Tag Archives: pigeons

Lame Adventure 468: Period of Adjustment

This is just a post for anyone who might take a nanosecond to wonder if I still have a pulse. I do. Or, at least, I had one that bounced off the sky when a creepy crawly critter skittered across my naked thigh (the perils of wearing shorts on a hot summer’s day) in the dark of a movie theater recently. Life outside the blogosphere is still very demanding. I anticipate that it will continue to be so through the months ahead on both the work front and very soon, on the home front, when those walls will come crashing down for a while compelling me to continue my disappearing act. The home front hysteria of  this year’s mania will one day be Lame Adventurized. It’s epic.

On The Grind front, I have been adapting to working in Long Island City. The commute is about ten minutes longer from my sanctum sanctorum, I’m not feeling tortured in The New Place, but I’m not in my bliss, either. Culturally, it’s very different from Manhattan’s chic and trendy Tribeca. But, the take out is cheaper when I don’t bother to pack my organic kale lunch. I like that. There’s a nearby Greek deli that makes an excellent chicken gyro. Even though my boss and colleagues have not complained, I know that when I get that gyro, unlike my usual kale, carrots and whatever else I add to that dreariness, it stinks up our entire office something fierce. Possibly, it stinks up our entire factory. With that in mind, I’ve cooled it with inhaling gyros at my desk.

As for settling in, that’s proceeding at tai chi pace. We still have mountains of stuff to slog through and shelve. It fills much of our factory space and about two thirds of our new location’s cavernous basement. It’s overwhelming. One of our sales associates thinks that the lost ark of the covenant is somewhere in there.

Some mountains of stuff.

Mountains of overwhelming.

Last week, I ventured down to that basement with my colleague, Godsend, to look for something other than the lost ark. We didn’t find what we were seeking, but I think we stumbled upon a piece of the San Andreas Fault.

"Don't step on that!"

“Godsend, don’t step on that!”

We made a quick exit to avoid antagonizing it.

We’re fairly settled in in my department’s new office space. The Boss has planted her roots; she’s shelved both her ceramic lizard and industrial sized light bulb.

Elspeth's lizard.

Elspeth’s lizard.

Elspeth's holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

Elspeth’s holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

I have followed her lead on a reduced scale. I placed my polished onyx alligator between my keyboard and monitor next to my favorite mystery tile.

Gator buddy.

Gator bud and don’t ask me what the thing behind it is.

Something that I could not take with me from our former location were the pigeons that perched on the sill outside my window and the mourning doves that cooed under the air conditioner. What’s outside my window now are subway trains rumbling on the elevated track and a symphony of horns honking on Queens Boulevard. Naturally, the horns honk most when I’m on the phone.

Seven train perched outside window.

The 7 train perched outside my window.

I think I might be going through something akin to bird watching withdrawal. Occasionally, I see a few when I’m waiting for the train to take me back home to Manhattan. I find the sight of a perched pigeon comforting, particularly if that pigeon is not perched on the bookcase in my sanctum sanctorum.

A pigeon perched in LIC, so close and yet so far.

A pigeon perched in LIC. So close and yet so far.

Recently, when I was home on the Upper West Side, I had this up close and personal encounter with a feathered friend.

I wish everyone well until whenever I next resurface.

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Lame Adventure 453: The Lone Yam of Winter Storm Juno

On Monday morning, while at The Grind, I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a typical winter weather event. It was steadily snowing, but it was not a monumental amount. By afternoon, my phone was beeping dire warnings about the blizzard to come, but the worst was expected after 10 P.M. Then I heard that the subway system was beginning to experience signal malfunctions causing delays. That was when the usual stress-reducing mantra playing on a loop in my head switched from “bippity-boppity-harmony-hula” to:

Me: I wanna get the hell outta here.

With my usual diplomatic aplomb I approached my boss, Elspeth:

Me: Are we going to close or what? Cut us loose before the subway stops running!

Twenty minutes later, we closed at 3:30. My commute home was basically normal. I even got a seat on the train. When I exited the uptown express at 72nd Street, it was still snowing steadily, and it was windy and bitterly cold. I snapped a few shots of how the streets looked before the arrival of Snowmageddon 2015, figuring I might not step outside again for 24 hours.

West 72nd Street subway station under snowy skies.

West 72nd Street subway station under snowy skies.

Looking up Broadway from West 73rd Street.

Looking up Broadway from West 73rd Street.

As I walked up Broadway, the checkout line at my go-to grocer’s, Fairway, streamed out onto the street. Last minute shoppers were stocking up on provisions to see them through the storm; something I had done the day before. I picked up an extra banana. A guy exiting was hoisting a 48-pack of 24-ounce water bottles on his shoulder. That’s 72 pounds, within average range of the birth weight of a calf. I reflected that I also had 24-ounce water bottles in my refrigerator. Five of them. My seven and a half pounds of water equaled the approximate weight of five squirrels. I was not worried about running out. If I did, I could polish off my wine and the bottle of French champagne I’ve been saving to share with someone willing to do French champagne-worthy activities with me. At the rate my love life’s been going, that someone just might be a drunk squirrel.

Not wanting to duplicate the mistakes of past officials, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, were the oracles of doom and gloom. This tag team shuttered the lifeline of New York City, the entire transit system, at 11 P.M. on Monday.

It's official: no subway trains!

It’s official: no subway trains!

Motorists, including taxicabs, were ordered off the road. Broadway shows did not go on; movie theaters, restaurants, bars and businesses read the memo and closed early. At eleven o’clock Monday night, the city that never sleeps voluntarily went to bed early.

When I woke on Tuesday morning around eight, I looked out my window to assess the damage. Aside from the pile of snow that greeted me both outside and inside my windowsill, it didn’t look that bad.

Multi-tasking snow both indoors and out.

Multi-tasking snow both indoors and out.

I’ve even suffered more impressive piles of snow inside my sanctum sanctorum following past storms.

The weather prognosticators tracking winter storm Juno in the tri-state area forecast that New York City was going to get hammered. They predicted that up to three feet of snow could blanket Manhattan and the surrounding four boroughs, crippling the region for days, ensuring this blizzard the number one spot in the record books. But Mother Nature flipped them the bird when she headed forty miles away and pummeled Long Island instead.

I received a notification on my phone that the subway was going back in service on a reduced service.

Yay!

Yay!

Because my commute is easy, I decided to go into The Grind, and pocket a few loyalty or insanity points, depending on your point of view.

If I wasn't a pigeon I'd be inside your apartment watching TV and eating all your rice cakes.

If I wasn’t a pigeon I’d be inside your apartment watching TV and pecking at your rice cakes.

Lower Manhattan subway stop; not the best day to bench sit.

Lower Manhattan subway stop; not the best day to sit on a bench.

When I headed outside, I was reminded that schools were closed.

Easy rider heading to Riverside Park.

Easy rider heading to Riverside Park.

The rose bush made me want to fast forward to May.

Snow covered rose bush of January.

Snow covered rose bush of January.

Sun covered rose bush of May.

Sun covered rose bush of May. I’ll sneeze to that!

I walked up to Broadway, en route to my subway station, and saw that Fairway was open. The long lines were long gone, but if the guy hauling the equivalent of a baby cow in water weight needed Aleve, he had a place to get it. The bins that are normally filled with fruit and vegetables were completely empty.

You want fruit? You want vegetable? Get inside!

You want fruit? You want vegetables? Get inside!

All of the outdoor produce had been stored indoors, but I noticed one holdout: this lone yam. The winner of Survivor: Vegetable.

Super Tuber.

Super Tuber.

Hopefully, this frozen spud did not end up in the trash and it will soon be featured in some Upper West Sider’s hearty wintertime dinner.

"I know a great way to stay warm! Can we have your bottle of French champagne?"

“We know a great way to have fun in the snow! Can we have your bottle of French champagne?”

Lame Adventure 437: Back to the Birds

The New York Film Festival’s closing night feature hit another high note, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is a pitch black comedy directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton plays a Hollywood has-been best known as the comic book hero, Birdman, a character that brought him fame and fortune. He is determined to resurrect his sagging career and gain relevancy by adapting a Raymond Carver story for the Broadway stage, even though he is losing his mind to Birdman who has a stranglehold on his identity.

Milton and I doubt that Birdman will come anywhere near the crowd pleasing popularity of Gone Girl, which opened the festival, at the US box office. But Birdman is a beautifully shot and edited film with a great jazz drum score. Michael Keaton, whose own career hit its high mark when he started playing Batman twenty-five years ago (a role he quit before acting in the third film of the series), is terrific as a man who is losing his grip on reality as he directs and stars in a play that is hemorrhaging his life savings. It nails the New York theatrical community with falling props, insecure, egotistical actors and nasty, snobby critics. Adding to the authenticity, much of it is shot at the Saint James theater, where Milton and I have seen many Broadway plays through the years. It’s very entertaining with an ending that’s open to interpretation.

Birdman played eight times on closing night at the festival. Milton and I could not afford to pay the king’s ransom to attend the star-studded gala screening. Our screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theater did not rate an appearance by any of the stars. It was a venue with first come, first serve seating so loitering outside the press tent was not an option. Therefore, the closest we got to rubbernecking the likes of Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts or Zach Galifianakis was this guy vacuuming the red carpet in anticipation of their arrival.

Vacuum-man.

Vacuum-man.

So, how does one follow up sixteen days of intensive film going in Lincoln Center? The first option is to enter withdrawal. The second it to head downtown, specifically to Greenwich Village to indulge in street theater.

Birdboy.

Birdboy.

As a longtime fan of pigeons, I was very excited to read last week in The New Yorker, that Tina Trachtenburg, also known as Mother Pigeon, an animal activist and artist, was conducting a pigeon “flashflock outstallation” in Washington Square Park on Saturday with a rain date on Sunday. Milton and I had tickets to two screenings on Saturday, so I was elated to see rain.

I was even more elated to see Mother Pigeon’s acrylic felt flock on Sunday.

Mother Pigeon's pigeon outstellation.

Mother Pigeon’s pigeon outstallation.

"Why aren't we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?"

“Why aren’t we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?”

Flock of feathered felt.

Flock of feathered felt.

She creates these whimsical creatures and gives each unique markings. She explains on her web site, “I like to make them all different because all pigeons are different.” As someone who is quite familiar with the many pigeons in my own midst, that is very true.

Mother Pigeon.

Mother Pigeon with the pigeons in her midst.

Yes, she even created one pecking at a slice of felt pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

As I was heading back uptown, I encountered life imitating art.

Mother Nature pigeon enjoying lunch.

Mother Nature pigeon pecking at pizza crust.

Lame Adventure 406: Feather Headed

When I label a ton of bricks like I recently did all afternoon at The Grind my thoughts naturally stray from the mind-numbing task at hand and I start wondering. I wonder about what became of my grade school peers, people I primarily last saw in 1973 most of whom I loathed and whose names have faded from memory, but their acne and braces have real staying power. Are they now happy and fulfilled, or miserable and adrift? Do the girls look dowdy, have the guys lost their hair, how many of them are orphans, how many are dead themselves? On that uplifting note, my mind drifted in the direction of the somnambulant: what should I prepare for dinner, chicken with steamed spinach or fish with zucchini? To regain some semblance of consciousness, my thoughts shifted to a reliable source of pick-me-up: sex. But they landed there only for a moment; about the length of time it takes me to maintain interest having descended into being a magnet for women who are dedicated practitioners of room clearing halitosis. Instead of suggesting, “I’ll bring the wine” when invited over, would it be misinterpreted if I offered to bring the Listerine?

Suddenly my reverie was interrupted with a familiar musical interlude for those of you like me who find the frantic beating of pigeon wings on an air conditioner soothing. As I listened to the rock doves clamoring outside that were either passionately mating or engaging in a feather flying turf war, both acts uncannily sound equally aerobic, I thought:

Me: What a joyful noise!

According to this veteran avian observer, when pigeons party on the air conditioner like it’s 1999, that means that the temperature outside might actually be the unthinkable: above freezing. According to the New York Times, “By January’s end, if the forecast holds, there will have been 15 days with temperatures in the teens or lower.” By the Times’ count, January 2014 has had only  “roughly four days” with average temperatures. I checked the temperature on my phone and saw the unimaginable this winter. It was a balmy 45 degrees!

Balmy!

Balmy!

I thought:

Me: I could tear off my clothes and run around the block naked and screaming.

Then, I remembered that if I did that, there might be many clothed people screaming right back at me including my superior, Elspeth:

Elspeth: Put your clothes back on and finish labeling these bricks!

Of course three hours later, when it was quitting time, it had plummeted to 28 and I could not be clothed enough.

Chilly!

Chilly!

I informed my colleague, Godsend, that the temperature was once again in freefall. I accessed my inner Al Roker, minus the lap band, and forecast that it would be about 25 when she returned to Queens that evening. I warned her that the longer it would take her to get home, the lower it would go. If she delayed getting back until 2 am, it might only be 16. She assured me that she was going straight home. In fact, mentally, she seemed to be following my lead and had not shown up to The Grind at all that day.

Back to pigeons in winter, when they are not around, or worse, when they appear, but their feathers are puffy and they’re perched quietly, like this one planted outside my window over the weekend, when it was a bone chilling 18, then you know that’s a sure sign that it’s frigid cold again.

"What I'd give right now for a donut and for it to be 40 degrees."

“What I’d give right now for a doughnut and for it to be 40 degrees.” Me, too!

Lame Adventure 389: Did It Fly or Did It Die?

It is not a secret that I envy the pigeons that perch on the sill outside my window at The Grind. They fly wherever they want to go which sure beats riding the subway at rush hour. Here in New York, they always look well fed with all the free eats lying around. Often, I hear them cooing their birdbrains out indicating to me that they’re feeling pretty content. When they want privacy, they slip away to the air conditioner on the west side of the building and engage in pigeon-style tantric relations. This entails much wing flapping and flying feathers. I have also seen them lock beaks — pigeon-style kissing, which is an aspect of the mating ritual called billing here in the US and nebbing in the UK — for those of you inclined to read this site for its vast educational component.

On a recent Thursday, I noticed a pigeon huddled under the air conditioner in the building across from my office. My colleague, Godsend, is very aware of my bird watching.

Godsend: Are you looking at a pigeon?

Me: Yes, it doesn’t look good.

Sleeping or dead?

Sleeping or sick?

Godsend strained her neck for a look.

Godsend: I’m sure it’s sleeping.

Me: I think it’s sick.

Godsend: I think it’s fine.

For hours, that pigeon was perched in that same spot, immobile. Every so often I’d check on it. My glutton for punishment pal would ask for a report.

Godsend: Is it still there?

Me: It’s still there and it’s still not moving. It might be dead and we might be spending the next three weeks watching it decay.

Godsend: Don’t say that. I’m sure it’s sleeping.

Later, I returned and it appeared to be gone.

Godsend: Do you see it?

Me: No, it’s gone!

Godsend (genuinely relieved): See, it flew away!

Me: Wait a minute; it’s still there. The light was playing a trick on me.

The downbeat was audible from Godsend’s desk. It remained tucked under the air conditioner that entire day. The next day when we came in, it was actually gone. Godsend was massively relieved.

Missing or dead?

Dead gone?

Godsend: See, it did fly away!

Me: I think it was dead all along and it fell off the ledge.

Godsend: Don’t say that! Let’s think happy thoughts.

Me: Okay. Even if it did drop dead and fell off the ledge, at least we don’t have to watch it rot away for weeks on end.

Godsend remains convinced that it flew away. I am sure that it died. We cannot open our barred windows to stick our heads out to determine its fate, so fellow Lame Adventurers, as proven creative thinkers, what do you think happened to it?

Lame Adventure 366: Birds of a Feather

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that on a day when I found myself nodding out at my desk at The Grind, a pigeon that perched outside my window had the same idea.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Where we diverged was that after it completed its snooze, the reinvigorated avian extravagantly stretched its wings and took flight. I remained in groggy land-locked captivity on the other side of the bars. It’s possible that I drooled.

The Boss had ordered me to work on a Very Important Assignment, the kind of mission with no margin for error. If it’s screwed up she’ll likely have her head handed to her on a plate. Therefore, I am under pressure to be perfect. Even if nothing is screwed up, I can foresee someone down the line getting cranky about some aspect of this project and blaming her. This brings to mind that I have a tendency to philosophically reflect on my fellow man, or on the woman that announced to me, just as an off-Broadway  play that I was volunteer ushering was about to start:

Woman (whispering): You’re sitting in my husband’s seat.

I nearly suffered a heart attack. The House Manager had assigned me that sixth row dead center seat. He’s always on top of his game. I thought:

Me (thinking): The play’s starting RIGHT THIS SECOND. What am I going to do?

Lightning fast, I spring to my feet and apologize profusely for this snafu. I envisioned her husband bolting out of the bathroom, bursting through the house’s closed doors and hotfooting down the aisle at that very moment.

The woman reveals:

Woman: I turned his ticket into the box office. He’s not here. Sit!

She finds my heart stopping terror hilarious. As a volunteer with an obligation to represent this theater in the best possible light at all times, I press my personal mute button hard to silence what I am thinking:

Me (thinking): Are you a psychotic crazy person?  Was that really necessary to say to me right at curtain?

I suffered shallow breathing well into the first act. When an ominous looking bread knife was brandished on stage, I realized that there just might be a little Norman Bates in me, too, but I digress. As I tend to philosophically reflect on my fellow man and woman, factoring in my own experiences with members of the human race, I have concluded that many people are assholes.

Other people at my company are basically treating this project that my boss is spearheading like a hot potato. No one wants to touch it. Therefore, the potato has been handed to me. Maybe when it’s finished I should ask for a title upgrade to Minister of Potato. If I were Elsbeth, my superior, I would have dumped it on me, too. I’m excellent with detail, over-educated and underpaid. What a bargain until …

Oops.

Oops.

I lose consciousness and key in 83,338 of a product that costs $1,416. The line item calculates to $118,007,080. Fortunately, I came to before hitting the ‘enter’ key and reduced the quantity to the intended amount: two.

In my next life, I hope I return as a New York City pigeon. I’d be free. I’d never be bored. I could fly, mate at will, stuff myself with street food, but best of all, I could crap on annoying theater patrons and get away with it. Hey, I’m just a doity boid.

Lame Adventures 361: Air Raiding

Because a room with a view has always been preferable to one without, the price of air in New York City is becoming more expensive. Yes, the air is for sale, but not on sale.

Robin Finn, The New York Times, “The Great Air Race

This story is about real estate developers that build glass, steel and soulless monstrosities. They’re purchasing air rights. These rights, from surrounding low-rise properties, can cost the developers millions of dollars.  The sellers can make some serious change on these very lucrative deals. The downside for the sellers, as well as surrounding tenants, is living in the gaping shadow of a mile high blight.  Owning the area’s air rights basically guarantees that rich swells that buy into these flashy towers will have rooms with views and sun. So, yes, there is now an expensive price tag on the Big Apple’s air.

Even if I could somehow afford to live in a Blade Runner-style high rise, where I’d have to slather my chalky white pelt with SPF 110 rated sunscreen just to take a gander out the window at New Jersey, I’d take a pass.  I like small.  I like low.  I’m not into blinding sunlight, either. This is not to imply that I’d welcome living in a dark and dreary ground floor cell that faces a brick wall.  I do appreciate many of life’s modern amenities — running water, a working stove, a bed the size of Texas.

Overall, I prefer a dwelling with character.  I’m a fan of original moldings, high ceilings, exposed brick, carved staircase railings, pocket doors, bay windows, and if there’s a gargoyle or some museum-worthy sculpture jutting out of the stone façade, better yet.  Buildings built in the 19th and early 20th centuries are much more easier on my eye than any modern air-owning behemoth influenced by Jenga.

Houses on West End Avenue oozing character and probably high rent.

Houses on West End Avenue flaunting character.

Classic architecture strikes me as being built to last.  For example, if the ceiling caved in on me while I was visiting the Apthorp, Ansonia or Dakota, three coveted Upper West Side addresses, I imagine that I’d get killed instantly.

The Apthorp from behind.

The sturdy Apthorp from behind.

This is not exactly a comforting thought, but at least my suffering would end rapidly.

The Apthorp's rear entrance on West End Avenue.

The Apthorp’s rear entrance on West End Avenue.

In contrast, there is the ultra modern (circa 1975) Calhoun School, an architectural eyesore a few blocks north of where I live. On the plus side, it is a low rise.  On the negative, this building was intentionally designed to resemble a TV set.

If I stand in front of the Calhoun School long enough, will I get to see The Simpsons?

If I stand outside the Calhoun School long enough, will I get to watch Letterman?

If the Calhoun School’s ceiling were to fall on me, it does not strike me as a building made from the dense bedrock used in the more stately homes of my neighborhood.  Therefore, it is possible that if I was smacked with a chunk of the Calhoun School, I might survive that mishap, albeit paralyzed from the tongue down and left to suffer for decades. Another Calhoun School factoid: in 2004, four additional floors were added.  It now looks to me like an obsolete Seventies era TV with a pile of crap on top.

Even though a room with some view is nice, pictured below is the current view outside the window of my sanctum sanctorum.

Entertaining.

My entertaining view of urban wildlife.

I cannot claim when I invite a guest to my lair, I’m inclined to suggest in a seductive tone:

Me: Hey babe, check out the pigeon sleeping on the air conditioner outside my window.

I’m more inclined to entertain my guests in infinitely more creative ways rather than relying on purchasing a view in the stratosphere that would easily cost my life savings, if a collection of commemorative quarters could serve as a down payment.  Who needs a view when my guest and I can take turns reciting poetry, painting (my bathroom for starters), or I could serenade her with a rendition of Ho Hey on spoons slapped against my naked thigh?

Check out my commemorative quarters collection!

Check out my commemorative quarters collection!

I cannot deny that nighttime views of the bright lights in this big city can be romantic.  But, if the owner/occupier of that view is a shallow bore, it would be comparable to watching a TV test pattern or the Calhoun School’s cafeteria wallpaper.  Therefore, if I were in the company of someone enticing, I’d feel privileged to snuggle in a brownstone’s fifth floor attic apartment facing a bustling avenue.  In that case, I would hardly mind if every molecule of the air outside were owned by the Fat Cats of Gotham City.

If we get bored inside we could always indulge our sense of vertigo on the roof.

Rooms without a view that look cool to me