And maybe it is to Waits, rather than Orwell or Huxley, that we should look for wisdom on our current predicament. On Thursday, the N ew York Times published a wonderful series of interviews featuring Waits, Beck, and Kendrick Lamar, each speaking at some length on the subject of writing songs. Or approximately that: Waits, as is his habit, told a funny and poignant story that is true (and may even have happened) about his (purported) career as a fireman in his youth. After all the drills and practice, he was ready for something dramatic, and finally got called to his first fire. The air, he says, was full of the familiar smell of fried chicken: His squad had been called to a burning chicken farm, and Waits describes, in his poetic way, the poignant contrast between the couple watching their home and livelihood go up in literal flames while Waits and his fellow fireman made mad and hilarious efforts to hose down flaming chickens.