July 6, 2005

Don’t miss our next adventure:

Squirrel Bait

— or —

Pardon me, miss, have you ever been kissed by a real live squirrel?

July 4: Rocked, rolled, etc. in Battery Park with Stephen Malkmus, Laura Cantrell, and 15,000 screaming punters. (Are they still punters if it’s a free show? Must ask Noel Gallagher next time I see him.) Had a great time, almost got out without getting stuck in fireworks traffic.

artist’s rendering

July 5: Woke up much too early, the unbearable sound of jackhammers leveling the building across the street doing the job usually assigned to the clock radio tuned to Modern Rock. Made my way to the living room, looked out the window and found myself staring at a squirrel perched on the sill.

Hey, like the singer of “Lola,” I’m not the world’s most masculine guy. And one thing I’ve taken for granted in life (so much so that I took it for granted that I’d taken it for granted) was that when approaching a squirrel, the squirrel heads for the hills or the nearest telephone wire, whichever is closer. Not this one. I stared at the squirrel, the squirrel stared back. It was kinda unnerving. Was this scene one in some rethink of “Willard” or “Night of the Lepus”?

It appeared to us (by now I was in consultation with noted rocket-j-squirrologist Dr. Georgia Hubley) that this might not be the healthiest specimen in the animal kingdom, and that it might be time to bring in a professional squirrel-catcher. But first, a fact-finding expedition was deemed in order. Dr. Hubley utilized a probe that looked to the layman like a drumstick, and banged twice on the screen. The squirrel . . . well, it . . . honestly I’m not sure. It didn’t seem to actually run away, more of a fall. In any case, there it lay, on our fire escape, having left in its wake some squirrel poop and a bit of blood.

I picked up the phone and, calling upon every bit of bravery I possess, resisted the urge to call 911. The phone rang and rang over at the Hudson County SPCA, without being answered by human or machine. The Hoboken Health Department transferred me to Environmental Services, who switched me to some other area code. Maybe I caught the Humane Society on a bad day, but sadly they seemed part of that increasingly prevalent trend of being named for precisely what they don’t provide (Customer Service, Clear Skies Initiative, etc.). I’m certainly willing to consider that I mistook the dispatcher’s grace under pressure as apathy.

Have I mentioned that it was over 90 degrees and the squirrel, since vacating the window sill, had not moved in two hours?

Presently I received a call back to assure me that help was on the way and to warn me that said help was “retirement age.” It was recommended that I remain at home, though the Humane Society’s ability to pinpoint his arrival made the cable company look like a synchronize-your-watches heist by comparison. Time marched on, the squirrel didn’t, and I called back. More than once. Not every word out of my mouth was profane.

I was informed that in fact the driver had been by, but had not been able to spot the squirrel, so had departed. I inquired why no one had bothered to call me when that happened, and we agreed to disagree on the quality of the response to that question. The driver was on his way back, sooner or later. I sat tight.

A mere six hours after the first phone call, the driver arrived. He was easily identifiable by both his badge and the know-it-to-smell-it stench of someone who spends his day collecting dead and dying animals. I expressed some regret for our earlier phone conversation, specifically what my mom would refer to as “a few choice words,” and then stood back to watch the professional at work.

Armed with nothing but raw guts, a pet carrier, and one of those gizmos used to get the single roll of toilet paper off of the highest shelf in the bodega, it was man vs. squirrel. It was a rout. The squirrel somehow eluded the gizmo’s clutches, relocating to the fire escape landing below ours. Our next incursion originated from the street. I pulled down the fire escape ladder and the “retirement age” squirrel-catcher climbed up. The squirrel easily made his way back to our floor and then, in what looked to me–admittedly not an unbiased observer–like a suicide attempt, leapt to the street. Fully expecting to see its carcass splattered on the sidewalk, instead I saw it run away. Pressed, I might even concede it scampered.

When the jackhammers awoke me today, I was almost surprised when I didn’t see it back on the sill. I’ve typed this entire scene report facing away from the window, and still anticipate my nemesis to have returned the next time I dare a look. I don’t know what the hell happened, although I’m pretty sure I owe an apology to more living things than I want to think about right now.


You guys are following the Nike vs. Minor Threat stuff, right? We first read about it on the WFMU blog, and if you missed it, here’s the original story and the followup. Anyway, among dozens of suggestions for future album art/advertising tie-ins was, pardon our immodesty, our favorite, submitted by Pleasant Plains.

Yo La Tengo - We Will Leave A Light On For You