me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Shanghai part 2

May 8

Got up today to go out and explore Shanghai on foot with my buddies Anne-Marie and Andy, who are spending the year here and had saved the best of their walking tour book for me. Looked out Nancy's windows to the river and discovered it was pouring. I mean, POURING. Monsoon, typhoon, cats and dogs. It was actually beautiful, 30+ stories above the river, drinking tea and watching the ships -- mostly barges and cargo ships, some ferries -- chug by through the rain. Could hardly see the opposite shore. But being intrepid, Anne-Marie, Andy and I set out anyway. And had a wonderful time. We did one of the old neighborhoods, and in truth, once you're soaked, you can't get any wetter, right? We saw a number of landmarks of old Shanghai, including what was for me the highlight, the building that had been Great World Entertainment in the 20's and 30's. Great World had been the Shanghai Chinese answer to the European theaters and nightclubs where Chinese weren't allowed. It was wilder and more glittering, four floors of clubs, sing-song houses, gambling dens, and whorehouses, where it was reputed that the slits in the girls' cheongsams -- that tight, high-collared dress -- got higher and the shows more risque as you went up from floor to floor. It was at the heart of Shanghai's pre-war wild west reputation, and of course all the Europeans wanted to go there, so the Chinese let them in and took all their money.

After we squished our way throught the morning, I left Anne-Marie and Andy temporarily and went back to Nancy's, where 12 ex-pat writers were waiting for me to give them a talk. Nancy's a writer and these were her writers' group and some assorted others. We had a fabulous lunch, prepared by Nancy's ayi (housekeeper), a shy young woman who sure can cook. I talked to the group and then they talked to me while the rain fell in sheets beyond the windows. Then I had a much-needed nap, after which Anne-Marie and Andy came over for dinner as fabulous as the lunch and also produced by Nancy's ayi, who may, as Nancy claims, be one of the best cooks in Shanghai.

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