It's been a rough month for chickens.
Not that there's ever an especially good month when your only job on this planet is to sit around, get fat and occasionally pop out eggs.
It's kind of like living your entire life as a "Honey Boo Boo" cast member. But with a shred of dignity.
This particular rough month actually started trending two weeks ago when, early in the morning on July 9, a truck carrying more than 5,000 chickens overturned in downtown Salem, Oregon. Sadly, many of the poor little cluckers died. Others, perhaps stunned from the crash, just wandered aimlessly about the streets, suddenly free from captivity. Which must've been remarkably weird.
"Gertrude, is this heaven?"
"No. It's Salem."
The story quickly found its way around the Interwebs because, really, it has all the makings of must-see news.
Was there a big crash? Yes. Was there negligence involved? Possibly. Did hundreds of live animals on a roadway have to be rounded up by humans. Abso-freakin-lutely!
It was gold.
But just when the Salem truck story seemed to go away -- as oddball stories eventually do -- it magically came roaring back. All thanks to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
In response to the crash, the organization proposed a 5½-foot-tall, 250-pound statue of a giant bloody chicken on crutches, memorializing the hundreds that perished in the crash. PETA hoped it could stand at the intersection near where the accident happened to alert livestock truckers to be extra careful and to remind motorists that "chickens are among the most abused animals on the planet."
PETA spokeswoman Shakira Croce added that "the best way to prevent crashes like this is to go vegan so that chickens don't have to make the trip to the slaughterhouse in the first place."
Personally, I love the idea. Mind you, not because of my politics -- when it comes to such matters, I have no opinion. But I do love absurd landmarks. And every city needs something delightfully wackadoo.
Like a big chicken.
Oddly enough, we actually have a big chicken right here in Atlanta's northern suburb of Marietta. We call it ... the Big Chicken.
The huge structure stands 56 feet high, rising into the air from a KFC. So, in a sense, it, too, is a monument to dead chickens. Dead chickens coated with 11 herbs and spices.
The best part about Marietta's Big Chicken is that people actually use it as a directional landmark.
"Make a left at the Big Chicken. Go one block up. And you'll find me on the sidewalk. I'll be the one not wearing pants."
So it's helpful. And I've actually seen it used in serious news stories. This is a real excerpt from a 2009 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"A Marietta police officer involved in a two-car accident Saturday afternoon is fine, according to police officials. The incident occurred around 3:25 p.m. at Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road in front of the Big Chicken."
Naturally, if you didn't know about the landmark, reading this would blow your mind.
"That must've been one crazy-ass chicken."
Unfortunately, PETA's Bloody Chicken of Salem statue was officially shot down this week by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Kevin Hottman, a city traffic engineer, noted that it's a congested area and the statue "would be a distraction and possibly a hazard."
So, now, chickens in Salem will just have to live in constant fear of another roadside tragedy while they're on their way to get slaughtered.
And speaking of chicken slaughter, there was another story that started trending this week. It was about an Arizona woman who found a chicken foot in a package of breast meat from Safeway.