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‘Roo Shooter at The Moth

November 13th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Kangaroo, Ute, Moon

In early 2004 I was an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback. Pretty much the only experience more bizarre and terrifying would be if I were to have worked with a kangaroo shooter at the National Zoo.

Before you go getting all fired up, remember that kangaroos are pests in Australia, and people eat their meat all the time. And meat does not just cheerfully lie itself down on the burger bun, either. Kangaroo meat is as free-range and organic as it gets, but you’ve still got to do a fair bit of old-fashioned killing to make it happen — and the process is disturbing, gory, and pretty hideous. Not unlike the rest of nature, the parts they don’t show you on the television programs.

But not a day goes by that I don’t think of that experience in some way or another. It taught me a lot. I learned to get tough, how to do some hard, hard work, and how to put aside all my pussified city liberal ideas and face the realities of the food chain.

I told this story at The Moth on October 22, 2009. I’d told it at the Moth last year, as well as at The Liar Show, Risk!, and Seth Lind’s Told. I’ve also told parts of this story to pretty much anyone that will sit still in my presence since early 2004. I think D.Billy, my co-blogger here, has seen me tell the thing each time, too.

I’ve pitched it to This American Life twice now, and had Ira Glass personally tell me to my face, that while he really likes the story as long as he is a broadcaster in the United States of America, it will not appear on his show. He was actually really nice about it – and he’s right. The story, in its original and best incarnation, has tons of appalling gore in it, the killing of defenseless baby kangaroos and uses the word “cunt” more times in ten minutes than most Americans have heard in their entire lives. And cutting that stuff out kinda neuters the whole enterprise.

If I’m this sick of telling this story, I can only imagine how tired my friends are of hearing it. And I’ve sure made a lot of hay off the experience on this blog.

Unless something tremendous happens, I feel like I can safely say that this story’s been done to death and put to bed here in New York City. It feels good to be all the way through this one and kinda wipe the slate clean for a batch of new stuff.

On the other hand, I’m about to go to Australia again for two weeks starting Saturday. And if I can claw my way in front of a microphone after a couple or six VBs, this thing might rise again. If any of you know of storytelling shows or reading series or something similar in Adelaide or Melbourne, please let me know. I’d love to try this or other stories in front of an Aussie audience.

11 Responses

  1. Mary T Says:

    I have heard this story many times, and never tire of hearing it.

  2. Mary T Says:

    Oh Yeah, and I should mention that I have heard the story many times because I asked you to tell it over and over…

  3. Fang Xianfu Says:

    Got linked here from Boing Boing, and I have to say you’ve polished that story to a mirror shine in the retellings. Engaging from start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed it :)

  4. gaininja Says:

    Ditto from BB. Great story, awesome delivery and indeed totally engaging. Now you just need a more extreme working holiday to get some new stories!

  5. Paul Says:

    Probably getter a better reception in Melbourne than Adelaide.

    Adelaide is a big ol country town, and almost everyone has an uncle or a cousin on a farm and has been spotlighting for roos at some point whilst visiting the farm for school holidays…

    Melbourne on the other hand pitches itself as “the most livable city in the world” and is full of multi cultural cityites who would get a kick out of your yarn.

    Oh – and in Australia, that is what it is best refered to as – a yarn. Describing is as a story is a subtly different meaning.


  6. King Dave Says:

    Found the link from Boingboing, and I loved the story!

  7. SAS Says:

    Piss off Paul. Not everyone in Adelaide is a hick.
    A million plus people make this a pretty bloody big country town!
    But your inference is correct – Melbourne is full of soft city types.

  8. Chris Says:

    But it’s brand-new to me! And amazing, and more importantly, well-told.

    I’d love to hear Ira’s rationale for declining it sometime.

  9. Brad Says:

    Well that was the first time I’ve heard it, and it was a great story. Appalling, heartfelt.

  10. Natasha Says:

    Have fun in the city of Churches but you are missing the Best in West……..Mark is in Melbourne…..when I’m in NY, I’ll be sure to snub you.

  11. teri brennan Says:

    Nice, easy shift in and out of Australian accent. I could appreciate your visceral details having helped my father vaccinate and castrate hogs. The splatter pattern is always the same.

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