you quit drinking?

        Hey! I qualified that statement. I distinctly credited PINKO LIBERAL SCUM

        (psst. Thanks, Neilist)

    3. Dok-cupy Everything

      Dok & Kid Zoom sent their bagel-munching best wishes to you, Owls, and ChrenobylSoup as well.

      Wonkette: Like Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, only with more buttsex jokes.

      1. not that Dewey

        Since the Kid is officially part of the extended Wonket family, Happy Thxgiving, Kid Zoom! That dad of yours is something to be thankful for. Give him a big hug.

        And thank you for the Callahan's tip. I was unaware that this awesome-sounding body of work existed. It's on my list, now.

        1. user-of-owls

          I've been thinking about Kid Zoom lately! Pass along a friendly hoot from El Buho Seco! And to Dok, take what Dew told KZ and reverse directions: he's something to be thankful for too!

          1. not that Dewey

            The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It's just numbers.
            http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/04/21/135

            But I have created an "inspired by Wonkette" section in my bookcase, and if I just focus on that, I may not read everything, but I'll die laughing.

            And thanks for the good wishes.

        1. Biff

          My 22nd sober holiday season, and I hate every. Damned. Minute. Of them. I hated 'em when I was still drinking though, so not really everything gets better, or worse. Just don't want to paint too rosey a picture for ya…

    4. flamingpdog

      Congratulations, Dewey, on being happy and cynical again! I've found them to be a good working combination at least since high school, if not before. I'm one of the lucky ones that can drink a lot one night and then not have a drink for a week with no side effects. The fact that you spent a couple of days in Colorado Springs earlier this year, if I remember correctly, without taking a drink, is beyond me. I think the city fathers invited all the Jesus freak organizations into town in the '80s just to boost the alcohol consumption level of the already existing population. Hey, now that I think about it, I think microbrewing in the Square State took off about the same time!

      1. not that Dewey

        Ah — Colorado Springs. How to say this…I did not survive my time in Colorado Springs. I allowed myself to be work-pressured into having a small glass of wine at dinner that evening (I was still new, and had very weak defenses). Luckily for me and my sobriety, the Antabuse had not yet worn off, and the wine had no effect other than to spike my blood pressure and leave me with a massive headache and an even larger sense of self-loathing. I confessed to my therapist, Mrs Dewey, my group (they restarted the clock then), Owls. I stewed about it for a few days and since mostly everyone else had forgiven me, I forgave myself. It's a bumpy road. But five months ago, I left behind a pattern of destructive behavior that surely would have left me destitute and then killed me. As Owls put it, a 0.00002% contamination in a 5-month barrel doesn't undo that fact. Sure, it's a rationalization, but you can't argue with cynical and happy!

        1. user-of-owls

          Just wrapping up my first sober T-Day since 1974! It's a whole different thing. Won't lie and say I haven't been thinking about a drink all day long…I have. But thinking and doing are two different things. I've thought about how hot it would be to have torrid sex with chica x, y or z. But for 25+ years, I've been faithful to Mrs. Owls.

          Thanks friend, for helping me along and for taking the plunge first. And thanks to all the kind well wishers, the old and the new. Your support has been a literal life line for Dewey and me.

          Oh, and don't worry about this becoming a trend. We lurk in abandoned back threads to discuss this. We're sort of sobriety yetis that way.

          1. not that Dewey

            You're welcome. And thank you.

            That's so cool. I was 6 years old on Turkey Day '74; my problem started about 12 years later. But this Turkey Day was definitely a white-knuckle ride. Much worse than Halloween. Our friends came for dinner and they were very cool about it. My co-worker's girlfriend is someone who could use some of what you and I have, and tonight she was on very good behavior. He and I are trying to "lead by example", rather than telling her that she needs to change. She's really interesting and enjoyable when she's sober.

            I only mentioned it in public today because I was thankful, and this is Thankful Day, after all.

      2. not that Dewey

        GAH! No sooner did I respond to you than I got this email:

        Quality Inn and Suites Colorado Springs 8:53 am Holiday Time at Quality Inn & Suites

        It's like the whole universe is mocking me!

    5. Words

      Good on you! My sister had 25 years+ ; she was majorly proud (as were all her family!) of that achievement..

      Keep up the good work…

    1. Dok-cupy Everything

      Just introduced Kid Zoom to that masterpiece, thanks.

      EDIT: Aaand, we just finished our THIRD listen-through…And now, on to the The Story Of Reuben Clamzo And His Strange Daughter In The Key Of A…

    2. flamingpdog

      Oh Darwin, thanks Stuff for reminding me – gotta go put it on the CD player! I played it for my sons on Thanksgiving once they got to be teenagers, but not for the dinner part but for the draft physical part. I told them, "Sons, it may sound silly, but I can tell you from personal experience, IT'S ALL TRUE!!"

  8. Dilaceratus

    What was once a national symbol of wild plenty has now become a stupid domesticated fowl unable to support the weight of its own fatty breasts, sexually abused for profit, and known internationally as a shorthand for gluttony. Had it any ability to see itself objectively, it would beg for its own extinction.

  9. Geminisunmars

    I am grateful for the Thanksgiving tradition Ken Layne created by bringing us Burroughs every year. Puts me in just the right frame of mind to meet the family – composed of lefties, vegans,carnivores, pagans, Palinistas, Paulettes, and holocaust survivors. A fun mix.

  10. paris biltong

    Quite honestly, I sometimes think that I, too, always was a headache and always was a bore. Then I remember that my wife and son love me, and I give thanks.

  11. CountryClubJihadi

    Thankfully, he didn't live to see Halal Turkey being shitted out of The Tardashians and their wholesome American Butts. Or Pajama Jeans.

  12. Neilist_Returns

    "I'm William S. Burroughs, and I'm in the NRA – The Shooting-Your-Wife-In-The- Forehead Chapter."

    (I'm STILL waiting for that ad.)

    (Oh, and the "Never Trust A Liberal Communist Pinko SKum With A Firearm" ad.
    That one, too.)

    Neilist
    NRA's Poetry Editor, Wonkette Desk
    "I'm seen the best minds of my generation/
    Splattered on the wall like the guts of a/
    Turkey in a Sarah Palin campaign ad . . . . "

    [I left out the part about the "angry Negro fix." I didn;t want Certain People in here to have another "Black Attack," If-You-Know-What-I-Mean-And-I-Think-You-Do

      1. Neilist_Returns

        Cannon Fodder.

        :::yawn:::

        Who cares what "the troops" think?

        And "the troops" usually are the first hired for law enforcement positions, e.g., the UC Davis police. (One hears they may have some openings/)

        [That's one of the Great Things about a "professional military." They get paid to get shot at, so the rest of us can forget about them . . . until the time comes to pay lip service to patriotism and wave some flags (made in China).

        That whole about "thin red line of heroes when the guns begin to shoot," dontchaknow?

        1. mayor_quimby

          So that gigantic, field-sized flag that is displayed before seemingly all NFL games now, doesn't mean we support the troops?
          But it even waves like the crisp breeze of patriotism is blowing (due to kids running around underneath poking it) !

          1. poncho_pilot

            that's how they got us with that moon landing farce! don't fall for the waving flags! Kubrick sure botched that one.

            i'm just gonna pop on down to the war room.

  13. spends2much

    I live in Canada, and we slaughtered our Turkeys last month, so I'm at work today.
    What I love is the fact that we've been invaded by Black Friday. Our stores are filled with "deals" and signs advertising Black Friday in an attempt to keep at least some of our citizenry from spending 3 hours at the border (one way!) just to get some useless plastic shit at Target for a few bucks cheaper than it is every other week. Go Consumerism!

    1. Negropolis

      I see that WalMart Canada's slogan is: "Save Money. Live Better."

      I am so sorry for WalMart. You guys totally didn't deserve that. I'm also kind of embarrassed to say that I hadn't even realized that they'd penetrated the border. It's so fitting, looking it up, to find that their headquarters are in Mississauga.

  14. Dok-cupy Everything

    I'm thankful that my boss managed to find another funding source to keep my temp job at the county Family Court going through December at least. Had to take a pay cut, but that's OK, still better money than substitute teaching / unemployment.

    And I will confess to planning one consumerist indulgence: Barnes & Ignoble has their basic Nook on sale for 80 bucks tomorrow. I will buy this toy, secure in the knowledge that surely it will bring me true happiness.

  15. MozakiBlocks

    Welll I'll just say a Happy Thanksgiving to all of my gay-loving, abortion-having, Socialist, Communist, Marxist, lazy, wanting a gubermint handout, Kenyan-worshipping Muslins and leave it at that.

    Off to eat myself into oblivion…

  16. sati_demise

    Having Elk today instead of Turkey. Couldnt find any real turkey meat.

    But my wild rice stuffing tradition will continue.

  17. natoslug

    I am thankful we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave and that our leaders are wise and thoughtful and will lead us well through these dark times. I am also thankful for my friend Bourbon, because she's a tasty little bitch and makes my day swimming.

  18. OurHoboSenator

    I am thankful to live in Amurrica, where today I saw TruckNutz, and later on got to explain to my father what TruckNutz are. USA! USA! USA!

  19. ttommyunger

    My Country is circling the drain, but I have much to be thankful for personally regarding myself and my family. My dogs are thankful for the Wonkette. They get kicked much less now.

  20. datateday

    Okay, I'm not going to buy anything. I'm just going to give the cashier a certain amount of dollar bills to be allowed an object after that transaction of a specific amount of dollar bills has taken place and at that point, leaving with the object that is fully mandated by the opinion of the law. I don't think that's necessarily "buying" anything, and I'll still be listening to the Hive, er, um, …. Wonkette.

  21. Negropolis

    And then it will be time to drink “suitcases” of Bud Lite (less filling!) and plop down before the widescreen to watch towering slabs of humanity slam into each other and scratch at their anuses through tight polyester leggings.

    You had me at "suitcases of Bud". lol

  22. Words

    I'm grateful to say "good-bye" to dysfunctional, critical, ungrateful relatives tomorrow who are going back to their homes in a state far, far away!

  23. LiveToServeYa

    Every day above ground is a reason to be thankful. Not to God, of course, or any invisible superman. Just thankful in general.

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