Friday, October 31, 2008

Finally Got My Name on a Truck

Ain't that dangling thang below the first G especially impressive? How fitting that it was parked in front of my building all day.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Goodbye My Sweet Prince

After two months that have been 99% bliss, I am sorry to share that the other 1% has forced me to make the excruciating decision to return Guru to the rescue group on Friday. Nearly a dozen close calls involving his aggression with other dogs and strangers (the last one targeting the three-year-old great-grand daughter of my neighbor) and three biting incidents (the last one drawing blood), have finally forced me to agree to this painful decision. I would prefer to have a vital organ pulled out of me. But I have to keep reminding myself that he is a dog not my baby and that I have to be focused on what is best for him not my sentimental ideal of him. All the kudos from the rescue network assuring me that I've gone from being a basenji novice to an emerging expert don't help.

I keep trying to remind myself that I did exactly what I said that I would do by being a transitional foster parent and not his real dad during this chapter of his journey and would adopt only if it was absolutely certain that he would be safe and that he could cause no harm to those around him.

Just when I thought I was able to handle this decision, I came home tonight with him being the most excited and loving he has ever been after one of my trips.

There is no comfort in having to close my chapter with Guru, but now I am wrestling with making the decision of how best to respond to the need of providing a foster home to...
...or Benji and Maggie...
...or Bes and Sati. The challenge will be not taking on all five. There are many other basenjis out there needing love and care, and I am intent on providing it not letting it whither away because of this sad episode.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Quick View from the Road

Hi gang. Sorry that there's not much reporting this week as I am in San Luis Obispo, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Burbank, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Santa Monica all in the course of less than three and a half days. Wish I'd been able to add in an LA area blogger meet up but maybe next time. This is a view from my hotel window in SLO.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

What I Saw in the Alley

This afternoon, I headed over to Clarion Alley for their annual block party. Though a bit disappointed that there wasn't that much art, there were some fun acts and people, the highlight being the accordianiste extraordinaire balancing on he see-sawing board. She invited us to come see her next month at Circus Finelli billed as "A slapstick Slavic cabaret" that features "daring comedy and dangerous cutlery. Come for sights to entice and delight: juggling, cows, contortion, dance and disaster. All to the tune of European accordian and vaudeville ukelele." Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the first weekend after the Obama-Biden victory.

Below are further images from the big party.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who Can Really Deal with the Problem?

Odd as it may sound, I've always considered Laurie Anderson and Martha Stewart to be mirror images of each other. Both have monotone, detached voices devoid of emotion that are at once calming and disconcerting. Neither can stick to just one medium, and both were born in the 1950s. Laurie was a cheerleader and attended Columbia and Barnard, and Martha sells all the accessories that can make your home look like you went to those schools. Both can evoke the stance of a powerful business leader, but while Martha embraces French country ornament and pastels, Laurie is surrounded by stark and dark monochromes and highly industrial technology.

I went to see her Homeland show at Zellerbach in Berkeley this evening. A conversation over on Facebook with Kusala led me to fear it might be a four hour show. It was just two, and she had three curtain calls. Coming back for an encore she grabbed her string instrument to make some of us suspect that she might launch into "O, Superman" which becomes more biting with each passing year. Instead, it was just an acoustic instrumental as she pranced around the stage. At 61 she is still a wonderful prankster but put on a perfectly precise and disciplined show with an attention for detail that Martha would admire. The closest she came to "chatter" was introducing the musicians. She clearly is continuing to shape this show with up-to-the-second reference to McCain calling Rush Limbaugh a clown and then apologizing to the clowns, to many financial meltdown mentions and managing to get her biggest laugh when noting that the NRA was suggesting to women in Texas that they carry a hand gun in their purse but then qualifying -- with an apology that it might sound sexist -- that no woman in Texas would be able to find a gun in her purse.

The above tune got the biggest reaction, sort of the "dance hit" of the show, in a way.

The whole show was a nice relief to "this thing" we are stuck in, like a boil begging to be lanced, this anticipation of a dam about to burst, a mix of giddiness that Obama's win is imminent even though we will all be paupers, but that might be a glorious thing. This article in the current New York magazine grabs the whole thing more brilliantly than anything else I've read to date on the topic that unites all of us at the moment. Well, I guess it doesn't unite us with rich evangelicals who've weathered the stock roller coaster and are convinced that having an intellectual president that will make the French president look like a right wing radical is something to be concerned about.

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Basenji Fashion Friday

What all the well dressed basenjis are wearing these days.

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Strolling from Mission to Noe

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

What If... woke up one discover that what you thought was reality...
...suddenly burst...
...and spiraled downward...
...and the women...
...and men you so admired...
...left even the sleeping idiots in shock..
...while casting you as a dancing fool..
...who for too long embraced the power of markets to push us forward, without realizing the ones that can actually do that...
...are the ones that you've never taken the time to visit.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Costs of a Caribou Barbie

From today's New York Times:

If You Don’t Look Good, We Don’t Look Good

Is she a maverick, or a clotheshorse?

The Republican National Committee paid more than $150,000 for clothing, makeup and accessories in September that apparently went to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family, according to an article on

That included $9,447.71 to Macy’s, $789.72 to Barneys New York, $5,102.71 to Bloomingdales; $49,425.74 to Saks Fifth Avenue and $4,902.45 to Atelier.

In one heavyweight shopping trip in early September, $75,062.63 was spent at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, a host city of the Republican National Convention.

The expenditures were listed on the R.N.C.’s monthly financial disclosure forms.

Those forms also documented $4,716.49 on hair and makeup in September, expenses that were not incurred in August.

On the campaign trail, Ms. Palin is always impeccably turned out, sometime changing jackets, high heels and hairstyles twice or three times a day.

When asked for comment, Alex Conant, a spokesman for the R.N.C., said only: “The R.N.C. does not discuss expenses as it relates to strategy.”

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just Point Me Towards the Secretary of Slow Food

I've watched this clip several times, and I have to admit I am conflicted. My initial reaction was the same as that of most of those who have commented on it at YouTube. Here is a dumb, fat, mean, narrow-minded, racist woman who clearly wears the pants in the family. Maybe it's because I've been around a rescue dog for two months and know that much angry aggression is rooted in fear and insecurity more than a deep-rooted evil, but I have some sympathy for this couple. The man, at least, seems to evoke some empathy even if he doesn't seem to have much of a spine. They are in dire straits and clearly victims of a heartless capitalistic system, with at least Sean considering that maybe things should change course, and then Tracy speaks up...

Then, I started reading some of the comments, including those who googled her and have listed her home address and phone number encouraging people to send hate mail and hurled every misogynistic insult they can muster. One thing she says is absolutely true: There are a lot of other people that think the way she does.

About midway we see them at the table saying grace over their "meal" of pizza, sandwiches and soda. And it appears they're pouring salt on the pizza. Maybe it's all just chemical. I definitely agree with Michael Pollen in this interview yesterday that there should be a minister of food or gardening in the new administration, no matter who wins.

Call me a member of the urban cultural elite, but although I am probably a dozen or so years her senior I suspect I'll outlive Tracy whose Type Two Diabetes will end in multiple amputations until her bitter, clogged heart finally gives out at 55. Even she doesn't deserved that.

But, as I said, I'm conflicted until I hear her say "Uhbahma". It's thanks to voters like her that we've had the last eight years. Maybe I will write a letter.

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Caption This

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Monday, October 20, 2008

I Want to Live That Happily Ever After

With all the hoopla over how voting no on Prop. 8 will corrupt our children by bringing home the book King & King that is featured prominently in the Yes on Prop 8 ads, I was curious if this little book was fiction or not. This short book originally published in the Netherlands seems very sweet, and the only thing shocking surrounding the books are the parents in the ads who are appalled that it's wrong to teach their elementary children to be tolerant and respectful.

Oh, and apparently there is a sequel called King & King & Family. Such stories aren't fairy tales from a pretend land but civilized countries such as Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, etc. In the meantime, the Yes on Prop. 8 seem to think Zimbabwe is a superior cultural role model instead of western Europe.

UPDATE: Just a couple of minutes after posting this and being depressed by the amount of money being squandered on the pro-Prop. 8 campaign to allow people like the dim-witted bigots from out of state featured above, I ran into my neighbor Laura who got married a couple of weeks ago. She sighed and said that they may just have a couple more weeks of being legal. Then she told me that I could honor them by making a donation in their honor to the no on Prop. 8 campaign. It felt good to know that I took Anne and Laura from 40% to 90% of their goal. I urge you to go here and do the same, even if it's for strangers. The good karma will come back to you

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

All the Same, I Want Change Not Laughs

Just when I thought there was nothing that could top La Pequena's take on Sarah Palin, along comes this Martin Denny/Yma Sumac/Andrea Martin/Talking Heads take on the Bridge to Nowhere. You can check out more over at My Damn Channel. Thanks to Gavin Elster for tipping me off to this oddity.

It's lightly amusing and reminds me that were I to have any regret about an Obama-Biden administration it's that we would not have the surreal, apocalyptic laughs of a McCain and soon Palin White House. But, doggone it, I don't want or need that. And Obama-Biden win will merit a night or two of dancing in the streets and then much, much, much hard work to begin inching back to democracy, making some enormous sacrifices, belt tightening, dodging racist barbs (and we pray not bullets) and hoping that we regain some modest ground in the first four years in order to build a great but not conquering nation in the second administration.

It will be painful and sobering, but I prefer that to the sickening yuck fest of the past four years.

(Sidebar: Watching Taxi Driver tonight and seeing the fictional politician's slogan "Palantine We Are the People" I am struck by the similarities of that line.)

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Beauty and Brutality

Did anyone else watch tonight's 60 Minutes piece on brothers/
matadors Francisco and Cayetano Ordoñez? Oh. My. God.

Bullfighting is barbaric, cruel and archaic. But then there are matadors. I was on the edge of my seat and didn't blink once. I'm reminded that Spain is not perfection but it has some eye candy that is perfect. I want to go back and never return.

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Show Me Yours, I'll Show You Mine

Following the lead of Tugboat Dave's photo challenge I am posting a shot of my work space. I think we've done this before, but feel free to chime in again. Is it just me, or does it appear that Dave and I have the same wall color? This has served as both my real work and play work office, but I am about to launch a new play work site in my utility room. Also, that's my work not Junk Thief computer.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mas Pequeña

Chile has a national treasure to rival Neruda in the small package of La Pequeña. Hillary Clinton, Mother Teresa, Ingrid Betancourt and Shania Twain are just a few of the targets of this subversive drag artiste. I'm amazed.

And here's Amy Winehouse like you never saw her.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Because Gilligan Won't Go Away

It was Halloween night 2004, not too long after the most haunting photos of the new millennium had been released. Halfway through my smoke trout salad at the Atlas Cafe at 21st and Alabama, I looked up to see two adult trick or treaters. A young woman in fatigues with a cigarette dangling from her lips was followed by a barefoot man in the familiar black cape and hood that would later be attributed to "Gilligan". He pulled out a small wood box, stood in crucifix position while the young woman winked and pointed at him, and -- in unison -- the two sneered "trick or treat".

A third of my fellow diners laughed, another third sneered or muttered "tasteless" and another third, like me, stared bewildered. When one woman finally shouted out "You should be ashamed of yourself", the guy in the black hood pulled it off and cackled "Lighten up lady, it's not as if we have blood on our hands."

Nearly four years later, that image is as potent as ever and one to summon up in the midst of the far less important issues of Joe the Plumber, Levi and Bristol, Bill Ayers, the crazy "He's an Arab" lady in Minnesota or even the stock market.

While much hoopla has been trumpeting today's release of W., I am glad that instead I spent last night watching this week's DVD release of Erroll Morris' Standard Operating Procedure. I've been so burned out on so many doom and gloom documentaries over the past nightmarish years that I wondered if I had the energy for it. I gave up on self-righteous blow-hard Michael Moore about five years ago, but I've always admired much of Morris' approach. Though he almost goes too far the opposite direction of Moore of distancing himself from his subjects who sometimes drone on senselessly without him taking the reins or giving the context we need.

The crimes of the past eight years committed in the name of the United States are so endless that it's easy to erase or ignore them. But taking such an intense look at just Abu Ghraib was a sobering reminder of just how great they are how crucial changing course is to the future of humanity.

There are very few facts or images in SOP that I had not already seen or read over the past four years, but not in such a dense and intense two hour viewing. While Oliver Stone seems to be intent to give the full tragic arch of the Bush administration and larger family dynasty, this film does a far better job without ever really mentioning the administration and with only one flash second image of W. and Rumsfeld.

There is not a single, completely positive character on camera among the various, mainly low ranking members of the military who took the brunt of the blame. It's excruciating to watch Lynndie England who was the poster child of the events. She is as dull witted and unenlightened as ever as she mumbles "....we didn't kill anybody..." and at 25 is puffy and could pass for a woman twice that age. Yet as I read her biography elsewhere and noted that she went into the military in order to get out of a low wage night job, there is a certain tragedy to her fate. Not that it excuses what she did but gives it a weird poignancy and tragedy that is hard to reconcile with her seeming absence or remorse or understanding.

Even harder to reconcile is Sabrina Harman -- the "thumbs up" photographer who would later claim she posed with corpses to expose wrong-doing -- who still has a muted sparkle about her. She owns up to what was wrong, but it's hard to tell how much of her is real and how much is her own invention. Just as the documentary, which relies heavily on suspicious "re-enactments", sometimes seems suspect, it also points out that photographs don't exactly lie but also don't reveal the entire truth.

After two hours, it was clear that this is not even the tip of the iceberg but the misty air above the iceberg of cold-hearted crimes committed in the name of democracy.

In the end, the Iraqi prisoners remained nameless and just the photographs of naked, hooded, frightened men we have seen over and over. Likely some have committed crimes of some sort, but most are probably just as they are described -- cab drivers, shepherds, news stand operators -- hauled up, tortured, raped, humiliated and fodder for the economic and moral bankruptcy of the U.S.

I came away feeling worse about the country where I live but also feeling less blinded and numb to all that has taken place and hoping it's not too late to change course.

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What We're Seeing These Days in the Mission

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

In These Modern Times

Yes, I did listen to the debate and regret seeing all the bits of body language.

And, lo and behold, I had a dream about McCain last night. (At least I didn't dream about dead relatives or drowning for a change.) I was in my kitchen, and McCain and several people had apparently had a sleep over at my house. McCain and I were about to put bagels in the toaster. I stepped back and with affected politeness said, "No, Senator, you go first. As a guest in my house, I insist."

He flashed his fake smile and replied, "No, my friend, you go ahead."

"No, I insist."

"Really, my friend, I am content to wait."

Knowing this cat and mouse game of feigned politeness would only delay the agony, I popped my bagel in for what felt like the longest 90 seconds of silence as we both tried to avoid eye contact. I knew that I didn't want to engage in any chatter with him, and he seemed to know that trying to gain my vote was futile.

Finally, I attempted to at least say something a-political and polite. "You're so lucky to live in a state with the Saguaro National Park. It's such a treasure."

"You know, my friend, I've still never had the chance to get down there...with all my travel and all, but Cindy and the kids say it's gorgeous."

Just then, I heard my bagel pop up, McCain rushed behind me to put in his, and then I could hear Guru yawning and I woke up.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Krugman the Movie

Just as many are re-examining Oliver Stone's Wall Street, it was fitting that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize just as his warnings about the global economy came true. I've read him for quite a number of years and have been a bit embarrassed to admit to finding him to be a heart throb. The right mix of salt and pepper, intense eyes and a Nobel to boot are a good combination. Word of George Clooney now playing him in a movie may prove me to be not as wacky as I'd feared.

Most important we can hope that events of the past few weeks might finally convince people that Milton Friedman and the market driven economy might be just a wee bit, dare I say it, flawed.

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Live from Chile: La Palinita!

UPDATE: And at last I've found a clip of my favorite scene from the RNC, in which the other Palinita proves there are feline genes in that bloodline.

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I Got Mine. You Got Yours?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Hours With Your New Personal Trainer...

...deserve some "alone" time and extra Natural Balance treats while Junk Thief treats himself to high end Basque cheese (that Guru hopes he gets to nibble later) and maybe one extra glass of Chardonnay. (Though Guru will never tell...provided he gets that cheese. Where is it!).

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Monday, October 13, 2008

My 'Hood and Building Defy Prop. 8

The two nice women who live on the top floor of my building got married this weekend, with these rose petals on our steps serving as a nice remnant of the milestone. For those not from California or not following the news, Proposition 8 is the "definition of marriage" or, more accurately, "let's make sure we continue to make same sex couples second class citizens" initiative.

I sure hope the car parked across the street is not their honeymoon vehicle. On second thought, I sort of hope that it is since it sort of screams out defiance and celebration.

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Cool Autumn Mornings...

...make those with ancient African blood lines prefer to stay in this position

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Which D Scare Us the Most?

Despair is one of the most maligned emotions, and it is the one that has been on many of our minds recently. All people, regardless of political stripes, seem to feel it about the economy. A likely -- we hope definite -- majority feel it about a McCain-Palin White House. That woman who told John McCain that Obama is "an Arab" obviously felt it in her murky mental haze that gave even the Arizona Senator a certain pause. Though this supposedly brave warrior lacked the courage and decency to respond, "And wouldn't our country and world be a better place if, in fact, he were?"

Wouldn't we all long to erase despair from the earth? It seems to be part of that horrible, sequential trilogy of Ds -- dread, despair and depression (or as many are filled with dread and despair will translate into Depression not just depression). We have an entire industry that provides us with little pills that we believe will protect us from these three dreaded Ds, yet they never manage to erase their root causes.

Much of my life I have experienced at least one or all three of these Ds, sometimes coming from divergent streams. At the moment I feel only a slight part of the first one, but it's not even that pronounced. I only appreciate that I feel it, acknowledge it and don't yield to it. Am I just singing another word for nothin' left to lose or have I reached a point of contentment without even realizing it?

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New in My 'Hood

I'm not sure if it's a sign of the new economy or a last remnant of the old one, but I finally got around to stopping by Dynamo SF, just around the corner from me after its opening a month or so back. Bryce Digdug often speak of the Bi-Rite phenomenon, and it's easy to see how a place that serves simply coffee and dough nuts could be seen as a part of that. However, at $2.50 for a simple cup of coffee, one wonders how long such a place will hang on charging what would be pricey even at an airport.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday Night Bliss

Iceland is broke, the U.S. is beyond broke, Palin is in her rabid foam spewing moose mode, we'll never hear the phrase "Paul Newman's newest movie", half of my friends east of Reno have some sort of early nasal/chest infection.

But in the spirit of the Power of Now, I feel incredibly blissful. A short list from the past 72 hours that makes me feel that way:
* The fall weather in Oregon was, in a word, perfect.
* I met 50 to 60 people ranging in ages from 18 to 93, all of whom are not just voting for Obama-Biden but taking every person they know without a car to the polls. Oregon is cobalt blue come November.
* Even though I got completely lost driving to Forest Grove today, the journey took me through some of the most gorgeous farmland and deliciously ramshackle barns I've ever seen. If only I wasn't in such a time crunch and could have gotten photos.
* Everyone I met gave me tips about great political actions taking place to reclaim democracy and recommending or hading me great books.
* A young couple off Burnside showed me an incredible action figure their artist friend did in the likeness of Bolivian president Evo Morales.
* My meager investments tied vaguely to the stock market are still in the positive digits.
* My total credit card debt totals $30 -- the amount I paid to check a bag both ways on United -- and will be paid off the second I receive the bill after years...decades...of having bills that seemed to add another digit to the total each year.
* The wacko priests standing next two me in boarding zone four were seated two rows ahead of me, not next to me and my iPod touch drowned out their babble.
* My flight home arrived at SFO 10 minutes early.
* My bag was the 10th one off the carousel.
* I found a parking 100 feet from my front door and not at a parking meter.
* There was absolutely no doggie damage to the house and a glowing note from the dog sitter on what a gentlemen Guru was the entire week.
* I was greeted by the gorgeous creature above and below who was overcome with joy.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Oregon Twilight

Three days, 14 appointments and 425 miles of driving later, I am not feeling particularly tired. Oregon is definitely in my list of ten best states in the U.S. -- can you guess the other nine? Before a dinner of halibut and a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, I nabbed these shots that remind me how much I miss autumn or nearly autumn leaves in northern California.

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