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Friday, September 30, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/30

There is more campus comedy to report. In an editorial in today's New York Post, Heather MacDonald writes of a recent incident at the University of California Berkeley. A group of Republicans students lampooned Affirmative Action by hosting a Bake Sale wherein whites were charged two dollars, Latinos a buck and blacks seventy-five cents. Women received a twenty-five cent discount. Of course, this aroused howls from the "oppressed" of that sprawling campus of the privileged. Nearby, a Gender and Women's Studies major held a sign protesting the exclusion of gays from the discount structure. Love it! Kudos to the group and to Ms. MacDonald. Thanks for brightening my day.
Speaking of diversity, for the first time in a year or so I set up shop in Park Slope, one of the country's most diverse areas, many of its residents of the hipster variety. I'm glad to say it upheld its reputation as one of the most literate as well. I knew it would be a good day immediately when a young woman bought two books on the philosophy of Aristotle. Smiling, she showed me a print-out on Plato she was carrying in her purse. A young man later purchased The Dialogues of Plato. How refreshing that some young people are still reading serious work on their own time. I'm able to sell  a number of classics because of the donation two years ago of a hardcover set of them by Tereza, a Russian woman. I only recently considered offering the duplicates on the street. Today I also sold The Useful Pig, a cookbook, the last two books on knitting, a hardcover fantasy trilogy, a book on finance and several mysteries. Thanks, folks. Alas, no one was interested in any of my own books. Maybe tomorrow, although the forecast is again iffy. I guess one beautiful day a week is all that can expected right now. I plan on returning to Park Slope once a week as long as the results make the hassle worth it. There is no quick way to get there, and parking is a nightmare. Coney Island Avenue was clear today because the many Jewish-owned businesses along it were closed for the holiday.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/29

I ran out of luck today catching the window between rain showers. We in the northeast are stuck in an ugly weather pattern. We are not seeing much sun. It sucks.
There is a new nominee in the Academic Douchebags Hall of Fame. It's awful crowded. A new wing is being built. Here is an excerpt culled from the website:
VACAVILLE, CA - When Taylor McGinley sneezed in her health class at Will C. Wood High School a few weeks ago a student replied with "God, bless you," but it's what teacher Steven Cuckovich said after the sneeze that now has students questioning the teacher's agenda.
"(Cuckovich) said, 'Do you think that girl is evil, do you think the evil spirits are coming out of her?' And the guy that said "bless you" was like 'No, I was just doing what I was supposed to do when somebody sneezes, not trying to be rude,'" Taylor said, referring to the incident.
McGinley said Cuckovich never mentioned or referred to the expression again, but in Erica Fagan's class Cuckovich is deducting points from students' grades if someone said "bless you."
"The first time (the student) did it (Cuckovich) took 25 points off of everybody in the class's grade for one person saying it and then somebody did it the next day and he did it again," Fagan said.
According to Fagan, Cuckovich told the students sneezing and saying "bless you" is a distraction and takes time out of learning.

Our stellar porter, Frankie, has been sporting new sneakers lately. Last week he suffered a cut to the leg that has numbed a couple of his toes and left him unable to wear work boots. To my surprise, he is entitled not only to full medical coverage of his treatment but cash compensation as well. This was the third time in his long tenure he was injured on the job. He has a scar on his forearm suffered while he was clearing debris on the roof. His second injury provided a big pay day. His arm got caught in the door of a malfunctioning elevator, injuring his shoulder. He's a little guy, probably no more than 140 pounds. The elevator was replaced, he went on disability. He split the proceeds with his lawyer, walking away with $11,500. He's been smiling even more than usual lately. He has a big family, including at least one handicapped child, and can use the money.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/28

The National Hockey League, which is not usually interesting until March, is bucking trend. Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers has been at the center of two controversies. Simmonds, who is black, was the target of a bigot, or a drunk, who tossed a banana peel onto the ice during an exhibition game in London, Ontario. The young man, who is said to be remorseful (aren't they all once caught? Michael Vick?) has been identified and faces a fine up to $2000 and, possibly, indictment for a hate crime. The latter is ridiculous overkill, but to be expected in an age of selective outrage. Simmonds was a man about it, saying such behavior is to be expected. Life being the fascinating circus it is, Simmonds found himself in trouble a week later when he allegedly berated an opponent with an anti-gay slur, a charge he denies. The PC police have come out in force, demanding an apology and punitive action. The NHL office says the evidence is inconclusive. I guess lip reading is inadmissible in its court. A ban on anti-gay language has been suggested. Okay, ban it and, while you're at it, fine or suspend any player who disparages mothers and sisters and uses any foul language, behavior that has existed forever in the emotional combustion that is sport. Everyone in the world except hip hop artists, who have made millions using the N-word and F_____t, should face fine and or hate crime indictment for uttering those terrible words. The logic of the adherents of political correctness would demand action on the spontaneous speech of some and the ignoring of the premeditated of others. They want semi-free speech. People have a right and a need to vent. A good person will apologize. A bad person is not likely to be changed, more likely to fake contrition. Free speech can be and is a bitch sometimes. It's supposed to be. How often do we get the urge to choke a public figure who makes political comments contrary our own? Good people grin and bear it or offer a civil counter argument. When I worked the commodity pits and podiums, I was occasionally excoriated in the vilest terms by traders, sometimes by people I really liked. It hurt, but it made me a stronger, better person, as all trials do. I was guilty of disgraceful speech there myself at times. Husband and wives say awful things to each other. I flush with shame when I think of some of the things I said to my parents. It's called being human. Legislate this.
I said the b-word and I'm not apologizing. I know you're strong enough to handle it.
Thanks to Cabbie, who bought six thrillers today.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/27

No luck on the street today. Here's a short story of 700+ words, titled Hip Hop:

   Kenya Williams, eight years old, was out of bed before anyone else in her family, even Grandpa. It was Easter Sunday. She had a mission of mercy to carry out. She dressed quietly and tiptoed past her mama’s bedroom. She dared not wake her new daddy, who was mean. She’d had several new daddies the past few years. None had loved her the way her real daddy had or Grandpa did. Although she knew her daddy was with God in heaven, she missed him terribly, as did her brother, who hardly spoke any more.
    She opened and closed the apartment door carefully, backpack in hand. The streets were deserted, as it was just before dawn. The bad boys had finally gone home. She had waited until their voices died down. She went into the alley and to the back of the building, where her Grandpa, the super, kept the small cage.
   “Good morning, Jesus,” she said to a plump white rabbit.
   Her Grandpa had objected to the name, saying it was disrespectful, and told her to choose another. She had, but still thought of the rabbit as Jesus. She lifted it gently from the cage, petted it tenderly and placed it in the backpack. It remained as docile and trusting of her as always.
   “This is the day of your eman…., emanci…. – your freedom.”
   Her brother had made her cry, saying the rabbit would be their Easter dinner. Her Grandpa immediately came to her comfort. When she asked if it were true, she could tell by his hesitation and tone that it was. She recalled how the rabbits had “run away” the past two Easters. Her mother had told her they were having chicken. No wonder the birds had looked so odd.
   The day was going to be glorious, the sky brightening to a pristine blue, not a cloud in sight. Kenya smiled, basking in life’s wonders. She did not understand why others did not see the beauty of the world, why everybody was always so mad. She hurried to the park, breathless, surprised at how heavy Jesus was, at how much he had grown the past year. She wished she would grow as fast. She went into the woods and opened the backpack. Jesus remained in it obediently. She took the rabbit in her hands and kissed its nose.
   “Will you remember me when Mama brings us here?” she said, looking into its eyes, which stared blankly. “I’ll look for you.”
   She was startled by raucous laughter, and cradled Jesus protectively to her chest. Ahead, milling around benches, she spotted a group of bad boys. There were bottles at their feet. Soon a boom box was blaring. “The devil’s music,” her daddy had called it. He’d always been chasing boys from the front of the house. She did not understand why the music was so different from the sweet records her Grandpa was always playing, from what she would be hearing in church later today. She so wanted to be in that choir.
   She set Jesus down and pointed him in the opposite direction of the bad boys. The rabbit took a labored step and another, then a hip-hop, and then began a hippity-hop. Kenya was amazed at how boldly the white coat stood out in the surroundings. Jesus seemed like an angel. She had to tear herself away. She was unable to resist a final glance.
   “Bye. I love you.”
   Head down, she left the park, tears flowing down her cheeks.
   Free of his cage, the rabbit moseyed along, sniffing, exploring, circling, covering ground.
   “What’s that?” said a young man in gangsta garb, springing from a bench, switching off the boom box.
   One of his companions jumped to his feet, pulling a handgun from his belt. “Target practice.”
   A shot rang out. Outside the park, Kenya, weeping, came to an abrupt halt, listening. It was the same sound that had killed her daddy, soaked his white shirt red in an instant, as she sat on the sidewalk drawing with chalk he’d bought her. Hoots and hollers ensued. She broke into a sprint and did not look back.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/26

It was a quiet day on the street. Thanks to the Russian woman who purchased a number of books on knitting. Only two are left. Tomorrow I'll see if I'll have the same good luck with those on needlepoint, which were donated by my friend Arlynn.
As I was standing at the floating bookshop daydreaming, I was roused by an argument nearby. An Asian woman was giving it to a lady bus driver. She did not have exact change, ten quarters, or a MetroCard, so she demanded to be able to board with three one dollar bills. She wouldn't take no for an answer, finally slipping the money into a space against the windshield and storming to a seat. The driver surrendered. Hail to common sense.
In the first three weeks of the season the NFL is again showing why it is the best business sports model. The smallest market team, Green Bay, seems poised to make another strong run at the Super Bowl, and two teams that have struggled for years, Detroit and Buffalo, are 3-0. Love it.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of America's greatest composers, George Gershwin. The title Rhapsody in Blue may not ring a bell, but its dynamic opening and closing has been used in commercials and films, to great effect by Woody Allen in Manhattan ("I think people should mate for life - like pigeons - and Catholics.") Gershwin also composed An American in Paris, whose opening strands would also be familiar to most. And he created the folk opera Porgy and Bess (1935), based on the novel by DuBose Heyward, for which his older brother Ira wrote the lyrics, which reveal latter's genius, particularly in the beautiful Summertime and the brilliant It Ain't Necessarily So ("Dey tells all you chillun De debble's a villun"). Tragically, George died of a brain tumor at 38, depriving the world of who knows what musical wonders. Ira went on to write such standards as The Man That Got Away, which Judy Garland immortalized.
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/25

Now that the weather has cooled I will be setting up shop occasionally outside the Dolphin Gym at 24th Avenue and 86th Street. It looked like a bad decision for the first two-and-a-half hours today, then Donna came along and bought A Hitch in Twilight. As soon as I said the stories were inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling, she was hooked. This broke a 49 day drought in sales of my own books. It is copy 100 of Hitch, counting five web sales, two of which were Kindle. For some reason I almost always sell one of mine there, and few of any other books, the exact opposite of other spots. And to show what a fluke a street sale is, how it's a matter of the right person at the right time passing, Donna lives in Williamsburg, an hour-and-a-half train ride away. She was in the neighborhood to get her haircut. Her stylist, a Malaysian woman, lost her job when her shop closed. It used to cost Donna $150. Now the woman charges her only ten, and Donna tips her thirty. And it is well worth it - her hair looked great. The stylist and her husband work long hours, as their child has Spina Bifida.
Donna grew up dyslexic. When she was a sophomore in high school her dad took her to an Evelyn Wood speed reading clinic. I don't know if the business still exists. Ads for it used to run regularly on the radio. It worked like a charm for Donna. She earned a Masters and now reads five books a week! "You should see the looks I get from people who see me reading," she said. In the winter she goes to an independent bookstore near Broadway-Lafayette in Manhattan, buys coffee and sits there for hours, reading. And her taste is exquisite, when I offered her other books as a gift, she chose John Milton's Paradise Lost and Henry David Thoreau's On Walden Pond. Thank you, ma'am. It's so odd. I'm not religious, but every time I sell one of my books I'm so grateful I'm tempted to drop to my knees and make the sign of the cross.
I'm shocked the Giants beat the Eagles, who have had their number for a long time. I was expecting a blow out the other way. Given the free agent losses the team incurred and the season-ending injuries it has suffered, I doubted they would win more than six games this year. I thought: "So what?" After all, I've seen them win three championships since 1986. It's only three games into the season, and the NFL's power structure seems to change every few weeks, but right now it looks as if I over-rated the Eagles, who I expected to waltz to the division title and perhaps the Super Bowl. Michael Vick haters must be in heaven.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/24

   Whew! The debris from that 20-year-old satellite fell into a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. What a relief. The odds of being struck by it were astronomical, of course, one in thousands, except, according to one of New York Post sports quipster Hondo's fans, for film-maker Michael Moore, whose odds were 50-50.
   The publisher of A Hitch in Twilight has come up with a promotional plan for his stable of writers. Each of us is to submit a bio, and we will all post each other's on various websites. This is mine:
   I grew up speaking English and Sicilian dialect. Don’t know which came first. At St. Mary’s I was “the boy in the third row staring into space,” tuning out the Principal, who was visiting our class. I would sleepwalk through my first 30 years, baffled by the bittersweet mystery of life. Heck, I still may be sleepwalking. At Lafayette High School I was #72, right guard on the ‘66 team, the weakest link on a fine squad. At Western Michigan University I faked my way to a degree in Education. I hid behind the persona of football coach for six years, until a November night when I began a novel, Five Cents, imagining the plight of an average Vietnam veteran, not the psycho Hollywood version. That began a 20-year jag that produced nine novels, two screenplays, two plays and about 60 short stories, more than 50 of which have been published. I am fascinated by the theme of man struggling to live a good life in a world where temptation beckons at every turn. For four years I was a teacher’s aide at John Dewey High School, where I met a woman I still think about each day. I tended bar for a year, then worked at the Commodity Exchange for nearly 25 years, a square peg learning not to be afraid of the world amidst the screaming of traders out to score big. It was there that I met the one who got away. In 2000 I self-published Close to the Edge - ever wonder what makes someone go off the deep end? In 2008 Adjustments, which chronicles my football experiences, was published by my literary angel, Victoria Valentine, of Water Forest Press. In 2009 A Hitch in Twilight, inspired by my fascination with the work of Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock, was published by All Things That Matter Press. These days I promote/sell my books on the streets of Brooklyn, and continue to submit manuscripts.

It was another gloomy day on the east coast, but at least there was a rainless window that allowed me to sell some books. Thanks to Bad News Billy, Jack, and the young man who was fascinated by L. Ron Hubbard's Bible of Scientology, Dianetics.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/23

The floating bookshop was rained out today.
I looked forward to the premiere of A Person of Interest. I like the two stars, Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. The latter was the main villain on Lost, an unabashed liar, so it was amusing to hear him say in his new role that he will never lie. That remains to be seen. Since Caviezel has done such serious work in film, such as the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, I expected this series to be meaty. I was disappointed. He is playing an action hero. I’ll have to adjust my mindset to enjoy it.
I enjoyed the season debut of The Mentalist, which was as manipulative as its main character, so charmingly played with boyish roguishness by Simon Baker. At the close of last season, it seemed the main story arc had been resolved, which would have been refreshing, as a program will go on as long as possible and then shoot a grand finale. I’m hoping it will be resolved early, as the strength of the show is the interplay of the characters. I fear the arc will drag on as interminably as that of The X-Files. I have the same fear for Castle, a show similar to The Mentalist in that it is about a charming outsider working with police. In the case of Castle, the co-star is the focus of the main arc. Again, the interplay of the characters is better than the story lines, which move so swiftly as to leave logic in the dust. Nathan Filion and Stana Katic have wonderful chemistry. Like The Mentalist, it’s all about silly fun - except for the main arc.
I was intrigued by the premise of Unforgettable, which is about a woman with a photographic memory. I was leery, as I am not a fan of Poppy Montgomery, beautiful though she is. She had a great run on Without a Trace, so it’s just one of those things. Sometimes one simply does not connect with an artist. I have never been able to warm up to the work of Steve Guttenberg or Matthew McConaughey, or James Taylor in music. They are all very successful, but their gifts are lost on me. It’s a mystery. I found the opening episode of Unforgettable routine. I’ll give it a few more weeks, though. I miss the intelligence of the original Law and Order. SVU is too enamored of the sensational, which often comes off as ludicrous. And Criminal Minds has worn out its welcome. Serial killers are as prevalent on TV as vampires. The public can’t get enough of them. I’ve had my fill, at least for now. Tonight - the season premiere of Fringe.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/22

One has to laugh at congress bringing Google executive Eric Schmidt before a committee investigating the company as a possible monopoly. The august body is a monopoly itself - of waste, spending tax payer cash as if it were Monopoly money. I've been using Google since I first came to the worldwide web in 1999. I love it. I've tried other search engines: Yahoo, MSM, Altavista, Mamma, and found Google superior. I don't know how or why it is, and I don't care. Just leave it alone. The only other search engine that has come close is Bing, but since I have my pages set up with Google and since it works so well, I don't want to change. I don't understand how it could be considered a monopoly when there are so many alternatives. Maybe it's just another example of congress eager to penalize those who do well, to level the playing field. They make me sick.
Last night I tuned in to a local PBS station for the season premiere of my favorite show, MI5, which chronicles the work of the team in charge of protecting the UK homeland. It is as well written as any show in the history of television. It concentrates more on suspense than action. Although it does not lack the latter, it doesn't go as far as the exciting 24. It's a lot more plausible. It is shot beautifully in sharp, vivid colors. The only fault I find is its occasional anti-American and anti-Israeli bias. Americans are hilariously referred to by the crew as "our cousins." One of the great strengths of the series is the way its stars leave, and only one has returned. And it all comes without commercial interruption. At least it did until last night, when the dreaded pledge break reared its ugly head. The hosts intimated that there wasn't enough money to buy the entire season seven. I wasn't tempted to fork over any cash. In the age of cable, PBS has become almost irrelevant. There are thousands of alternatives out there and anything that PBS does is available elsewhere. Tax payer subsidies for it should be ended immediately. PBS can be funded by Sesame Street, a muti-million dollar enterprise that owes its existence to the station. All ten seasons of MI5 are available on DVD. If it isn't shown on PBS any more, I'll rent it at Netflix. Gimme a break with the pledge breaks.
An 84-year-old vet has donated books to me several times. He picks them up at the VA. Lately his underwear has climbed well above his belt line. I don't have the heart to say anything. Maybe he is so grateful to be alive at this stage that he just doesn't care about such a thing. Today he gave me three romance novels, two of which Herbie, one of my most faithful regulars, bought. He'd been searching for anything by Cynthia Freeman, who writes about Jewish families. He now has Seasons of the Heart to enjoy. Thanks, guys.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/21

This morning I learned a little about the least known Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, who was interviewed by conservative radio talk show host Mike Gallagher. His accomplishments in the private sector are phenomenal. He was born in 1945 and grew up in Georgia in modest means. He has worked for Coca Cola, Burger King and Godfather's Pizza, the latter two of which he made profitable in areas of the country where they were failing. His political positions have all been conservative with two exceptions. He was in favor of bailing out the banks, although he disagreed with how it was done, how government picked the winners and losers. And he favors affirmative action - but not quotas. On the latter, I don't know how the two can be separated. Other than that, Cain is another first rate candidate in a strong field. He is a long shot. If he gets close, expect him to be accused of racism because of his strong views on creeping Shariaism, and expect liberals to call him an Uncle Tom or the equivalent, all this in addition to the warnings that Republicans want to throw everyone off Welfare, Medicare and Social Security.
I am surprised at how many in the media have called President Obama on his lie about secretaries being taxed at a higher rate than millionaires, and how one of his biggest cheerleaders, Warren Buffett, has been exposed in the same vein. Buffet's salary is only $100,000. He makes his billions in dividends, which are taxed twice at a cumulative rate of 40%. Curiously, his own company, Berkshire Hathaway, does not pay dividends. 50% of Americans pay no federal taxes at all. Herman Cain is for reform of the tax code.
I had another lucky day on the street. As I walked to my car I noticed a woman pulling out from the spot closest to where I usually set up shop, and on the correct side for tomorrow's alternate side regulation. And no sooner had a gentleman donated a hardcover non-fiction book on a WWII double agent than the Merry Mailwoman pounced on it and a mystery. And a Russian gentleman, a repeat customer who enjoyed my recommendations, overpaid for four thrillers. Thanks folks. And I found a dollar as I accompanied my friend Arlynn on a walk, the first time she's been out of the house in eleven days. The stress of the earthquake, hurricane and 9/11 affected her delicate neurological condition. Her son, a Coast Guard security officer in town for memorial ceremonies, made the mistake of telling her he had contingency orders in the event of an attack.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/20

Sometimes something comes out of left field to give you a shot in the arm. I didn't pick up yesterday's mail until after this morning's walk. I wasn't expecting anything significant, no DVD from Netflix or mail order for one of my books, so I let it go. There were two pieces of junk mail: one from Hyundai suggesting I trade in my car for a new one (LOL) and another from those champions of waste, politicians, urging me to vote for their candidate in the election, which was more than a week ago. The other piece was from Aetna. I assumed it was the monthly bill, although it had arrived a lot earlier than usual. It seems there was a bit of fraud at the company. Enclosed was a check for $359. That's equivalent to just about 36 street sales of my own books (LOL). Alas, the windfall isn't as exciting or uplifting as selling even one of my books, as was proved later in the day. Since life giveth and life taketh away, I had no sales today on the street at the viaduct out of the light rain. This storm system is so huge it's supposed to last through Saturday. Fortunately, there are supposed to be a lot of breaks in it.
And on the political front - most administrations are not engulfed in scandal until a second term. Obama's has two juicy ones going in its first, although you would never know it from the sparse coverage. ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) came up with a scheme to track drug dealers - sell them guns equipped with tiny GPS devices in sting operations. So far 31 of them have been recovered at 12 crime scenes. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered with one (not LOL). Every American should be angry about it. My friend John should rewrite his indictment of the war on drugs to include it, although it is a case where truth is stranger than fiction. It is more infuriating than the ever comical green front, which has suffered another fiasco. California solar company Solyndra has gone belly up. This comes as a surprise only to environmental paranoiacs. Congress granted the company 530 million. Of course, such boondoggles can't exist without massive government aide. Greeniacs believe all their ideas should be implemented despite the damage they do to the economy. They're saving the planet, you see (LOL). Ethanol has caused a shortage of corn that has not only inflated its price but harmed all the industries that rely on it to feed livestock, which serves as food. Even Obama likes burgers. Gone are the days when the likes of Edison and Ford did wonders on their own. Microsoft began in a garage (LOL), for God's sake. Congress (LOL) has begun an investigation into the shady  dealings. Lord Byron said it so wonderfully in Don Juan: "And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'Tis that I may not weep." Stay tuned.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/19

Jack visited the floating bookshop today and he was in rare form, delivering an anti-religion rant, using terms I'd never heard. Maybe he was set off by the copy of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics I had on display. He began by saying a Coney Island girl he was once nuts about, Irene, brought him, an Israeli by birth, to Our Lady of Solace. That parish is very meaningful to me, as a woman I was nuts about for ten years of unrequited love went to elementary school there. I also used it as the model for the church in The Power of Prayer, a short story that is part of A Hitch in Twilight. I left it unnamed, as I had no desire to embarrass the church, nor was I certain about any possible legal issues. Anyway, Jack claims Irene had him take communion, whereupon he immediately spit out the Host. Needless to say, the relationship ended right there. I doubt it actually happened. I think he was using a little artistic license. Okay, more than a little. He said Christ should be taken down from the cross and Krishna pulled from his chariot, as they are nothing but lies. He described transfinity and transtrinity, and most of it went over my head. He said the Big Bang was not first but third after the photons and vibration that caused it. He said Earth, a space ship barreling along at 67,000 mph, was in a pre-apocalyptic age. He claimed that life is the miracle, not walking on water or the cannibalism/vampirism of turning bread into flesh and water in wine to be consumed. His spiel was interrupted Larry, a mildly autistic man who calls me Mr. Books, who was bent out of shape about the Manhattan bound trains being out of service. Jack left and, when he returned a half hour later, picked up right where he had left off. When he was done with me he pointed at the bus driver who had rolled up to the stop, stuck out his thumb as if to hitch a ride, and rolled up his pants leg ala Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934). "The walls of Jericho" did not come tumbling down, but the driver did look at him as if he were nuts.
Speaking of Communion - thanks to the gentleman who purchased Whitley Streiber's allegedly true story of alien abduction. Maybe Jack is an alien. Nah, I think he'd just been drinking. And thanks to the local home attendant, who bought her sixth book on knitting, and to Herbie, who took a thriller endorsed by his favorite writer, Dean Koontz.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/18

Thanks to the kind folks who purchased books the past three days. Here's an excerpt from a story, The Dead Pool, that appears in A Hitch in Twilight:

A handsome, light-haired man of 35, casually dressed, weaved his way through the traffic in the middle aisle of the Manhattan Commodity Exchange. The area, approximately the size of a city block, was shared by firms trading metals, oil, perishables, and financial indexes. The walls on three sides were comprised of computerized boards listing the latest prices. The upper half of the fourth wall was a glass enclosure, the observation deck. A perpetual hum of varied intensity hung about the place. At this moment it was very
The young man, a badge reading "Wyn" clipped to his collar, veered into an almost vacant pit to his left. "Hey, Artie, you want in?" he said, dangling a small paper bag before the eyes of a graying man seated on a stool, reading a newspaper.
Artie gazed through wire-rimmed glasses. "What's that?"
"The dead pool. Five bucks a week 'til somebody croaks."
Artie smirked. "No thanks. Last time Fat Joe went in those bastards tried to bring the whole trade center down on top of us. We were out six months. I'm still findin' little pieces of glass in my scalp."
"Nothin' happened to the rest of us."
"I'd rather not take the chance. Who died, anyway?"
"Vincent Price. He's joined Vulnavia."
Artie's head flew back as he laughed. "Who had him?"
"I did. That's why I'm stuck runnin' it now."
Artie shook his head with disbelief. "I can't believe you won again. 'Money goes to money.' Who'd you have last time?"
"Arthur Ashe."
Artie rolled his eyes heavenward. "You guys're bad. Gallow's humor is one thing...."
There were more than a hundred slips in the bag, each carrying the name of an aged or infirmed celebrity.
"Hey, Gordie," Wyn called to a tall man in the center aisle, "kick us off."
He held the bag aloft. Gordie reached inside with a long hand that featured skeletal-like fingers. He smirked, having drawn Bob Hope.
"He's due," said Wyn, shrugging.
"He's never gonna die. He's gonna outlive God. Just my luck."

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/16

Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. I feel small compared to this giant of a man. Here are the details of his heroism, taken from an article in the Washington Post:
Meyer was serving near a Taliban-held area around the village of Ganjgal when the power in the town suddenly went out and the valley lit up in a hail of gunfire and mortar rounds from Taliban fighters hiding in the hills. A patrol of Afghan and U.S. forces was pinned down.
Meyer was about a mile away but could hear the attack on the radio. He repeatedly asked his superiors for approval to go to the aid of the unit but was denied, Obama said.
The young corporal refused to sit out the battle. He and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez jumped in a Humvee — Chavez at the wheel and Meyer in the gun mount — and headed into the “killing zone,” as Obama called it.
Coming across some wounded Afghan allied fighters, the pair brought them to safety and headed back in. In all, the duo entered the battle zone five times, rescuing 23 Afghans and 13 Americans. They also extracted the bodies of four Americans who had been killed in the fighting.
Meyer suffered shrapnel wounds to his arm, Obama said.
The Obama administration has previously awarded the Medal of Honor to two other Afghan war veterans. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta, who received the award on Nov. 27, 2010, and Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, who was honored at a White House ceremony last month.

According to conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher, Meyer also killed eight enemy combatants, which the article does not mention. He was 21 at the time, a kid from Kentucky serving in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan thousands of miles from the blue grass state. Now 23, he is working in construction. America is free because of men like him. Thank you, sir.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/15

I've just returned from dropping my niece off at Kennedy Airport, where she will board a flight home to Denver. Tanya moved out there 30 years ago, married a guy a lot older than herself, divorced but stayed. She loves the area and is now so out of touch with Brooklyn. She fell in love with a guy from Grand Rapids, Michigan, moved there, then moved back to Colorado when that union failed. She re-started from scratch, moving in with a girlfriend until she was able to support herself. She landed a plum job as a weight loss counselor. She's doing very well, which is no surprise, as she is blessed with the gift of gab. My mom used to call her "avocatessa," which translates to "lady lawyer." Although I'm glad she is in the place she loves, we will not see her as often. A 14-hour drive has been replaced by a cross country trek.
The floating bookshop got a visit from Kofi, a regular customer, today. I found out he works in the psych department at Coney Island Hospital. He makes a lot of house calls and says patients are getting younger and younger. I asked his opinion about the drugs that are being given to children. He believes they are doing damage and blames it on pharmaceutical companies, which pressure doctors to pass out the pills. He also claims that any parent who opposes an ADD diagnosis is threatened with having the child taken away. Scary stuff.
I also got a visit from John, a retired teacher and aspiring writer. He is so intimidated by the process of book submission that he is suffering what baseball announcer Tim McCarver used to call "paralysis by analysis." He has written a thriller that is also an indictment of the war on drugs. For the second time, I urged him to submit it All Things That Matter Press. I don't know if it will be accepted, but I believe the publisher, Phil Harris, would be interested in the drug war angle. Good luck, John.
A while later a middle aged guy who recently had knee replacement surgery showed. He was on his way to a blood test. Initially, his cholesterol was too high, now it's too low. He, like my friend Arlynn, is feeling like a lab rat. Before he left he purchased Rizzo's War, Lou Manfredo's first novel, set in the old neighborhood, Bensonhurst. Thanks, sir. And thanks to the young lady who bought a large pictorial and Stephen King's Thinner just before the rain came.
For the 19th consecutive year the Pittsburgh Pirates will have a losing record. Halfway through the season they seemed a lock to break the streak. I know this is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it is stunning.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/14

For the first time since 1920, a Republican has won the seat of a district that covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Of course, Political Man weighed in on the matter as he passed the floating book shop, excoriating the traitorous Jews and Italians who voted against Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, and the right wing Christians who kept calling his home telling him to "vote with Jesus." On his way back he startled an elderly couple perusing the books, complaining that Republicans were out to take everything away from them. I assured the two the guy is harmless.
Was the result an omen of what is to come in next year's national election? We'll see. In the least it may have given professional politician and New York Senator Chuck Schumer agita, and that's a good thing. Good luck to Representative Bob Turner, who may not be in office long, as the area is scheduled for redistricting.
Also on the political front: Tapes were released of an interview Jackie Kennedy did four months after the assassination of her husband. It is rife with tidbits gossip columnists would kill for. They are personal, not political in nature, eye-opening in that she was always a paragon of decorum publically. To no one's surprise, she dubbed French president Charles DeGaulle an "egomaniac." She called Indira Gandhi "a real prune, a bitter kind of pushy, horrible woman." There have always been rumors of Martin Luther King's sexual dalliances, but it was shocking to hear Jackie call him a "phony" and "a terrible man." She also had choice words about Jack LaLane, Ladybird Johnson and Adlai Stevenson. She did not mention JFK's philandering.
RIP Sam DeLuca, 75, graduate of Lafayette High School, 1953, and twelve-year pro football offensive guard. He played in Canada, the AFL and in the NFL after the merger. He was a New York Jet, on injured reserve, the year the team won the Super Bowl. He later worked as the color man on their radio broadcasts and also on regional TV network games. At Lafayette he was a classmate of Sandy Koufax and Blackie Fasano, who is mentioned in my second novel, Adjustments. Oddly, I don't remember if I mentioned DeLuca. It would have been brief. 
Thanks to Bob Rubenstein, who made his final payment to me for the editing I did on his second novel, The White Bridge. He is anxiously awaiting word on it from All Things That Matter Press. He is in too much of a hurry. I would have liked to have taken another look at it before submission.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/13

I interrupted my morning walk to do my civic duty. I arrived at the voting center about 6:45. Marie, who has donated about 80 CDs to me, was manning the first desk. What a great gig - a break for lunch and dinner and a $200 stipend. True, it's a long day, but she has only a five minute walk home. Unfortunately, my station was at the rear of what is normally the student cafeteria of the elementary school. I knew where I was supposed to sign in immediately. The guy running the section lives in my building. My friend Arlynn introduced me to him months ago and since then he has never acknowledged me. Maybe he would be embarrassed to be seen with someone who operates a floating book shop. Suffice to say, I'm not crazy about him. He was throwing a little hissing fit, grumbling about the disorganization, unable to find the address booklets, threatening to storm off and to sue if he wasn't compensated. A supervisor helped him locate the things he needed. I handed him the card I'd received in the mail months ago and, sure enough, I wasn't listed in the book. This had happened several years ago and the workers had me fill out a paper ballot. He didn't know enough to suggest this. I dumped the card in the trash and walked away, accepting it as fate. I will be crushed if the Democrat wins by one vote. If the Republican wins, I will not feel slighted at having been denied participation in the victory. It will still be fun to see the Democrats agonize. I'm expecting the left to rally and save the seat, which has always been in their hands and filled by a Jew for decades. The Republican candidate is Catholic.
Old Faithful, Susan, bought the remaining eight children's books I had. A young mom bought four of the books on knitting, which are almost gone too. A young man took Stephen King's immense The Dark Tower VII. And another guy from my building picked up Mary Higgins Clark's I'll Be Seeing You. His is a sad story. A pharmacist with a genius IQ, he was diagnosed with mental illness at 40. Although he has lost a lot of weight, he still moves carefully and with difficulty. He no longer works and he lives with his mom. His dad passed away a few years ago. I used to refer to his parents in my mind as "The Smokers," as they were always puffing away whenever I saw them. Things must be tough for them financially, as I've seen the mother and son bumming cigarettes and sharing them. Maybe things get tight for them at the end of the month.
Thanks, folks. It's always great when the crates are a lot lighter on the way back to the car.
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/12

Political Man stopped by the floating book shop today and was in rare form. He is bummed that polls predict the seat of disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner will go to "a tea party asshole." And he blames "the fascists in the Hasidic community," and lamented their stupidity, their forgetting how Catholics have slaughtered Jews throughout history, especially during the inquisition and World War II. He dubbed Pope Pius XII "a Nazi." Apparently he assumes I'm Jewish and a liberal. I try to confine my politics to the voting booth and an occasional blog, so I just smiled. I used to respond when leftists friends posted comments on Facebook. I found it a waste of energy. Most of us are set in our beliefs and aren't going to change.
I was reminded of tomorrow's special election by Eddie, a retired teacher and friend of Arlynn. I thanked him but did not reveal which way I'll be voting. I'm not sure who he will vote for. Under normal circumstances, I'd bet he'd vote for the Democrat, but these are difficult times. Given the President's coolness toward Israel, and the overall state of the economy, people may cross lines. When Weiner lost his seat through his reckless stupidity, I said that it didn't matter, that he would be replaced by someone who shared his views. I'm thrilled that I may have been wrong, but still skeptical. New York Republicans are usually RINOs - Republicans in name only. I suspect this will be the case again. Time will tell.
I sold a Magic Eye book to a Russian gentleman. I avoided that craze, which produced a wonderful Seinfeld moment when Elaine freaked on her boss, Mr. Pitt, who couldn't stop staring, neglecting his duties as he strove to find the painting behind the colorful abstract pattern. Acting on behalf of a lot of us, she broke the painting over her knee.
A local home attendant purchased another book on knitting, at least her fifth. She stops to peruse and her ward keeps walking, and she calls out in her islands accent: "Maw, Maw," sounding a lot like my mom's first attendant, Mrs. Green. And Oddball also visited. He tears out each page he has finished of the book he is reading. He found the paperback mysteries I had on display "too girly." I suggested Patricia Cornwell and he gave it a shot. Thanks, folks.
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/10

I just finished JT LeRoy's short story collection The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2001). The back cover says his first book, Sarah, a novel whose central figure is the secondary one in The Heart..., was published when he was 16. I went to Wikipeida to research him and found a story that is a novel itself. LeRoy is the pseudonym of Laura Albert, who was impersonated in public by Savannah Knoop, half sister of her lover. I won't go into further details, as the story is complicated. It was even used as the basis of an episode of Law and Order. I did not feel deceived when I discovered this. Since the work is presented as fiction, the only thing that matters is whether it is good, unlike James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, which was presented as truth. I have a tough time with anything about cruelty to children, and that is what this story collection is all about. All the stories involve the same adolescent and his nightmare existence, depicted in a style that falls a little short of graphic, although the blanks are easily imagined. It reads like a novel. The prose is clear and concise, but I was frequently confused as to which character was speaking. The author begins sentences with dialogue, then continues in the same paragraph with another speaker's thoughts or words. The strength of the book is its use of metaphors. I often avoid them in my own work, feeling they've all been used up by now. I can cite only one of mine I think is first rate and hasn't been used by anyone else, from Triple Witching Hour, a short story in A Hitch in Twilight: "...screaming like the walls of a vagina of a victim of rape." LeRoy's seem fresh and original, indicating wonderful talent. Of course, the reader will wonder whether the author experienced the horror portrayed. According to the Wiki profile, no one knows for sure. Again, since it is fiction, it doesn't matter. On a scale of five, I rate The Heart Is Deceitful above All Things three stars.
Thanks to the kind ladies on Bay Parkway today, who purchased a book on baking, and the late, beloved  Erma Bombeck's Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession. Her witty syndicated column was a guilty pleasure of mine.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/9

You've probably received emails with photographs of grotesque Walmart shoppers. Here's the gist of one I received that tells a different story:
1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world's largest private employer, and most employees speak English.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only fifteen years.
8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought bankruptcy..
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approximately 3,900 stores in the USA, of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had five years ago.
11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. Earth's population is approximately 6.5 Billion.
12. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.
You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy. This should be read and understood by all
Americans Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!!
To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature: It is now official that the majority of you
are corrupt morons:
a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.
b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.
d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of
our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.
e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.
f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.     
g. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.
You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.
 Thanks to Bobby Buls for forwarding the email, and thanks to Herbie, who today purchased Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/8

My friend Bob Rubenstein has submitted his second novel, The White Bridge, to All Things That Matter Press. I'll be surprised if it isn't accepted. His first, Ghost Runners, is probably one of its best sellers. He asked me to write a blurb for the back cover. I edited the book, so only Bob knows it better than I do. Here's what I came up with:
Robert Rubenstein returns. On the heels of his first historical novel, Ghost Runners, which chronicled the chicanery at the 1936 Olympics, comes The White Bridge, which reveals more ugly truths about America from the ‘20‘s to the early ‘60‘s. Part thriller, part expose`, part gothic romance, part farce, part rant, Rubenstein brings dark truths to the light of day. He breathes life into famous figures long gone, puts words in their mouths, calls to account the perpetrators of injustice and collaborators of evil. It is often said: “It could never happen here.” Well, it did, and Rubenstein has captured it in grand style through the eyes of flapper/reporter Ginger Lee Smythe, determined solve the murder of a friend, and athlete/soldiers angered by the Nazi blight.
Good luck, Bob.
My schedule was thrown off today - to good effect. I accompanied Arlynn on a trip to the doctor. She is thrilled she doesn't have to take another mammogram for at least three months. Pressed for time, I didn't set up shop until after three. I don't know what it was - maybe people are giddy that the rain has finally stopped - but I sold a bunch of books in half the time as usual. I even had to hustle over to the car for a woman who was hot for more books on knitting. Thanks, folks.
Are you ready for some football? NFL kicks off tonight, Saints at the Packers.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/7

New York City is showing signs of a return to the violence it suffered in the ‘90s. It’s claim to being the safest big city in America is seriously challenged. I wonder if the economic slump is at its root. During a recent eight day span there were 112 victims of gunshots, 25 died. 105 of the victims were minorities. All the shooters were minorities. And there is silence from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who leap to accuse policeman of murder before all evidence is analyzed. In a way, I feel sorry for them, as they are clueless in how to stop young black males from killing each other at such an alarming rate. Recently, while accompanying my friend Arlynn on a trip to the doctor, I witnessed a heated exchange between the passengers in cars ahead of us. A young man in the back seat of an SUV shaped his hand into the form of a revolver and pretended to fire. I found it hard not to jump to conclusions. If I were a black leader, I’d be tempted to come up with a slogan like: “Spite whitey - stay alive.” Even having a black president has failed to curb this cold indifference to life. Many times the intended target is missed and a bystander killed, the latest a 57-year-old woman sitting on her stoop minding her own business. And, of course, Mayor Bloomberg offered the same tired solution - more gun control. If guns are really the problem, why isn’t the murder rate as high among whites or Asians? Such ugly questions need to be addressed.
It seems the President’s call for civility is being ignored by his supporters. In a speech in the wasteland that Detroit has become, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa said: “…Let’s take these sons of bitches out.” The Motor City has always been run by Democrats. Is Hoffa angry with them? And Vice President Biden also chimed in recently in his inimitable way: “You are the only ones who can stop the barbarians at the gates.” He means those of us who hope to curb the dangerous entitlement mentality created by advocates of unlimited government, who ask: How much is enough, how much is fair? Unions are still needed. Many citizens are terrified of standing on their own, especially in an economy like this. But the past few decades have shown that greed is universal, not confined to the rich. I often see a bumper sticker that reads something like: “Union and Proud of It.” I wonder what would happen if I put one on my car that read: “Non-Union and Proud of It.” I would not risk it for fear of vandalism. One of my most shameful moments came in the my first year of a four-year run as a paraprofessional, a pretentious title for a teacher’s aide, at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn. A woman, smiling broadly, asked if I would like to join the union. When I said no her smile disappeared and she said: “You will join. We will have one hundred percent representation.” I will always be ashamed of not having challenged her. I suppose she would deem the 39% of union members who voted for John McCain in 2008 as traitors.
The soft rain sent me to the shelter of the viaduct, which is not nearly as gloomy since a crew threw a coat of paint on it last week. Thanks to the great-grandma who bought some children's books.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/6

I’m stuck in the apartment today due to rain. An inch per hour is expected at times. Tomorrow doesn’t look much better. To prevent climbing the walls, I’ve started reading JT LeRoy’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Pretty grim so far. I hate any cruelty to children, even in fiction.
I also decided it was time to learn a new song on the guitar. It’s been about two years since I learned Smokey Robinson’s Shop Around, one of about 80 I play. These days I’m so anxious to go out and sell books that my musicianship gets short shift. Although it was never good, it has deteriorated the past few years. One good thing, my hip has healed to the point where I can assume my most comfortable playing position, right leg crossed over left, back straight. I'm even able to hustle across the street without feeling my bones are about to separate. It was about this time last year that it began to hurt.
I chose to learn Sway, composed in 1953 by Pablo Beltran Ruiz. Dean Martin did a version a year later that rose to #16. The superb English lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel, who had several huge hits: Canadian Sunset, Andy Williams’ first #1; the English lyrics to Antonio Carlos Joabim’s jazz standard The Girl from Ipanema; and Roberta Flack’s smash hit Killing Me Softly with His Song.  He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Like many Latin songs, Sway is in A minor. It’s Spanish title is “Quien Sera?” The chords are not hard, but there are many quick changes. I really enjoy the Pussycat Dolls version (2004). Nicole Scherzinger’s sultry vocal is spot on. The imagery is beautiful. The rhythm is dreamy and romantic. Doesn’t everyone fantasize about such connection?
Thanks to - which has provided the chords and lyrics to several of the standards I’ve learned. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t include Cole Porter’s You’re the Top, which I would like to do in the style of Stacy Kent’s bouncy, jazzy version, although I doubt I’d be able to handle the no doubt sophisticated chords at the required speed.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/5

The rain has held off so far. The forecast for the rest of the week is grim. The way business has been lately, I'm not sure it matters. I sold only an Ultimate Sinatra CD, which I burned on my PC, and I went way down in price to make sure I walked away with something today. Later, when the woman who has donated dozens of books on knitting visited and asked if I were interested in other stuff, I told her not to bring too much. She returned an hour later with five Stephen King novels, three of them pristine hardcovers, and a Rachel Ray cookbook, and two other horror novels, but it won't matter if people are not buying. Thanks, folks.
I've known Antonin, Mr. Su Do Ku, for a few years. He always stops and asks how things are going. He is the author of two self-published books. He is a retired engineer who has lived all over the world. I would guess he has a very high IQ. Today he took out his iphone and showed me how a games site has cited his books as references. He wrote his first in England in 1981 and had it published through a printer. It's only 18 pages and long out of print. He has no idea how the website found out about it. As he showed me a picture of the cover, I noted what I thought was a pseudonym - Hans Hollenstein. It turns out that is his real name, not Antonin. I assume he didn't trust me when we first met. He frequently talks about identity theft, how easy it is. He even mentioned it today. I wasn't angry or insulted. I didn't call him on it. I let it go. No harm came from it. After all, what do we really know about each other besides the fact that we enjoy each other's company for a few minutes every now and then. In his heavy Swiss accent, he pronounces my name Wick. He's a good guy. Caution is barely a fault. I was unable to find that site and I don't remember the title of the book, but his second is: Creative Sudoku: Where Logic Meets Creativity. It's listed as "out of print" on Amazon.
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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/3

I was listening to Rita Cosby on the radio yesterday. She was shocked at a recent poll that revealed that one in seven Americans believe the bombing of the World Trade Center was an inside job. Most of those who believe it are young. I don't know what it is about youth that makes one so cynical, perhaps a clash of hormones, but I remember being intrigued by the theory that FDR allowed the bombing of Pearl Harbor to justify a military build up that would end the Great Depression - and that happened nine years before my birth. And, of course, I swallowed every conspiracy theory concerning the JFK assassination. Now, older and, hopefully, wiser, I think anyone over the age of 30 who believes any of our past Presidents would have ordered mass murder isn't far from certifiable. As far as the JFK assassination is concerned, I have not been convinced that anyone but Lee Harvey Oswald was involved. Only one aspect makes me suspect differently - Jack Ruby. Why would he kill Oswald? We will probably never find out. Almost everyone of importance from that era has died. Whenever PBS shows a new documentary on the subject, I tell myself I'm not going to watch it, and I wind up riveted to the TV. For some cockamamie reason, conspiracy theories are fun. I remember how alive our dorm was during the hoax about Paul McCartney's death. The Beatles denied there was a hoax, but a lot of us didn't believe them, even though it would have been impossible to keep such a death secret. Is it so hard to believe the entire phenomenon had started with two fans talking and evolved into the fantastic? We actually called an operator in England and asked to be connected to a number that was supposedly on the cover of Magical Mystery Tour. She thought we were nuts and said something that began: "You Yanks...." And then there are those who deny the Holocaust, even though General Eisenhower had ordered pictures taken to prevent the inevitable denial he foresaw. What a world.
Bad News Billy visited the floating book shop today. No sooner had he said he was $2000 in arrears on his rent than he started rooting around for books for his grandkids. He chose four. I didn't want any money, but he insisted. Even though it was a token sum, I felt guilty. He has treated me so well. I forced an oldies CD I'd burned on him. He drove away blasting Rick Nelson's Travelin' Man, a big smile on his face. It was good to see.
A young woman bought Anita Diamint's The Red Tent, a novel with a biblical basis. And a young Russian mom, an artist, bought some books for her kids. She asked about setting up shop on the street. I told her to go for it.
Thanks, folks.
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/2

Jonathan Kellerman, a Ph.d in Clinical Psychology, is a best-selling author of mysteries. He has written more than 40 books, including non-fiction in his field of expertise. He has won an Edgar, the genre's equivalent of an Oscar. His wife is novelist Faye Kellerman. They are Orthodox Jews. Most of his mysteries feature the same central character. I sampled one of his stand alone books, The Conspiracy Club. I doubt it is representative of his best work. The story is routine except for the depiction of the hero's work as a hospital psychologist who comforts the seriously ill. In fact, the murderer is a minor character, which I liked, as there are more than enough serial killers on TV, in film and in literature these days. The lives of the "club" members were more interesting than the maniac's. The narrative is rife with the run on sentences employed by mystery writers eager to keep a story moving swiftly. I don't mind them. The author uses a lot more commas than I do. They can be bedeviling. At times I sense the question of their usage about to dog me into paralysis by analysis, but I quickly shake it off, remembering the old adage: "When in doubt, leave it out," which I adhere to 95% of the time. In the other instances I succumb in an effort to achieve clarity. The hardcover of The Conspiracy Club is 376 pages, but reads more like 300, as there are blank pages between many chapters. On a scale of five, I rate it two-and-a-half. Please remember that I'm not a fan of mystery novels, so I may be under-rating any I review. I love cinema mysteries, particularly film noir, which require less than a two-hour commitment rather than a full week's. What I enjoy reading about most is the inner lives of people to whom I can relate. 
I brought out a beautiful edition of The Lion King today and, as I expected, it sold, as did another Disney book, another on knitting and two thrillers. Thanks, ladies.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 9/1

The mystery of the disappearance of Waj's gyro stand may have finally been solved. A gentleman told me he believes the business had lost customers since it raised its prices. A similar stand near Coney Island Hospital, eight blocks away, also run by Middle Easterners, has held their prices steady, five for a full plate, three for a wrap. And they have adapted to the clientele, adding Latin touches to their dishes, allowing people more choices. As usual, the modern adage rules: Follow the money.
I learned more about my most faithful customer, Susan. She spends her winters in Thailand, where her sons relocated years ago. One, a successful engineer, longed for a career change. He loved scuba diving and, when an opportunity in that field presented itself there, he took it. A few years later his brother followed and set up a law practice. Each married a Thai woman. Unfortunately, the first passed away suddenly. Susan still feels that crushing loss, as any parent would. Her grandchildren beg her to move there permanently. She won't because Medicare is not transportable. The kids go to an international school where over 50 nationalities are represented, even more than in a typical New York City school these days. She has been stockpiling books for them, including two more she purchased today.
For the second day in a row I brought out a Stephen King novel, The Tommyknockers, for the first time, and had it pounced on immediately. I also was paid by a nice Russian woman whom I let have two cook books on credit a few days ago. She had purchased from the floating bookshop in the past, so I believed she was good for it. Of course, I viewed it as business strategy. And what did I have to lose? The books don't cost me anything. All except mine have been donated.
Thanks, folks.
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