Like many New Yorkers, I just don’t like pigeons. I tried really, really hard to like them. I mean, they are animals too and they deserve the same level of respect as all other creatures. I also see them everywhere, so I figured I should learn to coexist… And ya know what. Me and pigeons did well together for a while. I ignored them, and they me, and it was fine.
But then I met one particularly trifling pigeon.
His name was Martin Genci.
Martin came wandering in the front door of this clothing store I used to work at on Smith Street all hurt ’cause of a broken wing. The thing is, Animal Control doesn’t pick up pigeons. So we built a home for Martin in the store’s backyard. He had a HOOKED UP bird house, bird seed, and even got to come chill in the store sometimes and listen to Phoenix with us back when they were like, super popular.
Then we had to renovate the store.
Martin couldn’t live there for a month. I agreed to have him come live with me for a while. I put Martin in a box with holes in it. I wrote ‘FRAGILE’ on the box with the r spelled backwards because that’s JUST WHAT YOU DO when you carry a pigeon with a broken wing in a box. I carried that damn bird on the G TRAIN and then transferred all the while he was doing that pigeon-cooing-thing and I was getting dirty looks. One man actually said “that’s disgusting,” and he was right… But what other choice did I have?
This was my cross to bare.
I brought Martin Genci up on my roof where I built him a new hut, had a food dish ready, and some water. Well, that trifling pigeon took one look around, decided Bushwick wasn’t good enough for him, AND FLEW HIS ASS OFF THE ROOF back in the direction of Smith Street. Ya know–you try to do the right thing. To give a pigeon a chance, and just… Ugh. What a bourgie asshole.
I told myself I’d never trust a pigeon after that. Never again.
But then something happened. See, I really love squirrels. Their bushy tails, their neurotic, sudden movements. The way they always have a stash of food. Squirrels are actually my spirit animal.
But I’ve heard many people describe squirrels as “vermin.” As “gross.” As “rats in cuter outfits.”
Much like the way I’ve described pigeons ever since my experience with Martin Genci.
I thought maybe I should get over my hatred of pigeons, and not judge all of them based off of one experience. It seemed a good place to do this was at Tina Trachtenburg’s New York Pigeon Flashflock that occurred during Bushwick Open Studios.
Tina made over 100 pigeons by hand, and placed them doing pigeon-y things (pecking over a slice of pizza, soaring through the air) in her apartment. Seeing this many pigeons in one condensed area, peacefully doing what pigeons do WITHOUT betraying my trust and generosity made me see that maybe all pigeons aren’t so bad. Maybe, just maybe–they’re just like people. Individuals. Complex.
If Tina loved these creatures the way I loved squirrels, maybe there was something I was missing.
I don’t exactly like pigeons now, but I’m accepting their existence more and more ever since BOS. Thanks to Tina for showing us that perhaps a creature we’re hard pressed to judge, can actually surprise us.