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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Friday, June 27, 2003  


A wild turkey who has taken residence in Cambridge's Kendall Square makes the headlines. Nicknamed Mister Gobbles, he eats acorns and stares at his reflection in building windows. UPDATE: Photos

Adam Gaffin at Boston Online earlier chronicled an encounter with a wild turkey in West Roxbury. Here's the picture he snapped.

Wild turkeys have become quite common in my neck of the woods, where a flock of "attack turkeys" was reported a few years back. But it is always a thrill to see one (as I did just the other day, in a farmer's field in Sherborn), and when one ventures close to the city it's news.

Audubon's Wild Turkey makes Newbury Street dealer Haley & Steele's Top 10 list of popular art pieces.

Ben Franklin favored the turkey as America's national bird:

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

"With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country....

"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

The wild-turkey emblem has been adopted to fine effect by the American Spectator, which is nothing if not feisty: See the latest articles on Sodomy in the Age of Oprah, on Berrigan-inspired nuns heading to the clink, and on affirmative action and the Rice baseball champs.

The Hokie Bird

Speaking of turkeys, the tale of how the school no one wanted, Virginia Tech, landed in the ACC is spun by Ed Hardin of the Greensboro, N. C., News-Record:

Though no one has compiled such a list, Virginia Tech's name would've been on a list of schools the ACC had no intention of ever inviting, a ledger that would include East Carolina, South Carolina and maybe even Western Carolina.

You could see Louisville getting in someday, or Notre Dame, or Penn State or even Connecticut. But VPI? Not in 50 years.

Tech got in because its most hated rival was forced to play political football. Virginia's spineless president, one John T. Casteen III, was told by Virginia's mindless governor, one Mark Warner, to back Virginia Tech in any expansion talks, the equivalent of our governor telling Richard Petty how to drive.

Casteen did it, throwing the entire expansion process into fiasco-mode and resulting in the bizarre chain of events that led to Syracuse and Boston College being thrown back to the Big East lawyers and a horrified ACC to inviting Virginia Tech at the risk of watching the entire process crumble.

Now Virginia, which hates Virginia Tech, and Virginia Tech, which hates Virginia (and a lot of people agree with both of them) have become strange bedfellows in a politically induced sleep that has a lot of people bickering and a lot more snickering.


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