“The last man nearly ruined this place, he didn’t know what to do with it;
If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait ’til I get through with it.”
—Rufus T. Firefly in Duck Soup
FREDONIA, KENTUCKY — I had been driving all night, headed to Bowling Green to wrap up my research on Senator Rand “Eraserhead” Paul, aka, “E Rand, or Rand E,” and also too, Kentucky’s impudent junior senator with the wild-ass hair.
His recent remarks about President Obama acting like a “king,” followed by his reiteration of a debunked nutwad conspiracy theory accusing doctors of gathering intelligence on patients with guns, in advance of a “mass gun-confiscation plan,” had piqued my interest; and, it had been a long time since I had seen a good Hot Brown¹ on a menu. I headed East.
Rand E. had made the claim to an ex-cop, ex-teevee reporter, and current evangelical bleater named Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which, in 2010, was formally recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. According to Right Wing Watch, Rand E. said the President was “…going to use Obamacare to make doctors inform on their patients [as] to whether or not they have guns,” and, “store the information in “government databanks.” Perkins said he, too, had read of this plan to have doctors acting as informants while relaxing in the Fux News Green Room and had been “just flabbergasted.” I bet. Emphasis on the “flabber,” because they both left out that these patients with guns were also fucking nuts.
But there’s another reason that’s so whack yo, because, Doctors With Guns.
They got guns,
We got guns,
All God’s chillun got guns!
I’m gonna walk all over the battlefield,
‘Cause all God’s chillun got guns!
—Rufus T. Firefly in Duck Soup
So I find myself at the last whisper of the night, somewhere near Fredonia KY, going the wrong way on the Old Mexico Road. If you don’t know, the Old Mexico Road is nothing more than a paved country lane with no road markings of any kind, that just peters out in the woods. But as I slowed to a stop to get my bearings, I see there’s some actual graffiti on the tired asphalt ahead. There, in the dawn’s early light, in bold but grammatically questionable black spray paint it says, “JOHN. B IS GAY.”
I turned on the emergency flashers and studied the Google for a food hole. I may have been lost, but it wasn’t an accident I was near Fredonia. I had become interested in America’s Fredonias some years ago because of the Marx Brothers 1933 film, Duck Soup. By last count there were something like fifteen Fredonias scattered across the U.S., with two of them in Texas.
The word “Fredonia,” a clever coupling of the word “freedom” with a classy Latin ending, was coined by Samuel Latham Mitchill, a man with too much time on his hands, who came up with it as a replacement name for the United States.
In Duck Soup, Freedonia (“Land of the Brave, and Free”) has, surprise, severe financial problems, and government leaders are busy hounding a wealthy widow named Mrs. Teasdale to keep the tiny autocracy from going belly up. The widow reluctantly agrees to be filched on condition Rufus T. Firefly, (Groucho Marx), becomes like, you know, a “king,” and runs the country.
Firefly is a crazy bastard, and immediately insults the ambassador of neighbor nation Sylvania, which immediately leads to war. Chico Marx “Chicolini²,” is Freedonia’s secretary of war, while Harpo Marx—”Pinky“— becomes Firefly’s chauffeur. Chico and Pinky are also spying for Sylvania, they’re put on trial, which results in protracted and absurd musical folderol.
When the film hit the theaters, certain fusspots in New York’s version of Fredonia were appalled, and complained about the possible negative impact the film might have on them. The Marx Brothers replied with, “Change the name of your town. It’s hurting our picture.”
Anyway, the nearest breakfast in Fredonia was on Cassidy Street. Ten minutes later I pulled into the dark and empty Coon Dog Inn parking lot at exactly 4:44 A.M., and stepped out into the quiet Fredonia night to drain the monster of all that midnight Kansas coffee, and wait for the Coon Dog to open up at 6.
Across the street is the Fredonia Post Office, and across from it sits a grey Christian church without a single freakin’ window. On the do-it-yourself church marquee out front it says, TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE TURN DOWN THE WORLDY [sic] NOISE. And coincidentally at that moment, there wasn’t a single worldly sound to be heard.
In the deafening Fredonia silence, I’m thinking out loud: What kind of crazy bastard thinks doctors are gonna rat out all their gun-totin’ patients to an impotent ATF? I snap out of my empty bladder reverie long enough to flog my phone into action, with a search on “crazy bastards.” ChaBang! Naturally, I find this on a crazy bastard’s website:
“I want to make formal objection to the crazy bastard standard. I don’t really think that if we’re going to have a crazy bastard standard, that we shouldn’t have a right to trial by jury. Because if we’re gonna lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes wouldja not want, if yer a crazy bastard, to have a right to trial by jury? I think this is a very serious debate, and should not be made frivolous.”
I tore out of the Coon Dog lot and gunned though the gears heading south on the 641. And I was leaving the 57 and accelerating onto 64 West by the time the first sunlight hit my rear view mirror.
¹ A hot brown is a southern tradition involving grilled turkey and ham laid on a piece of white bread, often with a pile of mushrooms or yeah, potato chips, and smothered with a lethal amount of Mornay sauce sprinkled with sliced tomatoes and strips of bacon. Numerous attempts at deep-frying the whole thing have tragically failed. But as any cracker-head will tell you, the secret is in the sauce. Here’s USojo’s exclusive down and dirty Mornay recipe stolen from someone who stole it from someone who stole it from The Brown Hotel in Louisville.
3 tablespoons organic butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose organic flour
3 cups organic milk
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons organic buttermilk
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sheep cheese
1 medium organic, cage-free, veggie-fed chicken egg
1. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter slowly then whisking in flour, making a traditional roux.
Cook the mixture over medium heat until it’s just golden… but uh, not brown.
2. Add milk and seasonings. Cook just until all ingredients are warmed.
3. Add buttermilk and sour cream. Bring mixture to a slow simmer. (Don’t boil it, y’all.)
4. When the mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat. Add the cheeses and stir until smooth.
Serve warm over a traditional Kentucky Hot Brown. Makes 4-6 servings for normal folks.
² Mussolini banned the film in Italy.