Angela Bocage


Thank you all and have a delightful, reflective, fantastic holiday weekend…

But….please don’t let anybody convince y’all to believe things like “Summer’s over,” “Now you can’t wear white anymore,” or that you can’t enjoy the heck outta the beautiful world, animals, people, art, books, projects, music, etc., etc., etc., around you! I thank everyone who’s emailed me with your terrific insights about how our culture and media and sports industries treat animals–and people–and will compile and present them after Labor Day. Hugs and Chin sneezles!

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Michael Vick gets away with murder–and a real man who saves lives

Straight up, I don’t really read Sports Illustrated, but CNN-SI online,  in George Dohrmann’s article “The House on Moonlight Road” lays out simple, stark facts about the small black buildings in the woods behind the Vick property http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/nfl/05/29/vick0604/index.html . Behind this respectable-looking, spacious property in Smithfield, Virginia, the little black buildings, hardly visible in the daytime among the trees, wouldn’t have been noticed at all at night. There, Michael Vick either ran or supported what I would call a torture chamber where sentient, sensitive creatures were bled and injured and murdered for men’s enjoyment, their “sport.” The article is far more objective than I am. It quotes not only investigating officer Kathy Strouse, but athletes, NFL officials, and HSUS authorities. The latter, interestingly, admit that well before Kathy Strouse went to Moonlight Road they knew that both the NFL and NBA harbor many more such murderers; one sports figure, who insists his pit bull dog is a “pet,” nevertheless affirms his understanding that sooner or later, hey, a guy’s just gonna wanna know how tough is dog is.  So, in the scenario that was repeated hundreds upon hundred of times on Vick’s property and others, he’ll force her to fight until she kills another dog or is torn and damaged to the point where the “guy’s” part of the drama is clear: no, he won’t get her to an emergency hospital! He’ll kill her, of course, as cruelly as possible, to distance himself from her “weakness.” This article is not sensationalistic or exploitive, and author George Dohrmann is to be strongly commended for that clarity, and especially for having  the guts to include words and actions from a true real-life hero, the animal control officer Kathy Strouse.  A member of the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, it was Strouse’s deductions which put the evidence into perspective, deductions based on observations over 22 years as an officer, expert witness, and teacher of animal officers throughout the country.  Her knowledge made crystal clear what so many would love to call murky, controversial, confusing. Confusion is so convenient at times–the forces of oppression and cruelty, and their sympathizers in the media, love to find reasons for it.

Kathy Strouse isn’t the only hero I’d like to focus on, however. I know how often we’re importuned by causes seeking our support, petitions to be signed that get buried in the incoming junk mail or forgotten in the rush to work, to do the laundry, change the baby, write that letter, all the rush of our wonderful messy lives. But to wash the evil taste of fear and death away, please take a look at Eric Ardia of Smilin’ Pitbull Rescue (www.spbr.org/ ) . Eric has been doing what he does–rescuing, transporting, fostering, caring for, these loyal, silly, loving high-personality dogs, and the huge huge invisible work of organizing that includes so many phone calls, introductions, connections, lists and time–for eight years, and his site explains why it honors his late sister, an environmentalist and educator. Look at the glow in those big ol’ pitbull faces when they know they are loved and wanted! The goofy antics of one of his rescues, Precious! And see Mighty, the vulnerable little pup that almost didn’t make it, as he gains strength and spirit. And then click on Smilin’ Pitbull Rescue’s laconically-named “Anti-Vick” button. If you can donate, or buy a t-shirt, or tell people about this site, please do it. But it’s so easy to add your name to the petitions. I’ve shared that mushy-mush picture of a “real man”–in the very best sense it can be–huggin’ his pittie with loads of folks today.

Because the most Michael Vick can be punished at this writing is five years in jail. That’s what I mean by getting away with murder. And unless he’s banned from US football, a pro team will hire him, my football experts tell me–he’ll have won on both fronts and the world will be that much safer for cruelty and callousness. Eric Ardia sets a counter example, of honor, of love, and of hard work. That’s the kind of guy I want my son and my friends’ sons to look up to.


More on Nikki Craft…

I just read a splendid article about the mechanisms of discrediting feminist writing (Over Her Dead Body: How Ariel Levy Smears the Ashes of Andrea Dworkin, by Julian Real at http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/levy/index.html )   because thinking about how much I like my praying mantises and miss my times with Nikki Craft prompted me to look up some websites by and about her. Although it was a painful and difficult time, memories of Nikki are mostly so joyful and full of energy and hope. I remember sitting with her and some other young women in her beautiful artful rented room in a house in Santa Cruz, where there was a little stepladder up to her bed, I assume thoughtfully placed there so her little dog Casper wouldn’t have to jump up and down. How funny she was in her observations of the some of the ludicrous goings-on in Santa Cruz at the time. But how ardently she spoke against cruelty to animals, how she lived her compassion with Casper, and how cogently she linked her witness of  mass murdered dogs in a field to the murders of women we seemed to hear about every other week back then. She was the kindest, most passionate, most friendly individual I’d ever met at my work on the school newspaper, City on a Hill Press.

Most of the people working there when I first started in 1977 or 1978 were really scary to me, a very sheltered Southern girl who’d never been out after ten p.m. except to church events before coming to the University. They were also, compared to me, extremely affluent, well-traveled, with experience of the world and a lot more choices. I was just an illustrator and paste-up person, working there to afford rent, cheap film series, the occasional record, used (yup, they were vinyl then) at Logos. I had to drop out of school repeatedly to pay for school; cleaning houses,  cleaning the machines at the Wrigley plant or graveshifting packing tea boxes at Lipton, eventually getting what I thought was the greatest gig ever, selling tickets at the Del Mar theater, which meant that by local convention I could attend any film in the area free–yes, even at the arthouses, hallelujah! Other students had internships at museums or national magazines; my first summer in college I’d made change from a booth at the boardwalk arcade because I was too clumsy on the machines that sold tickets to the rides. Boy, was I an idiot–depressed, isolated, and of the world outside my devout theoretical universe (I coulda told you reams about the history of the Christian Church and the labyrinthine eddies of its doctrinal samba-dancin’ over the centuries!) I knew so so little. The guys (mostly guys) who did writing & editing were every bit as sure they came from a different and superior universe from me as I was.

Knowing and working with Nikki changed my life. Even after the young woman had a firebrand reputation, even after she’d become a lightning rod in the debate between people who cared about women’s lives and the men who loved their porn, she was able to walk into the offices of City on a Hill Press–testosterone central–and charm all the guys immediately with her genuine friendliness, humor, precious little white dog, and killer shoulder massages. I was gobsmacked at her elan! Oh, but like the thing with the vinyl, I guess I gotta explain that everybody gave everybody shoulder massages in those days. Just not always on first meeting! And before desktop publishing, y’all, layout and pasteup people were extremely grateful for Nikki’s. And she was drop dead gorgeous with those huge clear eyes and glossy dark hair, whether she was wearing claystained sweat pants and a bandana on her head or a funky crazy sparkly Myth California gown. She inspired me to read, read, read, read, Susan Griffin and Mary Daly and the Take Back the Night anthology and take a class in lesbian literature…I’ll continue this sometime, but I have to wake up early for work now, so that’s just a few random memories of a shrewd and sneaky saint of my early life! Definitely, definitely check out the Julian Real article. Apparently Ms. Nikki Craft was also an inspiration to that author.


D.I.Y. takes on new meaning! Or: a yam by any other name is just as sweet?

Brilliant lovely accomplished Spouse is lunching with her adorable distinguished top-attorney-in-all-the-land-in-her-specialty Mentor. Ms. Mentor is bemoaning the lack of quality help compared to way back when Miss Spouse was her law clerk.

Mentor: They give me people like “Bob” [probably not his real name]. He’s already bilged outta two other practice groups! Then they sent him to a satellite office. And the satellite office sent him back! Oy. I mean, he’s a sweet guy–”

Spouse: Hmm, when I was a wee lass, saying “sweet guy” in that tone was my Daddy’s way of intimating “dumb as a yam.”

Mentor: Ahh, but don’t insult the yams. They have growth potential!

So Don’t Insult the Yams is gonna be on a homemade t-shirt for my beloved. Don’t tell her! I put her on a secret “ridiculous t-shirt of the month plan” since she looks so adorable in them; “I failed driver’s ed,” with an upside down automobile; “I do all my own stunts” with a universal human symbol racing forward with its butt on fire; and The Da Vinci Cod: the Mona Lisa cradling a large fish. But this one I shall create myself.

(Although I must encourage everyone to support the wonderful science education site from which the Cod shirt comes. It’s got super great nature stuff and supports science education: www.whatdidyoubringme.homestead.com. We got one of our elderly aunties a lovely hummingbird totebag, and my son a glow in the dark bats hat. And I got a lovely black praying mantis hat and black praying mantis t-shirt, nostalgic for my brief career in the Praying Mantis Women’s Brigade. Viva Nikki! And viva science education!)


Reading like a kid

Juvenile reading is fun. At the train station closest to home there is a very nice lady working most mornings who shows you pictures of her grandchildren, leaves out bowls of peppermints, and, thank Goddess, has three or four cardboard boxes of recycled reading labeled with simple directions to take whatever books you want and leave your own unwanted books. What a splendid idea for a train station! I got Clive Barker’s Imajica there. It’s lots of fun! An out author, hallucinogenically beautiful or grotesque settings, realistic sex, and–so far–a near-Aristasian perception of women and men as different species. Everyone else read that in high school, or undergrad at the latest. The first how-to-draw-canines books I found that weren’t $150 vet school texts were kid-directed (and not very good). And, after running into quotes from them in twenty-two places this summer, I finally obtained used copies of those dorm-room faves I didn’t read in college, Principia Discordia and The Illuminatus Trilogy. Not to mention one of the biggest events of the summer–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows coming out! My fellow young lady attorneys at the office and I were fully prepared to do serious harm to anyone who’d think it amusing to tell us anything about it prematurely, but fortunately no blood had to be shed. OK, I also read a lot of  other stuff: about sustainable architecture, fashion, global warming, canine evolution, color theory, and radical feminism (read Mary Daly’s Amazon Grace aloud–it’s enspiriting!) but reading like a kid has been really fun. Especially on this beautiful beautiful rainy day that’s bright green and watering my crops for me.


The rain on a late summer Sunday

In all the greenness, the rain softened both greens and blues with silvery grey. The silvery grey sound was the best part, and the sleeping in the afternoon, windows open, seeing and hearing and smelling the freshness and beauty. Another best part was that a cat was sleeping on me, a dog in front of me, my beloved behind me, and any one of us would occasionally sigh, or touch another one reassuringly and lovingly. When pup goes outside in the rain, everytime he comes in Jezebel the white/calico  junior female cat kisses him, rubs her head on him, and sometimes cleans his nose or an ear; so I meant the critters too.

I was supposed to do so many things I didn’t do. Part of the day, though, it was because our network was down. Strangely happy in the rain–strangely happy in general. Love the creatures, and the girl, with whom I live, the plants and trees among which our li’l house sits, the smells of the garden, putting fresh garden grown foods into the dinners I make.  That reminds me, I have to dump a bunch of things into the compost directly, cause the kitchen bucket’s full…and of course, dump out the kitchen bucket. Berekiah the pup will no doubt go with me to guard me from spiders.

My brilliant daughter, I love her so much, has arranged to go to a school that will not force mindless prompt daily attendance at a prison block: City As School. Well, she already reads and writes much better than most attorneys. And has grown and changed over her weeks in San Francisco studying b/w photography and experimental film. Can’t wait to hear more about her directions and ideas.

My splendid cousin Jennifer was kind enough to send me a poem about tomatoes, which echoes my mother’s sentiments about their goodness! I will post it later. She studied Yeats this summer in Ireland. She reports that Ireland was chilly, so perhaps in summer the Irish snicker at their tourists like we used to do in San Francisco…Trina Robbins and I used to fuss and fuss about not being able to wear skimpy sundresses in SF. But Trina loves Ireland, goes whenever she can. Weather is relative…

Does anyone know if Yeats had anything– relationship, influence, feud, whatevs–with the poet I was supposed to do my religion thesis on, Charles Williams of the Oxford Inklings group? An amazing paralysis/anxiety took hold of me everytime I even thought about that thesis, even though I was fascinated with religious studies (still am!). This eventually led to my changing my major to art. Rather pleased I did. But wish wish wish I could draw and paint more now; learning canine anatomy and kinesiology and drawing canine skeletons and skulls and musculature and zygomatic arches and canarsials.

Their toes-bones are pretty fascinating too. Their ears. As I wrote in one of my favorite comics I ever did, the one about artificiality and armor, I was always taught by my mom to wash my ears because it would teach me how to draw ears. Berry’s I can just look at, but I think some of the worst things about the way I draw canids at present is failure to correctly place eyes and ears on the skull.  I’m getting a couple relatively cheap books about this, because the vet textbooks are way expensive. And shall let you know if they are useful.


Wife, child, dog and garden–what more could I ask? A great tattoo!

Ripe tomatoes with the tomatoey goodness one can’t find in the store (this side of Santa Cruz, CA)…fresh catnip that our felines love…cilantro, parsley, rosemary, peppermint, cayenne peppers, the odd beautiful flower, chamomile, and soon-to-be pumpkins and watermelons! As Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley said of sex, “It’s so easy and fun!” Gotta start clipping lots of the herbs to dry since it’s August already.

Unable to work on much besides the “farm,” because my precious son is here, looking all buff and amazing thanks to his hard work lifting and exercising, and we’re doing a lot more of that here. He’s kindly and patiently taught me everything I forgot from high school gym class about basketball, and I’m having fun playing it with him; even if I still have a tendency to cover my head and squeal if I don’t know where the ball flew to, if I stand where he tells me to I make lots and lots and lots of baskets! We’re also hiking and stretching and lifting weights, it’s great. His poetry gets better and better and better, and his latest chapbook Concrete Monkey is available from robinblack@aol.com.

And, since I last wrote, cardiologist Dr. Megan King has examined Berekiah-puppy’s heart and says his MVD is as yet unsymptomatic, so his activity’s unlimited and we’re back to doing puppy chasin’ and long walks; when he does, eventually, get symptoms of the disease, there are effective treatments available. So, extremely thankful and treasuring every day with the darlin’ puppyman.

Last weeked, unfortunately Robin couldn’t come, but I was up in the City, wanted to go see Mac MacGill’s show with the IEDs (Eric Blitz and Steven Wishnia) in LIC Brooklyn,  but didn’t wanna spend the day up dere witout da kid, so I came home after my morning meeting–in this beeeeyyooootiful art house in JC where my most wonderful tattoo artiste Denise de la Cerda (www.chicksdigtattoos.com) did some lovely work on my right sleeve and I trimmed her dog, Tashi. Tashi-dog is like a smaller German Shepherd with the fur of a and size of cocker spaniel/sheltie and has the sweetest honeybrown eyes. Denise calls me Tashi’s biological mother cz when she was a tiny puppy being dumped on the JC pound, I happened to be volunteering the day we picked her and her littermates up. Damn, it was love, it was fate–she was Gabrielle for her 1st fifteen months, going to Hamilton Park in JC and Puppy Kindergarten at St. Hubert’s and playing with Berry all day all crazy; but Tashi means sump’m cool in Tibetan Buddhist, I forget what, so she’s Tashi now and she loves Mom Denise totally. She also behaves unbelievably way better for her than she used to for me–my spouse called her “the rocket without fins” when she was a puppy, but: she was a puppy, hello! So it was great to see her as well as the delightful Denise, even if Tash really didn’t like the trimmer. Biting at it, she reminded me of herself as a bitty pup biting at the hairdryer after her bath. Berry needs an adorable pal like that again!



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