Monthly Archives: April 2013

Beacon Barks!

For the past 7 years, on the last Saturday in April, the main street of Beacon, NY has been willingly given over to canine jurisdiction. Tented vendors line the barricaded street, and from 10:30 to 3:00, it’s all about Rover. Beacon Barks! is a community parade and street festival dedicated to the region’s shelter & rescue organizations. Organized and sponsored by the Beacon Dog Park and the Beacon Barkery, it has blossomed into a fantastic four-legged celebration of man and woman’s best friend.

As the CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Little Minute Publishing, Gracie was there to promote her literary tour de force “You Can Count On Gracie”. I assumed the position of production assistant as I set up her table and commandeered the help necessary to raise the EZ-UP tent. Grinning from the sidelines, the furry Lady Gaga watched as her entourage set her stage. She was oh-so-ready for her close-up, Mr. Demille, when the spotlight shifted from her to the oncoming parade of paws.The party had started and she wasn’t going to miss a moment of it.                                                                                    














The Grand Marshall was divinely decked out in spots and waved from a bicycle powered rickshaw, while the bluest of mascots led the way with a little help from artist Ed Benavente and organizer Jeff Mchugh.                                                                                                                                                   


The procession that followed was a silly and spectacular testimonial to the power of dog. Leaving their day jobs far behind, owners were proud accessories to their pets as they strutted their stuff and owned every inch of the limelight. Bedazzled, bejeweled or simply sporting their own fabulous fur, they took to the street with a stylish spirit and the joy of the moment. ParadeBullyBrigadeWellDressedWeinersMastiffSmilinBeagleBoysChineseCrested                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

KiltTo say “a good time was had by all” was an understatement and Ms. Grace would definitely second this assessment. A flash of her smile brought new friends to her side and led to sessions of heavy petting. Paws down, the most memorable encounter happened when Adam, a young man with special needs, stopped by with his mom, his aide Yasmin and his own golden retriever. Adam was engaged and at times over-exuberant, held in check by Yasmin’s firm but gentle counsel. I couldn’t have been prouder of my girl as she showered him with sweetness and acceptance. A copy of “You Can Count On Gracie” went home with the family and I hope it takes with it memories of a wonderful day.


A round of applause is in order for all the volunteers who organized this labor of love to honor our companions and raise support and awareness for those animals still looking for their “forever” homes. Thanks go to Jeff McHugh, president of the Beacon Dog Park, Libby Faison of the Beacon Barkery, and to the town of Beacon for hosting a heartwarming party for those wet noses and wagging tails that unconditionally brighten our days.


The Birth of a Book

MaterialGirlWatermarkwebMy mother loved to shop. Her conquests in the bargain arena were well known in our neighborhood. Tired of trying to find something? Just ask Rose. The hunt thrilled her and she pursued her quarry with determination and tenacity. It could be said that she had too much time on her hands, but I prefer to think that her obsession was a karmic holdover from a former life as a bloodhound.

While the bloodhound’s hunt might wind up as dinner, the bulk of my mother’s conquests were relegated to shelves, closets and “that room off of my brother’s room”.  When she died, I was faced with the grueling task of sorting through her booty. I promised myself that I would bring as little as possible back to my own home, but more often than not I fell prey to the warmth of her memory and rationalized the bulk of my artifact gathering by designating them as props for future art projects.

In her bedroom stood a four foot high armoire dedicated to housing her extensive collection of jewelry. Finding only a few valuable pieces in the chest, I was faced with a mound of costume necklaces, bracelets and earrings with which I could not bear to part. They were her treasures, after all, and I decided that I should keep them in her honor.

I can’t remember how or why I embarked upon the “Material Girl” series. Gracie had established herself as a patient and willing model and I imagined a series of photographs in which the jewelry would be progressively piled on her. We began with a few trinkets, and over the course of about 25 minutes, I covered her in a rainbow of beads, crystals and faux pearls that cascaded onto the floor. I was rewarded with an unlikely homage to my mother. Grace took her pay in treats.

Initially I envisioned “You Can Count On Grace” as literally counting on Gracie. I would create a one through ten series with a variety of items cleverly placed on my canine canvas. While the idea intrigued me and I had the perfect accomplice, it became apparent to me that the concept might lose steam at about number three. Bouts of brainstorming and fielding suggestions eventually led to the eleven scenarios that would become the book.

A childlike love of shiny objects and a dose of dysfunction built a mountain of bling from which “You Can Count On Gracie” emerged. Thanks Mom, there really was gold in them thar hills.