I'll Take "Bizarre Scenes" For A Thousand, Alex

This morning, we woke up, looked out of our living room window, and saw this on the fire escape:


The owl is not the weird part. The owl has been there since we moved in. There is, in fact, an owl on every single fire escape in the building, placed there by the management, for reasons we're not entirely sure of. The owl freaks you the hell out for the first few weeks you live in the apartment, though, I'll tell you that.

No, the owl is not the weird part. We are cool with the owl. We have made peace with the owl. The weird part is the plastic bags and balloons tied to the railing of the fire escape, which---like the owls---are also on every fire escape above us. It's like the building management got high last night and decided to play a prank on all the tenants while we were sleeping. Except no-one can figure out what the prank was supposed to be.

And those aren't just ordinary balloons, by the way, either. Those, my friends, are JESUS BALLONS. See?


For a full morning, we pondered why there might be plastic bags and Jesus balloons tied to every single fire escape of all six floors of our building. We were seriously confused. We wondered if maybe we had been drunker than we thought when we came home from the Arcade Fire show last night, and maybe we'd done it ourselves without knowing. But then we ran into one of the building managers as we were coming back from Trader Joe's just now, and he told us what was going on. And it makes sense! However, I bet you can't guess why there are plastic bags and Jesus balloons tied to every single fire escape of all six floors of our building. Seriously, I will give you, like, ten bucks if you can solve the mystery yourself. Well, maybe not ten bucks. Maybe just a hearty congratulations. And a deflated Jesus balloon.

(PS: Sean totally thought we should make a fuss about the Jesus balloons, protesting the use of religious imagery on our fire escape and our right to have a non-denominational view from the living room, and asking for plain balloons instead. This being San Francisco, it absolutely would have worked. We would probably even have been given a few rainbow ones, a few vegan ones, and a few organic ones as well.)

Jun 03, 2007

Pigeon prevention? I'm trying to figure out how the plastic bags would fit in, but I've seen the owls used for that before. Me, I love the sound of pigeons cooing at twilight, so I'd be out there popping those balloons, but I know building managers think of them as creatures closer to rats with wings.

Jun 03, 2007

pigeon control?

Exiled to Canada
Jun 03, 2007

Is someone in the building having their quinceneros?

Jun 03, 2007

I agree with the first 2 entries, it's to keep the pigeons away, the movment of the plastic bags scares them as does the owl, as for the ballons, I have no idea except maybe forgiveness for being mean to the pigeons.

Jun 03, 2007

I'm going completely off the wall and saying someone STRONGLY wants y'all to start going to church.

Ok, seriously....pigeon control sounds good, and makes sense in light of the owl being there first. If not that...Possibly there was a free bunch of balloons at a church and they stole them for some sort of bizzare art installation?

Jun 03, 2007

The owls are common "bird control" items.

The best ballons to use are the shiny metallic ones - and especially if they have religous imagery on them (I hear the Buddha ones work great - not so much with Mohammed though, maybe he liked birds)

Jun 03, 2007

"mean to the pigeons?" - you're talking about rats with wings - and poop bombs . . .

little white liar
Jun 03, 2007

I think they're there because yay, the Rapture is upon us! And your whole building is being called up to Jesus! (So tell Sean to pipe down - turns out the Prostestants were right, and he's going to have to just smile and nod for eternity.)

Jun 03, 2007

cheap windchimes..
or, someone thinks you need a good blessing..
or, probably more along the lines of pigeon prevention.

Jun 03, 2007

It's an art project.

In the grant application, the artist probably discussed how the imagery would evoke speculation on our relationships with higher powers.

And pigeons.

Jun 03, 2007

Someone is trying to ward off pigeons with the combined powers of predators (owl), moving flapping scrunching white objects (plastic bags), and prayer (Jesus balloons).

Saucepan Man
Jun 03, 2007

1)Subsidence. The balloons keep the building up. The plastic bags are for disposing of the additional earth around your windows so you can see out.


2)New (cheaper) earthquake warning system for the city. The balloons vibrate; you run out. (Plastic bags see 1) above.)

The owls were for the pigeons as we know...

(I'll take a check, thanks.)

Jun 03, 2007

Looks like someone's having a Confirmation party outside!

Jun 03, 2007

It's all about the birds, babeee. Just be glad the balloons didn't have the likeness of St. Francis on them. Then you'd have birds AND deer AND squirrels and all kinds of critters you'd have to ward off!

Jun 03, 2007

Ooh! How was Arcade Fire? Also, I love the song Carry Me Ohio. In keeping with the Ohio theme, I think you would enjoy Look at Miss Ohio by Gillian Welch (http://myspace.com/GillianWelch).

Sorry to always bring up music in your comment section,I don't know where else to leave these comments and I looooove music. Can't. be. helped.

Jun 03, 2007

I freakin love you Holly! This is one of the best yet! :)

Pigeons and pergatory......sounds like a great name for a band! Thanks for the great way to start my Sunday, snorting coke...OUT of my nose! Can't wait to hear what the deal is with this "arteeeeestic" display.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Jun 03, 2007

We had the owls in Colorado...for woodpeckers. Forget the nasty rat-pigeons, if you've ever heard woodpeckers jack hammering away at METAL (it can happen in a city) you'd have a new least-favorite bird. The balloons are to support your 3am prayers of "Dear God please make that stupid bird drop dead" and the plastic bags are to bag the dead birds because the powers that be totally love balloons--thus answered your prayer.

Jun 03, 2007

Like everyone else I guessed the owl and bags were to scare away pigeons. The Jesus balloons? Jesus is the owl's co-pilot in fighting off the pigeons? God only knows (ha...ha..)

Jun 03, 2007

Definitely pigeon control. Or someone knows something about the second coming the rest of us haven't been told yet. Yeah definitely pigeon control.

Jun 04, 2007

They can't be for pigeon control, the balloons would only last a couple days! I think it's far more likely that the real estate prices in your area have gone so high that the management are trying to airlift the building to a cheaper spot. You're probably going to need some more balloons though...

Jun 04, 2007

Oh, but wait, folks! These good people live in San Francisco. If it's anywhere near Russian Hill, instead of pigeons, the problem could be...parrots!

(You can donate my prize to the nearest homeless shelter -- anything to keep those wackos from goin' for your wallet inside that Thai restaurant!)

((Yes, you do have readers who lurk but simply can't resist a post like this one :-))

Jun 04, 2007

Please allow me to jump on the pigeon bandwagon, because as I was reading, that is the first thought that came to me. But it must be more than that...

Carroll must be speaking of the most recent independent lens (loved it - I think "he" and the parrots lived in North Beach)...so could it be the famous parrots from PBS and North Beach? Hmmm. Screw it. Better off going and listening to Gillian's Soul Journey album instead, at least until Holly tells us the answer.

P.S. Wendy, are you partial to the pigeon man on Western Ave. in Lincoln Square in the Windy? Whoa...

Jun 04, 2007

you are not only totally hot looking miss england, you are HILARIOUS as all good brits are!

shout out to ESLOCURA! ha ha ha ROTFL...

...as for the ballons, I have no idea except maybe forgiveness for being mean to the pigeons.

Eslocura | June 2nd, 2007 at 8:21 pm

Jun 04, 2007

RE: the coffee table-- Have you tried overstock.com? I have been using one of their benches as a table and really like it.

Jun 04, 2007

Also, Holly, I'm not a fan of that coffee table, nor that chair. Both too dentists office, but maybe that's against the gross floor of the shop!

Jun 04, 2007

I'm with everyone who has guessed someone's confirmation. That's all I got regarding Jesus Ballons.

Jun 04, 2007

Owls will keep the birds away.

Ann Nonymous
Jun 04, 2007

The building super wants to make sure Jesus sees your building upon his return - which, as everyone knows, is imminent. Any day now.

Jun 04, 2007

Hi Holly,

Re: the coffee table--have you checked Etsy or Elsewares? www.etsy.com, www.elsewares.com -- They may have something that's more along the lines of what you're looking for (and one-of-a-kind, too)!

Oh, and I guess pigeons for the mystery balloons/owl/etc. We had a pigeon problem growing up, and my dad's solution was to place both a fake owl and a fake snake in the eaves of our roof. This worked temporarily, until an alpha-male pigeon decided to roost right on top of the snake! All his feathered friends joined him after that, and we just learned to live with the birds. We never tried balloons, though, nor Jesus balloons at that...

Hope you're well!

Jun 04, 2007

Didn't San Francisco outlaw plastic grocery bags? It's obviously a political statement; your landlord's way of sticking it to the Man. As an aside, owls totally creep me out. My mother in law loves them. The irony is not lost on me.

Jun 04, 2007

About the table...
I'm with the folks who recommend waiting until you really fall in love. Try a google search for "noguchi table" and see if it appeals to you. There are many knock-offs available of that style. We bought one at a Scandinavian Designs clearance center in Cupertino not long ago.

Jun 04, 2007


Jun 04, 2007

Not sure if your landlord's Italian or Catholic (or if you're in an Italian section of San Francisco), but in Boston we have saint's feasts and Catholic festivals ranomly happening all summer long:

From www.anzanoboston.com:

"In Italy since that time the feast of the Madonna Di Anzano is celebrated on Pentecost Sunday. Here in Boston the Societa Santa Maria Di Anzano celebrates her feast the first weekend of June."

Love your blog!

Jun 04, 2007

Okay, I was getting really confused on the replies about the coffee table and chair. I read your entire post TWICE MORE until I realized people were commenting on your Flickr photos. Good with the technology, is me.

Anyhow: I actually like the coffee table. I like that it's dark and has simple lines, and I think it would blend in really well in most settings. And I like the not-disturbing-the-decorations aspect of the pull-out bits.

But not such a big fan of the chair. Was I the only one who thought of a soap-opera set when I saw it? Like, it would totally be at home on "Days Of Our Lives" or something? Anyone else? ... Okay then.

Jun 04, 2007

I would say the balloons are for bird control. Except for the fact that they are religious balloons. So I think it's something more than bird control because why go to the trouble of finding religious balloons instead of just plain ol' colored balloons?

How about these theories?

1. According to butlerwebs.com, June 4th observes that the shopping cart was created by Sylvan N. Goldman of Humpty Dumpty Stores and Standard Food Markets in Oklahoma City and introduced on June 4, 1937 (theory for the plastic bags).

2. June 5 observes the first hot air balloon flight by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783 (theory for the balloons).

That still doesn't explain why they are religious balloons.....

Jun 04, 2007

Obviously your building has a problem with Atheist birds. The owl is like a predator to scare them away, the plastic bags rustle in the wind to make noise to scare them away, and just in case those two don't work, the religious party balloons are sure to do the trick.

Jun 04, 2007

Theology 101: Everyone knows that Christ is coming back as a pigeon.

Jun 04, 2007

no clue...but i sure loves me a good jesus mystery :)

Jun 04, 2007

JB, I too was totally clueless about the table comments on my first read-through. You're in good company :-)

And, a correction on the table I mentioned -- the one we *saw* was at a local furniture store, but the one we bought was from an on-line discount place, a link for which I can send you if you're the least bit interested.

(Finished now, I promise)

Nothing But Bonfires
Jun 05, 2007

Ah, you are all much cleverer than me. It was indeed for pigeon control, all of it. Although I liked the idea that it was a cheap earthquake warning system (with Jesus balloons for extra luck in case of tragedy.)

Jun 05, 2007

Well, the owl is pigeon/bird/rodent control, but the plastic bags and balloons have been used... superstitiously. Plastic bags (my grandmother has one on her door regularly) are used to either scare away the evil spirits, or catch them - I can't remember which. Balloons are supposed to as well, at least that's what I've been told.

Or no one's superstitious, and it's just a ploy to scare pigeons and the only available balloons were those religious ones.

Jun 05, 2007

Mmmmm, Jesus balloons. I personally have three Jesuses (Jesi?) on top of my living room TV for some unclear reason -- a Buddy Christ from "Dogma", an Jesus Action Figure on wheels, and a dashboard Christ on a spring.

Chaos Control
Jun 05, 2007

Can someone please explain to me how the hell the white plastic bags keep pigeons away? And I'm dyin' over here ... what's in those platic bags??

Jun 06, 2007

To keep the pigeons off the railings and making a real mess, and also, to keep any critters (squirrels, other birds) from destroying any of the planter boxes and pots with new spring flowers, seeds, and plantings! ...just like a scarecrows in fields! ... and flashy metallic pinwheels in gardens!

Jun 06, 2007

The owl is clearly some sort of cult leader. When you find plastic cups of Kool-aid on the balcony railing, it's time to move. (Though I suppose that poisoned cups of Kool-aid could also work as pigeon control.)