Michael Rosen

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November 2009 Archives

This is a goldfish... well, the big one and the small one beside it are goldfish, and the ones farther in back, there's a bunch of goldfish in that tank. BUT, the nice folk at Win Tropical on Mott Street, in Chinatown, gave me this big fish. With one eye. They said they wanted it "to have a good home":


This past summer they gave me two smaller goldfish, each also with one eye. Those two are still fine.

This is the big fish's other side:


AND, This is Judy Rhodes, my neighbor, photographer, collector of African statues, owner of the Charlie Parker House and savor of animals. Judy has dogs she's rescued, birds that talk loudly, and she's saved a good number of pigeons. Pigeons? You mean urban rats? I sort of thought so sometimes. Then I was biking across 16th Street and saw a pigeon hobbling in the middle of the street. It didn't move as a pedaled by, and I noticed a trail of blood. I braked, circled back and shooed it to the curb. It wouldn't hop up, so I kind of gently encouraged it with my front wheel. Then I started to pedal away and realized it would die there.


I called Judy. "Are you still saving pigeons?"

She said she was. "Bring it over."

I was befuddled. "How?"

"Pick it up."

"Pick it up?" I'd not heard of killer pigeons, but I wasn't certain.

"They're gentle."

I held the bird in one hand as I rode to Judy's. It was warm. It was quiet. The feathers where skinned clean from its scalp. One eye was gone. Judy and I figured it had to be a car. Judy said she'd take care of the bird.

I felt self important, good I'd saved an animal. I went to Back 40 and ate chicken that night. I know I'm far from well knitted together. But I have been eating less meat lately.

Judy named the bird Angel. That's him/her between Judy's hands. Turns out Angel's gone-eye was right there, hidden behind the peel of it's scalp, which Judy cut away as the bird healed. Angels is now in a pigeon sanctuary Upstate, flies with a flock during the day and returns with its co-birds at night. Yes, people do run pigeon sanctuaries.

And in the sanctuary of words (is that not a quite-sweet segue?) I leave tomorrow for Iowa City. I read at Prairie Lights at 7 PM on Tuesday, and I am wrapped in a young boy's eagerness to be having a morning coffee with James Galvin, my favorite living poet, head of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, an absolutely "WOW" kind of place. I'm taking my dog-eared copy of Resurrection Update to ask him to sign, and X as well.

Then Wed Dec 2, 7 PM @ Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville, KY, in partnership with the West End Boys School.

Then Thur Dec 3, 6PM @ Davis Kidd in Memphis, TN. I don't quite know what to do about this "not eating meat" thing and Memphis RIBS? Where would one best eat ribs and have some bourbon in Memphis?

My friend Carter is doing the nicest thing. I have 9 AM "Live at 9" TV in Memphis on Thursday morning. WREG-TV. There are no flights late enough or early enough to leave Louisville after my Carmichael's reading at get to WREG-TV on time. So I'm driving. Carter is coming to keep me company. Carter doesn't drive, but he also often doesn't quite stop talking, so it's nearly PERFECT. Don't fall asleep on me, Carter !

RADIO & Feeding the Hungry

Sunday, 7 AM, WFAN 660 AM, I'm Bob Salter's guest. Please listen. The largest sports radio station in the country. And...


This my soup kitchen, across the street from our apartment - SAFH (Services and Food for the Homeless, Inc), which is part of Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish. These neighbors are finishing the Thanksgiving Dinner that Carol cooked (she runs the food part, and she is a Tzadik) - this is Carol [she pretty much refused to be photographed]:


Feeding the hungry. Teaching a young person to fish.

My friend Richie Horowitz transforms into a Saint on Thanksgiving, a Tzadik, one of the Righteous Ones. He volunteers at the Bowery Mission on Thanksgiving, and brings along his sons and other friends to serve Thanksgiving Dinners, BUT more than that, much more, Richie drives out to NJ with the Mission people and loads up a truck of food for the dinner, which he contributes. And keeps contributing. He's a quiet Tzadik, humble, but he does so much of grace on this day, and others, and he took this photo of me with my US Congresswoman, Nydia Velazquez, who was serving dinners today at the Mission, and had the wisdom and courage to stand up against sending young US men and women to fight and die in Iraq, and help kill and destroy the lives of many others, at a time too many of her colleagues stood in line with the Pied Piper to vote "YES" louder and faster than their fellows in Congress:


So to Richie, and Nydia, and to all those who worked and enjoyed a good dinner at the Bowery Mission today, & elsewhere across the country, with family, with friends, with those you are taking care of and with those taking care of you, thank you.

I've submitted an Op Ed Piece to the New York Times yesterday about Precious and The Blind Side, about how we can truly end underclass poverty in America. I haven't heard anything back. I'm optimistic.

"Lake Effect," the wise Milwaukee Public Radio show, is airing an interview with me. CLICK HERE to listen. The host, Mitch Teich, did a great job. And thank you.

I'm sitting inside Sustainable NYC, (on Avenue A, between 8th and 9th Streets) in the back near the books, drinking Ciao for Now coffee and a nibbling a ginger cookie. I came home last night from the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum (will post photos later) - and am GETTING LOCAL ! today in the Lower East Side.

Come say hello. Let me sign a book for you.


I've stacked some of my books Dominique has for sale here, and put up a 3 X 5 card that says this:


no one's walked over yet, but MAYBE ! ~ and Black Friday is the day after tomorrow. HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!

It's good to Get Local, good to be across the park from home.

Thank you Dominique, thank you Sustainable NY. Here on Avenue A.

I'm at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum (in Atlanta) this Monday, 7 PM: Me & What Else But Home. FRONT & CENTER. PLEASE share some time.

A SPECIAL, FREE Holiday Gift from Me to YOU...
Please watch my two new videos! If you smile, share them with your friends, your relatives and coworkers.


On TEXTING with Our Children:

Let me know what you think! Pass them on to your friends, link them however you wish !.

And thank you to my friends, to everyone who helped and listened, who gave time and space and advice, & who create moments of beauty and magic. You turn a corner and suddenly see something transcendent, and it makes life smile....


and this is the "author's photo" on the inside flap of my book:

author photo Rosen, Michael .jpg

I have to put this here so I can link to it in an email blast. That's what my web man says.

I'm at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, in Cleveland, OH in a couple hours.

Pictures from our talk at the Univ of D.C. -- William, Juan, Philippe, Rev Dr E Gail Anderson Holness, Perry Pidgeon Hooks, good people:




These are some photos from the Miami Book Fair and surroundings. Mitchell Kaplan (Books & Books) and others have done an amazing job. My co-presenters, Helen Thorpe and Po Bronson--thank you !

Books & Books @ the airport:


the Miami River is a working river:


We met a young man at UDC, he told my guys about his life and struggles and overcoming hard times. He wrote to me and my blog won't POST anything, so here is Corey's POST:

Michael & Sons,
Thank you for coming to school I attend yesterday afternoon, The
University of the District of Columbia. I wish you all could have
stayed a little longer. However, I realize that you all have your own

The lecture series yesterday was very thought provoking. The discussion
had very real everyday issues of people's struggles and hardships
including your own. I do want to point out as you all already know,that
there has been a lot of good times, achievements, and successes in your
lives. You all seem to have a commonality, and that is,to help people
in anyway you can along thier and your journey in life.

One of the many things I got out of the lecture is that on the part of
Michael, he acknowledged the need to be a part of the boys' lives (now
his sons today). Subsequently, Michael became a caring figure of
support, and through time he became thier father. It was the
willingness of the "ENTIRE" family to make it work and for everyone to
be successful as a "family unit".

I wanted to peronally say this. When you do things in life for someone
or for people,do it because you want to, do it without looking for
anything in return, and do it with enthusiasm. People have to question
themselves, am I looking for something in return? Am I doing it to talk
about what you did for someone? Honestly ask yourself, what are your
intentions and motives. If you are not sincere and genuine about
reaching out to help your fellow man or woman in need, then you are
most certainly not doing that person and yourself a disservice,
especially the one you are supposedly helping.
When you lend a helping hand to someone in need in life, and show that
you are sincere in your words and actions, you may never truly know
what a profound inpact you have made in thier life.

You also talked about subjects and your own personal real life
experiences that are very real and exist in our society. The sensitive
issues is of race relations and socioeconomic barriers for the minority
communities. Examples of this are race relations:(racism, racial
profiling, etc.,- past and present generations. Another Example was
socioeconomical classes/communities:(poverty, middle class, ghettos,
the projects-past and present generations).

There needs to be a forum for on-going open dialogues to discuss these
challenging matters that all are difficult for others to discuss openly
and honestly.

Although you covered so many topics, I just wanted you all to know that
race relations was not the only important things talked about.
I look forward to seeing you in the near future.
Wonderful! I really enjoyed it.
So, thank you all again for sharing your lives with others and myself.
See you again soon.
Until then, take care.
Corey Lewis

By Michael Rosen on November 13, 2009 5:34 PM | 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks

This Sunday, Nov 15 - I'm with Po Bronson & Helen Thorpe @ the Miami Book Fair:
12:00 PM - FREE !!
Miami Dade College
300 NE Second Ave., Miami, FL 33132
Room 7128 (Building 7, 1st Floor)

Yesterday, Juan, Philippe, William & I were "Distinguished Lecturers" at the University of D.C. A great crowd of people shared an hour & a half with us. Some of the good people there are sending photos to post.

I could not be prouder. We were honored to have lunch beforehand with Carla Cohen, co-founder and co-owner of the extraordinary Politics & Prose. That's (L to R) William, Philippe, Carla and Juan standing before the featured bookshelf of Carla and her partner Barbara's RECOMMENDED books, each partner tagging one book, and Carla has tagged What Else But Home!

A FEEL-GOOD book for Holiday Giving !! (that's my thought, not Carla's!


and a closeup of Carla's recommendation:


Unsolicited great comment from one of the people running one of the recent book fairs I've presented at: "I am rarely left speechless, but I was speechless at your moving story
and the way you conveyed it to our audience. The entire audience was very moved by your experience and to hear it in your own words really brought the story to life for us. Your words were both riveting and inspirational and your appearance here was a highlight of our book fair."

And from one of the professors whose class I visited this week: "PHENOMENAL.  Best class of the semester, I'm sure my students would agree.  I loved meeting Michael and believe he got a lot out of what was a lengthy, substantive conversation this morning.  He was both entertaining and provocative in just the way you want a guest to be."

So if you're thinking of inviting me to your bookstore, your book fair, your classroom or law firm auditorium, DON'T be SHY! Invite me.

This is a part of one of the two public high school classes at Lyons Community School, in Brooklyn, that I taught this week...


Bernie & Barb Banet sponsored What Else But Home at the Ann Arbor Jewish Book Fair. They helped pay my way, did more feeding and driving than they probably imagined. It is humbling and kind to be sponsored. This photo is also with their son Jeff.


What Else But Home was co-sponsored in the Detroit Jewish Book Fair by the Auxiliary for the Jewish Senior Life, by Na'amat USA Greater Detroit Council & by Southfield Public Library. Thank you all for the honor & sustenance of your support.

from CityLimits.org...

In 1998, Michael Rosen, a well-off real-estate developer, accompanied his wife, Leslie, and his son, Ripton, to Tompkins Square Park. A white Jewish kid, Ripton joined a game of pick-up baseball with a group of black and Latino youngsters. Then the 7-year-old boy invited the group back to the Rosens' East Village penthouse for a round of Nintendo video game action. "Ripton didn't know it was unusual to invite a crowd home, kids who didn't look like him, spoke and dressed differently, lived under different circumstances. He didn't have the language of race," writes Rosen about the first encounter in his absorbing new release, What Else But Home: Seven Boys And An American Journey Between The Projects and The Penthouse.

And so began the first of a regular series of visits that the five children, who resided in nearby housing projects, paid to the Rosens. They're a naturally hyper bunch, inclined to use the language and tough posturing of the street. But the Rosens, despite repeated warnings from concerned friends and family members, manage to look beyond the surface to rapidly forge a bond with the boys. While baseball serves as the initial glue between their disparate worlds, it's Michael Rosen's curiosity about the nature of the boys' lives that leads to so much more. As trust develops between them, Rosen discovers the challenges of each boy's daily life, including single-parent households grappling with drug abuse and domestic violence. In "What Else But Home," Rosen details what he calls "our strange accidental family" that's created when he and his wife find themselves increasingly responsible for taking care of the boys without formally adopting them. Not surprisingly, the relationships suffer their share of setbacks - mistakes are made, a number of the adolescents struggle with anger, and the Rosens face marital difficulties of their own.

It's been 11 years since the young men have been a part of the Rosen family. And in "What Else But Home," the author documents their gradual evolution with great attentiveness. He uses a far less penetrating lens, however, on himself. There are glimpses and flashes of moments from his life apart from his adopted children - including memories of his own upbringing to the state of his career as a real estate developer. But they're brief and fleeting. Perhaps he prefers keeping the spotlight on the experience itself. But readers will be left wondering how his adopted family impacted - or changed, if at all - Rosen himself.

Interestingly, it's the seemingly intractable divisions over race and class that the Rosens and the youth shatter faster than any other. And doing so presents its share of comical moments, complete with puzzling inquiries from strangers - like the confounded reactions that many characters on the '80s-era sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" had upon sighting Philip Drummond, a white affluent widower, alongside the two black Harlem adolescents he adopted.

Throughout the book, which documents the extended family's experiences over the course of six years, Rosen punctuates the storytelling with fluid writing that, at times, is poetic: "The game ended when the heat came off the day, before dusk into dinnertime." But a sharp reportorial eye allows the story to unfold in a relaxed pace that also enables the reader to experience what he describes as if it were all happening in the here and now. On the tough road to manhood, the boys are provided with unique opportunities and experiences - traveling well beyond their once-restricted boundaries to see the country and encounter an eclectic mix of prominent individuals, from Bobby Valentine, former manager of the New York Mets, to the iconic civil rights movement leader, Fred Shuttlesworth. While the narrative shows how tragically common are the chaotic circumstances that the boys had once found themselves in, it also illuminates an inspiring and highly unusual family arrangement.

- Curtis Stephen

Please come tomorrow to talk with Juan, William, Philippe & me @ the University of District of Columbia, Washington, DC - TOMORROW, November 12, Thursday, 2:30 - 4:00 PM, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Building 38 Suite A-03, 202.274.6098 - the 1st Time my older sons have spoken about What Else But Home & our lives.

Crossing boundaries of race & class - I'm deeply proud to be with my sons. Come join us tomorrow, THURSDAY. FREE ! JOIN US

Yesterday I met with younger boys & girls at the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club. And the older high school students there came to my reading at the Odyssey Bookshop. Children show me the future, the promise of youth and the potential to pass beyond class and race (an inadequate word).



Community Service Learning - UMASS, thank you to Carol....




I am curious that my grandfather seems to have found his way into these photos.... !

a BIG BIG week is coming. Juan, William and Philippe & I are "Distinguished Lecturers" at the University of the District of Columbia this Thursday, Nov 12 -- the 1st Time I'm speaking about my book with some of my older sons. I am honored, & excited. See my SCHEDULE for details.

On Monday, I am the Resident Writer @ The Lyons Community School, a New York public school in Brooklyn, as part of the Adopt-A-School program. Public school teachers are my heroes. Absolutely.

On Tuesday, I'm meeting with students and teachers at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) program for Community Service Learning, then meeting later with Boys & Girls Club, in Holyoke.

THEN on Tuesday night, I'm reading & discussing What Else But Home @ the Odyssey Bookshop, in South Hadley, MA. Join me. Please do.

THEN on Wednesday morning, I'm exited to be working with the students in Mount Holyoke College's Community-Based Learning Program. They've been assigned Chapter 3 !!

THEN on to D.C. Lunch with Carla Cohen! Did I say "!"? !!! Then UDC.

and the Miami Book Fair this coming weekend.

this is an airport....


this is where I'm going...


at 5:30 in the morning, it does look blurred. I'm going to the Detroit Book Fair, leaving Denver.

THANK YOU to the Tattered Cover people, especially Laura Snapp & Charles Stillwagon, both of whom have poetic names, & were deeply kind to me. And to Kevin Vail, and the others who were kind enough to share stories and thoughts with me.

and... EVERY good story does need a cute doggie.... here he is once more....


I'm reading tonight, Wed @ 7:30 @ Tattered Cover in Denver. I've written What Else But Home... a FEEL GOOD book about a cute doggie....


and a beautiful blond haired boy who loves his cute doggie...


and the way the blond haired boy and the cute doggie and six other boys who are now young men show just how beautiful America can be...

for my Facebook friends, I've embedded Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful" here... so go to MY BLOG... because Facebook will strip this video way. Or go to this LINK.

so my book is OF COURSE a FEEL GOOD book for the upcoming HOLIDAYS !, which you can give as a gift to yourself and your loved ones....

Now that we've established FACT, I'm going to paste an email I received from a very smart academic, whose name I will not reveal. I will say that all his ADJECTIVES are clearly, modestly wise...

"What Else But Home is the creation of a person with incredible will power and the ability to totally ignore what most people would call practicality and common sense. Hence you were able to do something that some people have talked about, but few people have done, and in the process given five young men opportunities that should by rights have been theirs, but would never have gotten any other way... You also wrote about it with an ethnographers eye, and with writing skills that you honed through years of practice.

"The book is brilliant, subtle, and revelatory on many, many levels, but it presents readers with a challenge that few will be willing to face. Your example holds people accountable in ways that will make them very, very uncomfortable. It not only exposes the injustice of social arrangements that most New Yorkers [one could say "Americans"] have come to take for granted, it also reveals their complicity in those arrangements and offers a solution, short of revolution, that only a handful would take... To the astute reader, it's the very opposite of a "Feel Good" book. You come away... [understanding] how wide we have allowed race and class barriers to become, and how they don't require extreme neighborhood segregation to sustain- they can flourish among people living across the street from one another and using the same urban spaces (albeit at different times and/or in different ways!)

As for your next book... when it comes to something meaningful and original and disturbing, it will be hard to top What Else But Home."

SO.... since we need "meaningful and original," and perhaps "disturbing" on occasion, please consider giving What Else But Home as a HOLIDAY gift to your loved ones, your friends and yourself.

AND, Professor Mark Naison, head of African-American studies at Fordham University in the Bronx, has included What Else But Home among his 5 "My Favorite Books of the Year - Which Would Make Great Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa Presents!" His choices are:

What Else But Home by Michael Rosen

The remarkable story of a wealthy family on the Lower East side that adoped five black and Latino boys from the projects who their sons- also adopted- met playing baseball in Tompkins Square Park

Boulevard of Dreams by Connie Rosenblum

A beautifully written history of the Grand Concourse that deals honestly with racial discrimination during it's heyday as a showcase for middle class life in the Bronx

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley

Definitive biography of a jazz innovator who had a strong connection to the Bronx!

It's Just Begun by DJ Discowiz and Ivan Sanchez

The remarkable life of Hip Hop's First Latino DJ and a powerful meditation on how violence in the home breeds violence in the streets

and- of course

The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir by Allen Jones with Mark Naison

The story of a basketball star and heroin dealer from the South Bronx who remade his life after a stint on Rikers Island and ended up as coach, radio personality and banker in Luxembourg.

and this is Tattered Cover...



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