Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You Boys Get Paid for Doin' This?

It would be difficult to write an accurate job description for a feature reporter. There would be the usual things -- reporting, writing, smiling on camera. But there would be the unusual -- playing the tuba, jumping into a pool while wearing coat and tie, and desecrating a rubber chicken.

Photographer Charlie Ehert and I were shooting a story about Loftus Novelty. For more than sixty years, the Salt Lake company has sold joy buzzers, whoopie cushions, stink bombs...true Americana. The focus of our story was the rubber chicken. At the time it was believed, and probably still is, that Loftus was the world's leading distributor of rubber chickens.

Charlie had an idea. (And I'm just as responsible because I went along with it.) To ask Loftus owner Gene Rose whether his rubber chickens could "take a beating." I did and Rose said they could. So -- and this was the idea -- we put that to the test.

It was nonsensical and pointless and that was the point.

We took a rubber chicken to the Great Salt Lake Gun Club and convinced a member to shoot it full of buckshot.

And we went to Sapp Bros. and asked a North Carolina trucker to run over our rubber chicken with his big rig. He was a bit confused but agreeable. And he flattened our chicken.

And then his wife, in her melodious North Carolinian drawl, asked us, "You boys get paid for doin' this?"

"Yes, Maam, we do."

It's all part of the job.

(The story spawned a brief rubber chicken infatuation among some members of the photo staff who look the silicone critters with them on assignment far and wide, speading strange humor and good cheer.)

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