November 2009
I am grateful for the Philadelphia Dog Show

We were flipping channels yesterday while cooking up our big annual yum fest. And there was the Philadelphia dog show. I don't know about you, but "Best in Show" has to be one of my top ten movies of all time.


The real dog show is infinitely deeper, darker comedy. I was riveted, and laughing to the point of tears. I started snapping pictures of the tv screen.

"Sadie" the "charismatic" black Scottish Terrier won this year. The only dog ever, apparently to sweep all four Philadelphia area shows in the "cluster." This little Sadie is now top dog, ranked #1 in AMERICA.

I just loved the one-armed judge whose tuxedo's right arm had been closed off and sewn shut.


And just like the movie, the lady judge was brutal with examining every crack and crevice of these pups' anatomies.


As the camera tracked past the dogs in each category, my eyes kept wandering to the outfits of the handlers. There were woefully outdated and scuffed and dried out men's shoes. Tacky gym socks with those beige ‘easy comfort' striders, panty hose and a tan suit. The dogs were primped shampooed and plucked pulled, mercilessly pinched into perfection, but their handlers got lost somewhere in an eighties thrift store.

(not sure what the inside scoop was here)


I imagine the wardrobe budget is pretty tight, after all, the dogs are the ones who are supposed to shine. And these people are probably not in it for the money.



Christopher Guest must have thought he died and went to heaven when he started mining this world for its riches.

(nice coke placement)


I kept wondering what the people were taking in and out of their mouths.


With all that training and handling, why did they have to keep bribing these prima donna dogs with treats? And really, with all this flu stuff going around, is it a good idea to be sharing raw hide chews with someone who is probably licking their own bum a fair amount?

Anyway. I, of course, because I may have BEEN a golden retriever in another life was partial to… the golden retriever. But also was pulling heavily for the chunky love black lab named Riley. (my dog "Rex" rest in peace, was a black lab/ husky mix.)

I thought maybe he'd had too many bacon snacks, but apparently the breed is supposed to be that burly. "Hooty" the Norfolk terrier was wicked cute, "Lola" the beagle had me at first yelp, and my heart really did skip a beat for "Luke" the Rhodesian Ridgeback. What a hunk.

I started looking into some of the specs of the contenders on the internet. It is a complicated and fascinating world. And the language is just stunning.

Some of these dogs have quite a pedigree:
"Cabincreek Camelot Kodiac at Bluemountain" is listed...
call name: Kodi
Sex: Dog

And my favorite:
"Brookberry's Wish Come True, by ch Ghoststone Nipntuck Dressed to Impress – ch Camelot's Je T'adore
Are those the dog's parents?? It just sounds so romantic.


Not sure if this is a breed yet in the manuals, but he looks about how we felt at the end of the day. Happy Thanksgiving.

seconds anyone?


Willy the dancer, and Lloyd Van Brunt
There is a nursing home right near my apartment in Harlem. I often see the residents hanging outside for a smoke or a ramble to the corner and back. There are the regulars and the sporadics. But Willy is out there every single day, sometimes for hours at a time. I finally had my camera with me when he was working on his moves today.

I filmed him for about five minutes, but couldn't coax him to stop and talk. One of the nurses called over "stay safe Willy, have a good holiday as she left for Thanksgiving." She told me "it's his exercise." He must have been a sight on the dance floor when he was younger.


It's hard to tell how old he is now because he IS in excellent shape. Ok, his pants are a little stained and his upper back slightly stooped.

But his particular combination and sequence of steps are pretty great. Imagine a slow cross between the hokey pokey, some old time calisthenics and classic salsa dancing.


That's Willy.


Today I met another resident. He was happy to talk, so I asked him about the place. I've been curious for a while now. He told me the food was pretty bad, but the doctors were ok. They take most of his social security, but that leaves him with about 187 dollars a month for his smokes and printer paper, and a wistful, twinkly smirk.

He's working on a novel. He said his family, who is wealthy and lives in Brooklyn, doesn't want anything to do with him until he has more success as a writer. He's working on a novel called "High C." it's about cocaine. He was frustrated because he can't get his printer working today.


He told me a little about the main character driving down to Miami in a Cadillac to meet up with the sheriff and another cop and a small plane coming in stocked with F- something or other, (high end stuff) (He got a bunch of books out of the library to do research.) I said, "Oh, so it wasn't inspired by personal experience?" He said, "Oh, no, I've never done cocaine in my life. I just wanted to write a bestseller."


His name is Lloyd Van Brunt. "like taking the brunt of things" he told me. His ancestors came over in 1622 with a chest full of pieces of 8's. I thought that might be a gun or something. "No, it's a kind of coin." (I felt so dumb.) He said he's written some poetry and novels and that I could find him on amazon. I told him I'd look him up and buy his books. Sure enough the book that really caught my eye - "Delirium" - is out of print. But I'm thinking of getting the one about his early days.


This time of year seems to evaporate my boundaries and borders. I find myself wanting to know more of the stories behind the faces in this city. There is such fathomless cruelty, and, thank goodness, boundless generosity and joy. All in the least likely places.

St. George and the Dragon

I went back to "Tender Buttons" to find something cool for the 'military cardigan' I've almost finished. There's a cool winking lady in the sidewalk across the street. "Go ahead, she said, get the pewter."


St. George and the dragon won out.


According to Wikipedia, St. George was one of those saints who is "justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God."


Who really cares about the dragon... at least he was gallant and true to the church even when tempted. Before he was executed for not going pagan, he gave all his wealth to the poor "to prepare himself" and apparently held out through a few lacerations on a wheel of swords (they resuscitated him three times) until they finally had to decapitate him to kill him.


I suppose the dragon is akin to our own demons and distractions. When I wear the sweater I will resist those villains, and the lacerations of the whole cruel business, and persevere in the cause of song.


Mary Karr, Mary Karr, you RULE

Have to quote her last page from "LIT:"


"Every now and then we enter the presence of the numinous and deduce for an instant how we're formed, in what detail the force that infuses every petal might specifically run through us, wishing only to lure us into our full potential. Usually, the closest we get is when we love, or when some beloved beams back, which can galvanize you like steel and make resilient what had heretofore only been soft flesh. It can start you singing as the lion pads over to you, its jaws hinging open, its hot breath on you. Even unto death."


this is after 385 riveting pages. drunk, recovered, writing, failing, falling, writing, finding faith.


then i found her reading her poetry on youtube, and then i had to rush out and find her poetry books too. how did i miss them?


and now I'm dumbstruck. how can i write a song that packs that much punch? I love you, Mary Karr. I will try.


Hamburg November

I love TOWER OF POWER. Once in a while I get to come along and be a wife and a fan. (My husband manages the band.)


Last week they played a ROCKING show in Hamburg, and one of the biggest delights was the young, REALLY young fans in the very front. This little boy was absolutely rapt for the whole show. His sister and brother sang along with every WORD.


The funky Doc Kupka was in fine form...


Larry Braggs whipped the crowd into a frenzy


That littlest fan even scored the setlist at the end of the night.


The next day, i got to hang out with my Rock Star friend Johannes Strate (from the band Revolverhead.) We decided we should write a hit song.


Later that evening, after dipping in to some very fine wine...


Dannie and Patrick and I started experimenting with our cameras. (You may remember Dannie, Patrick and Johannes from the incredible "feels like home" concert.


Anyway, they had seen something somewhere about exposure and flashlights and so we spent a good three hours perfecting our technique.






jb squared.


Dannie and the birds.


Johannes and Patrick waiting for Godot...


The next "feels like home" concert is December 5, so if you're anywhere near Hamburg, (Germany) -- GO!! I promise you will have an incredible, lovely, heart filling evening. If I am anywhere nearby, Johannes and I have promised to premier our new song if it's finished.



The red shoes, Harlem, faith.

My husband and I walked all over Harlem this weekend. We had never really thought of it as a tourist destination, but after the fifth clump of Europeans with cameras clicking at some greasy bodega, we figured it out.


It was Sunday, and the best part was passing churches in full tilt. Hoarse-throated fire and brimstone preachers, choirs busting out. A couple of mosques with mournful strains of the Koran wafting. The Corinthian church, Abyssinnian church, Church of god, resurrection, hope, forgiveness, expectation, redemption. 


I'm not sure how everyone in my neighborhood is doing. But it seems when times get tougher, the liquor stores and the churches have to step it up. Wall Street may be having a record year. But a lot of the rest of the city, the country, all the other "Main Streets" are certainly suffering.


I do remember fleeting feelings of faith. Usually it was when something was terribly wrong. Maybe it was just stubborn will - If I could just pray hard enough, fill my mind with the right thing for long enough...


Faith is different now. Mostly it's suspended. Filters through once in a while, but in quirky and personal ways.


There's a freshly remastered version of "The Red Shoes" in limited distribution right now. Apparently in the original Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, a vain little girl wouldn't take off her red shoes, even when she went to church. Eventually the shoes become her punishment, they won't stop dancing... she finally begs to have her feet chopped off, but still her severed feet keep dancing and bar her from going to church to prove that she has changed. She stays, praying humbly at home, finally finds true faith, and is accepted in to heaven where she escapes the unforgiving shoes.


In the movie, Moira Shearer just throws herself in front of a train because she's made to decide between her art and her personal life. She's misunderstood, tortured, alone. The shoes dance her right onto the tracks.


Not great choices really.


I think I'll stick with my husband's favorite advice: "You just can't worry about the mule going blind. You gotta sit in the wagon and hold the line."

Place Vendome, mythology, mortality.

I love the quote at the end of the obituary today in the NY Times.


Edward Rothstein writes about Claude Levi-Strauss's legacy, (no, not the blue jeans!) and his work called "Mythologiques:" 


"The final volume ends by suggesting that the logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them. In his view, myths speak through the medium of humanity and become in turn, the tools with which humanity comes to terms with the world's greatest mystery: the possibility of not being, the burden of mortality.


It's that pesky nagging nightmare, oh yeah, this is it! One day I will not be here. This reality is so fleeting. So let's get on with it.


Which led me to pictures of my last day in Paris, place Vendome.


The clouds were trying to tell me something. Not sure still what it was.


The wall of fame at the recording studio,


the red chandelier.


I, superstitious as always, think there is meaning in these random things. My own coping myths I suppose, filling those gaping holes of feeling that eventual possibility of just not being.

Smelly Tree Season, HALLOWEEN, the marathon

Every fall, a mysterious sweet-sour smell dominates the walk to the subway from my apartment. I may have mentioned it before, but each October/November is a new uncomfortable recognition. They're back. It's the smelly trees.



I don't know what kind of tree is it, and I don't know what kind of fruit it's peddling, but it is something like sour milk and baby spit up and dog poop blended. Does this attract or ward off predators? Somehow help with pollinization/procreation of this strange species? I'll never know. Ronnie and I documented this season's scourge.

Then we escaped to the village to explore.


We found.... DOGS.... everywhere. In every shop we entered. There was Shmoopy


and Pooky


Glum Gus


and happy Gus


We moved on. A green bicycle to die for


Ronnie, the squirrel whisperer


We took some artist shots for her resume


On the way home we saw a guy with a psychedelic leg. 

things were getting a little funny, the floor wouldn't stay flat when we went for tea. So we hurried back to the apartment.


Halloween was better than usual. Sometimes we've waited forlornly all night. No one comes to our door. We end up eating most of the candy. But this year. The next door neighbors showed up!!

The Cappilinos as Julia and Paul


There were a couple of disco girls in wild neon afro wigs and sequin tights.


And the cutest little monkey. She kept giving ME her candy, and her pacifier, and her hat....


the marathon was fun. I was so happy i didn't have to try to get anywhere.

girl pack


Number 2


I was walking down fifth as the 5 hour stragglers were coming in. That, for me is the cool part. There are so many people out there just cheering everyone on. They'll yell out whatever name they see and try to propel them down the avenue. I saw one mom and daughter with a huge cardboard sign, "Go DAD, GO!!!!!"


Dad showed up right as I was walking by and stopped to hug them both. Then I overheard him gasping to his wife, "My back is killing me, I'm never fucking doing this AGAIN!"