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It’s a Fruit, Goddamn It! by Barry Sanders

In art, history, society on October 31, 2012 at 19:33

From: It’s a Fruit, Goddamn It! by Barry Sanders, Cabinet Magazine, http://cabinetmagazine.org

He consumed Alka-Seltzer tablets like chickpeas. He swore that every person he ever met—including my mother and brother—was stealing him blind. My mother tried to stay out of his way. I stayed completely out of his way. Little by little, tomatoes started to scare the hell out of me. They reminded me too much of his life, his furious, unpredictable, eruptive, and shadowy life. When I saw The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I immediately thought of my old man. I even had a hard time with ketchup, a substance we were forbidden to have in the house because the Heinz Company—obviously German—made their sauce out of the leftovers, the bottom of the barrel, the rotten of the rotten. Absolute crap.

Dig slightly below the level of the mob, and you’ll come face to face with the wholesale fruit and vegetable business. It was its own kind of underworld, designed to be sordid: the life is a fast-paced, all-male, cash-based affair, transacted in the darkest hours of the night. Customers knew better than to ask for a receipt. Truckloads of fruits and vegetables—worth thousands of dollars—got sold with just a handshake or a nod of the head. Skimming cash is a way to beat the odds. Produce men pay off the cops to leave them alone. Hookers—the “hot tomatoes”—strolled by every few minutes. Bookies were on first-name basis with every sales guy. Runners made their way from produce stall to produce stall carrying punch cards. Punch out the right number and win an easy fifty or even a hundred-dollar bill.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: Cabinet Magazine

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