Gross Stuff Humans Do With Dogs

I’ve been book-writing, not thinking about blogging so much, but now my friend Xavier, whose blog you can find here, has sort of demanded that I file a post about Gross Stuff Humans Do With Dogs.

This all started when I posted a picture of Mickey’s butt on Facebook and Twitter.  Here is the picture of Mickey’s butt for anyone who missed it.

I know.  Delectable, right?  Kind of gives me weird impulses.  To gnaw on those little tucked-under legs, for example. Which isn’t very logical considering the things that come out of the butt between those legs.

This is going to get a little graphic.

Mickey resembles a cow.  Not just the big splashy brown spots.  He grazes.  Daily.  Some dogs and cats will eat grass when they have an upset stomach.  They chomp some grass then vomit and feel better.  I think this is what people do when tripping on mushrooms, but I actually wouldn’t know.  I tried hallucinogens five different times and NOTHING HAPPENED.  Apparently, I am already weird enough.

My dog is weird too. He eats grass not to vomit, but because he likes grass. He doesn’t digest it very well though and it comes out the other end. Very slowly.

This is going to get a little more graphic (Hi, Xavier.)

Sometimes, Mickey takes a crap and cannot fully eject the snarled clods of grass.  Then, I have to find a big leaf, wrap it around my hand, and pull the grass out of his ass.  It’s okay when we’re in the woods.

In the woods

I fling the sullied leaf to the side, wash my hands in a creek.  It’s less okay when we’re walking in town.

There he’ll be, in the position, on a semi-crowded street, with a very long brown and green THING hanging out of his ass.  In those instances, I have to take a plastic poop bag from my pocket, and use it to PULL.

In town

I never look around when this happens. I know that people who know me have seen me doing this. And I do not wish to know who they are.  Please remain anonymous.

There is a lot of other stuff.  And I could go into what goes on with horses.  Watching vets with their entire arms up a horse’s junk.  Watching my own mother like this.

But I think this is enough.

I think I’ve made my point for Xavier, who will not be gnawing on the backs of Mickey’s legs anytime soon.

Back to work. All of you.


When I was three or four years old, living on a horse farm, we had a chicken who followed me around everywhere.  I talked to her, she talked back.  She was a friend.

I don’t know what happened to her.  I don’t think my parents slit her throat and cooked her, though they may have.  All I know is that it was another ten years or so when, as a teenager, I thought: “Hey, why am I eating animals? I like animals and I do not need to eat them to be healthy.”

This is the part where maybe you, gentle reader, tune out:  Oh, yeah, vegetarianism, blah blah.  Good for her.  Not my choice.

Humor me. You may want to rethink the concept choice.

I became a vegetarian teenager.   For a few years, I still dabbled, sometimes caving to social pressure, occasionally eating chicken or fish, under the impression that somehow this was better (it’s not, the practices for factory farming birds and fish are, if anything, WORSE than those for farming cows and 99% of the animals we eat are factory farmed. Family farms are just about completely extinct.)

Over the past week, I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s extraordinary Eating Animals and Catskill Animal Sanctuary founder Kathy Stevens’ lovely book Animal Camp.

Also, my friend Laura the Hot Farmer killed one of her pigs and ate him.

I’ve been bordering on vegan for years, but now I’m over the border: Officially Vegan.

It wasn’t the Facebook picture of Laura’s pig’s HEAD (a pig I had met)  on a table that did it.

It wasn’t reading and taking in (in a way I’d never before taken in) the brutal and hideous facts of factory farming, transport and slaughter.

It wasn’t even reading the tender stories, in  Animal Camp, of chickens befriending pigs befriending horses befriending sheep and ALL befriending people.  It was the realization that I know damn well that even “organic” store-bought eggs come from creatures that have suffered unnecessarily.   Why was I contributing to this?

I can do better.

The weather is wonky.  Climate change is real.   We are all spooked.

FACT: Factory farming “emissions” contribute more to global warming than all fuel emissions combined. Why don’t we talk about that?

FACT: We are killing the earth, and ourselves, in order to grow cheap meat.

This is how “farms” dispose of their toxic mix of shit, blood and ground-up diseased animals:

“….sometimes they simply spray it straight up into the air, a geyser of shit  wafting fine fecal mists that create swirling gases capable of causing severe neurological damage.  Communities living near these factory farms complain about problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning lungs.  Even when the citizens have managed to pass laws that would restrict these practices, the industry’s immense influence in government means the regulations are often nullified or go unenforced.”

My friend Jody Sigler recently sent me a photo of a sign for ROADSIDE MEAT.  A stand, in Tennessee, selling steaks.  20 for $25.  Accepting food stamps too!

As gross as the concept of a roadside meat stand is to many of us, it’s probably no worse than the meat or even the eggs and cheese we buy at the store.

Every week…millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, stained by green feces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors, or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers….how good could a drug-stuffed, disease ridden, shit-contaminated animal possibly taste? – but the birds will be injected with “broths” and salty solutions to give them what we have come to think of as the chicken look, smell, and taste…

It would be healthier for us — and for the earth — to eat roadkill or our own dogs and cats than to eat the meat and dairy sold in grocery stores.  Even high-end ones.  Even “organic” ones.

When I was young and the Smiths’ album MEAT IS MURDER came out, I was already a veg, but, still, I thought “Wow, that’s a pretty strident title.”

Also, when I used to take class at Jivamukti Yoga in the city, co-founders David and Sharon would often launch into jeremiads against eating animals.  I would think: “Aren’t they preaching to the converted?  Who the hell eats meat and goes to yoga?”

I was a naïve idiot.  The answer is: A LOT OF PEOPLE.

Because we think we have to to survive.  This idea (and it is just that, an idea, not a fact) had been shoved down our throats by politically powerful corporations and by the USDA.

“…our nation gets its federally endorsed nutritional information from an agency (the USDA) that must support the food industry, which today means supporting factory farms.  The details of misinformation that dribble into our lives (like fears about “enough protein”) follow naturally from this fact…”

Doctors and nutritionists often go by guidelines issued by the USDA.  This is NOT science.  These are statistics issued by an agency with an enormous conflict of interest.

I used to be vaguely apologetic about being vegetarian. Screw that.

Laying hens,  even so-called “free range” or “organic” ones, do NOT lead good lives and their deaths are unspeakably brutal.

All meat sold to the public (including “organic” “grass fed” “free range”) has to be killed in a USDA slaughterhouse.

Underpaid slaughterhouse workers become desensitized and sometimes sadistic.

They piss on dying or dead animals.  They poke them in the eyes, anus and mouth with electric prods.  They beat them with steels pipes. They saw off animals’ limbs while the animals are still alive, their eyes rolling in their heads.

All this has been documented. No. NOT by animal rights extremists.  By USDA inspectors who have WARNED the facilities in advance that they are coming for an inspection. 

Even if a person only eats animals from one of the very few surviving family farms in this world, the animals still have to be transported and slaughtered in a USDA plant.

We do not need meat or dairy or eggs to survive and thrive. Many many centuries ago, in certain climates, eating animals was the only way for humans to survive.  But these animals weren’t grown in cages or skinned alive or pissed on or prodded.  They lived the (sometimes brutal but FAIR) lives animals live in nature  –and then were hunted and killed.

My friend Laura’s pig got to live a natural pig life during its brief time on earth. This is her thoughtful blog post about it.  The pig lived free of drugs, he hung out with other pigs, rolled around in the mud and had shelter, sunshine, good food and the respect of the humans who eventually swiftly killed him.

Raising one’s own animals (and killing them quickly and without fear) is the only ethically viable (and earth-friendly) way to eat them. People say “I dont’ want to think about that.”  Then they shouldn’t eat that.  I respect Laura and people like Laura.  They are eating consciously.  It’s not something I would choose, but it is the only healthy way to eat animals.  If everyone suddenly STOPPED eating factory products and ONLY ate vegan or the animal products from the very few remaining family farms, corporations and  government would get the message.

I have recommended reading Eating Animals to others.  They all shake their heads and say, No thanks.

What are people afraid of?  Becoming vegetarian?  It frees us of the dominion of profoundly immoral corporations, improves our health and the health of the planet, and ends the pointless torture of BILLIONS of living creatures. It is US who are being factory farmed.  By corporations that have horrifying political power.  We have the power to put them out of business.

One final quote from Eating Animals (all quotes in this post are from Eating Animals.)  This is from Frank Reese, the self-titled Last Poultry Farmer, who raises his animals free range, on a species-appropriate diet AND supervises the animals’ deaths in the LAST small, and Actually Humane slaughterhouse.  The final two sentences sum up my feelings exactly.

“People care about animals.  I believe that.  They just don’t want to know or to pay.  A fourth of all chickens have stress fractures.  It’s wrong.  They’re packed body to body and can’t escape their waste and never see the sun.  Their nails grow around the bars of their cages.  It’s wrong.  They feel their slaughter.  It’s wrong, and people know it’s wrong.  They don’t need to be convinced. They just have to act differently.  I’m not better than anyone, and I’m not trying to convince people to live by my standards of what’s right.  I’m trying to convince them to live by their own.”






Readings, Mandatory Attendance. Also, Gratuitous Pretty Pictures.

I have two readings on the horizon and am giving a heads up. Attendance is mandatory for all people living even vaguely in the region of one of these two events.  No excuses (not even involuntary hemispherectomy) will be accepted.

Here is a dramatic cloud picture I took yesterday.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the readings. 

Both readings are in support of Akashic Books’ The Marijuana Chronicles (which you can purchase following that link, or at either of these events) so I’ll be reading about, possibly talking about, weed-smoking zombie hookers and, depending on the format/situation, possibly reading a very short excerpt from one of the two books I’m working on right now. Also, I will sign anything you would like signed.  This does include limbs.

One of the books I’m working on is about revenge and animal (and people) rights, the other is about poverty, wealth, and two women who swap lives.

Here is a picture of two of my mom’s horses, Lance and Romanche.

 Romanche is a grass-eating fiend so he has to wear a mask, otherwise he would eat so much grass he would explode.  This picture doesn’t have anything to do with the readings either, though the second of the two books I’m writing does prominently feature an eccentric horse.

Both readings involve other readers I adore and admire and the Spotty Dog event will also have INCREDIBLY GOOD live music from August Wells (video there, album forthcoming any minute) who sound something like a mix of Nick Cave, Ennio Morricone and Leonard Cohen as filtered through a craggy, Irish sensibility with a lot of jagged cliffs and beautiful, desolate women wearing tattered dresses.

Sunday August 4th Spotty Dog Books and Ale 

440 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

4pm -FREE- Readers:  ME, Jonathan Santlofer, Linda Yablonsky

Music: August Wells


Monday September 2nd  (yes, Labor Day) Bumbershoot Festival

Seattle Washington- 6pm

Reading/Q&A and possible circus antics with me, Jonathan Santlofer, and the indefatigable Amanda Stern

(I have currently misplaced the info on the exact venue at Bumbershoot, but, if you live in Seattle and/or are attending Bumbershoot anyway and wish for more details, send me a note and I’ll get you the details.)

That’s it for now.

Mischief Mind

The other day, I was teaching a yoga class and talked about Stevie the Dog, comparing his mischievous antics to the way my mind works.

The second yoga sutra,  “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah” loosely translates as “Yoga is the eroding of the fluctuations of the mind.”

Since it is one of the few sutras I have memorized and can pronounce correctly, I trot it out a lot.  Also, I find it really helpful to remind myself to erode the fluctuations of the mind. 

I wake up in the morning and my mind starts looking for trouble, cataloguing impending onerous tasks rather than simply BEING — taking in the morning light, inhaling the corn chip smell wafting off the sleeping dogs.

Sometimes, the mind goes on a total rampage, screaming. YOUR CLOTHES ARE HOMELY.  YOU HAVE NO MONEY.  YOUR HAIR IS TERRIBLE.  KILL YOURSELF.

Once I get past this, telling the mind to shut up, switching gears to peaceful thoughts, I go about my day.  Walk the dogs.  Write. Teach yoga. Garden.

Then, when I least expect it, WAMMO, the mind randomly picks something unpleasant to gnaw on. Latches on to some troubling thought it’s been carrying around like a pet rock for several months.  Other times, it picks on a person that it decides is irksome.   It can be a person of any shape, gender, or age, though it thrives on people at the gym.

There are some weird-ass people at the gym. Bizarre grunting men with upper bodies like oil drums.  They invariably congregate near whatever it is I want to use.  Free weights.  Machines.  Stretching mats.  They hang in little packs and alternate between looking at themselves in the mirror, drinking beverages the color of plumbing products, and communicating in grunts. 

I find myself wishing they would topple over and smash their heads on the gym floor.    Then, I take it down a notch and simply wish they would MOVE out of the way.

My mind knows where I live and it knows how to get me. Earlier today, I flipped my car’s sun visor up halfway and noticed it kind of stuck out like an upholstered ax in direct line with my forehead. I imagined having a car accident and that the impact would drive the sun visor into my skull.  I pictured walking into an ER with a sun visor in my skull. Then, I thought of the Denis Johnson story where a guy walks into the ER with a knife stuck in his forehead.


Stevie the Mexican Beach Dog is pure mischief.

He looks for the things he knows we value (shoes, lunch, phones) then snatches these and trots around, just out of reach, with the shoe, lunch or phone in his mouth.

He grins and his eyes twinkle and, the more we chase after him, the more he dances and grins and darts just out of reach.  He doesn’t fall for food bribes and or other Common Dog Trickery.

Before coming up to us on that Mexican beach and asking for help, he ran with a pack of other stray dogs who probably schooled him in the art of pilfering to survive.  Now, he pilfers for fun.

In the garden, he transports potted plants from one place to another just to see if I’ll notice.

Here is Stevie’s gardening video.

He darts around, needles me, sometimes very obviously laughs at me.  Kind of like my mind.

At least I’ve learned to recognize the Mind Mischief and not mistake it for fact and go insane convincing myself my car’s sun visor is going to implant itself in my head or that the Weird Gym Dudes can successfully be turned into thoughtful human beings.

But, maybe if I work on it further, harnessing the mind, training it, eroding its fluctuations, I will be able to MOVE entire packs of gym guys out of the way.   I can dream.







I was supposed to go get my gums SCALED tomorrow.

But I canceled. The idea of someone digging in my gums with small metal instruments was engendering borderline panic attacks. Particularly since this dental practice, the only local one to accept my shoddy insurance, is horrifying.

The waiting room was packed with unhealthy-looking people and squalling children. TV’s blared from every wall, ripped-up People Magazines were strewn across industrial carpeting, and there were ominous oily smears on the faux-wood paneled walls.

The hygienist I saw had an Eastern European accent, cruel eyes, and laughed at me when I said I was afraid of dentistry. I’m pretty sure she would have sliced my tongue out and eaten it if I’d kept my appointment.

Dentistry always makes me think of the poet Max Blagg. Max has a poem fetishizing a dental hygienist who, I believe, wears a black rubber apron. I can’t find the poem online, nor can I find Max to fact check all this but, in my memory, there are some serious antics involving teeth, rubber aprons, and a hot hygienist.

Yesterday, I read an article about a forthcoming interview with the novelist Martin Amis. Among other topics, Amis discusses regret over demanding a 500K advance, for his book The Information. Apparently, there was a lot of hoopla about the outrageousness of such a large advance. Brit tabloids claimed he wanted that chunk of change in part so he could spend it on cosmetic dentistry.

In fact, Martin Amis’s horrendous teeth were going to kill him and all he did was get them fixed enough to NOT kill him. And anyway, a 500k advance is a drop in the bucket if one considers TV writer Lena Dunham’s irksome 3.7 MILLION DOLLAR advance for an advice book.

I just read an article in the Daily Beast about the ongoing death of book publishing. It made no mention of the bloated Lena Dunham advance, but did cite the “gatekeeper” aspect of publishing whereby a few people from similar privileged backgrounds decide which books will be pushed while the rest of the books lie gasping for breath.

The other day it was revealed that, because JK Rowling can’t bear all the fanfare surrounding her own oeuvre, she assumed another name and published a crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, that got good reviews but sold 449 copies. Now that she has been unmasked as its author, it will sell literal boatloads.

It’s all fairly stupid. I mostly try NOT to think about these kinds of things.

I write  to stay sane and because I LOVE when someone tells me I made them feel something. But it is sometimes difficult to shut out the CHATTER in my head. The Brain Monkeys that say if I am to publish a new book the old school way, (in paper, through a major publisher) it has to have some sort of HOOK, be identifiable as something FAMILIAR, something that already exists.

A few years back, an editor at Little Brown, the publisher of the JK Rowling crime novel, rejected an early draft of one of my current books-in-progress. She said the work was too strange and ANTIC, that it would take an editor braver than herself to publish it. I remember scratching my head thinking: Antic? It just seems NORMAL to me. I write what I know. Apparently, what I know is ANTIC.

I don’t save these rejections. I don’t save anything. I like to just keep MOVING FORWARD, trying to keep the Brain Monkeys quiet.

Perhaps the moral of this story is that I’m holding off on having my gums SCALED not because I’m terrified of the Discount Dental Office, but because I am waiting for my teeth to fall out of my head so I can suffer enough to force myself to understand and generate a non-antic book.

Or maybe I just need to bite the bullet, learn to fetishize dental hygienists, and get my damn gums SCALED.

Subscribe to Me

My mom just turned 70 and I’m putting a “subscribe” option on the blog here.

These two events aren’t really related other than my mother asking, over dinner last night, how the hell I’m making a living now that publishing advances for mid-to-low list novelists have evaporated.
“Uh..I’m teaching yoga and writing TWO books and endlessly poking at the idea of a movie I want to write?” I ventured, hoping it sounded like enough since I come from a long line of workaholics.
My mom looked concerned.
“I’m not making much money.” I shrugged, “but, you know, I’m going to put a “subscribe” option on my blog. Like a magazine.”
My mother didn’t look all that reassured, but she had other things on her plate. Namely TWO birthday cakes.

When my brother Jon and I figured out, through the help of our cousin, Colleen, that our mother was turning 70, we arranged to both descend on her farm in Maryland. We also decided to make a cake, and that this cake should be something slightly exotic. I sent out feelers to my friends who actually like food (Laura the Hot Farmer and Deb the Vegan Cupcake Maker) and got some recipes. Deb’s coconut/lime cupcake recipe seemed to best fit the bill.

Jon is more experienced at baking than I am, but that’s not saying much. Plus, we weren’t working under ideal conditions. Jon had been up since 5 am feeding horses and mowing fields, and I had taken Mickey on a long hike and gone swimming (yes, I have always been the family layabout)  for the first time in many months, so I was exhausted. Jon and I had a 90-minute window of time to work in the kitchen, with my mom’s fifteen poodles “helping” (Mickey stayed in the barn apartment, napping, as he is terrified of poodles.)

Halfway through our frenzied baking session, as we tried to remember which ingredients we had already put into our late grandmother’s mixer and which ones we’d forgotten, our step father Neil came in brandishing a birthday cake from a bakery.

Of course, THIS cake looked beautiful. And Neil was deflated to find that we were going to steal his thunder with a homemade cake.

“Two cakes are better than one.” I said and Neil seemed slightly cheered.

Jon and I did our best with the coconut lime cake but seem to have forgotten SOMETHING. We baked the cake and it came out of the oven looking like a PANCAKE. We left it to cool and Jon went out to do evening Horse Chores. Mickey and I “helped” by riding with Jon on the “Mule”, the thingamajig that hauls grain and hay and pitchforks out to the fields.

By the time we had eaten dinner and sung a highly unglamorous rendition of Happy Birthday, it was late, and it’s possible our mother might not have noticed how FLAT her coconut lime cake was, but Jon and I pointed it out anyway, lest she think us complete idiots.

It was so late that that my photos of our mother slicing the cake were blurry and not flattering so instead, here is a photo of her with Jon and Molly the Poodle in front of the barn.

I brought home one slice of the Pancake Coconut Lime Cake for my boyfriend and he claims it TASTES great even if it looks like something a deranged and eggless peasant made in Spain in 1370.

And now my mom has successfully turned 70 and my friend John (not to be confused with my brother Jon) has kindly installed this SUBSRIBE option on the blog and I hope you will subscribe.

Here, as a little nudge, is Amanda Palmer’s excellent TED talk, The Art of Asking. I’ve posted it before, and perhaps you’ve already seen it, but it bears re-watching. This is the future for those of us who write and make music and paint. We’re not GETTING you to pay for our work, we’re ASKING.

So, please, share the blog, share the love, and SUBSCRIBE!

Don’t Utilize Me

I despise the word “utilize. “ Up until a few years ago, I had no strong feelings about the word, then, I worked in a rehab, teaching teenagers.

Utilize is a really popular word in institutional settings.  There were UTILIZE signs all over that rehab.

“Please do not UTILIZE this office as a break room”

“Please clean up after UTLIZING this bathroom”

Really?  Does anyone UTILIZE a bathroom?  Personally, I USE it.  Utilizing it would make me feel like an extra from I Robot.

And when did UTILIZING become so popular?  I see writers I respect using the word UTILIZE when USE would have been briefer and less bleached-sounding.

Weirdly, the overuse of UTILIZE seems to coincide with the proliferation of SANITIZING.  One can’t leave the house without encountering a SANITIZING STATION.  America seems to have become obsessed with sanitizing itself.  

My friend Xavier wrote a blog post about the installation of a SANITIZING STATION in the building where he works.  See it here.

The other day, I stood in the grocery store, pretending I was selecting cantaloupe, but really I was studying people walking by the sanitizing station, noticing who felt the need to SANITIZE.  Interestingly, it was the unhealthiest-looking people. Either nervous, hunched, brittle people, or extremely heavy people who looked like they subsist on mass quantities of processed foods.

These folks were scrubbing surface germs off their hands at the sanitizing station,  as if that would somehow clean what was inside them.

Americans seem to feel dirty.  The insides of our bodies are full of chemicals so we feel the need to rub chemicals all over our hands.  Soon, we can move into hermetically-sealed, climate-controlled bubbles where everything is sanitized.  And utilized.

I like dirt.  I like the earth.  I like sitting in dirt. Rolling in dirt.

I like humans who smell and look like humans.  I like my humans un-sanitized and definitely un-perfumed.

Perfume was popularized by 16th Century French people who never bathed.

I’ll concede that MAYBE scents made from flowers were more palatable than bodies ripened over periods of months, but, in modern day America, even the very poor have access to bathing water.  The perfume abuse thing is not actually necessary and, if you’re like me and have a keen sense of smell, it’s really noxious.  If I get hugged by a perfumed person, I smell it on myself and on my clothes until I bathe and wash my clothes.  I suppose I could use a sanitizing station and scour the perfume off, but, my guess is, whatever the sanitizing stations dispense is SCENTED.  Because Americans are afraid they smell.

Europeans are looser about these things.  They are more comfortable being naked and smelling like people.

Photo: Spencer Tunick

Why are Euros happier naked and smelling than we are?   I don’t have a theory on that . But America has become a bizarrely prudish, phobic country operating on fear. We have politicians legislating women’s bodies and sanitizing stations in grocery stores. And the word UTILIZE is at the heart of it all.

Utilize is impersonal and filled with chemicals.  Also, I’m sure it’s a member of that creepy Tea Party.

Let’s put UTILIZE out to pasture NOW. 

Song of the Boring People

I am boring.

I like routine and quiet and having the capacity to blend in and just BE.

I can only deal with very small parties, and am uncomfortable in crowds.

When I lived in the city, I traveled by bike rather than face swarms of people on  the subway.

I usually only go to shows I am performing in or that friends are performing in. Not because I’m a jerk, but because this assures me a tucked-away place to sit or stand, away form the crowd.

My friend Jonathan Ames likes to say that when he’s not onstage he is extremely boring.  Actually, I think he says he has the personality of a cardboard box.

Self-proclaimed Boring Person Jonathan

When performing, Jonathan is anything but a cardboard box.  Perhaps you’ve seen him or heard him.  He is VERY LIVELY.

I was soothed when Jonathan insisted that he is boring.  Having a friend who has a wild and lovely mind claim to be boring validated my own boringness.

There is honor in being boring.

Sometimes I wear very large glasses to be less boring

People like to tell things to boring people.  Boring people, at least the brand of boring I suffer from, are good listeners.

Also, boring people are never bored.  I am always interested in something because I can take stuff in because I am BORING.

I lead a simple, quiet life.  Even when touring, doing many consecutive days or weeks of performing and traveling, I endeavor to transport my boringness with me.  To settle into the rhythm of any given situation and just LISTEN and OBSERVE.  Even when flying into some strange country with a bunch of strange writers at some strange hour and the only vegetarian food available is POTATOES.

As a Boring Person, I don’t go out and do things just for the sake of doing things.  I’d rather stay home and garden with the dogs or spend two hours in headstand or lurk in my office generating fiction.

I’ve known a number of performer/artists who are not boring.  They are constantly ON.  Sometimes it’s tiring to be around them and I imagine it must be really tiring being them.

But I don’t have that problem.  I am boring.

I didn’t always know I was boring.

When I was doing things on MTV in the 1990’s, people would try to find me and insist on meeting me.  There was one really persistent guy, a TV Writer who wrote for a very good and successful show.  We knew a few people in common so I agreed to meet him for a sort-of-date in LA.

As I remember, it was an okay sort-of-date, but the guy kept looking at me as if expecting me to suddenly launch into my stage persona.

We didn’t have a second date.  A few years later, I was at a (small) party and the TV writer guy’s name came up and I said: Oh yeah, THAT guy, he semi-stalked me for a while and then we went on a sort-of-date.

To which the person I was talking to said: Yeah, I heard about that, he said he expected you to be wild.  But you were just BORING.

I was a little upset that this guy had apparently told anyone who would listen that I am BORING.

Then, I thought about it and realized I AM boring.  And I LIKE being boring.  Being boring means I will (probably) not go completely insane from over-stimulation.

I used to have a therapist, Marilyn, who LOVED to cite Matisse as an example of a really boring person who made great art work and didn’t go insane and self-destruct.


I would always counter Marilyn’s Matisse with Caravaggio who was NOT boring at all and made even greater work.

Now that I am no longer in my YOUTH, I am glad to be the Matisse variety.  If I were Caravaggio, I’d already be dead of infection after years of dueling, brawling, and being banned from entire principalities.

I do not wish to die from infection after dueling and brawling.

I am boring and I’m proud.






Men in Tights

In July, I like to watch skinny men in tights ride bicycles up big mountains.

I’m not a sports person. I only enjoy partaking of solitary sports like swimming and cycling.  Watching other people do those things on TV always seemed as appealing as stabbing myself in the eye with a fork.  Then, one day about ten years ago, I watched a mountain stage of the Tour de France.

The mountain was so steep and endless, the men on the bicycles were in such obvious physical agony. It was riveting.

I’ve loved and ridden bicycles since I was a kid and, for most of my life, I commuted by bike, both in New York and abroad.  But the idea of wearing special outfits, the idea of even wearing a helmet or carrying a water bottle, had always seemed vaguely bourgeois — or like something only jocks did, those people who looked at me funny in high school when I was smoking in the bathroom.

If you had told me eleven years ago that I would look like this when I went out for a bike ride, I would have laughed really hard. 

One summer, I was at the artists’ colony Yaddo at the same time as my novelist friend Donald Antrim.

Donald Antrim and Mickey

Donald is a serious cyclist. His cycling get-up (which reveals a great deal of man-flesh) was a frequent topic of dinner conversation at Yaddo.

I think there is a prevailing notion that artists do NOT partake of strenuous physical activity.  A little yoga or a dip in the pool maybe, but riding a bike 50 miles in a shiny tight outfit?  No.

One day that summer, I went into a bike shop in downtown Saratoga. I don’t remember what I was looking for,  but I ended up falling in love with a 1980’s Peugeot 10-speed bike. It was $200.  I felt weird spending even $200 on a bicycle.  But I  did.  And I  loved that bike and rode it daily, not just to get from Yaddo to town,  but for fun, exploring , able to go further because it was a better bike than what I was used to.   My legs got stronger.  I started feeling invincible and remembering the joy of childhood bike riding, when I rode for FUN, not just to get from point A to point B.

I asked Donald Antrim if he wanted to go for a ride one day and he smiled and said:  You won’t be able to keep up with me.

This may have been the instigating incident.

Twelve months later, I had a two-thousand-dollar Cannondale racing bike that I rode every day for 2-3 hours unless there were sheets of ice on the ground.

I started training with a pack of women interested in amateur bike racing.  Most were younger and hadn’t spent half their lives smoking cigarettes.   It was painful.  Plus, I don’t have any particular physical gift for bike riding.  However,  once I decide to do something, even if I SUCK at it, I keep banging my head against the wall until I can do it.  What I lack in talent, I make up for in obstinacy.

Which is perhaps how I came to admire Alexandre Vinokourov, a pro cyclist from Kazakhstan . Vino, as he is known, is the most determined, stubborn, lunatic cyclist I’ve ever seen.  Also, he sort of resembles Mickey.









Vino doesn’t ride methodically, the way almost all the eventual winners of famous bike races ride.  He rides the way Stravinsky wrote music and Bunuel made movies.  Throwing methodology and rules out the window.   He grits his teeth, and RIDES HIS BIKE AS FAST AS HE CAN.

Like most of the big names in cycling, Vino was doping and got caught and served a suspension.  Then he came back after the suspension and shattered his pelvis in the 2011 Tour de France.  He was 37.  Old for a pro cyclist.   He retired.  For about five minutes.  He came back again and, at the age of 38, last summer, against staggering odds, won the gold medal at the Olympic men’s road race.

Vino chews his gold medal


Mickey chews his stick






My own bike racing career didn’t go that well.  The only thing I was good at was accelerating.  I might have been a decent sprinter but, in a race, sprinting entails being buried in the pack of other riders, in REALLY close quarters,  weaving your bike, and running a high risk of crashing.   It is SCARY.

Also, I was constantly exhausted and hungry.  I started having trouble with yoga because my leg muscles were so bulbous and stiff.  I wasn’t getting my work done because my brain was flooded with weird Exercise Abuse Chemicals.

I couldn’t remember how or why the whole cycling thing had gone from being a joy to a compulsion, but it had.  It wasn’t fun, it was painful and it was making me stupid.

I started to slow down.  I had to actually taper off because otherwise I had panic attacks from the chemical changes in my brain — that had grown accustomed to enormous doses of exercise chemicals. It was freaky.

Now, I actually ride my bike WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT.  And there is joy in it again.  And, yes, when I’m out on a long clear stretch of country road and I see another cyclist ahead, something kicks in and I become Alexandre Vinokourov. I put my head down and ACCELERATE until I catch whoever is ahead of me.

Then, I go home, flip the TV on, and watch men in tights ride up big mountains.