Just Got to Vent About Our Vet(rinarian)

January 14, 2022

By Karen

I won’t name them, but CW cats and this veterinary practice go back to the 1990s (with one prolonged breakup midway until our defection practice began going downhill). We have seen at least two generations of these vets.

They made life hell during the late Cole’s kidney failure, needlessly costing me hundreds of dollars on prescriptions by limiting the sources to their extortionately priced selves (like $5 a pill vs. 30 pills for $10 online) or one pricey online pharmacy they “partner” with (i.e., probably skim a cut from).

I fought the drug price battle until Cole’s last breath, and recall one day driving to their office THREE times because their dumb-as-doorknobs staff was incapable of producing a correct written prescription and refused to fax it anywhere. I had to snail-mail it to my supplier while the clock ticked down on Cole’s waning life. Their blithe obstruction would have made Mitch McConnell proud.

After Cole died, I went full Karen on the practice administrator over their failure to cooperate. But nothing has changed. The pandemic made it worse. Much worse.

Cole’s prescription issues resurfaced with Adele’s subsequent kidney failure battle, although they did allow me to use Sam’s Club, right down the street. Since they knew I could — and would — drive over and raise hell within minutes of any prescription screwup, that went smoother, although it still cost me much more than it should have.

What I’ll never forget about their treatment of Adele was that they were in a new building (the same move that doomed the alternate practice I mentioned in the opening), and it had a special area for euthanasia. On Adele’s last day alive, they told me to call from the parking lot so we could arrive through a private entrance.

I called, and got a recording that they’d gone to lunch and to call back in a few hours.

THEY had set the appointment to kill one of their patients and just FORGOT it?

So, Adele’s last trip was right past the dogs in their damn lobby.

Max, Roc and Tony haven’t had major issues, so our contacts have been mercifully infrequent.

However, the practice does periodically annoy me with their comical mass emails. They call us “Family” and share new policies to inconvenience us from the tone-deaf perspective that our primary concern is the happiness, safety and well-being of their staff. (Examples on request.)

So, yesterday I took Roc in for his annual checkup, this year a mere courtesy call because he’s fine and doesn’t need any shots.

They let me choose sitting out in the parking lot or accompanying him. I chose the latter. I was double-masked; the vet wore only a blue paper mask, like the one I had on under my triple-ply cloth mask.

As their policy dictates, I sat across the exam room while Roc rested calmly, facing away from me, in his carrier on the exam table, which was inexplicably retracted so it only fit the carrier and the scale.

Full length requires too much extra wiping down between patients perhaps?

Turns out their new “procedure” is to dismantle the carrier, which looks like this, with seven fasteners…

Roc is a most congenial cat and has ridden drama-free in this carrier since he was a kitten. I told the vet to tip it slightly and he’d walk right out. She ignored me, mumbling about “an article saying this is better” — because she knows Roc SO well.

Roc, for the first time ever, felt his safe place taken apart by strangers. Think it bothered him?

Well, when I took out the carrier today for the photo, I set it down beside Roc and he bolted. So, thanks a lot, Vet, for Roc’s new carrier phobia.

During his exam, Roc stood like a thoroughbred while the vet and her assistant pawed him from head to toe. The vet said a cat earlier had put up a fuss.

MY cat didn’t. He was a pro. But you treated him like he was a problem.

Bottom line: These few stories I’ve shared just scratch the surface. We need a new vet.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Ready for some Cats Working Christmas videos? Their big surprises this year (which Tony almost sniffed out prematurely as I was charging them in the bathroom) were Floppy Fish!

Tony and Roc were immediately intrigued (you’ll see Roc’s tail go by when he loses interest)…

Then Tony decided to show Floppy who’s boss while Max looked on…

Roc’s attack strategy is total domination…

Max didn’t quite know what to make of them and seemed more interested in the rest of Christmas (you get to see everyone in their celebratory mess)…

Tony and Roc enjoyed their annual viewing of Video Catnip, and here’s just a snippet. It’s 25 minutes long and they watched it TWICE…

Here’s the gang relaxing after toys, treats, and ‘nip…

BONUS: Tony watched the snow fall in the backyard last week from the Man Cave window…


For Trump, Follow Up Blame with Consequences

January 6, 2022

By Karen

I’ve been holding my fire on this Trump-getting-away-with-everything infamy for weeks because it makes me crazy to think about it. But on the anniversary of 1/6/21, we must face the fact that nothing has been done to strengthen democracy so monsters like Trump can never occupy the White House again.

Congress is crawling with traitors (on both sides) actively sabotaging Biden’s agenda and nothing is happening to them. Oh, right, Marjorie Taylor-Greene got kicked off Twitter.

I trace the origin of this mess to when the media and elected representatives willfully refused to communicate honestly about Trump.

Remember when no one on the airwaves would say Trump was lying? Except Lawrence O’Donnell, a true pioneer (this from March 14, 2017; Trump had been in office about two months)…

With hindsight on the torrent of vile, fact-free propaganda that ensued, all the other talking heads’ Victorian reluctance to speak inelegantly of Trump seems quaint.

We then had to suffer four years of gaslighting, with no one daring to call Trump a bat-shit mentally ill career criminal who broke laws willy-nilly right to our faces and dared us to do anything about it.

Oh, right, Trump was impeached TWICE, totally without consequences, except maybe some nasty write-ups in future history books that he’ll be too dead to read.

Today, even after the carnage of 1/6/21, they still use limp blame words when claiming to make big pronouncements — even adding toothless qualifiers — like, may be accountable, possibly responsible and could have culpability.

Blame words have no intent or effect but to invoke shame.

But Trump and his fellow traitors are incapable of shame. They say, “So what? We’re doing it. How are you going to stop us?”

Blame is a dead end. Nothing happens after blame. What every decent person in this country wants to see for Trump and his enablers are CONSEQUENCES.

From the two impeachments, what the 1/6 committee has gathered, and what we all witnessed firsthand during Trump’s regime, the guilt of Trump and everyone around him is irrefutable. The case against him has already been made…and made…and made.

Until somebody pronounces these criminals and traitors guilty, sentences them, and metes out dire consequences (life in prison without parole, at a minimum) to stop and punish behavior they now continue to engage in, we’ve got nothing.

Today, Joe Biden made a powerful speech where, without naming the orange bastard once, Biden laid 1/6/21 squarely in Trump’s lap.

But that’s all it was, blame. Now what?

Which brings me to Attorney General Merrick Garland. His big speech yesterday hinted that DOJ could go after Trump and his cronies, but gave not the slightest indication that he’s even attempting to maybe, possibly, even begin considering blaming Trump or his enablers for anything — let alone charging them.

But he’s all over prosecuting the small-potatoes brainwashed MAGA scum Trump sent rampaging through the Capitol.

I think Garland counts on himself and all the high-level perps dying off before he can get to them. Garland has proven himself so “above politics” and stuffed to the gills with integrity that he’ll let Trump and Republicans coup their way to fascist dictatorship while he slowly, meticulously, dots his I’s and crosses his T’s and keeps his skirts clean.

Garland is treating a nuclear war like it’s a pillow fight.

We need elected officials to end investigation stall tactics, to go with the multitude of hard, damning evidence they already have, and to mete out justice and political annihilation to Trump and Republicans — because they’re on a solid track to destroy democracy and must be stopped NOW.

Until treason and criminality have consequences, we’re all screwed.


Cats Call a Time-Out on Christmas

December 29, 2021

By Roc

Karen’s already told you about keeping Christmas low-key, and we cats were fine with that. But we’ve gone even lower.

Tony has become — hmm, how to put this delicately? Let’s say “sociophobic.” He freaks when he sees the mail truck at our mailbox. He growls and dashes for the bedroom if Amazon Prime shows up, even if they’re not delivering here.

Tony’s going through a reclusive phase

So on Christmas Eve, Mr. July 2021 RAL Calendar was a total no-show when Karen had her human family (and sister’s boyfriend) over for lunch. (Max slept through it upstairs in his Max Cave.)

Lunch sounds like no biggie, but around here it means rearranging the whole house. We’re set up for three cats and a human — not four extra humans.

Many blankies must be pulled off the furniture and washed (otherwise, they’d lie in a dirty pile). Chairs must be moved. Then there’s dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom from top to bottom.

We cats help with none of that.

Karen says you never know what a filthy mess your house is until you view it through your mother the real estate agent’s eyes.

I donned my festive Christmas collar to help Karen host our guests in hopes I’d score some pepperoni for my suave affability (I did).

Roc’s singing “Fa-la-la-la-la-la,” not snarling

Trying to keep it simple, Karen served pizza. She wanted a tasty huge one delivered, but the chances were too great that every pizza place she’d call would laugh in her face, saying, “Half the city wants pizza today, lady, so we’re running low on toppings. We’ll get it there in about three hours after we make more dough, if you’re lucky, and it’ll be cold.”

Plan B was a Food Lion supreme ready-made deal we baked ourselves, which worked out fine. Everybody ate it and nobody puked.

Afterward, our guests hadn’t even gotten to the end of the street when Tony and Max strolled in like nothing had happened.

We cats don’t help with cleanup, either, unless it’s pepperoni on the floor, so Karen spent the rest of the day re-wrapping the furniture and getting the house back to normal. She went to bed so dog-tired, she didn’t even watch Love, Actually.

Christmas morning, Karen overslept and barely had her coffee and newspaper before she had to dress and go to her parents’ for presents and a big midday meal, leaving us sitting here alone with our tails up our butts all afternoon.

The peeps went light on presents, so Karen didn’t return with a trunkful of stuff we have no place for. However, she did acquire some kind of felt Amish quilt of rando cats that needs to be “assembled.” Who doesn’t love an unforeseen Christmas project thrust upon them?

We know what somebody’s getting back for Christmas next year!

By now, Christmas was almost over, so we all agreed to save our stockings for New Year’s. Then we can eat treats (for Karen, it’s soybeans), watch Video Catnip as many times as we like, and play with toys all day.

So, that’s the new plan and it feels great. No pressure, and we’re still enjoying Santa Kitty anticipation.

(Well, not Tony. UPS just stopped across the street and he’s literally having a hissy. Tony, I mean, not the UPS guy.)

PS: A few nights ago, Tony thought he smelled catnip in Karen’s bathroom, of all places. While investigating, he accidentally knocked the drinking glass into the sink, upon which Karen sprang out of bed and quickly hid whatever she was up to. Tony only got a peek, but he says it’s large and ‘nippy, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Cats Working hope you and your families have a great New Year’s weekend, and we’ll see you in 2022.


Having Ourselves a Teeny-Tiny Christmas

December 20, 2021

By Karen

Remember last year, when I put up the big tree and decorated it with my whole cat ornament collection?

Well, fuggedaboutit in 2021. I think being incessantly nagged about “getting started on Christmas early” since before Halloween caused attitude backlash, and this is me today…

I’m not feeling the spirit at all, not even a little. This year’s tree is cat-size — with no ornaments, no lights, no garland — and the four presents under it are IT, and none are for me…

It annoyed me no end that I actually had to wrap one, but I was able to get the other three into bags and throw some tissue paper on top. Done.

I dipped into my boxes of house decorations just enough to fish out bows for the banister…

And stockings on the fireplace, which Max is inspecting…

Santa Kitty, being a highly efficient feline, has already stopped by to avoid being rushed on Christmas Eve. When I peeked in my stocking, this is what I found…

Who on Earth wants fucking soybeans for Christmas? But I gave up years ago on wishing for magical gifts and someone special to celebrate with, so why not soybeans? It could have been kitty litter.

I haven’t listened to Christmas carols because the ones that aren’t monotonous are mostly sad. I haven’t watched any Christmas TV specials or Hallmark Christmas rom-coms. I don’t need my nose rubbed in the fact that Christmas is for couples, especially couples with kids.

(Maybe the cats and I will watch Love, Actually on Christmas Eve, since it will be just us. The family, who traditionally came over for Christmas Eve dinner, is doing lunch instead, so no driving after dark.)

Even though I cut my Christmas card list to the bone last year, I’ve sent none.

On the other hand, I’ve only received three. Apparently Trump’s incompetent postmaster general puppet who still festers in the USPS has succeeded in killing “DeJoy” in the card tradition by making postage pricey and delivery iffy.

When I venture out to buy groceries and cat supplies, the parking lots are packed and stores infested with maskless disease-spreaders rummaging among whatever shelves aren’t bare for whatever marked-up, unwanted, unneeded crap they can buy for “loved ones” they otherwise don’t mind killing with COVID denial.

I’ll confess there was a nanosecond I wanted to resuscitate my spirit by switching things up with a white Christmas tree. So, I went to At Home, which is normally Christmas Mecca with trees and trimmings in every color you can imagine.

I found what looked like last-year’s unsold leftovers laid out in heaps, and whole aisles in the Christmas section empty. It was so depressing, I walked out empty-handed and that was that.

The cats are rolling with our minimalist approach and have knocked the tree over only twice. Even though I’m not feeling it, on Christmas morning, don’t worry, they’ll have plenty of toys, catnip, treats and, of course, our annual showing of Video Catnip

Hope your holidays are going better.


Larry David Milks Asia-Jimmy Story for Laughs

December 8, 2021

By Karen

Watching the latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Episode 11:7, “Irma Kostroski”) my jaw dropped when one of the story lines was the statutory rape accusation against Anthony Bourdain’s last girlfriend, which we learned about in August 2018, after his death in June.

If you’re not into Curb, here’s how it goes: It’s a sitcom starring Larry David playing himself as a curmudgeonly semi-retired TV writer/producer living in California. The show isn’t fully scripted. The actors know what’s supposed to happen, but ad lib much of the dialogue.

This season, Larry has been developing a sitcom based on his early life as a Jew in New York, casting an actor named Asa to play “Young Larry.” Asa is a pretentious jerk with many ridiculous demands for his character’s “authenticity.”

The thinly fictionalized Asia-Jimmy angle first comes up between the prop master Stan and Larry (I’ve cut lines that don’t add context)…

Stan: Larry, I can’t work with that kid [Asa]. He’s driving me nuts.

Larry: You know, like I told you, he’s a fucked up kid. He got sexually abused, I hear.

Stan: Oh, well, about that. I did my research. And it turns out, little Asa there, when he was a 17-year old kid, was “taken advantage of” by the beautiful 37-year-old Adriana Amante, the Italian actress. Fucking smokeshow, stunning.

Larry: That’s the trauma? I read about that.

Stan: Not only that, but he got 400 grand as a payoff. Formerly known as Andy. Were you as lucky at 17 to be taken advantage of by a supermodel?

Larry: Yeah, right. I was traumatized because I couldn’t have any sex at all.

Stan: Same here. I couldn’t fucking pay a woman to touch me.

Next scene, Larry confronts Asa…

Larry: You’re really giving Stan a hard time. You’re acting like kind of an asshole. There could be a justification for it, because I know how traumatized you were from that horrible incident you had when you were 17 and sexually abused by a beautiful, luscious, voluptuous Italian movie star.

Asa: You heard about that, huh?

Larry: Oh, my God, I can’t even imagine how horrible that must have —

Asa: It was so hard.

Larry: How did that work, exactly? Did she get you in a headlock?

Asa: It was a mental headlock.

Larry: All right, cut the shit, OK? You were 17 years old. If a cactus touched your penis, you would have been thrilled at that age, OK?

Asa: Ow, wow, wow. What if you were in high school and you slept with an older, famous actress? How would people treat you?

Larry: They would have named the high school after me.

Later, Larry lunching with the guys at his country club, and here the truth gets altered a bit…

Larry: So, it turns out he [Asa] did this movie when he was 17 and had sex in her trailer. He claimed that he was abused and got a $400,000 settlement. Now he’s playing the victim.

Larry’s friend Richard Lewis: It was the luckiest day of his life.

Larry’s roommate Leon: He’s ungrateful. This little motherfucker got a piece of ass, which is priceless. Then he got $400,000 on top of that shit? And the movie paid him. He got paid three fucking times and he’s still complaining.

Larry: Exactly.

Now it’s local Election Day and Larry encounters Asa outside the polls, where Asa makes a demand…

Larry: Get rid of Stan?

Asa: Yeah. He’s very difficult.

Larry: You know what? You’re driving him crazy.

Asa: I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to make art.

Larry: Yeah, well, he’s going to have a nervous breakdown, and it’s going to be real trauma, not like the fake trauma that you went through.

Asa: Oh, that’s where you’re going to go. It was real trauma. I suffered very… Hey, what are you doing, Larry?

Larry approaches a boy in line while Asa looks on…

Larry: Can I ask you a question? How old are you?

Boy: 18.

Larry: If a woman who looks like this (pulls up picture, presumably of the actress, on his phone, but not you-know-who) was interested in you, what would you say?

Boy: Yeah, I’d like that.

Larry: And what if she touched you down there?

Boy: Down there? Fuck, yeah.

Larry: And what if she invited you back to her apartment to have sex with her, and then she gave you $400,000?

Boy: Who wouldn’t take that?

Larry: Yeah, who wouldn’t take that? Thank you.

Boy: Is she here? When’s this happening?

Larry: Don’t be an idiot, no. Of course not.

By making the kid a schmuck and smearing compliments all over the actress with a thick knife, Larry David presumably is trying to avoid any backlash in the real world. But what I’m wondering is, what in hell made Larry think to exploit that still-unresolved situation as comedy fodder? And to go on and on about it? In the process, he essentially applauds the woman for committing statutory rape.

This Cats Working post from August 2018 provides details of what really happened, according to The New York Times, as well as subsequent posts as more information came to light.

And here’s a full recap of that Curb episode.

PS: Cats Working avoids using the woman in question’s full name because we don’t want to come up in her Google searches on herself or contribute to statistics on mentions of her.


Cats Take a Breather

December 3, 2021

By Karen

I’ve been debating with myself all week about what to post, but can’t make up my mind. I’m so upset about so many things going on in this country — while Democrats we elected to DO something about it dither and pretend it’s business as usual — I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll let Tony express the way we’re all feeling…

Hope you have a good weekend. We’ll try to be back next week.


What’s Been Up at Cats Working

November 19, 2021

By Karen

Virginia FINALLY cooled off and now the leaves are falling like mad. The acorns are crazy, too, so it’s like walking on marbles to go anywhere in the yard.

My house sprung a new quirk in the form of a weird tapping in the living room wall behind the TV. It had some intelligence because it would stop if I walked near it or went out on the deck or into the crawlspace to investigate. But I never saw anything.

The pest control guy I hired also heard it but couldn’t find the source, so he left some chemicals. I haven’t heard it for two days since then, so whatever it was may have moved on or died.

Speaking of the deck, one of my house’s good qualities is how high it is. This is the view from the deck. It feels like living in a treehouse…

Last night I was too tired to cook, so I popped this Lean Cuisine into the microwave…

The instructions were a little weird — 9 minutes at 50% power. I watched TV in the living room while waiting for the microwave to ding, but it just kept running and running and running.

Eventually, I realized something was wrong and this is what I found. These meals never look like what’s on the box, but this was ridiculous…

The timer showed 66 minutes left at 50% power. I must have accidentally punched in 90 instead of 9, so I’m glad it was only at half-power or I might have burned the house down.

But I know you’re dying to for cat news, so enough about me. The other morning, Tony toyed with being a tabby…

“Do these stripes make me look fat?”

He’s also been enjoying some fresh brown paper from Chewy.com delivery. He thinks it’s an invisibility cloak…

“You can’t see me, right?”

Lately, Max has been spending nights on my bed, but his favorite spot is between my legs, which means I can’t move. So, I relocated from the living room a cat bed they’ve all ignored for ages. Max actually slept in it the first night and made it the hottest new ticket in town. The next morning, Roc relinquished his claim on his own favorite bed to Tony so he could grab Max’s spot…

The following morning right after breakfast, guess where I found Tony staked out?…

Tony wouldn’t budge even after Roc showed up. Roc often bullies Max, but he knows better than to mess with the Tonester…

Almost forgot. Back in October for my birthday, my sister gave me this personalized mat. You’ll notice the kitties on it are furatomically correct…


How Anthony Bourdain Came to Be an American

November 11, 2021

Researched by James McNiff

Veterans Day feels like the fitting occasion to share the story of Anthony Bourdain’s paternal grandfather, Pierre. Jim McNiff originally submitted this as a comment, and Cats Working has edited it for clarity and length. He found his facts and photos at Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com.

James McNiff is a health care industry retiree who now does genealogical research on famous people for fun. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe and the Irish Echo (New York). He also self-publishes some of his findings and makes them available on Amazon.com.

Now, let’s learn about Anthony Bourdain’s paternal grandparents. But first, Jim sets the scene…

National WW1 Memorial Debuts in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Magazine, April 16, 2021

President Biden delivered a speech virtually, saying…

“More than 100 years have passed since WWI ended, but the legacy of those doughboys sailing off to war, and the values they fought to defend still live in our nation today.”

& & &

From The Stars and Stripes: American Expeditionary Forces Newspaper,
November 29,1918…

“One of the most heartening and cheering things about this whole business is the infinite capacity for mutual friends that exists between the children of France and the soldiers of America.”

* * *

On July 19,1919, the U.S.S. Kroonland sailed from Saint-Nazaire, France, with Army personnel onboard. The Treaty of Versailles had ended the Great War a few weeks earlier. Over 9 million soldiers would never return home. Another 21 million were injured, some beyond repair.

As soldiers streamed up the gangway, Quartermaster Sergeant Arthur H. Murphy waited until the last minute to personally escort a 13-year-old boy dressed in military garb. The child seemed to become invisible as he ascended the ramp; officers overseeing embarkation turned their backs as if he didn’t exist.

Next stop: Hoboken, New Jersey.

This is the U.S.S. Kroonland’s manifest for that sailing…

Officers294
Army Field Clerks3
Nurse, A.N.C.1
Civ., Q.M.C.1
Enlisted Men3,213
Total3,512
And 1 French boy

The New York Tribune reported the story of “doughboy” Pierre Michel Bourdain:

“The Kroonland had the distinction of bringing the youngest number of the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force). He is Michel Bourdain, 14 years old [his 14th birthday was actually two weeks after the article], dark-haired and blue-eyed. He stands 5’2” and wears the Sphinx head on the collar of his blouse, denoting a civilian interpreter. He says he speaks ‘Amurican,’ not ‘Engleesh.’ He was accompanied by Sergeant A.A. [sic] Murphy, who said he had the permission of the lad’s parents to adopt him.

“Bourdain helped his aged parents on a little farm at Maine-Loire, in Brittany.

[Pierre’s actual birthplace was a commune in Trelaze. The farm was on the outskirts of Angers, a larger city in western France. The Loire River was a few miles south. Trelaze is 440 miles due east of Port Saint-Nazaire.]

“When the 52nd Ammunition Train camped at [the farm], Pierre thought they were the finest soldiers he had ever seen and immediately started to help them in their marketing, using the little English he learned in school. The 52nd Ammunition Train moved on and was followed by the 54th Coast Artillery. Now called “Mike” by the soldiers, Pierre had accumulated quite a vocabulary and made himself invaluable to the new arrivals, none of whom spoke French. Soon they found that they could not do without him, so he was given a uniform and put on the payroll as a civilian employee interpreter at 225 francs a month.

“His parents moved to Bordeaux… The[y] opened a grocery store with Mike’s savings, which they realized was much more profitable than farming. Sergeant Murphy said that he is going to give Mike a good education.”

[Pierre’s father (Anthony Bourdain’s great-grandfather) is portrayed differently in various newspapers. Some say he died at Verdun. His birthplace quite frequently documented was Sao Pedro, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil).

Pierre’s American Guardian: QMC Sergeant Arthur H. Murphy

Arthur Murphy was born in Duchess County, New York, in 1888. His father was from Virginia and his mother lived in New York.

By 1910, Arthur lived in Poughkeepsie and worked as a candy salesman, according to the census. He was single and never married. At age 29 he enlisted in the Army at Fort Slocum in New York.

He was promoted to sergeant in 1918 while overseas, where he spent 14 months and made a stop in the commune of Trelaze, where he met young Pierre Bourdain. By his discharge in 1919, he was a Quartermaster (QMC) Sergeant.

Upon returning to New York, Arthur, and presumably Pierre, lived in an Allerton House (later renamed Tatham). The Allerton Company rented homey apartments to young men to provide “a safe, stable and economical arrangement,” according to their owner.

Pierre’s Future Wife Arrives

When Pierre was 9 and still living in France, Gabrielle Riousse [Anthony Bourdain’s paternal grandmother] crossed the Atlantic on the Lafayette and passed through Ellis Island on December 6, 1915. She was 22, 4’11”, with chestnut hair and eyes, and her occupation was milliner [dressmaker]. She was visiting her older sister Berthe Corr, who lived with her husband James at West 91st Street in New York.

Gabrielle was born in Paris on February 25, 1893, to Alfred and Ernestine (Loret) Riousse.

When Gabrielle arrived in New York, her parents still lived in Paris. Alfred was from Alençon, Orne, home of Alençon lace, “the Queen of laces and lace for Queens.”

Gabrielle eventually returned to Paris, but came back to New York in February 1920. Her height then was recorded as 5’4”, and her profession switched to teacher.

Arthur Murphy Adopts Pierre

The New York Herald of September 9, 1919, provided this update…

Yank Adopts Lad He Met in France. Ex-Interpreter to Rear son of Verdun Defender

“There was something in the wistful face of little Pierre Michel Bourdain which haunted Sergeant Arthur H. Murphy of 143 East Thirty-ninth Street, on the occasion of their first meeting in France. From the time the eyes of the big sergeant, who was an interpreter in the American Expeditionary Forces, and little Pierre met in Bordeaux there developed a mutual attachment.

“Every opportunity found the doughboy and the French lad together, and little Pierre told his story. He was a half-orphan; his father having been one of the thousands of French poilus who defended Verdun against the German onslaughts at the cost of their lives. His mother, Mithilde Belliard Bourdain, was in poor circumstances, scarcely able to support her children and herself.

“When the time came for his departure from France, Sergeant Murphy obtained permission from the boy’s mother to have Pierre follow. There was a lot of trouble in getting this permission, but it was only the beginning of Sergeant Murphy’s difficulties. There was the official red tape to be untangled, and that also took time.

“Finally, however, young Bourdain arrived in New York and was welcomed by his doughboy friend Murphy, an accountant, who had returned to civilian life.

“It was fitting that the day on which Gen. Pershing returned to America should be made one of the happiest in little Pierre’s life. Surrogate Cohalan signed yesterday the papers of adoption for which Murphy had applied, and Pierre Michel Bourdain became Pierre Michel Murphy. He will reside with his foster-father and the latter’s widowed sister.”

[CW Note: This account contains some unverifiable factual discrepancies from the earlier New York Tribune story.]

1924 was the last year Pierre was noted living in New York before returning to France to visit his mother, now in Bordeaux. It’s unknown if Pierre had a falling out with Arthur Murphy, but when he returned to the U.S. on the Rousillon, his name was listed as Pierre Michel Bourdain, not Michel or Michael Murphy, and the person he knew in the States wasn’t Sergeant Murphy, but a neighbor named Mr. Wilgus.

Gabrielle Returns to New York While Pierre Sails to France

Gabrielle traveled to Paris twice between 1924 and 1926. Gabrielle lived at 57 East 58th Street, NYC (the Hotel Claredon), and her occupation was professor.

It’s unknown how or where Gabrielle and Pierre met. On October 3, 1928, she married Pierre M. Bourdain in Manhattan. She was 35, he was 23.

Anthony’s grandfather, Pierre Sr. Photo submitted by Thomas, Ancestry.com

Their son, whom they named Pierre [Anthony Bourdain’s father], was born December 12, 1929.

Gabrielle and her son Pierre made many trips over the years to Paris to visit Gabrielle’s father Alfred and her mother-in-law Mithilde, who had moved to La Teste de Buch in Gironde, France.

The 1930 census listed Pierre M. and Gabrielle as married and living at 675 West End Avenue in New York with baby Pierre. Pierre Sr. was then working as a merchant in a department store. Gabrielle was again a dressmaker.

Sadly, Pierre Sr. would die at age 28, when Anthony’s father was only 3 years old. Cause unknown.

From the records of “New York City Municipal Deaths”…

Name:Piere Bourdain
Sex:Male
Address:317 West 95 Street
Burial Date:1 Jan 1933
Death Date:31 Dec 1932
Death Place:Manhattan
Birth Year:1904
Birthplace:France
Marital Status:Married
Occupation:Manufacturer
Race:White
Spouse Name:Gabrielle Bourdain
Cemetery:Fresh Pond Crematory

PS: In the Oral Biography at the bottom of page 3, Christopher Bourdain mentions how their father would take him and Anthony to visit their grandmother Gabrielle in New York [presumably in the 1960s], but remembers only that she was very old and crippled by arthritis.

If not for whatever inspired Pierre Sr. to drop his adopted surname and reclaim his birth name, his grandson, who became an international phenomenon, would have been Anthony Murphy. Somehow, it just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?


Democrats Plunge Virginia Backward

November 4, 2021

By Karen

Just like their dithering role models in Congress, Virginia Democrats failed to vote in this week’s statewide elections by just enough (~2 points) to make us lose EVERYTHING. In one day, they turned our totally blue state to flaming red by letting Republicans become governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and regain a majority in the House of Delegates.

Trump is gloating because — despite losing Virginia TWICE — he’s now got the state in his greasy pocket.

Our next governor, Glenn Youngkin, whom Stephen Colbert aptly described as “the love child of Mr. Rogers and Ted Cruz,” vows to “change the direction of Virginia.”

The vacant eyes, the vapid smile of Virginia’s next Republican governor

Youngkin will come to power inheriting a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus, COVID on the wane, again, the Civil War and its iconography no longer a “thing,” and women able to get abortions without undergoing the invasive, unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds pervy Republicans mandated when they last ran the show. This is the direction he wants to change.

Youngkin, a millionaire and former CEO of a hedge fund, has never held an elected office in his life. While pretending he had nothing to do with Trump, he blew Trump’s ignorance and divisiveness through a foghorn that echoed in every dark corner of the state where knuckle-draggers get along jes’ fine with no book larnin’.

He encouraged parents who never read the book to demand banning Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved — because it makes slavery look bad and it’s written by a black woman.

He’s also got parents’ panties in a bunch over critical race theory. They have no idea what it is, it’s NOT taught in Virginia, but they’re slavering to abolish it — because they innately know more than teachers.

I won’t be surprised when they make Gone with the Wind a textbook and mandate it in all high schools as the definitive word on the Civil War.

And Monument Avenue could very well get all its statues of loser Civil War generals back. The pedestals are still there, just waiting.

For Virginia now to “change direction,” Youngkin means to turn it into East Coast Texas. He must be itching to ban as many abortions as possible, allow even more extreme gerrymandering, and procedurally disenfranchise Democratic (ahem, minority) voters under the guise of “election integrity.”

(NOTE: Even though the top three Republican ass clowns won by just a point or two, no Democrats are screaming this election was stolen. We’re not that abysmally stupid.)

And let’s not forget the death penalty, which Virginia abolished earlier this year. Youngkin must certainly want to revive that while he’s rolling back all gun control so Virginia can proudly resume giving every homicidal nut job on the Eastern Seaboard a hassle-free experience expanding their arsenals with unlimited numbers of guns and assault weapons.

Once murders pick up again, Youngkin will want to keep Virginia’s prisons from overcrowding by having the option of speedy executions. Of course, he’ll consider pardoning any felon who declares their victim “needed killing” (i.e., the shooter is white, the victim wasn’t).

That’s justice, Republican-style.

Ever heard our famous slogan, “Virginia is for lovers”? Forget that if you’re LGBTQ. Our leaders don’t want your kind around here. And don’t expect any legal accommodations that might spare you from being personally persecuted and discriminated against in housing, jobs and services.

It’s only a matter of time before Youngkin makes his obligatory trek to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring of his lord and master, whose repeated endorsements (which Youngkin pretended to ignore) undoubtedly delivered the voters that no candidate appealing to reason or decency could ever hope to reach.

And now Virginia’s going to pay. Thanks a lot, Democrats. You blew it bigly.


Conversation with Tom Vitale, Conclusion

October 27, 2021

By Karen

Tom Vitale is author of In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain. Days after the interview excerpt with him that follows, I was watching the Roadrunner documentary DVD and had another “Cats Working May be Haunted” moment related to today’s post.

In the same instant the video shifted to Asia the girlfriend, the table lamp blew its bulb. My light bulbs always fail when I first switch lamps on, not after they’ve been burning a few hours. Maybe it was coincidence, but it creeped me out.

Commenters here have discussed Tom’s treatment of Asia in the book, so I had to ask him about…

Anthony Bourdain’s Last Girlfriend

CW: On page 217, you wrote…

“Tony’s ethic of relentlessly pushing the envelope — the very drive responsible for getting us where we were — had reached such a fever pitch, it felt like the pace was becoming unsustainable.”

It seemed you felt this while you were making the 2016 Rome episode with Asia. Why then? Was she trying to direct? What was the dynamic?

TV: A lot of scene ideas, like the boxing and pasta, and the stornellis [Italian street songs] that were so beautiful, were her idea. Those Roman folk songs are dirty and hilariously dark. She made a lot of creative contributions, but she was definitely not directing the episode. But it was very high stakes because Tony wanted to not fuck it up.

I think that period in general was particularly tough. The shoot with President Obama was coming up and completely top-secret. Constant battles with the accounting department were grating. Tony wanted to do fancier, more expensive things just as they were clamping down on the spending.

CW: Were you on the shoot with Tony and Asia in Southern Italy?

TV: I did do that one, yes.

CW: How were they together then? It seemed joyous. He was in love, and they were having fun at the beach, on the boat. Was the vibe good? Putting it in historical perspective, they had come out as a couple, right?

TV: I think we were in Portugal when they became public in February 2017. And Italy was June 2017.

CW: They were in their honeymoon phase.

TV: But it was an incredibly difficult shoot for a host of reasons. Italy is one of the greatest countries to visit, but also the most difficult and stressful from the production standpoint. For example, we set up this whole scene for a big party at a farm, then at the last minute the police shut us down because the location was being used as refugee resettlement area and it didn’t have the right permits. We lost an entire day of shooting due to some stupid bureaucratic miscommunication. Things like that were happening.

On the other side, I don’t think Tony was ever so nice and happy, to me, as he was on that shoot.

CW: Something we’ve debated at Cats Working is how you went to Rome seeking answers and met with Asia. She asked about his will and supposedly missing fortune. In the book, it seems like the first thing out of her mouth, but was it really further into the conversation?

TV: No, she pretty much opened with that.

CW: So, in so many words you conveyed her priority. Some seemed to fault you because they felt you were giving her a pass. Did she ever take any responsibility at all?

TV: I certainly don’t think she wanted Tony to kill himself. That probably screwed up her life in a lot of ways, too. I’m not saying she handled things the right way, by any stretch of imagination. But in my book — I wasn’t in Hong Kong or Florence — I only write about things I saw.

It was really difficult for me in that when Tony got together with her, he became a lot nicer to me. She was always very good to me. I think it’s unquestionable she played some role in his downfall. I guess I was blinded to the fact that something wrong was happening, whether it was her fault or not, because he got nicer to me.

CW: It sounds like she didn’t feel you were any threat, like maybe she did Zach or Helen.

TV: I knew how important pleasing her was to Tony. I moved mountains to make things happen, whatever he wanted, as I always did for Tony.

CW: Maybe she thought you were her ally. Perhaps you can confirm or debunk a rumor that circulated after he died. Did he ever buy her a house in Rome?

TV: No, he didn’t.

CW: In hindsight, that now makes sense. Where your book made my eyes Boing! out like a cartoon was when Tony told you she would be moving to New York in fall 2018.

TV: That was the plan.

CW: We dodged a bullet there, in a twisted way. The mess it would have created for everyone related to both of them. And to promote her “career,” he’d have found ways to get her in our faces every day.

TV: He was in love. He acted like a teenager about it. But he reacted to a lot of things like a teenager. That was part of his magic. He was really a romantic.

CW: He did have a certain boundless child-like enthusiasm. When he found something he really loved, a place a food, a person… That’s what made him inspiring for so many people. He pulled out all the stops.

TV: Back to the topic of giving Asia too much of a pass, in the book I don’t try to judge. It’s up to the reader, in the same way it was to me, to try to derive meaning from those things. It wasn’t always clear.

CW: I think you were even-handed. The Oral Biography seems more damning.

TV: I’m sure everything in the Oral Biography is true. What I include in my book is what I saw directly.

CW: That’s what sets your book apart. The Biography puts several degrees of separation between Tony and the reader. Your book is firsthand. Plus, you’re fair to the point of being too hard on yourself. Tom, the fact that you could go toe-to-toe with Tony for so many years and survive, while creating amazing TV, is proof that you’re much stronger than you probably think you are.

TV: Tony used to talk about how your greatest humiliations are most entertaining or funny for other people to read. I don’t think I 100% consciously set out to do that. But after having been steeped in Tony’s storytelling process for so long, I see the book is definitely a collection of my biggest fuckups and worst moments and failures. He was right, again. Those do make the most interesting stories.

CW: On page 282 you wrote…

“I’ve struggled with persistent questions of whether he actually cared enough about me to give me his best.”

I think if you can’t picture what his best would have looked like — had it been even better than what you got from him — that answers your question. I believe he did give you his best.

TV: He did.

CW: And I think a lot of people would agree.

BONUS: Tom loves cats.

Tom back home after a shoot, sacked out with the late Frida, aka “Mr. Whiskers”

CW: Being Cats Working, I have to ask about the many random shots of cats on your B roll that made it into the shows.

TV: Tony would joke a lot about my cats and my relationship with cats. I adore cats. So, the camera guys knew whenever a cat was around they would film it, and I’d use it in the edit.

CW: Do you have any cats currently?

TV: I do, Lucy and Tabby.

CW: Are they both females?

TV: They are. Both Tabby and Lucy are tabby white, which is half white, half tabby. But I think Lucy, because of her very distinctive meow and incredible elegance, is actually at least half or mostly Siamese. They’re rescue cats.


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