Monday, May 23, 2011


It has begun to rain as they reach the graveyard and climb from the car for the walk to the grave. As the models proceed to the grave dressed in black and covered by black umbrellas, they form a sort of slow motion image of stunning beauty morbidly arrayed - deeply mournful as they enter and emerge from rainy mist with quick cut close-ups of gloves and veils, dresses, shoes and tear-stained cheeks. Only Anastasia does not shed tears.
Everyone gathers around the grave as the rain falls and the priest intones biblical phrases. Amidst the bowed heads and teary eyes, Anastasia remains stoic as she looks at everyone. She sees people trying to obey the conventions of the funeral even as their feet shift and they look at their watches and she sees people in the back trying to hide that they are using their blackberries and checking messages. As she peruses the crowd, Anastasia notices her friend GUNTHER standing far back. He catches her glance and nods to her.
Finally she watches Ivana's mother and two sisters. She watches Oksana crying and she sees Polina put her arm around her sister and help her wipe away her tears.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


A shrieking pig is put on a block for slaughter. The pig is held down by 2 men and a little girl. The pig struggles valiantly and squeals horribly but the knife eventually finds its throat and the blood gushes into a bucket set on the side of the block. The pig continues to squeal as it bleeds out. The girl is terrified but she obeys orders to move the bucket more directly under the pig's spurting blood. As she watches the pig twitch and finally become still, she looks at the blood on her hands and her clothes.

“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”

But the degradation of the food system from uber-institutionalized food production is only part of the story. There is a another dark, gruesome side, seen only by those on the front lines whose days in America’s slaughterhouses are routinely steeped in blood and violence.

Fitzgerald analyzed 581 rural counties in the study from 1994 to 2002, and found that counties with slaughterhouses “have higher arrest levels for sex offenses and more frequent reports of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. This study also found that, compared with other industries, the slaughterhouse industry has a more significant effect on community crime rates.”


For every 4000 slaughterhouse employees there was a 2 percent increase in arrests.

There was increased crime in communities where large slaughterhouses were recently opened to communities with smaller and older slaughterhouses.

The control variables were grouped into three categories: demographic, social disorganization, and unemployment.

This study cannot control for the possibility that work in slaughterhouses might attract people who are already predisposed to or involved in disruptive behavior and consequently that the work itself has not caused their anti-social behaviors. However, there is nothing in the literature on slaughterhouse workers to indicate that this is the case.


Since the immigration raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa last May, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which maintains a seat on the board of the National Consumers League (NCL), has diligently been trying to alert the nation that minors were working in the plant, which it had been trying to organize (along with an Agriprocessors plant in Brooklyn) since 2005. Because of its child labor work, the staff at NCL took great interest in the possibility of child labor at the plant.  In late August, the state of Iowa announced the findings of its child labor investigation, concluding that 57 minors, aged 14 to 17, were employed illegally in the slaughterhouse under working conditions rife with health and safety violations. With dozens of articles about the working conditions and child labor at the plant in the national media, including extensive coverage in the New York Times, Sally decided that the story was too big for NCL not to take action, given our history of advocacy on child labor, sweatshops, and worker rights. The nightmarish working conditions seemed eerily similar to those NCL’s founders fought 100 years ago

Eleven-year-old Irfan was one of these child workers whose day would begin at 4 AM with a long walk to the slaughterhouse along with his father. “I used to feel very scared of the screams from the animals as they were being killed. I would tremble with fright,” he recalls.

The revelations of the survey led to the launch of the project aimed at putting a stop to the age-old tradition of children working in the slaughterhouses.

Today, Irfan has finished school and plans to learn driving or electrical work through one of the schemes offered by the government.

The elimination of child labour and the rehabilitation of these children was by no means an easy task. The community was socially mobilised through religious leaders, community stalwarts, community volunteers, and resident community volunteers.

A motivated cleric, Khwaja Moinudin, even admonished the parents, saying: “For too long you have lived off the earnings of your children. You should hang your heads in shame. Give your children their childhood back and honour your responsibilities and duties to them.”


The scene is a vaguely rendered church. Everything looks like a regular church in some ways, but things are not quite right. The benches are worn and broken and the vestibule has tattered curtains. Anastasia walks out into the vestibule wearing a very beautiful, traditional wedding dress. Familiar bridal music starts and Anastasia begins her the solemn and joyful walk down the aisle. She is caught up in the intensity and magic of the moment but suddenly, as she reaches about the halfway point, she is set upon by a group of stylists who begin to tease her hair and smear her make-up and rip, tear and distress her wedding dress and veil. In seconds they have transformed her and she's surrounded by photographers who pose her and move her around. She runs the gamut of emotions from joy to sadness and pleasure to terror.
Then she sees that all of her best friends are also dressed as brides.
Francesca is dressed very sexy in a bodice and long bridal veil. Her breasts protrude above the bodice and she is taking fierce and sexy poses for the photographers. Nicoleta's bridal gown seems almost more like a uniform and she is wearing glasses and carrying numerous books (including Das Kapital) which she is pondering seriously with little notice of her bridal status.
Marcelle is like some kind of old-fashioned glamour queen and she poses and smokes seductively amidst while pressing her face gently to soft velvet curtains.
Fawn is dressed as a very traditional bride but Anastasia notices that Fawn is very pregnant. As Fawn begins her walk down the aisle, milk begins to pour from her nipples and stain the dress. Angry stylists surround her and remove the dress. They leave her crying in her stained and dripping lingerie. Anastasia goes to help her but she notices that the mood and lighting around the entire shoot have darkened and finally, Ivana appears. She looks normal at first, but as she walks, she becomes increasingly pale and finally, blood begins to pour out on her dress in the shape of her autopsy scars. All of the other girls have backed away in terror but Anastasia tries to watch everything.


A murky shot of a woman standing with her back to the camera as she looks in a mirror and combs her hair. As she combs, clumps of hair fall out. Upon closer examination, it can be seen that Anastasia is combing her hair with a piece of broken glass. She continues combing as blood drips down her face. She has circles under her eyes and she looks pale and wan and sad.
Two incredibly skinny women (ANA and MIA) approach her from behind. She is surprised to see them but not shocked. She looks at both of them and then she begins to notice something in her mouth. She moves her tongue around and then puts her hand in front of her mouth to catch several teeth as she spits them out. Ana and Mia smile at her and comfort her with pats on the shoulder. She vaguely smiles back.
Suddenly, in the mirror, she can see that Ivana is standing behind her in a bloodstained nightgown. Ivana looks worried and she tries to come to Anastasia but Ana and Mia stop her. Anastasia is confused.