The other night found us both looking quite glamorous, CSB in his tuxedo – and what chicken farming beekeeper doesn’t want to spend a hot & humid June evening trussed up in black and white and studs?- and me vertiginous in Reine’s gold lame’s high heeled sandals, careening down Broadway to Scenic Hudson’s gala at Gotham Hall. For those of us who relish irony-in-general, and weird-juxtapositions-in-particular, what better place for extolling the merits of conserving wilderness and saving almost-extinct species of anteater than an early 20th century colonnaded Temple to Mammon?*
The next morning - seeking chicken feed - required a different wardrobe and took me to a very different part of town. From the Major Degan I exited into a surreal landscape known as the Bathgate Industrial Complex, and from there I drove past monolithic brick projects, past the Diana Sands School (And of course I had to find out who Diana Sands is or was: an actress who played Beneatha Younger in Raisin in the Sun, and Joan in Saint Joan, and died terribly young.), past the featured oxtail soup at the Tree of Life Café, past African Groceries and Hallal Meats squeezed between the biggest MacDonald’s I’ve ever seen and a BP gas station with a sign saying “We Apologize to All Pelicans” where the gas prices are usually found.
Finally I arrived at the Animal Feed store, which may sound simple, but I know people who have looked & looked and never found it, because it looks nothing at all like Petco or The Feed Store in Bedford Hills. At the apex of a triangle whose other corners are Bronx Gospel Hall and Iglesia de Cristo Misionaria, Bronx Animal Feed is a one-story windowless warehouse sheathed in corrugated metal completely adorned with murals and graffiti, such that it is impossible to distinguish which is which.
Inside it is vast, dimly lit, and appears to have everything you need to feed any type of fowl or amphibian or canine or feline. The owner or manager is a stately white-haired lady; the sales clerks are all young men with droopy drawers and backward baseball caps, and all terribly sweet.
The one who helps me smiles so broadly I notice his tongue stud and I have to bite my own tongue in order to keep myself from launching into my Why-A-Tongue-Stud-is-a-Bad-Idea–and-Will-End-Up-Costing-You-Thousands-in-Dental-Bills spiel. I am constantly shocked when a young person does not want to hear me on this subject. The only other customer was a man from Brooklyn. We shared a few chicken stories and then he told me that for 2 months last year he ate only food from his backyard, with the exception of salt, pepper & coffee. He slaughters the chickens in his garage. He said it would have been better had his potatoes done better.
*And I should mention that the dome of the Gotham Hall in question, formerly the Greenwich Savings Bank, features a field of hexagons filled with running Greek keys.