Saturday, March 23, 2013


This past Monday, Eugenie and I had the honor of attending a book signing and Q & A by Garth Stein, author of the wildly popular "The Art of Racing In The Rain".  - "Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through."

Stein's appearance marked the first in the initial season of the Malibu Library's 'author events' and it was terrific. He read from his wonderful novel, told personal anecdotes related to the creation and publication of the book including how his then-agent told him that no one would ever read a book narrated by a dog and that no one would ever be able to sell or publish it. He didn't gloat but then again he didn't have to, since the book has garnered all sorts of praise, spent 150+weeks on the 'best seller' list, earned a gazillion dollars and is now being made into a major film by Universal Studios. He was charming, funny, serious, insightful - in short, it was the author as performance artist par excellence.  With my first two author 'events' fast approaching (details to follow shortly), this newbie was taking serious notes. I couldn't help thinking that, unlike Garth's racer hero, Denny, my issue is raging in the rain, the sun, the snow, the fog or just about any condition you can think of. If you're wondering what I'm rambling about, you need to get a copy of GIMME SHELTER.  And while you're buying books, if you've never read Stein's gem, get it. And you tough guys, be sure to buy a box of Kleenex, too, because you'll need it. 
Garth Stein signs 'Racing' for Lou and pal Robby Mazza, foreground

Friday, March 22, 2013


Tanner and I wanted to take a moment to mention some animal organizations and their upcoming events that you might want to consider supporting:

-The Humane Society of the United States, Genesis Awards - the equivalent of the animals Oscars they celebrate the role that the news and entertainment media and high-profile individuals play in rasing awareness of animals issue. They are being held on Saturday, March 23, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. If you have a few bucks to spare (pay, more than a few), tickets are still available at 310.440.0600. At Tanner's urging (and with some help from our neighbor and fellow dog rescuer Gary K.) we've donated digital copies of GIMME SHELTER to the VIP gift bags for this year's gala.

Operation Blankets of Love
an award-winning non-profit 501(c)3 public charity. They collect, transport and distribute recycled and new pet-related items to comfort stray, sick, neglected and abused homeless animals in shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries and foster groups. In addition, as an Emergency Response Team, they partner with those organizations to provide relief and comfort to animals that are displaced or endangered by catastrophe.

St. Martin's Animal FoundationFounded in in 1999, SMAF is committed to aleviating the suffering of animals through the power of media. They will be hosting a 'Mad Hatter Benefit' on Sunday, May 19, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at La Maison Lounge 11608 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA. 661-269.2164.
On a different front, as friends and readers of Gimme Shelter know I've been studying and teaching martial arts for over 30 years. Since 1992, I've had the honor to train and teach under Sensei Mel Pralgo at Conejo Family Karate where we practice traditional Okinawan GoJu Ryu karate - the "wax on, wax off" style made popular by the original Karate Kid movies starring Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. If you know anyone who could benefit from this amazing mind-body training, check us out. And be sure to tell them Tanner sent you.

4th from left, Sensei Mel Pralgo, far right, Lou Spirito

Sunday, March 17, 2013


As some of you know, before Tanner came along, the dog love of my life was Rebell, an Irish Setter I rescued when I was a wild child wannabe actor living in Greenwich Village during the 1970s at the height of the sex, drugs and disco era. While GIMME SHELTER is mainly devoted to our wonderful Pit Bull baby, and how he helped me finally grow up, Reb, and our Dalmation from Hell, Roxanne, get a lot of page time, too. Since today is St. Paddy's Day, I thought I'd post a picture of the big red mug, and one of Tanner with Dexter, his Irish Wheaton Terrier pal. For a rundown on the history of the Irish dog breeds, check out Cesar's Millan's latest newsletter.
Rebell @ 'Head of the Meadow' Beach, Cape Code, MA

Tanner & Dexter, the cereal killer
from GIMME SHELTER:  "These peaceful strolls [with Tanner] were a far cry from New York and my walks with Rebel. Morning and night, those streets throbbed with the energy of eight million bustling souls leaving their mark on the Naked City. Every trip meant seven flights of stairs, or waiting for the elevator and a possible scuffle with one of the hulking Shepherds, Akitas, and Dobermans that called our building home.  For fun, we had the parks. There was Washington Square where Rebel made a game of rumbling over the homeless men who bunked in the weedy grass, and tiny James Walker on Hudson Street where we played ball in the snow at 4 AM after I’d finished driving my cab, cheered on by Norway rats the size of wildebeest.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Like lots of writers and bloggers, I keep a file of stories I find interesting that I might want to share. In an old issue of Cesar Millan's newsletter, I came across an article by Sarah Kosinski Cope about how she went from Pit Bull phobic to become a staunch advocate for the breed. Her 'change of heart' was so dramatic that she even started a non-profit that fosters and places Bullys. If you have a moment, check out COHPBR on Facebook. 
For a change of heart of the two-legged variety, how about Laker forward Meta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest. In an LA Times piece, irascible columnist T.J. Simers details how the former 'thug' and NBA pariah, who was suspended for a charging into the stands and brawling with rowdy, drunken fans, has become a self-controlled model citizen. As we angry guys know, it's a hard feat to accomplish. Hats off to Meta/Ron, and here's hoping the  Lakers make the playoffs. 
Eugenie and I with 'the Dog Whisperer' @ the SHARE benefit, Santa Monica, 2008

More 'thank you's - In the last post I forgot to mention Tony Greco from Screenwriter.com, and Ron & Justine Fontes at Sonic Publishing for plugging GIMME SHELTER. Also Sveetie, Zari, Sophie, Davidson Garrett, Bonnie Saito, Lisa Malta O'Leary, Paul Cheesman, Linda Nocon and Andrea Knipe for taking time to review the book.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


It's been almost 6 weeks now since GIMME SHELTER went live. In that time, we've had a bunch of wonderful comments from readers who found our little 'tail' entertaining and inspiring. Tanner, Eugenie and I find it especially gratifying to learn that other people find understanding and comfort from reading about my 'anger' problem and how it's possible to get a handle on it, even after so many years. 

Although we acknowledge them in the book, we want to give a shout out to some of the people who helped make the book, and my transformation possible: The staff and volunteers at the Agoura Hills (L.A. County) Animal Shelter for keeping Tanner safe until he joined our family. Kathryn Gal├ín, for her editing expertise and formatting prowess without which this book wouldn't exist. Dan Cohen, Davidson Garrett, Joe and Linda Simone, dear friends, talented writers and sharp-eyed readers whose encouragement and suggestions helped me immensely. Gary Horn, my pal, screenwriting partner and fellow
curmudgeon for insisting I keep on scribbling no matter what. The late Caren Bohrman, a terrific agent who loved her writers, even the temperamental one. 

Dr. Judy Dunn, Dr. Zari Hedayat, Dr. Andrea Brandt, and Dr. Fran Walfish for their invaluable insights into human psychology. Trainer Tony Rollins, for helping Tanner and me reach our full potential. Dr. Lisa and the staff at Malibu Coast Animal HospitalRob Lerner, CPDT-KSA, and Howie Baker, DVM, for their help with the sidebars. Senseis Andy Diaz and Mel Pralgo whose priceless instruction and wisdom kept me from going over the edge. 
Tanner @ 'The Farm'
My in-laws Melissa, Gene & Sandra, Stephanie & Ernie and their son, Armand, for their love and encouragement. My parents for the lessons they helped me learn. My sisters, Honey and Mary, and my brother, Tony, who rode the childhood rapids with me, for their emphatic love and support. Debrah Caraway for her rescue efforts and the photo collage of Tanner. Carl, Roberta & 'Charlie', Robby, John & 'Lola' and ‘Porter,’ Hiroshi, Bonnie, Wren and 'Winnie', Zari, Ahmad & 'Dexter', Dani, Rich & 'Kona', Doug, Jeanne & 'Ceba', Bettina & 'Otto', Olivia & 'Nikita', Fernando, Mia, 'Reina' & 'Lucy,' and the gang at Malibu Dog Park for graciously sharing their friendships and dog toys with us. Ed King and the gang at A Course In Miracles for taking me into the fold and helping me “see things differently.” 

Finally...Tanner, an amazing dog, terrific companion, and my 4-legged therapist, for his gentle, healing, soulful nature that helped me discover my better self. Finally, Eugenie, my wife, best friend, and the love of my life, for always believing in me when I didn't deserve it, and sticking by me until I saw the light.