I was pretty lucky in my youth. As a teenager, when I began to show an interest in photography after a Saturday morning course at a school the next town over (and another class in a local community college), my dad bought me secondhand photo developing equipment. I set it up in the room of our house that used to serve as an in-law apartment. There was a sink, plenty of counter space and a closet that worked a charm as a darkroom.

I don’t think I was talented in photography. I might have an eye for composition, but the trickier aspects of the art – tweaking settings and dilutions of chemicals – didn’t hold my interest. Plus it’s a rather expensive hobby given the cost of the special paper and fluids, not to mention film itself. But to think back now on how my dad made that investment in an interest of mine is really profound for me. I’m not someone who excites easily. I think when he saw my interest in taking pictures, he was hoping it would last with a little support.

Anyway, I remember listening to this Aimee Mann song on repeat in that little workspace of mine. I had the Red Vines CD single, an import I think. All of this came to mind as I heard “Save Me” at the end of a show the other night. I’m not sure why I find this song so powerful. I don’t really believe that another person can save you. As Courtney Love said, “Nobody’s gonna pull up in a limousine and say they’re going to save you. That’s not how it happens. You save yourself from drowning, that’s how you do it”.

I think the tone of the song is what digs at something so deep inside me. Aimee sounds so forlorn, but even as she makes her plea to be saved, she doesn’t sound pathetic. It’s not begging. It’s almost like she’s daring the person to step out of himself and have anything to do with her.

Plus it’s always comforting to hear someone acknowledge the “ranks of the freaks,” and sort of validate how difficult it is to fit in or find people you really relate to. It’s a hell of a consolation prize if it means being in her company.*


* Though I wish I were truly in her company so I could get a little closer to that Ted Leo.


My one fleeting moment with that vegan dreamboat.

2012 New York International Gift Fair

This year I jumped at the opportunity to attend the NY gift show. My colleagues groaned for all of the walking it entails, but I like a challenge.

While I knew it would be a great chance to check out innovative and fun designs, I didn’t think I’d find nearly so many vegan and earth friendly companies!

I was delighted to peruse the booth of Green Tree Jewelry! A family company from San Diego, they create unique earrings out of renewable resources. Plus, Green Tree Jewelry is all made in America! It didn’t hurt that their salesman was really cute.

There were several vegan soap vendors. The woman in the Lotus Love Beauty booth was super kind and generous. She gave me two samples of their quite fragrant soaps – a verbana coconut, and Ananda:bliss.

I wish you could smell these!

She encouraged me to discover my favorite scents and then carefully selected the generous samples. Her company is based in San Diego too, and they donate a portion of their proceeds to The Shanti Project.

A little closer to home is the Metropolis Soap Co. based in Brooklyn. Though not as generous as Lotus Love Beauty, they did give me a bit of a sample of their Rosemary and Spearmint vegan soap. Certified cruelty-free by PETA, Metropolis does not test on animals, and even avoids the use of palm oil, the deforestation of which kills animals like orangutans.

I was glad to see Dynomighty there as well. I’ve had a Dynomighty wallet for almost a year now and I love it. This Brooklyn company has a ton of new styles to choose from.

Michael Roger of Decomposition Books was also there! Love, love this conscious spin on a classic design! (Also based in Brooklyn!)

It was so encouraging to see several forward-thinking companies!

Year of the Dog

On a whim, I just watched Year of the Dog with Molly Shannon (it’s on Netflix instant!). I expected it to just be a quirky indie comedy about a woman and her pet. I was immensely surprised that it turned into a story about veganism and animal rights.

It’s easy, as a vegan and advocate of animal rights, to be made to feel crazy by seemingly everyone. Everyday is a challenge – answering people’s ignorant questions about your lifestyle, making animal-friendly selections in terms of not just food, but also clothing, health products – everything!

Molly Shannon’s character Peggy seems like an alien at work, amid her brother and his family – even in her own house. At several points I felt like I could’ve written this screenplay. Actually, Mike White  did, the same guy that’s us the likes of School of Rock Orange County, and The Good Girl. And he’s vegan!!!

Someday I hope to have several pets. Though hopefully I don’t end up exactly like Peggy.

Champs Vegan Diner

New favorite place alert. When this place first entered my radar, it was as a bakery. Now, they’ve expanded to become a ‘diner’ while still offering up fine vegan sweets.

It’s pretty bare bones right now, but it’s charming. They serve breakfast all day, have free wi-fi, and most importantly, a picture of Blanche Devereaux herself above one of the booths:

Nothing could have made me feel more welcome than a Golden Girl.

I had the tofu scramble and it was dee-licious. And a cinnamon roll made it’s way home with me, though alas did not hang around long enough for a photo.

I also have to note that their (clean!) bathroom had the world’s tiniest window, which next time I just might have to photograph.

176 Ainslie St
(between Lorimer St & Leonard St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211