Posted on Oct 27, 02:45 PM
Archived in Common Knowledge
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Three cheers for three sauces!
Gift giving rags less thumbed
As we calculate a pivot to the law and order of food here (not seen on this site in years), a calling from the wild has come to us from the mighty winds of the Twitterverse: Some Yelper, Diana D., dared to cross the path of a Bodega Cat perched on Budweiser boxes no less, via a negative, one-star, review. Easily more spectacular than the black mark of the review was the instant backlash and immediate petition that came as a response prompting an explanation to the rest of us as to just what the hell Bodega Cats even are!
Very simply, a Bodega is a corner store and the cats in New York Bodegas are omnipresent. The negative Yelp review has New Yorkers up and down the Internet waxing nostalgic about their favorite Bodega Cats growing up. The rest of us aren’t in New York and so this has been a very rapid lesson: In the United States, like food bazaars in distant lands and times, there are animals stalking and basking leisurely where the patrons and food is. That concept caught this author off-guard. I’m a food lover and I’m a cat lover; but I’m not so sure I know yet how I feel with the two equally available in a commercial environment.
I “get” the Bodega Cats. While I would rather see a chilly-willy kitty cat hanging out on a rack of newspapers instead of rodent droppings in its stead, would I really rather see a cat all cat-like and napping cozy, paws out stretched near a plastic wrapped turkey sandwich in the same venue? New Yorkers need to forgive (the rest of) us a moment; this is odd.
I may have captured the wrong side of the bridge on Eastgate Street because I couldn't match the rooftops or facades at all but it's clear that today, the famous clock watches over strictly human pedestrians. The awnings and market stalls that captured the imaginations of several amazing painters are barely referenced today, even in architecture.
In my own on-going efforts as an amateur historian, I come across photographs and paintings, from a century ago, of familiar intersections around the world that are crowded with animal traffic. The THEN and NOW presentation shows the same intersection today built up, full of wi-fi and electric cars and notably missing the hee-haw component that makes the older view so engrossing.
A look back almost 200 years at Chester, England where the marriage of food and animal was utterly commonplace where today, foot traffic competes not with dogs and horses, but construction. The old market outside St. Olaves is shored up these days for preservation.
Perhaps as more tangible proof of the energetic social and online response by New Yorkers, a petition was hastily drawn up for Bodega Cat Lovers to sign. The petition aims to legalize, define and protect the purpose and presence of these mouse hunters extraordinaire. Before nipping into law, let’s talk Oral Flora, because the discussion has to acknowledge the “yuck” factor that some people express even before the law books come out when would-be turned-off patrons consider a cute pwitty-kitty licking itself clean beside food.
PetHelpful reminds us that there are SEVEN things dirtier than your pet’s mouth that we come more in to contact with regularly. Their article centers around kissing your pet, I’m not that devoted, but the info remains true: Your Sponges, the Bottom of Your Purse or Wallet, Money, Telephones, Escalator Handrails, Hotel Rooms and Hospitals all present invisible dangers. It’s a long read but their look highlights germs, fecal matter and bacteria (I’ll leave the good stuff for you to discover). In short, entering a cat-free Bodega where chemical pest-prevention surfaces have just been sponge-cleaned and paying in cash will find you three-times more exposed to actual “yuck” than entering a Cat-Kept Bodega and paying by card or chip. The difference is perception. At least pesticide in the form of a cat is chemical free in the shelves and at the counter.
Some passion will serve, but too much will distort the effort from an attempt at progress to Cats as a theatrical drama… actually, well you get my point. Let’s ease off the emotional: Case in point, the top-rated comment on the petition at Change.org implies preference of tenure to cats over dissenters because “they’ve been here longer.” That’s not a good road to start down since rodents, which Bodega Cats are said to thwart, are themselves throwbacks to the earliest of all mammals and, God forbid, Florida need to let alligators run amok in backyard pools just because they were there first by evolutionary design! Or perhaps New York should be returned to the Erie Tribe?… Anyhow, that’s not the rational take-away we’re looking for.
The finger that came out of this dam belongs to Diana D. of New York whose Yelp review has been removed but lives on in CyberArcheology through a screenshot. Her one good point to the cheer of 1 Useful vote and 1 Funny vote was, “…Besides being allergic to cats, I wonder what the health code say [sic] about this?” Twitter member, Flail Waldorf’s screenshot of this September 9th Yelp review asks the basic question: “How miserable of a person do you have to be to leave yelp reviews of bodegas complaining about bodega cats,” to the cheer of 614 Retweets and 779 Likes. The answer according to SynKami, “You gotta be a miserable gentrifying ass bitch to yelp about the bodega cat.” Mystery solved.
A search function at The Department of Health for New York State told us the discussion about bodegas there revolves greatly around nutrition and delivery of nutrition to patients as a matter of community focus. That’s not for nothing (though it’s not really what I set out to find) because a great deal of Bodega Cat chatter online has to do with Whose Feline Is It Anyway? The city’s or the state’s? Jeff Sisson’s nearly famous and certainly unique Bodega List which is part art, part science of data scraping, utilizes, according to the site, “off-premise liquor license listings on the New York State Liquor Authority website,” which leads me to follow State avenues to explore the Kitty Rules of this not-so catty debate.
I’ll indulge in a little cat nap at this point since the post is lengthy enough and no answer will materialize until daytime tomorrow when I can pester people with phone calls!
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