Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Western Avenue Series

Mile 23: Peterson-Pratt
This painting is a part of my Western Avenue Series, through which I'll be making 24 watercolor paintings, one to document each mile of Western Avenue, in Chicago.  I started this project because while it is not considered to be among the most “beautiful” of Chicago’s streets, Western Avenue is a perfect place to document the humanness of Chicago, the positive and the negative. In the words of Stuart Dybek, "Western, with apologies to State Street, is a great street,  Unlike State, it is a street that goes to the interior, the heart of the city, as it glides and glows through a United Nations of neighborhoods."  Check back next Monday to see a post about the next mile of Western.
I decided to make a painting of Chicago Live Poultry because I was so surprised to discover it as I walked along Western.  As the name implies, it at Chicago Live Poultry, once can have a  live chicken, rooster, hen, rabbit, duck, turkey, pheasant, or pigeon for slaughter in a Zabiha/Halal traditional way. On their website it says, "As you select the product of your choice, we than slaughter it in Zabiha/Halal traditional way, cut & dress it for you with in minutes while you wait."

I haven't ventured in because as a pescetarian, I don't have a need for "live" poultry.  I was fascinated, to read this Yelp review of the Western Avenue storefront:
"My wife and I were headed to our usual meat market when we saw their sign advertising "live" poultry. We decided to go in. As soon as we opened the car door, we felt the overwhelming stink of chicken droppings. Undeterred, we pressed on.

The place was pretty bare. A counter with some pricing information and a few coolers with fresh eggs on the right...As soon as we said we wanted chickens, the gentleman in the front asked us to go in the back. As we were walking back there, we saw the slaughter room to our left. It was cleaner than what I expected. This was probably because they seem to wash it after every order. We saw them wash it down three times during the 20 minutes we were there.

When we got to the back room, we noticed that chickens were very clean looking and were not cramped as we had expected. They have two kinds -- the usual white feathered "farm chicken," and the brown/black feathered "country chicken."

Then it was time to "select" our chickens. I have to admit, we were both a little hesitant to pick the ones to get whacked. The guy must have seen this happen enough times because he instantly realized it and offered to pick them out for us. He picked out 4 chickens, then weighed them in a plastic carton, deducted the weight of the carton, and told us our total...
About ten minutes later, we had our chicken cut up in pieces."

Have you ever selected live poultry for dinner?
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