During the Covid-19 quarantine, I began listening to podcasts more than ever. There is one podcast that I'm particularly thankful for, as it got me through the long hours spent in isolation this past year and brightened my day every time I listened to it. The podcast is called Here Be Monsters, and is created and hosted by Jeff Etman. This independent podcast is about "fear, beauty, and the unknown."
Each episode covers a completely different topic, but the thread of existential wonder and Etman's creativity is constant throughout the podcast. The episodes can be listened to out of order, and the Here Be Monsters website actually recommends that you watch them out of order, starting with more recent episodes and working backward. They also recommend these episodes to new listeners:
One of my personal favorite episodes is Mother Pigeon. (I love them all, though!) In this episode, Jeff Etman visits Mother Pigeon's studio in Manhattan, and she talks to him about her friendship with the pigeons in the city, and how she keeps them safe and makes art about them.
From the Here Be Monsters website about the Mother Pigeon episode:
Each morning, a flock of about 150 pigeons waits for her at her local park in Bushwick. She feeds them twice a day if she can afford it, and once a day if she can't. Peas, lentils, millet and other grains, and corn in the winter to keep them warm. "When you go out to feed birds, you're treated like a criminal, so I like to call myself 'The Pigilante.'"
Mother Pigeon considers herself a press agent for the city's "maligned animals"—animals strong enough to survive in urban environments, but not charismatic enough to become our pets. Animals like rats, squirrels, raccoons, and of course, pigeons.
She considers much of the information available on pigeons to be propaganda from greedy exterminators. Less controversial though, are the dangers of inhaling the dust from dried pigeon droppings, which often carry fungus spores harmful to those with compromised immune systems. It's completely legal to feed birds in NYC's parks. Though in 2019, the city proposed a rule that'd make what Mother Pigeon does punishable by fines and/or jail time. She and some others vocally opposed this rule—it did not go into effect.
You can listen to the episodes on their website, Patreon, Apple podcasts, and other podcast streaming services.