Ye who love dogs and life and Shakespeare (or any one of those) may also feel fondness for a small book of photos that combines all three in a really original way. It's photographer/sculptor Mark Lamonica's tribute to an unsung part of Americana: junkyards and the valiant beasts who guard them. The captions for each photo are quotations from The Bard in "Junkyard Dogs and William Shakespeare" (Woodford Press).
Lamonica is a lover of Shakespeare who has traveled the junkyard trail for years in search of materials for his sculptures. At each stop, he has been impressed with the nobility of the mutts and mongrels who stand watch amid the scraps of twisted metal.
They are the world's "pure dogs," he says, unpolluted by the foibles and neuroses of owners. They are like "the dogs of whom Shakespeare wrote. And dogs were the catalyst for much of his great [writing]."
"Whenever the 15th century genius wanted to write about the hurly-burly or mayhem of life, he always used the dog as the vector," Lamonica asserts. In fact, "the dog is the personification of what man aspires to be in Shakespeare's world."
Lamonica lives in Altadena, but he was at his mother's house in Brooklyn when we found him. And he leapt at once into quotes from "Julius Caesar," "Twelfth Night," "Pericles" and "Hamlet," ending with a passionate crescendo that crackled across the wires: "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!"
Then, back to the junkyard: "These dogs are happy and free and full of themselves," he says. "They are content to guard their castles. To a dog, a junkyard is like a huge estate; it's the equivalent of a mansion."
Lamonica keeps dogs on both coasts, he says. In Brooklyn, his mother has two pit bulls he gave her. In Altadena, one of his three mixed-breed pooches is half coyote.
"I do wish thou wert a dog, That I might love thee something." (William Shakespeare, "The Life of Timon of Athens")