Monday, June 14, 2010

Cherry-headed conures on demand!

Here's a snippet from something I wrote back in 2004. My grandfather had just died, and we were in the Bay Area for his funeral:
One day we went into San Francisco and, among other things, decided to have lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. As we were walking down to the Boudin restaurant on the waterfront, we saw what I took to be a flock of pigeons flying across an empty lot toward the trees beside us. It took me a moment to remember that pigeons aren't green, nor do they ordinarily screech at each other. I had just enough time to register what I was seeing -- an entire, chattering flock of wild green parrots with red heads -- before they settled into the tree branches above me, folded their green wings and disappeared into the foliage. Although I peered up into the branches, I couldn't see a single one. It was one of those beautifully surreal moments that life sometimes tosses your way, yelling "Think fast!"

Were the parrots real? Mark Bittner says yes.
I bring this up because, thanks to the joys of the Netflix movie viewer, I'm finally getting to see the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, which discusses this San Francisco phenomenon in detail. It's utterly fascinating -- both the story of the cherry-headed conures gone wild in the City, and the story of the man who observes and feeds them.

Detail from original image by Jef Poskanzer

Eventually I'd like to write a compare/contrast piece between this documentary and Grizzly Man; although the latter film also focuses on the life of a man who feels compelled to commune with wild creatures, the two films -- and the two stories -- couldn't be more different.

I know I've said this before, but the Internet makes so much possible. Twenty-five years ago, if I hadn't managed to catch a small-run movie in a theater, I'd just be out of luck; as little as a decade ago, I'd have to sit tight and hope it would come out on DVD. Now, more often than not, a few mouse clicks and I can get it right on my desktop. And probably a decade from now I'll be laughing at how incredibly old-fashioned the tech was back then, and marveling at what others have come up with in the meantime.

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