Tag Archives: manhattan

Lame Adventure 473: It’s Raining Rats!

On evenings when I return home to my sacred space straight from The Grind, my creature of habit routine is comprised of preparing dinner and eating it at my dining table while watching the nightly news on TV. After finishing my entrée, I transfer to the couch for dessert. By the time Phil Mickelson shows up to shill Enbrel, whatever the hell that is, the dynamic-less duo of food coma and sheer boredom have cast their spell and I’ve nodded out. Falling asleep at this point in the broadcast is convenient timing because it allows me to miss the sap-filled human-interest story at the end that always triggers my gag reflex.

On this particular summer evening I woke with a start remembering that I had to run a very important errand at my neighborhood Papyrus, the card shop. Next week is my colleague Godsend’s birthday. I reminded Stu, The Grind’s owner, that our graphics designer is turning 28. Stu reflected philosophically:

Stu: I have socks older than her.

Godsend is not only my colleague, but she is a valued friend, a close confidant and often, my collaborator.

Godsend and me looking film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

Godsend and me looking very film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

I had to find the perfect card for someone so dear, a card that combines the key ingredients of sophistication, wit, and good design. But, by the time I arrived, the store was about to close in nineteen seconds so I snagged one at half price from the What Were We Thinking bin.

As I walked south on Broadway, I noticed a small crowd gathered outside the Chase bank at the corner of West 73rd Street. They were gazing upward; many were smiling that goofy, mush-headed smile usually reserved for puppies, kittens, babies — anyone freshly hatched. Several were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first, I could not figure out what they were looking at, but I reasoned it probably was not someone attempting suicide. Then I saw it: a fluffy bird perched on the bank’s clock. It was my turn to flash a mush-headed smile.

Clock percher.

Clock percher.

As much as I love birds, if it’s not a pigeon, mourning dove or Thanksgiving dinner, I’m lost when it comes to identifying our flying friends. This critter was no exception so I bellowed:

Me: What kind of bird is that?

That opened the floodgates of response. It’s a red tailed hawk. Someone opined that it is probably a relative of Pale Male, a legendary red tailed hawk that nests at 927 Fifth Avenue, apparently with co-op board approval. He’s currently on his eighth wife. Maybe his name should be Larry King. Normally, these birds of prey nest in trees, but Pale Male plays by his own rules. Because the hawk atop the  clock is fuzzy, someone pronounced it a fledgling. Because it’s young, it’s still honing its hunting skills, which explains why it dropped its dinner.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

That rat falling out of the sky is what first created the stir on the sidewalk. Had I witnessed that pre-show entertainment, I would have been so traumatized, I would have needed therapy. As I was snapping a shot of the rodent, a middle-aged woman holding A Serious Camera asked me:

Serious Camera Woman: Is it dead?

Me: I don’t think it’s going to sing Everything’s Coming Up Roses again.

She nudged its head with her toe, a gesture I found so repugnant, I bolted. Something about making physical contact with a dead rat gives me industrial strength willies. I also didn’t want to witness it spring back to life, even if that meant missing it channel Ethel Merman.

When I returned to my oasis, My Doorman greeted me. I showed him the pictures I shot of the hawk. He’s a bird enthusiast and said that many red tailed hawks live near 116th and Riverside. Like the hawk expert in the crowd, he also thinks it dropped its dinner because it’s in the learner’s permit stage of development. I reasoned that maybe it was for the best:

Me: How was he going to eat that rat? He wasn’t sitting on that clock holding a knife and fork.

My Doorman: He’d shred it. When they’re flying around, hang onto the Chihuahua.

Ingesting that factoid, I entered the elevator promising to keep that advice in mind.

"I'm so hungry."

“I’m so hungry.”

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Lame Adventure 252: Kiwi Appreciation

I was walking up Broadway on the Upper West Side when I noticed a massive bright blue sculpture outside the 72nd Street subway station.

No inhibitions on display here.

I wondered what this enormous spread-eagled blue blob was about so I walked over to inspect it further.

Rather bottom heavy.

This exhibit is a public art program featuring the whimsical sculptures by artist Peter Woytuk currently on display in Manhattan along Broadway from Columbus Circle up to Mitchell Square Park at 168th Street in Washington Heights.

A mother exiting the subway station with her son, a boy about seven or eight, insisted to the lad:

Mother:  Look!  There’s Flipper!

Flipper through the eyes of Fernando Botero?

Lad:  Why does the sign say kiwi, Mom?  Who’s Flipper?

Sign more noticeable to people under five feet tall.

Mother looks at sign, perplexed.  Another woman exited the station and she, too, assumed aloud that she was looking at an abstract version of the TV star dolphin boomers grew up with in the Sixties.  I thought:

Me:  If that’s Flipper, he sure got morbidly obese.

To younger Lame Adventures readers, Flipper was the Lassie of the Sea; he was raised by a single father with two sons.  This was the era of TV shows featuring heroic animals and mischievous offspring raised by kind, patient and understanding single parents.   No one was divorced and the single parents never seemed stressed.  This utopian family unit almost made me wish I was a half-orphan especially when my mother was bellowing at me to clean my room, stand up straight, or when we engaged in negotiation mom-style:

Mom:  Do you want a slap?  I’m warning you, that’s where you’re headed if you keep it up!

The perfect parents on these TV shows were always widowed. They never had a financial worry and were never grieving.  The deaths of their spouses were seldom explained, so with all the wisdom I have acquired forty-odd years later, I can only assume that these cheerful single parents must have had extremely crummy marriages to show no signs of remorse.

Back to the sculpture, no way was this sculpture of a dolphin. The lad with great reading and comprehension skills that his mother lacked since she failed to read the sign next to the sculpture identifying it as a kiwi, got it right.  This blue blob in a state of ecstasy is a bird, specifically a chicken-sized flightless bird endemic to New Zealand.  It has the distinction of laying the largest egg in relation to its body size when compared to all other species of birds.  It’s also an endangered species.  Weasels, dogs and cats love to munch on them.   Apparently, on the Upper West Side, idiots with black marking pens find scribbling on them irresistible.

Is this really necessary?

This sculpture, made from aluminum and weighing 18,000 lbs stands 12 feet tall and it’s 6 feet wide, so had it fallen off its base and onto the scribblers, they would have been flattened.

Lame Adventure 204: Yankee Doodling

My sidekick, Greg, is very excited about the July 4th holiday since his long weekend will extend into ten-days of personal independence, a period where he’s completely free of crowded subway trains, tile labeling, and me.  Before heading off to the Missouri wilderness for a back to nature roughing it excursion with his buddies in the woods, coincidentally prompting the trailer for Deliverance to play continually on a loop inside my head all week, we recorded a free jazz video of Yankee Doodle at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25.

Please forgive the camerawoman’s evident delirium tremors at the start.  She’s still in Pride withdrawal.