Self-appointed Chief Hawkmadinejad Biographer Sameea Butt sings of gender identity and incorporeality for the benefit of 2015.
It all started with SIPA’s decision to make the annual World Leader’s Forum a smidge more interesting in 2007. They extended an invitation, with PrezBo’s blessing, to the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak on campus was met with a wide spectrum of reactions: some shouted for dialogue and perspective, while others tried to build an impenetrable human barrier between AJ and Lerner. There must have been free food on South Lawn that day, because he made it safe and sound to Roone to an event that was more or less tame given the insanity his presence precipitated.
A few months later, a hawk was spotted swooping down on its lunch of poor, unsuspecting city pigeon. A call for names was sent out, noting that hawks are territorial, “so he/she might be around for a while.” We had no idea. A short discussion in the comments section later, the notorious bird of prey and predator of the press became one: the red tailed petty dictator of city pigeons was christened Hawkmadinejad.
Contrary to her reputation, Hawkma wasn’t always the fear-mongering bird of prey we know today. It was a long and difficult ride up to the top of the Pantheon of Columbia animals, which to date includes, according to tipsters and commenters, Nathaniel the peregrine falcon, Goose Robbins, a bull named Moo Bullinger, a peacock, and a Morningside Park turkey.
When we first met Hawkma in 2007, she was just a juvenile red tailed hawk having a bit of a tough time settling into the neighbirdhood. She is reported to have frequently gotten into skirmishes with the local birds who, wary of her plans for campus takeover, would try to drive her out. She stood her ground though, boldly defending her new territory against aggressive squirrels and bullying crows.
The feisty little bird’s constant reminders (in the form of bloody massacres) that she wasn’t going anywhere prompted a little research on her family tree, revealing that Hawkma was the abandoned son (sex change or different bird, we discuss ahead) of Pale Male, “the first raptor bird of NYC, who nested on the most expensive piece of property on 5th Avenue a few years back and somehow “lured” a female to his nest with magical pheromones and now has many offspring nesting all over NYC.”
This also marked the first of many times Hawkmadinebwoggers would agonize over Hawkma’s sex. Whether they were merely spotting different birds, or the change in tail feather colors was a symptom of a cross-dressing hero with Gender Identity Disorder, no one can quite say for certain. Although Bwog is not certified to make a diagnosis, we will quote the professionals who say that “problems in the individual’s family interactions or family dynamics have been postulated as having some causal impact.”
Male or female, this bird’s antics soon began to catch on in the blogosphere. People began to revel in watching him/her tear pigeons to shreds and hack squirrels apart. S/he became the subject of poetry and the muse behind notable artwork.
Although Bwog reported, to much disbelief, Hawkma’s death in April 2008, the bird was soon spotted several times afterward. More reason to believe there was more than one face to this hero? Some might agree with you. In fact, photographs tipped in may rule out beyond argument the question of a Buffy-esque resurrection. However, as the discussion following Hawkma’s first obituary post indicates, people were not willing to believe this.
“As if Hawkmadinejad is even mortal. Hawkmadinejad doesn’t go hunting, he goes killing.”
He or a she, one face or three, Hawkmadinejad was no longer seen as merely a bird.
“Hawkmadinejad has really given us a sense of community. When I saw this post, my jaw dropped and I was truly heartbroken for a second.”
Hawkmadinejad was, is, an institution. An unofficial mascot that brings us together during reading and final weeks, leaving us in awe at the absolute sublimity with which s/he descends on his/her unsuspecting prey. A creature through whom we, perhaps somewhat unhealthily, vicariously achieve catharsis as s/he serenely rips his/her victims limb from limb. A being whose life has broadened our horizons, and sparked an interest in the ornithological community beyond our campus. Hawkma transcends corporeality.
So Hawkma the legend lives (and dies) on, photographed, admired and feared from afar and up close, on the lawns of Butler, outside Earl Hall, off campus, and on Facebook. This is one ruthless dictator that Columbia can’t do without.