Earth in the Balance

Not to worry. The pugs will return. In the mean time, please take a moment to be enlightened by the following public-service announcement:

Every so often, a movie comes along that really makes you think about the effect we human beings have on the planet. No, I’m not referring to An Inconvenient Truth. I know a lot of you are saying, “Ooh, Al Gore! He should have been president instead of Monkey Boy and even though his wife is a real buzzkill, we just love him.” These are all valid points but just hear me out.

The movie I’m talking about is Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. Monday night’s bartender brought the video to work with him and played it all the customers. I must say that I was impressed. I was also drunk. That and watching the film with the sound turned off inspired me to read a plot synopsis from IMDB in order to fill in the gaps.

This research confirmed what I began to suspect after my third drink: this was the most important environmental movie ever made.

In the film, a malevolent behemoth piggybacks to earth on a meteorite and starts devouring pollution (hey, it could happen). Now then, reverse logic might dictate that a creature living on a diet of Japanese industrial waste would shit bonsai and cherry blossoms. Not so in this case. Instead, Hedorah (the Smog Monster) spends his after-meal time spewing flatulence more noxious than an old Chevy Impala with a dead rat in the oil pan.

Something must be done. But if you’re familiar with movies of this genre, you already know that the Japanese military is about as effective against giant monsters as it was against the Enola Gay. Therefore, it’s up to Godzilla (née Gojira) to save the world. Needless to say, Big G tears Ol’ Smoggy a new one. The movie ends with people realizing that their polluting ways have brought calamity upon themselves and humanity better clean up its act pronto.

The movie was released in 1971. Think about what the planet would be like if we had heeded its message then. For one thing, we wouldn’t have to endure some political has been who thinks enough of his message to drone on about for almost two hours but not enough to put on a rubber suit and start laying down the smack.

Confessions of a Pug-Room Addict (Part 2)

A taxi came around the corner and pulled up along the curb in front of me. The driver leaned over to the passenger side and rolled down the window. He had a disarming smile that contrasted intense eyes that would have fit nicely in a larger head.

“Pugs?” he asked.

The bullet holes in the side of the vehicle were a little disconcerting but the service was prompt and friendly. I nodded, got into the cab, and off we went.

“I’m Igor,” he said, turning around to shake my hand as we sailed through a red light.

“Dave. Pleased to meet you,” I said. Taking note of his name, I checked his back for a hump. There wasn’t one.

“This is your first time. Yes? Here, you better drink this then,” he said, handing me a shot glass-sized vial full of murky liquid.

I didn’t have to ask what the contents were. Moral crusaders against pug rooms had been all over the news recently, making sure the use of that stuff got plenty of press. Called “pug potion” or “vitamin P,” it was at the time the only illicit component of the subculture. Its ingredients were reputed to be MDMA, schnapps (peppermint or peach), St. John’s wort, and a blend of antioxidants added to appeal to the health-conscious consumer.

“No trans fat,” Igor assured me.

I unscrewed the vial and knocked back the liquid in one gulp. The schnapps was peach. I would know about the rest of the concoction soon enough.

Igor said it was going to be long ride, all the way to the Outer Richmond district but told me not to worry about cab fare. Transportation there was complimentary for first-time customers. He asked me if I wanted to listen to some music and I said OK. Techno blasted from the car stereo and made conversation impossible for the rest of the trip.

When we reached our destination, we were way out in the Avenues, just a few block from the beach. The cab pulled into the driveway of an auto-repair shop with the sign:

“We denounce stallin’!”

Igor said the entrance was in the back and I was expected. I thanked him for the ride and pug potion and got out of the taxi into the cold night, blanketed by fog.

There was no light along the side of the building and I stepped on some guy passed out in the walkway.

“Pugs,” he said and went back to sleep.

I reached the door at the rear of the building without further incident and knocked on the door. A middle-aged man who wore his toupee at a rakish angle answered.

“Oh do come in. I am Anton, the habitat’s liaison, ” he said with an accent that seemed to come from someplace in Europe but it was hard to tell exactly where. I’d traveled quite a bit on the continent but never made it Andorra so I decided he must come from there.

I stepped past him and into a room that was decorated in such a way that could only be described as “International Pug.” Shelves were adorned with Asian figurines of the breed and Delft Blue plates depicting them frolicking with their clog-shod owners. On the far wall hung a large velvet painting of an Aztec warrior in full headdress cradling a lifeless, supine pug in one arm. His free hand was pinching a teat.

Like the room, Anton was dressed to impress. His decision to greet visitors in a robe and smoking a pipe was no doubt an effort to impart a Hugh Hefner mystique. If he had opted for satin instead of terry cloth, the overall effect would have been a little more Hef and a little less Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man. Still, I had a hard time faulting the man because he had the most adorable little pug at the end of a leash. I wanted to be sociable but not knowing quite what to say to an Andorran, I struck up a conversation with the dog instead.

“What’s shakin’, girlfriend?” I asked, crouching down to pug level.

“It’s a he, and he’s not one of the love pugs. He is my personal pet. That’s why he is neutered.”

“You don’t do that to the others?”

“Oh no. We found that there is greater enthusiasm from animals who have not been fixed. By the way, is name is Fenrir, from the wolf in Norse mythology.”

“Hiya Funrear,” I said to the dog. ” Do you know what I am? I’m intact. You’re not. And I see that look in your eye. Yes I do. It’s envy. That’s one of the seven deadly sins. Yes it is. And do you know what the punishment for that sin is? It’s castration, so I guess you have nothing to worry about.”

“Please sir,” said Anton. “We’re on a bit of a tight schedule. If you could kindly disrobe completely and place your clothes in that basket, the attendant will be with you shortly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some matters to see to.”

He led the dog out and I got undressed. I stood there naked for a minute or two before a door opened and Classy Lady asked me to follow her into another room. I never did catch her name and refer to her as “Classy Lady” because that is what was tattooed on her neck.

She was American, which almost seemed out of place at this point. Judging from her twang and how she did not remove the lit cigarette from her mouth when she spoke, I guessed she hailed from somewhere in the rural South.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “You ain’t got nothing I ain’t seen plenty of. I had five brothers.”

We entered a carpeted room with the walls and ceiling painted black. A steroid-enhanced Russian stood in the corner with his eyes crossed, eying me. Classy Lady told me to stand on the tarp laid out in the middle of the floor.

“Now spread your goddamn arms out. You know, like Jesus,” she added. “I’ll be back in a second.”

She returned with a pewter soup tureen and a paintbrush. She then started basting me head to toe with lukewarm beef bouillon.

That’s when the pug potion hit me. Every stroke of the brush sent a tidal wave firing synapses through my brain. I began to hyperventilate. Classy Lady finished up just before I thought I was going to have a seizure. I barely had the mental wherewithal to acknowledge her telling me it was time to lie down on the tarp.

I got on the floor and looked up to see the large man smiling at me with an impressive array of gold teeth.

“You party now,” he said.

Both he and Classy Lady left the room, turning off the light and closing the door behind them. I lay there staring into the darkness, hearing nearby snorting and grunting. Then there was the sound of a metal panel sliding open.

A moment later, the pugs were all over me.

Confessions of a Pug-Room Addict (Part 1)

It was my first time inside of a community center and it was every bit as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was in a classroom of sorts with cracked walls and water stains on the acoustic ceiling tiles. There were posters with rainbows and platitudes and the desks where we sat had gang logos carved into them. The woman leading the meeting was much like the center itself, underfunded and beginning to sag.

I didn’t want to be there but when you’ve been charged with a felony sex crime and then offered a deal that will keep you out of jail, you take it.

“We have a new face among us,” the woman said, leveling her laser pointer so it put a red dot in the middle of my forehead. “Why don’t you stand up and introduce yourself?”

“Uh, my name’s Dave and I’m a pug-oholic.”



How did I manage to sink so low so fast? It was not all that long ago that I was at the top of my game with a good job and an awesome girlfriend. Sure, I also had an active interest in dog porn, but no more so than one would expect from any man with a healthy libido.

It all began one night after an especially stressful day at work. I had managed to delete some vital data files by accident and was unsuccessful in my attempts to delegate blame to an intern. The subsequent ass chewing I received soured me on all of humanity.

“Tough day?” asked asked Betty when I got home, noticing my clenched fists as I walked in.

“Fuck you,” I explained and headed into the room with the computer, closing the door behind me. There was only one thing that would improve my spirits, God bless the internet.

Betty was no stranger to my mood swings and had learned to adapt accordingly. I heard the low hum of her vibrator from the bedroom as I booted the computer and went to my favorite website.

The latest “Mutt of the Month” looked quite fetching. “Fatima” the Saluki had long, beautiful flowing ears and despite the name, not an ounce of fat on her. She was wearing some sort of weird leather bondage harness, which I thought was completely unnecessary. However, I was open minded enough to realize that they had a business to run and therefore must cater to kinky perverts as well.

At the top of the page, there was a banner ad that would change my life forever. It read:

Forget Pug Room Ripoffs! Ours Is The Real Deal!!
Our Pugs Give Their All!!! That’s 700% in Dog Love!!!! (Visa/MC)

Pug rooms had been making the headlines lately as the latest craze for those into pushing the erotic envelope. The practice was in a gray area legally. You didn’t actually have sex with the dogs. Instead, you took advantage of the breed’s affectionate nature by lying on the floor naked and letting them do all the work (perfect for me). The first pug room opened at a kennel in the red-light district of Amsterdam. It wasn’t long before the Russian mafia muscled in on the operation and expanded the business into a word-wide phenomenon.

The legal status was about to change. Shortly after pug rooms began to spring up in major cities across the United States, there was an outcry among religious conservatives, animal-rights activists, and other groups given to outcries no matter what. Dianne Feinstein (an obvious cat person) drafted legislation to make ownership, operation, and participation in a pug room a federal crime. Needless to say, the bill sailed through both houses of Congress and was sitting on the president’s desk waiting to be signed into law. As a born-again Christian, there was no way he was going to veto the thing. If I was going to try the pug-room experience,waiting around was not an option.

From the bedroom, the vibrator notched up a couple of settings. Its drone was quite audible now and from where I sat, its message was loud and clear: Betty was making the best of a dreary evening and so should I. I mentally thanked her for her wise counsel and clicked on the ad.

I was redirected to a page that asked me for my credit-card information (to be billed to “Best In Show Productions”), my home address, and a phone number where I could be reached. There was also the option of booking a date and time for an appointment or simply clicking a box marked “ASAP.” In light of a law-enforcement crackdown on the horizon, I chose the latter.

Ten minutes later, my cell phone rang. The voice on the line had a heavy Russian accent.

“David Charles Jennings?”


“Your credit is goodnik. Are you home now?”


“Da. Please wait outside. We send car to acquire you.”

That was fine by me. Betty had cranked up her toy to a level where I could feel the vibrations in my molars. I wanted to be out the door and on my way before it went to maximum power and started setting off car alarms.

I left my apartment and stood on the sidewalk to wait. A cold, unforgiving wind was blowing in from the north. For a moment, a thought ran through my head that I should just go back inside and forget the whole thing.

That notion quickly passed. It was too late for that now. I had already paid my money. If I was in for a penny, I was in for the pound.