12 September 05

The Great Spaghetti Strike of 2005

In a show of solidarity, most inmates chose to boycott a recent evening meal of spaghetti. The complaint: the quality of the spaghetti sauce.

The guards were expecting almost two hundred of us to turn out for chow.
“Building 4, A and B, you are cleared for chow.”
Inmates stayed in their cells.
“Able and Baker, Yard 4, it’s chow time.”
Still no strikebreakers. A few inmates stood in front of their cells.
“Attention yard four: if you’re gonna go eat, now’s the time to go eat. If not, take it in. This is not rec time.”
Some inmates came out and talked to their neighbours.
“If you’re gonna go eat, go eat. If not, take it inside and shut your doors.”
Still no takers.
“A run, what are you guys gonna do? If you’re gonna eat, let’s go!”
Pops emerged from his cell. Supported by his cane, he hobbled towards the chow hall.
“There’s a scab. It’s Pops!” Long Island shouted.
“Charlie, Dog, turn out for chow.”
One youngster joined Pops.
Four guards, clutching their radios, approached our building. With quizzical expressions on their faces, they circled around.
“Dog run, if you’re not going to chow, close your doors. Step back inside! Close your doors! Secure your doors if you’re not going to chow!”

The prison administration decided to keep us locked-down until the following day.

I questioned some inmates about the strike.

How do you feel about the ADOC spaghetti sauce?

“They should use it on Fear Factor,” Two Tonys said. “Joe Hogan should be offerin’ people fifty thou to eat that shit. Straight Fear Factor, brother.”
“I’d sooner eat red hot barbed wire,” Kenny said.
“It resembles cat chow: Tender Vittles or Nine Lives,” Adam said.
“They’re servin’ us shit – literally,” Junior Bull, Gerard Gravano, said.
“I don’t even think its spaghetti sauce,” said Gerard’s celly, Scotland.
“There’s too much of that fuckin’ flavour stuff – spices – in it,” said
“It’s putrid,” George said.
“Crappy but I’m used to it,” Shane said.
“Horrible!” Blackheart said.
“It’s Purina dog food!” Druid said.
“It's disgusting! Even the worms wouldn’t want to eat it. I wouldn’t give it to my dogs or even my worst enemies,” Xena said. “If we buried all of the spaghetti sauce in the prison in a mass grave, it would show up from a satellite as a radioactive spot on the earth.”
“I was hungry,” Slingblade said.

Were you surprised by the show of prisoner solidarity?

“Yeah” Ogre said. “Only two pieces of shit went and ate.”
“I was surprised too,” said George.
“Me too,” Adam said, “surprised and shocked.”
“One hundred percent surprised. It’s changed my fuckin’ outlook on the yard, “ said Two Tony’s.
“Yes, but on the other hand” Kenny said, “we must be out of our minds to go to the chow hall in the first place!”
“Exceedingly, extraordinarily so!” Blackheart said. “Freakin’ floored! I can’t even begin to express my surprise at the solidarity in this shithole camp.”
“Yeah – a little bit,” said Frankie.
“I wanted to eat,” said Slingblade.

How do you feel about missing your meal?

“We should do it every night until all of our shit’s fixed.”
“I feel great.”
“How do I feel about shittin’?”
“I feel like I didn’t get my shot on Fear Factor.”
“It didn’t bother me in the least. I made a tasty dish out of Summer Sausage.”
“I feel great about it. I hate all the food in there. It’s the cheapest shit.”
“A little hunger is better than a whole lot of nausea. If you fed that to a dog, you’d get a five hundred dollar fine and a year in jail.”
“I didn’t like it anyway.”
“I understand.”

Are you hoping for more than improved spaghetti sauce to come from this?

“No. I don’t even expect the sauce to be fixed. They ain’t gunna fix nothin’”
“Hoping, yes. But I don’t really expect anythin’ to come from this. Admin didn’t react as I expected.”
“I don’t see anythin’ happenin’.”
“Yes: steak and lobster.”
“Yes: to show the staff we are united.”
“I hope that they improve everythin’. The sauce is just a drop in the bucket.”
“No. I think it will get worse.”
“Only hard times, because when push comes to shove they have the keys.”
“Sure, but I don’t see it happenin’.”
“I never complained.”

How do you feel about the two strikebreakers?

“In a world full of open sores, I’m not surprised to find scabs somewhere.”
“Power to ‘em.”
“They should be #@!#, #!!@ and @##!”
“Pops is so senile he didn’t know where the fuck he was. He thought he was at Loopy’s Cafeteria.”
“For one of ‘em – Pops – it was okay, because if I was that old I’d have done the same thing. The other one: that’s on him.”
“Pops is too senile, and the other guy I don’t know.”
“They’re as bad as the spaghetti sauce.”
“I’ve got nothin’ for ‘em.”
“Pops is too fuckin’ old to know any better, and the other I don’t even know.”
“Pops is a loony-tune. I expected that he would go.”
“It was their choice. If they don’t want to be part of the rest of the yard, it’s on them.”
“It’s medical reasons: Pops don’t make any fuckin’ sense.”

What was Pops thinking? Was he of unsound mind? Did he think he had a date at Loopy’s Cafeteria? Perhaps he went for health reasons? I decided to quiz him, to find out.

“Pops, were you aware of the Great Spaghetti Strike of 2005?”
“I didn’t know what was goin’ on until I opened the kitchen door. The staff were cheerin’ and clappin’ for me. They gave me a double portion, a milk, and six pieces of toast.”
“How was the spaghetti sauce?”
“I didn’t eat much of it, that’s for sure.”
“It sounds like you came up on some extra food. Good job, Pops.”
“At my age, I need all I can get in this goddam place.”

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Copyright © 2004-2005 Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

Thankyou so very much for these writings. They are very good.
I am still voluntering my time with
the Inside/Out Program and its Inside Graduates.

I beginning to reach a conclusion that the entire Prison Industrial Complex/System here in the U.S needs to be completly dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

I have no easy answers but I can say that I'm beginning to see men behind the walls who, irregardless of the crimes they commited , have postive gifts to give to our communities. A Mind is a terrible thing to waste.


Anonymous said...

That shits crazy! If you give me your address and how to send a package
there to you, I'll mail you some bomb ass spaghetti sauce.