SHAKESPEARE AT THE NEWSSTAND
"A girl asked a boy if she was pretty. He said 'No.' She asked him if he wanted to be with her forever. He said 'No.' She then asked him if he would cry if she walked away. He again said 'No.' She decided she had heard too much. She felt that she needed to leave. As she walked away, he took her arm and asked her to stay. He said, 'You’re not pretty, you’re beautiful. I don’t want to be with you forever, I need to be with you forever. I wouldn’t cry if you walked away. I would die.' "
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
- Mark Twain
Choose Your Words Carefully
Take the 'L' out of LOVER and its OVER !
Late City Edition February 1 , 1867 1 Cent
Shakespeare is Alive!
Shakespeare is Brought to Life
Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth) as Hamlet
Topic Titles Are Like Newspaper Headlines
You Need To Grab the Readers' Interest
With Ten Words or Less
Make an effort to keep your topic title short. (Not more than ten words).
The title should be considered a "label" which summarizes the content.
The purpose of the title is to get the reader interested enough to read the rest of the copy.
Use Action Verbs.
Anna Action/Verb jumped from bed on Monday. She ran to the breakfast table, doing three cartwheels on the way.
She raced her friend, Donna Direct-Object, all the way to school. Ms. Sentence, the teacher, tapped her ruler on her desk and said, "Anna, SIT STILL!"
Avoid linking verbs: any form of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, have, has been, are being, might have been, etc.) These verbs connect the subject of the verb to additional information about the subject. They don't however grab much attention.
Which title has more action?
"The New Video Game Is Here!"
"Jump In and Out of Danger by Purchasing Spinetinglers!"
Begin your topic title with
something that sounds like an announcement.
At Last!... Introducing... Presenting... Just Released...
Now... New... anything that sounds like exciting news.
Involve your audience immediately in the subject matter.
Who Else Wants to Know More About___________?
Give Reasons and Use Specific Numbers.
Seven Reasons for Learning to Fish.
The more you focus on how the topic benefits the reader, the more readers you will have. Therefore, you must let the readers, or listeners know, right from the start, what's in it for them. Make a big promise in your topic.
The Secret of Subtraction.
How to Hit More Home Runs.
How to Win a Dance Contest
Little Known Ways to (Lose Weight Healthily).
Here's A Quick Way to (Build a Skateboard, etc).
Now You Can Have (Success in Spelling).
(Do Something) like (World Class Example)
(Learn to Hit) like (A-Rod).
What Everybody Ought to Know About_________________.
Give Me (short time period) and Iíll (blank).
See How Easily You Can (desirable result).
Technology That Empowers Me
Somebody Has to Say It
Just Jump into Pod-Casting - Here's How
Friends I Can't Wait to Meet
I Want to Brag a Minute
Nine Websites I Like and Why
Begin writing the essay before you develop your final topic title.
Ask, "What is the main idea?" "How can I rephrase it?"
Read through your story and write down important words or sentences that catch your attention.
You can never get a great title down the first time. Please realize this.
Look at your characters. Is there something special about them, a descriptive word or phrase you might use in the title?
Jot these ideas down right away, and let them sit.
Don't worry! At some point in the process your topic title will emerge.
Make it better by selecting a few words and access a thesaurus for better sounding synonyms.
Let your personality shine in your creative title
I'll See You in Another Life When We're Both Cats
My Name is Sus5an Smith. The 5 is silent. (You can write this on the board).
How to Travel with a Carp
The Gnome on the Other Side of the Garden
Model Essay Titles
Ridgewood is my beloved Brooklyn.
Recently I traveled back to that sacred place.
My heart was heavy thinking of all the history of that place.
I am Brooklyn—I am 1211 Jefferson Avenue.
I now live in California but I am still from Brooklyn. I'm from Brooklyn Heights, yes, in the shadow of the Promenade and the Brooklyn Bridge. My memories are playing stickball in the turning circle of the dead end street I grew up on. We painted in home plate. First base was painted on the wall of a building. Second was a manhole cover, third the fire hydrant. Playing the outfield required skill to catch fly balls coming out of the trees. Other times, however, the ball might wind up down the corner sewer. When this occurred, a wire hanger would be re-bent and utilized as a "ball-puller-outer."
My Brooklyn was in Bensonhurst, 1675-75th Street. Lived my first 18 years in the basement apartment. Didn't think anything of it: thought everyone did. My Brooklyn was building snow forts and storing snow balls, so you could throw them at the Number 4 bus as it went by. My Brooklyn was going to Fulton St. and Loesers and A&S, taking one of the huge manually operated elevators up to the toy department on the 8th floor, then heading down to the basement for an ice cream in a tall glass cup. My Brooklyn was playing stoop ball, and "Skullies", with crayons melted into bottle caps. Four shoe boxes filled with baseball cards I had won flipping. We had a milkman that delivered milk to our house. The back of his truck was filled with ice chunks and he used to give me and my sisters a chunk in the hot summertime. I also remember the Sunbeam bread truck that came to the house. My Brooklyn was proudly walking into the soda fountain with a couple of pennies and ordering a 2 cents plain. My Brooklyn was the pizzeria on 18th Avenue, buying a slice n’ a coke and folding it in half and letting the first bite make you feel that all was good with the world. The world was all right. Brooklyn was the world.
Spaldeens (the ball of choice for punchball or stickball)
pink and supple
strong and bouncy
like its users:
batted and resilient,
always coming home
(except when roofed)
but never collected.
A microcosm of its world:
its perfect roundness and
tarred exterior hides
a lightness inside and
yet, is made to move on...
My Brooklyn centers on Chester Court, one of three dead end blocks between Parkside and Lincoln Road, a world bordered by Flatbush Discount City on Church and Bedford, just up from Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour, and the sweet aroma of the Bond Bakery near Eastern Parkway. I grew up there, nourished on Yoohoo and pizza from Sorrento's near Winthrop Street, burgers from Max's on Bedford near P.S. 92, and Aurora models from the Flatbush Hobby Shop. My father was a member of the Flatbush Tigers, a Jewish-Italian gang that hung out near the junction and had very cool reversible jackets made at Friedman's. They held a raffle to pay for the jackets. Funny, nobody ever won the raffle. Rival gangs were the Ellery Bops and the Halsey Bops. Later, they closed the delis and sealed off the alleys where we played Chinese handball. And now I almost never walk the only streets that will ever truly be home.
My Brooklyn is Wingate H.S. in the 70s. Wondering what possessed a designer to make this school in the shape of a banjo. Was he a frustrated music major who could not get into Performing Arts? I may never know.
Living in Brooklyn means not having to take your car everywhere. In Bay Ridge if you live on 81st Street you walk to Century 21 past two bakeries, three meat markets, two banks, four bar/restaurants, one ice cream shop, one diner, two card shops, two clothing stores for men, three bridal shops, three jewelers and one hardware store as well as the gardening store.
Spending time with my friends building go-carts out of two-by-fours, baby carriage wheels, Coca Cola grate as the seat and decorating it with bottle caps and cards.
Bay Ridge: Grandma on 83rd Street. Fog Horns off of Shore Road when it was raining. A "slice-and-a-coke" at Gino's on Fifth Avenue and 75th street. I still have to make trips to Brooklyn just to buy REAL Syrian bread (3rd Ave between 78 and 79th Street). Oh—and I watched them shoot Saturday Night Fever when I was in 8th grade, although most of the movie actually takes place in Bensonhurst, not Bay Ridge as the movie would have you believe.
Playing Hit the Penny, Stoop Ball, Box baseball, pitching pennies, Skully, Sallugi, Run Robin Run, Hot Peas and Butter, Whiffle Ball, Johnny on the Pony, Mumbly Peg and Knucks. Knowing what a Charlotte Russe is. Going to Murray the K rock concerts at the Brooklyn Fox or the Brooklyn Paramount. Shopping at Loesers and A&S on Fulton Street before the mall and all the dreck. Eating at Chock Full O' Nuts Shops. Ate Ebinger's Black-Out Cake and didn't think about the calories. Brought knishes from RUBY THE KNISH MAN. Washed it down with a Sunny Boy orange drink with the wax in it. The dazzling deco interior of Garfield's Cafeteria. Chocolate egg creams at Dennisons Pharmacy. Chow Mein in a hamburger bun at Woollworth’s Five and Ten. Soft twisted pretzels dipped in spicy mustard. Taking the 69th Street Ferry to Staten Island. (The ferries and all the elevated stations were painted Army green with WWII surplus paint). The Empire Rollerdrome. Knowing that NBC's main production studio is on Avenue M. Knew who the neighborhood wise guy was, but you'd never tell the cops. Shopped at Bohack's, and Packer's. Knew that E.J. Korvettes stands for Eight Jewish Korean Veterans. Owned a pair of shoes from Miles or National's. Golf at Dyker Heights. Lime rickeys - rubberband balls. Getting a "J.D. Card" and feeling like Al Capone. In Brooklyn, everybody knew somebody who was a connected guy. HITTING TWO SEWERS IN PUNCH BALL. Calling "chips' on the ball or bat but nobody ever collected. "EVEN YOU'RE OWN MAN SAYS YOU'RE OUT!" Drinking Coca Cola hot. Buying comic books at the 40 Thieves candy store at the corner of Brighton Beach Ave. and Coney Island Ave. (right next to Seagull's)The stars on the roof of the Pitkin theater and the mean matron down below who kept kicking us out of the loges. Collecting Elsie ice cream sticks to get into the bleachers at Ebbets Field and night games with Furillo in right and Snider in center.
You waited for the rides on a truck to come to your neighborhood for 10 cents a ride. Took the train to Coney and paid a dollar for all-day rides at Steeplechase Park. Swam with seaweed and Coney Island whitefish. An open air market under the El off of New Lots that we would visit Saturday nights or Sunday mornings with big slabs of lox and whitefish, and the pushcarts and open fires. Summers riding the El to join the hordes trekking off to Brighton or Manhattan Beach, or eating our lunches waiting for the draw-bridge to go down on the way to Riis Park. Nathans, Good Humor . . . the Fudgie Wudgie Man on Manhattan Beach. In the spring, taking note of every bud, of every crocus; waiting for the cherry blossoms to bloom at Brooklyn College and then the lilacs. When you referred to the city everyone knew you were talking about Manhattan. You could ride the train into the city, without fear. You could play on the streets to 10 pm, your parents didn't worry.
Travelling all over Brooklyn on roller skates or Schwinn bicycles,watching the super carrier USS Constellation being built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Walking to Floyd Bennett field (where Lindburgh and Amelia Earhart landed and took off). Swimming at the Farragut pool. Lundy’s on Sunday (a seafood restaurant that could seat 3,000). Walking across the footbridge over Sheep's Head Bay through the gauntlet of fishing poles. The pool on the third floor of the St. George's Hotel. Grand Army Plaza library (wow . . . this is big)! Charcolettes, luncheonettes, candy stores. The aroma of all kinds of ethnic cooking in the hallways told you who lived in what apartment. Roasting mickeys (potatoes) in abandoned lots. Bowling at Gil Hodges Lanes. The shark tank at the New York Aquarium. The best corned beef and pastrami sandwiches in the world...the smell of burning leaves in the fall. Jahn's "Tall in the Saddle", a dessert which was a foot high, with 12 scoops of ice cream in it.
The vendors who came around selling fruit, flowers and sharpening knives. The Green Bus Line from the Junction all the way to Beach 116th St. Brooklyn’s Church Avenue trolley - the last line in the last borough to operate trolleys - had its swan song in October, 1956. Ice Skating in the Prospect Park rink, and once on the lake when it froze enough to support the mythical stolen car. The Flatbush Boys' Club, the Brooklyn Museum (Stewart's painting of George Washington). I've lived in Seattle for 30 years, but still, when asked, say I'm from Brooklyn. (Not New York, just Brooklyn.)
I saw myself as a great fisherman and hunter, the to-be Ernest Hemingway of Brooklyn. The lake in Prospect Park offered limited prospects of world record fish, but the Botanic(al) Garden(s) were another story entirely. The pond at the Japanese Garden fairly teemed with large and willing prey: gold carp, yellow perch, and even several sizable black bass, hand fed and waiting for the intrepid and fearless angler. The only catch was that fishing there was totally forbidden, a ban enforced by a cadre of large, mean-spirited guards ("parkies," in the local parlance). And so, necessity being the mother of invention, the handy-dandy pocket fishing system came into being.
The program was fairly straightforward. Take one Mongol #3 pencil, wrap 10-15 feet of line (with hook) around same, stick the hook into the eraser, and place said contraption in pocket. On the way to the fishing grounds, stop at the A&P on Franklin Ave. to purchase a loaf of white bread, being sure to have the clerk put it in a large bag. Upon arrival at the pond, be sure that as the parkie makes his rounds, he observes you feeding balled-up chunks of bread to the unsuspecting denizens of the deep. Accept his warm glance, acknowledging you as a good citizen and fine example of the younger generation. Carefully observe his movements to insure that he is following his usual beat, which, based on earlier intelligence, keeps him away from your chosen spot for at least five minutes. As soon as he is out of sight, you strike!
In a single, practiced movement, the pocket fishing system is unsheathed, a ball of bread placed on the hook, and the cast is made. A bite, usually within seconds! The victim is quickly pulled from the water, and placed in the bag (remember the A&P) under a nearby bush. Possibly time for a second kill, but when the parkie returns, we are back to innocently feeding the fish. At the end of the session, the fish-laden bag is squeezed under the iron fence bordering Washington Ave., to be retrieved on the way home. Since those days, I've caught Tarpon in Florida, Salmon in Alaske, and Peacock Bass in Brazil. None were as exciting as the fishing adventures of my youth in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Erasmus Hall High School with its faculty full of Ph.D.'s. The wonderful Christmas Concerts where half the kids singing "Adeste Fidelis" were Jewish. Mr.Newman (physics) proving the phlogiston theory while almost setting his room on fire. A graduating class of 1250 in 1966, of whom the top two percent were accepted by Ivy League schools, every last one of them. Imagine having a free education at Brooklyn College. No one believes us when my wife and I admit to paying no tuition for one of the finest college educations. Fantastic Broadway shows a 15 cent carfare away, TV broadcast shows, first run movies (for 25 cents back then), museums that cannot be matched anywhere (and on almost any subject you can think of). The people that used to sit outside on the stoop or in open doorways sitting on milk boxes actually talking to their friends and neighbors that we knew by name. From the Chinese laundry, to the Italian butcher, to the "facochta" German fruit guy, to Izzy the Russian tailor. Mom still lives around Rugby Rd. and Foster Ave., in the same apartment house I use to deliver the Brooklyn Eagle to as a kid. The Pilgrim Laundry truck picking up your soiled clothes and bringing them back the next day with cardboard backings to keep the shirts pressed. The Prospect Park Zoo where you could actually see all the animals. Getting a Kitchen Sink at Jahns Ice Cream Parlour. Henry’s Luncheonette- ice cream in small, metal dishes, malteds poured from metal tumblers into tall glasses, the juke box in the back where the high school kids sat, the Schrafft's candy in the display case. Twirling around on the swivel chairs at the counter, triple ice cream cones (the cone part really had triple heads).Playing ring-a-liveo at dusk. Had all steel roller skates with keys. You made a scooter from an orange crate, an old skate, and a two by four. Mrs. Epstein, our 6th grade teacher, would buy us tickets for shows at the Academy of Music. Fishing off the pier at Sheepshead Bay. Buying Blues off the boats at 4pm. Parents couldn't reach us (no mobiles) and most of the day we would be out playing with friends and parents knew we would be safe with hardly any weirdoes wandering the streets. If we got caught doing stuff we shouldn't the cops would take us home. While playing we got cuts and bruises and the occasional tear in jeans but it was just part of being a kid and no visit to the hospital.
We rode our bikes with no helmets and doing whatever stunts we could. If we didn't get on the team we were not good enough and that was that. But most of all we were allowed to be kids -to dream, to invent and to play. The time-space machine on Bergen Street would take me to the best part of the universe for a dollar fifty. When I think of a dollar fifty, what a scam. When I think of Brooklyn, what a bargain!
How to Build a Better Egg Cream
As a public service, the following is the recipe for an official Brooklyn egg cream.
Take a tall, chilled, straight-sided 8 oz. glass
Spoon 1 inch chocolate syrup into glass
Add 1inch whole milk
Tilt the glass and spray seltzer (from a pressurized cylinder only) off a spoon, to make a big chocolate head
Stir, drink, enjoy
The pigeon wars are raging high in the sky over Brooklyn. It’s the end of summer, and the weather’s just right. That’s the word at Broadway Pigeon. Rick lost quite a few birds last night but gained some back. Mikey came out with 12 over. Everybody’s counting. The bands on the pigeons’ legs make it clear where they came from. A gold band might announce that a bird belonged to Dream Team II: the Bushwick Hellhole. Another might have come from Big Bob, Broadway & E. Flushing. Chico from Halsey. Pepi & Son’s, Bronx, N.Y.
The pigeon shop is in between the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and East Bushwick. The J subway train rumbles overhead, loud enough so people pause mid-sentence, clear their throat, and take a sip from a cool bottle before picking up where they left off. Joey Scott, a co-owner of the store, parks his ancient Econoline van in front of the store and walks in with a cage holding two large pigeons, both white, a cock and a hen. Bruce, an older black gentleman sporting a blue cap follows him in. Joey takes some money out of the register and hands it to Bruce for the birds. Bruce has decided he doesn’t want them anymore. As a matter of fact, Bruce has just given up all of his coops; he came back from a vacation in Mexico and decided he is too old to keep the birds.
“I had birds since I was nine years old,” Bruce says. “I’m 52 now. I can’t go on carrying a hundred pounds of bird food up the stairs, back and forth.” He points at the two birds in the cage. “Those are too big to fly like the others. I don’t know what to do with them. They had eggs, but not enough space. The eggs got crushed.” He shakes his head. “My days are over.”
A man with a cowboy hat asks him, “You took pictures of the coops? Lots of memories, huh?”
“I had the coops since I was nine years old,” he reiterated. “Took the coops down.”
“What you gonna do next?”
“Not gonna do this,” he says, looking at the birds. They’re now Joey’s.
Joey may be able to offload them here at the shop or down at the chicken market. For now they’ll be set aside from the main pigeon loft in the back room. The setup is sizeable: two levels about 12 to 14 feet high altogether, with four separate coops in the bottom row, each populated by hundreds of white pigeons with streaks of either reddish or black feathers. On three sides of the coops are six-foot shelves, with each row spaced for a pigeon’s height. When not taking a stroll on the floor, the birds like to stand on the shelves, their feet gripping the edge. Upstairs is another set of coops Joey rents out to owners who are on vacation. The ventilating fan whirls in the back. Little fuzzes of feather drift down like snowflakes.
A kid with a black skullcap exclaims, “There were some nice birds flying.”
Rico, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag, bursts out, “This is the last stand. You gotta show them this is the last stand!”
“You’re gonna lose and you’re gonna catch.”
Rico raises his hands. “The sky’s the limit, baby!”
Joey looks up from his lunch of chicken nuggets and says, “Yeah, you should have been here last night. The pigeon wars were happening. Every coop was rolling out. The sky was full of birds.”
Joey co-owns Broadway Pigeons with his brother Mikey Scott, who spends most of his time running a deli in New Jersey. Joey comes in every day, just T-shirt and jeans to go with his close-cropped hair, and takes care of managing the store while Mikey, who has a keen eye for good pigeons, decides which birds to keep when new ones are caught or brought in. Some families have generations of firemen, policemen, or doctors. For Joey and his brother, it is pigeon-keeping that was passed down the bloodline from their Italian grandfather and likely from his forefathers, skipping their father but now indomitably running through them. Mikey started taking care of birds when he was two years old. Joey’s new to the sport—he started 10 years ago.
The relationship between man and Columbiformes, though, is much older. In the Columbidae family there are more than 300 species of doves and pigeons, terms that can be used interchangeably. The ancestral species for the domestic pigeon is Columba livia, or the rock dove, whose original range extended from northern Africa to Iran to Scotland. Pigeons are the precursors to modern-day text messaging. Ancient Egyptians made rooftop dovecotes out of straw and mud, and developed a special form of paper for their pigeons to carry. At the first Olympic games in 776 B.C., every athlete brought a homing pigeon from his village. If he won his event, his would be the bird that carried the news home.
Most people associate the pigeon’s finest hours with its use in human wars. In the pigeon version of the hall of fame, Cher Ami stands out for his actions at Verdun in 1918. Shot through the breast by a German bullet, with a message capsule barely dangling from the shattered ligaments of his leg, Cher Ami still found the American headquarters 25 miles away. The message read: We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it. Having saved 194 American lives, Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Mobile pigeon loft from WWI
What gives a pigeon the aptitude for precise and eventual return? In an 1886 article in Century magazine, writer E.S. Starr proposed: “[It] is by its keen sight and wonderful memory, directed by its intelligence and poised by perfect physical condition, that it answers to the demand of the governing impulse of its nature—the love of home.”
The game Joey and his brother and friends play in the skies above Brooklyn is a variation on this intelligence. The war isn’t just a race of distance. Not even the same pigeons are used. The war is a lower-stakes continuation of a game once played in Modena, Italy, called the Triganieri (where the losers’ birds were killed) and a relative of a game still played in the Turkish city of Urfa (involving over 500 flocks of birds). The Brooklyn Pigeon Wars, as they call it, is an aerial social casino. To play, a coop owner releases all or a portion of his pigeons, letting them fly freely in a flock over Brooklyn, meeting up with similar flocks released by other owners. An intricate dance ensues. The flocks intermix. No one knows what actually happens in bird-speak up there in the sky, but perhaps the pigeons are saying to each other, “What’s up. Like my style? We got a real happening crib. Great view. Come back home with us and we’ll show you where it’s at.” At a certain point the flocks turn homeward, arriving lesser or greater in number than they started out. A captured bird’s fate depends on the victorious owner. It might be kept and trained to fly with the new flock, or it might be ransomed. A coop owner might lose half his flock in one night, while others gain as many. This is how birds are lost and won.
At the shop, Joey sells other pet supplies to supplement his pigeon-related income—dog collars, flea sprays, and fish tanks—but no other animals aside from the birds. These other supplies he keeps at the front of the store, almost as if there’s an invisible partition between pigeons and the rest of the animal kingdom. A lady comes in asking if he has a starter kit for an aquarium.
“What’cha mean you don’t sell no fish?”
“I don’t have any fish here.”
“You know where I can buy fish?”
“Other stores probably.”
“Oh, I know. I can get fish on Murder Avenue,” she answers herself and walks out, presumably heading towards Myrtle.
In the backroom, George is eyeing a set of birds. He rode over the Williamsburg Bridge on his bike to get some more to add to his flock of 18. He lives in a high-rise housing project in Alphabet City in Manhattan, where his 11th-floor window acts as the trap door between the sky and a walk-in closet converted into a full-time coop.
“They way I train them, they fly out and they fly back in. I don’t want no birds to sit on no roof. Any bird that bunks like that I don’t keep.”
Joey explains, “One bird just goes out and sits there across the street. Other birds see him and go, ‘Why am I flying?’ and the next thing you know they all start sitting. You don’t want that to happen. I get rid of the ones that bunk.”
The phone rings and Joey goes to pick it up, just as three huge guys walk in the door. One is a retired cop who was in the force for 20 years. He’s with his buddies, each of them clutching a brown-bagged beverage.
“Hear you got my birds. I’m missing about 50,” he kids.
“Like Rick last night?” Joey asks. “Yeah, Rick lost maybe 60, 70, a hundred, and caught maybe 30. My brother got some. The rest were all other people’s.”
Everyone’s now convened in the backroom. The ex-cop peers into the coop, and looks up at the homing pigeons someone paid Joey to take care of. He and his friends take a sip as they watch Joey open the cage and walk in with a scoop of feed in an old Maxwell House can. Immediately, every bird swoops to the floor.
“There must have been 30 coops rolling out last night,” Joe says. “One person rolled out. The others tried to hit him. The flocks got confused. Then the other guys looked out and saw the flocks and released their birds, too. They all tried to hit each other.”
The ex-cop and his friends stay a while but don’t buy anything. Joey slaps a round of low-fives with them as they leave.
The phone rings, but Joey doesn’t pick up because another customer has just walked in, an old lady wearing sunglasses over her prescription glasses. She wants dog shampoo but doesn’t know which one to get.
The phone rings again. Joey’s still with the old lady. Just above the ringing phone are pictures of local coops tacked onto the wall. Some are huge, covering almost the entire length of a roof. One is painted yellow, like a brand new taxicab. There’s a picture of a pair of prize birds. There are pictures of people at the shop. In one of them, Mike Tyson stands front and center, a fellow coop owner surrounded by a posse of the same.
It’s almost closing time. Joey puts on a dust mask and begins to fill the feeders. The back room echoes with the sound of fluttering wings. The birds crowd on the floor, stepping over each other for a peck of feed. It’s not surprising why Hitchcock saw the fear potential in birds: Given the sharpness of the claws and beaks, the birds don’t know what they’re capable of. Joey’s alone in the coops. He stands like an awakened Gulliver. The multitude swarms at his feet—there must be a few hundred in there. These aren’t even the birds he flies on a regular basis.
“Between my brother and I, we probably have over a thousand birds. I might lose 175 in one shot. Next day, my brother rolls out his birds, maybe loses 150, but you catch and you lose. It all evens out.”
He fills the water stations and throws some birds into a bigger cage. Then he turns off the lights.
It’s nearly six and the summer sun has disappeared behind a wall of clouds. The views are sweeping. The Manhattan skyline hangs far on the horizon. The lonely, tiny silhouette of the Williamsburg Savings Bank building juts out to the left. Just to the north of the roof we’re standing on is the Cemetery of the Evergreens. The apartment building with the rooftop coop is part of the hill that rises to the cemetery.
“Look at the trees,” says Joey. “When the branches are bending like that, the winds get the birds tired. People are going to lose birds.”
Tito agrees. “We are high here. The wind has to come this way for those birds to come, you know.”
Tito takes care of these birds for Joey and Mikey, who own the building. He lives there as a superintendent and comes up every day to fly. Their birds are known as the Pet Shop Birds, tagged with a light green leg band. Other coops have bands of all sorts of colors. Tito shows me a jar filled to the brim with the colorful bands clipped off of captured birds.
“I’ve kept birds since I was 12 years old,” Tito says. “I’m now 50.”
He points toward Manhattan. “Look.” Then he points in another direction. “Look.” Then he points again at a different place. “Look. Look.”
At first, the flocks aren’t easy to spot, but then the black dots whirling in the low sky become visible. The black dots turn in unison, left and right, as if they are all tied to the same string. Many coops have rolled out their birds this afternoon. There must be half a dozen flocks out there. The flocks become more visible against a white cloud, but when the sun shines a certain way, the light catches on the wings and the flocks shine white. They circle around a roof, but then slowly spiral out toward other places, depending on how the wind is blowing or whatever catches the instinctive fancy of like minds. They look like little tornadoes.
“Look at the clouds,” says Tito. “About 200 birds right there. C’mon, keep flipping. Keep flipping. This way. This way.”
“Whose birds are those?” Joey asks.
“That’s Indian Joe’s. And those are Rick’s. That’s Outlaw Mikey’s. And those are Swappy’s.”
The Pet Shop birds are still perched on the roof, clutching to the tar-laid edges. They aren’t like your everyday pigeons. The coloration on their feathers is mostly white with black or ash-red flairs. They are leaner. They don’t seem restless like the usual street pigeons—they don’t fly until there’s a reason to fly. A flotilla of noisy motorcycles careens down the street below, but the birds don’t move.
“When I was teenage,” Tito reminisces, “I had birds that go out to Coney Island, Maspeth, downtown, all the way out to Kennedy Airport, and they’d come back. You train them well and they come back. It takes years to get a flock like that.”
He opens a shed and shows off his feeding materials.
“I give ‘em garlic powder. It purifies the blood. I have vitamins and minerals. Wheat germ oil. Grit helps make better eggs. Sometimes they get this sickness they call parathyphus. I have to give them this vaccine here. You see this? This is an iron solution for the blood. This is the same kind they give to horses at racetracks.”
He puts the bottles back and pulls a pair of binoculars to his face. In the distance, a flock moves closer. “If those guys there don’t crack them, then there’s a possibility of us cracking them.”
He turns and looks through the binoculars at another flock twisting and turning about two miles away.
“It’s the sport, you know, the training. See how far you can go, whether the winds blow north, south, west, whatever. They come home. They’ll bring other birds, too.”
He lets the binoculars hang from his neck and squints at the sky. The wind picks up, and the tops of trees begin to sway. The sun reappears again, for a moment, and then hides behind the clouds.
All of a sudden, the Pet Shop birds take off.
- Pitchaya Sudbanthad
The Parrot's Lamppost
From a perch in the urban jungle… a reporter’s attempt to throw light on the Quaker Parrots who have colonized the wilds of Brooklyn
Alex Joseph, a West Indian-born parks worker, rakes the lawn at the grandly gothic Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn when he and his fellow laborers hear what sounds like a flock of sea gulls dive-bombing at their heads. The workers instinctively duck and whip round and look up and see -- those crazy green parrots, expertly mimicking the sea gull's caw.
"Man, they do that a couple times a week just to play with our minds," Joseph said, grinning wide and shaking his head. "They are a crazy bunch of immigrants, those birds."
They are the wild parrots of Brooklyn, these emerald-feathered yakkers with the wisenheimer sense of humor. Thought to be long-ago escapees from a container at John F. Kennedy International Airport, their ranks replenished by unauthorized releases from pet shops, the parakeets -- originally from Argentina -- have become accomplished city dwellers. There is a parrot colony along the Hudson River cliffs in New Jersey and another bunch that prefers Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Of late, two arrivistes have taken up residency on an apartment ledge on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
But mostly these are Brooklyn parrots, content in their adopted borough of 2.5 million people.
"They are successful Brooklynites, in that they are adaptable, eat a wide variety of foods and like to talk," says Eleanor Miele, a professor at Brooklyn College who lives in the Park Slope neighborhood and has found herself entranced by the parrots.
Maggie Finn, who drives one of the few remaining milk trucks for a living relates, “A few years back on Christmas day I was walking up to our former corner deli in Park Slope. I thought for a moment I was hallucinating as a barren tree in the dead of winter appeared to be bright green up in the branches. When I got closer I couldn't believe my eyes. Behold! A tree FULL (I counted 15) of bright green parrots! I had never heard about the parrots of Greenwood Cemetery so you can imagine how awestruck I was. I'll never forget it.”
New York has many wild critters, and a few are not human. A coyote wandered into Central Park before running afoul of sunbathers, and the hawks Pale Male and Lola established aeries on a gilded stretch of Fifth Avenue. Raccoons know their way around Brooklyn's Prospect Park, and muskrats poke at the mud flats of the Harlem River.
But the parrots -- which are about a foot long and are known as Quaker parrots because their gray chests and tufts resemble a Quaker’s hair and frock -- are among the city's more cacophonous and unexpected residents. Their cry sounds like metal scraping metal.
Most Brooklyn parrots live in colonies of 50 or 60 birds, although a few less sociable types live on Coney Island or in Canarsie or Gravesend. They favor homes atop light and transmission poles; at Greenwood Cemetery they inhabit the soaring gothic spires near the gate. Their nests are vast 400-pound constructs, with foyers and anterooms and a space where the females lay eggs and enjoy a respite from the males.
Con Edison knows these nests well, as periodically the power company's workers clamber around them. "These aren't nests; they're condominiums," a spokesman said.
Half a dozen nests can be seen atop the light poles at the Brooklyn College athletic field. On a recent Saturday, 20 or 30 of the resident parrots swooped down and, amid much screeching, alighted on the branches of an oak tree beside a pre-World War II apartment building. Children inside the apartments gestured and called at the birds; sometimes the parrots talk back. (In captivity, Quaker parrots can develop a vocabulary of about 200 words.)
Steve Baldwin, 50, lives in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and acts as the parrots' pro bono publicist and bard. Steve explains, "There is a large contingent that hangs out on Albemarle Road (between Stratford, Westminster and Argyle). The super of one of the buildings feeds them." He has composed a Lou Reed-style song, "The Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots"
Lyrics: (Guitar: D /E chord alternation throughout)
I've got some news for you baby, and it might not be so good
There's an avian invader in the neighborhood
Yeah, they're little green parrots from the Argentine
They make their nests so high in the power line
It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
Now they're all over the borough, you can see them in the air
The little green birds that just don't care -- about you
Or your girlfriend on a respirator -- yeah, they're avian invaders, baby
And they're all over Brooklyn now
Yeah, they're mighty loud, and they're mighty raucous
The scientists call them Myiopsitta Monachus
And they're all over town, you can look up and they're looking down on you
Yeah, they're little green parrots from the Argentine
They make their nests so high in the power line
And they call them a pest; I wonder if their hearts are true
Living on the avenue
It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
There's an avian invader in the neighborhood
They eat berries, ornamental plants and sometimes pizza," Baldwin says as he gave a tour of the Brooklyn College nests to a dozen birders. "They are very intelligent, and of course they don't like the suburbs."
In the afternoons, the parrots engage in high spirited athletics on and off the ground provided no “hawk alarms” are issued by the parrots’ eagle eyed lookouts.
How the parrots came to Brooklyn is a mystery. Apparently a large crate filled with the parrots broke open at Kennedy International Airport in the late 1960s. Baldwin's voluminous research tends to implicate mafia goodfellas in the deed. The parrots hung around the Jamaica Bay marshes that girdle JFK's southern edges before moving into Brooklyn. The cold was no problem, as the parrots hailed from temperate-to-chilly Argentina.
At first, state and federal wildlife-control officers tried to wipe out this "invasive species." In 1973,… the Federal eradication teams, having achieved most of their parrot suppression efforts, approached one of the last remaining parrot strongholds, a nest complex at Rikers Island Prison, Queens. After loading their guns and preparing their nets, a forward observation team reported disturbing news: the parrots had withdrawn and evidently disappeared into the fog….It will never be known whether the Rikers Island Parrots were “tipped off” by “someone on the inside” that the Feds were gunning for them. But it is likely that many of the birds we find today in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are directly related to the survivors of the Great Rikers Island Quaker Parrot Standoff.
"Someone tipped the parrots off," Baldwin confirms with a shrug. "They circled back to Brooklyn, and everyone left them alone."
Now there is a new threat. Poachers with nets are snatching the parrots and selling them to pet stores. The poachers have all but denuded several neighborhoods. It has parrot-loving denizens of Brooklyn talking about vigilante patrols.
Kay Martin lives somewhere near Coney Island, in a house filled with at least nine varieties of parrots. She acknowledges that their racket awakens her at night. So what? They are friends, and they talk to her. Martin, diminutive and pugnacious, spends most of her spare time safeguarding the wild parrots. Are there nests near your home? She frowns.
"I'm not saying," she says. "The last thing our parrots need is another reporter poking around."
By Michael Powell, Steven Baldwin
The World's Most Outrageous Guest Requests
At the world's top luxury hotels, no task for the concierge is impossible
The Swiss magnate approached Thomas Wolfe, concierge at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco around 9:30 a.m. and rattled off a litany of things he needed by day's end: A haircut, a dinner reservation at Gary Danko, a booking for his return flight to Zurich … and a Ferrari GTO.
The veteran concierge didn't skip a beat.
"Any color preference, sir?"
"Something dark," he said. "And I don't want to spend over $5.5 million."
Think hotel concierges spend their days scoring tickets to the ballet? Think again.
Raphael Pallais, the concierge at the newly re-opened Plaza Hotel in New York City, went on a crazy quest for live tarantulas for a guest obsessed with bringing some home to roast--then eat. Like Wolfe, Pallais didn't flinch.
"One of the attributes of the concierge is that we must remain unflappable at all times," says Pallais who, like most concierges interviewed for this story, belongs to Les Clefs d'Or, the prestigious international association of concierges. "To us, no request is deemed outrageous. We prefer the term 'unique.'"
The ever resourceful Pallais contacted The New York-based Explorers Club, known for hosting controversial "exotic" dinners. The club directed him to its arachnid supplier.
Maite Foriasky, head concierge at The Setai in Miami's South Beach, won't soon forget working around the clock for the guest wanting to ship a tiger to London--on two days' notice. The British guest had become smitten with a local woman who agreed to visit him across the pond "only if she could take her pet tiger with her," says Foriasky, who sought assistance from experts at the Miami Metro Zoo.
Actually, shuttling animals of all types seems to be a popular request of concierges worldwide.
A Middle Eastern guest staying at the posh Brown's Hotel in London asked head concierge Simon Thomas to ship 21 deer to his home in time for his daughter's 21st birthday.
"It's all in a day's work," says James Little, head concierge at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, who once flew to London to retrieve the dog of a bereaved guest who was living temporarily at the hotel while sorting out her late husband's business affairs. She had asked that Little charter a private jet for her pooch, but they both agreed it would be better for the aging Millie, a Jack Russell terrier, if Little flew her home personally. Little spent a week in London--on the guest's dime--getting to know the dog (and London) before flying home in Business class. (Millie flew First.)
Tricks of the Trade
Concierges say the Internet has vastly changed the nature of their job. With so much information at people's fingertips, guests no longer reach out to them for mundane things like directions or itineraries. Now they are much likely to come to concierges with requests that are much more magnanimous--or personal.
Indeed, the Plaza's Pallais says he sometimes considers himself a "dream weaver," helping people realize a fantasy they could never fulfill on their own. He once, for instance, choreographed a candle-lit "proposal" dinner in the middle of Central Park, complete with violins and white-gloved servers. Park Rangers would not permit anything that was not "spontaneous" so Pallais, who delivered the food in silver carriers from The Plaza by taxi, made it appear as though the romantic scene had literally dropped from the sky. (She said, "Yes," by the way.)
Sometimes, though, it's just about satisfying a wealth whim.
At the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, a loyal guest for whom money was clearly no object, requested a private screening of a film on the beach. There was one problem: Said guest did not like sand between his toes. Could the sand be covered somehow?
Reams and reams of white carpet were brought in from Mexico City and unfurled across a stretch of beach.
Raffaele Sorrentino, concierge at the historic Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, remembers the Saudi guest who, having just bought a brand new Mercedes, asked that Sorrentino take it to Munich to be altered because he'd just seen another one in the hotel garage he preferred. The cost was prohibitive, says Sorrentino, but it made the guest very happy.
"I like being 'Mr. Nice Guy,'" says Sorrentino, who said he was born "eager to please."
He once sent a bellhop on a five-hour roundtrip drive to retrieve the stuffed bunny of a 4-year-old girl guest who'd left her "Snookie" at home and couldn't fall sleep without it.
"We had a lot of stuffed animals in the gift shop," says Sorrentino, "but none of them would do."
-Pasquale Le Drauoulec
The Only Way to Go is Up
Early last Thursday morning, with the sun rising behind him and reflecting brilliantly on the 1,350-foot-high white aluminum monolith before him, George Willig began climbing the 110 stories of the South Tower of New York's World Trade Center. Only one skyscraper in the world is higher, the 1,454-foot Sears building in Chicago.. After Willig was about 25 feet up, he cast off an all-weather parka he had been wearing to conceal the climbing equipment he carried on a sling over one shoulder. The parka floated down like a parachute, into the hands of Jery Hewitt, who, along with George's 22-year-old brother Steve, had seen the climber off.
Security guards spotted George from the building's plaza. "I saw one, two, a few more, then all of a sudden there was a whole bunch of cops, maybe 20," said Steve. "They started yelling at George, calling him crazy, telling him he was going to kill himself."
"Hey! Crazy man! Get down here right now!" shouted one of the guards. Willig heard him, stopped climbing for a moment, leaned back in his harness and looked down. His reply floated to the ground as his parka had moments earlier. "I'm not coming down," George yelled. "There's only one way to go, and that's up."
It was a reply that can be taken both literally and metaphorically. By now most of the country has been lifted by Willig's accomplishment. On a day off from work for "personal business," Willig successfully scaled the northeast corner of the South Tower, solo, no ropes or belay to aid or protect him, relying entirely on a climbing device he had fabricated himself, designed specifically to fit into the aluminum channels that run up the sides of the building and hold window washers' scaffolds in place. To Willig the climb was a personal challenge met and satisfied, a mountain conquered: no more. But it was more, more than a feat, more than a stunt. It was a triumph of human spirit.
The night before the climb Willig had slept fitfully, even awakened twice in a sweat. At 5 a.m., after a breakfast of steak and eggs and water, he left his apartment in Queens, climbed into Hewitt's pickup truck, and together they drove to George's parents' house, where they picked up Steve. They arrived at the World trade Center at 6:20, and minutes later George was strapping on his climbing harness in the plaza between the twin towers. As he prepared to hitch himself into the runners, a maintenance man walked by. George smiled nonchalantly and said, "Hi, how ya doin'?" trying to divert attention from the rope dangling out of the back of his parka like an untucked undershirt. The maintenance man smiled and said hello right back.
Willig had been planning the climb for more than a year. On four previous occasions, all late at night, he had slipped into the plaza and tested his homemade climbing device—a variation of a standard climbing aid called an ascendeur.
Once he actually climbed a few feet up the side of the building and was caught in the act by a security guard. He talked his way out of trouble by claiming to be an architectural engineering student testing a safety device for window washers. Willig's ascendeurs fitted precisely into the channel; connected to them were nylon slings, resembling stirrups, into which he slid his feet. When there was no weight on the ascendeurs, Willig could slide them freely up the runner. As he put his weight on one foot, the ascendeur expanded and gripped firmly into the runner by friction. Willig would lift one foot, bending his knee, slide the ascendeur up as high as his arm could reach, put the weight back on the foot and create a solid step up; then he would repeat the maneuver with the other foot. "It was like climbing a rope ladder," he says, "except my hands and feet were moving together."
Willig wore a chest harness attached to a seat harness, which provided stability and the freedom to dangle his arms and legs whenever he needed to rest. In his backpack he carried two complete backup systems: one a duplicate of the ascendeurs he was using, the other of an earlier design. He also carried a bolt-on device to secure himself to a runner in case of emergency. "I did some calculations and figured my ascendeurs would stand a minimum of 1,500 pounds without breaking," he says, "but I just wanted to be ready."
None of these devices so much as scratched the surface of the building; in fact, Willig straightened some bent runners along the way by gently tapping them with a spare ascendeur he toted in his backpack.
Willig, 27, creates toys for the Ideal Toy Co.; before that, he designed surgical instruments for the Ark Research Co. He built his ascendeurs in the machine shop at Ark and refined them at Ideal after working hours. "The biggest challenge came from designing the ascendeurs," he says. "The climb itself was not particularly difficult; rock climbing is a lot more scary because it's so problematical and precarious. I had solid footing all the way up the building, and my route was predetermined, so I had no decisions to make. That's what's so difficult about rock climbing. When those challenges are gone, a climb is easy."
"Things worked really smooth from the moment he started," said Steve (who was married three days after the climb). "George was stepping right up the side of the building. But then the cops came and they took me and Jery and Randy [George's girl friend Randy Zeidberg, 24, who had arrived moments after the ascent began] down to the Port Authority Police Station in the basement of the building." A couple of minutes later they brought down Ron Digiovanni, a friend of Willig's, who had ballooned over Manhattan last December. Digiovanni had arrived in the plaza when Willig was on the third story and had shouted, "Go, George, go!" For that he was apprehended as an accomplice.
"The Port Authority cops were running around like chickens with no heads. Not one of them knew what to do," said Steve. "Then this guy came in and said, 'You're all under arrest,' and they had us fill out this stack of forms. Then they fingerprinted us three times each—once for the city, once for the state, and once for the FBI. After that they handcuffed Jery and Ron to a safe, and Randy and I were handcuffed to a chair. Pretty soon they deduced I was George's brother, and they asked me, 'Is George sane? Is he doing this for any political purposes? Is he going to wave signs or something? Is he doing it for a commercial reason?' I told them he was doing it for his own satisfaction, no other reason, and that he was as sane as I was, which I think confused them.
"So we were sitting there chained together, kind of having a good time, but frustrated because we couldn't watch George—they didn't unchain us until after George made it—and someone came in and said George was at the 25th floor. We knew then they'd never get him."
By this time huge crowds had gathered in the plaza and surrounding streets, network television coverage had alerted the country and helicopters with cameramen on board were swarming around the building. At that point the police, too, could see George knew what he was doing. "Some of them were still being hard-nosed," says Steve, "and saying he was crazy, but one of them said, 'This guy's a genius; he's got the whole thing figured out down to the slightest detail.' "
The only hitch in Willig's climb came when he reached the 60th floor. At that point a scaffold, which had been lowered from the top down the adjoining face of the tower, met him. On it were two policemen, one from the Port Authority, the other a New York Cityofficer trained in suicide-rescue operations. Willig was afraid they were going to rescue him against his will.
"They were coming down my way," he said later, "so I decided I'd swing over to the next channel to be out of reach." He partially uncoiled the 120-foot nylon climbing rope that he carried over his shoulder for exactly this sort of eventuality, attached it to an ascendeur, removed the two foot slings from the ascendeurs in the channel, and performed a maneuver known in climbing as a pendulum. That is, he swung out and away from the building, suspended only by the rope, to another runner, where he was out of reach of the policemen. As he swung, his shadow suddenly dropped down the side of the building and the crowd below let out a collective gasp, thinking the shadow was his falling body.
"I hooked myself in this other channel away from them," said Willig, "and I started climbing up it until they shouted to me that they really weren't there to pull me off. They told me if I was tired, I could swing over to them and get on the scaffold, but if I wanted to keep going, I could. I told them I wasn't tired and that I felt much safer where I was. Then I took the stuff out of the second channel and swung back over to the original one.
"One of the cops said, 'What are you, crazy?' But when I assured him I knew what I was doing, he joked, 'We're going to have to stop meeting like this.' After that we had a lot of fun. We joked around, we talked, we looked at the sights, we commented on them—pretty plain conversation."
At 10:05 a.m., 3 hours after he began, admittedly very excited by now, but not tired, Willig lifted himself over a ledge at the top and crawled, feet first, into an inspection hatch on the roof. He was none the worse for wear, except for blistered hands and insteps. He was greeted by policemen, who congratulated him. requested his autograph, then handcuffed him and served him with a summons for disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and scaling a building without a permit. In addition, it was announced that the city was going to sue Willig for $250,000 for the trouble and expense he had put it to. The next day Willig met with Mayor Abraham Beame, who settled for a fine of $1.10—a penny for each of the tower's 110 stories. In return, Willig readily agreed not to reveal the details of his climbing apparatus, to forestall imitators from attempting similar climbs.
Of course, Willig was asked why he did it. He responded with the expected answer, the classic and cliched "Because it's there"—which at the time was the easiest way to reply to a simple question that in truth has such a complex answer. Another reply might have been what Louis Armstrong said when asked to define jazz, "If you don't know, I can't tell you."
Nonetheless, Thursday night, before he took his phone off the hook and went to bed at about 1 a.m., Willig tried again to answer the question. "A couple of times during the year I planned this climb I thought. 'What the heck is in me that makes me want to do this?' I guess it's just a love of excitement and adventure, an appetite for action. Maybe it has a lot to do with asserting my life, just to myself—feeling more alive.
"I did wonder, at times, if I should go through with it. But I never at all seriously considered not doing it, never from the first time I got the idea."
"George did what he dreamed of doing for a year," said his girl friend Randy. "He would get shivers and goosebumps every time he thought of it. He'd go down and just stare at the World Trade center all the time." "When George says he's going to do something, it's almost a fait accompli," says Mrs. George Willig, the climber's mother, a remarkable woman in her own right. She has raised six children while working the last 13 years. Two months ago she became a grandmother and next January will receive her B.S. in accounting from St. John's. "George would mention the climb every now and then, but I had no idea he was working on it with such a single-minded purpose. He told me he was going to make the climb a couple of days before he did it. and I tried not to think of it too much."
Mrs. Willig never considered trying to talk George out of the attempt. "Knowing my son, knowing how much he likes to accept challenges and do things out of the ordinary, it would have been a waste of time," she said. "Besides, he's 27; he's not a child.
"This sounds like a contradiction, but as much as he likes to do dangerous things, he's very careful about them. People have asked me if he got hurt a lot as a child, but he hasn't had many accidents. It isn't what you do, it's how you do it. and George is a good example of that principle. I think his whole family is rather proud of him."
More than his family has taken pride in Willig. The country immediately adopted him as a folk hero, viewing his climb as an expression of its own yearnings and as a reaffirmation of the splendid challenges that, when successfully met, ennoble the human spirit.
All George Willig wanted to do was, to use a climber's expression, "go for it." which may be what life is all about. Along the way he scraped a raw nerve and the country twitched, but in admiration, not pain.
"The wastepaper basket is the writer's best friend."
Isaac B. Singer