Cratched Does California



It must have been around 10 in the morning of Christmas 1981 and the beans and rice from last night’s meal had long since stopped filling our stomachs. Z and I had been on Telegraph since 8:00 or so feeling like Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man. You know–jingle jangle morning and all that. At least the sun was shining. It was California after all.

As the morning passed, about the only other people we saw on the street were some disgruntled policemen who preferred to be home with their families, a hobo or two, and some people going to the church near the university. Oh yeah, and the Persian guy who had a flower stand in front of Cody’s bookstore that was open until 2:00 PM Christmas day for those folks who had forgotten to buy a gift for their lover or their mom or someone else who appreciated flowers. Z and I didn’t have anyone like that, nor did it seem like there would be anybody like that in our near future.

It must have been around noon when a couple frat boys drove up Telegraph in their BMW and yelled something at us. I don’t know whether it was pleasant or not–after a while you just tune out people who have a history of harassing you and frat boys had that kind of history, as did people driving BMWs.

Anyhow, after that car drove by, we noticed the smell of fresh roasted turkey wafting down the avenue. You know how in the cartoons they show the aroma of good food floating like waves across the screen and into some character’s nose? Then the character floats on the fumes towards their source and, just before the dog or cat eats the meat, a human hand appears and takes it away.

Well, that’s how it was with us. That turkey aroma was pulling us in like a sugar donut pulls in flies. We were so hungry we followed the aroma up the street to a midscale restaurant where all we could do was stare at the people eating their Christmas dinners. Nice big slabs of turkey, piles of mashed potatoes with gravy, rolls and butter, pies of pumpkin, pies of mincemeat, all the good things in life. And bottles of wine and beer, too. I would do anything to get some of that food, but what I did instead was walk back down the street with Z and ingest the fumes.

If we weren’t depressed before, we definitely were now. I was ready to go back to the apartment and boil some more beans, if there were any left. Z was ready to just give up. We looked at each other and began to walk away from Telegraph Avenue when the Persian guy called Hey! I looked over, wondering if he was yelling at us or someone else. He looked right at me and beckoned me over to his stand. Bring your friend, he said. I grabbed Z by the coat and we walked over to his stand, wondering what was up. Maybe he was going to ask us to sweep for him and give us a couple bucks. He reached under where he kept his money box in his cart and pulled out two steaming styrofoam to-go containers.

I don’t celebrate your holiday, he said, I am of Islam. But you guys need, what do you say, Christmas cheer. Then he handed us each a hot turkey dinner with a slab of turkey, piles of potatoes and gravy, rolls and butter and a piece of pie. I took the mincemeat and Z took the pumpkin. We felt like two twentieth-century Bob Cratcheds in Ronnie Reagan’s America.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu


Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai Park: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving