Sunday, April 12, 2015

I want to kill pigeons

DR, The Danish equivalent of PBS, turned 90 the other week, and to celebrate the anniversary, they filled a good part their programming with memorable moments in TV history. I didn't watch much, but even so I kept coming across this one clip in which a famous journalist and horticulturalist suffocated a pigeon and tore off its head with his bare hands.

All that gore served a purpose, of course. The event was followed by a spiel on the humane killing of animals, but even so, the show unleashed unprecedented fury and criticism from viewers. I too, got a little upset, but mostly it left me wondering: "Why was he teaching people to kill pigeons in the first place?"

That was last week. This week, I want to kill pigeons too. In fact, I may have hung out on chat forums to learn how to get the deed done.
Turisti (1997), by Maurizio Cattelan via Perrotin

Know how it can be kind of unpleasant to hang out with people who breathe with their mouth open, chew gum really loudly or continuously sniffle rather than blow their nose once and for all? Well people, such noises are nothing compared to the incessant cooing of a pigeon!

How do I know? First hand is how I know. I have a pair nesting in the eaves gutter outside my window, and all day, every day, from 5 am till long past midnight they sit there and make that monotonous sound, which, frankly, sounds moronic and a little like a passionless couple having sex.

I've tried shooing them away, but all to no avail. They just throw me that sideways glance that birds do, and then they get on with their cooing.

Most likely there are eggs in that gutter they call home, and a part of me thinks that this could be my one chance to actually see a baby pigeon. Heck, I could even take their chicks in, raise them as my own and teach them to emit a more compelling sound.

But honestly, with work and everything, who has the time?

I'm hoping my downstairs neighbors will 'break the egg', to use some surprisingly apt mobspeak. And I'm starting to feel kind of laid-back about whether it's done humanely or not.

P.S. If you've never heard a pigeon coo, then here's a video a guy made of his pet pigeon (By the way, who keeps a pet pigeon? who?)


Thursday, April 2, 2015


Alex Prager
I got my driver's license back in 1999 or 2000, but for some reason I never drove much. There was always someone around with more confidence to jump into the driver's seat, and in all honesty I think it suited me well.

I get nervous about traffic and high speeds. In fact, I was once pulled over in the middle of the night - lights and sirens and all - for driving too slow. I'm thinking they suspected me of (overly cautious) drunk driving, when really I was just heading home after a long night baby sitting.

In the the summer of 2002, I moved into my first apartment, had the city at my doorstep and thus didn't feel the need to drive anywhere. A few years later, I moved to NY, where cabs and subway cars fulfilled my every need.

"I don't know how to drive", I would say whenever it came up. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Every now and again my friend Maj would tell me that I ought to practice my driving. I insisted there would always be someone around to drive me those few times a year I wanted to go to IKEA. And in the event of an emergency, what good would a car do anyway? I'd call an ambulance, the police or a stranger in the street.

"You just never know," she insisted, and she was absolutely right. When the moment came and I actually did need to drive, it wasn't an emergency. And the whole point was that it wasn't me who needed to be taken to IKEA. It was someone else. Well, not to IKEA, but you get the gist.

Not surprisingly, that's exactly when I started to long for that freedom, which people with cars - or a desire to get one - so often talk about.
It always struck me a little undue to associate such a strong emotion with something so ordinary. Kind of like saying that buttered toast gives you reason to live. But when Maj eventually forced me into the driver's seat of her car and made me drive around in the very same parking lot we used to go practice in as teens, I felt it. The tease of freedom.

Andrew Bush

"I get a lot of requests from people like you," my instructor replied to my email, when I wrote and asked about taking lessons.
In the car he elaborated that by people like me he meant mostly 70-year old widows who've sat patiently in the passenger's seat for some 40 years.
(He also told me that he just got a bird costume for easter and had feathers all over his place, which really made my day.)

Helen Levitt

It went well, I think. The lesson, I mean. Nowadays they tell you to predominantly use your sideview mirrors in lieu of physically turning to look over your shoulders - a change I can really appreciate. They also teach a method called green driving, which I applaud from an environmental point of view, but less so from an habitual point of view. For better and worse, old habits die hard.

Vivian Maier

Perhaps it's due to the intimacy of a car. Perhaps it's due to my pronounced insecurity behind the wheel. Perhaps both. But sitting in that car and having a total stranger build your confidence felt a little like therapy. It completely brought me back. To being 18 and getting picked up by my driving instructor and going driving and chitchatting, all while fueling that sweet anticipation:
Soon, I can do whatever I want.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I did some work for an artist recently, who introduced me to the work of Sheila Hicks. So gorgeous, I thought I'd share :)
Hicks in her Paris studio, preparing her Metamorphosis installation at the Palais de Tokyo

Linen Lean-To, bas-relief (1967-68), at the Met.

Via Rietveld's Design Blog. Love how they look like woven abstract expressionist paintings.

Tapestries at the Ford Foundation (1967/2014). Image by Elizabeth Lippman/NYTimes.

Hicks' journal pages via Desert Dreamer.  

Banisteriopsis II (1965-66/2010) at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston