What Kind Of Jerk Am I?

In the early 1990’s, during my extended college career, I was researching a paper on global warming.  This was old-school-style research: Hours at the library, poring through dusty tomes and microfiche. Stuff you don’t remember if you’re under age thirty-five.

Microfishe reader

I’ve always been fascinated by the way the earth works.  And, writing that paper made me realize it wouldn’t work much longer. There was so much scientific data on how badly we had damaged it and heated the oceans and all the stuff that even Republicans acknowledge these days.  I was stunned.  And scared.

My favorite movie was (and actually remains) Bladerunner and I realized that by the year of Bladerunner,  2019, our world would be very different.  I didn’t really think there would be beautiful blond androids running around, but it would be a stranger world.

And now it’s 2 degrees out in November.   I’m sure it’s been 2 degrees in November before.  But there is something disquieting about this 2 degrees.  Partly knowing it could very well be followed by 70 degrees a few days hence.  Or a debilitating storm.

We all know global warming doesn’t just mean hot summers.  It means extremes. Violent storms. The earth screaming. Stunning weather shifts that seem unnatural because THEY ARE UNNATURAL.

And so,  it’s 2 degrees and I need to get Mickey out for his morning walk before going to take a yoga class so I can feel peaceful in the face of the dying earth and the weirdness of our world.

Not a gratuitous Mickey photo

But actually, I opened the laptop NOT planning a mini discourse on killing the earth, but instead to express wild exuberance over something.

If you’ve never read the books of Lawrence Block, you might want to think about doing so. I have read so many they could fill a bathtub (I talked about this in an  essay I wrote for Akashic Books, in conjunction with the release of their USA Noir anthology which includes me and, yes, Lawrence Block. Essay HERE.)

Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block and I go way back.  I’ve devoured his books in good times and bad times and, especially, in in-between times.  I feel like he’s my funny, cool uncle but I’ve never met him.  So I was quite astonished last week when, out of the blue, on Twitter, LAWRENCE BLOCK suddenly trumpeted my book Alice Fantastic.  The best part?  He said:  Maggie’s novel Alice Fantastic’s a delight. One does suspect the writer’s mad, but that’s not a bad thing.

How cool is THAT?

Also, my friend Dana Kinstler sent a text yesterday telling me I was mentioned in the New York Times. Dana and I both contributed essays to “Goodbye To All That” an anthology about leaving New York City.  Perhaps most noteworthy in the antho is Rebecca Wolff’s “So Long, Suckers” which I wish I had written.  My essay is fine, but hers is better.

I looked through The Times and found the relevant piece in the Style section. And “mention” is accurate.  My name is mentioned.  It does not say anything about my essay or that I am suspected of madness.

What kind of an attention-craving jerk am I to be offended that there aren’t several paragraphs devoted to ME?

At yoga this morning, Sondra, our fearless leader over at Sadhana Yoga, taught a lovely class.  At the end, she told us about a tribe in Africa where folks who are having trouble coping temporarily abandon their responsibilities, dig a hole five feet down into the earth, and burrow in there for a while.  It is tacitly understood that the rest of the tribe will pick up the slack, tending to the burrowing person’s responsibilities while that person restores herself communing inside the earth.

I think I need that.  To burrow into the earth for a while.  Perhaps with a Lawrence Block book and my dog, perhaps completely alone inside the earth, listening to its murmurs and screams and dreaming up ways to fix it.





Buying The Farm

Mickey and I are holed up at a friend’s house over in West Saugerties, escaping Real Life for a couple of days.   Going on long walks, staring at wildlife, typing and, in Mickey’s case, snoring.

Not actually snoring in this picture

I feel the way I used to feel every time I left NYC.  Still going thousands of miles per minute until the stillness of the countryside got in me and started rearranging my cells.

Hudson is hardly a thriving metropolis, but it IS a city and does thrum and buzz and clank.  So, when I got here to this sweet, quiet house, I  was thrumming and buzzing and clanking.  And now I am collapsing.  There’ s a slight white noise out the back side of the house here and at first I thought it was traffic.  But no.  It’s the CREEK.


Yesterday, before packing up for this woodsy escape, I did Realtor Stuff which, in this instance, involved driving around Columbia and Dutchess counties,  Mickey riding shotgun, looking at beautiful swaths of land.  It did not suck.  Okay, it sucked slightly.  Because farms like this one are, as we all know, vanishing.







Farms are being devoured by stubby plastic houses that look like those in the opening credits of the show WEEDS.

I’m sure these houses have their plusses, but I’m not sure what they are and I’d have a hard time selling one because I think they should be blown up.

Houses do not have to look like this

Houses do not have to be ugly to be efficient and affordable.    I actually like plenty of modern houses.  A simple box-looking house plunked down on a  small swath of land can be a beautiful thing. 

So, even though yesterday’s Realtor Business brought me to that beautiful old farm, it was a little sad.

My friend Laura the Hot Farmer, who is an Actual Farmer (I don’t just call her that because it sounds sexy, though of course, it does) does all her farming on TWO ACRES.  Grows vegetables and fruit, raises chickens, pigs, goats, and, yes, actual human children, on TWO ACRES.  Because no one who is Actually Farming can afford an Actual Farm.  The beauty I saw yesterday will probably never again be used as a farm because no one with farming skills can afford to buy it.

So I’m in the woods, decompressing, working on a noir novel about three women taking revenge on a mutual stalker, looking at trees and mourning the loss of land and what it means for our souls.

The Puppy Controversy

Some months back, as documented in a post at the time, my friend Tim Ebneth and I drove together to an opening featuring the work of our friend Richard Boch.

On the way, we came upon a box of toys left at the side of the road with a sign reading FREE TO A GOOD HOME.  Tim stopped the car and we took some toys. A lot of toys.  Here are some of them.

Tim then used most of these toys in an installation for his own art show last month.  It was an excellent show.  He sold lots of work.  Though not the toys.

Meanwhile, the picture of Tim clutching the KITTY CAT was widely circulated on Facebook. 

And  controversy started when Richard began calling the fluffy animal Tim was clutching a PUPPY.  I kept correcting Richard, telling him it is a KITTY, but he’s a stubborn man with species confusion and, to this day, talks about the time Tim stopped and rescued a PUPPY.

Enter Laura the Hot Farmer.

This is a woman who slits the necks of chickens and keeps bees even though she’s allergic to bees and beekeepers get stung.  Laura is so fierce and stubborn she has scared her bee allergy into submission, if not the bees themselves.

Also, she keeps insisting it was a stuffed PUPPY that Tim rescued by the side of the road.

Laura the Hot Farmer at Tim’s show

Earlier today, Tim stopped by to visit with Richard and his real life cat.  Tim brought the stuffed kitty to meet the real kitty.  

Only, of course, Richard is still calling the stuffed kitty a PUPPY. And so is Laura.

Tonight, I’m on my way to Spotty Dogs Books and Ale to do a reading with a few other local writers including my friend Karen Crumley Keats.  In fact, I’m going to read the opening of my noir-novel-in-progress which features a woman killing a man and rescuing a PUPPY.

It was loosely based on this PUPPY, who we found on a beach in Mexico with a suspicious bite wound on his leg.

Did I kill the man who was responsible for this puppy nearly ending up dying on a beach with a severely infected bite wound?

Probably not.

But don’t tell Richard and Laura that.



I Know You Want To Devour Me

My life is devoured by real estate.  It’ll balance out eventually, when I’m not overwhelmed from learning many new things really fast, but, for now, I feel DEVOURED.

I have a friend, Jon, whose kid sister interviewed Miles Davis (many many years ago, obviously, when Miles Davis was alive)  for her high school paper.  She was a bubbly girl with blond ringlets and long legs.  She was to interview Miles Davis backstage somewhere.  She went to the appointed place and waited.  Eventually, Miles Davis slinked in and sat down and eyeballed the girl.  She bumbled a few niceties at him. He narrowed his eyes and said: I know you want to devour me sexually.

This wasn’t exactly what the young journalist had had in mind.  But what do you say to Miles Davis?  No, I’m sorry, sir, I do not wish to devour you sexually?

I don’t actually know how she responded.

This anecdote always stuck in my head and when I feel devoured by something, or wish to devour something, I think of Miles Davis. Then I laugh. And feel less devoured.

Still, even though I’m keeping the FEELING of being devoured at bay, I am actually being devoured.

I’m going to have to become one of those people who WRITES IN PUBLIC.  In noisy cafes, on trains,  at my desk at the real estate office when I’m not hungrily trolling the Multiple Lisiting Service looking for swaths of land for my first-ever real estate customer, who wishes to buy a vast swath of land.

Vast swath of land

I’m having to learn to do what thousands and thousands of people do in this world:  Snatch tiny windows of writing time when I can and where I can. And, also, continue filling myself up with new experiences.

The other night, my friend Karen and I had a date to go to a reading, hosted by the fetching Rebecca Wolff.    Elisa Albert and William Kennedy were reading in an antiques store.  Yes, THAT William Kennedy, who has won every award known to writer-kind.    Elisa Albert read very briefly and was jaunty and smart.  William Kennedy read a much longer piece that was excellent but I have no idea what it was from because my attention was snatched away by the arrival of LYNNE TILLMAN’S HAIR.

Lynne Tillman, extraordinary human and lauded writer of experimental fiction has amazing hair.

Interestingly, another writer with famously amazing hair,  Malcolm Gladwell, also has a house up here near Hudson.

It would have been really gratifying if Malcolm Gladwell had walked into the reading and put his hair next to Lynne Tillman’s hair.  It might have looked something like this:

Lynne Tillman and her hair



Malcolm Gladwell and his hair






It didn’t happen. I did however get distracted by Lynne’s hair.

Lynne  found a spot right near where I was sitting and hunkered down on the floor to listen to the reading.  I had a REALLY HARD TIME NOT PETTING HER HAIR.   Lynne and I are friends, but we are not on Hair Petting Terms.  So I resisted.  And missed the details of what it was William Kennedy was reading.   There were some memorable lines.  One:  “Recreation is fine if you don’t get too much of it .”

It was a superb evening, even though my hair has seemed extremely small and flat ever since. At least it has not devoured me.








Flog Me

For those in Upstate NY, I have two readings on the horizon.  You have to come.  Otherwise, I will probably hunt you down and flog you. Unless that would please you and serve as motivation for staying home waiting to be hunted down.  In which case, no way I’m flogging you.

Saturday November 16th  at Spotty Dog Books and Ale here in Hudson.  I’m reading with dear friend Karen Crumley Keats,  Norman Douglas (who I used to hear read at ABC No Rio open mic a long long  time ago,) Melissa Holbrook Pierson, whose work I haven’t read but have heard about for years and Sara Kendall.  And the whole thing will be hosted by Karen Schoemer -who has great hair.

t’s FREE.  It’s a 7pm.  There is a LOT of other stuff to do in Hudson before and after if, say, you  live in FRANCE and want to fly over to make a day of it.

You can go to Carrie Haddad’s gallery to admire the truly excellent show “Storytellers and Conjurers” which I saw last night.  I wanted to buy half the work in the show. Of course, I’m broke, so I couldn’t buy any of it, but it’s that kind of show and, the work is affordable to those of you who’ve had a good year.

Kahn&Selesnick print

Also, there are many good places to eat and many cool stores, including the totally eccentric Joe Doe Records (no relation to the guy from X) and two incredibly well-curated (and reasonably-priced) clothing stores, De Marchin and Kosa.

So come on.

I’m also reading Saturday Dec 7th with my friend Peter Aaron over in Saugerties, NY, at Inquiring Mind Bookstore.  Peter will be flogging (in a different way than I was threatening to flog, here, let us visit definitions of my two uses of FLOG:

beat (someone) with a whip or stick as punishment or torture.

”the stolen horses will be returned and the thieves flogged”

sell or offer for sale.

”he made a fortune flogging beads to hippies”

Origin late 17th cent. (originally slang): perhaps imitative, or from Latin flagellare ‘to whip,’ from flagellum‘whip.’ )

Naval flogging

Peter will be flogging his new book, “If You Like The Ramones”.  I will not be flogging anything.  Except, as threatened, Y’ALL if you don’t attend.  But I’ll read some things and possibly wear a really short dress.

This reading is also at 7pm and also free.  And there MAY be an Extra Special Musical Guest Appearance by the astonishing August Wells, but I’ll keep you posted on that.

Until then, don’t flog yourself too much.