Petaluma, California, Winter of 2005
I was online, searching for a great name to bum off someone for a new cafe I was opening with a pair of long-time friends. The name had to pass through a poultry lens, that seemed obvious, as I envisioned a logo featuring some historic gallo, one befitting a California town with such a long and proud history with White Leghorns and a wide array of other breeds.
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, 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, thus avoiding certain doom, I could identify.
I regret never researching further the nature of her clinic’s curriculum. Did they teach recovering, raucous gallos to pray daily to their God 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 when 2005 rolled around I could scarcely recognize the country I lived in.
Shrub had been more or less appointed President 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 son of a bitch, dictator and former ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, with the enthusiastic assistance of much of the American mainstream press.
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 had the wrong skin color.
Meanwhile Peak Oil was still knocking on the door, demanding our attention to the end of the century and a half 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, too beholden to status and privilege to fulfill its journalistic obligations to its community.
RR is a contrary bird, inspired by the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson and Warren Hinckle, bearing an odd resemblance to both Bill the Cat and Edmond O’Brien’s Dutton Peabody, having just pulled an all-nighter, still nursing his last Camel.