Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Fun & Frustrating Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

Last year was our first participating in the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade and it was an experience like no other. I took away some tips that I thought would make for an easier and, perhaps, more winning event for us this year.

Always a fan of Gustav Klimt, I couldn't wait to see the movie Woman in Gold about his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The movie was fascinating and I immediately planned a visit to the Neue Galerie, where the painting is on permanent display. I lost my breath standing in front of the real thing and it's been in the back of my mind ever since.

Then it hit me: 89 could pay homage.

It was a lot of work, but I had a tremendous amount of fun making the costume. It wasn't until my dad warned me not to feel bad if no one knew who she was that I began to worry.


Wig, jewels, dress, cape, and background fabric: there were so many elements because A) I had a lot to live up to, and B) I'd learned from last year that dogs in "floats" were paid significant more mind by the event than those on 4 paws. I was bound to be prepared thusly, and for 89 to be comfortable in the process.

We scoped out the parade a few hours early in plainclothes and found that for the 25th annual occasion of this event, they weren't making any more provisions for the crowd than we'd noted last year. The same single "entrance" flag stood in the same spot within the park that would become relatively invisible once the throngs of participants and gawkers descended. The stage was still assembled at street level, leaving participants hidden from the audience beyond the first few rows of onlookers.

Still, we were excited. About 45 minutes early we suited up and made our grand entrance, second only to  chihuahuas dressed as the three little pigs and advertising their social media platforms.

 But 89, resplendent in her float, was in it to win it.

Because I can't sew, 89's dress and float were both assembled using velcro. What I hadn't anticipated as a result of our short, visual dress rehearsals was that every time 89 would move- even just to shift her weight, something would come undone. So, we had some significant wardrobe malfunctions early on that tested my patience- particularly when a group of college-age girls were surrounding her yelling "selfie!" as I tried to straighten her ensemble and whisper soothing words in her ears to prevent her from retreating so far back into the stroller that she either couldn't be seen or, worse, tipped backwards.

Once everything was under control we were approached by BuzzFeed for an interview; it was pretty damn exciting. I wish I would have recorded it myself, though, because I've yet to see it posted anywhere. At some point during the Q&A, 89 flung her wig off towards the interviewer, causing myself and the camera crew to snicker inaudibly. 

after the fling

We proceeded through the crowd to get in line early on and wound up in front of these three rescued cuties who were dressed as smores: graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows in a campfire. It was totally adorable.

In front of us was the considerably more serious entrant: Silly Paws Circus. I admit that my misophonia made me irritable; their float had circus music playing on a loop and when one woman said to the other, "should I raise the volume?" I almost lost it. On top of that, I was already fearing a deja vu replay of last years' judging that rushed through the regular folk and concentrated only on the expensive spectacles (still calling for categories if you're listening, judges!).

As we waited on line, people called 89 things like "golden princess" and "Egyptian dog" and I seethed. Where is your culture, New York?! One young man asked me directly if she was supposed to be from Egypt and, after I told him about the painting (which would have mesmerized me as a kid), he simply repeated his question. I asked him if he'd been listening and he looked away, yelled, "minion!" and was gone; his attention averted by pop culture.

Thank goodness most of the photographers recognized her; every time I heard "Klimt" mentioned within earshot I beamed.

a majestically armored horse meets the Grinch and Max
bank robbing duo

This guy is one of my faves. He was a light up skyline last year and was robbed of a prize.

Our first glimpse of the stage: otherwise seen only by the judges and the policemen standing atop the restroom building- presumably for the express purpose of a better view, as it's not exactly a rowdy crowd.


And then it was our turn. Once again, a convoluted fiasco wherein we were directed to cross to the far side of the stage in front of the entrant before us, made all the more clumsy by having to wheel her contraption up and over the stage twice in order to get to the second announcer. He gave us a little more time than we'd been allotted last year- likely because he too hadn't guessed her costume, and then we were on our way past the judges who seemed surprised that I'd handpainted the fabric. I tried to elaborate on the other handmade elements of the costume, but this terd chose that exact moment to turn her back to the judges and completely mis-align her regalia for a final time.

So, then we found a place inside the confines of the event to watch the other entrants pass by as we waited for the first round of winners to be announced.

teddy bear

Yankee fan with enviable shoes

unicorn princess


gypsy & spider


also handmade!

There are no paintings of a reclined ABB, but 89 didn't care; she managed to retain her regal pose nonetheless.

At some points during the day it was like a high brow game of Where's Waldo.

One view of the crowds outside the event arena.

Same view, looking in the other direction: people surrounded the dog park as far as you could see.


poop emoji, lyft, and uber

pom frites

player piano (the roll actually rolled!)

pope mobile

Here's 89 in a rare moment of interest, trying to make friends with a canine pinata.


Marge Simpson

Book of Mormon (note the dog socks)
Out of almost 300 entrants there were 20 costumes who placed. Disappointingly, 89 was not one of them. However, after all the hours spent, getting to leave the event with my patient and generally terrific pooch was gift enough for me.

On our way out we passed a Bernie Sanders table and lent our support.

 And then, back in street (Halloween) clothes, she was a much happier girl.

We went to by Chloe to celebrate her being such a good sport.

using my hands as  a napkin

Dining at the next table was Lucas, who we'd missed at the parade, dressed as Jack Sparrow.

All in all we had a fun day. 89 made The Village Voice! Another photographer, Bryan Kremkau of Ska Punk Photos, posted her on his site. I had an original idea and 89 helped me execute it exquisitely. She's so fabulous!

As for next year, if we participate I'll start by making sure she is the most comfortable; delicacy isn't really our thing. So, let the strategizing begin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wheatsville Co-op: Vegan Austin TX

This post could easily be called "Vegans are enormous foodie nerds who like to go to HFSs while they travel," but the Wheatsville Co-op is more than just a HFS; it's like a super HFS with a bonus deli and bakery, etc.


We went to both Wheatsville locations (Guadalupe and South Lamar) during our short stay in Austin and I'd be lying if I told you I remembered which this was. So, here's a dark pic of one of them, followed by the highlights from both.

Sweet & Sara!

Treeline cheese!

Impeccably lined shelves!

Fresh-baked 3Cs!

Found this local hot sauce, yellowbird, and fell in love.

My first haul.

Organic kale for $1.50!

But, the highlight for me was the vegan-friendly deli...

where I got this beauteous sandwich of southern fried tofu served on a Wheatsville Bakehouse French roll with Vegenaise and all the veggies.

It's even more impressive from the cross-section view:

I was not as impressed by this sparkling water that we saw just about everywhere in TX, but to each his own.

Read more about Wheatsville and definitely plan a visit if you find yourself in Austin; you won't be disappointed.