Thursday, August 19, 2010

a stabbing in paradise

It's the 9th of Elul on the Babylonian/Jewish calendar. On this day, nothing much is supposed to happen. All the bad things, all the evil is relegated to the 9th of Av, a full month earlier. Av is the truly bad news month in the Jewish calendar. By the time Elul rolls around, everyone's gearing up for a do-over. Taking stock. It's a month for introspection. The month of Divine mercy and forgiveness. And strangely enough, that's what I've been doing all Elul: the introspection part, not the forgiveness part. But, gee, I do that every month, so I'm not sure it even counts.

So, okay, today's not the worst day of the year. And this isn't the greatest tragedy on earth. But do you ever have one of those days where everything just goes wrong (in comparison to those days in which everything just goes right)? Well, today was just one of those wrong days, which followed one of those just wrong weeks.

After falling through my deck on Sunday, I had the Termite Man come out today, along with my contractor friend, Tony. Between the two of them, I was given more than abundant physical evidence that my exquisite redwood deck is infested with termites and beetles, and run through with dry rot and mold. And oh gee, the back stairs are fashtunk the same way as well. All these years of foggy days and nights (exactly like tonight, actually) in San Francisco will do that even to the best redwood around after a while.

They ripped out my deck today. The site of basking naked belly dancers waiting for their henna to dry each spring before Rakassah— the International Bellydancing Festival. The site of Passover under the tent in biblical drag. The site of years of meditation on the nature of nature. Now dead, decayed and gone.

And the price tag for resurrection is so far out of bounds that there's nothing else to do but, well, think outside the box. Laugh. Consider it an opportunity for a new art project. Just when I thought there was relative completion at Beit Malkhut, no! Call it a grand opportunity for change.

So today I alternated between despondency and self-pity on the one hand, and optimism and cheer on the other. Switching points of view every five minutes or so — until Roshi couldn't stand it any more and forced me out the door. We headed for Paradise. Where we go every day of the year, whether or not it's a day or month for introspection or Divine mercy.

And something was wrong.

It was as if everyone was walking in slow motion. There were three vehicles on the trail, belonging to the Feds. Fort Funston is, after all, a national park. Clumps of mourners with heads bowed in dismay. I could catch fragments of sentences riding on the wind, until the mourners were close enough to fill me in. Rosh and I are, after all, regulars. We are of the body. This is how it unfolded on the wind:

A man

with a pitbull

and a knife.

That already sounded like bad news.

A woman

walking dogs

who's a regular.

That's all I heard for a while. And the Fed vehicles rolled slowly at what felt more and more to be a funereal pace. And the dogs at the Fort felt subdued. There was a calm — that wasn't calm.

The Ranger was taking statements.

The woman with the dogs was crying.

"... and I saw the knife was bloody, and I asked him ..." sobs.

"... did you stab the dog??"

"and he answered, 'sure did!'" ... sobs.

Two thought came to me.

First: My deck is of little to no consequence in the scheme of things.

Second: Stabbing is not the way conflict or aggression is handled in Paradise.

And it is this latter thought that puts things into perspective. What makes Funston paradise is that it is a moving meditation of dogs and horses and birds and fish and humans and hangliders and feds and fog. And depending on the season, fishermen and seals and dolphins and whales and crabs and jelly fish and seaweed. And periodic oil spilled out on the beach. And bits of trash and parts of ships, I must admit are part of the mix. Which means that there is inherent conflict and territorialities within the system. And it's handled like a choreography; a dance between elements in which no one wins and just maybe no one loses. And, for the most part, the rhythm of the dance (while not perfect) is in tune with the rhythm of the tides (or something like that). And life and death are indeed part of the cycle. But not like this.

Every once in a while that rhythm is interrupted by something appalling. Today was one of those.

Today, a man with a pitbull stabbed a dog.

It's not in the papers. Can't find it on Google. But it happened. The dog was rushed to the veterinary hospital. A stabbing in Paradise. And it's not the 9th of Av, but it feels like it. It's just the 9th of Elul. A day for taking stock. For introspection. For Divine Mercy. And forgiveness.

But as I've said before: I just don't believe in forgiveness.


  1. It did happen! I am praying for Lenny the dog.

  2. This is horrible! You're writing of the account and your day is beautiful...I love how you show the beauty alongside the unfortunate ugly side of this universe.

  3. Lenny is a great dog, hope he pulls through. This guy that did this is a regular & has a shaky reputation. Its only a matter of time before he gets caught.

  4. This attack is so unthinkable! Please keep us posted on Lenny's condition. I just don't understand how such a thing could happen.

  5. earlier post should have said "your" not "you're!" I hardly make that mistake...geez, I must have been really distracted by this awful story. :/

    I will be thinking of Lenny and sending some good luck his way.

  6. There's now more information here:
    and some thread discussions online. Lenny was stabbed four times. His spleen had to be removed. And he is now recovering.

    There's so much to say about this insanity, including the hazards of bringing un-neutered pitbulls to dog parks. Generally speaking, dog walkers at FF are pretty good at handling potential conflicts. But this is a case where the human was more out of control than the dogs. He is still at large...

  7. "Many of you have been asking about Lenny. The man who stabbed him has admitted to the stabbing, but claims it was in self defense! There are plenty of facts to dispel this, but the Park Police report that witnesses are not coming forward, or if they are, have been unwilling to leave their names & make official statements. The man however, has a scum bag attorney & all his friends lined up to say that Lenny was attacking his dog.

    We know this is not true. Lenny is non-aggressive, and not a sound occoured before the stabbing -- Stacey did not know her dog had been stabbed until she turned around & saw the bloody knife in the man's hand. Dog fights do not occour silently, especially in a place like Fort Funston, where any scuffle results in huge, noisy commotion as the dogs gather. Dogs are pack animals and react immediately & naturally to danger of any kind, but especially dog fights in this environment. There would be much noise & drama. People who feel threatened also make noise. The man did not yell, attract attention ot struggle beofre stabbing Lenny. The crime occoured swiftly & silently. When Stacey turned around, saw the bloody knife & asked "did you stab my dog??" the man held the bloody knife above his head & said "I sure did!" before fleeing the scene. This is not the action of a man who felt threatened. He did not yell or demand Stacey grab her dog at any point -- usually the first reaction to a concern about another's dog at a dog park.

    Lenny is a pro dog walker's dog & has good social skills. He is not aggressive & no altercation occoured. Stacey saw the dogs posture, typical when a dog meets an unneutered male dog, and asked the owner to grab his dog to prevent any trouble -- typical & responsible behavior for a dog walker. The man was carrying a knife in the middle of the afternoon at Fort Funston, and walking an unneutered pit bull (illegal in SF) -- all of this is further proof that he was not concerend about the law or anyone's safety.

    This man should be prosecuted to the fullest extent but witnesses need to step forward & speak up for this to happen. If you saw ANYTHING the day of the attack, please give your statement to the Park Police. Iwill include the contact info below. The Park Police want this man arrested too. they were at Fort Funston yesterday, stopping cars as we left the parking lot to question everyone. Even if you did not witness the attack, you can make a statement testifying to Lenny's non aggressive behavior, Stacey's responsible ownership, and anything you know of dog behavior, the case itself or the environment at Fort Funston. I did not see the fight, but wrote a long statement for them that they believed would be helpful. The important stuff is evidence of Lenny's friendliness & that no altercation occoured between the dogs. It is important that we all speak up & help protect our park & put this man away.

    Here is the contact information for the Park police who were questioning at Fort Funston. If you make a statement, it is best to put it in writing & fax. be sure to include your name & contact information, as this has apparently been much of the problem with the information they are recieving from the public.

    U.S. Park Police

    1217 Ralston Ave

    SF, CA 94129

    police info: 415.561.5100

    police reports: 415.561.5102

    fax: 415.561.5145

    If you saw this event or would like to share any of the many positive experiences we have all had with Lenny please contact the Park Police."


  8. Thank you for this update, Amber. I hope someone steps forward who was right there on the scene! The whole feeling of Funston has been sullied by this.

  9. You are very welcome, Lenny is recovering nicely and went out for a walk, off leash! you can keep tabs on him here---->!/pages/Lennys-Fund/108219205903608?ref=ts

    We all want to see this man in custody and charged. We also, all know what would have really happened if Lenny had attacked this man. Lenny, being a pit bull, would of course, already be in custody. I have met this dog, he is sweet and kind.