I fell in love with ‘method art’ when I first saw DeNiro play Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. As you recall, the Oscar-winner gained several hundred pounds to portray the boxer in his later years, eschewing the sort of pillow-with-straps effect that Oprah and Mariah Carey rely on, adding authenticity to his performance and shaming those of us whose ‘dedication’ to our discipline is made of stuff less stern.
In fact, DeNiro has already been signed to film Raging Bull II, which follows LaMotta’s story after he croaks, a role for which DeNiro intends to commit suicide.
As a result, I have lost all respect for journalists who make hifalutin claims like ‘drugs are bad for you’ without first giving up their careers and families and living for several years turning tricks in the back seats of Dodge Darts. Likewise, a pussy pox on tightrope walkers who string nets beneath them; also seat belts on Formula One drivers and skydivers who use parachutes.
Thus, in honor of California’s recent repeal of its ban on foie gras, a.k.a. diseased bird liver processed to resemble Friskees® Classic Rodent Paté, I set out to write a thoughtful piece on the relative cruelty (or lack thereof) in its production. It occurred to me that, in the spirit of Constantin Stanislavski (the great Communist theater director), rather than interviewing the usual passel of pusillanimous panda-pandering PETA (an anagram of paté) pansies, I should go to the source and find out for myself.
And I don’t mean lurking around behind the scenes at some godforsaken goose farm in the Périgord—pretty much the Abu Ghraib of foie gras production—and snapping some clandestine shots with my Don Adams-quality miniature spy-camera. No, like my hero Bobby Milk and my other hero, that guy who put on several hundred pounds to portray himself in Super Size Me, I decided to do an investigative-style self-experiment and subject myself, like Morgan Spurlock did with McDonald’s meals, to the daily regimen of a foie gras goose.
In a combination of total disregard for, willful distortion of and general ignorance regarding basic scientific methods, I hired a personal trainer in the person of disgraced Army Reserve Spec. Andar Abfungott who was convicted in 2005 on five counts of assault, conspiracy and name-calling in connection with the beating and humiliation of detainees at Gitmo.
I shared with him the ‘rules’:
For four weeks, I would be confined in semidarkness and consume my usual diet of high-gluten, high-starch, high-fat Purina® Writers Chow softened with Five O’Clock vodka.
Then, for the next 21 days, I would be held in a small wooden box and be subjected to gavage—every day, up to 20 pounds of quinoa and puréed Peruvian stink badger fat would be forced down my throat by means of an auger in a feeding tube liberally lubricated with Heaven Hill bourbon.
On December 1, 2014, I began the experiment in the privacy of my secret Bashara-designed bondage dungeon where I required ex-Captain Abfungott to refer to me as ‘Master Chris’ while he subjected me to humiliating strappado hanging and abused me with a phosphorescent tube. After five days, I had gained fifteen pounds, mostly in the form of scar tissue.
Ever the professional, my trainer had learned through hacked Facebook comments that I profess no religious affiliation, and throughout that month made steady, derogatory comments about atheism and sometimes pretended to be God, forcing me to sing Gospel music under threat of further punishment.
Once the gavage phase began, the verbal abuse became focused on my rapid weight gain. ‘Tubby, tubby two-by-four, can’t get through the bathroom door,’ was the ex-Captain’s particular favorite, and the jingle was often accompanied by long periods during which he played accordion versions of cowboy songs and frontier ballads.
After ten days, the music switched to an endless loop of Arnold Schönberg dodecaphonic compositions, including the unlistenable Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31.
During this time, while whiling away the minutes between feedings, my trainer read aloud from a Mitch Albom anthology of inspirational sayings.
Finally, on the last day of gavage, January 19, 2015, my liver was biopsied by a surgeon brought in by an unexpected contingent of CIA operatives. The result was, over 21 days, my liver had ballooned to the size of a plyometric fitness ball, weighed forty pounds and was worth approximately €90,000 on the Euronext Paris foie gras exchange.
In fact, in order to prevent them from shooting me in the head and selling it to the French, I agreed to sign a waiver insisting that what I had undergone at the hands of ex-Captain Abfungott was not torture but political rehabilitation and social restoration.
But that’s alright. In fact, everything is all right; the struggle is finished. I have won the victory over myself and I love Big Brother.
Although, by God, I still hate Mitch Albom. Bring on the waterboard.