29 August 2022

Last Dance With Mary Jane

Barb Liskow

Today is my wife's birthday (Happy birthday, Barb).

It was Michael Jackson's birthday, too. It's also the 56th anniversary of the Beatles' last live performance, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Apparently, John was sick of touring, but the others were less certain. Paul, for example, loved live performances. Many things stand out about that last show.

For one thing, less than 60% of the seats sold, at a maximum price of $6.50. You can find a video of that show on YouTube, the sound predictably sketchy, and it lasts about 28 minutes. To put that in perspective, Arlo Guthrie's song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" lasts over 18 minutes by itself, and Iron Butterfly's self-indulgent "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is over 17. The live version of "Free Bird" is about 14.

The Beatles played eleven songs, opening with Chuck Berry's "Rock And Roll Music" and closing with Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." They played nothing from Revolver, the new album in record stores. Their next single was "Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane," followed by the Sergeant Pepper LP, so they were moving away from songs they could feasibly perform live anyway. Ringo, the oldest member of the quartet, had recently turned twenty-six.

It feels like a fitting date for me to sign off here, too. I've been contributing to this blog for nearly six years now, and I've loved learning from Barb, Rob, Eve, Liz, Leigh, Janet, John, Michael, and everyone else, but I'm running out of ideas worth sharing.

I've learned about history and historical crimes, police and court procedures, films, sci-fi, aesthetics, and more other topics than I can list here. I've loved commenting and receiving comments from everyone, but it's time to leave the silver bullet on the bar and ride into the sunset.

Like the Beatles, I'm changing my focus, but I'm going in the opposite direction. They moved from singles to albums, and I'm turning from albums to singles. I published my last novel in paper in 2019 (another appeared as an eBook last year), but I have eight short stories due to be published over the next 12-18 months. That would be a total of 46 stories since 2007, along with 16 novels.

I have twelve stories in submission limbo, too (some probably rejected without telling me) and three more in various stages of revision.

Hey, it isn't the Library of Alexandria, but I started late. Music, writing, theater, music again, writing again. I'm still trying to find something I'm good at.

This is a good time to introduce Chris Knopf, who will be joining SleuthSayers and taking over my slot soon. If you don't know Chris's work, you owe it to yourself to check him out. We met at Crime Bake several years ago when I had only published a few short stories and my novels were still seeking a home. When I became an active member of MWA, he agreed to blurb my first self-published novel, which most writers were either unwilling or forbidden to do at that time, and he gave me a huge boost up. 

Chris has published 9 Sam Acquillo novels and 3 Jackie Swiatkowski books, all set in the Hamptons, and assorted stand-alones. He won the Nero Award in 2013, and more and more stories are appearing in the major mystery periodicals like Alfred and Ellery. He writes terrific prose, so clean and vivid you don't notice how good it is until you read someone else after him, and his dialogue is even better. I think you're going to enjoy meeting him.

I'll sneak back when I can work free from other entangling alliances.

And, finally, congratulations to fellow Sleuthsayers O'Neil De Noux, Eve Fisher and Barb Goffman, who have "Other Distinguished Stories" listed in the Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories 2022.

Stay safe, everyone.


  1. Thank you for your many thoughtful and informative columns and best of luck with the short stories. You will be missed.

  2. Steve, you will be missed! Thank you for all your columns and comments, and the best of luck with all your stories.

  3. Steve, it's been a pleasure reading and knowing you. Take care and best wishes.

  4. I will miss your commentary, but I am looking forward to your stories. (If it's convenient for you to do so, please email me (doncoffin@aol.com) when something gets published.

  5. Riding off into the sunset. Naw. That's a sunrise. Take care of yourself, man.

  6. Every decade or so, Arlo Guthrie reissued Alice’s Restaurant. During the Carter or Clinton era, he was invited to the White House where he was surprised to spot a copy of his album in the Presidential Library from the Nixon administration. That led Arlo to a whole new theory when he realized Rose Mary Woods’ missing 18 minutes on that tape was exactly the same length as Arlo’s song.

    ♬♩ You can get anything you want… ♫♪

    I hadn’t realized Sgt. Pepper came so close on the heels of Revolver. My girlfriend, a major Revolver fan, would have been disappointed.

    Steve, I’m grateful you could be with us. I look forward to visits and the stories you’re bringing to market. Wow, you work so hard. Thanks for being there.

    Happy birthday, Barb!

  7. Good luck with your writing and everything else you have going on, Steve. You will be missed around here. Please do keep popping by.

  8. Thanks to all of you for all your encouragement and cameraderie here. I'll pop in as often as I can, and I'll try to get a couple of posts into the queue for emergencies. Take care of yourselves, OK?

  9. Steve,
    I've enjoyed your columns; you've made me laugh, you've pissed me off, you've made me think. Good luck, and Godspeed. May the road rise up to meet you.
    Thanks, and all the best,

  10. I'll miss your posts, Steve, and please do pop up and comment when you can. Take good care of yourself! And we'll give Chris a warm welcome.

  11. Steve, I've enjoyed your posts and it's been great getting to know you, both via SS and our private conversations. I wish you the very best, and I hope you'll keep in touch.

    We've been lucky to have you here!

  12. Steve, thank you for your columns. I'll especially never forget the one written from the perspective of one of your cats. That one was a real delight!

  13. Happy Trails, Steve! Thanks for the good words!

  14. Enjoyed reading your columns, Steve. Good fortune with your future writings. I'm betting those 12 stories in limbo will find a good home.


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