Is that toothpaste on your shoulder, or are you happy to see me?

Instead of wasting time talking about ways to scare or kill off the large, creepy crow population in the City of Norwich, we could be banking our future on it. But we’d rather chase off the last good thing – using trained falcons, no less – that’s ever happened to this town.

Why? Because we’re worried about our image. Worried that crows – mostly because they’re obnoxious, gross and widely characterized as a symbol death – will be what finally buries Norwich. (So it really wasn’t a lack of vision and general complacency?)

The truth is, our real image is cawing at us from right under our noses (actually from the trees above, from where our image also drops what many believe to be an arrant squirt of toothpaste when they first notice it on their shoulders). We just have to embrace it.

Like it or not, crows right now are our biggest claim-to-fame, and not to mention our biggest natural resource; like coal is to Pennsylvania. And like coal, crows are black, dirty and worth a fortune. How are they worth a fortune? Tourism. Don’t believe me? Just imagine seeing this “mysterious getaways” spot on the Travel Channel: “Next on our list is Norwich, NY, one of the most mysterious, scariest places to visit on earth. Here, satanic birds, for no apparent reason, terrorize, horrify and poop heavily on hardworking, God-fearing citizens just trying to live regular lives in this once-normal, now cursed town. For the off-the-beaten-path-type traveler – with its modest accommodation and adventure packages – this place is a steal.” You’re going to tell me people wouldn’t come from all over after seeing that footage and hearing that pitch? It’d be like “Field of Dreams,” except not as touching. And not only would they come, they’d spend a lot of money, too, on crow-themed tours, crow-themed lodging, crow-themed restaurants and crow-themed souvenirs. (Possible souvenir shirt slogan: “That’s not toothpaste on my collar, I just spent the night in Norwich!”) The city could become a real-life Hitchcock movie every day of the year. Sure, people would be finding enjoyment in our misfortune – but who cares, it’s revenue!



There could even be a Crow Festival. It’d be like the Pumpkin Festival, except this event would have a real shot at shattering not one, but a number of Guinness world records: Largest gathering of crows for an extended period of time in a non-war-torn city; largest amount of excrement to ever fall from the sky at one time in populated area (breaking previous record set by the Dave Matthew’s Band tour bus in Chicago); and largest concentration of West Nile virus in a square mile without a linked fatality. The festival could also feature crow chip bingo, performances by notable 1980s Goth bands like The Cure and, obviously, tributes to the cult movie classic, “The Crow.”

Speaking of The Cure and “The Crow,” it’s also worth marketing the city to all the people out there that actual like crows. They do exist, usually pretending to be dark, depressed and disturbed – alienating themselves most places they go. Let’s give them a home. All we have to do is add a few underground poetry/coffee joints downtown, open a bar called “Dark Destinations” and start showing more indie flicks at the movie theater. Norwich could become the Goth capital of the world (the city is already populated with weirdoes, why not welcome a few more who are willing to spend some money?)

After considering those possibilities, shouldn’t we be attracting more crows? Yet we want to chase them away, our most abundant resource. Why? Because it’s easier to see the downside of things. Crows = bad. Crows gone = good. But any good coach will tell you; play to your strengths. It’s the philosophy all winning teams are built around. It’s not rocket science, either. Do the best with what you’ve got. Yes, crows are not a popular bird. They are not swallows. But in its own way, Norwich is San Juan Capistrano. And with a few adjustments – like carrying broad, rugged umbrellas on an unclouded day – it’s a way of life I’m sure we could crow to love.

McGuire was the captain of his J.V. football team and a “Student of the Week” award-winner in the 6th grade. His column appears every Thursday.

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