Monday, July 1, 2013


Dear Fred--  Hi. My name is Marvin and I’m a seagull. Lately I’ve been spending some afternoons hanging out at Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play.  Maybe you’ve seen me on TV; I’m the one with the black dot over his left eye. People think all us seagulls look alike but they’re wrong. They just don’t look closely enough.

I’m contacting you because I hope you’ll help me break into journalism. I’ve read your blog and find it simpatico. By that I mean it’s for the birds, which by me is a good thing.

You might ask what a seagull is doing wanting to write.  Actually, we have a literary history, thanks to that Jonathan Livingston guy. I read his book and it was pretty good, but I never liked him much. He was a pretentious jerk, and a showoff. Lots of us can do the flying tricks he could but they’re too much trouble, so we don’t.  Score a good meal and take the rest of the day off, that’s my motto.

I’ll tell you something else about the so-called Jonathan Livingston: his real name was Sheldon Bernstein. Always wanted to be a WASP, if you can believe it. The name change didn’t help him much, though. The real WASP seagulls chased him away every time he tried to visit the yacht club.

Another question you probably have is about how a bird can write. It’s easy, really, because we have two wings and a beak to work with. Talk about hunt and peck, huh? We even can do upper case, unlike that stupid cockroach archy .  Once I found an old Radio Shack computer in a landfill I was in business. Truth is, I type faster than some sportswriters. I’ve peeked into the Wrigley press box, so I know.

Anyway, I have a regular routine on game days. I show up around 3:30 p.m.—around the seventh inning-- and find a nice perch on top of the upper deck along the right-field line. That gives me a good view of who’s eating what below.  I look mostly for popcorn—it’s the world’s greatest food.  When I first started going I’d eat anything that was left behind, but learned quick not to. Bits of hotdog bun are tasty but if they have even a speck of mustard, they’re trouble. Ditto for pizza crust with tomato sauce. I’ve had cases of heartburn from them you wouldn’t believe.

Other places I avoid like the plague—and I mean that literally-- are the floors of the two teams’ dugouts.  They can be tempting because the players always leave lots of uneaten sunflower seeds behind, but they’re usually mixed with so much spilled Gatorade, tobacco juice and plain old spit that they’re inedible. Mix in the dirt those slobs track in and it’s Typhoid City!

I’ve also learned to wait to make my move until the game is over and the people have begun to leave. Some birds who couldn’t wait have paid dearly for it. My granddad told me Dave Winfield killed one of us playing catch in the outfield between innings during a 1983 game in Toronto, and I’ve seen the video of the poor guy that got in the way of a Randy Johnson fastball in a 2001 spring training game in Arizona. Poof! Brutal.

 Lemme tell you, though, we got even with both those bastards. My Uncle Gus says he bullseyed a huge dump down Johnson’s collar at Wrigley and another guy I know says he saw Winfield wearing a suit downtown one day and nailed him good a couple of times. Got the pigeons after him, too. I bet neither of them still go outdoors without an umbrella.

Things at the park have changed a bit in the time I’ve been coming out. A few years back crowds were bigger and hung around longer than they do now. I even learned the words to that song the people sing when the players in white win, although from what I know it’s supposed to be sung before a game, not after.

 These days the players in white usually bat last, and crowds are smaller and leave earlier. That’s okay because sometimes I can fly into the stands and pick off a morsel or two before a game’s over, but not usually. Not much good can happen from being around people, I’ve learned.

I had a perfect day about a week ago. A woman who sat right underneath my perch left behind about a half a box of popcorn—with butter!  Yum! I was there first and had it all to myself for about 10 minutes before the flock gathered, more than enough time for a swell feed.

 By bird standards that was a great moment in sports, good enough for an ESPN highlights reel for sure. Next time I’m at the landfill I’ll rummage around for a video camera.  I hear there’s a better future in TV than in print anyway, and that I’d be better off putting my efforts there. True?






mike levy said...

I think that Marvin summed it up best at the end of his letter to you, Fred. The future is definitely not in print...not if you intend to make a good living at it. He should scope out landfills and find himself a video camera. That way he can provide people with a 'bird's eye view'.

Great column! Enjoyed the sudden blast of diversity...diversity; that's what it's all about these days!

Good on you!

andrew said...

This could be expanded into a kids book....Marvin The Seagull!! It's brilliant. It doesn't even have to rhyme. Let me know if you need story ideas.....this has legs (and a beak)

Hilario said...