Have You Seen The Chicken Man?
There's a leather-cushioned midcentury chaise longue poised in a room. It's between four fluted square columns, which are connected via long, swooping strings of Christmas lights. Within arm’s reach of the chaise is a small white lamp, which is atop a wooden footstool.
It’s an inviting scene: one that you might see in a West Elm showroom, if it weren't for the generous and uneven layer of wood shavings covering the floor. Or the giant, flashing LED sign. Or the three taxidermic hens. Or the fact that it's not really a room at all, and is instead a large, rectangular glass cage — one that's on the back of a truck.
The truck belongs to The Chicken Man.
A quick internet search for "the chicken man" yields stories about Philip Testa, who is not a truck owner. At least, not anymore: Testa briefly ran the Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia before he was assassinated by a nail bomb that blew up his house — Bruce Springsteen later sang about it in Atlantic City.
The chicken man in question is still alive, and is arguably more interesting. His name is Chris Bock—yes, Chris Bock—and nobody knows much about him. This mystery-shrouded Newton resident and his surprisingly versatile truck are the subjects of great intrigue on the small, deep, dark vestiges of the internet that are local community forums, where dozens of Bostonians have hatched their theories as to what’s going on with this strange bird.
Everyone's got their own Chicken Man sighting. "I watched him for about 5 hours. Just sitting in his glass box, blowing up balloons" a Reddit user named biddily wrote. One user, named gnimsh, tried to call him: "He picked up the phone and looked at it without answering and put it back down," gmish wrote. "Dick move, chicken man."
A freelance writer and cab driver who goes by "The Hack" wrote about his late-night driving encounter with The Chicken Man in a blog post that wouldn't sound out of place on The Moth. The Hack saw Bock lie back on his chair and pull out his laptop, as if he were at the local public library, and not in the back of a truck that was careening around the Southwest Expressway during a snowstorm (somebody else was driving). "What the hell was this?" The Hack wrote.
What the hell indeed: some are bewildered by The Chicken Man's motives. "I have no idea what his angle is," idownvoteanimalpics wrote on Reddit. "On one hand it seems like he's working really hard promoting something or someone...on the other hand, when you look him up online, there's nothing doing."
Others are less confused. "OH MY GOD i actually know this d-bag. his [cell phone number] is 212-chicken!"wrote Allison R. in a Yelp forum post. "He used to come in to my old starbucks and order shots of espresso with heavy cream-- 7 of them so he could reheat through the week." One user wrote that he'd seen him almost daily in Newton Centre; another said he had an office there.
A recent trip to the Starbucks in Newton Centre didn't turn up anything. "I don't know anything about a chicken man, no," one barista said. "I did see a naked guy on a tricycle once, though."
One Boston eccentric at a time.
There are even those who suspect Bock of fowl play. "Honestly he could have murdered somebody or something," said Lawson Kelly, a Boston College senior who's met Bock personally. Kelly is a member of a sketch comedy group on campus. Bock came to one of their shows, and gave out yellow-and-black “The CHICKEN Man” baseball caps that also featured pairs of miniature chickens atop metal springs that were glued onto the bill. “He’s a very strange guy," Kelly said, who’d expected someone who has an LED sign that sometimes reads "REMEMBER THE CHICKEN MAN. THE CHICKEN MAN IS COMING," to be normal.
Bock's online presence is as fleeting and confounding as his physical one: his website, 617chicken.com, does a lot with a little. Its banana-yellow background is overlaid with black text that simply says "THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND… COMING SOON!!" — styled in Comic Sans, no less. And then, in the middle of the webpage—apropos of nothing—is a photograph of Chris Bock, The Chicken Man, with Martha Stewart.
Like all things Chicken Man, it’s bizarre, hilarious, and leaves you with more questions than answers.