April 20, 2010

Playing Chicken

Today I grabbed my newest camera, a few lenses and took a long walk through my neighborhood. What a beautiful day. The locals filled the sidewalks hanging out, playing dominoes, eating, drinking beer in little brown paper bags and socializing. On every corner there were little carts selling various foods and beverages. Snow cones, grilled meat, tacos, fresh squeezed orange drinks, empanadas and frozen fruit ices (I got a mango cup for a $1). Pretty much any type of Caribbean street food you can think of is out there. I usually grab a cafe con leche at a little bakery and zig zag through "the 'hood" on these walks. I tried to take a few portraits but the locals wouldn't have any part of it. I walked past three heavily tattooed Dominican guys about 19 years old who asked me if I was a cop. I said, "Do I look like a cop?" They laughed and said in unison, "Yeah, you do." Then they walked towards me in what might be perceived as a "threatening manner." Definitely intimidating. Feeling like I was about to get my ass kicked and lose $4000 in camera equipment I quickly blurted out, "I'm a friend of Al's. You know Al, big Al, really nice big guy. Walks around with a camera?" The leader of this group paused a moment and then extended his hand and introduced himself. "I'm Eddie, I know Al." Al is a local guy who hangs out on the street and is an amateur photographer. He approached me on the street one day and we struck up a conversation about photography. Nice guy and a good photographer. Now we get together every couple of weeks for breakfast and a chat at the local diner. Thank God Eddie knew Al.

After that tense little moment I decided to walk up to a place that sells live poultry on the other end of the block about a half mile away. I walked in and told the guy behind the counter I wanted three chicken heads, actually, rooster heads. The guys working there looked at me like I was crazy. I explained that I was going to take some photos of the heads. A few minutes later they came from the back with a small black bag. They offered the heads for free, digging them out of the trash but I gave them $5 and told them to buy a cerveza for the effort. I walked home with that little bag of heads, set up a light and tried to channel Irving Penn. I washed off the largest rooster head, dried it off and set it on a film canister. I was amazed at the detail and how much it looked like some prehistoric lizard. I had never really studied a rooster head before. Amazing.

1 comment:

  1. That fucking thing is giving you the stink eye. You're cursed now Stephen. I'm sorry to tell you. I'm cursed too. Do you know how many of those things I've eviscerated, trussed and roasted? Cursed, I tell you. Chickens are cursed.