Chuck E. Cheese’s: Panem et Circenses

The first time my friend the Irish-American author Brendan T. Costello went to Chuck E. Cheese’s he came armed with a copy of the Viking Portable Dostoevsky. A fine choice but an even better one for navigating this particular circle of hell would be “Eden Eden Eden” by Pierre Guyotat.

If the sounds of American children screaming and fighting over the bastardized cardboard they call pizza like a gaggle of bald headed eaglets does not frighten you at first, consider the video games with their images of war and savagery, consumerism and imperialist ambitions. One would think it were just the sheer cacophony and over-stimulation that made Chuck E. Cheese’s one of the most dangerous restaurant chains in America with violence breaking out among parents almost every month if not with greater frequency. It goes beyond that. The squeals of the immature Yankee toddlers and pre-teens form a violent chorus almost begging to be either saved or silenced. The whole establishment resembles a metaphoric pit, not the pit of Kobo Abe’s Woman in the Dunes but the actual pit that Guyotat lived in during the Algerian Civil War. Consider this passage from Eden, Eden, Eden:

“In the palace of gilded wood, pigs stir among the barrels at the end of the yard, small birds flutter around, the sun vibrates in the blue, the prisoners howl, lying on the slush of cock droppings, a child, iron-armoured, tightly wrapped in leather, pricks them with a stick, they then become silent, hold out their arms, open their hands, frogs jump out of them, their song dies on the slush…”

Or better yet:

“Khamssieh’s hand, weak, crushing tarantula in nostril : venom hardening forehead ; fingernails scraping cold blood around nipples ; pulling dead tarantula, pinching sticky legs, out of nostril, pushing crushed spider between buttocks ; exhausted elbows dropping onto heaps of floor-cloths : penis contracting into shriveled scrotum ; odour of sodomy wafting through room ; rubbing of jeans, farts : regular in dawn silence….”

If you wish to relive the French colonial disaster in the Maghreb perhaps Chuck E. Cheese’s is a decent approximation. On my end however, the horror is so extreme, so enveloping that one would truly need to invent a new language in order to describe the barbarity at least within the parameters of a restaurant reviewer. I am also wondering if this chain is somehow connected to #pizzagate.

Final verdict: Not recommended.