Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2016’

Writer’s follow-ups: A duck’s tale, shoe art, Cuba — and his book

Juanita is back, again bringing joy to seniors at Bello Gardens in San Anselmo. Photo by Woody Weingarten.

Juanita is back, again bringing joy to seniors at Bello Gardens in San Anselmo. Photo by Woody Weingarten.

I’ve learned, over the years, to follow my heart and my dreams (but rarely the crowd).

I don’t usually remember, however, to do follow-ups on my columns.

This, then, is an exception that dents that rule:

I’ll begin with Juanita, the pet mallard at Bello Gardens, an assisted living facility in San Anselmo, that I wrote about last September — just before she flew the coop (so to speak).

The duck had actually slept in a storage area, but fluttered over a fence when a storm discombobulated her.

And like an escapee from San Quentin, she was duly punished — 90 days in solitary (at WildCare, a nonprofit rescue outfit, in San Rafael).

There, she also found herself totally bound in red tape.

According to federal and state edicts, you see, “wild” ducks are legally protected and can’t be domesticated.

Except when an exception is made.

So the 25 seniors at Bello sought that way back for Juanita. As did 11,000 other folks, who signed an online petition.

The outcry led to the mallard being labeled an “educational bird,” an official, technical designation that enabled her to return — and Bello’s residents to be joyous again.

With wife and granddaughter in tow, I recently re-visited the mallard and her new $2,000 outdoor pond-and-perch enclosure at Bello (where she’d originally been adopted at the ripe old age of four days).

But she didn’t seem to remember the pre-escape time we’d spent together.

Which makes me ponder if a two-year-old mallard can be a victim of early Duckzheimer’s.

“All She Rote” is part of a Fairfax Library exhibit by Dave Getz, drummer for Big Brother & The Holding Company.

“All She Rote” is part of a Fairfax Library exhibit by Dave Getz, drummer for Big Brother & The Holding Company.

Next up, I have an update about Fairfax’s Dave Getz.

OK, it’s a plug.

Not everyone knows my friend was an artist before (and after) he became the drummer for Big Brother & The Holding Company and befriended its lead rock-blues singer, Janis Joplin.

Truth is, Dave had studied art at the prestigious Cooper Union in Manhattan and earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.

And later won a Fulbright fellowship in painting.

Although he still performs globally with Big Brother — as well as with his own combos (The Dave Getz Breakaway and the Dave Getz Trio) and his wife, Joan, a jazz singer — the 75-year-old continues to stretch his art skills.

Witness his latest one-man exhibit, which hangs at the Fairfax Library.

It’s unusual, to say the least.

Portraits of shoes mostly.

The works, on display through the end of the month, were inspired, his website explains, by “1930’s shoe catalogues and the idea that shoes (being one of mankind’s first vehicles) are, in some way as much as cars, projections of our goals and dreams.”

Impertinent query: Will Dave next work on sole music?

Moving on — in June 2012 I wrote about my wife and I visiting Cuba.


Before Obama changed the rules and made it easier to go there and overdose on rice ‘n’ beans.

My biggest surprise was that the island people were happy. Or, as I wrote: “Smiling. Friendly. Warm. Open.”

Though we did see poverty and a lack of material goods, we were flabbergasted by the fact that Cuba boasted the world’s second highest literacy rate, and that its universal medical care in many ways was more together than that in the United States.

We also reveled in the ubiquitous music and art.

Last month, two cousin-friends made the same journey — and reported similar findings (plus a major increase in tourism).

Tell me again: What was the purpose of the embargo? What were we afraid of?

Back in March 2014, I wrote a column previewing my book, “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer,” aimed at male caregivers.

It’s been available for months now — in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats, from bookstores (such as Whyte’s Booksmith in San Anselmo) and online at Amazon. Clearly a niche publication, it’s been selling slowly but steadily.

But if I convince Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks, both having been compassionate caregivers for their wives, to write an introduction to a second edition…

Finally, as a follow-up to my column on conversational tidbits I’ve overheard, here’s a spanking new favorite:

Outside an eatery in Fairfax I choose not to name, a white-haired woman said to her friend coiffed with a bluish tint, “This place just isn’t what it used to was. Now it’s over-priced and under-flavored.”

Contact Woody Weingarten at or at

Page 5 of 41« First...«34567»102030...Last »