Monday, November 30, 2009


Beverly Burton Marcus November 30, 1931 - December 15, 2002

Today I was cleaning house and going through old photos and found my Mom's signature written for no particular reason on the inside flap of one of my photo envelopes that had pictures from the 1980's. Crazy huh, but stuff like this has happened before on special days relating to my Mom. In ways I can never predict, her presence will pop up.


Monday, November 23, 2009


On Sunday afternoon, I went hiking for two hours in the Encino Hills (at Westridge-Canyon Back Wilderness Park) with Cali and her doggy friend, Lucy the Chocolate Lab. After the hike, we went to Coral Tree Cafe to refuel.

Not all dogs will eat lettuce, but these two sure do. In this video, they sit obediently and alternate taking bites of my salad. How sweet they are!!!! :-)

iPhone 3GS video by Lydia Marcus

Friday, November 20, 2009


Every time I take Cali out with me I get questions about where I got her from so I thought I'd do a reference blog for anyone looking to adopt a labrador in Los Angeles. I am also including a few other general references to good general rescue groups in L.A.

The biggest misconception people seem to have about rescue groups (and even shelters) is that they can't get a puppy or a purebred there. Labs of all colors and ages are available at rescues and shelters.

After my beloved Lucy The Boxador died of lymphoma in late June, I searched many places looking for another dog:; craigslist;; in Canoga Park;; and more.

The three main places I found that specialized in labs were: Labs And Buddies; Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue; and

Here's a breakdown of each group.

1). Labs And Buddies is where I found my last dog, my beloved Lucy The Boxador. is run by the blood, sweat, and tears of Laura Portillo and a small group of volunteers.

This is a blurb from their website:

"Laura Portillo is the founder of 'Labs and Buddies Rescue'...Although her first love is the Lab, she loves all breeds and will rescue any breed in need, space and finances permitting. She specializes in black dogs, because unfortunately they're always the last ones to be picked by adopters at shelters, and too often they're not picked at all..."

It breaks my heart to see some dogs available on their website that have been around since I adopted Lucy from them in December 2007. Labs and Buddies have a wonderful heart but unfortunately I don't think they have the time or resources to get every dog shown (some live in kennels). I know with Lucy, they rescued her from the Camarillo shelter in September of 2007, then she was put in a kennel for several months, and because she was not doing well in that environment, Laura personally took Lucy into her home a couple weeks before I adopted Lucy in December 2007. Lucy was lucky to get out of the kennel in a few months, it's horrible to think that some dogs are stuck there for years.

Most of the adoption events are held on weekends in Woodland Hills, so please check them out if you're looking for a dog. They have much more than labs too.

2). Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue is where I found Cali. I was very impressed by the work that SCLRR does in fostering the dogs and interviewing applicants before adopting a dog out. The woman who fostered Cali is one of the founders of the group and has personally fostered around 500 dogs herself! Getting Cali from SCLRR saved me a lot of time, money, and training. At four months old she was already crate and potty trained, knew sit and lie down commands, was spayed and had all her shots. As an incentive to put your dog through obedience training, SCLRR refunds $50 of the training cost (you can go to any training place you choose) for basic obedience. Dogs at SCLRR aren't kenneled, they are fostered in homes with dog savvy owners and generally exposed to other dogs, children, and sometimes cats. This way the foster parents are able to report about how well a particular dog does and if they should be placed with another pet, be a solo dog in the home, if they're too boisterous for kids, or if they have a prey drive with cats. Personally I found it really nice to have more information on a dog's personality, temperament, and even energy level before making an adoption decision. Also a really nice touch, when I adopted Cali I was given a folder that included all her medical papers and other information about raising puppies and labradors in particular. There was even a training dvd! And Cali's sweet foster Mom even gave me a couple of her toys (Cali still plays with her stuffed lambie - how she hasn't destroyed it with her puppy chewing is beyond me), a nylabone, and a few days worth of her kibble. And Cali's foster Mom has always been available for follow-up emails or calls. One extra perk from my experience with SCLRR is that I've become friends with the lady who did the home check. She has a black lab too and Cali and her dog Kylie have had a couple doggie playdates so far.

3). Independent Labrador Retriever Rescue of Socal ( The only personal experience I have with indilabrescue is a representative coming to my house to do a home check. But I can see from their website that they seem to be run in a similar way to SCLRR. All the dogs are fostered in homes and there's always a very informative description of each dog available for adoption.

What I think is really good about both SCLRR and indilabrescue is that the dogs don't seem to be stuck in foster care for long. They both appear to have a very good turnaround.

Another good rescue group I encountered is Karma Rescue. They were very organized, had lots of info about each dog they fostered (they also mainly do home fosters, but have some dogs kenneled), and spent a lot of time with me answering questions and trying to match me up with dogs. They don't specialize in labs, but when I was going to their adoption events I saw a few pit/lab mixes, and some older black labs. They specialize more in Pit Bulls so the pit mixes are probably what you will encounter there.

Also check out Hope For Paws, a group run by one of my flickr friends Eldad Hagar. Eldad has an amazing flickr photostream documenting all the dogs and other critters he has saved and adopted out. He and his wife Audrey put together an amazing hard cover book Our Lives Have Gone To The Dogs that's only $9.95 and filled with heartwarming tales and before and after photos of wonderful dogs that went from neglect to loving homes.

All the money made from sales of the book go directly towards saving more homeless animals and towards veterinary costs. I highly recommend buying this wonderfully inspiring book for yourself and if can afford it, get a few copies for gifts!

Along with the nearly 100 pages of photos and stories, there are some great dog related quotes inside. I love this one on page 24, "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."

If you want a dog please consider adopting from a local rescue or shelter. I think probably has the most comprehensive list of rescue groups by zip code. I've never bought a dog from a store or a breeder in my entire life. The bond you will have with a dog that comes from a shelter or rescue is unbelievable. They are so happy to be in a loving home and they will thank you with their love and companionship forever.

- Lydia Marcus

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Lucy is a Chocolate Lab I met a few weeks ago. Lucy's "Mom" Chrystyna and her boyfriend Jorge were walking past my yard and I invited Lucy in to play with Cali. Chyrstyna got Lucy from an ad on Craigslist. The owners had neglected her and were going to dump her at the pound and they were threatening to put her down if no one came to get her! She's only a year old and she's super sweet and loving and thank God she's out of a place that doesn't care about her into a a loving home that does.

Cali and Lucy have had a few doggie play dates, gone on one off leash hike together (their first!), and today Jorge brought Lucy over so we could bathe Cali & her in my backyard. He helped to hold Cali while I washed her and I held Lucy still while he washed her.

Lucy is a gem and has so much potential. She was overweight when she was adopted and in just a few weeks of regular exercise she's already trimmed down. She doesn't know a lot of commands (I think sit and lie down are it), but today in just a few seconds I was able to teach her "Leave It'. Cali and I are happy to call her a friend.

Here's a cropped version of the first shot.


Lucy has beautiful yellow eyes and a radiant smile. This is how she looks most of the time, ears back and relaxed.



I took a few Polaroids of Lucy and Cali too. It took Jorge and I quite a lot of futzing and commands and treats to finally get them close enough for a side by side portrait, but we finally did it!




Digital and Polaroid Photo credits © Lydia Marcus 2009 /
Photographed November 18, 2009 in Encino, CA

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



Polaroid photo credit: © Lydia Marcus 2009 /
Photographed May 9, 2009 in Culver City, CA at the Sixth Annual Cruisin' Back to Culver City Car Show


"Bizarre or beautiful? Lincoln's all-new Mark III, IV and V Continentals upped the ante in luxury motoring. To some, the 1958 through 1960 Lincoln Mark III, IV and V Continentals are under-appreciated middle children, straddling the line between the understated, classic 1956-'57 Continental Mark II and the Camelot-chic 1961 Continental; others consider them the redheaded stepchildren of the 1950s Lincoln line. Whatever your thoughts, there's no escaping these Continentals' advanced unit-body design, massive stretch-out room and distinctive styling. With prices on their forebears and followers rising by the day, now is the time to aim for middle ground and pick up a 1958-'60 Continental."

Monday, November 9, 2009



Photo credit © Lydia Marcus 2008 /
Photographed December 28, 2008 in Venice, CA

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Last week I photographed the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s 38th Anniversary Gala and Auction at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. I circulated around the silent auction and cocktail reception to take photos of the attendees and then took live shots of the famous presenters and award recipients during the show.

I shot the reception and silent auction with my Nikon D80, Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 lens, off camera SB-800 flash and a Gary Fong Lightsphere, and used my 85mm f/1.4 lens during the show set at f/1.7, ISO 1250, and spot metering.

Here are my favorite shots from the evening:

Chelsea Handler, host of the show



Jay Leno, presented the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award to Wanda Sykes. Leno said of his talk show, ”We do jokes about pop culture and about fashion, but we never joke about human rights.”

Wanda has some great expressions!



Miss Coco Peru (aka Clinton Leupp), recipient of the Board of Directors Award.

This shadow of Miss Coco Peru on the stage curtain is one of my favorite shots from the night. I love spotting photographic moments that other people probably wouldn't notice.

There was a great painting of Coco for sale at the silent auction and I waited awhile until I spotted some cute guys who I thought would look cute posing with the portrait.


Zachary Quinto from "Star Trek" and "Heroes" presented Coco with her award. He was difficult to photograph because he was really serious and I kept waiting for a moment where he was smiling. This is the closest I got.

Amber Riley from "Glee" performed.

She had a great voice and personality.

This is Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. She's very approachable and nice and a TERRIFIC public speaker. She gave a very rousing speech where she described herself as a "patriot."

I thought she looked very pretty this evening as well.

Lori, Chelsea, and Miss Coco.

During the cocktail reception, they had two sketch artists doing funny portraits of guests.


I just loved this artist's jacket.


These chairs were auction items. Instead of just shooting static shots of them, I asked two gals who were standing nearby if they would pose with them and they were happy to oblige.

I asked this couple to pose with this auction painting because their clothing complimented the shot. Instead of taking a basic shot of the couple or a simple shot of the painting, putting these ingredients together made a more fun and visually appealing shot. The blue tie went with the tones in the painting and the red dress added a nice dollop of contrast.

These photos were up for auction. On the left a portrait of Andy Warhol by Michael Childers. On the right a portrait of Grace Jones (I think possibly shot by Childers too). I would have loved to have bid on the Grace Jones photo but was just too busy shooting to do it.

I asked to take a photo of these gentlemen because they were so darn good looking and dressed so elegantly in black tie.

During the show, there was entertainment from this senior troup from The Center. They danced and sang their asses off and were a lot of fun to watch. When I grow up I want to be just like them!

Photo Credits: © Lydia Marcus 2009 /
Photographed October 24, 2009 in Century City, CA
At the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s
38th Anniversary Gala and Auction

Monday, November 2, 2009


Haute Dog Howl'oween-12

This was my second year in a row attending the Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade in Long Beach. Last year's parade had more than 600 dogs in costume and this year's parade was even bigger. Last year the parade took place on the sidewalk with spectators squeezed on both sides of the cement. This year the parade expanded to two closed off streets with spectators seated in rented chairs lining the street, standing on either side of the street, or sitting directly on the curb.

When we first drove past the festival, both Cali and Abbey (my neighbor Amy's dog) started whimpering a little and just sniffing the air like crazy. They saw and sensed a lot of dogs in the area and they were beginning to get wound up. I wasn't sure how Cali was going to do with all the doggie stimulation. She LOVES to play and I thought she'd be pulling me in all directions. The past month I've been taking her out with me to lots of festivals and she's been getting better and better at remaining calm when she sees other dogs. The first time I took her out with me to the Taste of Encino, I thought she was going to pull my arm out of it's socket lunging and pulling to get at other dogs. But at the Haute Dog Howl'oween she turned out to be surprisingly calm and just wanted to say hi or give a quick kiss to all the doggies she met. There were a couple playful pups closer to her age that actually engaged in play with her so that was great. The only problem I had with her was her attention span - she started to get kind of antsy during the parade because we were planted in one place for a very long time. When you're dealing with a puppy it's really no different than dealing with a kid. You wouldn't expect a kid to stay put in one place for a very long time without wanting to get out an roam around and a dog is exactly like that. Instead of getting up, I just decided to forgo watching the parade for a little while and got down on the ground with her to give her attention and belly rubs.

I didn't get to take as many photos as last year because holding onto Cali and taking photos at the same time is a challenge. But here are my faves from the day. Everything was shot with my Nikon D80 and a 50mm lens at f/1.8.

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Pomeranian cutie.

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The cutest boxer puppy! I just wanted to eat it up!!!

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This "lobster" dog took for cover under the chair because it was wary of Cali.

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Tiny & Precious!

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I had originally bought a ladybug costume for Cali but she wasn't having any part of it. Maybe when she's older and calmer I can ease her into a costume. But I did manage to pick up this cute scarf for her at the Haute Dog festival. It's red with white hearts and looks great against her black coat. I also bought a yellow one that has a hibiscus flower pattern on it. They attach with velcro and were only $4 dollars.

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This is my neighbor Amy with her chihuahua mix Abbey. Abbey is Cali's first playmate, they met right when I got Cali at 4 months old. Abbey is a little bundle of energy and spunk and who always lets Cali know who's the boss! This was the first time Cali and Abbey traveled in the car together and they got along great.

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I wanted to get a better portrait after the parade but we were all so pooped out. Posing two dogs together is not so easy.

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I think this is a boston terrier dressed as a Laker. It just wanted to play. So sweet.

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Definitely the weirdest (and possibly most creative) entry in the parade.

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The "Lion" dog and Abbie. The lion mane was homemade by it's owner. Soooo cute.

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Playful pup.

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This year the parade began with a kid costume category. I thought this little girl dressed as bacon was the best!

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This little boy was awesome as Edward Scissorhands. I loved his scowling expression!

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A portrait of me & Cali taken by my friend Matthew.

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Another shot of me & Cali. Cali will be 8 months old in a few days.

Photo credits © Lydia Marcus 2009
Photographed October 31, 2009 in Long Beach, CA at the Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade

Update November 6, 2009: Received new photos from my friend Matthew Dillon so thought I'd share them.

Here's Amy M., Me & Cali, and my neighbor Amy S. with Abbey.

Me & Cali and Amy S. & Abbey.