Watching Guys Catch Crabs

3.27.2006
Ore : 4:33 PM

After a nanosecond of hand-wringing, I've decided that, no matter how much it may make me squirm that men risk and sometimes give their lives to deliver a luxury food item to Americans who probably don't need to eat any more than they already do, there is nothing inherently wrong with the industry itself. This is nothing like slaughterhouses or pre-Chavez vinyards; dire economic circumstances force people into plenty of compromising positions (I will never get my stilettos stuck in my hoop earrings again), but working on a crab boat isn't one of them. This is more like diving for salvage or working as an assistant to Naomi Campbell: Here is a field, like some others, that offers not only the chance to score some fat coin, but also an opportunity to toughen oneself, to prove oneself -- to take risks and be a badass. And to want to seize such an opportunity is as natural a desire for many men (and not a few women) as sex or eating salty, fatty things.

Please don't take this as glibness -- a lead in to some sort of O'Rourke-ish, "they chose to do this; if they die, ha ha too bad." On the occasions when crew have suffered grievous injuries or even death, I've found it devastating; I've cried during a couple of episodes (
madame, perhaps I need some mood stabilizers.)

But that leads me to my one quibble: the manipulativeness of the television program itself. I'm glad the show is out there inasmuch as it's deeply educational -- I for one had no clue that crab fishing in Alaska was so damn scary and dangerous. But I cannot shake the feeling that the show itself, or perhaps its presentation -- sly editing for emotional effect, the whole Real World-ness of it all -- is sickeningly exploitative.

In summation, I eat crab with a lot more thoughtfulness, but I don't feel bad about it. I do however feel bad about watching the show. Sort of.

posted by teh l4m3 at 4:33 PM | Permalink |

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Comments for Watching Guys Catch Crabs
Was George Clooney in it?

j kidding

It's important to allow yourself to get ferklempt when watching a film or television program. Being in touch with one's emotions is a healthy thing. My cute Jewish shrink told me.

Now, let's talk pharmaceuticals. I recommend Xanax for general zone-out, Ativan to put your sobbing self to sleep, or--if you're looking for something longer-term--a SSRI. Looking to quit smoking at the same time? Talk to your doctor about Zyban!

When they started airing that show in Indy, snowcab instantly went up $.51 per lb. Fuck that show.

The last time I saw a guy catch crabs is when Jimmy spent the evning with a young man from Atlanta.

I worked a summer season on a pollack boat up in the Bering Sea. The old hands were way nutso-hardcore on my boat ... and they universally thought the crabbers were the most hardcore of all the fishermen, ever.

What you said about crabbers choosing the life and the gelt ... yeah, absolutely. It's a huge difference from being, say, a meat packer in a factory with no safety measures, like in Upton Sinclair's day. Or even a coal miner today. Nobody has to be a crabber or starve to death. Although a lot of them are serious addicts who stuff all their cash from the season up their nose.

But then, that's not exclusive to crabbers.

One more thing ... I had a book about crabbing, called 'Working on the Edge', written by a crabber. He had a chapter on all the maney accidents that happen to crab boats.

The most cinematic one was where the boat's going down, and only three of the crew have time to put on their survival suits (we had to train on getting into survival suits for my job BTW). So those three end up in the freezing water, and have to watch as one by one their crewmates w/o suits succumb to hypothermia and drown, some begging the suited guys to 'let me borrow your suit, just for a little'.

Then one of the suited guys gets washed away by a giant wave. The other two make it to land after getting buffeted around on the rocks.

Here's where it gets all Jerry Bruckheimer ... the two guys wind up getting hunted by a fucking grizzly bear, after surviving the hellish experience in the sea. The bear mauls one of the guys to death, and finally, the last guy gets rescued by the Coast Guard.

Then, you know, Jeff Probst shows up. But not really.

I feel far more guilty eating chicken than I do eating crab.

Did you all watch the Daily Show last night and see the map with all the bird flu countries highlighted in red? Holy fucking shit, we are all going to die when that turns into human flu. That freaks me out while also calming me.

madame: George Clooney was busy catching "fish" at his hottub in the Peoples Republic of Hollywood. And thanks for the recommendations -- maybe you could help me piss of our Republican establishment and send me a sample platter from your socialist health-care system?

butchieboy: there's that. See above, under "exploitative."

tbl: Atlanta? He should be glad that's the worst thing he caught...

assparrot: it is pretty crazy, isn't it? I remember one episodes where one of the men was recounting the last ship he was on, that went down, and he was the only survivor. Harrowing stuff.

And it doesn't shock me re: the addict thing. One of the reasons the show is kind of a cheat is that it does absolutely no exploration of these men's lives off the boat.

smarty: I felt guilty when I ate your boyfriend.

chuckles: missed TDS. But I get where you're coming from: Imagine you're the only survivor, like in Night of the Comet. Pretty nifty, huh?

Glad I live in the middle of nowhere.

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