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Morning Spew

Flaco Goes Downtown

The beloved owl and zoo escapee has reappeared on the Lower East Side. Now that he's there, will he finally find what he's searching for? Or get laid?

9:59 AM EST on November 7, 2023

(Rhododendrites / Wikicommons)

Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who captured the hearts of New Yorkers earlier this year when he escaped the confines of the Central Park Zoo, was spotted yesterday in a community garden on the Lower East Side. The owl had previously roamed around Central Park after evading recapture, but now has evidently made his home by Kenkeleba House, an artists' space on East Second Street.

Hell Gate wanted to know how the neighborhood was reacting to this newest arrival. Downtown denizens seemed mostly to be amused by the new addition to the scene, and were happy to welcome Flaco. 

Syl Dubenion, an East Village resident and musician in the experimental outfit Standing on the Corner, mused that Flaco may have come downtown to pay tribute to Charlie Parker, "the legendary bird himself." Michael "Crumps" Crumplar, a writer who chronicles and comments on  contemporary downtown culture, said, "It's charming that the owl of wisdom and philosophy would choose the company of the Tompkins skaters."

But not everybody was happy with the news of Flaco's move. 

Jesse Rifkin, author of "This Must Be the Place," who gives guided tours of important spots in New York's musical history, fumed. "Like generations of uptown dilettantes before him, he's decided to head downtown to get his kicks," Rifkin said. "Someone must have told him about the indie sleaze revival." 

Rifkin even joked about Flaco chasing after NYU students, but as Hell Gate has previously reported, many birders had their hopes up that Flaco would find a mate in Geraldine, a long-time owl resident of Central Park.

That hasn't happened, and Flaco remains a lonely bird. The birder David Barrett, who runs the Manhattan Bird Alert account, has speculated that Flaco's move downtown is part of a seasonal search for a mate. "Flaco's hoots have gone unanswered for a long time now," Barrett posted. "He is unaware that no mates are anywhere in the region." Damn, it's true. Like so many before him, Flaco has gone downtown searching for…something. A date? Personal fulfillment? God, who really knows? Next stop, Clandestino!

But first, a pit stop at these links:

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