The Pigeon Deal

We (the people) have a deal with the pigeons in San Francisco. We don't kill or maim them, and they help keep the city clean.

Don't believe me? Ask anyone who works in city sanitation. The pigeons are a huge part of the urban ecosystem.

How do I know this?

Some years ago, when I lived in San Francisco, some asshat (not me) was going around with a blowgun damaging pigeons. I say 'damaging' because said asshat wasn't always killing them. And it was really messing with people to see the damaged pigeons meandering about. It was sad, really.

Anyway, in the interest of everything common sense, the city legislature decided to ban blow guns. (Because banning stuff solves everything, right?)

Wait. You ask what in the world is the point of my story? You tell me banning blow guns has nothing to do with pigeons, and in fact really didn't do much of anything?

You're right. Thank you for getting me back on track.

So the city legislature then passed a law (ordinance, municipal code, whatever) protecting the city's pigeons. But why? Well, on the outside, it was for humane reasons. Killing / maiming for pleasure is wrong and hurting animals senselessly is ... well ... all kinds of wrong. But in fact, the legislature asked around about the pigeons, thinking at first "to Hell with those nuisance birds, we'd be better off without them".

Well, the way I like to image it is some aged and grizzled city janitor, looking a bit like Galdalf with the long flowing robes and white hair and breeze blowing gently against him, and all lit up by some weird magic light... Anyway, this guy I'm describing bursts in to the city law chamber and yells 'Halt!' or something, and proceeds to lay down the facts about how the pigeons help the city and blah blah. I'm doing a really poor job of describing what I see in my head but it's late and I had this giant burger for lunch with pancetta and three cheeses (go to Cafe Arrivederci in San Rafael and order the burger; it comes on a ciabatta bun and they melt the cheese in to the bread and the meat is incredible; make sure you ask for pancetta on it cause that's not on the menu)...

Wait. Darn it.

Okay, anyway, see, the pigeons FLY. That's the big deal. It takes a lot of energy to lift stuff (as compared to walking or running). And since the pigeons fly, they burn up a lot of calories. So they eat ... gross stuff ... off the streets and sidewalks and stuff, and then they fly, and burn the stuff they eat by flying. Yes, they poo a bit and cause a little mess, but by far they burn more than they poo. So they're sort of like organic garbage incinerators.

And so then the legislature goes all "Oh Hell yeah! Save the pigeons!" and they pass the law (ordinance, municipal code, whatever) figuring it'll save money maybe letting them fire the weird Galdalf-janitor-guy who clearly frightens them and put more funds towards their respective re-election campaigns.

And that, is the absolute truth.

We have a deal with the pigeons. A large part of it came from some asshat with a blowgun and some dude in city sanitation. And I really did have that huge burger; oh gods it's so good just go to Arrivederci and order whatever the special is - you won't be disappointed.

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