Celebrating deception at the bird carving world championship

Jesse Smith in The Smart Set:

ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 09 11.29 To most of the American public, chicanery is pretty gauche right now: Bernie Madoff, risky bank investments, torture memos, Blago. Yet some deception is just too ingrained in our heritage to easily dismiss. Which is why competitors from around the world recently gathered in Ocean City, Maryland to celebrate and compete in the only American art form grounded in trickery. The Ward World Championship is the annual meet-up of wildfowl carvers, those artists with centuries-old ties to the decoy makers who carved birds not to decorate shelves or long tables of a small town's convention center, but to attract and kill birds that migrated along the nation's shores.

To be fair, this is trickery targeting not the human world, but the animal. Still, Ocean City is an oddly appropriate setting for such a celebration. It's one of the few cities on the lower Delmarva peninsula — one of the historic centers of decoy making and bird carving — with enough motel rooms and a large enough exhibition space to host such an event. But like most resort towns of the northern East Coast, it also trades in appropriation. I stayed in the Flamingo Motel while I was there, despite being about 1,100 miles from the nearest wild flamingo. My dining options included the Olive Tree and the Crabcake Factory.

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