Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Went to Manhattan and All I Got Was a Doorknob

Frequent readers here know that one of my obsessions is the search for the perfect door knob. I think I may have found it. Sunday's visit to MOMA to see the Van Gogh exhibit was a bit disappointing. Perhaps it was a bit overhyped. The couple of dozen paintings were superb, and it was amazing to see Starry Night and The Potato Eaters. I guess I was just expecting it to be a much larger exhibit.

However, after a stepped out just a tad discouraged, I stepped into the interior design exhibit and gasped. There is front of me was a doorknob designed by my favorite American architect, Louis Sullivan. Though I've long since been burned out on Absolutely Fabulous, my favorite episode was when Patsy and Edina flew on the Concord to New York with the single purpose of finding the perfect doorknob and then flew back the same day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you perfection.

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Yoo Shud Cawl Us

Seconds before we were about to land at JFK on Friday, this commercial from the local NBC affiliate came up on the little screen in the back of the seat on jetBlue. I love this woman, and this is the type of accent and look I so miss since moving west. I searched the far corners of Manhattan hoping to run into her, but she must have been at home sipping her cosmos on Staten Island.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Biggest. Drop. Ever.

After having a great visit with Gary's first grade students, this afternoon I headed down to Ground Zero and Wall Street since I've not been there in years and it's a place that's been on many of our minds lately. I got there just around the time the news about the failed attempts to push through the bailout hit and stocks were falling. People weren't jumping out of buildings, but the place was swarming with reporters, tourists who weren't exactly smiling and the air was filled with an odd stiffness I've never experienced in the neighborhood.

Making it all the more surreal, I saw a glimpse of myself while watching a CNN report on my jetBlue flight back home.

This was definitely not the highlight of my Manhattan trip, but I thought I'd post it since it's a rare time that I actually crossed paths so closely with world news.

Photos and stories of my four days in Manhattan to follow, but I'm now ready for bed since it's nearly 2 a.m. Eastern Time. Mouse beat me to the punch with this slide show.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taking Manhattan

I left the laptop at home and only brought my ancient (circa mid-2006) TREO, so I will just give a quick update to say I am having a glorius time in New York, albeit with humidity and rain. Last night's blogger meet up was great fun as were seeing Boeing Boeing and August - Osage County. Details and photos to follow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First We Take Manhattan

In barely 48 hours, I'll be arriving in Manhattan for a jam packed weekend highlighted by the great blogger meet up. If you didn't already get the news, plan to be at the SOHO Grand Lounge this Saturday, September 27, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Other mischief and adventures will precede and follow.

And if you've not seen the video promoting this convergence, it is here.

Special thanks to the lovely Salty Miss Jill for making this happen.
ATTENTION LA AND PORTLAND BLOGGERS: I'll be in Oregon October 6-9 and LA October 27-31 +/- . I'd love to meet some of you on those trips if anyone has suggestions. I promise to host something here in SF soon.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rescue Basenji Week Three

Okay, I know everyone's upset by the lack of recent basenji photos. We're well into week three, fast approaching a month of Guru at my house. I must admit that I adore the guy but am still waiting until I know it's a perfect match for both of us.

I have invested many, many hours and quite a few dollars so far on animal training research, dog walkers, dog sitters, doggie day care, baby gates, Bitter Apple anti-chew spray, etc. My trip to LA last week was a first test to see how he'd do with me away and being with his dog sitter, a charming retired guy with a lot of patience and desire to make the adoption work. All went perfectly. The next night I stepped out four just a few hours and blocked off part of the house so that he did not have access to his favorite window, and I came home to find he'd ripped the carpet up from around the front door since he could hear things outside but not see them. This was the first time I'd left him alone without having full run of the house, and I learned my lesson. He's been alone with full run of the house for up to eight hours and not chewed on or damaged anything. But he's chewed on more than a few precious things when I have been around.

So my four day trip to the East this weekend will be a big test, and I've received a wealth of advice, much of it contradictory, confusing and conflicting. Ultimately it's like raising a child -- you have to own the issue yourself, and advice from others is just their perspective not gospel. The dog sitter will be with him for most of the time I'm away. What would be my reaction and action were I to come home to shredded drapes and furniture? Well, none of it is priceless but some of it pricey. Regardless, I'm committed to making sure he is ultimately in the best home for him and would hope it is one shared with me.

The other issue is that he's never socialized with other dogs or walked in a big city. As far as I can tell he's never been leash trained. I've attempted a number of walks which have ranged from challenging to terrorizing when we encounter other dogs. Little yappers are the worst. I'm also committed to doing a series of training for that since my dream is to have a dog that would enjoy going to Fort Funston and playing with other pooches.

Stay tuned.

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The Mission the Way It Is

We have so many glorious things here in the Mission. Bryce Digdug has been writing about how much he admires the documentary Elvis: The Way It Is. But one need just stroll down Misison to Al's Cafe and see some great Elvis dolls, or up a few blocks for a man girdle. Really, can any neighborhood top this one?

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Been a While

I have been in full tilt crazy busy mode since Wednesday that began with a DBI inspection of my building as it is transformed from TIC to condo (good news for me, albeit with fees, inspectors peeking into closets and cabinets, and a lot of repairs). Thursday I made a quick day trip to a memorial for a 92-year-old donor who was an amazing, liberal spirit, having campaigned for Upton Sinclair in the 1930s as a college student.

This weekend I have been speaking at screenings of the new Sundance documentary Flow: For Love of Water. It's definitely worth checking out. To date I've not talked much about my work life here but am rethinking that. I've thought about launching a parallel site for that and maybe one for Guru. But, well, there's not that much time in a day.

Check out Flow here and consider signing Article 31 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It takes two seconds, and it could be your contribution to saving a life halfway across the globe. Go here to sign on.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Foggy Afternoons...

...were made for tasty chew bone treats.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Black Monday

Yesterday over cake and coffee a friend and I were talking election nightmares the way I used to tell ghost stories with fellow Wolf scouts by a camp fire enjoying 'smores and hoping I wasn't being too blatant at looking up their shorts. As I babbled on about how I still held that image of Obama in the stadium in Denver and those wonderful "real people" testimonials, we both imagined a McCain-Palin White House. McCain would be dead in the first six months. If not by natural causes then by the gun of a hired pair of Russian/Iranian hitmen. A President McCain is more likely to be the target of a right wing bullet than a President Obama, we concluded.

Oddly at the most secure financial position in my life that could still suddenly slide down the slippery slope, I must relish that today's news from Wall Street may be the same fuel that turned the tide in 1992. I really want to attend Bye Bye Bush parties the way I didn't on a blustery January night in 1993, filled with hope that there really is justice in the world. I still believe and demand that hope return.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Krippled Keith

At the invitation of Friendatella, I joined him this afternoon for the matinee of The Universe of Keith Haring at the Roxie. It proved to be a decent and interesting documentary. I must admit that the iconic, overly exposed images of Haring's have grated on me over the years in much the same way those of Frida Kahlo have. However while the recent SFMOMA show of Kahlo's work radically forced me rethink my opinion of her, I didn't walk away with quite so radical a turn around with Haring. Friendatella and I agreed that the documentary was engaging enough but lacked real "muscle". Kenny Scharf's description of Haring's final hours was moving, but there was no real tug of emotion up to that point.

Haring did come across as a generally playful, politically engaged artist with little evident cynicism. There was some hype such as Yoko Ono talking about sneaking his ashes to scatter in Paris and contention that he opened the Pop Shop on Lafayette (two doors down from where I worked in the early 1990s) not for profit but to bring his art to the masses. His displays of sexuality were neither shocking nor angry, simply playful and celebratory. His atomic dancing babies, however, have always tired me. I do like some of his work that in excessive repetition starts looking like West African mud cloth.

Back in his era, I thought he was a fey but not that interesting or attractive nerdy celebrity. Today his nerd appeal and lean form are far more appealing to me. However, I almost got chills when I saw the images of him from infancy to about age 12. He looked exactly like L'il Junk Thief, horn rimmed glasses, burr haircut, artistic temperament and all.

She Nailed It

I haven't watched SNL with any regularity or interest for more than 20 years, especially since Tina Fey's departure. After two weeks of everyone saying Palin was a Tina Fey twin, she got the accent and mannerisms down perfectly. What is that accent? It's sort of weird mix of Fargo meets Long Island to my ear. However, I think Tina's hella lot cuter than Palin. And I bet she has held a passport for a lot longer.

In Today's Style Section

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle (yes, I actually still take a few minutes on Sunday mornings to scan it) has a theme for the cover page of its style section: gurus. It's not exactly scintillating reading, but here is the link should you care to take a glimpse. Shockingly they failed to mention the Guru.

Side note: After several days of interviews, background checks and screenings we think we have a babysitter in place. The McCain campaign should have contracted Junk Thief for the VP selection process since he certainly has much better vetting skills. No, not medical vetting skills.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Best Westboro Baptist Confrontation. Ever.

Hey, do you know where I can score some poppers?

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Seen in My Neighborhood

At the community center of the Bernal Dwellings public housing project. Do they have no idea how some might interpret this?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

JTTV - Season 3 Premier

I know that you've been waiting on pins and needles for this. So here it is, the third season of Junk Thief TV. BE WARNED: If you stop by here frequently, you appear in the finale. If you're offended, let us know and you'll be removed. If you're offended that you don't appear, let us know, and you'll appear in a future episode. Even Guru came down from his serene cloud and makes a brief but memorable appearance.

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Guru's Star Is Fast on the Rise!

I have been very disciplined by not having mentioned him for at least two posts. Does anyone think I am not smitten by this basenji? Guru just said, "Please don't say dog. Only people who were insulted by the 'lipstick on a pig quote' would like a dog. I am a royal canine, not a dog."

UPDATE: Just after posting this I heard, for the first time, something I've not seen in any of the books or websites on this canine: the basenji purr. When Bunter died, I was devastated that I would never hear that comforting hum of the feline purr that exuded so much unconditional love. There aren't words able to express the gorgeous sound of a deeply contented and appreciative basenji, especially one that came into my home uncertain of what would become of him. He has suffered through neglect, indifference and confusion, but his ability to love and trust has not been dampened. His gorgeous, indented maple colored head presses into my thigh with the trusting belief that there is still kindness and caring in a world that hasn't always been fair to him. After seven years of foggy, relentless night, I am wary to admit that this creature shares with me a waivering flame of hope that dares to pierce forward. He knows that God's most precious creatures do not need lipstick. They push forward into the future, singing Yes We Can!

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On a Clear Day You Can See the Russian Federation

My weighing in on this much discussed interview probably provides no new insights. However, by age 16 I had far more stamps in my passport than this woman. Further I've met three heads of state, albeit from very impoverished nations. But I want a person in the White House who has met those heads of state and considers them as important as the ones from powerful nations.

This interview reminds me of interviews for administrative assistant's -- yes, of both genders -- where their nervousness about their lack of qualifications came shouting out like a fire alarm. If I were interviewing her for a position that involved more than filing and coding invoices, I would borrow her Bridge to Nowhere quote and say, "Thanks but no thanks." Able to field dress a moose? Absolutely. Able to mail merge and set up an Excel spreadsheet? Possibly, after some night classes at Platt College. Able to lead a nation or a state? Yes, but down the road to nowhere.

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Manhattan, Get Ready

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


It is a bit ironic that just as my corner of the Mission seems to be the hub bub of murder suddenly, it is happening on the parallel track of it's further gentrification. Perhaps gang members and Hell's Angels members need their share of sushi and vintage chic shops too. Limon, the groovy nuevo Peruvian restaurant has moved a few blocks east. The Frank Chu homage 12 Galaxies has shuttered up, but Omer is still at it. I saw him at his usual perch on the steps of the Social Security Administraiton building at 22nd and Valencia tonight. When he disappears, I will know the 12 Galaxy theory is true and we are all doomed.

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Face the Dog

Yes, there really is a...Dogbook, a parallel Facebook site. Oh, dear. Thanks to the introduction from Joy of I've Got a Crush on...ME! Now her Basil and Guru are at least cyber friends across the continent. Bunter and Whimsey's "In Loving Memory" profiles are still up over at Catster. Perhaps I should look for Gardenster so my agapanthia can make friends with others in New Zealand or something.

An amazing thing, these interwebs. I bet I can already predict Tugboat Dave's reaction to yet another wacky San Francisco-fused trend.

If you've not friended me already, my Facebook profile is here.

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Cindy on Central

Reading The New Yorker article about Cindy McCain and the attempt to move the McCains from 7110 Central Avenue to 1600 Pennsylvania sent me straight to Google Maps to see the place. Unfortunately they didn't list the addresses of the nine other houses (yes, that's their two higher account of at least Cindy's addresses).

Not completely unrelated, isn't this an adorable picture of Dick Nixon?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can I Just Hibernate Until Mid-November?

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Heart Strings and Mississippi

Even the movie obscura obsessed Junk Thief had never heard of this one released in the year of his birth, the story of a Mississippi boy and his basenji. Something suggests that it's a tear-jerker. Almost as much as a tear-jerker is the message that arrived tonight saying that if Junk Thief is ready to sign on the dotted line, Guru is permanent member of the JunkPlex. Of course, this happened just as Guru's now predictable 9:45 "frenzies" hit and he was trying to get into the kitchen cabinets, was playing with two dish towels like chew toys, was galloping up and down the hall like a speed crazed horse, scratching at the fridge, then digging and chewing at the couch ready to rip it open the way he has done to a dozen chew toys in half that many days, and then looking up with his brilliant almond shaped maple colored eyes as if to say "You are going to keep me, aren't you?" Junk Thief has always said that if you want a perfect home you better be ready to embrace loneliness, and no love is better than the one that is hard earned and comes with a few claw scratches and chew marks. The interactive assigment contiues: go or stay: temporary or permanent; short-term foster or life-long adoption?

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Caption This

Although I've been back since March, some of my fellow travelers just sent me a CD of photos that included this one where I made a speech on the main plaza of Guaranda, Ecuador. You can make up your own description of what you think is going on here.

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Saying No to Dick

I have used Credo as my long distance carrier since the late 1980s when it started out as Working Assets. I've yet to make the transition to it as my cell phone carrier. Besides having the best and quirkiest customer service I've ever dealt with, they are a corporation that's always been willing to be very strident about the causes they support, and the right one.

So I was pleased to receive this mailer from them that not only states their causes but takes on where their competitors' money is going.

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Baby, Let Your Tail Hang Down

Above is what most people on the street see as the state of a basenji tail. It's not a sign of aggression or tension but supposedly a practical measure to help them weave through thorny brush. It really doesn't help that much with whiny kids, ghetto blasters, skateboarders and pitbulls in the Mission.

On the right you see a rare example of an increasingly relaxed Guru. What do you think his tail is telling you? Can you believe that only five days ago the rescuers were calling him a disturbed, aggressive, territorial animal? Though it's also pretty clear who now rules the JunkPlex.

When I was up on the Polk yesterday I almost bought a fetish of an Egyptian Royal Court baseni. Last night after another training session with my "rescue sponsor" he shared some factoids about the capacity of basenjis to take down antelopes, water buffaloes (and I think I heard him say) Rhinos. No wonder I sometimes wonder about that 24 pounds of canine muscle cuddling up so innocently with me in bed.

However, though we are definitely still in the foster mode, I am getting hints that adoption is eminent and would usually take anywhere from six months to two years. Of course, there has been no bonding with this little caramel canine and Junk Thief. He's just doing it with the hope that there will be some left over Iams kibble.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

That Which Belongs to Itt

A nice counter balance to the Berkeley tree sitters and Code Pink is hearing an hour long discussion on a local station with a grammarian and a heated debate about its vs. it's and the confusing logic behind the two. What hasn't been brought up though is how one would deal with this in the case of Cousin Itt. To my mind, it would be correct to say, "We went to the opera in It'ts car."

Not directly related, but when as a child and heard the Beatles singing "Itt's drivin' me mad, Itt's drivn' me mad, Itt's drivin' me mad..." I thought they were referring to Cousin Itt. Of course, I also mistook "Woman, have you got cheating on your mind?" as "Woman, have you got chili on your mouth?"

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Let's Send the Caribou Barbie to the 94709!

I love trees. I hate the ideology of evangelical Republicans. I enjoy eating vegan meals when they are cooked well. I also enjoy animal based protein now and then. I recycle and compost. I'm not above going to big box stores or pay more at locally owned co-ops.

However, when I see more than one of our local news outlets leading with the story about the Berkeley tree sitters as if it were the most important story in the world, I think the office Sarah Palin should hold is at least city council member if not mayor of Berkeley. After my last post calling for an end to the violence in the Mission, I own up to the thrill of the vision of Ms. Palin and her assault rifle taking care of business with the tree sitters and then heading over to the Marine recruiting station to run Code Pink out of town. No bullets fired, mind you, but just to give these folks a reminder that there is a world outside of their patchouli and B.O. scented bubble.

Okay, I got that out of my system. Now on the peaceful images of protecting polar bears.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Art Where You Least Expect It

Bryce Digdug and I connected this afternoon for a matinee, a Pinter play...actually it was the movie Beautiful Losers about street culture artists, many with skate boarder or graffiti style backgrounds. It was a pleasantly rambling, high energy documentary with a rocking randomness.

I'd not been up to the Polk in a while, and it seems the hooker/heroin addict count was down. Another sign of the recession?

I did encounter a few interesting signs of street life and the arts along my way. Whiskey Thieves? I'm not sure I've encountered too many of them or if they would have an affinity with Junk Thieves. But we'll see.

It was also a bit of a surprise that the San Francisco Opera is now performing over at the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater. Hmmm, are they retrofitting the War Memorial Audiorium again?

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Mission Blood

After about a dozen years of living in the Mission, I've seen my share of gang violence and drive-by shootings that I've grown to not be too wary. But the number and proximity of recent ones is a bit spooky. Not being a member of Hell's Angels, having no visible gang member tattoos and usually not roaming the streets at 4:45 a.m. on a weekend, I don't feel I would be a likely target but could be the proverbial bystander caught in the crossfire.

Some business are saying they are ready to leave the neighborhood, ironically just as Sushi Bistro and other Noe Valley-esque spots are just arriving.

About six months ago there was a similar shooting right under the bay window where Guru watches street theater that did not result in a fatality but was spooky enough to make me extra diligent.

Well, I am sure that many of you are wanting yet another update on the boy. Now on our fourth day, the bonding is definitely on the fast track, but I'm becoming more aware of the extent of his special needs. The basenji rescue network has been very supportive, but the whole psychological make up of his previous household are emerging. He was a support dog to a disabled woman who let him rule the house and never socialized him with other dogs and very few people. Raised as strictly a house and yard dog in suburban Sacramento, his sudden arrival in San Francisco has been a huge shock to him. Our first few walks went fine, but this evening we came seriously close to disaster when we passed other dogs and he was on sensory overload as a MUNI bus, the singing and tambourine in the Hispanic Pentecostal church hit a crescendo, a low rider with a ghetto blaster passed and the guy with the yapping chihuahua started screaming at the pooch and me.

That hasn't nixed my hope to make it a permanent home for Guru, but it's obviously going to require some work. Seeing what an angel and love muffin he is when we're inside alone gives me the desire to rise to the challenge and tap into the resources to make it happen. As they say, it takes a village to raise a basenji.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Guru - The Movie

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Guru - 24 Hours and Counting

Guru has just passed the first 24 hour test. We did a "should he stay" straw poll with my co-workers. Can you guess how the votes stacked up? I've also already had one baby-sitter volunteer step up to offer to help for my upcoming travels.

Anyone else?

By the way, if he stays, Guru will become his middle name and he'll adopt the first name of Tarquin.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guru Is in the House

A victim of the foreclosure crisis, Guru arrived at the JunkPlex this afternoon. An on trial foster dog for up to three weeks.

Stay tuned...

...and weigh in on your thoughts for next steps.

UPDATE: My sister reminded me Friday that Guru arrived on what would have been my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. Prophetic?

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