The Revolution Will be Poultry-Sized

What the cluck is going on around here? First the Denver Botanic Gardens started hosting super-popular “urban chicken” classes, despite hardly anyone being sure the birds were actually allowed in Denver. Then up in Fort Collins, locals started crowing for hen-friendly zoning laws. And now the Colorado Springs Gazette, seizing upon a city loophole that permits chickens, is calling for a full-feathered revolution: “Chickens are suddenly cool, and chickens we have in growing abundance. We are rock stars of urban planning… Now, the city should take deregulation a few steps further and allow all small livestock that can thrive in urban yards.”

It’s like Snowball has returned to Animal Farm and brought with him the entirety of Colorado’s Libertarian party. What we have here, my friends, is a trend. A chicken trend. And when reporters happen upon such a “trend,” we are required by law to write a snappy puff piece about it. But since 1) I’m lazy and 2) you have a short attention span, I’m settling for an abridged version of the whole shebang. Here goes:

Our puff piece must begin with a colorful anecdote, like that of a picturesque city-slicker couple who’ve begun raising chickens behind their trendy fixed-and-flipped bungalow. “They’re wonderful!” quips City Slicker 1. “Oh yes!” adds City Slicker 2. “These wonderful birds make us eggs and mow our lawn and provide us HOURS of entertainment! Yipee!”

Now here comes our “nut graph” as we call it in the biz, in which we explain why the hell we’re writing about chickens – and why you must care. Here we dutifully wheel out our trifecta of trend examples: Denver Botanic Gardens! Fort Collins zoning! Colorado Springs libertarians! Chickens are everywhere, in other words – AND SOON THEY MAY BE IN YOUR BACKYARD, TOO!

Next we explain the cause of the unusual phenomenon, which in this case is easy. Spiraling gas prices! Insane food costs! People can’t even afford to drive to the supermarket anymore, much less buy anything there, so they’re rebuilding Safeway in their dog runs, starting with the poultry section.

To bolster our claim, we trot experts, maybe Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutsen, authors of the new hipsterific book The Urban Homestead, which describes super-cool ways to become self sufficient in the city, from dumpster diving to making butter. Turns out the homeless and Amish had it right all along. Generation Y, sick of corporate gouging and flush with a geekily inventive do-it-yourself attitude, are ready to live off the earth, just like they learned to do in Sim Farm. And yes, Coyne and Knutsen champion raising chickens, which they call “the new pug.” “Nothing is quite so relaxing as sitting around the backyard, watching chicken TV,” the two write. “With their bright eyes, sharp beaks and huge claws, they seem more like tiny T-Rexes than anything else.”

With a description like that, surely Michael Crichton is already hard at work penning a nightmare chicken scenario, with Steven Spielberg signed on to direct.

Then our puff piece, to be balanced, includes a token snipe from some old geezer who hates everything. “Them-thar chickens make too much noise!” he’ll holler, while shaking his cane about. “They should be kept on the farm, where they belong!” Thanks, grandpa.

Finally, our puffery just about dissipated, we’ll tack on a clever summation: Chickens are here to stay! And, finally, there’s no way we can avoid wrapping it up without a terrible pun or two: Fowl play! The cluck stops here! Since this is family-friendly fare, there won’t be any cock jokes.

And there you have it. You’ll surely see this very same story in the lifestyle section of your daily paper over the next few weeks, though not as user friendly. And when everyone jumps on the poultry band wagon, remember to tell your friends, you heard Westword clucking about it first. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner