I wrote a story for the September issue of the magazine about some very nice dogs. I started working on the story back in February, so for a long time, whenever anyone asked me what I was writing, I would tell them about these dogs. This provided an opportunity for people who knew me to say, “So! I guess you’re thinking about getting another dog!”
This was especially true of my two kids, who, when they were growing up, frequently accused me of loving our dog more than I loved them. There was some truth to this. Homer, the collie/shepherd mix who shared our lives for 12 years, never once kept me waiting, never couldn’t find his shoes, never talked back, never got arrested. It’s been five years now since we had to have him put to sleep, and I guess that’s considered a suitable length of time for mourning, because suddenly everybody is convinced I must want another dog.
“Don’t you miss when we used to take Homer for walks?” my daughter Marcy will ask, apparently forgetting that she frequently had to be hauled out of the house kicking and screaming when it was time for those walks. “A dog would make it easier for you to make new friends,” my son Jake will say. He’s become convinced I need to “make some new friends your own age,” as he puts it, like I’m a socially inept sixth-grader and he’s the parent. He recently guilted me into paying $220 for a special tailgating parking pass at his college, to fulfill some fantasy he has of me clinking highball glasses with the parents of his football teammates before the games. But he’s not going to guilt me into getting another dog.
I don’t want another dog. Read more »
I remember back in the olden days when I first met Jezebel, the distaff online blog of the mighty Gawker empire. It was like stumbling into the best party ever. The women who wrote for it — Anna Holmes, Anna North, Tracie Egan Morrissey, Moe Tkacik (who worked with me at Philly Mag for a while) — were like the coolest girls ever, except they weren’t mean to other girls, only to the rest of the world. I loved their writing, and I loved what they wrote about (even, a couple of times, when they were writing angry stuff about me). Jezebel felt like home in a way no other website I knew of did.
That was then. This is now — last Saturday, to be specific, when I clicked on a story on the site that was headlined, “Indiana Man Raped and Tortured His Wife Under Forced ‘Slave Contract.’” Who reads stories like that on a lovely weekend afternoon? The sort of people who love Law & Order: SVU, which would be me. My excuse is that I’m interested in the human mind and criminal behavior and emotions and love and hate. Anyway, the write-up, by Isha Aran, was pretty much what the headline described — just your average Midwestern rape-and-torture-ordeal tale. What got to me — what made me send myself an email with a link and the all-caps subject line PLEASE WRITE ABOUT THIS — were the comments following the piece. Read more »
In cheery news from the western part of our great state, a 36-year-old mom has been sentenced to a year to 18 months in prison for providing her 16-year-old daughter with abortion pills she obtained illegally from Europe in an attempt to end the daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. The mom, who’s single, works as a nursing aide, and told the court there was no local abortion clinic available to her daughter (thanks, Governor Corbett), who had no health insurance (thanks again, Governor Corbett) to pay for an in-hospital abortion. The daughter ended up in the hospital anyway after the abortion pills induced severe cramping and bleeding.
What a happy little tale. Read more »
Logan (German shepherd), Felony (Dutch shepherd), and Quest (German shepherd). Photography by Joseph Balestra
There’s a golden retriever in the ladies’ room.
It’s my first visit to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and traffic was tied up on the Expressway, and I had a large latte on the way here, and pretty much the first thing I said to Ashley Berke, the PR woman who greeted me, was, “Ladies’ room?” She led me through a vast concrete-floored space lined with metal crates full of dogs who yapped and barked as we passed them. Even so, I’m not expecting another dog, in a crate, in the ladies’ room.
The dog stands there, looking at me. I look back. It seems … rude not to address her — him? So I say, “Hey there! How are you?”
The dog doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even wag. Just stands and looks at me.
“’Scuse me,” I say, and duck into a stall.
The dog is still standing there when I come out. There’s something unnerving about its silent vigilance. But there’s also a need in me to try to make a connection. You can’t ignore a dog, you know? So I offer my hand, up against the metal crate. The dog sniffs it, with the merest swish of its tail.
Read more »
When Angelina Jolie announced in the New York Times, in May of last year, that she’d undergone a radical mastectomy, she wrote, “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.” Her bravery was widely applauded, and she became “the new, gorgeous poster woman” for the procedure, which she chose to have because, like her mother, who died at age 56 from cancer, she carries the BRCA1 gene that increases the risks of both ovarian and breast cancer. In the wake of her announcement came a rash of news stories about other women—some as young as 21—who’d opted for the surgery, along with tweets by breast cancer survivors calling Jolie “so brave” (Sheryl Crow) and “admirable,” among other accolades.
Now, belatedly, science is catching up to the publicity buzz.
Read more »
Last weekend I was at the Shore with my relations, as I am every August at this time of year. We’d just finished supper, and as some of us got up to clear the table, I began putting the leftovers away. I packed some rice into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and went to put it in the fridge. “You’re not going to put that in there now, are you?” my cousin Joan asked in horror.
“If you put leftovers covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator before they cool down, they’ll give you cancer,” she said.
“What?” I said. “I never heard of such a thing.”
“It’s true,” my cousin Pam said, in a rare instance of backing up Joanie. “Some kind of chemical collects on the underside of the plastic wrap.”
“Did you ever hear of this?” I asked a nearby sibling.
My sister Nan shook her head.
“I think the fridge uses up more energy if you don’t let them cool down first,” my daughter Marcy said tentatively. “But I never heard of the cancer thing.”
Read more »
Enjoy these behind-the-scenes shots from the Working Dog Center, featured in “This Puppy Could Save Your Life” in the September 2014 Philadelphia magazine.
These Pups Could Save Your Life: Photography by Joseph Balestra