A Pigeon Noir

Supposedly long gone were my sullied days of crime, days spent as a young hoodlum living in some dying rust belt 'burg in upstate New York, cruising around town in a cherry-red T-top Camaro and demolishing roadside mailboxes with a stocky aluminum Easton. But trouble — as Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall in Cronenberg's A History of Violence finds out — has a way of finding you.

Here's my story.

I'm making my way home from an awful cubicle job over at UCSF, walking down Irving Street between 40th and 41st — way the fuck out there by Ocean Beach — when I stumble across this manically chirping cardboard box with the words “FROZEN POT STICKERS” printed across the top. The noisy thing is just tossed in the gutter, tucked underneath the right rear tire of a Honda Civic. Well, when I peak inside to see what all the commotion is about, my eyes spot two scrawny, nearly bald pigeon chicks huddled in a corner, frantically flapping their featherless wings and shitting all over themselves in stone-cold fear. Their folks are nowhere to be found. So I know right then and there that I must choose one of two paths. I can leave these hapless little creatures to perish, or I can attempt to rescue them from certain doom.

I not only choose the later, temporarily feeding them a mixture of water and Wonder Bread from a syringe, I also drive them down to Animal Care and Control at 1200 Harrison Street because I naively think the joint's in the business of actually taking care of these abandoned baby birds, which I name George and George. Anyway, the lady at the front desk notifies me that I have broken the law: San Francisco Police Code, Article 7, Section 486 makes it illegal to feed pigeons outside of five designated scenic areas within city/county limits. In fact, she even calls my attention to a three-page PDF file at www.sfgov.org titled 90_Pigeon_eng.pdf, wherein the San Francisco Department of Public Works actually encourages citizens to “report pigeon feeders to SFPD at 415/553-0123.” What's more, all the A.C.C. is authorized to do — if I relinquish custody of the Georges — is to put them to sleep (extermination is a form of humane treatment). She then suggests that I either nurture these birds myself or, better yet, return them to where I found them because their mom will eventually find them. “Or that Honda will back up and crush their skulls,” I reply.

So now I'm a fugitive on the run with two little birds in tow, frantically posting messages to Craigslist, asking for individuals to adopt the Georges. I receive two replies within the hour. The first is a grave warning regarding the myriad diseases that pigeons carry. The second tells me of a “wildlife rehabilitation center” in San Rafael by the name of WildCare; it's an oasis that takes in every kind of bird imaginable: pelicans, golden eagles, wild turkeys, and, yes, even the lowly gray pigeon.

Thus, the following day I make like Harriet Tubman and whisk the Georges straight out of the city and into the caring hands at WildCare, where they are given new names (#3241 and #3242) and live in this totally swank Animal Planet-styled refuge in downtown San Rafael, surrounded by lush vegetation, a picturesque creek, and massive palms. So now these two lucky fuckers are living a far better life than the schnook who saved their asses a day earlier.

C'est la vie,” I think to myself as I return to the city more than prepared for Chief Fong to haul me in and throw the book at me for making a mockery of Section 486.

View Comments