“What We Wore” event RESCHEDULED

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Sunday’s 650 live reading event, “What We Wore,” at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, NY has been POSTPONED by the college due to forecasted hazardous weather conditions. The show has been RESCHEDULED for 2pm Sunday, March 19. If the new date doesn’t work for you, the cost of your seats can be promptly refunded by calling Brown Paper Tickets, 24/7, at (800) 838-3006. We apologize for this inconvenience.

“What We Wore” Deadline Extended!

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screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-55-29-amDear Writers:  We’ve extended our submission deadline for “What We Wore” to December 20, 2016, and are looking for five minute essays that address the age old question: Do clothes really make the man—or woman?

Were you a Boy Scout or a bridesmaid? Have you ever had a “wardrobe malfunction”? Rented a tuxedo? Stood for a fitting? Modeled for a figure drawing class? Tell us about dressing for your first job, your prom, your blind date, your court appearance, your wedding.

The live event is slated for late January-early February 2017 and will likely take place in New York’s Hudson Valley. The date and venue will be confirmed later this month.  Click here for Submission Guidelines.

Writer Wednesday: Mourka

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650-writer-wednesday-graphics2650 Introduces Writer Wednesdays

Each Wednesday, 650 highlights one of our talented writers. This week, we feature Margarita Meyendorff, known professionally as “Mourka.” The daughter of a Russian Baron, Mourka was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany—far from the opulence of Imperial Russia that was her birthright. Mourka is a frequent contributor to 650 and a clear audience favorite. Here she is, recorded at a live 650 event in New York City, reading a story about adapting to American life in “Chewing Gum.”

Mourka has just published a brand new memoir, “DP: Displaced Person.” This Sunday, November 13 at 4pm, she’ll be featured in a Nina Shengold Word Café “Author Duet” with Laura Shaine Cunningham at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock, NY. Admission is free.

Live Stream: “The Sound of Music”

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Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 9.54.58 AMSunday’s sold out Writers Read event, “The Sound of Music”, will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Dial us up for a carefully curated baker’s dozen of short, music-related essays ranging in scope from The Beatles to Mozart, from Jimi Hendrix to Hitler, from Ani DiFranco to The Marines.  I hope you’ll join us.

Click HERE to view a ninety-second trailer from our last sold-out show, “The First Time.”

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Colum McCann on Storytelling and Healing

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IMG_8446The stories we tell—to each other and ourselves—help us communicate the things that are most important, offering clarity and insight to the listener and the world.

Last night, writer Colum McCann spoke at Narrative Rounds at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) about the value and magic of storytelling and his work with Narrative 4, an initiative that fosters empathy by breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes through the simple exchange of stories.

IMG_7790Congratulations to Donna Bulseco and her colleagues at Columbia University’s Program in Narrative Medicine on this successful, standing-room-only event.  Free and open to the public, “Narrative Rounds” take place the first Wednesday of each academic month. Visit NarrativeMedicine.org for information on upcoming events and to join the mailing list or Facebook page.IMG_8433IMG_8435IMG_7784 IMG_7795



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Steven Lewis Op-Ed

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OJIn case you missed it this past week, here’s Steve Lewis’ brilliant Op-Ed piece on OJ and Othello in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

O.J. Simpson, the Othello of our times

The similarities will seize you by the throat.

In Shakespeare’s Othello, we are presented with a warrior of impeccable grace, courage, and character who murders his wife.

Nearly 400 years later, we would bear televised witness to an athlete-warrior of publicly impeccable grace, courage, and character who (everyone but the jury agrees) murders his wife.

Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, was married to a beautiful, fair-skinned woman considerably younger than he was. In time, he grew violently jealous, a powerful weakness of character for one who had earned such a noble and strong reputation.

O.J., a Hall of Fame running back, was also married to a beautiful, fair-skined woman who was considerably younger than he. And like Othello, he had grown over the years progressively jealous and abusive, a shocking weakness of character for one who was universally perceived as a hero.

Monstrously afraid he is being made the fool, Othello strangles the fair Desdemona in a particularly pitiless, premeditated fashion.

Then, after the murder, in a sudden, desperate awareness of his own emotional frailty – and his lost reputation – he impales himself with a dagger.

Four centuries later, in one more eerie parallel to the famous tragedy, after being charged with the brutal, premeditated murders of his wife and a man with whom she was sharing company, O.J. Simpson holds the barrel of a gun to his skull and threatens to do the bloody deed.

Those are more or less the remarkable parts of the coincidental parallels between the two icons, enough to raise the hairs on the back of our collective necks, perhaps sufficiently entertaining for those who enjoy trivia games or miniseries.

But what takes the breath away is the similarity of the pathetic rationales the fallen heroes offer for their cowardly misdeeds.

After he slays Desdemona, Othello says, “Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate. Nor set down aught in malice. Then you must speak of one who loved not wisely, but too well.”

And Orenthal James Simpson, in an updated reflection of the famous Moor’s final dramatic words, writes in a letter read by his friend Robert Kardashian, “… I loved her, always have and always will. If we had a problem, it’s because I loved her too much.”

Not wisely? Too much? Really? Really?

However inconceivable it is that anyone would reasonably conflate killing a lover with excessive love for that individual, the theater audience, then and now, somehow feels sorrow, not anger, for Othello’s greatly tortured noble soul. They blame the villain Iago. They stand to recognize and applaud the terrible weight of greatness that the man must bear. They weep for their tragic hero lying dead on the stage – not for Desdemona.

The same kind of dispensation was offered Simpson 21 years ago when Californians stopped their cars on an L.A. freeway, yelling, “Go, Juice!” It was as if he, a craven fugitive from justice, were cruising toward the end zone for one last glorious score.

And on Feb. 2, millions of Americans will follow an FX miniseries and again have the opportunity to cheer and weep and bemoan the fate of their fallen champion – not that of Nicole Brown Simpson.

Yet if we were to finally be honest with ourselves and speak of abusers as they truly are, we’d have to say that men who beat and murder women are nothing more than feckless weaklings.





And in a self-serving corruption of the ultimate virtue that makes life worth living, they inevitably beg forgiveness, hiding behind some perverse notion of love too large to contain, clueless as to their own responsibility in the real tragedies they perpetrate.

If we were to be honest, O.J. Simpson and his literary counterpart Othello should share what they feared most: being “A fixed figure for the time of scorn.”

Steve Lewis is a freelance writer and a member of the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute faculty. Contact him via @lewiswrite4hire or www.stevelewiswriter.com.