Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Once Upon a Time"

"Don't worry.  In another week or two, there will be plenty of geese."
Those reassuring words came earlier in the week from AG of the USDA.
But, there are still no geese in Central Park weeks after the last six were chased out from Harlem Meer by a goose harassment company.
Of course one needs to take any assurances from the USDA with a barrel of salt enough to choke a horse.   We are fast learning that.
I was told in the same conversation with AG that a "goose" struck a plane last week.  But, surely had that been the case, then the President, Governor and especially our "doombird" Mayor would have called out the National Guard, Homeland Security, the Navy Seals, FBI, CIA and drones to annihilate every last goose in the city.  It would have also been front page news as in recent years, Canada geese have become the favorite whipping boy of the media -- far more than murderers, rapists or even Al-Queda.
But, if one is dismayed with over-inflated promises, exaggerations, euphemisms and unsubstantiated accusations, one becomes livid with actual, boldfaced lies.
When expressing my concerns about the suffering of the 575 geese rounded up from city parks and properties this summer and crammed 5 to 6 to turkey crates in 80+ degree heat for transport to another state, both AG and Lee Humberg of the USDA assured me that the "processing plant" the geese were sent to was "only two hours away from New York City."  ("Undoubtedly, there was some stress, but......."  AG added.)
Well, all indications are that the "two-hour" distance claim of the slaughterhouse from NYC was a bold faced lie.
Through the inquiries of a Pennsylvania Congressman, we have learned that the meat processing plant NYC geese were actually sent to is located 387 miles from New York City (New Kingstown, PA) and is almost 4 hours away.   
That means that these families of doomed geese and their tiny goslings were forced to endure many hours on end of crowding, heat, terror and stress between roundups in different locations, tight packing in crates and the ultimate 4 hour journey to their deaths.
"Suffering" doesn't even begin to cover it. 
That the once beautiful and regal geese were made to suffer in this egregious manner and for this length of time for the sake of a cheap PR stunt ("donation to PA food banks") represents the depths that human morality, character and consciousness can stoop to.
These 575 tortured geese (most of whom weighed close to ten pounds) yielded "424 lbs" of goose meat (less than one pound per bird) most of which is likely to ultimately rot in freezers as few people, no matter how "desperate" want it.
It is not clear yet whose brainstorm it was to send the geese on this hell journey for the sake of media spin although Farrell Sklerov of the DEP is the person who so blithely announced the (diabolical) plan to the media earlier this spring.  With so many hands in the toxic pie, it is not easy to attribute full responsibility for decisions made.  But, every actor plays his/her part, from those hatching the plans to those carrying them out to those "spinning" to the press, lawmakers and the public.
All I know is the geese are now entirely gone from my local park and I cannot lie to myself anymore that such is due to any natural phenomenon or occurrence.
Last night, while sitting on a park bench enjoying the antics of my duck friends at Harlem Meer, I found myself worrying for them, too.  When would our "officials and experts" sitting behind desks somewhere declare the mallards a "pest" species, like the geese?  When would they launch character assassination, propaganda and destruction campaigns on ducks as they have geese?  Surely, it is just a matter of time......
But, as much as I love the whimsical and lively ducks, they still are not the geese whom I so greatly cherish and miss.
Central Park without geese is like sound without music and life without color.
One likes a good black and white movie now and again.  But, one can't wait to get back to color.
Right now, Central Park, beautiful as it may be is to me, without color and without music.
That sounds strange to say, considering there was a big music concert in Central Park last night.
Walking back from Harlem Meer and around the Reservoir, loud booms and cheers could be heard emanating from the Great Lawn from a Black-Eyed Peas concert.  It was so loud as to almost drown out the music coming through my stereo headphones.
But, not quite.....
I was listening to a tape of instrumental versions of rock and show tunes -- "elevator music" --as it is commonly known.
A song came on that I recall from some Broadway show, but I don't know which one. Nor do I know the lyrics of the particular piece.  But, I recognized the title.
"Once Upon a Time."
And suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, and mixing with the then falling rain, tears streamed down my face.
Once upon a time there were beautiful, majestic, funny, brave and gentle geese here.
They did not leave. They did not migrate. They did not leave of wing for more exciting or magical places to visit.
Rather, we destroyed them.   We destroyed color, music and all that was beautiful and peaceful in this place.
Loud booms, voices and cheers continued through the falling rain. 
But, "Once upon a time" is no more.   -- PCA

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