Saturday, July 12, 2014

Off-Topic:Tommy Erdelyi

Very sorry to hear today about the death of Tommy Erderlyi -- the Ramone's original drummer.

I was a big Ramones fan "back in the day" because I thought their "dumb, fast and loud" act was an ideal antidote to the art-rock sensibilities that had made pop music sclerotic in the mid-1970s.

Plus their songs were wickedly funny and impossible to resist dancing to.

I had a chance to work with Erderlyi and Joey Ramone in 1981. My job was assistant engineer at a recording studio on 24th Street called "Secret Sound." Secret's schedule was typical of a New York studio in the 80s: jingles in the morning, and then either a rock band or an album project at night.

I'm not sure why Tommy Erderlyi chose Secret. But he and Joey needed a studio to record a band they were producing called The Rattlers.

The band came by around 6, we set up the drums, marshall amps, and vocal mics. I was assisting Scott Noll -- a very good rock engineer --  on the session. We both liked the Ramones, and relished a chance to do a non-jingle gig. The band got all the basic tracks done very quickly.Everybody was high-spirited: it was clearly a thrill to be working in a "real studio." We finished basics and overdubs by 10 PM, took a break, and then went on to the mixing.

"Headphones," Erdelyi said. "I'm mixing this on headphones."

HEADPHONES? With all the loudspeakers in front of us: the Klipshes, the UREIs, the Aurotones and Secret Sound Cubes, you're going to mix on headphones?

This was heresy in our world. But Tommy was the boss.

He mixed the four songs in complete silence. Noll and I could hear tiny inklings of what he was doing from his headphone leakage (and we were welcome to monitor the mix on our own cans), but it was basically a "secret mix" at Secret Sound.

Later, after the last edit had been made on our 2-track machine (an ATR-100), we cued the tape for playback. What would it actually sound like on the big speakers?

I cued the tape.

Erderlyi's finger depressed the STUDIO MON button on the big MCI 428 mixing console.

Noll hit PLAY on the Auto-Locator.

We waited...

And then came the loudest mix in the world.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Photos from July 2014 Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari

We had a terrific Wild Parrot Safari this past Saturday. I had been concerned all last week that the recent hurricane visiting the East Coast would put a damper on the festivities, but it had cleared out by the time Saturday rolled around. This Safari was at Green-Wood Cemetery, which is one of the best place to see wild parrots in New York during the summmer months. Why? Because the parrots are very active on the west side of the cemetery, and there are lot of young birds "parked" in the grove of trees leading to the main gate. This behavior only lasts a month or so; by next month, the parrots will already be into a profoundly different behavioral rhythm. Thanks to the group of ladies who returned after last month's Safari at Brooklyn College. You gals rock. Next Safari is in August. I should set the date in the next few days. In the meantime here are some shots, taken by our wonderful photographer Jule Hanlon, of the July Wild Parrot Safari.
There was a lot of parrot action in the grove of pine trees leading up to Green-Wood Cemetery's main gate. As usual, we could clearly hear the parrots before we could clearly see them.

The parrots -- often resembling small, living gargoyles, were busy at the main gate. Here one performs routine
"sentinel" (watching for hawks) duty to protect the flock.
We saw lots of parrots zooming in and out of the colonial nests at the gate, ferrying twigs to the main structure.

Construction never stops at Brooklyn's Wild Parrot HQ.
Far below the main gate, the twigs are gathered for relay up to the main nest.
This parrot isn't worrying about "biting more than one can chew."
This is an adult bird who's been likely been in Brooklyn for many years.
Check out this parrot's intense expression. This is one serious Brooklyn builder who's going to stick to the
project plan!

Here's a brand new baby parrot who's going to spend the next few months learning the ropes in Brooklyn. 

Two more baby parrots are at left, tended to by an adult. Adults guard their young ones intently with a watchful eye.
There's a lot riding on the next generation!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Brooklyn Parrots Featured on

Big shout out to Yuliya Geikhman, who wrote up our Wild Parrot Safaris for is a great site for parents looking for something fun and educational to do with their kinds. Check it out!

Photos From June 2014 Wild Parrot Safari

We had a great Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari this past Saturday. The weather was perfect and the parrots were very active. Thanks to everyone who showed up -- it was a great day.

Photo credit: Jule Hanlon
We met at the main gate of Brooklyn College and proceeded to "Wild Parrot Alley," a location at the intersection of 22nd and Campus Road.

Photo credit: Jule Hanlon
The strange story of the parrots -- which encompasses high-level decisions made by the Argentinian and U.S. governments in the 1960s, mysterious actions by unknown parties at Kennedy Airport, continuous surveillance by Con Edison, and the intervention of Brooklyn civic groups  -- was told.

Photo credit: Jule Hanlon
Because there's a lot of tree cover this time of year, the parrots were a bit elusive at the start of the Safari. We could hear them long before we could actually see them.

Photo credit: Harold Piskiel
 We saw our first Wild Brooklyn Parrot at the "Hot Tot Spot Lot," a playground improved during the Giuliani Administration. Among the improvements are a series of stainless steel, parrot-shaped icons.

Photo credit: Jule Hanlon

About a block away a concentration of Myiopsitta Monachus was observed by our group.

Photo credit: Harold Piskiel

After watching the parrots for some time, it became apparent that they were observing us as carefully as we were observing them.

Our next Safari is in July. Please join us if you'd like to get up close and personal with Brooklyn's Wild Parrots.

Next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari: Saturday, July 5, 2014


The next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari is on Saturday,July 5, 2014, at 11 AM.

LOCATION: Green-Wood Cemetery (25th street entrance on 5th Avenue).
Green-Wood Cemetery is a fabulous place to become acquainted with the wild parrots of Brooklyn, who -- legend has it -- have lived at the Cemetery since 1962. Please send e-mail to steve at to confirm. Let's meet on the benches outside the cemetery -- Southwest corner of 25th Street and 5th Avenue (Brooklyn, not Manhattan).

For more info, please view: When is the Next Wild Parrot Safari?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Next Wild Parrot Safari: Saturday, June 7th

We return to Brooklyn College for the June Wild Parrot Safari. Please join us on Saturday, June 7th, 2014, to explore the charmed world of these intrepid urban survivors. The Parrot Safari departs at 11:00 AM.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lost African Grey Parrot (Prospect Park Area)

I received this e-mail today:

Hi Steve, My friend Ivis' African Grey, Coco, flew away last Saturday. She lives between Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Crown Heights. I'm trying to help her get the word out and wonder if you have any suggestions and/or would be willing to post something on the Brooklyn Parrot site. 

If you've seen or heard this bird, please send e-mail to Sarah Stills: her email is

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Video: How Parrot Parents Name Their Kids

Just in time for Mother's Day, a terrific video from Cornell University's Mark Dantzker:

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Famous Brooklyn Parrot Found Safe in Canarsie

We don't know we missed this happy news item but here it is: that parrot named Truman that went missing in Bensenhurst a couple of weeks ago -- the world famous one -- was recovered by his owner several miles away in Canarsie, according to

According to the parrot's owner, Truman "wasn't desperate at all and wasn't all that eager to leave (Canarsie). After letting him finish an almond outside, I put his harness on and took him home." The owner further wrote on his Facebook page that "I won't be clipping his wings but I will be reconsidering the consequences of outdoor freeflight."

Sounds like an excellent idea. Birds -- even the tamest, most eloquent ones -- can go a long way in a short time when their escape instincts kick in. Let us celebrate the fact that Truman made it home.