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SF Gay Pride Parade 2000

August 11th, 2000

Off And Eat Them
I drove into work this morning and walked to the office from my parking space near the Farmer's Market. There was a crowd of older Asian men and women standing in line in front of two trucks from which men were unloading stacks of what looked like red plastic milk crates, the kind that hold, say, a dozen of the standard square milk cartons you buy at a supermarket, except these were filled with nervous and, I thought, unusually quiet chickens. Hundreds of chickens, half a dozen to a crate.

And the people standing in line were waiting to buy one of these chickens, each watching as his or her chicken was lifted from its crate and placed into a brown paper bag by a young man who would pop open the bag holding the chicken upright in his right hand and fit the mouth of the bag over the chicken's head with his left, closing the bag at the bottom and stapling it shut. The buyer, bag under their arm, would then go about their business.

I assume they do this very early on Friday mornings as the market booths are being set up because I've SF Gay Pride Parade 2000. never seen this on mornings when I've arrived later and I've never seen them selling chickens during the day in the market itself. (You understand, you have a cold, you can't sleep so you wake up early and go to work at 6:30? You don't?) There was no obvious ill handling of chickens going on here, mind you, at least during that brief moment when I was passing, but it had the weird feeling of a clandestine military operation, well rehearsed, trucks rolling up into the center of town, weapons (or pods, if you're an Invasion of the Body Snatchers aficionado) being handed over to the locals who pop up out of nowhere, take their packages and disappear. Quiet, nicely executed, the trucks, quickly emptied, driving off.

Maybe next Friday I will come in early and shoot some color photographs. Red plastic cases, brown chickens, you understand. I'm not sure why the scene struck me as being so surreal other than the hurried clandestine quality I got from it. Nothing sinister or wrong. These were local people, after all, who were just going to take them home, chop their heads off and eat them.

The photographs were taken at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. The quote under The Sole Proprietor title is by Christina Georgina Rossetti, except the proper quote is "Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad" from Remember, 1862.