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 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.