The Pigeon Man of Ocean Parkway

Part of the adventure of living in a new neighborhood is in getting to know what kind of people you are surrounded by. When I moved in April, I was in a position where I ran out of time and felt like I had to “settle” for this apartment/location. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely neighborhood-but that’s just it. It’s a little TOO lovely for me. And not just because I don’t have a Target within walking distance, although that doesn’t help…

It’s fine, and it’s convenient, and safe, and it’s where I live, at least for now. But it lacks a certain grit or character that I would hope for in a neighborhood. Or at least I thought it did…

People still post signs on street light poles, which also gives you a sense of who is around you. No “se rentan cuartos” signs here; instead, there is a sign asking for the return of a lost scooter. The naive optimism of the person who posted this boggles my mind. First of all, that’s not how you spell “stolen”…

Another sign advertising a lice remedy was posted on a pole directly across from the local elementary school. Well-played.

But the sign that really caught my eye was this one:

Ah, yes. Of course they call him “the Pigeon Man”. I had seen him once or twice near the park. It’s hard not to notice someone who has managed to connect with winged rats Bert’s favorite bird so seamlessly. The pigeons would land on his arm and were literally eating right out of his hand. I was too intrigued by him at the time to be grossed out.

A few weeks later, the sign appeared. Forgetting for a split second that pigeons are rats with wings, I was angry, annoyed. It’s remarkable, really, what he does. Who is it really hurting? Besides the whole “carrying disease” thing, I mean. But that doesn’t distinguish them in any way from the subway railing or your morning coffee. It’s New York, kids. Build up that immunity.

All was not lost, however. A week after the first sign appeared, I was walking to the train and noticed there had been a slight edit…

I guess there’s hope for my new neighborhood yet. Like they say, you can’t keep a good (pigeon) man down…


They say that if you put a frog in a pot of water, and slowly bring the water to a boil, the frog will not jump out, but will stay in the water and boil to death.

Aside from wondering what sick sadist thought this was a good idea for a science experiment, I have to appreciate this as a metaphor for renting an apartment in NYC.

I got my renewal notice for my current apartment about a week ago. As i had expected/feared, they are raising my rent another $125 (not quite a 10%-per-year increase, but close enough). So the process that my realtor two years ago referred to as “The Hunger Games” will begin again.

Ah yes, the realtor. I paid my last realtor 12% of a year’s rent to find me my current place. Well, my dear, backstabbing former employer actually paid, but that’s besides the point.

I think I got a better apartment with a realtor than I would have on my own (if my attempts at finding something are any indication). And as I look at apartments, it seems like the better the price, the more likely there is a broker’s fee involved.

BUT if I had to pay a broker’s fee, even if it was just one month’s rent, it would cost me as much as it would cost me to stay here for another year.

I’m going to keep looking…I need to keep my options open…but I am suddenly realizing that the water isn’t burning my skin too badly…

(to be continued…)

This isn’t really a post about New York…

…but it’s too long for a Facebook status, and I want to feel like I actually do blog sometimes.

Today was my day off (I work 6 days a week now if I can help it) and I wanted to accomplish a few things:

  • Use my $5 coupon at Famous Footwear
  • Get my free pretzel from Auntie Anne’s
  • Get my free slice of pizza at Sbarro
  • Get my free drink from Panera
  • Get a chair massage (a rare guilty pleasure. If I took fewer Lyft rides, I could get more massages. I should remember that.)
  • Maybe get an eye exam and some new glasses

(As some of you know, I am not big on celebrating my birthday, but I am all about the free stuff!)

Figured out before I left the house that there was no longer a Panera at the mall I was going to, so I was prepared for that. Bought some cheap (because flat) seltzer at the bodega on the way to the bus stop.

Wandered into H&M, found some cheap Christmas earrings, went into Old Navy and dove into the mega clearance section…once I came out of my stupor, I continued on through the mall. Came across an Auntie Anne’s kiosk and got my free pretzel…sat down to eat it right across from the massage place, thinking how wonderful it was going to be and debating whether I wanted the ten-minute or the fifteen-minute version. But first, Macy*s…and an ATM, since the massage place had a “cash only” sign, and I’m not organized enough to have gone to the bank beforehand.

There was a place in the mall that takes my vision insurance, so I stopped in to browse, but I wasn’t happy with the selection of frames. (My super-indecisive self wants to be somewhere that has a zillion frames to choose from, so I can drive myself batty not being able to decide. But that’s another blog entry entirely.)

After finding a promising pair of shoes, then spending some time wandering through Macy*s, I eagerly headed over to the massage place. I was pretty pleased with myself. How smart I was to save the massage for last, so that I could go home feeling relaxed and blissful.

It was 7:39pm when I got to them.

The mall is open until 9.

They. were. closed.

In disbelief, I asked one of the guys (who was clearly packing up), “Are you closed?” He looked at me blankly; I don’t think he spoke English. So he’s probably trafficked* and I’m an evil person for getting my massages from this place.

*not trafficked in the gross sexual way – this was out in the middle of the mall, after all – but in the sense of having to move here and work a zillion hours a day and live in a house with 52 other people. Still evil, I know.

Sigh. One of the main reasons for my outing, and I missed out due to poor timing and an hour spent wandering in Macy*s when I was too tired to try anything on anyway.

“Oh well”, I said to myself. “I can at least go get my free slice of pizza before I head home”. Besides the pretzel and the flat seltzer, I had eaten only a carrot, some Linden’s Fudge Chip cookies, and a honey bun so far today. So off I went…ordered my slice, then decided I should tell him that I had a coupon, just in case.

“We don’t take those coupons.” I resisted the urge to yell, “WHAT KIND OF FREE-BIRTHDAY-FOOD-HATING MONSTERS ARE YOU?!” and instead calmly walked away.

I don’t even eat Sbarro in NY (I allowed it when I lived in Michigan, as it was a reasonable facsimile of the real thing). But I do love free. The only other Sbarro I know of is the one at 34th St in Manhattan, but I don’t think it’s worth it for me to schlep there in the next few days.

The free Panera drink, however…ah, there’s one somewhat close to my job, and it expires tomorrow (the free drink expires, I mean, not my job), so maybe I’ll make my way over there and get one more freebie.

Anyway, that was my day in a nutshell, and now I don’t know how to end this, so I guess I’ll just say “thanks for reading” to anybody who has made it this far. I promise you that I am going to work on blogging more consistently this year, in which case you might get an entry that’s not too sucky or boring every so often! Yay!



To quote Charlie Brown…


So there I was, refilling my MetroCard at the machine, and suddenly a rat comes scurrying by with what appears to be a Sicilian slice (which is half the rat’s size) in its mouth. I made the appropriate freaking-out, shuddery sounds, and glanced at the guy at the next machine. He made no indication that he had heard me, or seen anything…either his music was too loud or he thought I was nuts…or maybe guys are just good at ignoring what’s in their peripheral vision on account of urinals?!

(Wait, what?!)

Then I start walking towards the stairs and I. see. another. rat. coming down the staircase. I decided to let him go first, because I’m polite like that. I was torn between wanting to scream and wanting to record it…because I care about you, my reader(s), and I want you to be able to experience the “fun” things I experience.

Of course, in my freaked-out state, I didn’t capture it on video very well, but if you watch in the first two seconds, you will see him or her…


​The woman walking up the stairs behind me mentioned that she sees them every night, and then said something that made me grin…”I guess they have to get home too!”

Yeah. How about you STAY home, rodents? I don’t mind you when you’re hanging out on the subway tracks, but I’d rather not have you commuting alongside me. Kthxbai.