Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thanking the Monkey

(That's a fairly unflattering shot of me in Ventura last week.)

No good deed goes unpunished. I have this gross virus (don't get too close to your computer) that was surely caused from my kind hearted attempt to quiet a little child (Deon) sitting behind me on the plane ride from LAX to JFK. The fever and chills even brought me to the doctor, a place I haven't been in at least 7 or 8 years. Alas, I am beginning to feel better, thanks to a VERY patient girlfriend and an empathic and warm doggie.

My trip to California was, just that, a trip. I had a great time on the other side of the country, doing outreach and whatnot. (The whatnot was particularly fun.) On my final day, I stayed with my friend Karen Dawn. Karen's new book, Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals hits bookstores TODAY and I SWEAR ON MY LIFE, we do not have another 101-type book that is this comprehensive, sensitive, witty, and on the mark. There are tons of cartoons scattered throughout this book, including those of my other buddy Dan (who is also a complete genius), and beautiful veg celebs, like the wickedly hot Pink. Karen does a brilliant job of approaching the welfare-abolitionist argument, and then, like any good advocate, she moves past it, and onto more important uses of energy, such as informing her readers about everything from animals in circuses to farm animals. And her dogs are also throughout the book... I had the huge privilege of spending time with these dogs last week. Buster and Paula are fabulous, and Buster sings Joni Mitchell songs quite well. Here is a pictures of Paula:

I love them! I miss them! Though being with them made me miss my Rose, and of course my Xhosa.

Funny afterword: TWO DAYS LATER, I decided to walk Rose around the block late at night. I took her a different route, and as I turned the corner onto Prince Street, who do I see standing outside of a bar on the phone but KAREN DAWN! It was hilarious. 15 minutes later, Mariann and I were having a drink with Karen AND Rose! Thank you to the Soho Grand, and it's dog-friendly rules.

And now I'm sick as a dog.

Here are some pictures from Mariann's birthday party a few weeks ago:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jasmin Avenue, California USA

I write to you from Orange County, California, where I'm attempting to warm up my freezing cold motel room. I'm here assisting in outreach on the historic Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which, if passed, would ban three of the cruelest confinement systems for farm animals--battery cages, gestation crates, and veal crates.
California for Humane Farms is a coalition of animal protection organizations, spear-headed by the fabulous Farm Sanctuary and HSUS, as well as many other smaller animal protection organizations. If you've read my blog before, you know that I am the outreach coordinator for Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. We have worked with thousands of volunteers to gather 800,000 sigantures from people who want to see this on the ballot in November--and it worked! Mainly through volunteers, we have gained enough signatures to bring the vote to the people.

Anyone who doesn't think that vegans travel around in style have not seen Black Beauty. That's the name of the truck I'm traveling around in, with Jason P. driving Miss Jasmin. The truck has 3 80-inch screens, and at night we show footage of factory farming. During the day, the screens are covered with messaging tarps--and oh my, the looks we get...

Jason P. and I started our day out with french toast and tofu omelets at Real Food Daily in Hollywood, and then headed for Mission Viejo where I spoke to a room full of volunteers who are truly awe-inspiring, to say the least. We showed a bunch of people the truck and then headed to Native Foods, where I had fake chicken that would give Red Bamboo's soul chicken a run for its money. Our waitress, the lovely Megan, walked us back to the truck and gave us a box of vegan doughnut holes for our evening, which we wound up inhaling before we pulled onto the Freeway. Then it was off to Laguna Beach, where we parked BB on a heavy foot-trafficked area. I got out of the truck to call M, and I saw the big black truck in front of me, garnering many uncomfortable glances. In back of me was the Pacific Ocean, full of bon-fires on the sandy beaches. Boy oh boy, did I feel zaftig. The street we parked on was called "Jasmine Ave," but they mistakenly had an "e."

We headed back to Lake Forest, where I sit in my motel room now, which is only slightly warmer than when I started this entry.

Before I left for California, I was bitching about this and that. I won't get into the reasons why--such as the fact that marriage such a blatantly unfair privilege and it blows my mind and keeps me up at night that more straight people don't realize that and then stand in solidarity with those not so lucky, until we are--and so both M and Dezz keep saying "267, 267," over and over again, and here's why:

Every second in this country, that is the amount of chickens killed for food. 267. Puts things in perspective, yes? So I left the house and got it tattooed on my left wrist: 267. A gentle reminder, a not-so-gentle reminder, a powerful conversation starter, a morbid moment... A romantic gesture, even, since that figure came from an article that M co-wrote. Okay, maybe not romantic...

I also had a V added to another tattoo of mine.

V for Vendetta, of course.

Tomorrow, off for Ventura, then Santa Barbara, and then back to LA...

One last thing... I said to a bunch of wealthy Californians that Thursday I was going back to "the city." That's how I said it: "the city."

"I'm sure you're talking about Trenton," said Jason P.

As if there were only one city...

Well, there's only one city for me...And I miss Her.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring is Here and the Sky is So Very Blue

There are yellow roses in full bloom in a vase on the windowsill below the new blinds--the blinds that I'm very happy about. On the other windowsill is a brown and white Rose, who is staring intently at Thompson Street. I love coming home late at night and gazing up at the window only to see Rose staring back. As if that weren't welcoming enough, the lights on in background--the 3 beautiful bell-like fixtures--show me that M is home, probably catching up on her email or watching PBS. I walk in the door and there is this sense of comfort, one that I've never felt before. Even when it's hectic, it's warm.

Of course there are those moments--and they are often--when I think of my kitty who is under the good care of my roommate uptown. Xhosa is a warrior. I've always said she should write a book about how it was to start her life on the streets of Harlem, only to be brought in by a young activist who had two other cats--a fact that was later learned to be a no-no. So she traipsed up to Washington Heights where she met me, and then three years later, I am rarely around. She is an independent little girl, but if you get to know her, you will see how sensitive and sweet she really is. Think of everything we'd learn about coping skills, about life, about small treasures, about unconditional love, if the animals could write books.

I just had my lunch--a spinach, sauerkraut, tahini sandwich on sprouted Ezekiel bread. I know how disgusting that sounds--believe me. But it is so good, it is filling and scrumptious.