The Future of the Ghetto

My review of Mitchell Duneier’s Ghetto was published this week in Seattle Review of Books.  Duneier’s book traces the history of the “ghetto” from its 16th-century origins as a contained area for Venetian Jews to its post-WWII context as the urban landscape for African-Americans. But what about the ghetto’s future? Who will be the next people to ponder the history of […]

Preface to “The Sedervantes”

In 2006, I began research in earnest on my master’s thesis on “Narrative Complexity in the Talking-Dog Stories of Cervantes, Hoffmann, Gogol, Bulgakov, and Kafka.” That’s when I first came across the question of Cervantes’s alleged Jewish ancestry. To my mind, if Cervantes had known that he was from a converso bloodline, it would answer […]

The Sedervantes

The Sedervantes: Next Year in La Mancha   Friday, April 22, 1616: Cervantes dies. Friday, April 22, 2016: First night of Passover. (Download and print) Introduction. Haggadah, in Hebrew, means: “the telling.” At the heart of the Passover seder, the Jewish people tell the story of Exodus to assembled children, families and friends. We retell the […]


Coppélia, playing through Sunday at Pacific Northwest Ballet, has a “kid-friendly” reputation in ballet circles. One reason is because the ballet has actual kids on stage. There’s a waltz that calls for 24 children, each representing an hour of the day. This lends credibility to parents who tell their children that if they keep practicing, […]


    Social Networks Facebook Zero (short story): Two longtime friends make a bet to see who can be the first to get every single person on their friends list to unfriend them. They proceed with increasingly poisonous political rants, sexist imagery, racial slurs and personal attacks. Their respective friend counts decline quickly. They’re neck-and-neck, […]

Shakespeare in Hell

SHAKESPEARE IN HELL DRAMATIS PERSONAE WILLIAM, a playwright. CHRISTOPHER SLY, a drunken tinker. ACT I. SCENE I. Hell. Enter CHRISTOPHER SLY. CHRISTOPHER SLY. Please pheeze me, do as thy will. Rack stretch’d, till cri d’corpse serves thy comedy, Eyes fix’d taut, to behold mine own tragedy. By fire sear’d, forget not our tortured history. Belly […]

What I learned from sketching at conferences

I’ve brought my drawing materials to three conferences this year to sketch the speakers during their presentations. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to being a courtroom sketch artist. Conferences are hardly ideal settings for sketching people, but they’re better than stealing glances on a downtown bus. The speakers stay on a single stage with […]

Summer Book Bingo 2015

This summer, Seattle Arts & Lectures and Seattle Public Library sponsored Summer Book Bingo, a self-directed reading project that encourages participants to read a variety of books associated with certain predetermined categories, e.g. “Prizewinner,” “Author under 30,” “Turned into a movie.” Sure, great, reading is fundamental. But it ain’t Bingo. Bingo works on the element of surprise. In real Bingo, first you get […]