Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Legend of St. Zesty Fazole's Day

St. Zesty Fazole
The Patron Saint of Union Members

Salem’s garment district in the late 1800’s was a sooty place. The industrial revolution brought coal powered button machines and coal powered trouser pleaters and they gave everyone coal fever. But not in a good way, like in Northern Africa in the early 1900’s, when the price of coal went through the roof and people moved their families in search of the black gold. Coal fever in a bad way like a disease. Many people died.

Zeshua Farina had worked hard and made his way to shift manager in a hook-and-eye factory by the age of nine-and-a-half. He wore a bowling hat on his head, to look taller, and a sour look on his face. The soot didn’t help his attitude any, and he soon died.

Gomez Farina, Zeshua’s little brother, missed the motherland. There was no coal there, so no soot. It hadn’t been invented there yet. He heard people on the street talk about the soot and complain. But they never left. Gomez knew that if they actually wanted to live somewhere with no soot, they could. But they never did anything. Planes hadn’t been invented yet, so I guess you and I can’t blame them.

People with last names like Marx, Vronsky, and Depp met deep underground, poured all their hatred and malice into a cauldron, poured it into a cupcake pan, and out came the most evil, smelly thing imaginable. Labor unions. When it was little it was cute. The workers got things like dental insurance, profit sharing, a 401(k) match. That was fine but then when it was a teenager it told the bourgeoisie that anytime it felt like not working it would put down its tools, stop cuffing pants, and stop blousing blouses (which was done by hand, since the coal powered blouser was not invented yet), and go on strike.

A popular past time, especially amongst the labor union folk, was drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade on breaks. Now, no one drank Mike's Hard Lemonade because they liked it, mind you, or even for the image it gave them. Maybe it was despite the image it gave them. But they drank it because alcohol hadn’t been invented yet, and the water was sooty, and the milk was sooty, so you can’t blame them. But capitalist business owners were tired of the lemon subsidies being handed out by the government, so they banned it in their workplaces. Every union in the garment district went on strike.

A perfect storm was brewing. Gomez had learned much from his older brother, and was just as determined, and only a little less sour. He had an idea. He created a small plastic bag using the recently invented coal powered plastic bag machine. He attached it to suspenders, and stuck a long flexible straw to it. He showed the workers how to fill it with Mike's, any flavor they liked, and hide it under their clothes. Now they could drink Mike's all day and no one would know. Gomez got greedy and charged exorbitant prices for his Mike's smuggling device. His greed got him in the end when he died of coal poisoning.

Later a young Teddy Roosevelt set up a pasta stand in the garment district, and all the workers loved it. His most popular dish was the zesty fazole. None of the workers were religious, but they would occasionally tell their capitalist bosses that they weren’t going to make it into work that day on account of observing St. Zesty Fazole’s day. Then they would go to little Teddy’s pasta stand and eat zesty fazole and drink Mike's Hard Lemonade all day. Teddy Roosevelt soon started overcharging for his pasta, became president, and left. But by then Salem’s garment district had turned into a ghost town. Portland was soon invented, and now we have to go there if we want cool clothes.