Archive for September 2013

Black Squirrels in Washington Square Park

September 30, 2013
Black Squirrel in Washington Square Park

Black Squirrel in Washington Square Park

Long-time readers may recall my quest to find one of New York City’s black squirrels, and my thrill when I finally came across a black squirrel in Washington Square Park. Since that day, I now see the Washington Square black squirrels pretty much every time I head down that way.

Looking north from W. 4th Street, as I cross Sixth Avenue.

Looking north, as I head east on W. 4th Street across Sixth Avenue.

Walking east on West 4th Street, I usually find the squirrels foraging alongside their gray relatives in a narrow strip of green that runs next to the sidewalk.


Last Thursday, I spotted this small, extremely active fellow.


He was rarely still, so it was hard to get a photograph that is not a blur of motion. Nearby, a large gray squirrel dug beneath a fallen leaf for something tasty. (Look at those pink ears.)


On the northern edge of the strip, another nervous little black squirrel appeared.


And then I noticed, at the easternmost part of the green, a bulky bear of a black squirrel. I mean, this was one big squirrel.


When the squirrel sat up on its haunches, I saw right away that she was probably a nursing mother, or had just weaned a litter.


Big Mama sat up a long time.


Then she foraged under a nearby leaf.


She found a nut, and sat up to eat.


I left her to her dinner. Nearby a lovely gray squirrel struck a pose.


NYC September Beauty: Who Needs … ?

September 28, 2013

All week, day after day, the city has sparkled under high blue skies. Today in Riverside Park, New Yorkers seemed to be asking who needs anything else, when you have this, this sun, this light, this beauty, this life?

Who needs the beach when you have Riverside Drive?

"Who needs the beach?"

“Who needs the beach?”

Who needs trendy yogurt shops when you have an ice-cream cart?

Who needs trendy ice cream shops?

“Who needs trendy ice cream shops?”

Who needs a private garden to tend when you have a park?

Who needs a private garden?

“Who needs a private garden?”

Who needs the library?

Who needs the library?

“Who needs the library?”

Who needs a bed to make?

Who needs a bed?

“Who needs beds?”

Who needs yoga class?

Who needs yoga class?

“Who needs yoga class?”

Who needs clothes?

Who needs clothes?

“Who needs clothes?”

Who needs a photography studio?


“Who needs a studio?”

Even Esau wants to know: Who needs guard dogs?

Who needs guard dogs?

“Who needs guard dogs?”

Murmuration of Starlings in Kansas City

September 26, 2013

Note the bird. A bird plays an important role in my new play, as does a character called, well, Bird.

I just got home from almost a month in Kansas City, Missouri, where I was in rehearsal for my new play, Red Badge Variations, about five young soldiers in a remote outpost in Afghanistan. If you’d like to know more about the play, you can listen to a public radio interview with me and director, Kyle Hatley. Or read about the play and Logan Black, our military advisor, in the Kansas City Star.

But this post is about birds. One day during a ten-minute break from rehearsal, I received an urgent text message from director Kyle Hatley: “Come to the loading dock. Where you can see the sky.”  The loading dock is where the many smokers in the company gather at every break to toxify their young, healthy bodies.

On the dock with Jake Walker, Kyle Hatley, Jacob Cullum, Matt Leonard and Logan Black

On the dock with Jake Walker, Kyle Hatley, Jacob Cullum, Matt Leonard and Logan Black

I hate that these guys smoke so much. But if it hadn’t been for those regular escapes to the loading dock, I might never have learned that a huge flock of starlings, known as a murmuration, gathers every evening near downtown Kansas City.


Out past the loading dock is a driveway, and visible from the driveway is a patch of sky. There, Kyle discovered, the starlings gather and wheel in formation. Below is a clip of the cast watching the starlings. You have to realize that I was filming only a small percentage of the birds. Whenever my camera was pointed one way, there were many more birds in other parts of the sky.

And here is The Falcon’s Lament, showing a falcon that appeared one day in search of a starling dinner. Enjoy!

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