It was a sultry July night and the static in the air was up to no good. Every occupant of the tenement pushed opened their windows into the dark indigo night hoping for a respite from the heat, a change in the mood, but there was no breeze to speak of, just a dull hum and the occasional frenzied cackle carried up from the street. The guy in the unit upstairs took this opportunity to stand by his window and slowly unravel an entire roll of packing tape. Without pause, slowly unraveling the tape as well as the rest of us.
“Hey man!” I yelled up to him through the stone-thick vermin-infested ceiling, “What are you DOING?” But the tape roll ran its course for the next 40 minutes straight. Only the distant intense wailing of a small child broke my tape-gun fixation. I wondered, was that child the guilty party behind the rotten diaper garbage stench that filled the entire building today? And just as the riotous clucking of the nocturnal tree-fowl heightened to an unbearable crescendo, I realized, we all die alone and this may be the last and most sublime sound that will enter my human ear holes before my corpse is shucked clean of its soul by an almighty demon god. [inspired by true events]
The effects of gentrification are taking their toll on my Oakland neighborhood, with the most recent intrusion developing within the bird population. We’ve grown accustomed to our ragtag pigeons, scavenging lake gulls, and black-crowned herons who scream, cackle, and squawk into the night. Their birdy cacophony entwines with the discordant howls of the local vagrants. These birds are not the most elegant or ideal as far as fowl demographics go, but they’re OURS.
Suddenly a new feathered tourist has come to town. A fair-weather opportunist. A songbird. Turdus migratorius be his name, also known as the American Robin. His wearisome song consists of a single repetitive, maddening note that he broadcasts ad nauseum ALL NIGHT LONG. And also, ALL DAY. His tirelessness and arrogance are an affront to the local bird residents. He lazily roosts in one tree morning and night, sipping his $5 soy latte while displacing the scrounger birds who are indispensable for pecking the previous night’s vomit off the sidewalks as if it’s a delicacy. I will look into the zoning laws in this area, but I’m open to suggestions. I’m considering organizing a collective nonviolent direct action to pressure this bird out.