Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Spare Rottweilers

A few months ago, the writer Julie Klam was in town for a booksigning and potential
material for her new book, "Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself." As I drove her and her husband Paul around town, we turned a corner onto Chartres Street in Bywater and there, several blocks away, was a rottweiler roaming the middle of the street. It seemed too ridiculous to be true, but I drove closer and we hopped out of the car to pursue him. Of course, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Julie or I, sensing, perhaps, that we were opportunists. But he did allow Julie's husband to approach him. Still, he was slippery, and it wasn't until later in the evening that some volunteers from Dogs of the 9th Ward called saying they had him. The next day I whisked him to my vet and we began the process of getting him healthy and treating his heartworms. He's moved from being a shy, timid boy to a healthy one, but, of course, he's still looking for a home.

About a month later, driving back from teaching at Carver, I spotted another stray rottweiler--or at least I thought it was a rottie. It was hard to tell, because half her fur was missing and she was about 40 pounds underweight. As I chased her cautiously through the neighborhood, someone stopped to ask what I was doing. "Trying to get that dog," I said. "Well, she's a neighborhood dog. We all take care of her," he said. "Well," I said, "she's going to die soon." The man told me to "do what you have to do." And at about that same moment it occurred to me that this dog was too weak to outrun me. So I scooped her up as the other dogs in the neighborhood looked quizzically on. (HER? they seemed to be asking.) Louisa is now full weight and heartworm free, and like Paul, still looking for a home.

So if you know anyone who needs a spare rottie, email

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pitty FAIRness in Louisville this Saturday

If you are in the Louisville area this Saturday, be sure to come by the first annual Pitty FAIRness artand music fair, sponsored by Saving Sunny. Shorty and Hercules will be there, and I will be speaking and signing books at a booth I'm sharing with Carmichael's books. The event runs from 10am-5pm at Central Park, 1340 S. Fourth Street. And it is FREE!

Friday, July 08, 2011

My summer mini-tour

I'm somewhat unexpectedly hitting the road this month, with two big events in Charlotte and Louisville. I'd been hoping a third would pop up, just for the claim of being "on tour." But so far, it's just a pair of dates at two pit bull festivals with lots of live music and an appearance by Shorty Rossi and Hercules, from the TV show Pit Boss.

Saturday July 16th: Charlotte, NC, 2pm-6pm
American Pit Bull Foundation Summer Concert
Amos' Southend
1423 South Tryon Street
with Shorty Rossi, Pinups for Pit Bulls, John Shipe and more.
Tickets are $25

Saturday July 30th: Louisville, KY 10am-5pm
Pitty FAIRness sponsored by Saving Sunny
Central Park
1340 South Fourth Street
with Shorty Rossi, contests, music, dogs

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing Miss Bananas Foster

For the past six months there's been an absence in the house. After fostering Bonnie (who came from a Florida dogfighting case and suffered neurological damage), she was adopted into a wonderful home and there was no longer an adorable female pit bull in the house. At times the vacuum was so startling to me that it stopped me in my tracks. One day, there would be a permanent girl moving into the house. Of this, I was sure. But when? Brando is eleven and has thyroid issues as well as some mobility problems that require injections of Adequan. Zephyr has Cushings disease, recently had to have a plate implanted in her wrist, and recently was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy (the canine equivalent of MS). Meanwhile, Doug has been twiddling his paws and daydreaming about the days when we were able to wander into the French Quarter where he imagined himself as a sort of celebrity busker. I wasn't sure that any of them were ready for a new dog and my own antsy daydreams of moving added one final reason to put off any decision.

And then, a few months ago, I drove past a gas station where a young couple was selling pit bull puppies from the back of their car. I kept going, then turned back around to introduce myself. Or, I said it was just to introduce myself. I pulled a Sula Foundation calendar from the back of the car and explained the work we do. The couple explained that they hadn't intended to breed the litter, and had already had the female spayed after the birth of the pups. They had all had their shots, and were gorgeous shades of blue and blue brindle. But they couldn't find any takers. I didn't want a litter of puppies, since the Sula Foundation already has a group of adult foster dogs waiting for homes. But I gave them my contact number and offered to help if I could.

The entire time, behind her four rambunctious siblings, the runt of the litter sat very still and seemed to be taking in every word I said. When they emailed me for help a few weeks later, I knew, if nothing else, I was going to take her off their hands. But how could I take one and not help the others? So a Saints player, on the advice of one of our Sula volunteers, took a male puppy. And the other three went to the LA-SPCA with a promise of a spot in their adoption room. (Things didn't turn out quite the way we planned, but I'll tell that story another time--they all did find homes in the end.)

So Bananas, the runt, came home with me. I figured if it didn't work out, I could find a home for her somewhere. The first night, Brando was terrified by her presence. As she stepped towards him, he backed up the whole distance of the living room. Rut ro! Doug was indifferent. Zephyr aloof.

Of course, within a few days, Brando and Bananas were inseparable, and as she came out of her shell, she began to demonstrate all the ridiculous, affectionate traits of a great pit bull. My favorite move: when I sit on the steps of the deck behind our house, she likes to run up from behind and squeeze her head under my arm to kiss me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The House of Blue Leaves

Earlier this week, I went to see a preview of the new revival of "The House of Blue Leaves," the John Guare play that was first produced in 1971. I'd never seen a live production of the show, but I had seen a televised performance from the 1986 production that starred Swoosie Kurtz and John Mahoney. Ben Stiller, who played the son in that production, now plays the father, Artie, and Edie Falco plays his wife, Bananas, with Jennifer Jason Leigh as his girlfriend, Bunny.

First the superficial details: the set is gorgeous. Unfortunately, it is also needlessly filled with obstructions, particularly if you are sitting, as we were, in the fifth row on either the right or left. Performances disappeared behind furniture, in doorways, into alcoves, and even, frequently, behind other performers on the stage. Get seats in the balcony or center orchestra if you go. But, you really should go. While Ben Stiller is a bit stiff in the early scenes, he loosens up and becomes more confident as the show goes on. Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh seemed miscast (shouldn't they switch roles?) but, in fact, they are both fantastic. Falco makes Bananas simultaneously absurd and tragic; Jennifer Jason Leigh manages to own her role as a superficial, celebrity-obsessed social climber. Some early online reviews claimed she was a complete failure in the part, but at the performance I saw, she got the biggest laughs.

I did have some issues with the direction. I know they were going for a darker version of the play than previous incarnations. But it didn't always work. In particular, the slapstick staging in the second act seemed out of place next to the more naturalistic tone. Also, it seems an odd choice to bring a greater sense of realism to a play that constantly addresses the audience as if the characters expect their lives to be lived on a stage. But the performances, particularly by the women, make it worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obviously, my vow to blog again didn't quite take hold

Twitter and Facebook continue to keep me from my once very active blogsite, because, after all, why try to form fully realized thoughts and paragraphs when you can just link and blurt in 140 characters?

But tonight up doing laundry and heading to--well never mind where I'm heading to. But it made me think, I really should try to get back to the blogging habit. Blogging actually seemed to help me get around to more serious writing, and as I'm now working on another manuscript, it seems like this will be good practice again for keeping that tiny section of my brain working.

On Sunday, the 24th, Season Two of TREME begins on HBO. I know a lot of people had mixed feelings about Season One. I liked it at the time, but my feelings faded after the season concluded. Season Two covers some events that I was a part of in "real life" so the past few months I've been on the phone with fact checkers wanting to get everything right--or at least wanting to seem that they want to get everything right. This past Sunday I got to see the first two episodes of the new season and I have to say--its pretty great. It feels looser than last season, and has so much more humor, even as it moves into one of the grimmest periods of the recovery, including the murders of Dinneral Shavers and Helen Hill.

And here's another reason to start blogging again--I just passed the one year mark of my horrendous week in the Tulane Hospital. There is hope.