VOL. 1  NO. 2  SEPTEMBER 1999



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Ah, chicken! Everywhere you go in my neighborhood you see chickens. They are roasted and hanging in the windows of restaurants, or packed into cages in live poultry stores, waiting to be selected and slaughtered to your specifications. And then of course there's the dancing, tic-tac-toe playing chicken.

I see that I have your attention. A dancing, tic-tac-toe playing chicken! Yes, this phenomenal poultry specimen resides in my own hometown, New York City's Chinatown. You can find him at the Chinatown Fair, ensconced in a plexiglass coop among the video games and unsavory characters.

Upon entering the Chinatown Fair, you are greeted by the sounds of evaporating aliens, dying X-Men and the yelps of various Japanese arcade games. And there, in a place of honor, is the famous chicken. At first glance you may pity the poor bird, caged in a machine maybe only twice its size. There's some cornmeal, but no fresh air.

But what the heck, it's not your problem; you're not a chicken. So just drop in your two quarters and be glad it wasn't your misfortune to be born food.

Your fifty cents entitles you to your choice of two options: a game of tic-tac-toe or a dance. On my first visit I challenge it to tic-tac-toe.

I mark the center square with an X, a standard first move. The bird pokes at something in the corner of its cage, causing an O to appear in the top right corner. Ah-ha, I think and proceed to mark the block at the bottom right corner, but the bird anticipates my strategy and claims the top left corner. Of course there's no Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Lynn or Jim J. Bullock to crack bad jokes and distract the chicken from its game plan. On my next move I'm forced to block in the middle and the game ends in a tie.

Diabolical chicken! In all the years I've watched it take on one opponent after another, I've never seen a challenger come away with a win. Obviously, the chicken cheats.

I shouldn't even discuss the chicken's other talent, dancing. It's apparent that the trick behind this performance is the miracle of electricity. The wire grate it stands on is evidently electrified, and the chicken's jerky dance is only a reaction to the jolts.

Oh, that's awful, you might scream. As one of the vanquished, I have a hard time feeling sorry for this chicken. And anyway, a few shocks can't be worse than having its head chopped off so it can be butchered, dipped in a nice seasoned flour mixture, dropped into boiling oil and, when its skin is a crispy, sizzling, delectable golden brown, devoured by someone like yours truly. Yummy.

I wonder how much blood money the Chinatown Fair has made off its performing chicken over the years. It's a wonder that P.E.T.A. hasn't shut them down. But what the heck; it's New York City, isn't it?

- Philip Chin

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