world’s largest rattlesnake roundup; 与蛇共舞?


world’s largest rattlesnake roundup – Images by xiaomei chen

(注:中文在英文下面。)

Sssssssnake….

I am always afraid of snakes. Always.

I am also curious about those who are fascinated by snakes. Three years ago, I met a young man in Los Angeles who have tens of snakes as pets! I did a little video about him:

http://www.chenxphoto.com/magazine/snake_v.html

Towards the end of the video, you can hear my scared voice after noticing one of his pet snakes took a stroll into his neighbor’s hard.

This March, I was encouraged to go to Sweetwater, TX, where the world’s largest Rattlesnake Roundup was going on. This annual event started in 1958.  During the three day event, a large number of wild rattlesnakes are captured, mutilated, and killed for the amusement of observers and participants.

It is said that the event attracts 35,000 visitors per year and results in the capture of 1% of the Texas’ rattlesnake population. Some of the rattlesnakes are cooked and eaten at the event.

I don’t know if this is an Americana thing. But it is certainly very new to me, one from China. And if I dig deep, I may  use some anthropological theories to explain the whole thing, which may not be that interesting as those rattlesnakes. Still we may have a question mark or two in our mind? Why? Why snakes? Why rattlesnakes?Why are people so fascinated by this poisonous creature? What’s behind the behaviors of killing and eating the snakes? Why buy a T-shirt with a huge picture of snake? Why buy snake skin decorations? To be brave? Well, just to be brave? An adventure towards some mysteries? Or all this is just part of the normality of life and I simply didn’t realize it due to some stereotypes in my head?

The Chinese usually see snakes as poisonous, sly, violent, and dangerous. It is something we try to avoid. There is one exception, though. That is Madam White Snake, an ancient myth about a snake-turned woman, who married a scholar in human world. It is the Chinese version of Juliet and Romeo. It a beautiful tragic story that has fascinated the Chinese for hundreds of years. There are books, operas, movies and TV shows about the tragedy. Recently, it was turned into a Western Style opera, composed by a renowned Chinese-American musician, Long Zhou, who won a Pulitzer prize for it.

The music is mesmerizing. If interested, you can listen to it here:

http://www.wgbh.org/includes/playerPop.cfm?section=4&featureid=14994&rssid=2

蛇,我总很怕.

但我拍过两次蛇,又采访过写歌剧《白蛇传》的音乐家周龙。

第一次拍蛇是在2008年。当时为了完成一个摄影课作业,专门跑到洛杉矶拍养宠物的人。遇到一个大男孩,以养蛇为乐。他养了好几十条不同类型的蛇,包括毒蛇。刚开始学摄影、摄像的我,手脚发抖地持着非专业摄像机采访他。而他则漫不经心地抱着三条“爱蛇”,在镜头前娓娓叙述对蛇的热爱。忽然,我们发现,他手中只剩下两条蛇……

这是那个不专业的小采访:

http://www.chenxphoto.com/magazine/snake_v.html

今年三月,Rex怂恿我去德州的Sweetwater见识一下响尾蛇大聚会。据说那是世界上最大的响尾蛇大聚会,自1958年起,年年吸引成千上万的看客。我从未见过那么多蛇而且都是毒蛇。虽说保护措施做得很密实,但总还是有些怕。而看看别的看客,却是面不改色心不跳地看蛇、杀蛇、吃蛇,可谓英雄。我虽爱慕英勇之辈,但这次并不羡慕这些爱蛇的人们,却想,为什么他们不怕呢?为什么以毒蛇为乐?为什么喜欢蛇皮装饰品?为什么?又或许这一切都是正常的,不正常倒是我自己?

咱们中国人也并不完全厌恶蛇。我们的经典神话《白蛇传》就迷倒不少人。最近,音乐家周龙老师把《白蛇传》变成歌剧。他的歌剧在美国可是很受欢迎,拿了普利策大奖。

蛇,我是爱不起来的,但《白蛇传》这故事我蛮喜欢。周龙老师的歌剧也很好听:

http://www.wgbh.org/includes/playerPop.cfm?section=4&featureid=14994&rssid=2

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