Dave Barry: Daryl Hannah, the Boy Scouts and 'bird porn'

Miami HeraldAugust 27, 2008 

DENVER — I will resume my coverage of the Democratic convention (current theme: ''Yes, It's Still Going On'') as soon as possible, but first I need to address a disturbing issue that we all need to be more disturbed about: bird porn.

I found out about this issue while hanging out at the convention center with my fellow journalism professional James Lileks. We were doing what journalists do at major news events, namely, whine that there is no news, when James got a text-message tip that there was a bird-porn protest going on in downtown Denver.

''Bird porn?'' I said.

''I have no idea,'' he said.

We immediately hailed a pedicab. Pedicabs are rickshaw-style vehicles pedaled by fit young people who offset your carbon by pedaling you around Denver in exchange for tips. Our pedaler was named Keiren Valentine. She had a nose ring but was otherwise kind of like a regular taxi driver, in the sense that she got annoyed when pedestrians got in her way and forced her to stop.

''Are YOU relying on inertia?'' she muttered at them. "Oh no, that's just me.''

After we'd gone a few blocks, another pedicab driver, Colette Valery, zoomed up looking excited and said to Keiren, "I'm on my way to pick up Daryl Hannah!''

James and I looked at each other. This was a moment of decision, a moment we had been preparing for, as journalism professionals, all our lives.

''Belay the bird porn,'' we told Keiren. "Follow that pedicab!''

So we zoomed off after Colette, who stopped several blocks away at a hotel, and out came Daryl Hannah. Probably you want to know what she is really like, as a person and a human being. I would say, based on gawking at her from a distance of two feet, that she is quite attractive, although of course not in the same league as my wife.

Hannah and a man got into Colette's pedicab, and they took off.

''On to the bird porn!'' we said to Keiren.

Minutes later we arrived at a busy street corner where a woman was holding up a sign that said, ''DEMOCRATS STOP BIRD PORN!'' She was with two men, one with a bullhorn, who were handing out leaflets that said, ''BIRD WATCHERS ARE VOYEURS!'' and "LEAVE THE BIRDS ALONE!''

I spoke to the sign woman, Anaida Krok, and the bullhorn man, Ed Brenner. Their position, if I understand them correctly, is that bird-watchers are perverts who enjoy watching birds have sex, and this must be stopped.

I asked Brenner what was so bad about watching birds have sex.

''If you're sitting at home, making love,'' he said, "would you want somebody peeking through your window at you?''

''Sitting?'' I said.

''But what if you're making love on your lawn?'' said James. (He was making the point that birds have sex in public, not that he, James Lileks, makes love on the lawn.) (As far as I know.) (He IS from Minneapolis.)

I know what you're thinking: You're thinking that the bird-porn protesters were just pranksters having a big old goof. And you may be right. However, they seemed quite earnest, plus they have a We bsite, www.stopbirdporn.org. (And you know how hard it is to get a website!) Also Krok told me that if I went on YouTube and searched for ''bird porn,'' I would see many explicit bird-sex videos.

It was at this point that James and I realized that, despite being seasoned journalism professionals, neither one of us really knew how birds have sex. Like, do the males have organs? If so, where do they keep them?

I pressed Brenner on the mechanics, but he did not want to talk about it. At this point, a pair of civilian bystanders in the form of twin brothers Will and Travis Sheive of Houston, who had been listening in, offered some insights.

''Eagles have sex while flying, I know that much,'' said Will. "I learned that in Boy Scouts.''

''I've seen sparrows going at it,'' said Travis.

When I got back to my hotel, I searched for ''bird porn'' on YouTube, and sure enough, there it was: Eliot Spitzer.

No, seriously, there was explicit footage of birds being explicit. So we know two things: (1) The problem is real, and (2) the Boy Scouts are involved. And yet this issue has not been addressed by a single speaker at the Democratic convention. At least as far as I know. I've been pretty busy.

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