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Thursday
Jan132011

March 1

Effort launched to make the chicken the state bird of Georgia

—from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, by Mike Morris

 

Dear Dixie,

Thank the Lord a particular fellow doesn’t want to change the state bird to the mosquito or the turkey vulture or to Tempest.  I couldn’t resist reading the big city newspaper article to my scholars today and noting their responses … some were angry and some confused and some kids were hugely unnerved.  After all, I know they spend so much time pondering the symbols of our state.

Sure they do.

I had to explain that it was just a movement … an idea taking place, but well organized and managed and with a fascinated audience and some momentum … so I had to go over, all over again, how the Georgia General Assembly works and how bills are introduced and voted on and whatnot that deal with changing the state bird to a chicken.  I about passed out myself.  I’m not so sure lawmakers find it all that thrilling either unless it’s their bill.  If this makes it to the gavel and we change the state bird from the brown thrasher to the chicken I’m more afraid that the rest of the world might view us as a bunch dumb rednecks and I would hate that.  This is a classy state.  We’ve got the Masters.

Anyhow, this fellow’s so organized he’s even got a pretty good looking web site called flipthebirds with videos of him expressing his bird-flipping views from a booth in one of his fried chicken restaurants.  I pecked around on the site and learned something pretty damn fascinating about the chickens we humans breed and raise and fry to eat: they’re 75% water.  Humans, you know, are 72% water, so all I can get out of that business is that chickens are made of more water than humans.

Anyway, here’s the article I read using sort of an obnoxious sports radio announcer voice that they absolutely love for a while and they giggle and thrill in it, and then they end up hating my obnoxious radio announcer voice very much about thirty seconds later ...  

RESTAURATEUR HOPES CHICKEN FLIES AS STATE BIRD

An Augusta restaurateur has something new on the menu: He wants to change Georgia’s state bird from the brown thrasher to the Cornish chicken.

Somebody screams, What the heck?  Somebody else screams after that, I can’t believe it!  And then somebody else screams, If this guy wins we won’t be able to eat chicken anymore.  Chick-fil-A will go under!

Chris Cunningham is serious about the movement.  He finds nothing compelling about the thrasher but is a big booster of the chicken. 

He has a web site supporting a new fowl to follow.

“The brown thrasher hasn’t done anything,” Cunningham said in a video on his web site.  “It’s a pretty bird—nothing against the brown thrasher.  But the chicken brings millions of dollars.”

Cunningham is president of the eight Wife Saver restaurants in Georgia and South Carolina, a franchise his family started in Augusta in 1965.  The eatery heavily promotes fried chicken, roasted chicken, barbeque chicken and chicken and dumplings among its dinner fare.

The idea for the bird swap came to him over patio cocktails with his wife.   “We were sitting there thinking, ‘What a waste,’ ” Cunningham said of his moment of inspiration.  “The brown thrasher is the state bird, and what’s it ever done for the state of Georgia?”

Montene screams: They’re drunk!  That’s why he’s doing this!  Then she takes a deep breath and screams some more: Oh, my God!  When we go to Augusta to see my aunt we always get food from Wife Saver!  I love roasted chicken … and rotisserie chicken … and baked chicken … and any kind of chicken! 

And my response to Montene’s screaming some more response was this: Lord, Montene, take another deep breath and let’s read some more.  And quit gripping your desk so hard.

He said brown thrashers are everywhere, notably hanging out in his backyard, blending into the background.

Montene screams, They’re drunk! 

The chicken, on the other hand, is processed in abundance in the northeast portion of the state and shipped all over the world.

“If it wasn't for the chicken, Georgia's economy would be in the tank,” Cunningham said.

Some more examples of what they screamed at this point: Chick-fil-A is done! … So we’ll have to change the name of our hockey team to the Atlanta Chickens.  Hockey chickens!  … This is so lame!  I won’t vote for it! … If this is such a big deal, then why doesn’t every state make the chicken their state bird!

On his web site, filled with chicken facts and trivia, he asks visitors to sign an online petition and join him in his grassroots efforts: buy a T-shirt, erect a yard sign, call a politician, crow like a rooster—whatever works.

More pinpoint reactions: Boog clucks, but under his breath, If the state bird becomes the chicken I’m leaving the state!  

Petal clucks very loudly, If the state bird becomes a chicken I’m leaving the state! 

Then somebody says, Tad, I left my chapter 17 and 18 study guide under my Airsoft guns at home!

“I just want to see how people think about it, and maybe the legislators might listen to us,” Cunningham said.  “At least the chicken will get a little respect out of the deal.”

Okay, so there’s that.  I breathlessly told them to work on their study guides … or read something for Old Burrell.

I juked it back to my desk in the back and went to the web site again, flipthebirds.com, and clicked where you could type in your name on an electronic petition.  I think this is a great idea.  I don’t have anything against the brown thrasher either.  When I was a kid I shot at birds with my BB gun … sure, me and a whole bunch of my unwashed misfit awful friends my mother wouldn’t let in our house … but I knew better than to aim at the dang state bird or a bald eagle but I never saw too many bald eagles flying around south Cobb County, Georgia.

 

 

Next Entry ... March 8: Sorry, I Lost My Head