Petaluma, California, Winter 2005
I was online, searching for a great name to bum off someone for a new cafe I was opening with a pair of old friends. Relatively new to town, it seemed clear it had to have something to do with chickens, which would’ve worked just fine with our menu. It appeared to me this little town of 60,000 had been mad for chickens for generations, so something featuring a historic gallo ought to work, I thought. Probably a White Leghorn. Of course the town ended up being pretty mad for cows and cars and apparently potholes as well.
I stumbled upon a gal who conducted a rooster rehabilitation clinic up in the Sierra foothills who, for a small fee or trade, attempted to save recalcitrant, contrary, or perhaps merely ill-timed birds from the chopping block. She offered a new lease on life for wayward roosters – kind of a cool alternative to certain death, I thought, for a doomed bird.
Having just picked up thirty days worth of that ree-hab for myself, I could identify. Certain doom averted, for the time being anyhow.
I regret never researching further the nature of her clinic’s curriculum. Did she also teach recovering gallos to consult a higher power for serenity, courage and wisdom?
What I did know, having abandoned those nearest and dearest to me – Rolling Rock, Pilsner Urquell, Hornitos, Tanqueray etc – was that by the time 2005 rolled around I could scarcely recognize the country I lived in.
Shrub had been more or less appointed President of the U.S. by the Supreme Court in 2000 after losing the vote. Along with his darker half – Dick – he opportunistically cranked up the U.S. war machine post-9/11 to rid us of a most inconvenient, brutal dictator and former ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, with the enthusiastic assistance of much of the U.S. corporate press. It seems we will forever be facing violent blowback from that attempted reordering of the Middle Eastern map U.S. neoconservatives led.
A few years later Hurricane Katrina showed we were willing to abandon thousands of our fellow citizens to the fury of Mother Nature simply because they were poor and nonwhite.
Meanwhile Peak Oil was still knocking on the door, demanding our attention turn to the end of the Age of Oil. Then there was that other existential threat – climate change.
The Raucous Rooster (RR) came about as a response to all that – an unconventional, free-range press to explore issues of true sustainability and democratic participation, war and peace and farmers markets, to fill in a few of the countless gaps in the story left behind by a dreadfully inadequate local newspaper monopoly that’s too beholden to access, status and profit to fulfill its journalistic obligations to its community.
RR is a contrary bird, inspired by the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson, Warren Hinckle & Scoop Nisker, with a bunch of William H. Morrison’s inherent skepticism. RR bears an odd resemblance to both Bill the Cat on a good day and Edmond O’Brien’s Dutton Peabody, having just pulled an all-nighter and slumped over his desk, an unlit Camel dangling from the corner of his mouth.