Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cows of West Hartford

The West Hartford Center (so named in homage to European urban planning terminology that eschews “downtown,” and to indicate its resemblance to a shopping mall, which it kind of is) is dotted with cows. While each cow is fundamentally the same slightly-smaller-than-life ceramic (?) sculpture, local artists have painted each to correspond to their unique vision of what it means to be a West Hartforder. Part charity (the sculptured cows will eventually be auctioned), part testament to civic pride, part eyesore, all West Hartford. But why cows? It’s simple: the cow has been the symbol of West Hartford since its bloody inception during Hartford’s civil war of the late nineteenth century. The defeated minority, who had advocated reestablishing Connecticut’s capital as Very Upper Manhattan, were robbed of their horses by the vindictive and occasionally cannibalistic mercenaries hired by insurance companies and banished from town on cowback. After they had traveled west for approximately two miles they dismounted and founded a communal and utopian township. This new and “West” Hartford abolished all distinctions based on the color of one’s skin, the sex of one’s body, and the species one belonged to, bringing the cows into their government and homes, raising them as their own, and eventually mating with them. The city’s inordinate number of salons is credited to the rigors of grooming bovine and bovine-human offspring according to the standards of international (human) fashion. All distinctions and hierarchies based on economic class remain rigidly adhered to.

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