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Interview: JM Porup Talks About the Global War on Fat & the Glorious Empire of Air

October 13
21:07 2012
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
Imagine the US being taken over by a zealous fundamentalist who announces a War on Fat. He calls himself the Prophet and orders all food destroyed. His solution is to learn to eat air. It sounds absurd, but eating air takes faith. When a person has that faith they can chew and swallow it, and it will give them sustenance. If they can’t survive eating air, they don’t have enough faith. They are imprisoned in Fat Camp. 

After reading JM Porup’s latest satire The United States of Air (getyour free ebook copy here), I had a few questions I wanted to ask him. I sent him an email with the following questions. The answers I received have not been edited in even the slightest way.
Why ‘The United States of Air?’ Why a war on food? How did you go about choosing this premise to create your satire? 

Because the US of A is the greatest country in the world, Adam. The greatest blessing humanity has ever seen. Without our nation’s righteous love of freedom, what would the rest of the world do? Why, they’d still be enslaved to addictive caloric substances, otherwise known in ghetto street lingo as “food.”The Global War on Fat in which our glorious Empire of Air is currently engaged–Adam, this is the defining conflict not just of our age, but of any age. We are struggling to lift up the human race to a new, higher plane of evolution. Food is a drug. You don’t need to eat. That’s a myth. All you need is air.

And not just any kind of air. Oxygen, to be precise. Did you know that oxygen contains all the vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and electrolytes your body needs? It does!

I just gulp down those scrumptious gaseous molecules. Yum yum yummy!

If only the food terrists and ferrners out there could see the light. They hate us for our freedom. Our freedom to eat air. All because they remain enslaved to addictive caloric substances. How my heart goes out to them! And to you! Are you a slave to your dinner plate, Adam? Big hug. That’s it. Big hug.

Gotcha.

Yes, I know the handcuffs are tight. But they’re going to stay there until the Food Court judge sentences you to Fat Camp. Then you too will have a chance to learn to eat air.

By the way, I don’t get what you mean by “satire.” Or perhaps you meant “attire”? Well, I get all my trench coats at a shop for ATFF agents. I don’t really have a lot of choice in the matter. The standard uniform for special agents (like me) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Food is a trench coat with a tape measure tied tight around the waist. It makes me feel so fat. Eighteen inches! Look at all this fat I can pinch. And here. And here. And here!

What function do you think satire plays in our society of corruption and greed? Can satire be used as a weapon? 

Since the Prophet banned food, our nation has become a corruption-free zone. From sea to shining sea, all crime has been eliminated–by the simple act of eating air.
Global warming. Crowded jails. Nuclear weapons. Drivers who forget to signal. All our social ills are caused by one thing only: the stuff we put in our mouths that we don’t need. By food. By calories. And by eliminating the source of all these evils, and enforcing a zero-calorie air-only diet, we turn our country into a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, a beacon that other nations may follow on their own journeys down the Superhighway of Purity and Air. 

And yes, my attire as an ATFF agent is a very effective weapon. It strikes fear into the hearts of food terrists everywhere. When we walk the streets–or, more likely, patrol the Georgetown food ghetto in our government-issued Smart Cars–we remind a loyal citizenry of our nation’s dedication to the cause of eating air.

One of my favorite parts of the book takes place in the massive underground NSA laboratory. We find the agency has “wiretapped” every toilet in America. Why are Americans so complacent about our surveillance society? Would we even complain if the NSA were watching us emptying our bowels?
Adam, I’m glad you asked this question. This is a very important question. People need to hear the answer.It is only by tapping our nation’s toilets that we can root out food terrism once and for all. This may seem extreme to some of you, but remember: only food terrists ever go poo-poo. The vast majority of Americans–I mean, Airitarians–eat nothing but oxygen all day long.

Anyone who complains about government surveillance of their potty–well, let me ask you this. What are they hiding?

What are you hiding, Adam?

You hit the major points of national contention: indefinite detention of Americans, the unending War on Drugs and Terror, the elusive bin Laden bogeyman figure that is the cause of all our national woes, the double standard for our elected officials, re-education/internment camps, a frightening and ubiquitous NSA surveillance state, and the lack of concern for an impoverished citizenry. You seamlessly tie these elements into your story, and you make it look rather simple. How does a writer craft such a detailed world parallel to our own, and still keep the story funny and moving forward?

Thank you, Adam. It’s very nice of you to compliment me like that. The daily briefs I submit to my ATFF superiors regularly run to hundreds of pages–the Girl Scout cookie busts, the bikers with chocolate cookies, the students with their ramen noodles.

But I must give credit where credit is due. Without the inspiration the pure oxygen diet brings, I would never be able to write with such clarity and simplicity. Truly, without the Prophet’s vision–as detailed in his bestseller, Food-Free At Last–I would never be the writer and special agent I am today.

Abraham Lincoln freed the blacks from slavery. The Prophet freed us from the Tyranny of Food.

Let us bow our heads and give thanks. Thank you, Mine Prophet. For this and every other blessing in my life, I owe to you and you alone.

Your book is dedicated to the fools who still believe. Your protagonist, ATFF Agent Frolick, believes so fully in everything the Prophet says, even as his family literally starves. Do you view our current USA as a country filled with a bunch of Agent Frolicks? If so, why do so many Americans “eat up” the lies and hypocrisy fed to them?
 

Now I see what you are doing. You are such a cynic, Adam. You remind me of my partner, Special Agent Harry Green. Ever since the Prophet banned food, all lying and hypocrisy have miraculously vanished–just as our Fearless Leader himself predicted.The US of A is filled with loyal Americans–I mean, Airitarians–who salute the flag, believe in the Prophet and cherish their God-given freedom to eat air.

Every other nation in the world is jealous of our great country. I mean, wouldn’t you be?

The Prophet’s takeover of America was frighteningly easy. Despite the humor, you created a hellish picture of America. What kind of future do you see for the USA?  

I have a dream, Adam. A dream of a Food-Free World. When not a single child in the Turd World is forced to pinch off a loaf. When every freedom-loving nation on the planet embraces the Prophet’s gospel of eating air, and we stand, hand in hand, six billion people strong, the entire human race, gulping down God’s own atmosphere, and evolving to the next stage of evolution.Thank God for the US of A. Without our great nation, the rest of the world would be doomed to suffer at the hands of the food terrists, like Fatso, the head of the French Food Mafia, who would do anything to see us enslaved to addictive caloric substances.

Remember, we Americans–I mean, Airitarians–no longer live in the reality-based community. We make our own reality. If we decide to eat air, then by gosh and golly, we’re going to eat air!

To read The United States of Air, get your free copy here — the offer expires on Guy Fawkes Day.

Former Lonely Planet author J.M. Porup now writes satire. American by birth, Australian by choice, Colombian by marriage and Canadian by accident, he escaped from the US in 1999 and plans to renounce his citizenship. His first editor — way back in the mid-90s — called him aloose cannon. Ever since, Porup has done his best to live up to that high standard.

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