Author Archives: Andrew Thomas-Nathan

Burbank Parrots

A flock of vibrant green parrots are known to roam the skies of Burbank, settling down in any tree large enough to hold the entire flock while filling the morning air with a chorus of squawks that make residents wish they could wake up to songbirds chirping for once. T.T. doesn’t know exactly where they came from but has heard different stories. All say that the birds were smuggled in as illegal pets but escaped to inhabit the wild concrete jungle. Some say it was just a few birds who escaped from the singular smuggler, and then proceeded to breed . into the flock that exists today. Others claim the smuggler brought a bunch of birds and was able to sell them, to spread them out and then a bunch of those birds individually escaped. Either way the current size of the group (tens upon tens of “loud hecking birds”) suggests that the birds have been around and reproducing for some time.

The parrots stand out to people who live in Burbank for being so obviously foreign. Burbank is a suburb with sparrows and squirrels. The most exotic animal sightings are usually coyotes up in the mountains. In that environment bright green parrots stand out, and they don’t even try to hide. Their flock conspicuously chases off more outnumbered ravens and whatnot that people are more used to seeing around Burbank, and again they are very loud. If they hang out in your neighbor’s tree that morning, you’ll know. The fascination with the parrots speaks to a deeper cultural fascination with exotic, outside things. For all its social liberalism, Burbank is still a very white, sizably old population so the interest in exotic birds being imported by plane (the city has its own busy airport) probably ties into an unspoken interest, possibly an anxiety, surrounding the different people from all over the world constantly arriving by plane. Of course Burbank doesn’t exist in a vacuum so this local legend also exists in personalized forms for other places in Southern California such as Pasadena, which can be found here:

Wig Snatching

In LGBT+ communities saying someone or something “snatched your wig” means you’re shocked by whatever happened. It comes from a drag performances where sometimes in more dramatic moments drag queens will literally take off another queen’s wig. Sometimes there can be another wig under the wig, making the whole event entirely premeditated spectacle, but usually the queen whose wig is pulled isn’t prepared and they have their actual hair revealed by the wig snatch.

This particular lingo speaks to the in-grouping found in LGBT+ communities. It’s a phrase referring to a specific act in a genre of show specifically produced, performed, and attended by a mostly LGBT+ folk group. The internet has spread the phrase around to become more mainstream but the nature of its origins shows how insular the environment it came about in was. The exact syntax is also flexible, with all sorts of small variations from “My wig? Snatched!” to sometimes just “Wig,” which makes sense given the LGBT+ communities general position as pioneers of evolving “archaic” language such as gendered pronouns.