Pamela Harris

Bird Chips June 10, 2013

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits was when John Larroquette played a recently deceased guy and Dana Carvey played the angel he meets when he goes to heaven. The angel asks the deceased guy "Anything you want to know?" and after a bit of conversation the deceased guy asks "What's the grossest thing I ever ate?" The angel quickly says "You don't want to know." The deceased guy says, "Okay, what's the 200th grossest thing?" and the angel replies "That would be some butterscotch pudding that had a dead earwig in it."

The dog has gotten so much better with vacuuming the street, but occasionally she'll grab something off the sidewalk before I can kick it out of the way. Sometimes I don't know what I'm fishing out of her mouth and last week I wrangled a flattened and stiff bird part from between her teeth. (There was a beak, a head and a bit of something else.) A fellow dog owner referred to it as a 'bird chip' and for the record that bird chip barely makes the top ten things I've fished out of the dog's mouth. The week before she got her jaws around a massive cockroach, also dead, and that makes the bottom of the top ten because a cockroach beats a bird chip any day in terms of not wanting to touch.

After 9/11 our neighborhood changed in many ways and one that's been long lasting is the kind of wildlife and vermin we now have. One of my close high school friends was a flight attendant on the first plane through the towers and ten days after they fell, when I was packing to go to her memorial, my phone rang with "Has the infestation reached you yet?" The caller lived eleven blocks south of me and they were being overrun with cockroaches. Right as they asked a giant waterbug lumbered across my living room floor and I panicked. It made sense - the vermin had to go somewhere. Bizarrely, I had crickets right after the towers fell, the most beautiful, sleek black crickets that tweeted comfort for two days then went silent. Crickets were okay, but cockroaches weren't and I left for my friend's memorial unsure of what I'd come back to.

What I came back to was getting mugged at knifepoint by a transvestite who was better dressed than me, but no cockroaches. Seagulls, rats the size of cats, doves, a hawk and a praying mantis moved onto the block and stayed. Praying mantis look like floating fairies when they fly and though they're the rarest thing I still occasionally see one. Last night the dog ate a ladybug, which I love, so I'll have to keep my eyes out for Tinkerbell, should she fly by.


Woof June 3, 2013

For six months this dog was silent, then two weeks ago she heard a sound in the hall and bam! She was at the door with rogrogrog. We stared at her in wonder, like Dr. Zira did at George Taylor in PLANET OF THE APES when he growls Get your paws off me you filthy ape and she realizes It speaks! Two weeks later we're not at It doesn't shut up! but we do have a solid watch dog.

I use 'watch dog' loosely. An egg carton in the kitchen got a growl and a woof and yesterday she dove on her bed in the living room and leapt off it just as fast, like it was about to snap it jaws around her. She glared at it with a grrwoof then she head butted it for a solid minute before plopping down behind me and conking out. She likes to lay down behind me while I work - I'm on a deadline which is why I'm posting mostly about the dog - and suddenly she'll be up and across the living room, with wargwargwarg out the window. We're quite a few stories up so she can't see the street below, but she'll sit and stare across to New Jersey, or a block away at scaffolding on Renwick Street, or at a construction crane on Hudson Street and woof and grunt and pfft. Argargarg.


Hot Dog June 1, 2013

First time in a pool, following her favorite dog in.



Holiday Dog May 28, 2013

Her favorite dog is a Rottweiler who lives downstairs. They're a few months apart in age and about 75 pounds apart in weight. They go at it when they see each other; the Rottweiler loves to chew my dog's ears and my dog loves to chew his chin.

Both dogs are breeds that are perceived to be tough and both dogs are the exact opposite. On Saturday we took them to a dog run together and though they'd play with all the other dogs they kept running back to us for a pet, for reassurance, to stand between our legs and watch the action. They're both big babies, which is probably why we love them so.





(photo of the meat packing district by Christopher Payne)

I've been in a bad mood about the art world for a few years now. I love money, I love fashion and I love art, but I don't love the way they interact. Gavin Brown was recently interviewed by Nicole Phelps at style.com and said it well:

What do fashion people get wrong about the art crowd? And vice versa?

The fashion crowd doesn't get anything right about art. The two tribes speak two entirely different languages. You are either on one side or the other. This is a particularly interesting week to think about the difference: the punk Met Ball and Frieze Art Fair. Both sides using the other to dress themselves up as something they are not, and destroying something essential about themselves in the process. The punk Met Ball was particularly hideous. The final enslavement of one of the most powerful postwar social movements. Reduced to Sarah Jessica Parker's fauxhawk. A sad and accurate diagram of the state of our culture. A crowd of shiny morons turning reality inside out so it matches the echo chamber of their worldview. Would Sid have been invited? What would he have thought? Is this what Mark Perry meant by "This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band"? The English art schools of the sixties and seventies—the cradle of this creative movement—must be writhing in their supply-side straightjackets. It only emphasizes to me that fashion—whatever that is—sees art (and artists) as an idiot-savant gimp, and they keep them on a leash, begging for glam snacks. And fashion follows along behind art, picking up its golden shit.

How different is the art world from the fashion world, in the end? Hasn't all of the madness around collecting, and the obsession with which artist is up and which artist is down, eclipsed the art?

I see the fashion world with my nose pressed against the window, but from that perspective it seems dynamic, fast, frothy, and 99 percent empty. But that really isn't so different from most cultural worlds—including the art world. There are creative and talented people doing incredible things at the heart of each arena. But both fashion and art suffer—in different ways—from the crushing weight of capital. And in this sense, they have both been co-opted to do capital's bidding—as it reaches into every corner of the globe. Wherever you find an LVMH store, a brand-name contemporary art gallery will surely be very close by. The right bag and the right painting are the clearest ways possible for those with money to recognize each other.



Dealing with people on the street has been something I didn't anticipate. This dog wags her tail at everyone, loves kids, has a great air about her and is a beauty. When we're out people stop us constantly to ask about her and to pet her. Kids who are terrified of dogs want to touch her, adults who have had bad dog experiences want her to be their initiation back into dogville. It's great, she loves it, but I'm still getting used to it.

When we first got her I'd take her out early with my teeth unbrushed, hair in a messy ponytail, wearing dog slobbered clothes. We'd get stopped and I'd be covering my mouth to answer questions or talk shop about the dog. Now I brush my teeth, put on lipstick and try to have my hair in some kind of shape before I take her out. Thank god for vanity.

The Soho Grand put in a dog run for the neighborhood dogs and guests. It's very pretty, more for owners than dogs. The grass at a week old had patches that had been dug up and eaten and the large polished pebbles are hard on a dog's running feet. We go there at least once a day for a sniffathon: the top photo is the dog meeting her first fly; sniffing the pebbles; facing off with a Starling; sniffing a rock on the grass the bird was on. Neighborhood dogs are starting to find it so we'll even get a romp in, but mostly it's for climbing on benches and smelling everything.

Thanks to all the comments and those of you subscribing. It's great, actually. Thank you, too, to the reader that mentioned a photo loading issue. We tried to find the issue and everything is loading on this end, so perhaps there was an outside issue that day.





Waiting to be lifted out of the tub.


Spring Dog May 6, 2013

On Tuesday I met a friend uptown and she took me through Shakespeare's Garden in Central Park. What a beauty that garden is. There were Robins everywhere and I mentioned that I don't see them often downtown.

On Wednesday I was walking the dog and she dove for something on the sidewalk. It was a dead baby Robin, not yet 2 inches long, almost featureless. I pulled the dog away, we kept walking, and I started seeing blue egg shell pieces on almost every block. Maybe Robins like all the scaffolding, maybe they like the eaves, maybe old predators are gone or all the recent construction has shaken everything up. We're Starlings, Pigeons, Sparrows, the occasional hawk or rogue Yellow or Red Finch, but rarely Robins.

Thursday and Friday I saw another dead baby Robin, same on Saturday. Walking the dog home this morning from the park I saw another, but it was more fully developed. It's beak was yellow, it's body plumper. I don't know if a nest mate is kicking these birds to the ground or if they're falling. I've never seen a baby Robin that close, but I'd rather watch them develop live versus, well, dead. Any naturalists out there who can fill me in on why Robins now?





Monkey Shines April 29, 2013

The dog chewed the nose off her favorite stuffy and pulled the head stuffing out. Then she dumped it in my lap and said Fix it. I stuffed the stuffing back in and sewed the nose closed and 4 seconds later she was throwing it up in the air and had a mouth full of stuffing. This time I pulled the head stuffing out and sewed the monkey into Pumpkinhead. She loves it just as much as she did when Monkey had a face and if I was writing a kid's movie there'd be a sweet lesson here.

On Tuesday we took a walk through the center of Soho, something I avoid with the dog because of crowds. It was early and quiet -- Tuesday must be fly home day for tourists -- and many shops had their doors wide open. Some even put out water bowls for dogs, which mine sniffs with snobbish scorn. The welcoming doors, however, beckon and I had to drag her by every shop as she strained to go in. Finally I asked an eyeglass store if the dog could come in and the salespeople yelled Yes! Yes! A bowl of treats appeared and everyone clamored to give her a cookie. It hit me that my dog knew this, that all stores have treats. Which meant we treat-whored our way from the eyeglass store to home and got here just in time for lunch.



Pitbull Monday on Tuesday April 23, 2013

I'm very happy that people are signing up to follow my blog. Yesterday's post took precedence over Pitbull Mondays; it was hard to write and when I finished it I just wanted to get it up there. For quite a few years I've been working on a book about my past and addiction and getting clean, and quite a few people in my life, especially some of my professional relationships, don't know my history. Or I don't think they do, yet I could be way off since they know my work and the themes that run through it. Yesterday's post put it out there and what was nice was, after I posted it I didn't think much about it. I've come to accept my history for what it is - simply my history - and I'm no longer attached to the story of my past. My past is the past, my present the present and I wouldn't have what I have today if I hadn't had what I had then.

Everyone thinks their dog is the prettiest and greatest and will get into the best kindergarden and maybe be president but mine really is and will be. She'll chase a ball now and a week ago wouldn't. She learned big dog moves by playing with big dogs and is trying them out now at the dog park. The weather is warm and she won't come in the house, so getting her upstairs has become a royal tug o'war. Our next door neighbor is Claus Oldenburg, the artist who has a show up at MoMA, and his front door and garage has become her favorite poop spot. It's like the dog is leaving him a congratulatory gift and all I can say is Mr. Oldenburg is very cool when he sees me bent over cleaning his driveway.