Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Home of the chickens

I was at The Bunker in Ybor last Friday where I heard some manbun-sporting bearded doofus with a bowtie say this:
"So, like, what's up with all these random chickens?"
In case you don't know ...and if you don't live around here, you probably don't... Ybor City is Tampa's party district and home to drag queens, shoe lickers, drunks, drug addicts, comedians, musicians, goths, gang bangers, street preachers, club kids, people who fold palm fronds into crucifixes, and chickens.

There are chickens all over the place.
Do I find that hilarious? Of course I do. Barnyard animals on the loose in an urban environment is always inherently comical. And chickens are the most ridiculous of all the barnyard animals. Still, I recognize and respect the chickens and their place in Ybor lore.

Ybor City was Tampa's first settled neighborhood and was the hub of the cigar industry with which Tampa has always been associated. But just like everywhere else, things in Ybor got tough during the '30s...
"The markedly decreased demand for cigars during the Great Depression of the 1930s had serious consequences for Ybor City. Many smokers found themselves unable to afford luxury items and switched to cheaper cigarettes, weakening the neighborhood's dominant industry and starting the area on a slow economic and social decline.
As occurred elsewhere, many businesses laid off workers or closed altogether and many banks failed. To help keep food on the table during hard times, many residents of Ybor City plowed under their yards or vacant lots to plant vegetables and bought cows, goats, and chickens to provide milk, eggs, and meat for the family, with any surplus sold around town. Interestingly, the descendants of those chickens still roam the area." - Wikipedia
That's right, these chickens have family roots in Ybor that go back almost 100 years and they've lived through some shit. The cows and goats are long gone but the chickens remain. Probably because the people who owned them died trying to catch and eat them. It's no small feat to be delicious and live through a period where all the humans around you are starving. Goats and cows don't move fast enough to get through something like that. But chickens are quick and nimble. And now Ybor City is theirs.
So show some respect. This is where the chickens live. You're just passing through. You're the random one in this equation, you dime-a-dozen PBR-swilling hipster poseur tourist.
Welcome to Ybor City.

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