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Bright Green Monsters
Verdant beasts prowl the skies above Highland park. When first you're at some backyard bar-b-que up here, and perchance to look up and see one of them, you might think someone slipped an acid tab in your beer. And maybe they did, but what you're seeing is real enough. If you've ever been to South America, you'll recognize the sight straight away: Arroyo country is infested with free-flying parrots.
Now: Some may take umbrage with our use of the word "infested." The adjective connotes a pestilence, and parrots have a reputation for being rare and exotic creatures as opposed to pests. In their finer moments, mimicking human speech, it's hard not to anthropomorphize the little buggers. But in the wild, parrots don't talk: They only shriek a terrible, raking cry, like a human child being skinned alive.
Apocryphal legends abound as to where the feral parrot population of the Northside originated, most centering around one or another small South Pasadena pet store with reputations for shoddy environmental practices, but one thing is clear: The parrots have been loose for at least a decade now, they're breeding rapidly, and they're not going anywhere.
A noteworthy feature of the parrot is the enormous size of its flock. God Help You if your neighbors have a large broadleaf tree in their backyard. A flock of up to a thousand birds will come in all at once and take over every available branch. It's a Hitchcock-ian sight to say the least. But to Northsiders who like to sleep past the crack of dawn, it's the endless shrill screaming of these Amazons that's the real horror.
We'd like to suggest a way to quell this angry squawking, one that would bring Northsiders of all different social stripes together in brother- and sister-hood at the same time. To show how this can happen, we've got to explain the delicate ecological balance of Highland Park. Along with the parrots, another sort of invasion is also well underway. The foreign species in this case wears trucker hats and listens to Modest Mouse. To their credit, many of them are also burgeoning gourmands, as evidenced by the impossibility of parking within three blocks of any Trader Joe's in the region. The new breed is further distinguished from the native population in that most of them don't yet own firearms.
We propose a gathering of the tribes in the classic backyard bar-b-que tradition. The hipsters can bring the sauces, spices, utensils and beer. The natives need only bring their shotguns. They'll be responsible for shooting the annoying main course down from the trees in our neighbor's backyard.
Parrot-eating (technically termed psittacophagy) has an illustrious history dating back to ancient Rome, where the bird was considered a rare delicacy. The culinary chronicler Apicius recommended either roasting the feathered fiends or boiling them in wine, with a sauce of cumin, coriander, mint and dates. If that doesn't whet your beak, consider parrot asado tacos or even, to add a California-fusion twist, parrot pineapple pizza.
What a feast it would be, and educational, too. We'd learn a lot about shotguns, Roman history, beer, and even ourselves. And we'd learn that our neighbors aren't so different from us after all. We all like to sleep in, to bar-b-que weird things, to get drunk and shoot guns. And that's more than enough common ground for a lasting, meaningful relationship.
Cruise off the highway and hit locally-known spots for some tasty bites.
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