“W.F.” — Conversations over Stolen Food, Pt. 1 of 4

We (Jon Cotner, Andy Fitch) recorded forty-five-minute conversations for thirty straight days around New York City. Half these talks took place at a Union Square health-food store which, for legal reasons, we call “W.F.” Other locations included MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, Prospect Park, and a Tribeca parking garage. This piece comes from the first conversation.

7:43 p.m. Friday, December 29
Union Square W.F.

A: Hmm I’ve lifted a Harper’s, just to try out…

J: We know some of the staff so that should be ok.

A: I did wonder if he, if Harper’s loses money on the theft. Would you…

J: No I don’t think so. Perhaps the store loses a bit of money. Still…

A: Now I’d hoped we wouldn’t mention this store’s name.

J: Oh we can always edit that.

A: Right. But I’d like to say I embrace this this store as a socially beneficial one; I question my taking things from here. They have…have we discussed that companies contest the organic label? A consortium of food-industry lobbyists tries to reduce the “organic” criteria, so…

J: You’re kidding.

A: factories can add synthetic elements to what still gets called organic food. And W.F. leads the charge against—one chain won’t cooperate…

J: I didn’t realize they had a sense of ethics. I’d thought they mostly worried about making profits. I had no idea.

A: Well thousands of co-ops could tell you this place doesn’t care much about ethics. [Pause] I also read in the Sunday Magazine that food brands I’ll identify with come from major corporations. Muir Glen for instance…

J: Yes.

A: A standard, right?

J: A staple.

A. Great tomato sauce, soups taste good.

J: That’s right.

A: Kraft, I think. No General Mills owns it.

J: Why…

A: Boca Burgers—again a constant of mine, always several in the freezer—I think Kraft owns that. They form front-companies. Boca Burger gets based in Madison Wisconsin to make it look like a nice, progressive, granola (we’ll have to take that word out) food source, yet offers more of the same.

J: Well well if you think about it, we inhabit a corporate culture providing tons of choices. Should we place effort…should we try to escape this culture? Or should we settle down and make ourselves at home as life keeps drifting in this direction?

A: Impossible to decide. But we lose much while complaining. As I’d started to complain I noticed less. Just before I’d felt better and watched a girl with um humongous breasts approach that guy with curly hair, hand him a letter then run off giggling.

J: Here in the café? I stared at a different…

A: This man laughed with a person seated opposite, someone he didn’t know, so that situation too derived from the letter.

J: Was the girl good-looking?

A: Very much so. The the man circled around twice after denying interest in the girl.

J: Well did he recoil because he’s repressed?

A: I doubt we can…

J: Because he wants affection to take recognizable forms and exclude spontaneous development? Does he need all love to look the same?

A: I’ve responded similarly when confronted by women. Am I all that repressed? How could we gauge it? I’ll experience joy watching people stretch here. I’d assume repressed people don’t notice such things. Occasionally I get lost watching people get lost scooping fruit from cups held close to their mouths—as if eating noodles.

J: I picture outdoor restaurants in Beijing, not that I’ve traveled to Beijing: I’ve watched some Chinese films and can recall images of couples sharing steaming noodles. [Silence] So you’d consider this a fitting place to hold conversations, a pleasant forum, a suitable environment?

A: I think of Kierkegaard in the town square and I’m…

J: Not his study, right? TC mark

Image via

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is the online destination for culture, a place for content without the clutter. Coverage spans the ...

This Book Is For You 👇

The cover and theme for my newest book was inspired by the concept of kintsugi. All that is dark or cracked within us has the capacity to be fixed, to be filled with light. We are never broken. We are always becoming. 

“Live a life that is driven; not by fear, but by love.” — Bianca Sparacino

Click Here

More From Thought Catalog

Sponsored by Homecoming available now on Amazon Prime Video

The People Bringing You Delicious Dairy

A new Thought Catalog series exploring our connection to each other, our food, and where it comes from.

Meet Alise Sjostrom
  • Jim

    This is funny.

  • http://twitter.com/MollyWest12th Molly Oswaks

    Really? This sounds a little too “Amos and Andy” to be genuine off-the-cuff conversation.

    • Jim

      Obviously been edited heavily. Not verbatim.

      • TerrenceFunkhauser

        If it isn't verbatim, what's the point? Enjoyed it, but the whole angle was that this conversation actually happened. It should feel authentic, not edited.

      • Jon

        Here's an mp3 of the first conversation: http://bit.ly/bWQgg3

        When typing these conversations, Andy and I don't add material. We'll tighten our exchanges — cutting lines here or there, removing occasional stutters, replacing “to be” with active verbs, etc. Something to keep in mind is that 300+ pages of unedited dialogue would get dull pretty fast. Finally, Andy and I have known each another over ten years, and have hundreds of unrecorded conversations in our past. Our “off-the-cuff conversation” might sound “heavily edited” or “inauthentic,” but if you listen to the mp3, you'll hear it's how we talk.

      • TerrenceFunkhauser

        Well, I'm impressed. Also, why don't you go flat out Gonzo and interact with people in the store or something.

      • Jon

        Sometimes other people appear in the conversations, both inside and outside W.F.

  • Katie G.

    I love this and can't wait for part 2.

  • chris

    do they have police in the “w.f” you frequent? they do in new orleans, but then again, i think there are police in every “large store” here…

    • Jon

      In Part 2, Andy and I discuss “undercovers.”

      • chris

        oh right on. these are like uniformed, gun toting, pigs.

blog comments powered by Disqus