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Steve Wacksman
February 2011
A Life On Display
posted:
Arrogance

Anxiety

Optimism

Isolation

A Golden Opportunity!
posted:

A golden opportunity for you to show off your good taste in both rock'n'roll music and commemorative tee shirts all in one fell swoop! Artwork by lengendary rock'n'roll commemorative tee shirt artist..me.
Parting with a single Hamilton is all it'll take. Do it for the kids.
Available at this trusted online marketplace.
WKC 2011
posted:
This English Mastiff appears quite natural in front of the cameras.

As is my annual tradition I visited the dogs competing at the Westmister Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden this Tuesday. Although I appreciate all breeds the Working Group is home to most of my favorite breeds. Tiesdays show included the Working, Terrier and Sporting Groups. I spent hours walking the aisles and deligted in the company of some of the most beautiful dogs one is likely to see anywhere.
A flashy fawn Boxer. Who could deny that face?

The white Bull Terrier. Note the brindle Bull Terrier in the background enjoying a good belly-rub.

Although the breed judging in the ring is ostensibly the main attraction, I'va always enjoyed most the benching area where one can see the dogs up close and witness the immaculate grooming they undergo. Here's a Leonberger getting a  comb-out. With the crowds and the activity the benching area can get downright sultry. The bib is to safeguard against drool.
White dogs are shampooed, blown dry and combed out. Often their coats are 'chalked' to provide an even brighter white.

I have a particular fondness for the French Mastiff or Dogue De Bordeaux - I share my home with a gentle DDB named Okie. Above is Denzel, one of my favorite DDB's in the show. He's wearing a chamois-type cape that, when soaked in water, can keep the dog cool for hours.
a Black Russian Terrier on the grooming stand.

the Bullmastiffs in the ring. As usual I had my eye on that brindle in the center. Amazingly agile and athletic for their size.
Here's Mt Sinai's Crusader St Amand. The biggest head I've ever seen on a DDB- he was a shoo-in for Best of Breed.
And here he is just minutes after claiming the prize. Congratulations to Will and Paula Duvall of Mt Sinai Kennels and of course to Crusader!

Bernese Mountain Dog on the grooming stand. And embroidered on this fancier's jacket.

St Bernards - the "Alpine Mastiff"

Until next year, then. - the WKC is often referred to as the "Superbowl" of dog shows and to show there is an honor. Congratulations to all the dogs that competed this year.
Northland's Molly - The sweetest face I've ever seen on a DDB.

Cave Canem!
posted:

I've been a dog afficionado for quite some time now. I grew up with a keen interest in animals and as an adolescent made a pet out of just about any animal that colud be contained in a tank or cage. Our family dog was a black and tan Dauchshund named Tootsie Roll ( credit should be given to my parents who let my then three-year-old sister affix that sorry handle to the poor creature).
After relocating to NYC I found that my schedule and cramped living quarters did not lend themselves to pet ownership. As I was barely able to rub two dimes together the prospect of providing sustenance for another living being wasn't particularly attractive either. Finally my roommate and I decided to visit the local shelter and bring home a cat. This, we decided, would make our apartment more 'homey'. In fact it had quite the opposite effect as Logan was a foul-tempred and boisterous beast. He'd pace and yodel angrily at the door and swipe at your hand without provocation. My ardor for pet ownership thus cooled I lived without animal companionship for many years to follow.
 
But as time went by the bug once again bit me and a visit to the local animal shelter was inevitable, In no time at all I found a new companion- Jinx, a Siberian Husky. Jinx, in turn, found Junior.
One day at the local dog park Jinx honed in on a tremendous male Rottweiler. I was, like many people, wary of the breed but Jinx seemed oblivious to my prejudices and amorously followed the behemoth around the park, playfully nipping at his neck and trying to win his affections. Eventually it worked and the two became fast friends.
In short, Junior found himself in need of a new home and I campaigned relentlessly until I was eventually awarded the position. Junior was the perfect companion: quiet, confident, and always by my side. He was as trustworthy and sweet as any dog could be, yet his size and menacing appearance would be enough to keep any potential trouble from my door. I loved him with all my might and the feeling was clearly mutual.
Shortly thereafter Junior met The Veal at the park. The Veal was a scrappy and energetic Boxer bitch. The Veal's owner was a comely lass named Sofie. Sofie and I eventually got to talking. I must've said something she liked as Sofie and I are now looking down the barrell of our 10th wedding anniversary.
Eventually our dog pack died off as dogs will do. One by one they went - first Junior (spinal paralysis) , then The Veal (cancer) and lastly Jinx (time).
I had been dreaming of another big dog- I like their calm and gentle demeanors and doleful expressions. I somehow convinced Sofie that a Dogue de Bordeaux would be a perfect fit. Much research and many phone calls to various breeders throughout the US finally led us to Charles River's Mighty Oak- aka Okie.
Okie's first year.

Sometime after the birth of our son I managed to once again convince my wife that we needed another mouth to feed. And so came The Champion, a bristly and malodorous Boxer with a taste for mischief. And so the circle closes, at least for now.
Personally, I'va always wanted a Bullmastiff.


Gulag / The Wanderer
posted:

Images occur to me as if from the mist. Sometimes they'll appear fully formed but often they appear as kernels and - if they're insistent enough - I'll work up a narrative around them. Such was the case here; I had an idea of a man alone on an ice floe. I was in dire need of some 'Steve time' and life was relentless in it's determination to deprive me of it. No matter how I tried to bar the door against them errands, snow days, illnesses or some such intrusion would always find a way in and force me to abandon my post here at my homey picture-drawing studio.
So I had a man on an ice floe. In the original sketch he was transporting a motorcycle, which briefly became a bicycle. How and when the bicycle morphed into an enormous pig with luggage lashed to his back  remains a mystery to me, but these porcine beasts of burden seem to be an entrenched theme. All in all it's generally more complicated than I prefer my work to be, but it captured the scene sucessfully.
I had no specific use for this image in mind when I created it . To further 'flesh it out' I wrote a little narrative to accompany it.

Gulag
 
    It had warmed considerably in the last few days and finally I could once again smell the ocean, a gentle and welcome proof of life. Nik-nik's attitude remained foul and dour until lunchtime when his chin lifted and he was back to pestering me with his philosophic natterings and vain attempts to recall the lyrics to AM radio hits popular years before he was even born. I'd grit my teeth and stare at the featureless horizon as he'd repeat over and over the chorus of Paper Lace's  'The Night Chicago Died'

"I heard mah muth-ah cry, nah nah nahnunna nah nah naaaha the night Chic-ahhhgo died!"

My grip tightened around the oar and my eyes narrowed, trained on the horizon. I concentrated on the sound of the ocean, it's thick and rythmic slap against the icy walls of our floe. The wind whispered in my ears but I closed them to it's secrets. I'd been careless before and we'd lost a day and a half to my carelessness.

"Do you know Navajo", Nik-nik asked in a childish, singsongy voice.

"Southwestern tribe. Yeah."

Nik-nik shifted a little, pawed at the snow.

"My mother was Navajo. She was a potter and the first in my family to ever go to college. A potter. She made pots, beautiful. Beautiful pots. Cooking pots. Her parents, my grandparents?', he paused although whether for effect or to buy himself a little time to piece together more of this outrageous falsehood was not immediately evident. Again he pawed at the patch of snow under his snout this time producing a raspy gurgle from somewhere deep within. "Her parents had never even left the town they were born in, never been more than fifteen, twenty miles from where they were born".
 

I took a deep lungful of the frigid salt air and closed my eyes tightly. OK, I thought. OK. God alone knew how many more days we had on this merciless chunk of ice. There was a good chance that we'd be out here forever, out here in the frozen back of beyond with no one but one another for company. Out here in the vastness of space with nothing to affix our searching eyes on, where radio waves had no place to gain purchase and so simply passed over our heads unheard. I imagined my heart beating in my warm chest, unaware of the grim arctic eternity that lay just beyond that thin wall of bone and muscle. I thought of Amanda's small, warm hand against my chest . I could almost smell the cheap lavender fabric softener she favored and feel the weight of her stout legs intertwined with mine. I raised a mittened hand and pushed the fur ruff of my hood back so that I could steal a glimpse at Nik-nik's face and found him  looking directly up at me with crystalline tears frozen to his pale lashes.

"Navajo Indian", he said slowly and heavily as if unsure if I'd heard or understood him.

He was by far the most emotionally complex of all the pigs I'd travelled with.
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