The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Siamang - Issue Seven
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The Siamang, photo from Christian ArtusoThe Siamang
(Symphalangus syndactylus) is a tailless, arboreal, black furred gibbon inhabits the forest remnants of Sumatra Island and the Malay Peninsula, and is widely distributed from lowland forest to montane forest, even a rainforest. Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is the third largest protected area (3,568 km≤) in Sumatra, of which approximately 2,570 km≤ remains under forest cover inhabit by 22,390 siamangs. The Siamang's melodious choir singing breaks the forest's silence in the early morning. The largest of the lesser apes, the Siamang can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 1 m in height, and weighing up to 14 kg.
The Siamang eats at least 160 species of plants, from vines to woody plants. It also eats flowers and a few animals, mostly insects. Although the Siamang can live up to 30+ years, the illegal pet trade takes a toll on wild populations. Poachers kill the mothers because mother Siamang are highly protective of their infants. A major threat to the Siamang is habitat loss due to plantation, forest fire, illegal logging, encroachment, and human development. Palm oil plantations have removed large areas of the Siamang's habitat in the last four decades. These and other illegal activities have devastated their remaining tropical rainforest especially in Sumatra.


Go Ducks!


Thomas Sullivan

The light turns green. I ease off the clutch and start to hit the gas. One excruciatingly long second passes before the guy behind me hits the horn and flies into a rage. He shakes his head and lifts his meaty hands into a What-Gives-Asshole-I've-Got-Places-To-Be gesture.

I turn left onto the highway as the guy screams past me on my right. The car, an aging Ford Mustang with thin wheels and shiny rims, definitely downplays the owner's importance. It must just be a backup car to use while the minions are waxing the Benz. This guy is obviously a big, significant man with important places to be in this town of 52,000, perhaps the owner of the Subway franchise or a local politician. Five seconds later the Mustang's brake lights flash like an angry alpha-animal displaying its god-given warning to enemies.

I ease my car up behind the listing Mustang and look at the wisdom displayed across the flaking metal and dirty glass. An orange sticker on the rear window proudly announces that there are BEAVERS ON BOARD! I chuckle through a fantasy of a pimp buying the sticker online with no idea that the Beavers are actually one of Oregon's two 3rd rate college football teams. I glance down to the bumper, where another sticker proclaims "Beavers Inside, Ducks In The Trunk."

When you look at that, it's not hard to see how we're still fighting two wars. In this guy's mind, war is probably just another type of sporting match. Another way to feel good about kicking some serious ass.

I think back to a job I once held here in Oregon. On my first day at work, during a cursory introduction to the other inmates, a puffy guy looked up from his logo-laden cubicle and asked if "I was a Duck or a Beaver."

I replied that I was a kitten, because "I'm so cute." The guy just stared. I didn't last there long.

Moving my eyes across the rusted-out bumper I see another sticker. This one reads "I Bleed Black And Orange." From the looks of the Mustang, the only thing this guy is really bleeding is money.

The light changes to green. The guy shifts his head upright from a Slanted-To-The-Side-Because-This-Light-Is-So-Putting-Me-Out position and squeals through the intersection, racing off to his remedial reading class. I inch through the tire smoke and roll under the light with a sudden, uplifting realization -- every time the Beavers lose, this guy probably squanders another boozy weekend, trapped in the grips of pure misery. Like recently, when the Beavers lost to the Ducks.

So much for being a kitten. I'm ready to flare my little paws and choose sides. Even if this is the age of building new stadiums with sweet locker rooms while paying for it with higher tuition and larger class sizes. I'm ready to pick sides in this juvenile battle between thick-necked, full-scholarship, low-GPA armies. Ya know, I don't really care that three Duck players just got busted for breaking into a fraternity and stealing computers. Whatever, this is war.


Thomas Sullivan is the author of Life In The Slow Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education. For information on this title, and to view more of Thomasí writing, please visit his author website at

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