February 15, 2002

Post #1450 – 20020215

dear daniel pinkwater,

the rest of my family and i are great fans of your books. i am wondering if captain shep nesterman is based on a real person. see, my father lived in chicago in the 60s, and he knew this guy, known as the chicken man of maxwell st. this man would set hit hat sown on the sidewalk, and the chicken would walk around and around the hat. he would tell people that as soon as there was enough money in the hat the chicken would do a trick…then he would say that there wasn’t quite enough….as soon as there was a considerable amount of money in the hat, he would put the hat on his head, the chicken would fly up on top of it, and he would walk away.

i also wanted to tell you about this guy that i met in central sq.(cambridge, mass), who really reminded me of someone out of one of your books. i was walking around with my photography teacher, looking for things to, well, photograph. we came across this house which had this huge purple fench, and on it were things like “The intergalactic it’s not what you look like but how you move that counts mostly restaurant” and “INSTRUCTION IN ELECTRO MAGNETIC MARTIAL ARTS TM. empowering and using your electro magnetic energy field. karma free”. i have some pictures of it, but they didn’t come out very good. anyway, we went over to the gate, so that we could take pictures of the house itself, which was also very interesting. i saw what looked like a pamphlet next to the door. i sneaked in through the gate and went up the front steps to grab it. just as i was going back down the stairs, the door opened, and the skinniest guy i have ever seen in my life stood in the doorway. “i was wondering when you two would come in,” he said. we sort of smiled nervously. then he said, “don’t you want to come in and see the inside? i’ll tell you the whole story.” so we went in. the inside of his house was really nice. it had rainbow waves and swirls on the walls, and couches everywhere. then he told us the story. he said that the house had been an old hotel at one time, but then went out of business. the owners decided to rent it out to people, and he was one of the residents. at that time, the house was a few blocks away. then a monster star market(which is still there now) wanted to build their new store there. one by one the houses either got tore down or moved, until he was the last person living around there. the city told him that he had to move, too, but he said he wouldn’t budge. then he told us that he forced them to move the house to another neighborhood by using his electro magnetic martial arts. we were actually done with the photography lesson at that point, and had to leave, but he showed us some pictures before we left. it was pretty easy to recognise the house, a few blocks away with no fence. there was also another picture of the house on wheels.

after we left, i looked at the pamphlet, and it turns out that he is offering a class in electro magnetic martial arts for 400 dollars. i wanted to take it, but my parents wouldn’t let me unless i paid for it with my own money.

thankyou for reading this, i hope it was interesting.


Tianli dunn-fyler

PS-i’m sorry i didn’t send this to your website email. it’s my computer’s fault.

pps-i REALLY love your books. thanks for writing them. when me and my friend isis get on the phone, we read eachother part of a sentence, amd the other has to finish the sentence and say which daniel pinkwater book it’s from. thanks again.

Daniel replies:

Yes, there was a real Chicken Man. I saw him many times, and have a photograph of him. The experience you recount, (and very well told too), is completely typical of my life, and apparently yours too. Don't worry about not actually taking the course. Sometimes simply knowing about a thing is sufficient, and a deeper study would only let you down.