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A Cockney Thanksgiving: Introducing John Madden’s Turducken Special Goes Mental

So the pilgrims weren’t really cut out for making it in the new world, like the Indians had been doing for thousands of years, but if that’s how we picture them so be it. Who cares how they were dressed?

Story by Phil Sick - frankiemachine@hotmail.com Photos by Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

To me Thanksgiving is always fun, unlike other festivities. I guess it is because my folks hardly ever come to States anymore and my American relatives aren’t that much into family get-togethers. So, generally, people invite me over, because they feel sorry for me. Then I go over, eat food, drink up and watch them have booze fuelled family fights. Nervous breakdowns are also on the menu, a granny puking ‘cause she got smashed a classic, another one calling her daughter in law a slut a must, people throwing drinks in each other’s faces, coming outs, fistfights, football games on the front lawn, rides to the hospital, broken noses… I could go on and on.

Yet being always a guest, and therefore being some kind of an observer, makes me enjoy the good humored fun just as much as the dysfunctional family Armageddons. Sometimes I even get to go to a couple of Thanksgivings a year since I’ve got friends in Canada, dating back to my university years in Ontario. The cool thing is I am hardly ever invited again by the same nuts, and, for once, it is not because I’ve made an ass out of myself, as it often is in many other circumstances. It is more like the whole family that embraced me is embarrassed because I’ve seen them at their most vulnerable and ugly peaks. I often get speeches along the lines of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, though it’s more like “Phil, I’d really appreciate if you didn’t mention about Uncle Ronnie spanking the monkey before desert was served or Grandma Jean grinding her teeth through the whole meal ‘cause she stole my son’s Ritalin, or my father being called a closet homo by my cousin who turned out to be his lover since he was age nine…” Guys, I’m Italian, we pride ourselves on keeping secrets and snitches are considered to be even worse than child molesters.

Then again sometimes I’m a bit of a lush, plus I’m a writer (real bad one, I know) and some stories are just too darn good not to be told. For instance there is always a younger sibling willing to flirt a little, “Phil, mother fucker stop checking out my niece’s butt, she’s six…”
“She swore she was six… teen. Must’ve been the braces, couldn’t make out what she was on about… She showed me her fake I.D. too…”
“That’s her Mickey Mouse club card… You monster!”
“Would you rather have me give in to your Father’s advances?”
“My dad’s a marine…”
“He offered me a popper…”
“Oh my God… So my brother was telling the truth after all?”
“Guess he was… Where is he by the way?”
“He hung himself…”
“Right, you’re mom mentioned earlier on…”
“When?”
“I was helping her refresh herself, after I smoked pot with your other brother, the transgender dude…”
“Good. Care for some apple pie?”
“I don’t see why not…”

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

You always get to smoke a little pot while pretending to horse around with Rufus in the back yard with Grandpa, who happens to be an old Dead head, or was he convicted felon? Sometimes though it is tougher when a drunken mother grabs your ass, it is cool when you’re in your twenties, but when you’re on the verge of being in your late thirties… Well, you do the math. Shit like this happens all the time not because of my looks, which are barely average, it all occurs because I’m neutral, I’m not blood related, so that makes me pure and exotic at the same time. They think I do not know family secrets, though most of the time I get briefed on the way to the feast.

I’ve even been talked into going to a Vegan Thanksgiving, because there was a chick a liked. I did a kosher one and heard all sorts of different versions of the Mayflower; the pilgrims being good and the pilgrims being nasty, exterminating Indians who helped them in the first place, Squanto, Samoset, turkeys being actually aliens. Alright, perhaps the pilgrims weren’t exactly wearing the buckled shoes in sixteen-twenty… something. Though in paintings those accessories served the purpose of delivering a sense of quaintness (See, religion goes hand in hand with fashion, remember Pope Benedict XVI and his little red Prada slippers? Why should you?), and what about the pointy hat (almost witch-like)? The time of the month was about right, but still there was no Trick or Treat to be celebrated for a few centuries at least. Like, imagine the pilgrims going trick or treating with the Wampanoag.

“Why are you dressed so funny? Okay, is this some kind of a joke, what do you want?” Says some way too understanding chief.
“Your land motherfucker,” Goes a God fearing pilgrim carrying a blunderbuss over his shoulders like he’s Rambo in drag.
“No, I don’t think you’re entitled to it just yet. First you’re going to have to give us Small Pox… Jesus and all his various declinations… something a little more accurate than a blunderbuss… and subsequently alcoholism… reservations… junk food and eventually some casinos too pay us off because one day you’ll start to feel a tad guilty…”
“Yeah, you’re kinda right… How ‘bout you help us make it through this winter, teach us how to hunt for game, grow some crops that ain’t gonna leave us starving and then, after we’ve established ourselves nice and sound, we’ll take it up from there?”
“I guess we’ve got ourselves a deal…” Says the Indian at gunpoint, giving the camera a cheesy, half-scared smile.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

So the pilgrims weren’t really cut out for making it in the new world, like the Indians had been doing for thousands of years, but if that’s how we picture them so be it. Who cares how they were dressed? Let’s get down to business. Let’s make a proper reenactment, a super controversial reality show. I got this idea from my friends Joe and Paddy. They’re both English and gay. They invited me to their home in Palm Springs to spend Thanksgiving with their son Mick’s biological mother, who’s a reformed crack head who loaned them her uterus in return of a pair of breast implants. I thought it might be fun, so off I went. Mick is a bright kid, and was asking questions about the Indians, the pilgrims, what stuffing’s made out of, why has he got two fathers and half a mother…. So Paddy starts telling his personal story of Thanksgiving, he’s a Hollywood writer, a lot more successful than me. It was really fun, with the Cockney accent and all. Basically the puritans hit America four centuries later…

“How were they dressed? Did they have weapons?” Asked little Mick.
“Did they have kegs of Guinness?” I asked.
“Are you going tell this stupid story for real?” Asked Mick’s Bio-Mom.
“The Puritans and the pilgrims were from England, so I guess nowadays they’d be wearing football jerseys, track suits, Levi’s jeans, gold chains, rigorously white Reeboks sneakers, gold rings (which they call “sovies”), swallows tattooed on the backs of their hands and maybe a nice set of Lions on their hammy deltoids. Right, and when the friendly simpleton natives approached them on the shore of New England, bearing corn, turkey, raisins and nuts, one of the newcomers must’ve said ‘What am I supposed to do wid’ that bird, mate? Ain’t there a nice Chippie ‘round here? Innit?’
‘A Chippie?’ Samoset asks Squanto. The latter had been to the UK and was well acquainted with their costumes. Modern day Squanto wasn’t brought as a slave to the UK, but as an exchange student, nonetheless he never really warmed up to footie (soccer if you may), since he was into a more Glastonbury oriented scene. He didn’t mind a few E’s, a couple of Indie bands and perhaps a little Drum & Bass. When he got back to Plymouth, he’d run out of money, therefore he shoplifted a few CD’s at Stanstead for his fellow tribesmen. It was all Oasis and Robbie Williams, Dizzie Rascal he kept for himself.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

‘What’s a chippie?’ Samoset asks his friend again.
‘A chippie’s a fish and chips joint. Where sturdy English folks stuff their faces with battered cod and fried potatoes… a little salt, and a drizzle of malt vinegar and they’re set.’
‘And how’s their blood pressure?’ Asked Samoset.
‘What do you fuckin’ care? They’re drunk most of the time anyway… They’ll probably die of cirrhosis before the old ticker goes funny on them,’ Replied an annoyed Squanto.
‘You’re starting to sound like one of them Squanto…’
‘Whatevs…’
‘That’s more like it…’
In the end, the Indians took off with their turkeys, their bearings, their bowie knifes and so did the Cockney pilgrims. The Indians went to their reservations, their casinos, working in construction because they’re not afraid of heights; while the pilgrims went off to some pub and got drunk. That is how I met your father. So Mick, this is basically what Thanksgiving is about… You got it little bugger?”

Little Mick starts crying his brains out. Joe, Paddy and I look at each other a little guilty, perhaps the story was too much for Micky. I tried to cheer up the little confused kid by suggesting we all skipped our rotten, undercooked turkey and eat some of the apple pie I remembered to buy on my way to their house.
“I want to eat my turkey…” Sobs Mick, quivering. I raise my hand “How ‘bout some turducken instead?”
Joe elbowed me in the ribs, “You’re not supposed to promise a kid things you can’t give them…”
“Sorry Albert, I was trying to confuse him a little so he’d stop crying”
“That’s fantastic. I’m leaving. This is the worst Thanksgiving ever…” Said Mick’s Bio Mom. I wanted to tag along, but it didn’t seem like a nice thing to do.
“What’s a Turducken?” Asked Paddy.
“Yeah, what is it?” Went along Mick.
“Oh boy, I thought you guys would never ask…” I set my plate as far as possible. Since Joe and Paddy all had a go at telling stories, I thought I’d tell one too.
“Stories are boring…” Said Mick.
“Not Phil’s. There is usually a lot of craziness, drugs, violence, some pussy and a couple homophobic jokes.”
“Leave out the Homophobia. We don’t want Mick to hear it…” Said Joe covering Mick’s ears.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

“Alright,” I said, “Once upon a time there was a man called John Madden. He was a gentle sports commentator who, by the way, invented the famous turducken…”
“What’s a turducken?” Asked Mick, this time a little more exasperated.
“Shit, Mick, let me tell the story. Is he on Ritalin or something?” I asked.
“No, he isn’t. He might be, in a couple of years…” One of his dads answered. Forgot which one.
“Okay, can I go on with it?” I asked lighting a cigarette.
“If you must…” Said Joe, cracking another tallboy open.
“So like I said John Madden, during a Superbowl of many, many years ago, starting deboning a chicken, just to proceed stuffing said bird into a duck by a process called endogastration…”
“Endo-what?”
“If you guys don’t let me finish I’m going to grab that nice carving knife over there and slash my wrists right here in front of you all…”
“Alright, on with the story…”
“After stuffing the chicken into the duck, you stuff those two into a big juicy turkey, and that’s how you get a turducken. A turducken is like a Frankenstein Turkey, which John Madden was so good at making; they had him fix one up while he was commenting on a game. He was so damn good, a famous TV network decided to invite him and foodie celeb Andrew “If it looks good eat it” Zimmern to do a little Thanksgiving Special about this Food Freak Show. They wanted others to join in, but Gordon Ramsey told the network to go fuck a turducken, he wasn’t interested. Anthony Bourdain was hangover and said he didn’t want to be around Zimmern, or he’d punch him. Nigella Lawson asked too much money… and also her nipples hurt ‘cause she had her period.”
“What about Jamie Oliver?”
“He rammed his pickup into a McDonald’s and set it on fire in his fight against obesity. Beats me…”
“Just asking…”

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

“Sure. So Madden and Andrew Zimmern hit it off right away, which is good since the show is going to be broadcast live all over the country. The two even start goofin’ away by passing a plucked turkey to each other like a football… Thing is Madden gets distracted by a nice girl in the audience who asks him if he can give her an autograph, at the same moment Zimmern throws the turkey, which crosses the entire studio and hits the football celeb right on the head. There is a bit of commotion, some men take Madden to his trailer and the production medic stitches goes over to patch him up. The old man promises he won’t sue neither Zimmern nor the network. After all, football is not for crybabies. Only, Madden doesn’t seem like his good old self after the accident and the show is only minutes away from being broadcasted live. The Producer starts getting awfully apprehensive and begins to give grief to everyone. Then, out of the blue, comes Carl Pinkerton. He’s been sent by Rick Gervais to watch the show. Pinkerton is the guy who stars in “An Idiot Abroad”. He just had a chat with Madden inside his trailer and believes the man thinks he’s Ronald Reagan.

‘Madden mistook you for Ronald Reagan?’ Asks the producer, on the verge of calling his shrink in La Jolla.
‘No mate, you’ve got it all wrong. Madden actually thinks he’s Reagan…’
‘Reagan is dead…’ Says a runner.
The doctor starts shaking his head, ‘I think the Turkey that hit Mr. Madden on the head, might’ve burst a blood vessel or something inside the brain, accelerating a preexisting condition, let’s say a latent form of Alzheimer’s…’
The producer flips, ‘A blood vessel or something? What kind of a doctor are you? Who hired this clown?’
An assistant whispers into the producers ear, ‘You did, sir…’
At that, Carl Pinkerton says, ‘See, just like I said earlier, Madden thinks he’s Ronald Reagan. Reagan had Alzheimer’s or did he not?’ Says Pinkerton all smug.

‘What the fuck is that supposed to mean?’ Asks Zimmern, violating his proverbial ‘no cussing I’m pudgy policy’.
‘He thinks he’s Reagan, after he got ill… I knew it!’ Says Pinkerton. The producer looks up to his assistant who says, ‘I told you he was good…’
The croaker walks up behind the producer, puts an arm around him and offers to give him something that might clear his head a little. The producer nods and then says, ‘Right, Andrew Zimmern will be in charge in my absence…’
The other network minions and the producer’s assistant immediately glare at Zimmern, who simply shrugs.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The assistant goes up to the group of network people and tells them they better think up of a replacement for Madden. At that Zimmern waddles over to the director and says, ‘Mr. Goldblum said I am the one in charge. Madden is fit for duty, also I bet Madden is still able to debone a Turducken even if he doesn’t remember who he is…’
‘Yeah, sure, as long as I get paid…’
‘Paid? We’re making Television History… Look, carving and deboning birds is like driving a bike… Some things you never forget. Also, it is so fucking patriotic…’
‘Hell yeah! Just like breathing and shitting, some things simply stick to ya…’ Says the director.

Meanwhile the producer is turning blue on the doctor, who gave him a shot that was meant for him. The network people burst into the trailer and start freaking out. Producers die every day, but the Thanksgiving Special with J. Madden is now in serious jeopardy…
‘Haven’t you got some adrenalin in that kinky bag of tricks? Kinda doctor are you?’
‘Some Adrenalin? The night porter shot it up for kicks. Nonetheless the production people are all in their late fifties, sure they’ve got some stimulants, some Viagra maybe…’
‘What is it you want to do? Give the man a monster hard on before he dies?’
‘Right…’ Says the croaker, ‘Too much blood to the penis, and too little to the brain and the heart…’
‘Wait a minute though…’ Says the producer’s assistant, “That’s Goldblum’s normal condition. Doctor please proceed…’
‘Shit, we’re supposed to go live, not dead….’
‘How’s Madden holding up?’
‘He’s vaguely catatonic, though I’m sure that if you give the man a couple of sharp knives and a few different species of birds he’ll pull it off in no time…’
‘Sharp knives, birds… What the fuck is this supposed to be? A serial killer’s Thanksgiving… Thanks for hitchhikers, Ted Bundy, understanding juries and walking on technicalities…’
‘We mean birds as in those things who flap their wings, lay eggs and have beady eyes… You’re all pussy whipped…’
‘My bad. When are the volatiles going to be ready?’
‘They just defrosted…’
‘Excellent…’

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

‘Have the Daft Punk do their intro, while the dancers do their thing with the live turkeys.’
‘What thing?’
‘They have to swing ‘em around by their feet and hypnotize them… It’s a classic…’
‘But Daft Punk said no to that…’
‘Who cares…’
‘Then we’ll have Madden carve the best turducken ever while Andrew Zimmern stuffs his face with gravel and Scorpions making pudgy faces and moronic comments. Okay, in three, two, one…’

Madden goes live and starts making a right fucking mess from the start. He chops everything in sight, even a couple of his own fingers, which start spraying blood onto the set, making it all the more gruesome and slippery. Zimmern starts puking the scorpions he had for breakfast, dipping them into Madden’s blood and smiling at the camera as he wolfs them down again. Madden slices one of Zimmern’s ears off when the director yells to play Black Sabbath in the background hoping people at home will think the blood’s fake and it was all in good fun. Thing is they might even pull it off, if the producer didn’t come back from the dead, thanks to the doctor who brilliantly thought of crushing Viagra up and jacking him up with it. Goldblum has a monstrous stiffy, he leaps on stage and starts penetrating Turducken carcasses while Madden starts to give grace all of the sudden. Blood is squirting from Zimmern’s cut onto the cameras, when a huge cross dresser with a nineteen-fifties woman’s outfit and hands the size of baseball mitts comes charging the scene. We don’t see “her” face, since she stuck a whole giant turkey over it. Right there and then Madden says something in Aramaic and lunges towards the lady’s head. He wants to debone that one too. As soon as the cross dresser is freed from the Turkey mask we realize it is wearing something even nastier: a Julia Child’s mask made of different strips of flesh sewn together. Black Sabbath fades off, the cross dresser drops his skirt and we realize he’s basically pushed his dick between his legs. The audience stands up and applauds as the director calls for the ‘Buffalo Bill’ theme song… Roll credits as paramedics and FBI people storm the set. A few gunshots and fade to black…”

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

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