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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Notice of Encroachment

So I get home from Italy two weeks ago, tugging my litle suitcase along the sidewalk from the subway -- it's public transit all the way, since they built the NJ Raillink, no more sitting in a cab trying in vain to get through the Lincoln Tunnel! but I digress -- and as I approach my block, my pretty block, I can see from fifty feet away a glaring new addition: a fluorescent-lit ATM machine standing outside the building on the corner, red letters glowing on white plastic, blue light blinking.

U G L Y.

Plus, it's a mugger magnet. There's an ATM a block away, at a busy intersection, if the new rich crowd that lives around here now needs a few midnight bucks. But this one, on a quiet block, all you need to do is lurk in the shadows across the street. And if no one comes to use the ATM, but someone's walking home late at night, well, you're a mugger, you're here, it shouldn't be a total loss...

At which point I says to myself, I says, Self, that thing needs some serious vandalism. Obviously the landlord, not well-known for respect of neighbors, this particular guy, has been paid handsomely for the use of his sidewalk. Mere complaining will avail us naught. But if the thing were rendered useless and the owners of it had to keep coming out to fix it... at which moment in my ruminations I come abreast of the thing. Which has, I am inordinately pleased to see, a red Bic pen melted all over its keyboard. Clearly a neighbor with my same attitude.

However, the next afternoon the Bic has been pried off. Evidence still there, little red pieces, but the keyboard must still work because the hulking device is back in business. Hmm. Maybe a cup of coffee, milk and four sugars, accidently spilled all over it while attempting to check one's balance?

No! This morning, taped over the keyboard, courtesy the NYC Dept. of Transportation, which owns the sidewalks: a Notice of Encroachment! Dear building owner, it's come to our attention you have a big ugly thing sticking out of your building onto the public sidewalk, this ain't your side of the building line, take it away or the DOT will come and get it. I didn't even think of that! And me an architect for all those years. Shame. One of my neighbors is obviously more on the ball than I am. I almost hope the landlord doesn't get the thing removed, because I love the idea of the NYC DOT hauling off a fully-loaded cash machine.

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