This Vagabond has had some adventures involving aquariums lately. Battlestar Galactica – who is our resident black goldfish at the Art Hospital – has been quite bereft since the loss of his tankmates. We had a kitchen table fundraiser and Barb and I rode our metal ponies to the Dragon City Aquarium to bring home some new pals for Battlestar.

This is our sucker fish after he was freshly selected from the tank. If he eats enough algae he will grow to 16 inches.

As you can see from below, we have a lot of algae. This is the tank before Battlestar’s new friends were released. You should see it now, it is so spotless we are going to have to get more fish to produce enough detritus/algae for the sucker fish to eat. I will document the evidence here shortly.

When Pat gets back from her transformation to visual art superhero, she is going to name these new gillwigglers. We’re hoping to raise funds for 5 to 6 tiger barbs, which will set us back $26. Feel free to send your loose change over on the ferry.


Last week I went to the zoo with my brothers and their better halves. The Metro zoo was quite disheartening – witnessing caged animals inevitably troubles our perceptions of self, our relationship to animals, and our interactions with the environment. We spent a lot of time at the zoo when we were kids as we were all animal obsessed. Patrick went to Zoo camp, no less. All three Brownies carefully amassed a home zoo out of abandoned and rescued and purchased pets of every variety (and a gentle doom was unleashed on the carpets, the yard, the Encyclopedia set, my parents’ sanity . . .). But this visit has me thinking that this zoo has a limited time on its use value for both its inhabitants and its audience – at least with its current habitats and practices.

Most captivating and shocking was the stingray exhibit, which was available for a limited time only – I think it tours to another zoo so it isn’t limited time for the stingrays. The audience (what to call the zoo-attendee? we are indeed audience to the performance of this construction of animal on display) is asked to thoroughly wash their hands and arms up to the elbow, and then invited to touch the stingrays, who swim clockwise in a large shallow saltwater pool. This is a cowtongue stingray:

We dig each other, me and the stingrays. I hypothesize that the electromagnetic powers which I possess (the ones that shatter computers and electronic equipment of all breeds) are a magnet for stingrays – they were superfans of my palm. A couple of them were leaping out of the water like puppies jacked up on jerky treats everytime they circled past me.

I’m fascinated by stingrays, they’re amazing marine creatures: they’re ghostbirds at twilight when they gather en masse. Manta rays make me want to get my scuba certification – I’ve got to publish a lot of poetry before I make that happen. In the interim, perhaps we should organize a jailbreak, Ric O’Barry styles. I volunteer to be the stingray-pied-piper.

Meantime, I’ll eat my miniature gluten-free garden-raspberry pie while I watch that little sucker fish clear his fish haven of algae in my art heaven. [Diagram that sentence.]

And ruminate on the human obsession with holding animals captive on the twilight boat-ride home to my tank:

Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station provides some pretty perfect soundtracks for Island life –