The name for the island Alcatraz comes from the Arabic by way of arcane Spanish word for pelican, and it was so-named because it was home to a bunch of pelicans before it was home to a bunch of prisoners. Imagine if they'd named the island Pelican instead. Not nearly so ominous-sounding. Although I suppose it only sounds ominous because of the association. If I remember my sociology correctly, the act of ascribing meaning to something based on association is called symbolic interactionism.
Pelicans don't live on Alcatraz anymore, nor do prisoners, as the prison was closed in the sixties due to high operating expenses. The island is inhabited today by lots of other sea birds, along with lots of tourists. Myself, I was near Alcatraz once. An actual trip to the island was more expensive than my cheap ass was willing to pay, so instead, Jean and I paid a dude twenty bucks to sail us by it on his houseboat. Which seemed perfectly legit at the time. And a shout-out to Jean's man Chris, who inexplicably wanted to be mentioned in my blog.
Maybe if I'd had a chance of seeing pelicans I'd have coughed up the extra dough. Part of me has always suspected pelicans aren't real. I mean, they're a pretty absurd animal when you think about it. They have a built-in fishing net. That's not normal.
According to legend, the pelican, during times of drought, will pierce her own breast and feed her blood to her young to keep them from dying. It's not true, nor even possible as far as I know, but this did lead early Christians to use the pelican to symbolize Christ. Which at least makes slightly more sense than using a fish, in my opinion, anyway. Fish are smelly and not too bright, plus we eat them.
|You caught me; this isn't a pelican. It is, however,|
a rather deranged-looking parrot. A parrot, who,
incidentally bit the crap out of my finger as soon as
I was done taking this picture.