“Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano created, write, direct, and voice each episode of the animated series Animals on HBO. The duo might still be creating branded content for an advertising agency in NYC if not for the pigeons preening outside of their SoHo office window. Inspired by the city birds, they made an animated short film, giving the pigeons dry humor and personalities. A version of the pilot episode “Pigeons” won Best Comedy Pilot at the 2013 New York Television Festival and caught the attention of Mark and Jay Duplass, who signed on as executive producers. In season 1, Matarese and Luciano imagined and animated an inner life for flies, cats, squirrels, turkeys and more. Season 2 of Animals debuts on HBO tonight with a host of new creatures and crises. Phil and Mike took some time to reflect on the wild life.”
I took my love for pigeons to the next level and wrote a personal essay on How to Breed Fancy Pigeons for The Hairpin!
“My pigeon nostalgia took on many whimsical and disturbing forms. I began painting pigeons and writing pigeon poetry. It was what I like to call my “Pigeon Renaissance.” This was a time of great creative flourishing where I painted pigeon masterpieces such as “Pigeon by Day” and “Starry Night Pigeon.” The pigeons were all-consuming. I’d try to draw something else like a bowl of fruit or a self-portrait, but somehow it would still end up looking like a pigeon. Our apartment took on the aesthetic of John Nash’s office at the end of A Beautiful Mind—he too, was fascinated by pigeons. Sam was supportive of (and amused by) these creative endeavors, but also wanted to know what the fuck was going on and encouraged me to meet some new people, maybe join a club?”
Read the full piece on The Hairpin here!
Photo by George De La Nuez
I had a blast reporting for The Guardian on the wonderful world of Pigeon Fanciers! I journeyed to a pigeon coop in Norco, CA where I learned about “bio-art,” attended a meeting at the Los Angeles Pigeon Club with some of the kindest folks around, and spoke to pigeon fanciers from around the world. Check it out here!
by Sydney Parker
“The Passenger Pigeon, therefore, should not be remembered only as a tragic victim of human thoughtlessness and greed. In fact, it should be admired as a species that over millennia had evolved, to an exceptional degree, an anatomy conducive to a life on the wing; indeed, it was a magnificent flying machine.”
– “The Passenger Pigeon” by Errol Fuller
THE PASSENGER PIGEON
By Errol Fuller
An unexpectedly humorous and enthralling illustrated memorial to the extinct North American Passenger Pigeon.
Naturalist artist and writer Errol Fuller defies the odds and crafts an entertaining historical narrative on an arguably bland subject, the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The author’s enthusiasm for the bird is infectious and the book reads like a bedtime story or an urban legend told over a campfire. “There are many, many stories like these, all worthy of the telling,” Fuller writes. “But there is one that stands out from the rest, a story so remarkable, so intense, that its elements strain credibility to its limits. It is the story of the Passenger Pigeon, and it is a tale that has everything: great drama, tragedy, intrigue, violence, mystery.”
Passenger Pigeons numbered in the billions at the start of the nineteenth century. The flocks were so large that they blotted out the sun for days at a time. The bird inspired famous writers including Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, artists, and even musicians. Yet by 1914, after years of slaughter and destruction by technologically advanced European colonizers of North America, only one Passenger Pigeon was left. Her name was Martha and she died alone at the Cincinnati zoo.
Fuller’s book is a beautiful and well-researched study of a highly evolved species forced into extinction by human thoughtlessness and greed. The primary source illustrations and quotations engage the reader while demonstrating the fragility of our natural world. An evocative and visually stunning book for readers of all ages.
by Sydney Parker
“The singular noise they make in their crowded nursery…surpasses any sound I have ever heard. It is a loud and confused buzz of love.” – John Mactaggart(1829)