Sep 10 2005


Made with crap of non-bird origin purchased at Central Market: pan-roasted grouper with mango-ginger glaze and wasabi cream from a squeeze-bottle. Not pictured: dry-roasted peanut garnish.

Central Market used to be Austin’s megasuperstore answer to Whole Foods (Whole Foods itself having been the superstore answer to the mom-and-pop granola depot). Then Whole Foods built an ultramegasuperstore answer to Central Market. So now we’ve got megalosuperstores out the butt. If your life’s young dream is to choose between 46 varieties of Hotter Than Fuck Organic Lone Star Armadillo Willie Nelson Margarita Barbecue Outlaw Longhorn Peanuts, we’ve got ya covered.

Naturally I have digressed, this time before I even began.

I mention the Central Market, not to complain that nary a regular old dry-roasted peanut can be found within, but to gripe about the speakers they have on the roof that blare into the parking lot some kind of predatory bird squawk. This squawk is loud, agitated, and hostile.

No explanation for the anomaly is offered. My guess that it exists to amuse the employees–a bunch of  sullen, alter-naytive youths with nose rings–who must get a big bang out of watching alarmed customers scan the horizon for the source of the preternatural racket, which could easily be ascribed by the uninitiated to a pterodactyl with a 20-foot wingspan.

What (as the saying goes) the fuck?

Reader JC, leaving a comment on yesterday’s post about the yard ornaments favored by those inhabitants of hippy-dippy South Austin who are unhampered in their thinking by current trends in aesthetic theory, sheds no light on this specific squawk-mystery. However, s/he reveals that recorded bird noises are not unique to megasuperstore gourmet markets with surfeits of stupid useless peanuts. Quoth JC:

"I design and build gardens in Sweden. The [kitschy yard ornaments] you depict would be so impossible in Sweden. Sweden mostly seems to embrace group working-class blandness or pretentious middle-class blandness.

But strange things happen even here, usually financed by taxes, sponsored by a cultural department, and created by a "culture worker" for the artistic enhancement of the proles’ environment. I personally am aggravated by the "artistic" enhancement of a little park outside our subway. They´ve mounted speakers in the trees and play birdsong on a loop. The unnatural sound of bird twittering in the deep gloom of a Swedish winter day is pretty irritating, especially as the winter is extremely long and the real birds have all gone south for the winter or don´t have much to sing about in their grim Darwinian winter struggle. During the rest of the year recorded birdsong is a pretty redundant effect. The birdsong loop is at times replaced by a monotone man’s voice reciting boring poetry, the irritating surrealistic effect of this particular sound from the trees is hard to convey."

The horror.


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  1. Mandos

    Hey if I worked there, I would so totally put up a speaker making random inexplicable noises blaring into the parking lot. And maybe a few behind the shelfs, so that as soon as someone removed, say, the last box of crackers, it would pop out and yell “Surprise!” and play Happy Birthday or something. A clown face would be nice touch, too.

  2. Ron Sullivan

    You’re in Texas!! Hasn’t somebody shot the damn thing yet?

    My gord, a girl’s stereotypes aren’t safe anywhere anymore.

  3. StealthBadger

    Why does JC’s description bring to mind visions of Woody Allen’s “Sleeper,” in nascent form?


  4. Rachel

    The annoyng bird squawks are an odd thing to hear – but they’re actually an intentional recording – sounds of birds of prey are supposed to bbe a ‘non-violent’ way to reduce pigeon populations, thereby reducing pigeon ‘waste’ around the oh so sanitary organic aisles of mega-super-conglomerated-health store – since pigeons and other small birds will occasionally (if in the area) fly into the warehouse like structures.

    Not to sound like a know it all or anything. But it’s something I actually know about! Yay!

  5. Chris Clarke

    Twisty, if you do happen to espy a 20-foot pterodactyl in the area, be careful, before feeding the sullen youths to it, to remove any of their nose and brow rings, etc. Much like the six-pack loop and marine mammal phenomenon, such accoutrements can entangle the poor pterodactyls, causing talon breakage.

  6. Twisty

    sounds of birds of prey are supposed to bbe a ‘non-violent’ way to reduce pigeon populations

    Well it certainly doesn’t work very well. The parking lot at the Central Market is thoroughly infested with great-tailed grackles whose policy is “shit on anything that (a)moves, or (b)has been washed recently.”

  7. Twisty

    Chris, I bear the sullen youths no malice. I was one myself, once. No, what I intend to watch out for are those nice juicy trophy wives with the French pedicures. They present a Giant Wedding Ring hazard, along with a high probability of Botox poisoning.

  8. Chris Clarke

    I bear the sullen youths no malice. I was one myself, once.

    You? I am shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.

    I was just thinking that aside from metal hoops, the yoots provide a much safer meal. Trophy wives being predated upon pose the risk of screaming, shooting, suing, or some combination of the three, while sullen youth merely shrug and say “whatever.”

  9. Anonymous

    I hear that trophy wives, though a known hazard to humans, are friends of flora and fauna, as grackles, etc. have been known to nest in their First Lady Helmet hairdos.

    As for this news of my fantasy homeland, I’m heartbroken. Poetry emanating from the trees in a monotone male voice is too Big Brother-ish for words. I will take some small solace, however, that this voice is not exhorting the parkgoers to Have a Coke and a smile.

    Damn, I love me some snap peas. That looks so tasty, Twisty!

  10. ae

    Dur. That was me above.

  11. CafeSiren


    I will make out with your at the next possible opportunity in exchange for your recipe for mango-ginger glaze, and instructions for cooking the fish with it.

    Would it be good with halibut?

  12. Flamethorn

    I’m standing in line after CafeSiren to make out with you for recipes.

  13. Twisty

    Grouper is real good, but the recipe will work with any hunk of fish you happen to have lying around. It will also work with pork, duck, chicken and, if you must, tofu. Adjust cooking times accordingly.

    1. Get an Oxo mango-slicer.
    2. Make basic glaze by thinning a glob of Major Grey chutney to desired viscosity with sherry and soy sauce. Add red pepper flakes, minced garlic, minced ginger, and some extra mango. Soak fish in this 17 minutes. Flip fish into a medium-hot oiled pan. Sear on one side. Flip over. Stick in 400F convection oven for ten minutes and 28 seconds. Baste with glaze a couple of times.

  14. CafeSiren

    Thanks Twisty — I’m going to try this tonight. The roasted veggies, too, I think. Your presentation is a thing of beauty. (not sure about wasabi cream — how to make? Wasabi and creme fraiche?)

    And yes, I will probably try it with tofu one of these days. I’m one of *those.*

  15. CafeSiren

    BTW, ever since yesterday, your site displays strangely in regular feed (RSS still works fine). Did you reconfigure?

  16. Twisty

    Cafe, the wasabi cream I used is the store-bought kind in a squeeze bottle, but you can make it by mixing up a couple tablespoons of wasabi powder in a little water or sherry and adding it to a big glob of sour cream. I wouldn’t waste creme fraiche on it. It’s mostly for show.

    As for the site, what the hell? Yesterday there was a reconfiguring issue, but I thought it was resolved since now it’s working fine on all my browsers. I’ll try a republish. Let me know if it’s still funky?

  17. cafeSiren

    Thanks for the wasabi tip. Site looks fine now (I’m viewing it via Safari).

  18. Alice

    Hey, Twisty. The site still looks funky when I log in. No picture at the top, no links on the side.

    I’m using Firefox.

  19. Alice

    I checked to see how it would look if I used Explorer, and it looks like its friendly old self again. But still weird with Firefox. I’m glad this isn’t a change you actually chose to make.

  20. StealthBadger

    The stylesheet didn’t load cleanly. Hold down shift and mouse-click the “reload” button it should re-assemble everything it thinks it needs for the page.

  21. micawber

    hmm, just when i was longing for a whole foods to come to london. WAIT! it’s here!

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