Sunday, December 31, 2006

Let's give this dog a happy new year!!!


Sweetness!
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
This is, once again, Jambalaya, the dog whose photo appears in a lost pet poster at the front of THE DOGS WHO FOUND ME, and who, at the book's end, is shipped off to Ohio to find a new home. She's still in a shelter in Ohio, more than a year later.

She's also a bit pudgier than she was in this photo. Apparently the staff like to spoil her. They also say that she loves people, but would probably do best as the only dog in a home, or possibly with a male dog only.

Does anyone want to give her a new life?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Can anyone help a dog in Atlanta???

I got a call yesterday--on my cell phone, which made it even more surprising--from a stranger in Atlanta looking for help. He'd read my book, and I guess managed to find a listing for my cell number somewhere. The man who called is from California, but currently visiting a friend in Atlanta who has been hospitalized with health problems. The friend's dog needs a place to go--his owner won't be able to care for him again. They are hoping to avoid taking the dog to a shelter, but he doesn't know where to go, particularly since he is from out of town. Another Atlanta area person had been caring for the dog, but decided that they couldn't continue doing so indefinately.

If you know of any organizations who can help, please email me or post them here. Thanks!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Those crazy year-end best-of lists

All of those crazy end of the year lists are popping up, and as usual, there are some bewilderingly popular choices and omissions. That's the fun of them. Or perhaps even the point.

Still, I can't pretend I'm not baffled by the appearance of The Queen on nearly every film list in the nation. I love director Stephen Frears, and thought the notion of a behind-closed doors look at the political manouvering behind Diana's funeral had potential, but the film itself was really...disappointing. Very tele-film-y, if you know what I mean, with lots of expository dialogue and a bit too much fawning over stock footage of the real Diana. And the worst metaphor ever: The Queen admires a stag from the distance and later is moved to visit its dead corpse after it is shot by visitors on a neighboring estate. UGH. My own choices for most haunting films of the year (likely to be revised daily as my memory comes back to me): the nearly flawless Half Nelson and the flawed but brilliant Babel. I also liked Marie Antoinette, even while seeing in it everything that most other people hated.

On the books side of things: Fun Home is deservedly topping the lists, and Amy Hempel got a well-deserved boost from the NYT. Sara Gran's Dope made the list at the St. Louis Post Dispatch. A friend told me she was sure my book would be on many lists. "No it won't," I assured her. This surprised her, until I reminded her that it didn't really get that many actual book reviews. It got a lot of "coverage" but not necessarily reviews that regarded its quality as a book. Or a piece of writing. (Earlier in the year, after reading a galley of Thomas Healy's "dog memoir" I Heard You Calling in the Night, I joked with friends that it would certainly get the serious review coverage my book missed, because the author is both foreign and an alcoholic. Foreign and alcoholic=literature. And...I was right--its on a few lists at the end of the year too. I should mention that I liked the book, but also felt a bit distanced from it--there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on that didn't click with me. But definately worth checking out.)

And in another category altogether, Sula tops the list of best snore in my house. That's Sula the dog, not the Toni Morrison book. If you listen really hard, you can probably hear her right now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Aimee Mann on deciphering an artist contract

On the absurdity of contracts: Aimee Mann

Here's Aimee on her insane contract war with Epic Records, who refused to release her work but was holding her to a ten record contract, so she was unable to record for anyone else. Best part: her reading aloud the most convoluted clauses.

For those of you who haven't yet experienced the joy of a publishing contract followed by bewildering royalty statements in which you are paid fractions of the actual rate...just substitute publishing for music here. It is really the same thing.

This clip ends with the happy ending of her landing a deal with Imago. A year later they went under financially, and she had to spend several years getting out of that deal too.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Does this look like Che Guevara?


The Dogs Who Found Me
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
There seems to be some confusion with the audio book of The Dogs Who Found Me. Although it is listed as available now on Blackstone Audio's website, Barnes and Noble lists it as being released December 28th. And if you go to the Amazon page for the book, the links for the audio versions take you to an audio version of the life of Che Guevara.

I guess there is something revolutionary about Sula.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Jeffersons

I voted early Saturday for for Karen Carter, not that it made a difference. William Jefferson, who is under investigation after feds found $90,000 in his freezer, was reelected to Congress, where he will do nothing for anyone. I'm sure most of the press will look at this as another example of the racial divide in New Orleans, although both candidates are African American. The real factor was the vote in suburban Jefferson Parish, where the crazy Sheriff came out against Carter after she reminded everyone that it was Jefferson Parish that held refugees at gunpoint after they crossed the Mississippi River bridge on foot during the flood. Jefferson Parish didn't want any of "those people". And voters there overwhelmingly chose Jefferson for Congress.

After the storm, those of us who live in Orleans Parish were forced to drive out to Jefferson Parish for food, appliances and other services, since they were mostly spared there. And, more than a year later, businesses are flourishing there, while Orleans Parish still struggles.

I think it is time to stop supporting Jefferson Parish. If we're going to spend money, let's keep it on our own turf.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Candy is sweet...and looking for a home


Candy
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I've known Candy since she was a puppy at the Louisiana SPCA last spring. Unfortunately, she's still living there, where she's become a staff favorite; they would love for Candy to finally find a home. If you are interested, you can find more information about adoptions by going to the Louisiana SPCA website.


From one of the volunteers:
When she first came to us in March she was painfully shy and curled up in the back of her kennel if anyone approached. She was comfortable with staff and volunteers but didn't present well to potential adopters. We started bringing her into the offices so she could socialize more and be around a variety of people. Lori Hauser made her pet of the week numerous times so she would be up front where everyone first enters the warehouse. All of this helped bring out her personality and in the last couple of months she has blossomed into a lovely dog, still a little timid, but she warms up quickly and has the silliest personality. She loves to play with other dogs, and she loves affection.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sula & Me on YouTube

Me & Sula on YouTube

Here's a little clip of me and Sula talking about the book and Zephyr's diagnosis of my heart problem. The video was shot this summer, just down the street from our house. We were both a little hot and sweaty by the time we got there.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Holiday gift suggestions

Pit Bull Rescue Central is continuing to take orders for signed copies of The Dogs Who Found Me, so if you are in the market to combine holiday shopping with raising money for homeless pit bulls, you can shop with them here.

Otherwise, here are some other holiday suggestions:

"We Are the Cat" by Terry Bain
"The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel" by Amy Hempel
"My Friend Leonard" by James Frey
"Dope" by Sara Gran
"Triangle" by Katharine Weber
"Earthquake Exodus, 1906" by Richard Schwartz
"The Emperer's Children" by Claire Messud
"Mostly Bob" by Tom Corwin
"The Underdog" by Julia Szabo
"Shelter Dogs" by Traer Scott
"After the Flood" by Robert Poladori
"Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
"Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel
"Everything I'm Cracked Up" by Jen Trynin

Friday, December 01, 2006

Now your doggie can have his own Kiehl's


kiehls for dogs
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
When I was doing charity events with Kiehl's last spring and through the summer, I was let in on a secret: their line of doggie products might be arriving sooner than some of us expected. And now it is here! I haven't tried the stuff yet, but I'm pretty sure it must be great.

Pit Bulls save the lives of two families on Thanksgiving Day

This came to me last week via Ledy VanKavage, via Jane Berkey, via Karen Delise:

In Ireland, a Staffordshire Terrier rescued his family from a fatal fire; the same thing happened, Thanksgiving day, in Kansas. What's particularly interesting in the Kansas report is the video, in which the couple talk about being uninsured, because the insurance company wouldn't give coverage after they decided on a pit bull as the family pet.

The Dogs Who Found Me audiobook on sale

I still haven't heard a word of it, but the unabridged audiobook of The Dogs Who Found Me is apparently now available at Blackstone Audio. It should be appearing everywhere else, including Audible.com, in the next few weeks. The reader is Patrick Lawlor, who called me before recording it, and seemed like a good guy. So if anyone out there gets a chance to hear it, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Orleans reading Thursday 11/30

I'll be reading Thursday 11/30 at Belladonna Day Spa on Magazine Street. There will be drinks served from 6-8pm, and in addition to reading a bit from the current book, I'll be reading/talking about my trip to Costa Rica this summer and the spay/neuter program that is being done there. So if you are in town, come by. No purchase neccessary, although they have some nifty dog stuff at Belladonna.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Orleans Athletic Club Revisited; Cingular Dumped; and other reverse progress reports

I posted a few months back about visiting the New Orleans Athletic Club, which is one of the oldest clubs in the country. It is a kind of nice place, although the equipment is kind of crappy. Mostly, it is convenient to my neighborhood, and kind of silly, since there are old chandeliers amid the workout rooms. At the time of my first visit, they still hadn't even rounded up their staff and instructors, so it was kind of odd to me that they were feeling generous about asking for 50% of their intiation fee and a one year iron clad contract. Since I was going to be out of town every other weekend, it seemed I might as well wait. So today I stop by and discover that they are still offering 50% off the initiation, but they've actually doubled the fee. And the membership staff still has nothing much to say other than that. I came home with a list of their classes, but since most of them are offered at the same times that I'm teaching, my decision is still on hold.

Last week, I finally switched cell phone providers from Cingular to Sprint. I won't recap the hideous experience most of New Orleans has been having with Cingular. Nor will I go into how absolutely inane every encounter with their pathetic customer service has become. I'll only say it was worth every penny of the penalty for canceling early (although actually my contract ended last year--they extended it in another of their endless mistakes). Yet, after ordering a phone from Sprint, I was told that it would arrive in two days. A week later, it was here. The instructions said that it would be locked and gave me a code to unlock it. It was unlocked already. It was also already activated. I called customer service and discovered that I already owed over $100 for service. My contract began the minute I contacted them, it turns out, even though I had no phone. And last week was the end of that billing period, so I was paying for a week that I could have never used. They also added several packages without my permission, and charged me the activation fee that was supposed to be waived. The difference between Sprint and Cingular, aside from the fact that they actually have a working signal, is that Sprint was able to quickly correct all of these errors. Cingular would have transferred me from one office to another until finally I gave up.

Meanwhile, I have yet to dump Capital One and transfer everything to Whitney Bank, but it will happen. The latest insanity is that they lost--completely lost--a large deposit that I made with one of their tellers last week. And it seemed as if I had to walk them through the process of tracking it down. The height of incompetence, but I guess as long as they keep cheating their customers, they'll be doing well financially themselves. They have to pay for all those matching polo shirts somehow. (Capital One actually has their staff wear cheap shirts with the company logo, like their working at McDonald's or something. And they probably were.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Reviews I'm thankful for...

As we near the end of the year, I thought I'd post this collection of some of the very nice reviews I've received. Thank you everyone!

"Ken Foster's new memoir, "The Dogs Who Found Me," is a tale of love and survival—through 9/11, through a near-fatal heart problem, through Hurricane Katrina…It's a memoir that will appeal to dog-lovers, for sure, but it's also a human story of considerable dimensions, framed by national tragedies…"
—The New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Foster's style is blunt, funny and poignant. He smoothly melds the events of his turbulent life along with the gritty details of rescuing abandoned dogs into a piece that goes to the heart."--The San Francisco Chronicle

"...a beautiful and funny account of dog love...This light, deeply felt chronicle puts that best-selling confection "Marley and Me" in the shade."--The Plain Dealer

"(Foster is) matter-of-fact, sometimes angry, always open-hearted and often full of wonder...At the core of it, this is a book about living a decent life and taking care along the way. You don't have to rescue stray pit bulls to know how important that is."-- The Oregonian

"(The Dogs Who Found Me) might sound dangerously fuzzy and warm, but it maintains an edge of wisdom and self-awareness...Foster has led an untidy life, and he's lucky his pets have taught him the value of letting things get messy."--Time Out New York

"Generosity and gratitude power this compelling account of the reciprocal nature of rescue. Ken Foster illuminates a profound lesson about saving a life: Doing it makes you able to do it."
–Amy Hempel, author of The Dog of the Marriage and Reasons to Live

"I read this at once, and could hardly bear to put it down. This is a wonderful, strange book, beautiful and funny and moving. It delivers something crucial about bravery, the human spirit, and the place that dogs occupy in our landscapes. It's about confronting need, vulnerability and love, and responding."--Roxana Robinson

"Pitbulls pitbulls pitbulls, and a man, like me, who loves them. Alternately brutal and sentimental, like the lives of the dogs he rescues. A very very cool book." --James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard

"Ken Foster had no idea when he began taking in strays that he'd be
the one finding salvation in The Dogs Who Found Me."—Vanity Fair

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kansas City Fox News airs Dangerous Dog report

Someone just sent a link to a Fox News report that features my book, as well as several images from my website including Clive Barker and Einstein. The report is actually pretty good and can be viewed here

OJ Book Cancelled!!!

If there was nothing surprising about Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation publishing OJ's "confession" via their HarperCollins division, then imagine the happy shock of hearing the publication and television special have been cancelled.

Rupert Murdoch: “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

We should all send him a note of thanks. Seriously.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The OJ "confession"

Where do I even begin?

When I heard about this book being released, in spite of its being reported by mainstream media, I didn't believe it. In case you have missed it, OJ has "authored" a "speculative" book titled "If I Did It." The cover features OJ with the the word If in white and I Did It in red, so that the first thing you see is just his face and "I Did It." And, inside, he writes about how he would have killed his wife and Ron Goldman, if he did.

Twelve years ago he vowed to find the killers. Now, for 3.5 million, he's willing to describe in detail what it would have been like to kill his wife and Ron. It is hard to believe that if he was guilty he would be willing to confess. Yet even harder to understand why a grief stricken ex-husband would mar his wife's memory in such a disgusting way.

What do the kids think of this?

I should mention, I guess, that when I worked in publishing in the late 90s, I worked for William Morrow, which pubished a book by the Goldman family. I didn't work directly on the book, but did get to know Kim Goldman socially. Even if she was just out in a dive bar in the East Village, strangers would come up to her and say "You're his sister..." and begin telling her what they thought of the whole ordeal. It isn't the kind of thing you can ever get over, but I'm sure that she and other family members of these victims have tried hard to build lives that aren't completely overshadowed by this tragedy and the media circus that surrounded it.

Eventually, Morrow was sold HarperCollins. "If I Did It" is being published by Judith Reagan at...HarperCollins.

I hope that legitimate bookstores at least refuse to put this thing on display.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A tenth printing

The Dogs Who Found Me has gone back for a tenth printing. Or maybe its an eleventh. In any case, its good news, although I had a bet with someone that it would reach a twelth printing by the end of the year, and that might not quite happen.

So certainly I'm rolling in money now, right? Not at all. In fact, I haven't seen a cent from any of these sales, which is totally standard for the way the book business works. Writers get paid twice a year, so at the end of the year, I may get money for the sales from January through June (or in this case March through June); and next summer I may get paid for sales from July through December. But then there are all kinds of quirky accounting logistics, so its hard to plan for any payment at all. Hopefully, when all is said and done, I'll at least break even.

Possibly, I'll do better than that.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pit Bull Rescue Central offers signed copies of the Dogs Who Found Me


Pit Bull Rescue Central
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Pit Bull Rescue Central will be offering signed copies of The Dogs Who Found Me in time for the holidays. The price is $17.00, including priority mail shipping. (you can add up to two additional copies at $12.95 each with no additional shipping charge.)

They now have more information at their site, where you can place an order via PayPal or personal check. Orders must be received by 12/10.

Priscilla, the pit bull therapist

Last month readers of this blog got to meet Nadine, a cat-snuggling pit bull. Here's another of her relatives, Pauline, who works as a therapy dog. Priscilla lives in Richmond, and she visits hospitals and nursing homes to deliver love. And judging from this photo, she'll even kiss a camel.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The lull in blogging...


So Pleased to Meet You
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
It isn't just me. It seems everyone has slowed down a bit. Case's blog is nearly frozen. Zane's isn't far behind. Even Sara Gran has been dormant, aside from her election day post last week. Elizabeth Crane is speechless as well. We're obviously all still reeling from the double whammy of the elections and the Britney/K.Fed divorce.

Meanwhile, here is my favorite photo from last week. Dick is obviously delighted.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election returns: my sister wins another term!


Foster for President
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
My sister, Rebecca Foster, was re-elected last night as President of Pinckney, Michigan. She's also agreed to serve an additional two years as my sister.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, William Jefferson got 30% of the vote leading a field of a zillion candidates for his seat. He'll be in a December run-off with Karen Carter. Also, an ammendment was passed that exempts artists and gallery owners from paying tax on unsold art. This was a nice surprise, since it was the only ammendment that the Times-Picayune had no opinion on. In fact, it had so little of an opinion that the only coverage it warrented was a single sentence that misrepresented the exemption as one of "exemption from property tax."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Free Hugs! I just figured out how to post a video...

And I'm a sucker for stuff like this...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

How to go to Denver without going to Denver

Last year, after the insane pit bull ban went into effect in Denver, I posted something here with the headline "Another reason to never go to Denver."

And yet, here I am in Denver. Sort of.

I've been in Lakewood for the weekend at the Best Friends Summit on "Dangerous" Dogs. I'll post more about all that later. And this afternoon I'll be in Littleton, signing books at Borders from 2-4pm. And then I'll drive through Denver again, without stopping, to get to the airport and return home.

On Friday night, I met the couple who run Mariah's Promise, a sanctuary for pit bulls that have been displaced by the Denver ban. They brought a few of their own dogs with them, and after the conference program checked into a Super 8 motel in Lakewood. They paid the fee for having dogs in their room and got settled in. As they were getting ready for bed, there was a knock on the door.

"We heard you have pit bulls in here. You have to leave."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Have I mentioned...

that I'll be attending the Bad Rap conference in Oakland California this weekend? And I'll be giving a reading Monday October 16th at Books Inc. on Market Street in San Francisco at 7:30.

And how about this: Zephyr is featured as a sort of spokesdog on the website for Ginger's Pet Rescue.

And Brando and Sula both have their own days in Workman Publishing's "Dog Gallery" calendar for 2007. (Photos by Cami Johnson.)

My friend Tom Corwin now has a great website for his book Mostly Bob.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another unpredictable pit bull...


Nadine
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
As you can see from this photo, the mere presence of another animal within the vicinity causes distress and alarm in this extremely territorial dog.

Actually, Nadine, who lives in Ohio, has no problems at all. Her owner, who is studying to be a vet, writes: Your experiences picking up strays mirror my own very much. I have watched 10 or 15 people pass a stray as though she wasn't there before I just led her away, put her in the car and took her home. I also thought you gave amateur dog rescuers excellent advice throughout the text.

I am a pre-veterinary student at Ohio State. I hope to dedicate my first few years as a vet to a pit bull rescue group, helping with things like spay/neuter, vaccinations and general pit bull education. I am a loud but friendly advocate for these guys. I want my dog to be a good example. Every time I am out with my dog (which is often, she goes everywhere with me) is a chance for me to give someone a small bit of truth about pits. They see my well-trained, healthy, happy pit and they say "what kind of dog is that" I proudly say "she is a very nice pit bull, don't believe what you hear about them, there are lots of good ones out there"

My mom also has a pit. Her name is Priscilla and she is a therapy dog. Certified with CGC, HOPE and DELTA. She goes into hospitals and nursing homes with my mom as her handler (one might speculate that this is who I inherited my insane animal obsession from). Priscilla has even scored a few appearances with the local news in Richmond, VA. After news of a pit bull attack, my mom contacted our local station and they interviewed her with Priscilla about her therapy work. NBC 12 called her "an ambassador for the breed".

Monday, October 02, 2006

Clive Barker needs a new home


CliveBarker
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Julia Szabo has been fostering a pit mix in New York; his name is Clive Barker, and if anyone is interested email me and I'll put you in touch. Julia says, "He is approx. 2 years old, a pit mix with green eyes and a very distinctive profile that makes him look like a cousin of Bull Terrier Rufus, Westminster's 2006 top dog.he was picked up as a stray in New Jersey; i am boarding him until i can find him a home - i believe he'd
do best as the only dog. He happens to ADORE women.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Speaking of dangerous dogs...


Mozart and Schiller
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
This is Mozart, a Tallahassee pit bull who loves his cats. His owner was at my reading on Tuesday night at the Warehouse, and shared this photo with me. The following day she emailed a whole series of photos of Mozart and the cats (this is Schiller with him on the chair).

Unfortunately, the day I left town, two other dogs, identified as pit bulls by the police, ran loose and killed a cat. The police shot and killed the dogs. The Tallahassee Democrat has run two stories on this in two days. In the second of them, the report opens with the sensational suggestion that if the cat's owner had been outside, she too would have been killed. The evidence to support this: they had killed the cat, and MAY have bit a man on the leg earlier. The bite on the leg is reported as "not serious." To leap to the certainty that they were bound to kill the cat's owner is really, really crappy reporting. Although it wouldn't surprise me if they make the same kind of projections based on human race as well.

Meanwhile, I want to make clear that there is no excuse for dogs of any breed running loose, or killing a neighbors cat. Or chomping on a leg. It just doesn't mean that they would have certainly done anything more. Dogs frequently have issues with cats.

One of the patterns of press coverage of pit bull incidents is that they open with a charge that has nothing to do with what actually happened. Many times they actually reveal a few paragraphs in that the dogs weren't pit bulls after all. Then, at the very end, they actually have some useful information, for those that get that far. This one includes the following: "Ziegler said his office receives about 500 calls a year about dog and cat bites. This year there have been 69 incidents of bulldog and bulldog-mixes (which includes pit bulls) biting people, Ziegler said." In other words, pit bulls account for perhaps 10 percent of all cases. But they are likely to account for 100 percent of cases reported in the press.

Best Friends Summit on Dangerous Dogs


best friends summit
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I just confirmed that I'll be speaking at the Best Friends Summit on Dangerous Dogs, which will be taking place in Colorado October 27-29. They've put together an extensive three day program, which is available at their website. And, of course, Colorado is a hot bed of BSL.

Note to anyone in Colorado: I'd love to talk with you about your experiences with the Denver ban and the underground railroad that people put together to get the dogs to safety.

JUST ADDED:
I'll also be signing books at Borders in Littleton on Sunday October 29th from 2-4pm.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Femme, femme, femme: Paintings of women in French Society from Daumier to Picasso at the New Orleans Museum of Art March 3-June 2 2007

"With paintings by such artists as Renoir, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso, Femme, femme, femme celebrates the emergence of the modern woman as seen through art. This evolution of women's roles is presented through several themes beginning with timeless images of domestic life in the family circle from birth to death, progressing to the nineteenth-century phenomenon of women working outside the home and the emerging independence of the twentieth-century woman. This exhibition is the fulfillment of a promise made to New Orleans just two months after Hurricane Katrina as the French Minister of Culture and Communication, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and President of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette, led a delegation of French diplomats and art curators on a visit to the city and the New Orleans Museum of Art. They renewed their solidarity with our beleaguered city and their desire to assist NOMA during this unprecedented time by organizing this exhibition of nearly one hundred works from the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and museums throughout France."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Being a pit bull's PR agent

The Tallahassee Democrat has a piece in today's paper: "Hard Being A Pit Bull's PR Agent." It's an interview with me. But more interesting than that, the author of piece, Mark Hinson, talks about his family pit bull, who would leave with any stranger driving a car. It's a pretty nice piece, but there's a strange quote from me at the end that seems out of context. In any case, you can read the interview here.

Also, last week the Memphis Flyer ran a story, "Rescue Me."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evacuation tour: Events in Atlanta and Tallahassee next week


The Dogs Who Found Me
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I haven't been back to either of these cities since I evacuated New Orleans last year, but I knew I'd have to return before my Dogs Who Found Me tour was complete.

Sunday September 24 12:30-2pm
Booksigning at Kiehl's (to benefit Atlanta Pet Rescue)
Lenox Mall, Atlanta

Monday September 25 12:30
Reading, discussion and booksigning
Clayton State University

Tuesday September 26 8pm
Reading, booksigning
The Warehouse

More on PETA and pit bulls

When people challenge PETA on their pit bull stance, they are generally told two things:
1. Let's focus on what we agree on.
2. PETA doesn't think all pit bulls should be euthanized.

So it is curious to learn that as long ago as 2002, PETA sent their "authorities" to give "expert" testimony in a case in Alabama, where two people were hoping to adopt puppies that had been taken as part of a seizure of a pit bull breeding ring. The dogs had been essentially quarentined while the court decided whether or not the dogs should be killed. PETA was there to make sure that the dogs didn't go home with anyone. They lost the case. Since part of their apparent concern is that so much time and money is directed to pit bulls rather than other animals, one can't help but wonder how much money was spent by PETA in trying to get these four Alabama puppies euthanized.

And while they discourage debate from people on this issue, they actually actively participate in the debate on a national level. Recently, they participated in a debate with Ledy Van Kavage of the ASPCA on Talking Justice. You can listen here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nellie Mckay and PETA

Nellie McKay was in town last night, performing at House of Blues. I loved her first disc, which I discovered after hearing her perform "Dog Song" on TV. Of course, it was "Dog Song." And I interviewed her a few years ago when she was about to open for Lou Reed at Carnegie Hall.

She's had some troubles with her label lately, but her new music is finally coming out on Halloween, so she's doing a little advance tour--or maybe she thought it would be out when she booked these dates. In any case, she was a little shakey on the new stuff, but charming as always. But introducing a song she recorded with kd lang, she went on and on about the fact that kd won't have anything to do with PETA. I wanted to shout--and almost did--"MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE SHE KNOWS PETA WANTS TO KILL ALL PIT BULLS." But I held back.

Saturday night, in the middle of a great little party put together by Satya Magazine, PETA sent a representative to speak to me. "Ingrid is worried about you," the woman said. This startled me. "Why?" I asked. "Because you never responded to her offer to send you food for your dogs." Right. The offer, some readers may remember, came after Ingrid Newkirk challenged me to compare checking accounts with her. Actually, I may have witheld that bit earlier, because I was so embarrassed for her and her organization.

At this party, the PETA rep said, "We know that 99% of all pit bull owners are abusive." This stunned me, because it is so idiotic. "You know that? How?" "From the phone calls we receive," she said. "You know that doesn't make any sense," I said. "Well, let's talk about the things we agree on," PETA said.

I continued to express my concern that they present their case against pit bulls by using invented facts. "It's not just that I like pit bulls and want to defend them, its that your manipulation of facts is a symptom of something that concerns me about our country."

Among the other PETA claims about pit bulls: They were always bred to "be used as weapons." And, more significant, they insist that pit bulls owners are almost exclusively drug dealers and gang members. This last bit is, I think, perhaps most telling, because it reveals how they not only stereotype pit bulls, but also the people who own them.

Eventually, I said, "Tell Ingrid I said hello." And our conversation came to a close.

At Nellie's show, she came out from behind the stage to meet with her fans. Since we had spoken before, about pit bulls in fact, I considered introducing myself. But then I realized that I'd rather just go home to the dogs.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hometown news; vegan shoes

The Lock Haven Express has a story today about a trio of strangely successful formerly local children: me, Tym DeSanto, and another incredibly talented writer. Apparently the print version features a photo of me with a toilet seat from college. This is what happens when you don't send requested photos. The toilet isn't available online, but the rest of the story is: "Clinton County Friends in Spotlight."

Meanwhile, I'm doing an event tonight with a vegan shoe store, and I have to confess, I really didn't even know such things exist. (I know there are non-leather shoes,but hadn't considered them neccessarily vegan.) In any case, the store is called Moo Shoes, and the shoes themselves are pretty cool.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sula Meets Ted Leo


Ted Leo
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Yesterday, on our afternoon walk, Sula and I ran into Ted Leo and The Pharmacists loading up a jeep outside of the Piety Street recording studio. Sula's been trying to get her foot in the door there for the past year. In the beginning she tried flirting with Oliver, the studio dog, but that wore off once she realized she could target the famous and semi-famous musicians. Why bother with a dog when there's a chance of getting serenaded by Elvis Costello? So yesterday, we walked past Ted and the jeep, and after a few yards Sula did a u-turn and began loitering and wagging her tail. Finally Ted gave her some attention.

This obsession with musicians recalls Brando's celebrity obsessed puppyhood in the East Village, where he got attention from Sandra Bullock (who tried to hide behind a bush watching him drink from a hose), John Leguizamo (who lived a few buildings away), and Edie Falco (who he would sit and stare at in the park every morning.)

Among my dogs, only Zephyr is immune to celebrity. Or maybe she just thinks everyone is famous.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago, in words and pictures

I suppose one of the nauseating things about these anniversaries is that the experience was intensely personal for everyone, so there's something a bit off about having it condensed into broad highlights.

You can read about my own experience with Brando during and after 9/11 in an excerpt from THE DOGS WHO FOUND ME, "On Being Rescued."
And you can see some of the photos from the exhibit I volunteered with at www.hereisnewyork.org.

Ugh, it's 9/11: Why making up facts isn't the same thing as having an opinion

Yesterday I couldn't get any work done. Today I woke up feeling sick to my stomach.

Of course: it's 9/11.

And, because of that, we must endure endless, careless tributes, most of which aren't tributes at all, but political opportunities, barely disguised.

The most nauseating of these is the ABC miniseries and the controversy surrounding it. ABC has acknowledged that entire scenes are fiction, yet every conservative voice in the country is claiming that efforts to correct these factual errors are "censorship" and a violation of the first ammendment, an effort to silence an opinion that the liberals disagree with.

Here's something that they apparently missed in high school: opinions are made up of facts. Inventing facts does not constitute voicing an opinion. No wonder our nation's students are having such a hard time in their classes. What? I can't just make up an answer and claim its my opinion?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Trustees abandon Chicago's Furry Friends


Furry Friends at Quimby's
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Those of you who have followed this blog, or its archives, know that I'm in love with Nicky and Edy, a pit bull brother and sister who have been up for adoption at Furry Friends, a Chicago no-kill shelter that does a lot of work with pit bulls.

Last month, the three trustees of the foundation announced that Furry Friends would be closing its doors so that they can sell the building, which is worth a fortune. They claim that they will pay out the money from the sale to other no kill shelters at a rate of 7% per year. But then again, they also claimed that they would fulfill the wishes of the woman whose estate they are managing.

Needless to say, there's been a lot of talk and rumors about exactly how this all came about. I won't repeat the details, except to say that it seems that the Trustees have been planning this for quite a while, and have been making it as difficult as possible for the organization to function.

I feel badly for the many people who have worked their asses off trying to maintain this organization--for the benefit of the animals (including cats and guinea pigs, as well as dogs.) But mostly I'm concerned for the animals themselves, and for Chicago, which is losing a great, great asset.

There's no chance the trustees will change their minds, but I think the trustess should hear from people about their decision. So here they are--maybe send them some dog biscuits along with your thoughts:

Gail M. Papp
8244 Oakland Place
Orlando, FL 32819
GPapp19@aol.com

Glenn Hamiltion, glenn.l.hamilton@bankofamerica.com

Gary Prior
Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC
The Rookery Building
209 S. LaSalle Street
7th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604
gprior@tdrlawfirm.com

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Grong Grong surfaces in Memphis; Sula's video gets industry attention; African wild dogs arrive in New Orleans; etc

A year ago, the dogs and I arrived in Atlanta after finally finding gas and access to money in northern Mississippi. But you can read all about that in my book, or in the archives here.

Meanwhile, back in the present, a journalist in Memphis contacted me to let me know that Grong Grong, the dog Brando was in love with before the storm, is now living in Memphis.

Jambalaya is still awaiting adoption at a shelter in Ohio, but the staff loves her and have been feeding her a little too much--apparently she's a little chubby.

Sula's video with me was selected by The Book Standard for their weekly column highlighting the best author videos.

My appearance on C-SPAN is, quite unexpectedly, available on DVD.

"The Dogs Who Found Me" continues selling like hotcakes over at Powells.com.

And tomorrow, I'll be going to the zoo to see African Wild Dogs.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Silver Lining

Headline in today's Times-Picayune:

Study: People Standing Tall After Katrina

Survivors report drop in suicidal thoughts

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Year of Magical Thinking

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion writes about how for the first year after her husband's death she measured time by recalling what she and her husband had been doing a year before. A year ago we were on vacation, a year ago we had dinner with friends, etc. Then, after a year, she could no longer find comfort in looking back that distance, because a year ago he was dead.

This morning I had coffee with a friend who asked, "What do we do now?"

A year ago, I was trying to find ice and water in Mississippi, but no one knew where it was. The Red Cross kept directing us to places that were not distributing any supplies at all.

At some point, I drove out to try to find my vet in Petal, and when I reached the top of a hill, my cell phone began to work, briefly. I called a friend and asked him to post a message online:

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A Ken Foster Update
Hi Everyone,
This is Ken's friend Case in Florida. I spoke with Ken today (his phone is finally working, though only intermitenttly) and he asked me to post the following things.
1) He is ok.
2) He is still in Hattiesburg, MS, but as conditions there worsen (no ice, water, a/c etc..) he is heading to Tallahassee.
3) He and the dogs have a place to stay here
4) His words, "It's total chaos. No one is in charge or seems to know what's going on."

He should be available by phone and email soon.

A few more dates on the road

Tuesday September 12: Davis Kidd, Memphis
Friday September 15: National Arts Club, New York
Saturday September 16: Bluestockings, New York (benefit for Social Tees)
Sunday September 24: TBA, Atlanta, GA
Monday September 25: Clayton State University
Tuesday September 26: The Warehouse/FSU, Tallahassee, FL
Monday October 16: Books,Inc, San Francisco

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

George Bush returns; rebuilding screeches to a halt


Sky News
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Remember when you were young and got your photo redone each year: for the yearbook, or the sports team, or the band, or whatever club you were in? Mr. George Bush remembers it like it was yesterday. So he came down to take some commemorative photos, because he remembers doing something similar around this time last year.

And what did this accomplish? Traffic stalled all across the city. People forbidden to drive from one side of Canal Street to another. General chaos. I'd been hoping to get groceries, dog food and also drop by Tulane to get ready for classes tomorrow, but I was asking too much of Bush to allow the city to function that much in his presence.

In the parking lot of the grocery store, I ran into Elizabeth Pearce in her matching green Element. We block traffic ourselves, caught up in our ranting. "You know what's amazing?" I say. "At this point it would actually have been less embarassing for him if he hadn't come here at all. He actually would have looked better if he had just stayed home."

I had, during my struggle to make it across town, considered turning around and waiting along the security route, so that I might "communicate something" as Bush drove by...but I decided to be practical about it, and just keep moving.

Disaster commemoration fatigue

Monday I was exhausted by 6pm. So were all of my friends. We cancelled evening plans. We wondered aloud what could be draining us. It hadn't been that hot. We hadn't over extended ourselves. I think it was just cumulative weariness.

Lost among the past month of anticipation and anxiety: Brando's sixth birthday. And my own birthday, which is coming up on Saturday. Last summer I walked Brando to the French Quarter for his birthday, and we did some shopping at the Three Dog Bakery. The store no longer exits. Last year, my friend Andy was planning a party for our shared birthday. The party never happened.

Currently, Brando is asleep at the bottom of the bed with his head on my knee. Sula is snoring and talking in her sleep on the other side of the room. Zephyr is quiet as a mouse in the next room.

This time last year, we were in Mississippi, without electricity, without gas, and without radios or television. It was sometime on Tuesday that we heard for the first time that the city was covered in water. But we didn't quite believe it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A year ago, before the power went out...

Monday, August 29, 2005 (3am)
I'd like to sleep through this...
but I can't. Not only that, I'm watching the hideous, gleeful FOX News coverage, in which the newscasters clink their champagne glasses while announcing that New Orleans will certainly never survive. (And what great ratings we'll receive!)

Brando is at the door to my host's bedroom, where she is sleeping with her terrified cat. Brando, meanwhile, is whining, because he thinks she should be sleeping with him. And I think he should be with me in my sleeping bag. The sleeping bag is borrowed, after I tried to go to Walmart to buy an air mattress and discovered that they had closed. (I thought they were all about serving the community!!!)

The maps, even on FOX, look like my street back in New Orleans might be safe from flooding. I really want to go back there, eventually, and find that my street is intact and inhabitable. I miss it already.


Shortly after this post, the electricity went out; and around noon the eye of the storm was overhead, sending a huge tree crashing through the roof.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Katrina's macho cousin Ernesto threatens to slap us around for all the trash we've been talking

Yesterday, I spent part of the morning shoveling the gutting remains of a house on St. Roch while one of the owners sat in the back room surrounded by his remaining possessions, including some remarkable paintings he'd done of the neighbhorhood in his youth. The night before I'd received a call from old woman in Texas who was trying to find Thelma Foster, her daughter, who supposedly lives not very far from me. "They don't know I'm still alive," the woman said, yet she didn't seem to understand that I didn't know who her daughter was, and she couldn't give me a specific address of where I might find her. Thelma, are you out there somewhere?

At Bacchanal, our commemoration of last year's wine-tasting was cut short by talk of Ernesto, and whether we should be booking hotel rooms now, just in case. Today it looks like he may spare us, but not Florida.

A year ago, I had made it to Mississippi, where I thought the dogs and I would be safe:

Sunday, August 28, 2005
We escaped...
This morning I woke up, looked at the flood map that had been posted online, and decided to bolt. While I was getting the car ready, Sula ran away and I had to chase her five blocks while people who were loading their cars screamed in horror. Afterwards, it was kind of funny. But at the time I was terrified that I was going to have to leave New Orleans with only two of three dogs.

This is what I managed to take: Three dogs, three dog crates, a change of clothes, dog food, some wine and cheese.

Everything else, I think I'll never see again.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"God has no patience for stupidity..."

I actually don't remember those words from any of my childhood Bibles. Nevertheless, we're going back intime to Saturday August 27th, 2005, a day spent shopping, going to the movies and meeting my friends for a wine tasting at Bacchanal, next to the Industrial Canal. (We'll be gathering there again today).

Saturday, August 27, 2005
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
So there's this massive hurricane headed straight for my house, and I have no current plans to leave. All of my friends say to just wait it out, deal with the inconvenience of no electricity for a few days, and enjoy the excitement of it. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to be leaving the city.

Here's my dillema: I barely have enough money to fill my tank. The last evacuation had people stuck on the highway for 23 hours--and I'm not sure I want to experience the storm from the inside of a van. I could drive my three dogs to Hattiesburg, where there will be severe weather as well, or Tallahassee, where there won't, but then I would be there with my frantic dogs, no money, and the prospect of having to figure out how and when to return.

On the other hand, here's the latest from the Times-Picayune:

"National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said Saturday afternoon that Hurricane Katrina will be at least a Category 4, with winds of 145 mph when it approaches the New Orleans area, and that it could be a Category 5, with winds of 155 mph or higher.

Meanwhile, computer model runs conducted by a team of Louisiana State University scientists indicate that even if Katrina had winds of only 115 mph, levees protecting Kenner, Metairie and New Orleans on the east bank will be overtopped by a 10- to 12-foot storm surge, topped by waves at least half that high, in some locations along Lake Pontchartrain. "

I'd hate for this to be one of my final posts...ever.

Any advice out there?


By the next morning I had seven replies, including this one, from someone named Linda: GET OUT!!!! Don't be one of those knuckleheads who thinks he can beat Mother Nature. You can't. The road to HELL is paved with a whole theme park full of idiots who thought the same thing.Hence why they aren't in Heaven. God has no patience for STUPIDITY.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Year Ago Today...

As the horrible date approaches, everyone seems to be quietly assessing where they were a year ago, so I'll be running highlights, and lowlights, from the events of August and September last year.

This what I had to say that Friday before the storm:

Yesterday, Plaquemines parish president Benny Rousselle vetoed the proposed pit bull ban that had me all hot and bothered earlier in the week. In its place, he hopes to put legislation that would deal with dangerous dogs rather than specific breeds. Yippee! According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Councilwoman Lynda Banta admitted that her vote in favor of the ban was "a knee-jerk reaction because someone else's pit bull came into my yard and killed my four baby kitten who are my pets. But that was wrong. That particular dog should be blamed for what it did and not everyone else's."

In more alarming news, Donald Trump is turning a parking lot on Poydras Street into a highrise condo catering to European clientele.

I've been nuts this week--and received a single note regarding my stagnated blog--but now I'm done with the following: edits on my book, which is now with a copyeditor; teaching Pride and Prejudice to Level 2/3 students at NOCCA; final edits on my profile of Ernest Gaines for Poets and Writers; the first day of classes back at USM.

This weekend I plan to finally unpack and see lots of movies: The Brothers Grimm, Grizzly Man, The Aristocrats, Red Eye...


Meanwhile, of course, Katrina was headed our way.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Personal lubricants: an essential carry-on?

I recently took a week-long trip back to Costa Rica, which I'll report on further at a future date. But it was during this trip that all of the carry-on rules were changed, and I have to admit I'm still a bit confused by what they consider to be essential. For example, you are allowed to carry up to four ounces of KY jelly on board the aircraft. For what essential, mid-flight purpose is this being allowed?

Here is the language as it appears on the official TSA list:

Up to 4 oz. of essential non-prescription liquid medications including saline solution, eye care products and KY jelly

Gel-filled bras and similar prostethics

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Marking the evacuation anniversary on C-SPAN this Sunday

This Sunday on C-SPAN from 5:20-6:20pm Central Time:

Douglas Brinkley: The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Ken Foster: author of The Dogs Who Found Me
Mark Schleifstein: co-author of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms
Tony Dunbar: Tubby Meets Katrina: A Tubby Dubonnet Novel
and reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune

I can't imagine how I'll get a word in with this group, but there I am. It's all part of a program put together by the New Orleans Press Club to raise money for their scholarship fund. We'll be at the Sheraton signing books from 2-4. And from 4:15 to 5:15 C-SPAn will be broadcasting another panel, including Chris Rose, Jed Horne and Sarah Inman.

Privately, we'll all be thinking about exactly what we were doing a year earlier.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A very special edition of The Dogs Who Found Me

For most of the past week, The Dogs Who Found Me has been #1 at Powells.com. Mysteriously. How can it be outselling everything, including even Scott Smith's The Ruins? I was skeptical, so I emailed the Powell's folks and said "What the heck is going on over there?" "We can't explain it either," they said. (The book has since slipped to #4)

Meanwhile, my publisher went back for an eighth printing. It used to be that collectors would seek out the first edition of any book, since it was the rarest of editions. I've often wondered the logic of that these days, because many books have HUGE first printings followed by modest reprints, which means that the rarest edition might be from the third printing rather than the first. In the case of my book, the first printing was fairly small, the second and third even smaller, followed by larger fourth and fifth printings, and various sized sixth and seventh printings.

Since there are a number of typos we've been trying to correct, I checked to see if they might catch them in this eighth version. It turns out that they were corrected in the seventh printing, which I still haven't seen. But someone forgot to alter the numbers on the copyright page, so it is labeled a FIRST printing! And there were actually several small corrections made in the second printing through the sixth. So there are now three versions in print: the original first printing, five reprints with some corrections, a second "first" printing with typos corrected by missing the corrections from the previous reprints, and and eighth printing with most of the corrections but not quite all of them.

So if you are a collector, look for that rare seventh printing that is masquerading as a first.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Some organizations I've done events with...

I've been meeting a ton of great organizations in the past few months, which reminded me that some people might be interested in the following partial list of organizations that have participated in my readings and/or benefited from sales of the book:

Louisiana SPCA
Friends of Animals (Los Angeles)
No Voice Unheard
San Francisco SPCA
Oakland Animal Services
Pets Unlimited
Dove Lewis
Massachusetts SPCA
Bide A Wee
BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition)
Pit Bull Rescue Central
Furry Friends (Chicago)
Stray Rescue (St. Louis)

I'll try to update this list and include links in the next week.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Chicago Tribune hits a new low

I'm in Chicago this weekend for a conference on how to combat BSL--breed specific legislation. (Interestingly, in France this is referred to as banning a race.) The Tribune spent most of the week filling their pages with a sensational report on a child who was horribly attacked by a pit bull a year ago. The headlines were filled with lines like "experts not surprised". And what happened to the child was awful. But if anyone read the actual stories, they might have found that the experts being quoted were not surprised because the individual dog in question had a history of aggression that was ignored by his owner. And the dog was actually not even a pit bull. Still, they capped it off with an editorial endorsing the ban. Next up, I expect they will revist crimes committed by black, hispanic and gay people. More later...

Monday, August 14, 2006

The always competetive Sula responds to Brando's magazine cover with a video

Sula and I discuss The Dogs Who Found Me in a new promo video courtesy of AuthorViews. Unfortunately, after a brief appearance, Sula suddenly felt camera shy. Or maybe she was worried about how she might look afer the thing was edited.

Meanwhile, Lyons Press is out of stock again, which makes an eighth printing. But don't let that stop you--you can still find the book for sale.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Brando's record breaking Urban Dog cover


Brando: Urban Dog Cover
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
The issue isn't out yet, but here's Brando (my Brando, if you are wondering) on the cover of the new issue of Urban Dog. Brando is the only dog to have appeared on TWO issues of the magazine--and this latest also marks the first to use glossy paper stock.

Congratulations Brando!

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Dogs Who Found Me #2 at Powells.com

For some crazy reason, the book suddenly went from nowhere to #2 at Powells today. And, since they have it on sale for 30% off, feel free to see if you can push it to #1.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Borders Interview Online; Satya magazine interview

Borders is featuring The Dogs Who Found Me in their August "My Borders" newsletter, with an excerpt with photos, and a Q & A.

Also, Satya Magazine is available in print, but they're also running their feature with me online.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

In case you missed it...



Originally uploaded by kfoz.
You can catch up with my five days of blogging at Powell's.com by clicking here. What you'll find: information on dogs named after "Streetcar" characters, my favorite neighborhood joints, NOLA's Evacuationmobile, memories of my life in Portland and much much more.

I actually worked pretty hard on these posts, so I'll be taking a little break here.

They are also offering 30% off The Dogs Who Found Me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No comedy or fireworks for Katrina anniversary

Last week Nagin announced plans for commemorating August 29th, including a comedy show, fireworks and a masked ball. Needless to say, everyone thought he was nuts. "I'm just going with the flow," he said, taking little responsibility for his decision. Today the fireworks and comedy were cancelled. Which means I can put off the enormous rant that percolating all week.

Quentin's Rebirthday


Quentin
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I'll be in St. Louis this Sunday to celebrate Quentin The Miracle Dog's rebirthday. I'll be joining Quentin and Randy Grim at Sqwire's from 4-7pm. And we'll all be signing copies of our books with proceeds going to Stray Rescue. I'll be Randy's guest on his radio show this Friday.

And for those of you who can't make it to St. Louis, you can visit me over at the Powell's blog, where I'm guiding readers on a little tour of my New Orleans neighborhood, and where you can buy fresh copies of The Dogs Who Found Me at 30% off.

Monday, July 31, 2006

It's Gerkin McPickleworth!


Gerk_poster.ai
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
And he looks an awful lot like Brando Foster.

Since I'm blogging away this week at Powells.com, I thought I'd take the opportunity to post some different stuff here this week. This group is new to me, but their posters are excellent. (See Honey just below.)

This little honey is a real pooh bear


Adopt Honey.ai
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Here's another great poster from AFTU. I particularly like the honey pot!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Join me all next week at Powells.com for the Dog Days of Summer

I'll be guest blogging at the Powells.com blog every day next week. I've been saving up some good stuff for my stint over there, so it should be fun. And while you are there, be sure to look around at their amazing collection of used and new books. Just be glad you aren't in the store itself, otherwise you would do as I do--spend way to much money on books you can't fit into your suitcase.

On the other hand, if you buy enough books online, you get free shipping.

The roofers next door

Yesterday the roofers arrived to repair my neighbors roof--the damage from Katrina 11 months ago. And suddenly they are in a very big hurry. The house on the opposite side has three pit bulls in the yard, so even though they had a dumpster set up in front, suddenly there was an ongoing cascade of debris coming into my yard and onto my house: slate shingles, nails, little screws with orange plastic washers, new sheets of shingles, gatorade bottles, etc.

I went outside and picked some of it up, got their attention, grimaced, gestured, threw it over the fence. I said something very simple like, "Don't throw anymore into my yard." They nodded. I left for my French final, and returned to see even more debris in the yard.

My dogs didn't like this commotion, particularly Sula, who has been having trouble with storms lately. Yesterday she scraped open her cheeks on her crate trying to get out because of the noise. (If she wasn't in the crate, I worry she might go out a window.) She wasn't like this last summer. This year, she has new anxiety.

So this morning they arrive again, the roofers. And I go get coffee down the street. When I get home, the white noise machine--the TV--isn't working. The dogs don't like this. I walk outside. They are up on a ladder, trying to fish a sheet of shingles off of the satellite arm. I go back inside. Still no signal. I got outside again. They are on the ladder with a three satellite eyes in their hands.

Directv says they can replace it next week. The dogs are not happy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Meeting the new voice of Ken Foster

This morning I had a long talk with Patrick, the actor who will be reading The Dogs Who Found Me for the upcoming audio release. He and his wife rescue dogs too, so I felt some relief at knowing that he actually understood the subject of the book. So there was a lot of dog talk, followed by a brief list of names that he wanted to check pronounciation on. (Chartres Street, for example. And Scholle. And giardia.) So, while I initially felt a little weirded out at having someone else tell my story--in the first person!--I now feel that I'm in good hands.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another curious Amazon review

As a plane circled overhead, curiously low in the sky, I logged onto Amazon and noticed a one star review had been posted for The Dogs Who Found Me earlier today. The reviewers chief complaints: a belated 9/11 book misleadingly sold as a Katrina book, when only a few chapters actually deal with the storm. Hmm. Okay. I thought it was about dogs. Curious to see what else this reviewer was up to, I clicked onto his reviewers page to see that he had posted a total of four reviews and all of them appeared today. A five star review for The Five People You Meet in Hell, a quickie self-published Katrina exploitation piece and one star reviews for me, Tom Piazza's Why New Orleans Matters and Chris Rose's 1 Dead in the Attic. I clicked onto the page for The Five People You Meet in Hell and saw that according to Amazon statistics, most people who look at that page buy The Dogs Who Found Me, Why New Orleans Matters, or 1 Dead in the Attic.

Hmmm. Coincidence I'm sure.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fun Home antics


fosters and bechdels, 1974
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Last month I blogged about Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, and how wonderful it was. And how strange, since I grew up spending a lot of time in their house. Alison's drawings are so vivid, so minutely detailed, that it triggered a lot of great memories for me. It really was a fun home.

But I didn't remember this photo, which Alison sent me last week. In my blog post, I had said something about being just outside the margins of each page. "You literally are!" Alison wrote, directing me to page 164 where this photo is recreated. She also explained something that I'd already sort of figured out: Scott G. is really a composite of me, my brother and another friend. (There were three groups of three siblings in real life--too many to keep track of in the narrative.)

I should point out, however, that Dr. and Dr. G. are definately not my parents.

Also, for the record, that's me in the wig, hitting John Bechdel over the head with a mallet while Alison and my brother Chris look on.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Einstein, and other west coast discoveries


Einstien-Poster
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
My latest crush is on Einstein, a small little guy, very serious, who is in the adoption area at Pets Unlimited in San Francisco. He looks exactly like this photo and probably weighs about 35 pounds.

I spent most of the week on the west coast, where I visited with Oakland animal services on Wednesday, followed by an event with a bunch of authors at the SFSPCA on Thursday. The SFSPCA runs an adoption center called Maddie's Place which is enormous, posh, and compared to most shelters and adoption facilities it seems extremely underpopulated. This is an illusion. Part of their method is that they want the dogs and cats to live in a home like enviornment, so small groups get assigned to large open "living rooms" where they stay until adoption. They adopt 4000 animals each year, which is a massive amount.

Friday I did my event with Kiehl's and Pets Unlimited, then took myself to a goodbye dinner at the restaurant that Sam Spade frequented in Maltese Falcon.

Saturday I flew to Portland, did a great event there with Dove Lewis, accompanied by a therapy dog. This was, once again, at Kiehl's. I should write an entry at some point about how much I love Kiehl's,but I'm going to have to save it. After Kiehl's I met with some friends from first grade and college, then went to the final night of the Tin House conference, where I got to hug Elissa Schappell, and listen to Aimee Bender, Nick Flynn and Steve Almond read. I also kept spotting my old classmate Brenda Shaughnessy in the crowd at the reception that followed, but everytime I started over to talk to her, someone intervened.

Sunday I got to have breakfast with Phil and Lisa and their kids, followed by brunch with our old babysitter, Barbara Eiswerth, followed by visits to Powell's to sign stock. And then another reading where I didn't read--what a joy! Instead I got to hear fellow New Orleanian Pia Z. Earhardt read an AMAZING story from a magazine called Spork. Then I took a redeye home, drove to Mississippi, took a French exam...and thought about how cute that little Einstein is.

Friday, July 14, 2006

And vice versa:

As a freelance writer, I've had this happen a million times--someone corrects my work and actually reverses the intended meaning. "He must not mean that," I imagine the person saying as they cross out a few key words.

So I was somewhat sympathetic when I read an interview with me that appears in this mornings Oregonian. But I was also a little mortified at some of the things I was quoted as having said.

What are some of the surprising things I've learned, I was asked. "That it is harder to accept help than it is to give it," I said. My answer in the paper: "I found it was easier to accept help than to give it." The reporter said that it seemed like people would buy anything about dogs these days. I said that I hadn't felt confident that people would want to read about pit bulls and injured dogs in the same way they like reading about cute ones. I pointed out that many of the emails I've received from readers aren't really about dogs at all, but the larger subject of rescue. In the paper I'm quoted saying: "I've gotten tons of email from people who respond to the parts about injured and abused dogs..."

"I've become a sort of spokesperson for pit bulls," I said, "which is fine, because they are my dog." In the paper: "I've kind of accidentally because (sic) a spokesman for pit bulls, and that's been a little different."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

On the road again--west coast dogs are invited to come lick my face in San Francisco and Portland this week


Ken and Yatzee at Lemuria Books
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Which is more frightening, the pit bull or the alarming size of my forehead? I think we all agree: its my forehead that is more of a threat.

This photo is from the event I did last week at Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS. Yatzee was one of the many dogs in attendance with the Friends of Jackson Animal Shelter. If you are on the west coast, I'll be out again this week:

Wednesday: Meeting with volunteers at the Oakland Animal Shelter, 6pm
Thursday: "It's writing cats and dogs" at SFSPCA's Maddie's Place 6:30-8pm with a bunch of other authors including Tom Corwin (Mostly Bob), Roslyn Banish (Just Gus), Janis Bradley (Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous), and Mark Asher (Bark and Ride).
Friday: Kiehl's, Fillmore, SF: Booksigning including special Kiehl's gift bags with proceeds going to Pets Unlimited. Signing 4-7pm; reading and discussion at 7pm at Pets Unlimited.
Saturday: Kiehl's, NW 23rd, Portland from 1-4pm; proceeds go to Dove Lewis Animal Hospital.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A movie I actually want to see: Walker Payne

It is July, the middle of the summer, and although I love nothing more than a big dumb blockbuster--or, alternately, a small quiet art film--I've seen only a few films in the past few months and most of them have been really kind of awful, or at least disappointing. I walked out of the high school noir thriller Brick after losing my patience with its inane dialogue. I was disappointed with An Inconvenient Truth, although that may be because I learned about global warming 35 years ago in the first grade. In a fit of desperation I went to The Devil Wears Prada and had to deal with its self important lectures about how serious and important the fashion industry really is.

What I'd reallly like to see is Walker Payne, a film that apparently still doesn't have a release date. It stars Jason Patric as a poor man who needs to raise cash in order to maintain custody of his daughters. The website is a bit oblique about what it is that Sam Shepard gets Patric involved with in order to make fast money. But Julia Szabo has seen the film and reports it is really all about dogfighting. And that it is really, really good. So maybe if enough people go over the the Walker Payne site, someone will finally release it.

And here's a story on how the dog fights were safely faked for the film>

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Notes: MySpace, BSL, gym memberships, "Intersection," and the New Orleans weather

I was going to call this post "Bits and Pieces" but thought better of it, given the sometimes gruesome information here. So here are some things I've been meaning to post, but never found space or enough to say to make an whole post out of it.

*The Dogs Who Found Me has its own MySpace page. Go make friends with it at www.myspace.com/dogswhofoundme


*People have asked where they can buy "New Orleans | Intersection" which features 25 writers, 25 artists, and 25 intersections. It is selling out at local stores, but the stock is being replenished. You can find more info at the Press Street web page, including a link for mail order.

*It is mid-July and we haven't had anything resembling a tropical storm in the region. We hope this is a sign rather than an omen.

*I recently toured the newly reopened New Orleans Athletic Club, which is supposedly the oldest gym in the country. It is in the French Quarter, and therefore more convenient than the Jewish Community Center uptown, where I currently go. But the crazy NOAC is also kind of expensive. And even though their instructors and staff haven't returned, they aren't cutting any deals for new members. On the other hand, it is hard to resist a gym that has a library and a bar. Then again, in researching them, I discovered that they only began letting African Americans in after a lawsuit--in 1986. If you go the website, you'll see that it all looks a bit like the old board game Clue.

*New Orleans continues having blackouts. I missed two yesterday afternoon while I was in Mississippi. But the Federal Government will not fund the repair of the electrical grid, because Entergy is a private company. Of course, why is Entergy a private electric company? Because the Feds deregulated everything. So this mornings paper announces the solution: electric bills will be going up $45 a month.

*In August I'll be part of a conference in Chicago regarding dog breed legislation (ie. the enforced extinction of pit bulls, rottweilers and whatever other dogs come next...). If you are interested in attending, sign up now at New Leash on Life.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

LA/SPCA director gets a nod from NBC

Laura Maloney is the director of the Louisiana SPCA, and she's a pretty amazing woman. In addition to lowering the euthanasia rate considerably and promoting adoption, spay/neuter, a free tagging program and low cost veterinary care, Laura oversaw the evacuation of the city shelter anytime the city was threatened with a storm greater than a category 2. During and after Katrina, she set up the Lamar-Dixon site, found homes for her now homeless staff, coordinated rescue efforts with other organizations that had arrived to help, and returned to New Orleans to begin refurbishing an Algiers warehouse to accomodate the SPCA's operations after their Bywater shelter was destroyed. (Meanwhile, her husband Dan was living in the Audubon Zoo's reptile house while overseeing the care of the Zoo's animals--he's the head animal "curator" for the Zoo.) But unlike some people, Laura prefers to work and doesn't like to stop to give too many interviews, which I sometimes worry gives the impression that she's not working her ass off. But she is. (And she just spent the past many weeks and months pushing the pet evacuation bill that Louisiana just passed.)

But NBC is running a piece in praise of her work. And it is about time. You can read it here.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Dogster's ten part interview

Dogster--the website that lets your dog befriend other dogs online--is running an interview with me beginning today. It is actually a TEN PART interview, so I guess they'll be posting a little more each day for the next two weeks or so. You can find the first part here. (This has forced me to finally update Brando and Zephyr's Dogster pages.)

Update: Here is a link to the main dog blog page to read the rest as it appears.

Signing and adoptions this weekend in Jackson


jacksonshelter
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I'll be signing books this weekend at the wonderful Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi: Saturday July 1 at 1pm. And Friends of the Shelter will be there with a collection of dogs looking for new homes. This little puppy is one of the many dogs they are trying to place. You can view all of their adoptable dogs at their Petfinder site.


Other upcoming events:
7/13: SFSCPA, Maddies Place, San Francisco
7/14: Kiehl's and Pets Unlimited, San Francisco
7/15: Kiehl's and Dove Lewis, Portland
7/22: Belladonna Day Spa (with $5 microchipping), New Orleans
8/6: Sqwires, St. Louis (celebrating Quentin the Miracle Dog's "rebirthday"!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

If you are wondering why the recovery is so slow...

Last night I was teaching my online course for Mediabistro when the power went out midway through the chat. This is my only source of income, since I lost my job at NOCCA/Riverfront after the storm and no one else wanted to hire someone with a book out. (I start at Tulane in a few weeks.) So, while Brando panicked, I ran out of the house and drove to Frenchmen Street to find wireless access. Usually the power is out only on the east side of Elysian Fields, so once I've crossed that line everything is normal. And last night, as usual, I found the power on there, but nothing was opened--because they'd been without power all afternoon. Fortunately, I was still able to find a signal, and I sat on the abandoned sidewalk with my laptop to log back into my classroom as termites swarmed.

This is the new New Orleans.

Of course, a blackout may seem like a relatively minor inconvenience. But imagine being a restaurant or cafe owner, without electricity and without refridgeration. Or just imagine being a regular person who has recently stocked the fridge.

Oh well, maybe next year they'll figure it out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I came home from dinner smelling like an elephant

Brando is sensitive to these things. And had to investigate.

Last night I was at a party at the Audubon Zoo for the winners of the ASPCA's annual awards for childrens books. The ALA (American Library Association) is having their annual convention here. So everyone gathered at the Zoo's Tea Room, where, in the courtyard, we got to mingle with an elephant, face to face. I've never been that close to one before, and it was pretty amazing, particularly when the elephant's eye stared into mine. When an elephant stares at you, do you stare back?

Earlier in the weekend, I did a signing on the Exhibit Hall floor at the Convention Center. Ingram was nice enough to invite me to do this. The copies were donated by my publisher. I didn't count, but there were supposed to be 75 copies; they were gone in thirty minutes.

What's most interesting is how different the various publishers are when you approach them. The idea is that the publishers set up these huge booths with lots of copies of their books to give away, which will generate more sales, reviews, etc. So it was surprising how many booths were manned by people who did everything in their power to avoid any eye contact. Warner, which was recently renamed Hachette, had perhaps the rudest reps. Algonquin and Workman, the nicest. And Penguin/Putnam too!

At one point, as I looked through the offerings of another publisher (who I like enough not to name), I had to overhear the rep complaining endlessly about New Orleans. "We did the right thing, I guess," she said to a friend. What she meant was that she and everyone else were very good people because they hadn't cancelled. "I just keep telling myself: At least I get to go home."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday morning on the stoop...

On my way back from getting coffee, a woman on a bicycle pulled up to my stoop. "Are you Ken?" she asked. I began thinking of all the possible messages that might be delivered in this way--I'm being evicted; my house has been sold; someone doesn't like my dogs; etc.

"I wanted to thank you for my father," she said. "He said he's been reading what you post about the city, and he asked if I knew you." She added that her dad was comforted by the actual, factual information that I was sharing, versus the rumors posted by many others.

Just after the storm, everyone began posting on the NOLA.com forum, which became a virtual community for many displaced New Orleanians. It has deteriorated somewhat in the recent months--lots of rumors, lots of intential race-baiting, lots of posts from people who don't really seem to live anywhere near New Orleans and never have.

My friends joked early on that I was going to become some kind of community figure via the online forum. So it is a little funny that I've actually had people approach me on the street to thank me for the information I shared there months ago.

Meanwhile, Press Street's "Intersection" book (to which I'm a contributor) received a nice review in today's paper.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Notes on being busy in the unoccupied zone


intersection invite
Originally uploaded by kfoz.


I live in the Bywater, which is the part of the Ninth Ward that didn't flood. At all, for the most part. And yet even though people have been back since October, and the old businesses have reopened, and even new ones have been established (a coffee shop half a block away!), the city considers the neighborhood "unoccupied." So when they announced at deal with Earthlink to provide wireless service, the plan did not include this area--just the occupied ones, like Uptown, where people can easily afford their own plan. And when they announced the return of the National Guard, my neighborhood actually lost police, who have been transferred to the occupied zone. And yet, it is still pretty busy around here.

For example, today I walked over to NOCCA to teach a workshop as part of their summer program.

Tomorrow, I'll go the ALA conference to sign books at the Ingram booth, then head back to the Bywater for the opening party for Press Street's Intersection book. Sunday, I'll be going to the ALA sponsored party for the reopening of my neighborhood library on Alavar Street. Monday there's an ASPCA/ALA party at the zoo.

All this makes it feel like things are back to normal, but in this case normal means: Monday we had a six hour blackout; during the blackout a building down the street caught fire; the police can't seem to stop one of the neighbors from speeding through every stop sign on my street while laughing like a hyena; and the National Guard are back, but they haven't returned any of the stuff they borrowed the last time they were in town.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New tour dates, new reviews...

The Plain Dealer recently reviewed The Dogs Who Found Me, recommending it as part of their summer reading list:

"…[a] beautiful and funny account of dog love…This light, deeply felt chronicle puts that best-selling confection ‘Marley & Me’ in the shade.”

Meanwhile, I've got a few more events coming up:
7/1 Lemuria Books, Jackson
7/13 San Francisco SPCA Authors Night
7/14 Kiehl's, San Francisco
7/15 Kiehl's, Portland
8/6 Sqwire's, St. Louis (with Randy Grim)
9/12 Davis Kidd, Memphis

I also have some New Orleans news to post, but first I have to do my homework for a French translation course...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Most readers respond more like this...

Since I posted the crazy email from Brian Pederson (if that's even his name), I thought I'd post some of the more typical email I've received. Except there's too much to choose from. So here are just a few samples:

I am an owner of a rescued pit bull. A friend found Lily running across a busy street and knew we were thinking of getting a dog and told us how sweet this little dog was. My husband and I met Lily and fell in love with her when she crawled into our laps. We had NO idea she was a Pit Bull until we brought her to the vet. By then we were already in love. The bad news was that Lily had heartworms. Four months and many hundred dollars later Lily was finally healthy. This was one and a half years ago and Lily is the best things in our lives. Even people who have their own dogs cannot resist sweet Lily. By the way, she likes Harry Potter and is actually named after Harry's mother. I am very happy to hear some positive talk about Pit Bulls. They are very misunderstood and I totally agree that it is bad owners not bad dogs. Please keep putting out the message.

When you said in your interview that Brando was your "soulmate," I have to admit that I KNEW (ok, it was a strong hunch) that Brando was a pit bull/pit-x. They have that affect . . .

I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book "The Dogs Who Found Me". It was an engaging book that served as a wonderful reminder that we can all do more to help the animals of the world. Also, as the proud owner of two wonderful pit bulls, I appreciated the good press. Both of mine are rescues from "doggy death row" at local dog pounds. My female, Roxanne, was a bait dog and our male, Dozer, was found tied to an abandoned building. They are the loves of my life.

My dog-loving mom was so moved when she heard you on Terry Gross that it became my mission to find your book for her birthday this weekend. I wanted you to know that I started with my independent bookstores and worked my way up to the chain stores, none of which can keep the book in stock. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can find it in the 'burbs because you are huge in Berkeley.

Hi Ken - I just finished the book - I actually heard part of the interview on Fresh Air. I was moved by your stories. I'm a volunteer at the Oakland Animal Shelter here in Oakland CA and of course, we have a majority of pit bulls. They have made me love them. I have had the privilege of fostering one for two months (after he had lived in the shelter for 6 months of his young life) and was able to find him a great family for him. Your book made me cry at times and feel anxious but in the end, it made me want to do more.

Your book broke my heart, but gave me the courage to go sign up to help at our local shelter. I got my first dog two years ago. (three months after Opus we got Milo Bloom) two basenjis that wormed their way into my heart. How did I become the kind of dog person I used to mock? I am terrified to work at a shelter where they kill animals, but figure if I don't try and help socialize these guys, they might not get adopted. Until I got a dog, I didn't really notice how poorly they get treated. I have six crates at home. Two for the car, two for bedtime, and two in the basement in case of a tornado! Oy vey!

Twice a day I drive Scarlet, our rescue pit bull to a park here in Lancaster where there is no leash law. On the way home last evening I heard part of your interview with Terri Gross. I was riveted and played the entire segment when I got home for my husband. We looked at each other in disbelief when you started defending our favorite breed...the pit bull. Over the years we've had three... Spot, Lucky and Madonna. All were beautiful to look at and incredibly sweet. Still, people were afraid of them...Thank you for writing about the world's best creatures.


I just wanted to say a massive thank you for your book, which I bought a week ago and couldn't put down. I am the profoundly lucky best-friend of a pit mix named Raleigh who came into my life after a year and a half of abuse and she has changed everything for me. I have always been a dog person, and can't imagine not having one, but when I heard you call Brando your soul-mate on Fresh Air, I laughed out loud and thanked God that I wasn't the only wierd-o that felt that way about my dog.