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Oil on Canvas

Lukanovich
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In Conversation with Chicken Little - Crisis on Wall Street

Oct. 3, 2008
N. Lukanovich

Colliding with Chicken Little while she crossed the road, I seized the opportunity for an interview. I was tempted to ask the obvious (why do chickens?) but she was clearly distressed so I asked her to dinner instead. She shrugged her shoulders and said: "Why not?" We were standing in front of Kentucky Fried; the Colonel loomed overhead like a demon in the evening sky.

"I know a good vegetarian restaurant."

"I'm feeling like smoked meat." Taken aback, I hailed a cab and steered us in the direction of Reubens. She appeared ever so slightly windblown, her feathers frayed and askew.

"I'm exhausted; I had a terrible flight from D.C."

"I didn't realize that chickens…"

"Don't be stupid, I flew United," her gloom rivaled that of the grim reaper, "they'll probably go under within the year, or month, along with dozens of others."

"I've been wondering how you feel about all the Chicken Little references in the press lately…"

"It's outrageously insulting. For one thing, this time I was right wasn't I?" Her head bobbed violently, "I was particularly upset with the headline 'The Day Chicken Little Croaked'. That was simply over the top." Her voice crackled with dismay and I murmured in sympathy. We arrived at Reubens, and once ensconced in a warm booth I began to grill her on her stay in Washington.

"I told everyone the sky would fall, well over a year ago, but no one listened. Some of them even laughed." A tear threatened to roll down her beak. She pecked at her food. "It was impossible to get a meeting with the King."

"The King?"

"You know, Bush, Paulson, take your pick". She sighed impatiently. "So I connected with Henny Penny and Goosey Loosey, and we headed to Wall Street. We got in touch with Cocky Lockey while he was still working at Lehman Brothers. But no one would listen to us there, either, they giggled at Merrill Lynch and chuckled at Bear Stearns. And once Foxy Woxy got wind we were in town...." Chicken Little looked bleak.

"I hear he's a bad dude."

"Well, the sky's fallen on Foxy so that's the end of him." She lowered her voice and leaned forward, glancing from side to side without moving her head, "But there are more Foxy Woxys where he came from, and there's not a lick of shame on Wall Street."

"When did you first know the sky was falling?"

"An acorn the size of house fell on my head."

"Ouch!"

"You said it sister." She scratched at her rye bread. "You know what they say, what goes up must come down."

"Ms. Little, can you explain in lay terms exactly what happened to the market?"

"It's like this. A bunch of financial giants adopted a devil may care attitude, threw caution to the wind and invested money they borrowed instead of money they had, bought and sold securities they created that no one understood, and when the housing market crashed, the investment banks found themselves in debt to the tune of billions. These institutions should have been regulated years ago. Now the average Joe will have to pay, and as far as law makers who are saying that they don't want to fund a 'no banker left behind program', that's just too bad, because the bankers have us by the balls. An economic crisis triggered by Wall Street is not the same as one generated by struggles on Main Street. The Great Depression wouldn't have been so bad if the feds hadn't tightened their belts instead of giving more credit."

"What about the future?"

"Regulate, regulate, regulate. It's not just about America; for all their navel gazing, this kind of debacle on Wall Street impacts the world economy, markets around the globe."

"Like here in Canada."

"That's right. What's really sickening, is that the CEO's that were at the helm of this maelstrom may actually get richer, buying stocks when they're down. That's what the wealthy do when the markets are volatile, like Warren Buffet putting 5 billion into Goldman Sachs. If you've got any cash to spare, I'd recommend buying into the market now."

"I don't even know what extra cash looks like," I'm briefly dejected, missing my big chance to get rich.

"On the upside, the tolerance for corporate greed will take a hit, and that could halt the trend of giving corporations more rights than individuals." She narrowed her beady eyes, "I'm talking about accountability."

"So now that you've left the high rollers and squabbling politicians, what are your plans?"

"I need a vacation. I'm booked at a 6 star resort in the Cayman Islands called the Golden Handshake."

"For real?"

"You think a chick like me can afford six stars?" She clucked and collected her things, "catch you in the mango season".

I called out my thanks as she strutted out the door, leaving behind a trail of feathery indignation.


COMMENTS:

re: In Conversation with Chicken Little

I loved your interview with Chicken Little. She had such a clear grasp of what is going on in the world today. I would love to hear more of what Ms. Little has to say.
Bertha Birkenshop
Oct. 3, 8:42 am





Chicken Little Storms the Bastille
Digital Photo Collage

Lukanovich
www.lukanovich.com




In Conversation with Chicken Little - The Bailouts

Dec. 12, 2008
N. Lukanovich

Chicken Little had so charmed me during the first interview, I felt compelled to track her down and continue our conversation. She'd been in favor of the bailout on Wall Street, not enthusiastically, but still…I had to find out what her thoughts were now.

After several days of diligent hunting, I discovered she was in Puerto Vallarta, and this suited me well; there's nothing quite like a work-vacation. Buoyant that I'd managed to convince my editor that Chicken Little was the soothsayer of our times, I packed my bags and headed to the airport.

I was soon happily ensconced in my hotel, the tropical breeze wafting in through the sliding doors, soothing and melting my icy northern soul. A quick walk to the beach and within moments I spied Chicken Little sprawled out on a lounge chair sizzling under the burning rays, a shade over her eyes, steam rising up from her downy feathers.

I poked her ever so gently and she woke up enraged.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" I'd never heard a chicken snarl, and I didn't like it much.

"I wanted to ask you some questions. About, you know, the bailout and stuff."

"Ever heard of email?" She put the shade back over her eyes.

"I don't have your email," I snarled back. "So I was wondering, since the economy's still in the shitter, have you changed your mind about the bailout?" I was ready to listen to every cluck with rapt attention.

"I couldn't give a rat's ass about the bailout." She sat up and grabbed a beer out of her cooler, guzzling it back like a thirsty trucker. "You want one?"

I laid out my towel and got comfy. Chicken Little adjusted her bikini top and launched into a tirade.

"I'm not going to say I was wrong, because what I said was that the bankers had us by the balls. As it was, European leaders were jumping up and down and screaming that the U.S. government should have bailed out Lehman Brothers at the first whiff of trouble rather than let it sink; there's a lot of blame directed at the U.S. for the economic debacles overseas. I also said there needs to be oversight and firm regulations. It's not like I'm in control, you know, I'm just a goddamn chicken that no one listens too, anyway." Her breast heaved, her beak shiny and tremulous. She lit up a smoke, took a big drag, and settled back in her lounge.

I felt a little nervous, but pressed on.

"I suppose you heard about AIG and the execs enjoying retreats and seminars."

"Bunch of self-entitled pricks. Of course I heard. A golf and spa retreat at a resort in California, an executive hunting trip in England, and then a seminar for 150 members of the independent AIG Advisors Group at a resort in Phoenix. All to the tune of 800,000 bucks. They must be bent over double laughing; 150 billion of tax payers coin and they think they can act like royalty. They need re-education Mao style, that's what they need." She flicked her ashes with disdain, "re-education camp, a bit of hard labour, a month or so of digging in the dirt and eating grubs. That'll teach 'em."

"What about the bailout for the Big 3: GM, Chrysler and Ford?"

"I guess they figured they would make like Wall Street and go begging in Washington. The first time they went they arrived in corporate jets! Can you believe the audacity? There's little stomach for handouts after the Wall Street bailout, so there will be a lot more rules: getting rid of the jets for starters, no dividends for shareholders or bonuses to execs till after the loans are paid back, and they'll have to notify Washington about any transactions over 25 million, and submit to audits by the Government Accountability Office. Congress plans to shell out 14 billion in 'loans', not the 34 billion they asked for, about 10 to GM and 4 or 5 to Chrysler. Ford can carry on for the moment and just wants a line of credit. But all three will be demanding far more billions later in 2009; it'll add up to much more than the initially proposed 34 billion."

"Do you think the Big 3 deserve government aid?"

"I don't think they deserve a dime, no one does; they're using the auto-workers to ply for sympathy. They haven't been building fuel efficient cars and the CEO's have been earning between 15-21 million a year to mismanage the companies, so it does seem like failure, once again, is being amply rewarded. And really, considering how much more money the Big 3 will need to stay afloat, there's no guarantee they can pay back the so-called loans." She paused to crack open another beer. "Oh, I forgot, one of the conditions is that the auto-makers have to drop their lawsuits against states that are demanding low-emission standards. They're a bunch of self-entitled pricks just like the guys on Wall Street."

"It doesn't seem fair to small business owners who could use a bailout."

"It's not. Worse than that, there are shelters all over the U.S. turning away families who have no where to live, where's their bailout? The whole thing sickens me." I thought I heard her gagging, but she was cooing with excitement and peering down the beach.

"Here comes my hottie…" a studly rooster sporting a crisp sombrero waved hello. She was suddenly a different chicken entirely, oozing nothing but warmth and sensuality. Shifting more deeply into her lounge, she thrust out her chest, sucked in her gut, and preened carefully for his arrival.

I picked up my towel and stared down at this favorite chicken of mine. "If you could make a recommendation to the Senate, what would it be? There seems to be a deadlock, should they go ahead and pass the legislation?"

"I think they should figure out how far 34 billion would go to house homeless families, and think about taking the loans for the auto industry out of the 700 billion set aside for the financial bailout. I think it's time to stop giving to massive corporations and ignoring the poor." She looked up at me and winked: "It just might be time to storm the Bastille."


COMMENTS:

I'm sorry but that photo of Chicken Little storming the Bastille is gorgeous.
Maggie Fraser
Dec. 12




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