All right, fellow journalists/writers/authors, ‘fess up: We all go to each other’s book events, drink the wine, eat the Brie, buy the book, get it signed … then put it on a shelf. The book, not the Brie. We support the literary cause, but we’re really, really busy writing our own stuff (I add the extra “really” to underline my sincerity and out of habit because, as a freelance writer, I am often paid by the word, though the Patch does not follow this crass practice).
I’m more conscientious than most – I’ve actually read all my friends’ novels and narrative nonfiction, although I admit some poetry, a few unauthorized celebrity bios and several sports books still await my undivided attention.
But Heidi, newly-minted columnist, is not as jaded as I, and was more than excited about being invited to Wednesday’s book event for Jim Dratfield’s Dogphoria, a collection of Dratfield’s exquisite sepia-toned dog photos paired with quotes from notable names including George Bernard Shaw, Carl Sagan and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss). Ellen DeGeneres tweeted about the book on Wednesday, so Heidi knew it was a hot property.
Heidi and I don’t know Dratfield (although since the event we’re following each other on Twitter). But we do know Lynn Isenberg, marketer and brand strategist for the book, and her dog, Tao, a rescue and a certified therapy dog whose photo appears in the book (Tao also has her own website with blog). Lynn and I are both transplants from the Detroit area who met out here much earlier in our careers. Lynn’s eclectic career has included film producing, writing and marketing. Her novel, My Life Uncovered, is based on her own experiences when her career unexpectedly veered into scripting adult films, a particularly relevant topic here in the San Fernando Valley, porn capital of the world, although even that industry has been hit with economic woes.
Since Dratfield could not be present at all book signings across the country, various featured dogs were signing at some locations. For Tao, that meant placing a paw on an eco-friendly inkpad and marking the interior blank page.
In the treat-filled paradise of Burbank's Pet Mania, site of the event, both canines had a hard time focusing on the task at hand (or more correctly, at paw). No wine and Brie, but plenty of fragrant bones, chewy packages, crunchy things. Naturally we wanted the dogs to pose together, but this was sensory overload. Heidi, who must have been Pavlov’s dog in a previous life, drooled a small pool on the floor when the kind cashier held up a biscuit for her inspection. At a later point, I pried from her mouth a large, plastic-wrapped chew treat to which she had helped herself while no one was looking. She gave me her signature, slightly- guilty head tilt: What??
We tried putting the book on the floor so the dogs could pose with it. But Heidi, whose showbiz training includes knowing how to hit a “mark” on the floor – usually something flat and square – decided this was a mark, approached it, and obediently slapped it with her paw, effectively covering the title. She appeared disappointed when hitting this “mark” did not result in a treat. Tao obediently went into the “down” position by the book but also tended to place both paws on the cover. Lynn’s associate, Elna Leonard, shot what she could.
Heidi and I went home happy – she with a tummy full of treats, me carrying the “signed” book of wonderful photographs of man, and woman’s, best friend. This one’s for the coffee table, not for the shelf – we'll keep it at dog level, in case Heidi or any of her friends want to take a look.