Sunday, December 20, 2015


UPDATE: We posted this on December 10, 2015. Since then we've learned that Rex was returned to Best Friends when the couple decided they weren't a good fit for him. It's a sad turn of events but, in keeping with our mantra, we will keep writing about him until he finds the permanent, loving home he deserves.
In traditional karate,we end each class with a series of mantras meant to help focus our commitment to the art. The last one reads, "Never give up." Well that applies to Life and dog rescue, too. More than one year ago, Santa Maria California animal shelter volunteer Connie Kruse contacted me asking for help in placing Rex, gorgeous people that had been house there for 18 months.  we passed his info around and cross our fingers. Several people applied to take him, but. for various reasons, the adoptions all fell through. This past May Connie and her team brought Rex to the Best Friends/NKLA mega-adoption in Los Angeles where he was transferred to the Best Friends shelter in West LA. In the hope that he might fare better there. Sometime around Thanksgiving, after 762 days in two shelters, a loving couple gave him a forever home. Another dog lover and friend of Gimme Shelter  Erika Brunson, stepped up to pay the adoption fee.
Rex - Merry Christmas!
It's a great ending to a long, difficult story, but Rex is just one of thousands of dogs in need of loving homes. If you'd like to do something to help the others, consider donating money, dog supplies, or your time to a shelter or rescue group working to save dogs like Rex and our Tanner. As many of you know, since we published Gimme Shelter, we've donated a good portion of the profits to rescue groups like 
Healthcare for Homeless Animals (formerly Malibu pet companions), Karma RescueBest Friends Animal Sanctuary ( currently running a $2-$1 matching drive),  Canine Adoption Rescue League, and Linda Blair's (yes, The Exorcist's Linda Blair) Worldheart Foundation. Who knows, you might have a hand in saving the next Rex. Thanks to Connie, Erica, Best Friends, and the Santa Maria Shelter for never giving up. 


"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." - There's wisdom in these words by Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, but, as it draws to a close, 2015 still deserves a recap. We launched the year with a fun day at LACMA,  where a pit bull loving cashier gave us free entry to the awesome Samurai exhibit.  Later that month, we were fortunate to see our niece, the uber talented Margaret Spirito, perform her 'Sound Of  Dirty Jersey' show at Rockwell, LA. Even better, we had a surprise visit from our Garden State friends TJ Coan and Jane DeNoble  who joined us for the show.
Margaret Spirito doing 'Dirty Jersey'
The month came to a fabulous close, when we met Pepperdine University Professor. Ginger Rosenkrans and her Marketing 475 students to kick off their spring semester ad campaign featuring Lou and GIMME SHELTER, as the client. Not long afterward, we learned that Lou's alma mater, Iona College, had featured Gimme Shelter in their Magazine's book section. Thanks to a strong recommendation from our producer friend, Doug Curtis, Lou landed a gig writing a script treatment for the true story of a lady pilot from the 1930s who defied her powerful banker father to elope with a young flight instructor. 
In February, the Malibu Times ran a nice piece on Lou, and fellow Malibu resident, radio hostess and friend Megan Blake, who were nominated for writing awards by the Dog Writers Association of America. Tanner and Megan's dogs, Smiley and Angel, made the paper, too. Sadly, February wasn't all good news. On Valentine's Day, Lou's birthday, Tanner injured his eye while playing with his pals Porter and Lola. The badly scratched cornea that would require five vet visits and take more than two months to heal. At the time we didn't know how serious it was, or we might've skipped our getaway to San Luis Obispo. Glad we didn't. March brought a very nice mention of Gimme Shelter on the Malibu Times Magazine book page. It was heartening to think that, after more than two years, our little book is still finding a warm, receptive audience. Like February, March was a bittersweet time. We were shocked to learn that our beloved friend, Tanner's trainer Tony Rollins, had passed away from diabetes related complications and that one of Tanner's favorite little buddies, Doug and Jean's Ceba, had succumbed to old age. The feisty shih tzu was a regal, class act. Almost as shocking, but not nearly as sad, was the word that our bffs, Joe and Linda Simone, had quit NYC to for San Antonio, TX, to be closer to their son, Justin, and his bride, Nicole. 
Eugenie, Linda, Joe & Lou - 2000, NYC
April saw the culmination of the Pepperdine University marketing pitches. All three teams offered us amazing ideas for all sorts of social media applications, but Muse Media won the competition. For us, the highlights were their public service announcement featuring Tanner and voiced by our good friend Danny Ducovny, and a zany Bob Dylan inspired book trailer starring Tanner (of course) and Lou. The Pepperdine influence carried over into May, when we launched the redesigned Gimme Shelter and Lou's new websiteJune was a very big month on the writing and sculpture front. First, GIMME SHELTER snagged a coveted (and very hard to land for an indie book) Publishers Weekly review  to go along with a fun Instagram mention by indieBrag, the folks that honor the best in indie books. And he wasn't finished. When a major producer raved about the movie treatment Lou had written, the client hired him to pen the film script tentatively titled Wings Of Love. Not to be outdone, Eugenie and her sculpture were featured in the Sustainability issue of Unity Art Magazine, her first (but certainly not her last) national publication.
part of the winning Pepperdine University campaign
Martial arts got the spotlight in July, when Lou was hired to be a technical advisor for a video shoot on the Japanese art of kendo. He had a ball working with director Ben Kufrin and kendo Sensei Carry Mizobe. 
In August, we were rocked by the passing of our cherished friend and client Roberta Deutsch. A vivacious and talented dancer who appeared in dozens of TV shows and as one of the Jet girls in the movie version of Westside Story, Eugenie considered Roberta an older sister.  In September, Lou got the news that one of his  former  karate teachers, Harlan Cary Poe, had passed away in New York City. The gloom lifted a bit in October and November when Lou and his cowriter, Max McGill, were awarded Fifth Place in the Writers Digest National Writing Competition for their screenplay Out-Rageous, the true tale of Perry Watkins, a feisty drag queen and the only soldier to successfully challenge the U.S. Military's ban on gays. 
Later in the Fall, Lou had a sweet surprise when Sensei Mel Pralgo recognized his 35 years of martial arts training by promoting him to Godan or 5th degree black belt. Not long afterward, Eugenie was part of a terrific group show at Canvas Malibu, where her sculptures are currently on display. 
Eugenie & Danny Ducovny @ Canvas Malibu show
December brought the year to a sweet, symmetrical finish. We opened the month as we started 2015 by attending Margaret Spirito's revised and totally fantastic 'Dirty Jersey' show. The kid blew the roof off, garnering mad applause and rave reviews. Then, after much patient back and forth, the East River Academy at New York's Riker's Island prison purchased copies of Gimme Shelter to use in their dog training program. Coupled with the sales made to Los Angeles County's Probation Department, the book would now be helping at risk youth on both coasts. 
We don't want to spill the beans or jinx ourselves but 2016 promises to be every bit as terrific as 2015. If it all pans out, we hope to have big news about GIMME SHELTER. So, thanks for following us, and stay tuned.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


As you might have noticed, our posts sometimes tend to blow our own horn (or book). This week, however, we'd like to acknowledge the stellar work of friends and family. We'll start with our longtime (since 1970) bff, the super talented poet and painter Linda Simone who just crafted some superb illustrations for  'The Wanderlust (A South Carolina Folk Tale)' by her friend, the equally talented Sarah Bracey White. The book looks awesome and you can order your signed, limited edition copies from Sarah (bracey0114@aol.com). 

Staying with the visual arts, on Saturday 11/21, Jac and Arlington, the proprietors of Canvas Malibu, maybe the hippest fusion of art and fashion ever, threw another one of their fabulous 'Meet The Artist' parties. One of the featured artists was this superb stone carver from Malibu, Eugenie Spirito (I know, we did it again but it's all true). It was great fun getting to mingle with the designers and painters, and our dear friend, photographer extraordinaire, Roxanne McCann, captured it all for posterity. 
Lou, Tanner & Eugenie with the art crew (photo by Roxanne McCann)
Lastly, but not leastly (yeah, I made that up but cut me some slack, I'm a pit bull!), this past Tuesday, our gorgeous chanteuse niece, Margaret M. Spirito gave a KILLER show at Rockwell, LA, when the Sublime Ms. M (take that, Bette) reprised her 'Sounds of Dirty Jersey' show. She's always fabulous but was in exceptionally fine voice that night. I could go on, but read what an L.A. critic had to say:
"Powerhouse vocalist Margaret M. Spirito revived her iconic "Margaret M. Spirito and the Sounds of Dirty Jersey" show last night to a full house of loving friends, fans, and family. Clad in black blousy pants and a black and gold top that made her seem like a hot Jersey-Girl superhero, Spirito took over the Los Feliz hotspot "Rockwell Table & Stage" -- and then tore it down. From New Jersey herself, Spirito created her show around musical artists who came from The Garden State and went on to make an impact on the music industry. Opening with the classics "Ready or Not/Fugee-la" from "The Fugees" Spirito proved she can move from funky R&B, to heartfelt ballad, to powerhouse rock anthem in the simple change of a chord. Backed by a three piece band, the raven-haired beauty moved effortlessly from an affecting arrangement of Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me" to a slowed-down and gorgeous rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Throughout the evening, she tackled The Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen, and the grand-daddy of Jersey crooners, Frank Sinatra. She even let her bandmates Anthony Starble (keyboards), Ian Lowe (drums), and Devin McNichol (guitar) steal the spotlight, along with special guest and friend Ben D. Goldberg who performed a lovely acoustic rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Growin' Up." Frequently, Spirito and her band offered new takes on classic songs like a bluesy "Born to Run," "I'm on Fire" (sung as a duet with McNichol), and a mash-up of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" with "You Give Love a Bad Name." But what made the night extra-special -- and makes Spirito stand out amongst her talented peers -- is her banter. She doesn't just give a quip and launch into her next song; she gives us actual stories and allows herself the time to tell them. It's like listening to Kathy Griffin tell one of her "this is what happened to me" stories, but instead there's singing in-between. And it's fabulous. Spirito is admittedly a loud, chatty Jersey Girl and we'd never want her to be anything but. Add to that her vocals which are the size of the state itself, and you have a down and dirty evening worthy of the greats she immortalizes."