Thursday, April 2, 2009


My wife tells me that in the 1980s in New York, she used to drink in a bar called Bernard’s on 48th Street close to Times Square. It was a hang out for pornographers, strippers and corrupt politicians: my wife was only the first of these.

Then one day a group of Canadian Mohawks from the Kahnawake Territory decided to make the bar their home away from home. They were ironworkers, famous for having no fear of heights. They built skyscrapers, walked happily along girders that were hundreds of feet above the ground, and at the end of the day, unsurprisingly, they raised a certain amount of hell. They all wore red suspenders. Before long, they became integrated into the life of the bar

The Kahnawake Mohawks refer to themselves as Kanien’kehá:ka, which means People of the Flint. The word Mohawk comes from the Algonquian language and means flesh-eaters or man-eaters, a name given them by the Dutch.

One night in Bernard’s a group of ten or so of the ironworkers turned up with a young, frowsy, disheveled, damaged-looking girl. They bought her a few drinks and then one of the guys went off with her. A quarter of an hour later they came back, the girl looking even more disheveled and had another drink before she went off again with a different guy. This happened quite a few times.

What they were doing with the girl seemed, in one way, obvious enough, but when one of the regulars asked what exactly was going on, the guys said they were “auditioning” the girl.
Auditioning her for what?
“For Meat,” they replied.

These Mohawks were a brotherly and suspicious group. They liked women well enough but they didn’t trust them. They especially didn’t trust white women. They certainly found the whole business of dating way too much trouble.

So it made sense to them, when they got a new job in a new town, to rent a house or apartment, all live together and install just one woman who would service all their needs. This woman was referred to as Meat.

Will it surprise anybody that women or a certain sort lined up to be cast in the role of Meat?

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