February 8, 2012

Seent It #5: The Birdcall Man

"Seent it" is a southern phrase meaning "what I saw".  Why the vast majority of Eastern North Carolinians feel the need to add consonants onto the ends of words, I will never know, but I blame country slang for my life-long struggle with spelling.  Since moving to New York, I'vza seent a many crazeh thangs.  These stories make up the "Seent It" series.

Apparently all the crazy shit happens in midtown.  Or at least when I'm there.

I was strolling down Lexington Avenue towards the general directions of the shoe floor at Bloomingdales (which was ENTIRELY ON SALE - water, water everywhere, and I don't know why I torture myself by window shopping), when I suddenly heard the horrid sound of a horny peacock echoing through the canyon of skyscrapers.  I looked in every direction, and saw a man who I can only describe as the most interesting person I've ever seen.

He was probably in his thirties, black, tall, wearing a safari cargo vest and rocking a fishing hat adorned with brightly colored feathers and pins.  He was carrying three packages, walking casually, and bellowing all the birdcall solos from The Lion King on Broadway at the same time.

I introduce you to the Midtown Birdcall Man:



There are a lot of interesting people doing a lot of interesting things on the streets of NYC - but this guy stands apart.  His everyday life is a performance piece - The Amazing Birdcall Man - an opening act to the toned-down, modern-day, street-style version of Freaks (Browning, 1932) with a good dose of humor thrown in.  If this guy were alive in 1900, there is no doubt he would have been scouted by an agent or ringmaster, dressed in a gaudy peacock outfit and labeled "half man half bird!"  I make this comparison because after the demise of freak shows and traveling carnivals in the early 20th century, the sidewalks and subways of large cities have become voyeuristic side-shows.  There are certain people who, intentionally or not, attract a lot of attention by putting on some sort of act.  Why go to Ripley's Believe It Or Not when there is a guy with horns implanted into his forehead sitting next to you on the subway (who was actually insanely attractive and I really wanted to ask out on a date), and a pair of contortionist twins performing for tips in Washington Square Park (who actually weren't very good at contortion but were making loads of money)?  There's a certain awe in seeing someone different, like The Birdcall Man, which was why freak shows existed in the first place.

Now, I am not calling this guy or anyone else a freak - that's just the terminology they used back in the day.  In fact, I think anyone who does anything different pretty fucking awesome.  From what I can gather, he is a messenger in midtown who spends his delivery time perfecting his bird-calling hobby.  I think this is multitasking at its best.  I also think that everyone should wear an inspirational hat every now and then.

If you ever want to hang out, birdcall man, I'm SO ready:

Patricia Field cocktail hat
xo

5 comments:

  1. Hahahaha...this cracked me up. I must say, that guy does an AWESOME impersonation. Also, I think you could pull off the hat. ;)

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  2. Oh please, this is just a tea-time hat. You should see my church and wedding headgear! ;) [In truth my hat collection is pretty much null, but a boy can dream.]

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  3. Wonderful! Brings me back to good ol' Film History. That was one of my favorite class discussions (...okay, every class discussion was my favorite class discussion).

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  4. I know! I wish college could have been *just* classes with her...

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  5. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they're talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe you're not more popular because you definitely have the gift.Glasses

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