Committing the Crime of Meat
Three years ago, Brooklyn writer/author/comedian Anita Serwacki created a blog called Meat Crimes. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: stories about crimes that involve meat. A meat crime wire service, if you will, complete with tipline. As the rest of us head out to BBQ this holiday, Serwacki told us what drew her to the art of meat (crimes).
So, seriously. How’d you end up making a blog about meat crimes?
My pal Layna and I have long enjoyed sharing meat-related news stories with each other. One day I thought, “Isn’t there a goddamn meat crime wire service we can subscribe to?” And there wasn’t. I couldn’t believe it! So I stepped up to ﬁll that void.
Your Twitter handle is @BaloneySerwacki. I take it you’ve always loved meat?
I’m no Johnny-come-lately meat-fancier. Among a number of friends, my nickname is “Meat.” I was a DJ for a long time, and my moniker was DJ Meat Mistress. I enjoy consuming meat, looking at pictures of it, talking about it and reading about it. I am most fond of meat ad campaigns. I love the idea of Madison Avenue boys huddling together in a conference room to put a snappy shine on carcasses.
What are your meat-crime newsgathering techniques?
Finding the quality, local stories requires searching over 20 individual types of meat along with a string of criminal key words (e.g. “pork arrest,” “pork charged,” “pork theft,” “pork blotter,” etc.). If the meat crime well goes dry for a spell, I’ll sometimes try alternatives–mostly meat delivery systems like “sandwich” or “burrito.” That’s how I came across this story: “An Orlando man accused Tuesday of illegally cutting off a 50-inch alligator tail told deputies he hacked it with a knife kept in his Taco Bell pants.” That guy had amazing hair, just like Tintin.
Do you have a favorite meat crime?
So as not to clog the blog up with an endless string of everyday stories about jerks shoplifting beef jerky, I only focus on the most colorful tales involving things like a naked guy stealing a retirement home’s breakfast sausages, an elderly man on oxygen stealing 100 pounds of clams after he blew all his Social Security money on a new tattoo, or someone shooting his neighbor after being offended by the offer of a pork chop. However, perhaps the craziest involved a tidy stack of seven freshly killed wild boars discovered in a Carl’s Jr. drive-thru.
What’s the craziest meat crime you’ve come across?
My all-time favorite was just a little blotter item, but it really tells a story: “Why Can’t a Sex Offender Eat Hot Dogs Behind a Day Care Center’s Dumpster in Peace?" Police arrested a man they found crouching behind a dumpster near a day-care facility on the Southside. A concerned citizen had spotted the man and called police. Ofﬁcers found him looking at the playground area, and asked him what he was doing there. He Replied, "eating his wieners." While patting him down, ofﬁcers found a package of 22 hot dogs stuffed in his pants. The man also possessed several documents stating that he was a convicted sex offender, including one that clearly stated: "you shall not loiter at any child care facility, school or area where minors congregate."
Have you ever committed a meat crime? Be honest.
I have never personally boosted meat items or ham-clobbered someone in anger. However, when I was growing up, we did regularly dine on what I called “garbage bag steaks.” My grandparents had a bar in Buffalo, and every so often a couple guys hauling garbage bags full of meat would stop in. The meat had been packaged at the local supermarket, and they would sell it to the bar customers for a fraction of the sticker price. You still hear about this scam occasionally. You partner up with an unscrupulous supermarket butcher. He tosses a certain amount of the wrapped inventory in a dedicated trashcan, which is then retrieved by the meat peddlers later that night. I recently reminded my mother of this, and she said, “I suppose in retrospect it wasn’t the wisest thing to feed your family meat from a strange man’s garbage bag.”
Do you actually get emails in the Meat Crime tipline?
My favorite and most frequent submitter is Will Greenlee, an actual reporter in Florida. He maintains a terriﬁc weird crime blog for Scripps Treasure Coast called Off the Beat, which more often than not features meat-related shenanigans. Florida is head and shoulders above the No. 2 Meat Crimes hotspot of Ohio.
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