Pigeon Poop

  E-mail Rick!

Sept. 29, 2004 4:57 p.m.

I remember the first story I did when I came back from the war. I was physically and emotionally exhausted after nine weeks of work; six of those weeks in the desert sand and sun. I was 18 pounds lighter, sleep deprived, and a bit shell shocked, and needed a few weeks to decompress.  But after the most challenging, demanding, draining, significant and rewarding experience of my career, I took my war correspondent skills up to New Paltz, New York for the gripping tale of...a Green Party candidate running for small-town mayor.

I thought of this monday, after three solid weeks of exhausting but rewarding convention and hurricane coverage, when I drove with a crew to Woodridge, New Jersey to cover the story of a woman who feeds pigeons and the neighbors who are upset about it.

But this was no let down. Honestly, I LOVE the pigeon story. It's a classic tale of the little guy battling city hall, a dispute pitting neighbor against neighbor, a debate over whose rights are more important, whose get protected, whose are violated, and is it fair?

The "pigeon lady," Ania Nowak, was well-spoken and very entertaining, and her neighbors were equally emphatic in their beliefs and straight out of central casting.

Plus, it's easy to have fun when the story centers on pigeon poop.

[Ed. note: Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports!]

Thanks for your fantastic reports, both from Iraq and in the States for the hurricanes. We watched you in New Orleans, and had it not been for the curfew, would have drove down to meet you at the Lakefront or in the Quarter!  Thanks for the job you do and the way you do it!

— Wil (Jefferson, LA)

I have admired your reporting since the war, and all the way to the hurricane. This grandma thinks you are a neat guy!

— Ellie (Goshen IN)

At least the coverage of the hurricane got you out of the laundry !!!!

S. Hipperson, Surrey. UK

In my opinion you did the best job of all of them in integrating with the Marines. I saw one piece where there was a mail call, and the Marines you were with interacted with you exactly as they did with one another. I was a rifle platoon commander in 1st Bn 8th Marines in 1964 to 1966, and understand how the glue works that makes Marines. It is not usual to absorb someone they way they did you. You must have shown to them that you were worthy. I salute you. 

Paul (Liverpool, NY)

You are such a wonderful reporter.  You remain calm, give concise information, and love of your job is evident.  I have a son that was driving one of those big 5 ton trucks the Marines have, to Baghdad.  I watched Fox News 24/7, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, and following you as you went there too.  Never did see him on the road, but I can tell you that I so much appreciated the fact that so many of you gave of your time, and some your lives, to cover the war.  I was scared too, but your being calm helped me.  Thanks so much.  And, if you don't mind, thank the camera guy for me.  Debbie