What's this got to do with Memphis? Well, it reminds me of the old Leonard's barbecue joint on Lamar. A neon sign out front showed a pig, wearing a top hat and swinging a cane, with the words, "Mr. Brown Goes to Town." A fine sign, indeed (and relocated to the Leonard's in East Memphis). But what was even better (as far as signs go) at the original location was the smaller neon sign inset into a wall of the building, showing a pig relaxing happily as he was being consumed by the flames of the barbecue pit. I can't remember if that one also got moved to the new location.
The point is that quite a few BBQ places tend to show the pigs having a good old time, just as they are about to be cooked and eaten. That's weird to me, because I can't think of a single steakhouse that shows cows enjoying their last moments in the slaughterhouse. Not even seafood restaurants seem to show fish on their journey to our stomachs. So why is it okay for us to see pigs on Death Row?
Of course, sometimes you'll see it with chickens, too.
Even though I haven't been able to find a photo of it, one of my all-time favorite neon signs stood in front of Jack Pirtle Fried Chicken on Poplar, just east of Cleveland, which showed a line of chickens running across a diving board and then leaping — to their searing deaths! — into a steaming bucket of grease. A pair of neon drumsticks sticking out of the same bucket was an especially nice touch, I thought. Kind of showing the "before" and "after" of the chicken's demise.
They tore the sign down when they demolished that particular Jack Pirtle. An AutoZone stands on the site today. If anybody has a photo of the sign (preferably in color), please send it to me.
In the meantime, I have a curious hankering for some sausage ...