From the Zola System


New York, New York, USA
January 30
I grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in the Zola System, my father’s philosophy of life. He taught my brothers and me the basic life skills: how to run a street hustle, perpetrate a con or recognize when you were being hustled or conned; information we needed so we could feed our families if another Hitler came to power. My father Aron Zola was a Romanian Jew, a holocaust survivor, a black marketeer, a gun runner, a successful entrepreneur, a true citizen of Detroit. When I was 18, I rebelled against the Zola System and moved to New York City. I was fascinated with cultural heroes – Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and the aesthetic bohemian artist lifestyle that, in my naivete, I thought they lived. Now I see they were working their own hustles on the public, just like the Old Man. Even the Manhattan dating scene runs on the Zola System. To paraphrase Mark Twain, now that the Old Man is dead, I’m shocked how much he learned. I wrote reviews for SPIN, an unpublished brunch guide for New York City, covered the death penalty, reviewed books for the New York Law Journal and profiled sports stars for the Jewish Forward. I have two crime novels and a bartenders guide to New York City that I am trying to sell. After dabbling in so many genres, I finally realized I’d been running from my subject: my father and the Zola System. The Old Man is gone now and I am his eldest son carrying on as he wanted me to do. This was not supposed to happen.


Alexzola's Links

JANUARY 11, 2013 3:49AM

How To Act Like A Modern Gentleman

A few weeks back Heidi Cuda, producer extraordinaire for Fox 11 Los Angeles and arbiter of Southland cultural mores, asked me to write a blog entitled ‘How to be a Gentleman.’  Talk about an easy assignment; throw in a little bit about holding doors, buying flowers and/… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 11:26AM

Bartending Through A Moment In History

I woke up at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 to my Klaxon alarm clock wailing away. For some reason, I had fallen asleep on my couch the night before while reading Practical Homicide. An NYPD detective had given it to me so I could ensure that the novel I had writtenRead full post »

JUNE 19, 2012 3:40AM

How I Got My Father's Approval

Bonding moments with a parent usually occur at a young age; playing catch, tuning up a car, fixing the house, knitting are examples of how parents bond with their children while giving them a skill for success.  When I was 10 or so, I desperately wanted that wholesome bonding moment with… Read full post »

JUNE 13, 2012 1:20AM

The Old Man Meets Johnny Cash

My father loved music, Latin rhythms, crooners, classical symphonic compositions by Beethoven, Chopin, Stravinsky; essentially anything of the European old school or anything American one could dance to on a Saturday night.  He hated the music his sons loved: rock and roll.  Elvis, the Beat… Read full post »

MAY 31, 2012 2:26AM

Remembering Robert Quine

Times have changed.  It used to be I’d crawl to the corner to find a cup of coffee, a copy of the New York Post and a bagel every morning while cursing the man who invented 8am and weaving in and out of the fashionable dressed men and women on their way to/… Read full post »

MAY 29, 2012 4:01AM

The Rabbinic Version Of Hell

Hell, Hades, Damnation, where the souls of the believers and non-believers alike go final punishment, for obvious reasons, has never been mapped but there are many different versions of the Netherworld available to the religious consumer demanding education.

Hieronymus Bosch created wonderfully/… Read full post »

MAY 15, 2012 4:37AM

Incinerating Chivalry

One of the first things a bartender learns to recognize is the dreaded first date.  The awkward pauses and weird body language give it away to the average pub voyeur but the barman/maid learns to read the other signs; the initial handshake instead of hug and cheek kiss and lack of… Read full post »

I have a new friend.

Most of you know this friend as, perhaps, he’s your friend as well.  My new friend is located at the top right hand corner of my keyboard and he goes by the name of Delete Button.  I find the button useful when writing to you dear… Read full post »

MARCH 22, 2012 3:03AM

The Fashionable Assassin - Yalie #2

Tuesday, I found a strange note on my outer door.  It was hard to miss among the multi-colored business cards left in the black metal grates – a wonderful script written in black ink on cerulean blue paper.  It read as follows:

I read your blog.  My former partner was mistaken.&nRead full post »

MARCH 16, 2012 3:40AM

My Sweet Mystery

There are certain songs you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try.  Be it Cartman’s obsession with ‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx or my occasionally terminal desire to listen to ‘They Don’t Know’ by Tracy Ullman, any song that fl/… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 3, 2012 4:01AM

The Second Worst Drug Dealer In America

There was a period in time when I believed there couldn’t be the absolute best at a given act.  For example: baseball.  Was Ruth better than Cobb or was Mays better than both are eternal questions argued loudly in bars all over the country, the Dominican, Japan and parts of Canada.&nbRead full post »

JANUARY 6, 2012 3:18AM

Fluoride, Tattoos And Teeth

My jaunt through the new Las Vegas and down into the Los Angeles metropolitan area has provided me with a glimpse into a seemingly important yet incongruous fact not readily available to the casual observer: here in the western US tattoos appear to outnumber teeth.  This isn’t just in the… Read full post »

At this point in the Great Recession, the crash of the housing market due to the Sub Prime mortgage bubble is still causing the vast angst among Americans.  Foreclosures, the lack of available credit and the drop in value of real estate are all driving the average consumer to distraction.&n… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 23, 2011 2:32AM

Assassination Is No Excuse



The right man for these trying times.  Read full post »

NOVEMBER 18, 2011 2:14AM

Lou Reed's LuLu Calms The Savage Corgi

I’ve said it many times and it bears repeating here: if it weren’t for Lou Reed I would have gone to the University of Michigan and would at this moment be a Detroit lawyer with an ulcer negotiating over the ruins of a once great city instead of your occasionally intrepid blogge/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 21, 2011 3:20AM

Pay To Play In Detroit

The Old Man walked into the house on a glorious early spring day the early 1980’s with a wicked grin on his face.  Usually when my Father was sporting that sort of smile, the evenings tip at the track would be sure to pay long odds: 15-1 minimum.

“Judy, I gaveRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 4:56AM

The Shylock Business - My Fallback Position

I understand how current college graduates must feel.  Much like 2011, 1991 was not a good year to enter the workforce.  With my newly minted BA from NYU, a few writing credits from SPIN Magazine and an infinite amount of chutzpah, I hit the New York pavement and quickly foun/Read full post »

AUGUST 2, 2011 4:36AM

Buying A Kennedy Killer

I like to be sold.

I like to walk into a clothing store, a car lot, a wine store, real estate office, bar or restaurant and watch a knowledgeable professional salesperson move me towards what I should want, not what I asked for.  There is something comforting knowing a class ofRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 25, 2011 3:34AM

Amy Winehouse And The Sure Poison Of Celebrity Rehab

The news hit the wires around 10am this morning.  Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home of an apparent drug overdose.  She was 27 years old.

This came as no surprise to anyone.  Winehouse had been at the top of many Rock and Roll dead pools since 2008.&nbs/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 8, 2011 1:38AM

Some Advice For Roger Clemens

I’ve never liked Roger Clemens.  Actually, since he broke into the Bigs back in 1984, I’ve found reason to actively despise the man.  He broke in with the Red Sox.  He always seemed to kick the shit out of the Tigers with many double-digit strikeout perf/Read full post »

JULY 8, 2011 1:38AM

Some Advice For Roger Clemens

I’ve never liked Roger Clemens.  Actually, since he broke into the Bigs back in 1984, I’ve found reason to actively despise the man.  He broke in with the Red Sox.  He always seemed to kick the shit out of the Tigers with many double-digit strikeout perf/Read full post »

JUNE 3, 2011 2:44AM

Furher Mike And The Obama Condom

There is a new rage in prophylactics.  Not a Trojan or the nameless brands to be found in the local Circle K, bodega or 7-11.  No, this condom brand comes with great tag lines and instant name recognition and a picture of a warm smile we’ve all grown to know all so well.&nbs/Read full post »

MAY 13, 2011 2:50AM

I Met Iggy Pop

The Knitting Factory is considered one of New York’s finest concert venues.  From it’s original iteration on the SoHo side of Houston and Mott Streets, with it’s brilliant progressive Happy Hour (drinks started in the cents at 4pm and worked their way up to full price by 7) ope… Read full post »

APRIL 8, 2011 12:24AM

Why I Like Angry Birds

The puzzle destruction video game Angry Birds has become an international sensation. Initially created for the iPhone and iPad, the games popularity has forced the Rovio, the games maker, to include the Droid, Palm and Sony Play Station 3 platforms as well.  The game is so popular/Read full post »


Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, perennial AL MVP candidate and hitter nearly without peer (only Albert Pujols is better) was cited for DUI Wednesday night in Fort Pierce, Florida. The 28 year old has been sober for nearly a year and a half after an October 2009 incident at B/Read full post »