Mar 16 2014

THE WAR ON PETS

A NEW THREAT TO HOMELAND SECURITY

Stories of animal abuse and neglect are nothing new. But in San Francisco, there

is a new threat to pets that is especially alarming, as it is more akin to an act of

terrorism aimed at dogs and/or dog owners. Even worse, there are no suspects

in the cases of this cruel new trend.

In July of 2013 and February 2014, strychnine-laced meatballs were scattered in

parts of the city’s Twin Peaks neighborhood, tucked away in carports, stairwells,

curbs, and bushes; places your pet — or quite possibly, a toddler — is likely to

get into before you can shout, “No!”

The incident in February resulted in the death of a 7-year old dachshund, and

several other dogs needing treatment. Fortunately, the latest discovery has

resulted in no deaths, as diligent residents have been on high alert. The Animal

Legal Defense Fund, SFDOG, and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman – himself a

San Francisco resident and dog owner – have teamed up to offer a $25,000

reward to help track down the perpetrator(s) responsible for distributing the

poisoned meatballs, which is a felony.

San Francisco is one of the most pet-progressive cities in the nation, where,

according to 2010 census figures, pets outnumber children 120,000 to 107,000; a

trend not exclusive to the City by the Bay, as evidenced by the explosion of pet

boutiques, events, and services throughout the United States. But not everyone

is pleased about this movement. Landords, park conservationists, and

environmentalists all have legitimate reasons for not wanting dogs in buildings,

parks, or natural habitats.

Are such attacks the new hate crime; the start of a growing trend of terrorism

against dog or dog owners? The director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s

criminal justice program, Scott Heiser, seems to think so. “Sadly, we see these

cases all too often throughout the country. The twisted, sick and, in most cases,

sociopathic individuals who engage in this sort of conduct present a very real

threat to not just the pets in a community but to the humans as well. These

offenders see themselves as answering a higher calling. In their narcissistic

world, it is a short leap from poisoning dogs to culling the community of other

‘unwanteds.’ They can justify almost any conduct in the name of ‘control’ or

‘restoring order’ and that strained logic is more than troubling when used to

legitimize any killing.”

Back in San Francisco, pet owners carry on, cautiously. “It’s been scary for a lot

of people,” says Lena Bella, founder of K9 Master Dog Training and volunteer

organizer at Rocket Dog Rescue. “Many of my clients and adopters have been

walking their dogs with muzzles to be safe. It has made many people very

nervous and uncomfortable even walking their pets.”

If you have information relating to the identity of the person or persons involved,

please contact the Animal Legal Defense Fund at 707-795-2533, x1010.


Jul 7 2013

The Old Man On The Park Bench. North Beach, 1993.

The closest I’ll come to time travel and meeting myself 20 years ago

I recently moved. While unpacking, I found something I’d written twenty years ago. I’d forgotten about the essay, and about the encounter that inspired it; that is, until I reread it; then it all flooded back — like when someone shows you  a photo of yourself taken years ago that you don’t recall being taken.

In this story, I was the girl in the red beret. I don’t know why I wrote it in the voice of the old man, but it’s obvious that even then, twenty years ago, my elderly father’s mortality was very much on my mind. When my brothers and I reunited to be with him for the final month of his life in 2007, I had no intention of writing a play, “It Is What It Is,” inspired by that experience. But that play is also about long buried memories we rediscover when we read something written at a certain time in the past, and about how — even in our most meaningless texts — we are in a way choosing what we document in our lives every day. Which is not entirely unlike me rediscovering this essay now, twenty years after it was written. Here it is:

NORTH BEACH, WEDNESDAY, 1993

This is the only time of the day that this street, this neighborhood, looks the way it used to. Except for the cars passing by… the cars are different. I don’t notice them much. Usually, they’re just in the background.

wsp1950sI remember when I was young and every morning I’d see the old Italian men in the neighborhood sitting here on this same bench I’m sitting on now, talking to each other in Italian. I never paid much attention to them. I mean, I noticed them, as they fed the pigeons. But I guess I thought of them like I thought of the benches, the pigeons, and the statues: all part of the park itself. I thought they’d be there forever and I thought I’d be young forever too.

I never thought I’d be an old man, like a child never thinks he’ll be anything but a child. But these things happen and we don’t even think about it until it’s long since happened. Then we realize the loss of time… at least, I do. Somehow I think that if I’d thought of it then, of growing old, I could have prevented it. Like I could have taken control. Instead, no! Time took control. I stopped paying attention to it and it got the upper hand and it beat me.

I noticed some young men standing on the corner as I walked past them earlier – Christ, they probably thought I hobbled past them. Which, I did. I do. I do hobble now. It felt good so to sit down on this here bench. God, how good it felt to sit. Tired after three blocks, mostly downhill. When I was the young man standing on the corner, I pitied the old men. But I never thought I could turn into one of then, any more than I thought I could turn into a bench or a pigeon or a statue.

Do the young men pity me now? How can they not? They don’t see I’m the same as them. I once was them, as they will one day be me.

I don’t understand it, how I still think exactly the same as I did when I was young – yet to others, I look so different. So old.  They think I was always old, with nothing to do but count the days. At least that’s what I used to think of the old men when I was young. Those old men are all long dead by now.

I like it here in the morning, once I sit down. It’s quiet, just a few people on their way to work. There’ll be a lot of people on their way to work in an hour or so, then it changes. It’ll be rushed. Now, it’s new; it feels new and fresh and very peaceful. And I’m part of it. The sun’s not out yet. I mean it’s risen, but it’s still so hazy and foggy, you can’t even see it. Every day starts out overcast here, and I like that. But usually the sun eventually burns through. Then the people don’t wear their coats and hats. I like seeing people in coats and hats. People used to always wear hats. Now they can’t be bothered, only when it’s cold out. But here in the early morning, they wear them, and the scene looks like it used to look years ago. The brighter the coats and hats, the better!

Like this gal passing by right now. What a cutie! She’s wearing a red beret, like mine (though mine’s gray). She’s wearing a matching red raincoat with little blond curls and big brown eyes peeking out from under the beret. Can’t see much of her body under that coat, but she’s not skinny – and I like that! I always liked women’s bodies to look like women’s bodies. I used to love big tits. Still do. I just haven’t had my hands on some in too long to remember. My wife’s were big. Still are. But they’ve changed. When we were young, they stood up and saluted, like they were as glad to see me as I was to see them. Now they hang low, staring at the ground whenever I’m around. Guess I’m not such a sight anymore, either.

The cutie in the red beret is still standing on the corner, so close I could poke her with my cane. The light turned green and she didn’t cross; she just stood there, staring. At me. I look up and catch her eye and she looks off a little to the left, I think she’s embarrassed. I give the kid a break and stop looking at her. But I can still see her and she’s staring at me again, just standing there looking very sad. I’m kinda enjoying all this attention. No young lady has looked at me in who-knows-how-long. But she’s not looking at me the way I used to be looked at by the ladies, the way I’d give one of my few remaining years to be looked at again: a look of desire, a look with sex written all over it.

Instead, she looks at me sadly. She pities me, as I used to pity the old men. I bet I remind her of a grandfather. A dead grandfather. I don’t want to be her dead grandfather.

She looks down at her feet for a few seconds. It almost seems, for an instant, that she might come over here. But no, this time the light turns green, ad she walks away, waiting for everyone else to step off the curb first. Did you see that, Charlie? She looked over her shoulder at me for a final glance! Ciao, Bella.

I feel like I was mean to her. I could have said Hello. She was thinking, she wanted to say something to me… maybe something she didn’t get to say to her dead grandfather. She was too scared. You know what? I was too scared to say anything, too.

Here comes Pete now. Better move this newspaper so he’ll have room to sit – Christ, he moves slower than I do. I hope I don’t look like that when I walk. You go play with the other pigeons now, Charlie. Go see if you can  get a little action with that cute little white one over there. She’s been watching you this whole time. Don’t blow this opportunity…marios

 


Mar 2 2013

I am “Divorced With Dog”

Concept for a web series,where

“Sex and the City” meets “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”

For everyone who’s single, but not without a best friend.

Darian is reconstructing a life after divorce. When she rescues pup Picard, she finds herself getting some unexpected lessons — and finding adventure — in the darndest places.

It all started with this:

For more Divorced With Dog, check out the blog: www.doggiedoo.org, and don’t forget to Like their Facebook page!


Jan 30 2012

Friday the 13th (of April) double feature: “It Is What It Is” and “The Watch Tower” on one stage!

Join me for the long, long  long-awaited premiere of the full-length production of “It Is What It Is.” No more chopping it down to fit festival time restrictions. This time we’re doing it the right way! But wait — it gets better! Right after, on the same stage will be the premiere of the short play “The Watch Tower,” by award-winning writer Chris Barranti. Both shows directed by Kathryn L. Wood.

It Is What It Is incorporates real-time multimedia (text, email, IM) to illustrate that among the simultaneous conversations we may have at any given time, the medium greatly affects the message.At its core, it is the story of three estranged siblings who reunite at their elderly father’s death bed. In doing so, it comes to light how childhood “memories” (or, are they?) helped define the adults they became. As they struggle through this crisis — and the other issues in their lives — they consciously or unconsciously are “shaping” these new experiences; thus curating future memories. It also explores the idea that what we choose to document (and how honestly we document it) helps impacts not only our memories, but also our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us.

The Watch Tower was born from reflections on Henry David Thoreau’s, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go the grave with the song still in them.”  The action centers at San Francisco bar and grill during a combustible rainy afternoon. All share a unique emotional starvation and intersect at the very height of hunger. The results are combative, absurdly humorous and finally awakening.

All shows at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94102. Ticket information will be announced shortly. Performance dates / times (all in  April 2012):

13, 14 (8pm); 15 (3pm) / 19, 20, 21 (8pm) / 27, 28 (8pm); 29 (3pm)

21561 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


Jun 17 2010

Chapter 10: San Francisco’s A Small World After All!

When Gray & Nameless visit their dear friend, Mr. Boo, in his San Francisco neighborhood of  Chinatown, they discover an entirely different culture  — and are set on a journey to learn about as many cultures as possible in San Francisco’s many ethnic neighborhoods!


Jan 13 2010

City Pups


Jan 12 2010

Chapter 7: Adventures Doing Good Deeds!

One night, Gray & Nameless learned that helping others is its own reward. And it can be fun!


Dec 2 2009

Trifecta of Happiness (December 1, 2009 edition)

1. Holidays in San Francisco; 2. Pretty lights at night; 3. Zamboni on ice.

1. Holidays in San Francisco; 2. Pretty lights at night; 3. Zamboni on ice.


Oct 18 2009

My Litcrawl: The View From Clarion Alley

My view of Clarion Alley at Litcrawl, just before my debut reading as Vulva Fervor.

My view of Clarion Alley at Litcrawl, just before my debut reading as Vulva Fervor.


Oct 12 2009

Meet International Secret Agent, Vulva Fervor, in person at Litquake’s Litcrawl

Vulva Fervor: waitin' on the man. Or woman.

Vulva Fervor: waitin' on the man. Or woman. Or...

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Litquake. If that weren’t exciting enough, I am honored to be introducing the legendary International Secret Agent Vulva Fervor, in her first ever public appearance in San Francisco. Agent Fervor will be kicking off Litquake’s Litcrawl in Clarion Alley by reading an excerpt from her memoirs, The Adventures Of Vulva Fervor. The theme is “Dirty In The Alley: Literature From The Gutter Up”. Vulva is still uncertain why she was asked to read on such a theme, but honored and delighted nonetheless.

Impossibly stylish security detail will be provided by the Mrs. Robinson Society. Frankly I expect the whole event to go down without incident. But there is always the off-chance that Vulva’s stupid sister Viva may make an unexpected appearance. And should that happen, all bets are off as to what could happen.

All of this happens on Saturday, October 17, at 18:00 PST. on Clarion Alley in San Francisco’s Mission District.