07 August 2015

Neighborhood wildlife

Dear diary,

I was riding home on my bike. Up ahead in the distance, I saw an enormous hawk grasping something rodent-like in its talons and trying to fly. The bird’s wingspan seemed almost equal to the width of the road; it was flapping and flapping, yet it could not get more than a couple feet off the ground. Finally it dropped its cargo and soared up over the adjacent rooftops. As soon as the hawk was out of sight, a gang of crows in the nearby tree started cawing wildly. The object that the hawk had dropped remained motionless in the center of the road—I assumed that it was a squirrel that had been knocked unconscious by the fall. Then I got closer and saw that it was actually the bloody, mangled corpse of some lucky rabbit.

The street where this miracle occurred is located just outside of my apartment complex. After I rode past the rabbit corpse, I parked my bike in the garage and entered my home. Through the open window, I could still hear the crows; but I couldn’t see the scene, because a line of tall trees blocks my view of the street. The crows were cawing madly: they sounded like they were losing themselves in a type of primordial religious festival. I imagined the way they were treating the corpse of that rabbit; and this triggered another memory:

One time a cat meowed outside of my screen door. I felt sorry for it—I assumed it was a stray—but I’ve never had any pets of my own, so I didn’t have any food for the creature, and I was afraid that feeding it human food would make it sick; so I spoke to the cat, and said: “I’ll be right back.”

Now it strikes me that Officer Duke says the very same phrase to Officer Rough, in the movie Wrong Cops (2013), when Duke leaves the room to fetch his dying neighbor out of the trunk of his police car in order to get a second opinion about Rough’s new song. (And I think that Officer Sunshine speaks this same phrase to the same dying man before he goes to buy a shovel.)

Anyway, after trying to communicate to the poor stray cat that I intend for us to meet each other again, I quickly ran to the store and bought an economy-size bag of kitty chow.

However, when I returned, the cat was gone. So I was left standing alone on the deck of my apartment with a massive bag of kitty chow and no pets of my own. I didn’t want the chow to go to waste, but I didn’t feel like eating it myself; so I made an official pledge, saying:

“I will pour one hundredth part of this bag out onto the grass of my backyard, every day, for exactly 100 days.”

So I did this, and it was interesting: for it taught me that certain wild creatures enjoy eating kitty chow. It turns out that the crows were my best customers, because they were the first ones to come flocking over to the sight of the chow, when I would offer my daily oblation:

The crows would always surround the mound of chow and hop about it suspiciously before consuming it. One peculiar thing that I noticed about the crows’ way of eating is that, although the kitty chow consisted of little inert chunks of tawny material that in no way resembled any living creature, the crows would still try to “hunt” it, to “catch it off guard”:

Each crow would inch up carefully, duck down and crouch low in a sinister fashion, and sway slowly left & right like it was planning a strategy of where & when to strike in for the kill, as though the chow were likely to escape from an ambush. Then suddenly the bird would nab at a piece of kitty chow with its beak, snap it up, and hasten to the nearest tree branch to eat it in safety. The crows would capture the chow like this, piece by piece, until the pile was clean gone.

The reason that I mention this fact about the crows and their famous Hundred Day Banquet of Kitty Chow (I imagine that that’s how they titled it when they recorded this legend in their Holy Crow Bible)—I say, the reason that I labored to describe in detail the way that they consumed the chow is that it helped me imagine, despite the line of trees that obscured my view, how the crows were probably eating the corpse of the aforesaid rabbit. I kept thinking to myself: That rabbit is dead; it isn’t going to move or escape—just like the kitty chow, it will remain inert—nonetheless, I’d wager that those birds are craftily jutting at it with their beaks, as if they’re engaged in a treacherous act of predation, for that’s the way that crows prefer to dine.


I want to say one extra thing about rabbits’ feet. Sometime prior to my birth, a corporation of people decided to amass a great volume of these extremities—feet severed from rabbits—then, after dying them various colors, they attached each foot to a cap with a silver fastener, in order to sell them as keychains. When I was too young to grasp how disturbingly primitive this concept is, I won a fair number of reward tickets playing the game of skee ball. These tickets could be used to redeem prizes. Among these prizes were multihued rabbit’s-foot keychains. So I earned such a large number of these curiosities that I ended up acquiring every single color in the rainbow.

Now, when I read about a warrior keeping an assortment of human ears on a necklace to signify his or her wartime carnages, I think to myself: Ethically speaking, I have become the equivalent of this combatant, for we both proudly display severed body parts upon our person; however, I myself possess significantly higher skill than any mere warrior: for it is easy to murder one’s enemies (does not even God do as much?) but it is very hard to get the top score in skee ball.


Qualo Infinity said...

I'm pretty sure that for ages and ages crows have been students of the theater and have an uncanny predilection and talent for the over-dramatic. Many people often equate omens with any sightings and encounters involved with crows, but it's my belief that this idea was instilled in humans by crows themselves, so in a sense, they're on the right track.

P.S. Every time you mention a quote or scene from Wrong Cops, I find it funnier and funnier. I do believe that film gets more hilarious with every viewing...Even just thinking about certain scenes, they crack me up more and more. This is most likely the answer that solves the mystery of why you have watched it so many times! I understand! I'm also like this when it comes to watching The Lair of the White Worm...it just gets better and better with every viewing.. The best was the last time I saw it, which I do believe was about the 10th time...and that's a lot for me, because I don't watch many films even a 2nd time. Having said that, the next viewing, possibly the 11th, it may all go downhill, but I hope not. But I do need to rewatch Wrong Cops again in its entirety.

Great entry. Long live the skee. If only in theory.

I have no idea what that means.

Bryan Ray said...

Ah then we're on the very same page about crows—they're so smart and sneaky: I think that crows might actually be the deities who created all the dimensions, dressed in their undercover garb! ...Yeah, and about Wrong Cops, I end up quoting it daily, but nobody ever knows what I'm talking about, hahaha!! I'm glad that you think it's funny too—I'm frustrated that not many people are willing to give it a chance; I blame it partly on the marketing: the poster and cover art, and the trailers, etc.—all that stuff makes the worst impression: it attracts the people who'll hate it, and it turns off the people who'll potentially love it—I myself would've never bothered to watch it if I had only seen the ads or the case cover—the only reason I sought it out was because I loved the previous film Wrong, especially the scenes with Mark Burnham playing Officer Duke, so I was dying for more, and I was ecstatic when I heard that Wrong's spin-off would be Wrong Cops. (I just love the idea of absurd or surreal artworks participating in the commercial TV idea of spin-offs: I think it's interesting to combine those worlds, which I think of as high and low.) ...I haven't seen The Lair of the White Worm, but I'm eager to check it out: thanks for mentioning it! ...& re the idea of watching movies multiple times, I didn't do that as much when I was younger; but now it's become more of a regular way with me. And the same goes for books and music—I'm becoming more interested in art that is deep & rich enough to become a permanent part of my life. I'm confident that I must be on the right track, because it seems like the opposite of the average fickle teenager's attitude. I don't mean to be too down on fickle teens (truly I'm jealous of their insouciance: I need to siphon some for myself!), but, especially in this climate that is dominated by cascades of slapdash ephemera and fast-vanishing chitchat, my appetite has increased for works that can stand the test of time.


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