The first piece of biographical information I learned about Franz Kafka was the whole Max-Brod-ignores-his-deathbed-wish thing. That would have been enough to make me fall on my badly-clothed high-school ass with lust, but on top of that ultimate act of Angst, Kafka also lived a large part of his life as a vegetarian. Hey! I’m a vegetarian too!* We are soulmates! If only he wasn’t dead. What a pain in the ass. I wished he’d gotten his head cryogenically frozen, stored in limbo right next to Walt Disney’s, but in 1924 they were still ironing out those pesky automobiles and aeroplanes, and cryogenic freezing was a ways off.
But still–a vegetarian! Like his prose, Kafka’s eating habits were decades ahead of their time. Fast-forward to 2004 and in the major cities of the U.S. and Europe, eschewing chewing steak is damn near normal. In fact, just about everyone’s girlfriend these days seems to be a vegan chef, as is the case with Alex, the long-suffering mate of one Morgan Spurlock, the hardy human subject behind the latest assault on the fast-food industry, “Super Size Me.” Working bizarre hours allows me the magical luxury of viewing films at the Angelika midday on weekdays amidst creepy old guys, bluehairs and the similarly semi-employed, thereby avoiding the “we are now seating blahbetyblah” cattlecall but seeing fabulous films away from the omnipresent adver-tainment of the multiplex. Like the similarly-minded book Fast Food Nation, “Super Size Me” is an unapologetic tirade against the ubiquitous Golden Arches, but Spurlock’s gimmick is at once engrossing and dangerous (he ate nothing but three meals a day at McDonald’s for a month–his health fell apart and he was miserable, oh just go see it).
Besides reinforcing my vow never to eat at a fast-food restaurant ever again, this film also led me to ask myself: “Self, are you hungry?” To which I replied, “Not right now, but I will be later. How about a nice salad?” To which I replied, “Only if there are croutons on it.” Then I asked myself, “How long would Kafka have lasted on the McDiet?” I’m betting…four seconds. His delicate disposition and oft-failing digestive tract would not have known what to make of the largely-processed McFoodesque Products, and his veg-accustomed system would have likely rejected the meaty McStaples altogether. However, one thing it might have helped is Kafka’s weight…or lack thereof. A steady diet of Double Quarter Pounders with cheese might have beefed the author up a bit, put some meat on his bones, hair on his chest, made a man of him…so that at very least on his cardiac deathbed he might have finally met his father’s approval.
*Well, fine, not really. Technically I’m a “pescetarian” since I eat fishies once every two frickin’ months. And I don’t even like it, OK? Don’t self-righteous me, just because I’m self-righteousing you.