The Meaty Subject Of Flesh

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Right, so I know have mentioned that I am a vegetarian and that I have been one for basically my entire adult life. I have to admit it was never a huge sacrifice for me. The truth is that I never was fond of meat. Even as a child I really felt ill at ease about eating it. The thought of animals being slaughtered for my meals weighed heavily on my conscience, and as someone once told me, I have a conscience the size of a planet.lisa-simpson-vegetarian

I remember the day I stopped eating flesh very clearly. I was a studying towards a teaching degree and was taking a South African history module as part of my BA requirement. The history department had organized a trip to King Shaka’s kraal. Shaka was a Zulu king and conqueror of southern Africa back in the 18th Century. While we were at his historical compound (kraal) the local people began slaughtering cattle for some upcoming feast being prepared for a visiting chief. The terror of the poor animals awaiting their death horrified me and that was the final push I needed. This decision of mine was sealed by how the song Meat is Murder by the Smiths made me feel.Morrissey_Meat_Is_Murder

Now let me tell you a little about the song:

Meat Is Murder was the second studio album by the English rock band, the Smiths. They along with the Cure, in my opinion, remain the undisputed originators and architects of what kids these days call emo. They wrote beautifully dark fairytales, storiesof ill-fated love and angst-ridden poems of the sheer enormity of being! Anyway, the album was released on 11 February 1985 by Rough Trade Records and became the band’s sole number one album in the UK charts during the band’s lifetime, staying on the chart for thirteen weeks. The album reached number 40 in Canada and number 110 in the US. In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 296 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. On the album is the best song ever written about animal rights.  Apparently even famous vegetarian Paul McCartney, who has never written a song about vegetarianism, greatly admires the Smiths’ effort. Meat Is Murder’s sinister opening, full of unsettling noises that conjure up an abattoir, moves into the terrible, beautiful lullabye-like melody that is so characteristic of their music:

“The carcass you carve with a smile, it is murder … And the turkey you festively slice, it is murder.”

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Look, animals are thinking, feeling beings, and we shouldn’t eat them. Anyone who thinks of themselves as an animal lover could and should not eat meat. Explaining it away or assuaging your conscience by saying that in the wild, animals kill other animals for food and It’s a part of nature is just nonsense! First of all, we are not in the wild, and secondly, we can easily live without eating meat.  The question of “if we weren’t supposed to eat meat than why do we?” is easily answered. It is because we are conditioned to eat meat by our society as well as the accompanying huge meat industry. It has f-all to do with health reasons and the most common excuse of all, “I can’t get my protein any other way”.

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vegetarian1If nothing else think about this: meat putrefies within 4 hours after consumption and the remnants cling to the walls of the intestines for 14-21 days. The fact is, it has already started to decay when you eat it. Seen a nasty movie called Ravenous? It is about cannibalism. Enjoy your next steak!

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Anyway, so going back to the Smiths and reasons why you should listen to them. Morrisey’s words and Johnny Marr’s music interlace perfectly, like chocolate and red wine. Dark and melancholy, the lyrics are delivered by Morrisey himself. Like some vintage lounge singer he croons about murderous desires and doomed love while Marr’s “drugged-up country boy” guitar envelops him. In the 80s when the band was at the height of its popularity, there were rumours of Morrisey and Marr being involved in a sexual relationship. If this was true it was never confirmed by either the openly gay Morrisey or the reticent Marr. What is far more interesting to acknowledge is how Morrisey’s lyrics broke the stereotypes of the time. There is nothing effeminate or limp-wristed about them, in fact, they are extremely masculine.  They were not gay, they were not hetro, they were just the Smiths. The band is no longer, unfortunately, “the seething rot that had shot the Smiths down remained undisclosed by Johnny,” Morrisey wrote. Marr, feeling stifled, left in 1987 to play with the Talking heads, and that was that. Sad. Even if you are not a fan you will still probably know the song “How Soon Is Now?” from the TV series Charmed and the movie, The Craft, both about witches funnily enough. One of my favourites however, is Big Mouth Strikes Again. Read the lyrics and then take a listen to the actual song. The murderous muscularity of the love song juxtaposed with Morrisey’s crooning, lullabye vocals and Marr’s guitar rifts is something quite extraordinary. Needless to say it makes Swany’s List of Awesomeness.

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Bigmouth Strikes Again

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said I’d like to

Smash every tooth in your head

 

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said by rights you should be

Bludgeoned in your bed

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her Walkman started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know of Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her hearing aid started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race.

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