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About that stable genius

A guy named Bob, in Brooklyn, posted this first verse on Twitter. It’s sung to “The Very Model of a Modern Major General” from Glibert and Sullivan’s PIRATES OF PENZANCE.

I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius.
I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius.
I have no time for television, golf, or social media
Since my brain is way way better than the best encyclopedia.

We all know I can’t resist a challenge. So I continued:

I’m President, I’m POTUS, I’m a perfect human specimen.
(Excepting for my bones spurs, and those would have decked you lesser men!)
Folks hail me for the pie up in the sky I have opined is there
And praise me when the tax cut gives the millionaires the lion’s share

I said in the campaign the poorly educated man I love
The reason: in the main, he thinks I’m really with him, hand-in-glove
Of course, to Mar-a-Lago is a place only some folks’ll get
It costs you many dollars to be welcome in my social set

Now I’m shootin’ bull with Putin (and he thinks I’m quite intelligent!)
In this White House dump Melania has tried to make so elegant
Melania, she’s beautiful, but Ivanka, she’s just way more so
If I were not her father I would spank ‘er, grab ‘er hot torso

The citizens all love me, I’m more popular than FDR,
Than JFK, than Marilyn, than God or than the motorcar
The Fake News says that isn’t true, but they’re just lying all the time
The evidence I’ve seen all tells me I did not commit a crime!

And because I never give up, allow me to add:

If a man who spouts this crap is someone you think is just full of sh*t
A narcissistic pussy-grabbing racist loony mental twit
Then seize the chance to work for Dems, electing every and each
So we’ll control the House when finally the time comes to impeach!

 

Make them crazy, and it’s not even YOUR money!

As you no doubt know, and if you don’t I’m telling you now, Simon and Schuster is set to publish this book on Jan. 16.  The launch will be at 7:00 at the Strand Bookstore in NYC, so if you’re around, come on down. You can get it there, get it signed by a bunch of us, and get that warm glow from knowing money from each sale will go to the ACLU. If you’re not around, though, you have a golden chance to get an even warmer glow: S&S will donate an additional $3.00 out of their pockets for every book pre-ordered by Jan. 15 — in hardcover or any e-format — to the ACLU, beyond what the ACLU is going to make on the royalties. Yes, it’s a bald bid for bestsellerdom, because it’s the pre-orders that determine that. But come on, folks, you know whose blood will boil to see this book become a best seller.  If the book weren’t wonderful, it would be worth it anyway to see those people frothing at the mouth, no? And the book IS wonderful, so it’s a win-win for our side.

#Resist, and:

Here’s where you pre-order this fabulous book.

 

 

 

One

One day to go in the year. One degree F, with windchill, at the river this morning. One dogwalker. One jogger. One bag lady, though she was bundled in three coats. One other person, like me, just walking. One seagull overhead.

Never have I seen my neighborhood so empty. The weather (it snowed yesterday), a lot of people taking this week off, and the fact that it’s Sunday, have combined for the winter quiet of an actual village, not the usual bustle of Greenwich Village. You could park a Mack truck on my block, even if you aren’t good at parking Mack trucks.

In this kind of sunny quiet I can feel hope for the future riding on the wind. So, despite all the disappointments of the past year, I send you all good wishes for 2018. Be kind, be productive, and #Resist!

Sue Grafton, RIP

 

Sue Grafton will have many obits, many appreciations. I just want to say she was a kind, generous, and wickedly funny lady, a true Southern gentlewoman who taught me, among so many other things, what “bless their hearts” truly means. The above photo, by (I believe) Sasser Hill (and if I’m right, thank you) (and if I’m wrong, thank you, whoever shot it) is from my interview of her when she was Guest of Honor at Bouchercon in 2013. I think I only asked three or four of the long list of questions there on my lap because each one set her off on a story, which led to another story… Goodbye, Sue. You will be missed.

Calendars!

December is here, and just in time for your holiday shopping, so are the 2018 SJ Rozan Calendars! This year there are three: FAKE BIRDS, with some of the year’s best fake bird photos; FOOD, and need I say more? And now, for her many fans, BELLA THE CAT.

Get yours (and everyone else’s) today!

 

 

 

The Thanksgiving Adventures of the Five-Berry Pie

I bought a pie — blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, and cranberry — on Wednesday, to take to my sister’s house in Philly, where I was headed for the holiday. The Greenmarket where I got it is near the Rubin Museum. I was going there, but I went to the market first, to make sure I got what I wanted. Then I went to the Rubin, but I didn’t want to endanger the pie by carrying it around the museum. So I took it to the checkroom, giving the coat-check guy a chance to add “May I check my pie?” to his list of Sentences I’ve Never Heard Before.  All well and good, unchecked the pie and took it home when I was done.

Next morning, the plan was to head down to the Staten Island Ferry and meet the illustrious JL on the other side, then drive to Philly, which is how we do it every year. Since I was planning to go to the gym without going home first when I got back Friday, I packed up the pie and detoured to the gym Thanksgiving morning to drop off some stuff I’d need. Then the pie and I took the subway to South Ferry.

When we got to the ferry terminal, however, I got a phone call from the illustrious JL: he was sick as a dog, could not go! I wished him well (he sounded awful) and thought, Uh-oh, what now? Here I am at South Ferry with a pie and the need to get to Philly, no plan to get there and it’s Thanksgiving Day.

I walked over to a picnic table, settled the pie, and started searching buses online. Amtrak, I was sure, would be sold out and cost a fortune besides, but they were my next plan. But lo, Megabus had a few seats left on the 2:45. I grabbed one up.

And now there I was at South Ferry at 10:15, on a gorgeous day, with four hours to spare before my bus. I could go home, but the weather was too spectacular. I could walk up to the bus, though that’s a little farther than I was prepared for, carrying the pie. I could walk partway, and then sit and have a cup of tea. Before I decided, though, I needed a bathroom. I started back to the ferry terminal, but a thought hit me: the Smithsonian’s NY branch of the National Museum of the American Indian is right there. All Smithsonian branches are open 365 days a year — this one too, yes?

Yes! The pie rode the conveyor belt through the X-ray machine. That museum used to have lockers, so I thought I might be able to check the pie in a second museum — surely a first for any pie — but no lockers any longer, so after the trip to the ladies’ room, where I sat it on the window sill, the pie and I went to the “Transformers” exhibit, which I’d wanted to see anyway.

After the Museum, I started to walk uptown. How far I’d go. whether I’d have tea, was still undecided, when I ran into Diane Fusilli. We exchanged hellos, and she told me her husband and granddaughter were upstairs — we were right outside their building. So I went up to visit with Jim Fusilli. I walked in and said, “I brought a pie, but it’s not for you.” Jim and I had a cup of tea and caught up, played with the adorable granddaughter, and then I picked up the pie and walked on. I took the A train to 34th St., thinking maybe I could go standby on the earlier bus.

The walk from 8th Ave. to almost the river, where the bus leaves from, is very long, but the day was still beautiful. Since Jim’s tea had been herbal, I bought a cup of caffeinated tea from a food truck on 10th Ave. and sat on a park bench to drink it, the pie beside me. Then I went on, and when I got to the bus stop I asked the guy whether I could stand by on the 1:50. It was only 1:20 so I figured I was in plenty of time. Haha– the 1:50 wasn’t running that day.

Now, I’d had Jim’s tea, and the other cup, too. No way I was going to wait in the cold for over an hour for my scheduled bus. So the pie and I hiked back to 9th Ave., to use the facilities at the diner. Then we hiked back. The pie sat on the sidewalk with me next to it, waiting for the bus.

The bus pulled up right on time. I settled in, and when we left, the bus wasn’t full, so the pie had its own seat beside me. The bus ran late getting out of NYC because the Thanksgiving Parade spectators and participants were leaving at the same time. For awhile, trying to get into the tunnel, were were behind a float of snow-covered hills and a mountain goat.

The pie and I finally arrived at my sister’s house at 6:00, having left my apartment at 9:00. Dinner was waiting, warm and welcoming, as were my relations.

And I must say, the pie was delicious.

Thanksgiving

Last year this time, many of us were still in shock at the election results. The frightening, threatening pictures brought forth by the idea of this vile man and his cynical cohorts taking power in our country made it hard to be grateful for anything but the most personal and immediate: family, friends, a place to live, a place to share our fears.

Many of those fears have proved accurate, but over the past year, our strength and determination to #Resist has clearly not only stayed steady, but grown. This year, in addition to family and friends, I’m very grateful to you all, who in ways large and small, still fight. I hope you have, and take, time in this season to reflect on the work we’ve all accomplished, and what still needs to be done. Thank you.

IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA

The above is a quote from Allen Ginsburg. It’s also the title of a book coming soon from Touchstone, containing both new stories and original art. I am proud as all get-out to have contributed to this book, along with Art Spiegelman, Susan Minot, Ha Jin, Neil Gaiman, Roz Chast… oh, what a tiny fish I am! But a thrilled tiny fish.

The book comes out January 2018 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March. The book, like the March, came out of the dark days when so many of us felt engulfed and powerless. We’re not, as we’ve proven again and again this last year, and IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA is being published in support of the ACLU, to make sure our voices continue to be heard. You don’t want to miss out on a first edition, so order yours from your local indie today!

 

I’m baaaaaack

I know I owe you guys many posts about my trip to Eastern Europe, which was wonderful, and I’ll be bringing you up to date on that starting soon. Meanwhile I just had to post this — I was Guest of Honor at the Cloak and Dagger bookstore’s excellent Mysterious Affair at Princeton yesterday (no extra points if you get the reference, but demerits if you don’t, so hustle to look it up) and that meant I got to speechify. So here’s me, one hand in the pocket jiggling change, the other waving in the air, holding forth at the podium. Classic SJ Rozan photo by Jeff Markowitz.

 

“He who starts on a ride…

…of two or three thousands miles may experience, at the moment of departure, a variety of emotions. He may feel excited, sentimental, anxious, carefree, heroic, roistering, picaresque, introspective, or practically anything else: but above all he must and will feel a fool.”

— Peter Fleming

She will, too. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’ll recognize the quote. I use it whenever I take a big trip because it’s always accurate. I’m leaving in half an hour for the airport to go to Budapest and points east, circling back around to end in Prague. The cat, plants, and apartment have a great sitter; all my work is done; even the weather’s beautiful. And what a fool I feel!

But I’m going to the land of my people — not quite, we’re from Ukraine, but on this trip I’ll spend a lot of time walking the streets walked for centuries, until WWII, by Ashkenazi Jews, who are my extended people — and I’m going with some of my favorite traveling buddies, the gang I’ve been to western China and to Mongolia with. I expect once I really get there the whole fool/jitters/travel anxiety thing will melt away, and the trip will be great. Right now, I just want to stay home in my comfort zone, but that’s why you travel, isn’t it? When the comfort zone gets to comfortable, then you gotta go.

Try to stay out of trouble while I’m gone. Or, if you insist on getting into trouble, try to enjoy it.

I leave you, and NYC, with a river photo. The next river I sit beside, if all goes well, will be the Danube.