My holiday plea, Let hawks stay

Dec 21, 2004 7:51 AM

You know it’s Christmas when the hardened citizens of Manhattan start giving to a pair of red-tailed hawks uptown and forgiving a pair of red-faced lovebirds downtown.

New York has been transfixed of late with the fate of Pale Male and Lulu, the passionate hawks who have produced 23 chicks in 11 years of residence high on one of the swankiest apartment houses in town, 927 Fifth Avenue, facing Central Park.

Downtown, facing the site of what used to be the World Trade Center, another passionate pair was holed up, until friends blew their cover. This wasn’t a hawk, but the guy who embarrassed Rudy Giuliani, if indeed there is any way to embarrass Rudy. After Giuliani hoisted Bernie Kerik on his friend in the White House, Rudy professed no knowledge that Kerik, New York’s former police chief, had questionable acquaintances and entertained his enamored book editor in an apartment that originally had been donated to house exhausted police and firemen after 9/11.

The fact that Kerik was married and had rented the love nest would seem to make it more embarrassing, but New Yorkers blanch at the thought that anything or anybody who happened to be around when the Saudis flew into the trade center could be anything but noble.

Manhattanites agonized over the fate of their hawk hero and heroine, who were dispossessed when newscaster Paula Zahn’s husband, who heads the condo association in the high-priced building where the hawks resided, had their nest removed. There are other well known tenants in the building, including Mary Tyler Moore, and she rushed to the police station to help a protester who the gendarmes hauled off after he supposedly had told Ms. Zahn’s 7-year-old, in tow with his nanny in Central Park, "Your parents will get theirs."

The plight of the displaced hawks led to overwhelming compassion for them, and overwhelming contempt for those inside 927, Mary Tyler Moore excepted.

Ms. Zahn was urged by one letter writer to move to North Dakota. Residents of the condo — who wanted Pale Male and Lulu removed because they messily discarded the carcasses of pigeons on unsuspecting residents entering and leaving the building — were called unChristmaslike names. The woman on whose 12th floor ledge the hawks nested, one Ms. Winters, was castigated, one writer asking, "How dark is her heart," and urging that she "be evicted from NYC."

A resident of Staten Island, across the Verrazano Bridge and once described in a New York ceremony as "the island beyond the seas" — said the islanders would love to take in Pale Male and Lulu, writing, "Our pigeons are just as tasty and not as pricey. We might have more dirt underneath our fingernails, but our noses aren’t pointed skyward." Still another writer noted that the Christmas spirit for the homeless hawks had pushed New York’s countless homeless humans clear out of the news.

In the outpouring for the hawks, the residents of 927 — "these extraordinarily privileged people, with arrogance and lack of concern" — were characterized as being symptomatic of the way liberals "only care for what is not in their backyard, being the first to show concern for an endangered tree toad in Arizona."

Somehow we doubt that 927 Fifth Avenue is a haven for liberals. We have a hunch it is a bright "red" building, not "blue."

While hawkish Christmas compassion was bubbling over in New York, the holiday spirit was in evidence in gaming. Eddie Lynn, the chief operating officer of Casinopartners Management, Inc., said he felt sorry for the good people of Vernon Downs in upstate New York, who "have suffered through no fault of their own." That’s totally true. To provide them with some Christmas cheer, he was offering $38 million to buy the place and take it off the hands of the Vegas pair of Shawn Scott, still hoping to be licensed in New York, and Vestin Mortgage, who currently own controlling interest. If Lynn’s offer works, the pretty track between Syracuse and Utica might be able to open its shuttered racino.

Who knows? Perhaps Pale Male and Lulu could fly there and nest high on the mountain of debt.