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A Plague of Locusts

March 19, 2012

“There has never been a darker or more helpless moment in the whole of American history.”

— Bill Bryson, from At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Bryson is writing about the Rocky Mountain locust swarms that devastated the American West during the 1870’s, leaving people uncertain as to whether their visits would be a permanent feature of life there and afraid they might expand eastward. I cannot assess his judgment as to relative historical darkness/helplessness, but I would like to think that he is right, and that our lowest moment as a people should have been so charmingly entomological and thrillingly Biblical. And now so forgotten.

Strangely enough, I have never read The Day of the Locust or The Locusts Have No King nor listened to the band The Locust. If I had I would undoubtedly have more to say on locust-related topics, American literature, and abrasive music. Locusts should not be confused with lotuses or cicadas. Thirty years after they formed “the greatest concentration of animals ever recorded”  — according to Guinness, the Irish brewing company — the Rocky Mountain locusts were extinct.

Locusts are kosher.

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