Winter 2013 • Vol. XXXV No. 1 FictionJanuary 1, 2013 |

Do Birds Like Television?

The answer to this question is yes, but it needs qualifying:                       First, the qualification. Wilma, a sweet-natured woman who lives on the top floor of this building, has seven birds—two finches, two blue parakeets, two Hindu ringneck parakeets, and Joe, an old mynah with rheumatism. When she comes home from work, the birds put up a squawk for television, and she obliges them by lighting up the tube. She doesn't know whether it is the flickering images that interest them, or the sound, but in either case they look. Attentively. Wilma told me all this yesterday on the first-floor landing of the Tenth Street Manhattan brownstone we live in. In the good old days, there were eight birds. This was when Wilma was with Yon Gee, the Chinese surrealist painter. The eighth bird was another, smaller mynah named Eric. Eric was fond of radio, especially station WOR, and so Yon, when he painted, kept the radio on

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