the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Turkey

The Free Turkey


My mother doesn’t like to waste money, and similar to many other Jewish mothers of her generation, she can sense a sale at Loehmann’s from miles away.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.

Recently, a new supermarket took over in the space across the street.  At first, everyone in my apartment building loved the shiny new store because it was clean, had a brightly-lit produce section, and the check-out people said “Thank You,” something previously unheard of in a Queens supermarket.  The local customers froze in shock upon hearing these words, as if they had just entered an alternative universe.

But these niceties came at a huge price. The supermarket was stingy on sales.  The previous supermarket had a cluttered appearance, like a desk covered in post-it notes.  Everywhere you looked, there were colorful, mismatched stickers and hanging banners screaming out a new promotion, such as “Canned Peas!  Buy One, Get One Free!”

These constant promotions served two purposes — they created excitement and they distracted the customers from focusing on the unorganized shelving and inept customer service.

There were few sales at this new, more upscale store, and never on anything that people really needed as a necessity.  Last week’s big promotion was for “Fresh Halibut at $8.99 a pound.”

The bomb dropped this week when rumors spread throughout the apartment building that the supermarket wasn’t even going to offer a free turkey for Thanksgiving (usually for spending $25 dollars in purchase, with one per customer, of course)!  This had been a Holiday tradition with the supermarkets in this spot for the last forty years.   It was a tradition held as sacred to Queens residents as nativity scenes are to those who live in the mid-West.

My mother was very upset at the supermarket.

Now I can hear some of you grumbling and snickering at home.

“How cheap are you people in Queens?  Why don’t you pay for your own freaking turkey?  That’s what is wrong with liberals — always looking for a hand-out!”

Before you pontificate, let me try to explain this in a language that you will understand.

Imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and go on Twitter, and you are greeted by a smiling cartoon Twitter bird with  the message, “We have finally figured out how to make money with Twitter.  Please pay $10 a month if you want access to your account.  Thanks.”   Are you going to say, “What a clever business model?”    Or are you going to be pissed, used to getting the milk from the cow for free?!

Think about that as you snicker!

You should also understand that my mother is a dangerous woman.  She is strong-willed AND retired, which means she is stubborn AND has too much time on her hands.

“I heard the supermarket on 164th Street is giving you a free turkey if you spend $25 dollars,” she said.

“You want to go all the way to 164th Street just for a turkey?  Is someone driving there?”

“No, I thought we’d walk over with the shopping wagon.”

“That supermarket is over a mile away!”


“Let’s just get it downstairs.  I’ll pay for the turkey.”

“No, it’s the principle of the thing.  Getting the free turkey is an essential part of Thanksgiving.  It’s like the Indians sharing their food with the Pilgrims.”

“And look what happened to the Indians.”

“If you don’t want to go, I’ll go myself and schlep the wagon up the hill, along with the heavy turkey, so everyone in the building will see me breathing heavy, walking two miles, and wondering if you’re sooooo “busy” at home writing one of your porno posts for your blog that you couldn’t help your mother carrying the turkey.”

“Nice,” complimenting her guilt shtick.

“Besides, you did say that you wanted to exercise more.”

I lost the battle.  Off we went to get our free turkey.

When we returned home, we were exhausted, and my back hurt from pushing the shopping wagon, filled with groceries and a 14 pound frozen turkey.

“So, honestly, Mom…” I asked.  “Was schlepping all this way just to get a free turkey really worth it?”

“Absolutely,” she replied, as she placed the frozen turkey in the bottom of the refrigerator to start its long thaw.

(note to Sarah Gilbert.   Next year,  I will try a Heritage turkey, which I never even heard of before until you mentioned it on Twitter!)

We Built Ankara with Rock and Roll!

Sometimes the God of Rock and Roll works in mysterious ways.   Consider Sunday afternoon —

It was hot in Los Angeles, and I was sitting around in my underwear, looking at different music videos on YouTube.  By chance, I hit upon Starship’s “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”  I’ve always liked this song as a guilty pleasure.  At the same time, it was sad to see that the former members of the great Jefferson Airplane falling so low.  This 80’s music video had a self-importance to it, but I couldn’t figure out what was the “message,” if any.   What City were they talking about?   Was this a cry against corporate radio?  Who were all these teenagers running from the huge rolling dice in Las Vegas?  What was the symbolism behind the Lincoln of the Lincoln Memorial coming alive and singing the chorus, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”  Was this song about Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who created the plans for Washington D.C.?  Abraham Lincoln was one of our finest presidents, but I doubt he would ever be about “rock and roll.”  I decided to write a post about this video.  I ran a contest.

The winner of this contest is the one who writes the best description of what the artists are trying to communicate in this music video.

As I expected, I received humorous comments from my readers.  After all, many of you were the “class clowns”  and “misfits” during high school.  But the most intriguing comment came from someone who didn’t even watch the video.  It was from Natalie, who writes the blog Tell Me About It.  She lives in Turkey.  The Turkey Turkey.  Isn’t that interesting?  I’m not exactly sure how this New Orleans girl ended up in Turkey, but I bet you that after drinking that Turkish coffee, she ain’t ever coming back to Starbucks.

Here was her comment concerning the music video:

— and once again i miss out because youtube is still banned in turkey. dadgum. i so wanted that prize!

“YouTube is banned in Turkey?!”  I asked.

Fascinated, I Googled the subject to learn more.  Apparently, this is not the first time Turkey banned YouTube.

According to the Huffington Post:

A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country’s founding father, according to reports Sunday.

It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.

Some of the most offensive videos came from Greece, where the Turkish founding father was called “gay.”  This was considered an insult to “Turkishness.”

Turkey is not alone in blocking YouTube. Last year, the Thai government banned the site for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

And in May, Moroccans were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco’s treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975. An official blamed a technical glitch, but could not explain its nature or why it affected only the YouTube site.

Suddenly, the music video made complete sense to me.  It wasn’t the “worst song ever recorded.”  It was a political anthem about freedom.   I even understood why Abraham Lincoln was singing along.  No country — Turkey — included should be allowed to prevent her citizens from rocking and rolling, even if it is to really crappy 80’s songs!  We as Americans must change the world and give everyone the chance to have big hair and giant dice… and make fun of their esteemed leaders.  And we shouldn’t be doing it through WAR and BOMBINGS!

We should be doing it through the POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL.

Free the bad 80’s videos on YouTube!

Natalie — here are some ways to work around your government’s censorship (via boingboing)

C’mon, Americans — it’s time to take our message of free speech to Ankara, to Bangkok, to Rabat —

We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock and roll

C’mon, Mt. Zion High School Swingsations — let’s show the world what America is all about!

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial