2017

In the words of my hero Leonard Cohen, lost in 2016 but still with us in the ways that matter:
 

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

I can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from me

 

img_5297

 

I wish you all a productive and powerful 2017!

 
 

New Year’s Eve Greeting (trigger warning: politics involved; if you don’t like it, go read someone else’s blog

 

Got this from a writer friend who prefers to remain anonymous. No, I’m not being coy, I didn’t write it.  Wish I had!  Have a good New Year’s Eve, see you on the other side.

 

Undeck the halls!

Pack up those balls,

And haul the tree away.

Take down the lights

From rooftop heights.

Unhitch that Santa sleigh.

 

No candle glow.

No mistletoe.

The yule log’s burned to ash.

Reread your cards,

Note fond regards,

Then throw them in the trash.

 

The old year ends

With gobsmacked friends

Still moaning in the aisles.

A know-naught tweeting petulant

Will soon become our President

And somewhere James Buchanan* sits and smiles.

 

*Currently ranked as our worst President ever

 

Ode to Slush

 

The world has ice, the world has snow,

But in our hearts, New Yorkers know

That when our snow is really lush

We next will have our magic slush.

 

When blocked-up drain makes sudden lake

Into which you plunge each step you take,

When just the slightest passing push

Slides you down right into the mush,

 

When taxis splash your pants all wet

Real New Yorkers never fret.

We do not fear the mugger’s cosh:

They don’t come out into the slosh.

 

Un-picked-up dog poop is froze;

You stay parked whichever side you chose;

As long as you’ve got bags of cash

You’ll score Hamilton tickets in a flash.

 

So celebrate these happy times

And do not wish for milder climes.

You do not need to find a cush–

ion for your tender tush.

 

Just grab a walker’s multi-leash

And do not stop when he says, “Sheesh!”

And now, with dogs since you are flush,

Order your new team to “Mush!”

Ten thousand steps you soon will crush

As you traverse our New York slush.

 

Rain in the snow haiku

Green swells roll slowly,

Lap up seawall, slide away,

Dotted with raindrops.

 

Gulls circle, swoop, land.

Cormorant pops up with fish.

Starlings fly above.

 

Blue lights on railing.

Snow on branches, walkway, grass.

Red life preserver.

 

photo-23

Accordion Calendar!

Finally, the 2017 Accordion Calendar is here!

Sorry, I had technical issues, which I’m still having, hence the url to copy and not a link to click:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-rozan/sj-rozan-2017-accordion-calendar/calendar/product-22988206.html

And don’t forget the New York and Assisi calendars, too.

NYC: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-rozan/new-york-city-2017/calendar/product-22963350.html

ASSISI: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-rozan/art-workshop-international-assisi-italy-2017/calendar/product-22963386.html

Proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

img_4395

Windy day haiku

Strong sharp wind from north.

Seagull fighting against it

Makes little headway.

 

Peaked waves on river,

Reflecting blue sky, pink clouds,

Rolling toward seawall.

 

Wavelets roil, throw spray.

White bursts jumping into air.

Tiny volcanoes.

 

 

And don’t forget your 2017 SJ Rozan Calendar!

Assisi:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-rozan/art-workshop-international-assisi-italy-2017/calendar/product-22963386.html

and New York:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-rozan/new-york-city-2017/calendar/product-22963350.html

This year’s proceeds to the ACLU. Support free speech!

 

The 2017 SJ Rozan Calendars are here!

For your gift-buying pleasure, including, of course, gifts for yourself.  They’re not quite all here (kind of like me) — Accordions to come, give me a few days.  But

New York City is here

img_5194

and

Assisi is here.

photo 1(4)

And please note: Proceeds this year go to Planned Parenthood. So, buy away!

Excellent, thoughtful, fierce advice

From historian, Holocaust expert and Yale Professor Timothy Snyder. If you believe, as I do, we’re in deep trouble, this will help. If you don’t, then how can it hurt?


Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

Thanksgiving

Well, it’s Thanksgiving. I hope we’re all surrounded by family and friends, allowing ourselves to feel gratitude for what we have and to gather strength from each other for the coming times. I’m grateful, among other things, for all of you.  I’m grateful, also, to have a voice, and I intend to use it.

img_2603

“Lock Up All the Poets, First” — J.S. Lamb

Lock up all the Poets, first

Before the revolution
Let’s make a resolution
To lock up all the poets
In a hall.

Give them roses, give them wine,
But never give them time
To stir up other people —
Not at all.

Shunting poor (or even rich)
Is done without a hitch:
Merely play to their fears
With finesse.

But poets can’t be bought
With a shimmy or a shot;
If they ever learn the Truth —
It’s a mess.

So give them cotton candy,
Or anything that’s handy,
To shield their stellar eyes
From the War.

By the time they discover
That Freedom has been smothered,
Their pens will have been shortened
By a sword.

img_7899