Sunday, May 31, 2009

One Thing The A's Could Win At?

I believe the A's should try having a new competition every home game. It is very possible that they might be good dancers (it's very possible that they're terrible dancers, too, and that they would injure themselves with every step, but hey, I'm pulling at straws, here), and might actually win AND entertain us.

I give you the inspiration.

Friday, May 29, 2009

News From All Over

New and Noteworthy, All the News That's Fit to Print, etc.

Basically, I have a news roundup, and I don't have the energy to digest it. themacinator readers are smart, you can digest/masticate/deconstruct yourselves.

To solve (ok, alleviate) the budget crisis, Bay Area and California State Parks are closing. I may have to develop a new award for this idea. Like, most retarded and self defeating idea I've ever heard. It's cool, we don't need to hang out in nature. We'll just... hang out in urban streets. That we can't afford to fix or police due to the budget. Awesome.

I highly recommend making Racialicious part of your daily blog-reading. Or at least weekly. It's thought provoking without being pedantic. And sometimes, it's heartbreaking. Through a twist of fate, an immigrant whose story is probably not that uncommon, has become semi-famous, and her story is really really devastating.

I dare you not to waste time with this: We Feel Fine. Really click around, try the options. And then... I don't know what. It's one of those useless applications that just... does things.

There's been a lot of really interesting conversation in pit bull and animal welfare world around Nathan Winograd's take on "Pit Bull Ambassador" programs. I'm the first to say I'm not a huge Winograd fan, or "no kill" fan in general, but I did think this article was thought provoking. Ultimately, the short version of my opinion (remember, I'm letting the readers parse these out, as I'm just not in the mood), is that the articles and the subsequent finger-pointing that falsely advertises itself as debate misses the point: none of these players are to blame for the ongoing slaughter of pit bulls. Sure, shittons of pit bulls die in shelters, and shelters and rescue groups and people who run "Ambassador" programs have a part in this slaughter. But we are the trash collectors and waste managers, to use a crude term. We do *not* produce the bulldogs, or bulldog-wannabe's, and are not responsible for the vast overpopulation of these dogs. (No, Mr Winograd, I do not agree that there is no such thing as an overpopulation problem. There is.) So decide for yourself, and careful before you lose too much time to the debates, and the apocrophyl debates (that one's for you, EK).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Lieu Of Words

which, right now, I have none, here are the first few of my pictures from the Day of (the Dreadful) Decision.

Yes, I hate PDA, but this was different. It wasn't gross and mushy and nasty and out-there, it was just a general "we care" kinda smooch, and "damn-if-they're-going-to-take-that-away." (oh, that was words)

even protests have bokeh, and love

"Watch Out, You Might Get What You're After."

watch out, you might get what you're after

"Good Point"

jesus had 2 dads

and, the kids:

liberty, justice, and....

what about the children?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Judy Shepard: The Meaning of Matthew

EK from purified thinking water recently gave me a copy of "The Meaning of Matthew," an advance book she is reviewing for Library Journal. (I have fancy friends, right?) In case you have forgotten, which I kind of understand, since 1998 was now 11 years ago, Matthew Shepard was the young man who was killed in a horrific hate crime in Wyoming- two men beat him to death because he was gay. Judy Shepard is his mother, and the book is her memoir. The book is not out yet, as a fancy pants reviewer, EK gets to do things like read books ahead of time, but it will be soon, and it's worth reading.

Judy Shepard is an honest woman. She loved her son more than anything else (loves her son) and lost him to some unthinking, hateful men. This was her personal tragedy that became a national and even international tragedy, and Shepard traces both her struggle coping with personal loss and her struggle with coming to terms with Matthew's death as a loss to an entire world. The book follows Matthew's whole life, and the ten years since his life ended into Judy's birth as an activist. She examines her initial reluctance to deal with the press and politicians and even movement leaders- Matthew was hers, what do they care? While Matthew is in the hospital, she attends a vigil for him, and feels "like the vigil was more for [the attendees] than it was for Matt." She resents having to hand out tickets to his funeral due to the thousands of people who show up. At first, when she appears in the press, she appears as the "sobbing mother" and she strives to alter her message into one she is comfortable with.

In a groundbreaking moment at the trial, and perhaps as a turning point for Judy, the judge does not allow one of the killers to use a "gay panic" defense. Basically, he can't say "dude was gay and came on to me so I had to kill him." Although this wasn't on the books as a law in Wyoming at the time, the judge called bullshit, and set precedent- "There is no proffered evidence of a homosexual-rage syndrome that would make the evidence relevant." Some of the most amazingly heartbreaking parts of the book are her and her husband's testimonies at the trials of the men who beat Matthew. Denis Shepard thanked Wyoming for showing that hate crimes will not be tolerated:
My son Matthew paid a terrible price to open the eyes of all of us who live in Wyoming, the United States and the world to the unjust and unnecessary fears, discrimination, and intolerance that members of the gay community face every day. Yesterday's decision by you showed true courage and made a statement. That statement is that Wyoming is the Equality State; that Wyoming will not tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation; that violence is not the solution

The Shepards will probably never come to terms with Matthew's death- I would never presume to know their emotions- but by this point, they had come to terms with Matthew's spot as a public figure, and began to figure out their roles in making change. Judy Shepard now works closely with HRC and the Matthew Shepard Foundation and groups that work for hate crime legislation and helping families accept their queer kids.

Judy Shepard is a force. I am going to say something trite, and probably awful. But good has come from Matthew's death. He should not have died, no one should die like this. No one's family should suffer like this. But this is a woman who has created a foundation with a mission. She writes, "it wouldn't be about tolerance, since you tolerate bad hair days, not people." Instead, the Foundation is about "Erasing Hate, LGBT Equality, and Putting Children First." Not bad, for a "crying mother." Judy Shepard is an inspiration- how to harness tragedy into a powerful force for change. You'll cry when you read this book, but hopefully you'll also move forward, with the Shepard family.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best Thing About The A's in 2009 Award

Aka: Only Good Thing About the A's in 2009 Award.

Recently, themacinator gave away her first award to the very deserving blog Pit Bull Patriarchy. Well, with the A's promising to be shitty or shittier or maybe both, it's time for themacinator to pull another award out of her sleeves. Without further ado, themacinator would like to present the only redeeming thing about the A's in 2009:

Oakland A's Days. Really, these ladies are keeping being an A's Fan that much more fun than being a sweaty Athletic's Supporter. Their posts are short and sweet, but often inspiring. It's true, when the A's only win 1 in 5 games, the wins ARE that much more exciting (and surprising). Their graphics are adorable, their math is great, and I love the videos.

Keep it up, ladies, it's going to be a loooooooong year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Election Day, Vote NO on PDA

I was planning this blog in my head, when I found out it was election day. I feel it's even funnier now that I know. My typical cluelessness is charming, and serendipitous.

Really, I have a serious problem with PDA. I do not want to be subjected to people making out on the sidewalk, or in the park, or really, anywhere. When I'm at work in the shelter or in the field, or walking my dog, or eating a meal, I'm not really interested in seeing tongues that are visiting other mouths. Everyone has a tongue, and a mouth. Or at least, I think most people do, and I apologize for offending tongue/mouth challenged people. These tongues and mouths belong in their respective mouths when they are in public. I know I'm a prude, but I am not saying that tongues cannot visit other mouths when they are not on display on streets, sidewalks, buses, BART trains, etc.

Really, when people make out (or do other things I dare not mention here) in public, it makes me wonder why they are doing it. Are they swapping spit because they really love each other so much that they Just Can't Wait for a moment of privacy? Are they fondling each other in public because they're so desperately horny that they just don't care Who is Watching? Or, more likely, are they passionately embracing in an inappropriate location because they want Everyone To Notice? I'm going to go with option #3. When you're truly, madly, deeply in love, or lust, you think you're so beautiful, so gorgeous, such a truly awesome couple that of course everyone else would agree- and wants to share in your glory. They're missing out if they don't. So the corner will do. The bus stop, line in the grocery store, or other places where people can't get away, is even better.

I have always felt that the California Proposition system is deeply flawed, but maybe now it's time to use it for our advantage. If we can get enough anti-PDA signatures, we can get a proposition on the ballot. And where California goes, so does the rest of the country. Prudes, unite!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ted Conover: Whiteout

Ted Conover went to Aspen to write a memoir. Does that make it a memoir or a travel book or... something else? Regardless, the story of Aspen in the late 1980s is a fascinating picture of decadence, ala Tom Wolfe and Bonfire of the Vanities, told from multiple sides of the coin. Conover starts out as a cabdriver in a town where everyone takes cabs- the workers who make Aspen fun, the tourists, and the ultra-rich celebrities who live in Aspen for 2 weeks a year- long enough to need to keep the pool heated year round in case they drop in with a houseful of guests. He learns about the semi-illicit drug trade and the 80 bars in town (there are 5 stoplights but 80 bars). He hears everyone's secrets because people tell cabdrivers this stuff, and then he's had enough. He wrangles a journalist gig at the local paper and moves up a little in status, enough to start hobnobbing with the middle of the upper class. He visits John Denver's new age talks and some of the more out there groups- he rolfs and ests and I don't even know what else. It's weird.

Slowly, Conover doesn't seem to think Aspen is so weird. He's troubled by avalanche and back country ski- deaths, but he is only slightly troubled to live in houses with 6 bedrooms. Aspen-as-paradise has gotten under his skin; has made him forget his Colorado upbringing- the kind of upbringing that resents Aspen and everything it stands for. He has to come to terms with his new values as multiple old friends start to look at him strangely.

This is an odd book, 20 years dated, now, but still a relevant portrait of the haves in a dense time of the have-nots. Conover is articulate and irreverent, and insightful, and it's easy to relate to his story, even if you've never been to Aspen (and have no plans to do so):

Of course, anyone living in one of the 99 percent of American small towns in decline during this period might not be inclined to sympathize. Most towns were dying a death of slow attrition as businesses moved out and young people failed to return. But in fact, Aspen's dislocation was not so different from the feelings sensed by people elsewhere as the last department store shut down, the last coffee shop became a 7-Eleven: This isn't still our town. It's not the place we knew. In Aspen you knew it because there was nowhere to buy underwear and socks. Finding a parking place became impossible. The old post office became an Esprit store, the Elks Lodge a Hard Rock Cafe, Crossroads Drug a Banana Republic.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Should Have Stayed Home

Warning: if you are unaccustomed to animal welfare, you may find this blog a little graphic. I promise to returned to my regularly scheduled, sardonic posts shortly.

I tried to stay home today. I just couldn't wake up, and the allergies were bad. I've never really had allergies before, but this year and last year, I seem to have discovered them. Right now, I think it's the overwhelming heat (mid-90s) plus whatever else just started blooming. So I called and talked to the person in charge today and said, man, I don't feel good. But she told me we were down 3 people, and that the two of us would be cleaning most of the shelter before we even opened. I said I'd come in and maybe go home once all the shelter tasks were done.

We divided up the tasks and I went into the first area that I needed to clean. I found a dog, very clearly dying of parvo. My coworker and I euthanised him- as he was suffering, and parvo is highly contagious and untreatable in a shelter environment. I returned to this area, the small dog and puppy holding area, and assessed how I was going to clean these cages without removing any of the dogs from the room- standard quarantine period for a room with parvo is 3 days- while I could start the bleaching process. There were three empty cages on the top row of the kennels that I could move the smallest dogs to, so I found one of the tiniest. I opened the cage and stuck my hand in, in a normal, dog-professional manner.

The chihuahua ate my finger. I mean, before I could get out of the way, the dog bit down HARD. He ate through my nail, through my finger, and a serious chunk of my pinky was separated from the main part of my finger. It was intense. My coworkers followed the trail of blood that I left when I walked to the vet room (I was wearing latex gloves, but you know, my finger was severed). I tried to wash my finger, but it was too painful- the water was literally going INTO my finger. My coworkers tried to figure out what to do with me. At one point I was almost carted away in an ambulance. I didn't like that idea. E kept telling me not to cry, I kept trying not to cry, and failing. It hurt. I don't cry a lot, but when your finger is coming apart, it hurts, and hurts bad enough to merit crying. Take it from me.

I called running with dogs, who was kind enough to miss class and drive through the wilds of Oakland to meet me at the Emergency Room. I had a whole entourage- E, my boss, and T. Some how the ER people didn't seem to think this made me a VIP, though, as I still had to wait almost 2 hours to be seen. Triage doesn't mean an almost severed finger gets priority. This wasn't Highland, I didn't see any obvious gunshot wounds... T even promised me she would hold my hand when I got a shot. She backed out of that, but the promise alone brought me to tears, again. E got mad, again.

So finally, a really nice Physician's Assistant fixed my hand. She had to cut the nail all the way off, after she gave me a numbing shot. She put 7cc of something into my hand- It looked like a kosher dill pickle. T left after the shot, and then came back. I didn't watch the shot, but the PA told us we probably shouldn't watch the next part, either. She was sweet- she kindly set up a chair next to my bed but facing away so T could stay but not watch- T declined, because she was going to faint and then we'd both be in the ER and that would be useless. So she left, and I watched the rest because I'm tough. Oh, and I was numb. So she cut the nail off, and then gave me seven stitches. All in the top of my finger! That's a lot of stitches in one tiny finger! Then they put a funny fake finger looking brace on me and sent me on my merry way.

We went and drowned our stress in chilaquiles and mojitos at Picante.

I'm alive. I can't say the same for that nasty bugger who bit me, but really, he was a public safety hazard. He was scared, and forward aggressive, and I'm lucky to only have 7 stitches. He could have really hurt someone (well, he did) and would have probably bitten someone in the face- people carry those little guys around, and are always squatting to pet them.

Unfortunately for me, and luckily for you, all the pictures came out blurry. I'll have stitches in for another week and no nail for a month if you want to come over and see.

I really should have stayed home. Parvo and bites, all in the first 35 minutes of work.

Postscript: Almost exactly a year ago, I was bitten by a dog for the first time, as documented here. Sadly, I was bitten by a cat for the first time this week. Sadly, embarrassingly and slightly humorously, this means I was already on antibiotics to treat the potential infection. Cat's mouths are dirty and too many people end up in the hospital every year for cat bites. Two bites in one week. BAD. I really should have stayed home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Note To Self:

Make Good Choices.

Bay Area Graffiti... The Book

The book's been out for awhile (I missed the opening party) but I finally found it today at Moe's (which, by the way, is awesome. I've been so sad since Cody's closed. Why didn't I go to Moe's before? It's huge, clean, open, nice.) So, as usual, I'm late to the party. Literally, and figuratively. themacinator readers already knew this, with my 6 month old New Yorker reviews, but please forgive me this time- it's worth it.

funkandjazz, one of my contacts on flickr, has been promoting this book, because, well, he is the photographer. And I've been looking forward to it. But due to my promise to myself not to buy books until I've read the bazillion on my shelves (made back in October of 2007 (!)), I've been studiously avoiding bookstores. While this has been difficult, it may explain my recent bajillions spent on camera equipment- what's it called when you switch one vice for another? Perhaps I should go back to bookstores, they're cheaper. So today, while looking for a book on Richard Avedon for my online photography class, I was so happy to see this book. It's as awesome as I was hoping.

If you like the Bay Area, if you believe graffiti is public art, if you like bright colors, if you like graff at all, you can't not love this book. It's gorgeous. It's so well put together. And it's local. How can you not love knowing the spots that have been hit? How can you not love recognizing the iconic spots with ribity and udon and chan? It's amazing. I've got probably close to 40 graffiti books, but seriously, who knows about the graff artists in Berlin and Melbourne? They're sweet and awesome and totally different from here, but this is HOME. Kudos to Steve Rotman and Chris Brennan and Mark Batty publishing for putting this out- for believing, even during the shitty economy, that this was a worthwhile piece.

Hear it from the the man himself

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Redux

This Cinco de Mayo, themacinator would like to urge you to skip the Corona. Read a book. Some suggested titles from your ever-ready online librarian (aka me):

The Life and Times of Mexico; Earl Shorris. This book is kind of as heavy as a bible, weight-wise. It's also an amazing read, and really is not just your average history. I honestly had a hard time putting it down.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza; Gloria Anzaldua. Some of us remember Anzaldua from "This Bridge Called My Back." This solo work is a beautiful poetic piece in English and Spanish that deals with historical and current issues on the border. It's nice to have a feminist-centric view on a historically male-dominated cultural historical dialogue.

Crossing Over; Ruben Martinez and Hard Line: Life and Death on the US-Mexico Border; Ken Ellingwood. Oh, right, Mexico is just across a line of steel, cement, guns, lights, etc. Read these, you won't forget that our "international" view of the world isn't quite what we like to think it is.
A New Time for Mexico; Carlos Fuentes. Written in 1997, this isn't exactly up to date, but it's Carlos Fuentes, for dude's sake. Mexico has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and Fuentes is an excellent story teller.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


It's true. I'm not on facebook anymore. I remember in a time long ago and far away, someone deleted my sister as a friend on facebook. She told me she had been "defaced," which I thought was perfect semantics for the way she described feeling- hurt, belittled, and also, a little dehumanized. This was someone she really knew, as opposed to someone she "knew" online- you know, IRL (in real life), not just via the internets. This person hadn't told her he was removing her as a friend (de-facing) her, he had just defaced her. He was just not her facebook friend anymore. I have no more details- I don't know if they're still friends, but really, it seems that is the way things done now. You announce your relationship status via facebook by checking a box- single, in a relationship, other, it's complicated, just looking, or some other category (since I'm defaced, I can't be more specific or accurate)- and if you're in a relationship (or not) this can be news to the other party. You can tell your friends where they stand by moving them to more prominent spots on your page. You can announce weddings, children, big events on your page. You basically never have to communicate as such again. Forget the phone, or even text messaging. E-mail is out, and god forbid you write a letter. Log-in to facebook.

Obviously, I'm speaking of facebook generically. I was on friendster a long time before I was on facebook. I think I was on friendster before facebook existed, and my sister joined facebook before I was even allowed- when I graduated from college, facebook was still exclusive to certain schools. I was late to the myspace trend, and joined so I could "talk" to a boy I was dating. Talk? Write? Follow? Weird. I never liked myspace- it was too bright and colorful and well, cheesy. Friendster was cool, till all my friends made the switch to facebook, which was when I took the plunge over there.

This was fun for about 3 weeks. There are 8 million applications on facebook, which are like iPhone apps- fun and totally useless, for the most part. A really fun part of facebook is that you can hook up your email for a minute, and the webpage finds all your contacts that are already logged in. Since facebook was rapidly growing when I joined, every couple days I could do this and find new friends. And every couple days, new friends (that I actually knew) would find me. Later, facebook added a new feature- friend-suggester. People I knew in common would be recommended. Suddenly I was totally popular. Way more popular than I really am. This is because on facebook, I could be friends with people I knew (and perhaps was friends with, or maybe hated) in pre-school, elementary school, high school, college, and every extra-curricular I attended at each age. I could also be friends with their siblings and cousins and parents and next-door-neighbors. And their pot dealer I had met once at a party.

Then, there were people I didn't even know. People I had exchanged comments with on flickr. People who I had communicated with on a forum about dogs or cameras. People who thought I must be cool (or awful) because I talk about Oakland a lot. They wanted to be my "friend" and to "write on my wall." What? I don't know you, but now you're my "friend?" Again, with the semantics, but really? I don't have a lot of friends. I have a few, really cool, awesome friends, who serious readers of themacinator have heard about before. I see them a lot, they attend taco Tuesdays, they walk dogs or take pictures with me, I email them frequently, text message them, talk to them on the phone. In other words, I *know* them. I have met them, face to face, and see them, in the flesh and blood. To me, this is what being a friend is. But on facebook, I was "friends" with people I hadn't seen in 2 to 25 years. Or had never met. And yes, it was cool to find out who moved to Antarctica or got married or had their 15th child and sang with the San Francisco Opera. But were they my friend?

So I defaced myself. I tried to start with myspace. I never liked that thing anyway. Half my "friends" were organizations or groups or people I didn't know. De-spacing myself was both easy and impossible: I couldn't even log in. I couldn't remember my password. So I guess I'm still on there, but I haven't logged in in so long that it's not really me any more. I'm probably "in a relationship" and living in Santa Cruz. Right. Then I hit facebook. I selected "remove" and facebook asked me 15 times if I was sure I wanted to remove myself. Yes, yes I do. Then they creatively told me they were putting my account on ice in case I wanted to re-face myself. I was unable to go all the way and REALLY deface myself, so somewhere out in the nether regions of the internet is themacinator's facebook. Unaccessible. Then I hit friendster. I deleted myself, they asked me 15 times if I wanted to delete my friendster-self. Yes, yes I did. They did not put me on ice. I'm gone. Strangely, yesterday someone I hadn't talked to in awhile asked me why he couldn't find me on facebook. I answered- because I'm not on there. If you want to talk to me, here's my phone #, or we can hang out.

Don't worry, you can still find Mac here. He prefers virtual dog pals, anyway. If you want to see him, you know, IRL, give us a call.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Even New York Appreciates Oakland

36 Hours in Oakland

Why Do I Bother Writing

when we all know a picture says a thousand words?

Andrew O'Hagan: Be Near Me

I have read a lot of bad books lately. I had to put a lot of books down, and was determined to finish this book, as putting books down really disturbs some deeply rooted obsessive part of my nature. It was really hard to finish Andrew O'Hagan's "Be Near Me." It just doesn't make sense. It's a fictional story of a priest who is English, in an angry Scottish town. The premise is fine, the priest is a little stuck and in for some culture shock, but why does he start hanging out with really angry teenagers? He himself doesn't seem to know. The teenagers are not nice, he knows they're annoying and snotty, and his parishioners resent his outsider status more for his leaving his duties for annoying, snotty teenagers. Then something happens, and the tricky life that the priest has been trying to lead proves unleadable. The writing is slow, the characters aren't particularly likable, but I finished it. Must. Get. Out. Of. This. Rut.