Posts Tagged 'April Fools'

Turtle Underground

turtleThe great turtle or tortoise holding up the world is an ancient story from China and India — and the New World, whose original inhabitants came from Asia.

Less well known is the race of giant tortoises who hold up New York City. Your engineer, the very definition of quotidian, will insist on schist — Manhattan, for instance, is said to be “gneiss but full of schist” — as the foundation of all that challenges the sky, but those of us in the know, know better. It is upon their mighty backs, their rock-like carapaces, that all of this Oz rests.

The trouble with these stout, bold, strong creatures, doing the heavy lifting of our metropolis, is that they are rarely seen. They shun the limelight, they have no interest in celebrity, or even, it may be said, humanity, at all. turtleWell, you know how I like keep my eyes peeled like a grape for evidence of the world rushing in, so when I was in SoHo recently — an aberration on my part, but the tarts are delicious — I happened to catch one of these secretive animals passing below the sidewalk grating. Zounds! The shell is a full yard long! The creature was of course lumbering in that deliberate time-is-different-for-us way. Judging from the shiny baubles around its bullish neck, I’d say it was either returning from a bender, if not N’Orleans, or an anointing by a cult of Kurma-worshippers. March on, noble Testudinidae!

Flushed Apps

What a fascinating life cycle! After their soft and spongy innards are consumed by female Homo sapiens, these indestructible exoskeleton-sheaths journey through the social network of the sewer system. (Males H. not so sapiens do sometimes use them, although judging from HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, only in a metaphoric sense.) Ubiquitous on our beaches, these shed applicators also pile up in sludge digesters at sewage treatment plants. Coney Island whitefish will largely break down in treatment plant anaerobic tanks, if they get there, but not the app-torpedos. “In the 1980s, roughly fifty thousand applicators a day were arriving at the wastewater treatment plants in Boston,” writes Alice Outwater in Water: A Natural History. She goes on to note that with their “great structural integrity” they would build-up in the digesters in a layer of 6-8 feet thick, requiring that the digesters be periodically emptied and cleaned. Whence then was not explained, probably to be buried in a landfill.The digester eggs at Newtown Creek digesting, but they can’t eat plastic.

Some of the apps captured in the wild at the wrack-line at Dead Horse Bay:Bonus fact: the average women menstruates some 440 times during her lifetime, using up to 15,000 tampons. The simplest alternative would be the ones with cardboard applicators.

Does This Komodo Make Me Look Fat?

There’s a giant monitor lizard on the loose at Atlantic Ave and Henry St. It’s about five feet long and looks hungry. I’ve called 911 and the ASPCA and the tabloids. Traffic snarled, people freaking out, dogs hiding. If you’re in the neighborhood, for God’s sake, stay indoors!


The very rare and endangered North American Bare-Faced Feathered Cobra, Pseudobitis clementins, rarely stirs in its thicket at the Bronx Zoo. But it’s overnight escape into the wilds of Van Cortland Park has stirred something in this jaded city’s breast. A Facebook page and fueding Twitter accounts (@BareFacedCobra, @RealBareFaceCobra, @CobraAmI) allege to chart the animal’s progress (to freedom? to Westchester Co.?) in snarky wordbites. Even our emotionless Plutocrat-Mayor has gotten into the act, almost soaring above his usual monotone with something akin to oratory: “Every New Yorker, from the lowliest investment banker to those of us with mansions down in the Islands, feels for and understands the importance of this creature.” (How different from the previous guy in the office, hyperactively frothing on his natural media, shock radio: “Animals? Don’t be sick. Only diseased, twisted, perverted minds like animals. Get a life!”)

Thought by some eminent Victorian naturalists to be the missing link between reptiles and birds, the quixotically named Feathered Cobra has regained attention with the discovery that feathers predated flight.


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