Archive for SJ’s Photos

SJ Goes to Opening Night at the Met

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the wonderfulness of a friend I scored a ticket to the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season. This was a particularly exciting opening night because of course last year there was no season at all. Still, I might not have gone; opening night is fancy and I’m not a fancy kinda gal. But the season opened with FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES, Terence Blanchard’s opera based on Charles Blow’s memoir. I very much wanted to see it, so I accepted the challenge of dressing as though I almost fit in. Silk shirt, silk trousers, embroidered silk Chinese slippers — I don’t wear heels — and there I was, among the ball gowns, capes, embroidered sequined jackets… and you should have seen the women, too. No, seriously, everyone looked great.

And the opera? I’m far from knowledgeable enough about opera to be qualified to review it, but it seems unfair to tell you I went and then not tell you how I felt about it. So: the performances were great. Angel Blue, especially, and Will Liverman, were mesmerizing, and Walter Russell III, who plays Charles as a child, has probably had his life ruined by getting a standing ovation on opening night at the Met. The music I also loved. Blanchard drew on many sources and handles his transitions seamlessly. I was disappointed in the libretto. An opera’s not about the libretto, and most are probably disappointing but luckily in languages I don’t speak. I’m probably too word-oriented and placed too much emphasis on it.

The most interesting thing about this opera, though it’s by a Black composer based on the memoir of Black man and performed by an all-Black cast, is that it’s not a Black story, if by Black story you mean a story about racism, a story that defines Black people in terms of how they’re situated in the White world. This opera is about making choices, about a child becoming an adult, about leaving, or not leaving, the past behind. That these universal themes are dealt with in the context of a Black man’s life, instead of the default White life, is, if you ask me, the real cause for celebration.

Duck-u-drama

It’s spring and the waterfowl on the river are busy as bees, or beavers. This morning two pairs of mallards were swimming around, with a male Gadwall in attendance. One of the male mallards swam away from the little flock, which caused two events. First, the female he’d been with zipped over to him, swam right in front cutting him off, and then settled in right beside him, reminding him who he belonged to. The Gadwall, meanwhile, came over to harass them. That left the other mallard pair on their own, but not to worry: a female Gadwall came flying in, landed behind them, and started annoying them. What does this say? That the Gadwalls, as they’ve done before, are nesting in the bushes by that stretch of river and the mallards were getting too close in their own search for a nest site. Also, that female mallards like to keep their males in line.

And speaking of nesting, those of you who remember the goslings born last year on the rocks by the Sanitation Pier and raised in the park by Mama and a very fierce Papa may be happy to know M and P have nested again, and I think she must have eggs in there because he’s been swimming back and forth patrolling for enemies. This is the best photo I could get so I’ve circled them in red. Papa in the water, Mama in the upper left of my circle right up by the wall. Just after I took this a crow flew in and landed near her. Papa lifted out of the water and flapped over, practically sat on top of it. It left in a hurry. Hatchlings coming, I hope!

We made it

It’s 2021. Well done, all. Here’s to peace, good health, and good work in the new year.

Parnell Hall, RIP

 

Standing third from the left, Parnell Hall one of the ways I remember him best: on the basketball court, where he had a funny (of course) one-legged stork shot that always went in. I remember him at the poker table, too, where he’d shake his head sadly at his cards, sigh at his luck, and leave at the end of the night with great piles of other people’s money. He was one of the first people I met in the crime-writing world. I was a last-minute substitute on a panel at Bouchercon Seattle in 1994. My first book had been out about an hour, I hadn’t expected a panel assignment, and I was terrified of being up there with the grownups. Turned out nothing I did mattered. Parnell and Donald Westlake spent 40 minutes being hilarious and ended the panel with a cream pie in the face. Parnell’s face, of course. He was generous, kind, funny, smart, and I’m going to miss him terribly.

2021 Calendars!

 

If you were wondering where the SJ Rozan 2021 photo calendars were, they’re here!

Get one, get two, get ’em all! 2021, here we come!

Thanksgiving 2020

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. It occurs to me that if we’re gathering in spirit and not in person, many more of us can be together than would actually fit in my living room. You’re all invited over in spirit to share gratitude and hope. And spirit pie.

 

Preaching to the Choir

I know most people who read me think as I do about the political and cultural moment we find ourselves in. That means I’m preaching to the choir, but here’s the thing about the choir: a lot of choir members don’t sing. They come in on the “Amens” but their voices are missing in the long passages.

Mike Pence says, “The hard truth is you will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” Well, do you feel safe now?

People of color, do you feel safe?

People out of work, do you feel safe?

People depending on Social Security, do you feel safe?

People depending on Obamacare, do you feel safe?

People trying to educate your children, do you feel safe?

People suffering the effects of climate change — monster hurricanes, forest fires — do you feel safe?

People with disabilities, do you feel safe?

People who live on fracked land, do you feel safe?

People who want to control your own bodies, do you feel safe?

If you don’t, it’s because you’re not. So go beyond the “Amens.” Work from now until the election for the Democrat of your choice. VOTE and get other silent choir members to VOTE. We can raise our diverse voices in a never-before-heard harmony in this country, the aural equivalent of the gorgeous mosaic we are, if everyone will sing.

 

Social distancing? Gimme a break. We’re squirrels.

Neither of these guys is the baby, who comes as soon as I fill the feeder, before the bigger squirrels and the birds get here. I think he sits and waits. These two are siblings, two of the four born in the tree this year. Things were not this amicable for long. They kept whacking each other over the head and diving for the best seeds. They did share the feeder without actually chasing each other off, though. A big crow came to watch, but he clearly decided the whole thing was just going to be trouble, so he left. Bella practically lost her mind over the two squirrels, but she was a little intimidated by the size of the crow. So was I.

 

 

 

New York City, Right Now

A couple of people have asked if I’d write about what it’s like here in NYC these days. First, thanks for your concern, those of you who’ve asked if I and mine are okay. We are; I know what it looks like on the TV news, but this is not a war zone. I went to the Greenmarket this morning, on the north side of Union Square; the south side has been the staging area for the Manhattan protests. The farmers were selling produce and bread, people were shopping, folks were wearing masks and being orderly. Nevertheless, when I asked one of the farmers whether there’d been extra thought given to whether to come in today, she said no but they expected the market would shut down early as it had on Saturday to give people a chance to clear out before the protests started.

I’ve been hearing helicopters since Friday, sirens occasionally. I’m in the West Village, about a mile from Union Square itself and a mile from Soho, where a lot of luxury shops were hit hard. Near Union Square I saw three broken windows — a restaurant, where the bar had been looted, a Verizon store, and a sneaker store. Nothing else, though some stores are boarding up in anticipation of more to come tonight.

Will there be more tonight? I suspect so, but I also think the intensity will taper off. In normal times it would taper way off as people went back to work, but of course part of the problem is everyone’s been out of work for nearly three months.

I’ve seen videos of the looting at Gucci, at Dolce & Gabbana, and I’ve seen a lot of posts asking, “How does this help?” Also, photos of destruction with “I’ve never seen NYC like this!” captions.

First, for the NYC-has-hit-the-apocalypse crowd, I refer you to the 1970’s fiscal crisis, to AIDS, to 9/11 — oh, go look it up: the history of NYC. We’ve been here before. We’ll be here when this is over.

Second, and more important, for the “How does this help?” people, I suggest that’s the wrong question. For the record, nobody’s saying looting Gucci “helps.” But I’ll bet a lot of good upright citizens in 1773 asked, “How does this help?” when rioters seized 342 chests of tea from ships of the British East India Company — a private company — and dumped it overboard to protest government action. The rationale then was the same as now, and can be encapsulated into this: when Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police killing black men, he was called a son of a bitch by the sitting President and he lost his job. Or this: the Tulsa Race Massacre, 99 years ago to the day today, when white Tulsa rose up and, burning, murdering, and rampaging, destroyed the most prosperous black community in the country. (Did you learn about that riot in school?) Or this: the NYC Draft Riots of 1863, when a group of white men, angry at being drafted into the Army by a white President to fight other white men, lynched black men and burned buildings, including the Colored Orphan Asylum, to the ground. (Did you learn about that riot in school?)

I suggest that instead of uttering a rhetorical gasp, people might  read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Colson Whitehead, Attica Locke, Ta-Nehisi Coates; to listen to measured voices, which are speaking even now; and to ask the only question that can even begin to stop this endless repetition, which is: “How can I help?”

New Dining Spot Opens in Far West Village

Multispecies Dining and Entertainment, Extremely Ltd., headquartered at Rancho Obsesso on Long Island’s North Fork, has opened an outpost in a leafy backyard near Washington Street in Manhattan. Appropriately dubbed the Fire Escape Café (“Where the Tweet and the Fleet Meet”) this casually intimate eatery features easy access and a limited but well-prepared menu served in a wittily re-purposed frying pan. The proprietor is eager to please and the security staff is assiduous but unobtrusive. No reservations; we recommend arriving early, as once the day’s offerings are gone the proprietor pulls down the shade and the security staff takes a well-deserved rest.

Early morning diner

 

Patron waits for entry

 

Security staff in the break room