The death of the Frank Perdue revealed many insights into a feathers-to-riches career that according to The New York Times grossed 2.8 billion in its last year alone.
“It takes a tough man to raise a tender chicken,” claimed the Frank and sure enough a local newspaper – which referred to him as a “chicken magnet” – talked about constant battles with his 19,000 employees.
On one occasion, lawsuits were filed by workers suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. It cost the Frank a mere $40,000 to settle – a small price to pay for determining the efficiency of “manually strangling” the chickens.
Perdue employees quit their jobs 5 times more often than other Maryland workers on account of the injury rate being 10 times higher. On one occasion the Frank hired the New York mob to break up striking workers.
The secret to his golden brown birds was a diet of “Marigold petals” – and dye – available to them 22 hours a day. The lights were left on that long to encourage eating. Overhead fluorescents illuminated an individual living area about the size of a piece of Xerox paper. A single battery could house up to 30,000 inmates at a time, contributing to a yearly output of 2.6 million.
In answer to the old chestnut: “How many chickens does it take to cross the road?” in the Frank’s case – from L.A. to New York – two every foot. With an average chicken standing 14 inches tall and 6 inches wide at the shoulder, in the thirty-five years or so since the Frank started to get up steam, this would amount to a solid wall of poultry from coast to coast, 7 feet high.
Malcolm Mc Neill’s first project out of art school was a seven-year collaboration with writer William S. Burroughs. His two books about the experience were published at the end of 2012.
His most recent exhibition of paintings was in August 2013 in New York.