Facing a liver transplant and feeling suicidal, 28-year-old former alcoholic Zach Skow credits his dogs with helping him find sobriety and turn his life around. As payback, Skow founded a charity – Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue – to help save unwanted dogs. (Parade Magazine, February 8, 2015). 

Zack Skow and his dogs

We all know about Seeing Eye Dogs, but Dogs For The Deaf? Founded in 1977 by longtime Hollywood animal trainer Roy G. Kabat, DFD takes dogs from Western shelters and trains them to act as ‘ears’ for humans with deafness, hearing loss or autism. Since it’s inception, DFD has placed 3,000 rescue dogs in homes across the nation. 

Tanner and ‘Mom’ in San Luis Obispo

I was getting ready to teach my weekly Okinawan karate class last week when a dojo brother congratulated me on a Malibu Times Magazine piece about GIMME SHELTER. It was news to me but, sure enough, MTM had included the book as part of their local writers roundup (page. 23). After almost two years, I’m still amazed, and grateful, for all the kind attention the book has garnered. 

I met Joe Simone and Linda Bianco during my freshman year at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Through our love of literature, movies, Italian food and each other, we became fast friends and spent the next four years hanging out in The City, cramming Shakespeare and doing what college kids did in the Woodstock era. (I won’t speak for them but I DID NOT inhale…at least not much) After graduation, Joe married the fair Linda and they spent the next 35+years living and working in NYC or nearby Westchester County. But all that’s about to change. My diehard New Yawker pals are pulling up stakes and heading to, gasp, San Antonio to be near son Justin and his wife, Nicole. Although I don’t get back East often these days, it will be strange when I do and they’re not there to share a plate of sushi or a glass of pinot grigio. Guess I’ll have to don my boots and a Stetson, trade the Prius for a pickup and mosey on down to Texas pay my pardners a visit in their new digs. RIGHTS – COOL NUNS – FAREWELL TO A MENTOR

I promised Lou we could share this post but first I wanted to crow a little about how GIMME SHELTER was just named a 2014 B.R.A.G. MEDALLION Honoree in Nonfiction. The Book Readers Appreciation Group is a private organization whose mission is to discover new and talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction but they selectively consider non-fiction books as well. In light of the rigorous selection process, we’re very flattered to be selected.
                                                                                       ~ ~ ~
Since Gimme Shelter is the story of a homeless pit bull that ‘saves’ his wayward human guardian, we thought we’d share the tale of some elderly nuns who courageously adopted a senior rescue pit bull named Remy. Given the recent scandals involving the Catholic Church, it’s great to see these ladies walking their talk in the style of Saint Francis. Read the story.

I begged Tanner to surrender the keyboard so I could say ‘farewell’ to my good friend and mentor, PETER CHETTA, who passed away earlier this week. Peter taught English at my alma mater, Iona College, for 53 years! We met when I was just a green and not especially literate sophomore, grappling with the giants of American Literature. A lawyer and Fullbright Scholar who spoke Chinese, Peter was a gentleman, and raconteur, a man who could and would relate to anyone, regardless of their station. A man for all seasons. A diehard theatre and opera lover, he saw thousands of shows, amassing a huge collection of Playbills, signed by such luminaries as The Godfather himself,  Marlon Brandon. No venue was too small or remote, which explains why he got to see your truly back in my acting days. Regardless of the show or my part, he was always upbeat and supportive. And he was especially thrilled with GIMME SHELTER, as if by writing it I’d fulfilled the potential he saw in me. To paraphrase Horatio’s speech to Hamlet: “He was an admirable King (of teachers).  We shall not look upon his like again.” 
                                                                          ~ ~ ~

Lastly, some long overdue book reviews:
Point Dume by Katie Arnoldi – Not For Locals Only.  Marry The Endless Summer, Savages and Slackers, shake it up and add a local perspective and a wicked sense of humor and you have Katie Arnoldi’s novel Point Dume. The action centers on the Malibu culture clash between the old-time surf culture, the rich yuppie invaders and cartel pot growers using the nearby mountains as an ‘el norte’ nursery but Arnoldi’s real forte lies in skewering the players on all sides. If you’re wondering what Malibu was like before it was ‘Fabulous’, Point Dume will set you straight and entertain you, too.

The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl – I became aware of the book at an open mic night where Ms. Lindahl spoke. Her gentle wisdom moved me to buy the book and I’m glad I did. Veteran New Age seekers will recognize much of the wisdom in this slender but impactful volume. In forty short but moving essays, the writers explains how listening differs from mere hearing, and how learning to truly do so can be a life-altering event.