November 30, 2012
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…Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex..
–Pablo Neruda, A Dog Has Died
If Neruda is right…and you are in that heaven for dogdom, then there are not only sticks for mouthing but streets for you to continue crossing, looking both ways first, in that careful way that you have. Thank you for loving Phil and Jill so much, for walking them so often and so well, for the crossed paws and the philosophy, and for being their family in the sondaughterloverpartnersisterbrothermotherfather way that dogs so often are. Thank you for pushing your nose into my crotch when I visited. I know you meant well. I did too. The world is going to miss you. It already does. Phil says no other word like he says “Alfie.”
Photos by Jill Weinstein
September 13, 2012
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When Erica and Marnie adopted Truman the hound dog they didn’t know that they were also adopting a foxtail that was buried deep inside of his chest. They found out three weeks later, when he almost died. Luckily a team of surgeons saved Truman and he is back to sniffing, walking, looking philosophical, and other hounddoggery. The trouble? His first four weeks with his adopted family cost them more than 10,000 dollars.
This Friday Truman is having a fundraiser and it’s going to be great. Come to El Rio in San Francisco from 4-7pm September 13th, for happy hour. Drink proceeds go to Truman’s healthcare expenses and so do $5 raffle tickets for wonderful things like original drawings by Wendy MacNaughton, Go-Go’s vinyl, massages, signed books by Mary Roach, and more.
September 11, 2012
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Yesterday I was on Forum with Michael Krasny on KQED, along with Sharon Maidenberg of the Headlands Center for the Arts, and artists Paolo Salvagione, Phil Ross and the musician Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billie. We were talking about art, animals, music, fungus, clocks, and most of all, the Headlands 30th Anniversary/Birthday party that’s happening this weekend. Come out. Say hi.
And if you missed the show, it’s streaming on KQED.
(the image at top is a shot of the wall in the Green Room at KQED in San Francisco, they give you a marker while you’re waiting to go into the studio)
October 19, 2011
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A tasmanian devil can supposedly eat 40% of its body weight in thirty minutes. According to Animal Planet, this is like a human eating 216 hamburgers on their half-hour lunch break.
Bandit, a raccoon that was fond of potato chips, weighed more than 75 pounds when he died (more than three times the weight of a normal raccoon). He was named “The World’s Fattest Raccoon” by the Guinness Book of World Records and was a regular at Ice Cream World, a shop in the Pennsylvania town where he lived with his human family. The owner of the shop told USA Today that he would watch him hold a cup of blue raspberry slush with his paws and drink through a straw. “He was a good customer,” he said.
Bandit though, had a thyroid problem and lived in a human home. Tasmanian devils aren’t greedy because they feel like it, it’s just who they are.
Wall Street has no such excuse.
“This is not a protest it is an affirmation.
‘I contain multitudes…Do I contradict myself? Then I contradict myself.’ Walt Whitman”
The top two photos are mine, taken during a protest in San Francisco at the Wells Fargo Headquarters on October 12, 2011. The bottom photograph was taken by the writer Amitav Ghosh on October 13 in NYC.
Also, Lemony Snicket with 13 observations on Occupy Wall Street. “Number 3: Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.”
October 11, 2011
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I am taking a break from making sentences in order to read them, for a few minutes, this Sunday. If you are in the Bay Area this weekend…come by the Headlands Center for the Arts for the fall open house. Directions and info. Not only will there be writers reading (from 1-2pm in building 944) and open studios, but there will also be mac and cheese.
August 18, 2011
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There have been buffalo in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park since 1890. The first two (a male and female) were from the small group of freely roaming survivors left at the end of the 19th century.
At one time there were dozens of bison in Golden Gate. Today there are three. And they are old. Two died just last month. Apparently seven more are coming in October from a ranch in Redding. While the first bison to come to San Francisco came from the Plains, the ones there today were given to the park as a birthday gift for Diane Feinstein from her husband.
Good Shield Aguilar played for the bison on August 16th. Like them, Good Shield wasn’t born in the Plains. But he is Lakota. And he believes that buffalo are not the only ones to have genetic memories.
When he isn’t playing music he’s working in Montana for the Buffalo Field Campaign.
As for the bison in San Francisco, the official park website raises expectations:
“Overall, don’t expect a grand show of movement and daring feats when visiting the bison. They tend to keep to themselves and really don’t engage in any exciting activities. They appear in the standing position for most of the day and sometimes sit about. If you are lucky, one of the bison may slowly travel from the field to the corral.”
Here is an outtake
July 12, 2011
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Yesterday, while walking the long way home down Page St in San Francisco, I saw two small blonde dogs on the sidewalk. They had pointy ears and the kind of coats that remind me of tablecloths. Their leashes were tied together and they seemed to be thinking about something. As I got closer I heard piano music. It was loud. But I couldn’t see a piano. Or a person playing it. Or anyone at all with the dogs.
Then I saw it. Behind two large trash cans, one for compost, one for recycling. In front of the old food bank.
I stood and watched for a while. Passersby stopped to pet the blondes. They ambled about but didn’t leave their spot on the sidewalk. Eventually the playing stopped and a man stood up from behind the cans. His name was Mathew. He introduced me to the dogs: Mama and Fia. Mama is the mama of Fia. Fia is a bit of a fighter and likes to play tug-of-war with Mathew’s sleeves while he’s talking. Mathew said that he’s been walking the dogs down to play the piano for them since the food bank put it out on the street. He also says he feeds them chicken though it’s gotten hard because his rent was raised to 830 dollars a month and affording chicken on top of this is difficult and he’s not sure how long he can do it.
I didn’t have my video camera or a sound recorder but I asked Matthew if he could come back today. We said we hoped the piano would still be there and that it wouldn’t be raining. He gave me his card, said he no longer had a phone. We agreed on 9am.
This morning at 9am it was raining lightly. When I showed up the piano was still there. A bag of human shit was next to it. A broken umbrella and a muddy comic book too.
The man who used to run the food bank said no one with dogs had been there. And the only person to play the piano so far was a man who walked around the city looking for pianos to play.
If you see Mathew, please tell him I’m looking for him.