Rob Astyk

March 17, 2002

Post #1461 – 20020317

Hi, Daniel,

Being rather a large person myself I have long appreciated your attempts to add “gravitas” to the attack on “thin” culture, your endorsement of the new VW Beetle to Tom and Ray, and, of course your efforts to raise literary standards for children and adults. My grandson’s favorite book (he’s 2 today, living a bit north and west of you in the Schoharie Valley) is BRAVE POTATOES bought more than a year ago on your recommendation. He also has GERSHON’S MONSTER to which you and your partner in rhyme, Scott Simon introduced me. And, yes, I do follow Chinwag Theatre as much for the music as the stories.

The encomium over (I thought you’d like that word) I LOVED your commentary about the dubious Jewish Museum exhibit. Sometimes I too lose sight of how sharp a knife humor can be, but I try not to. For example, my current cause is a kind of “Hands Across America” thing in which I’m trying to recruit people to send pretzels to the White House. Even a small bag sent by a good percentage of the 260,000,000+ of us might be effective and those who are more enthusiastic about the project are always free to visit their local BJ’s or Sam’s Club to get one of those industrial size boxes.

But politics aside, you’re clearly right. Making fun of the dolts is more effective and fun as well as more vicious.

When my oldest daughter, Sharon, mother of the aforementioned grandson was a Freshman at Brandeis she picked up a turkey sandwich in the cafeteria one lunchtime and went to join a group of 3 fellow students, all women, at a table. She didn’t know them but figured she might make some new friends. She’d only partially unwrapped her sandwich when one of these women, leader of the clique, exclaimed, “She’s eating MEAT!” At that all 3 rose and moved to a distant table.

That got me to thinking about militant vegetarianism. I concluded that they don’t go far enough in sticking to their principles. If they respect living things with their rejection of carnivorousness (carnivority?) what about our green and growing friends? Just because they aren’t cute and furry and don’t have big, brown eyes, should they be subject to slaughter?

Out of that I formed my organization PPOD, the Plant Protectors’ Organized Defense. We picket vegetarian restaurants carrying signs that read, “THE GREEN GIANT IS A GRIM REAPER!”, “USE YOUR HEADS, NOT THEIRS!(above pictures of horribly slaughtered lettuces and Brussels sprouts)”, and my personal favorite, “EATING BEANS STINKS!” We’re still trying to get detailed pictures of what must be a horrendous torture device that squeezes milk out of poor, defenseless soy beans.

Of course, respect for ALL living things, like freedom, doesn’t come cheap. There’s the question of what does one eat if you reject everything animal and vegetable? We have consensus that McDonald’s shakes are O.k. along with Pop Tarts, Cheetos and Twinkies. Most accept that Wonder Bread is o.k., but a few are still convinced that there’s wheat lurking in there somewhere.

Most members wear polyester although there is a small cadre of nudists. They’re motivated but hard to get out for demonstrations between October and April in this area. We do outreach too. You can find members in parks around the Boston area doing there best to proselytize amongst human beings and even trying to get squirrels to swear off nuts.

Keep up the good work, Daniel.

Rob Astyk,

eating balanced meals of meat, grains and vegetables in Salem, Massachusetts.

P.S. the name is pronounced like a tongue depressor: AHH-stick.

Daniel replies:

The President doesn't need your pretzels. Sending them to the White House is an empty gesture. Impoverished people in Third World countries have to use twigs and bits of cardboard to choke on. Better to send your pretzels where they're needed.