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 I wrote reviews for SPIN, an unpublished brunch guide for New York City, covered the death penalty, reviewed books for the New York Law Journal and profiled sports stars for the Jewish Forward.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.


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MARCH 25, 2011 4:04AM

Miguel Cabrera - The New Bobby Layne. Right Albom?

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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 Birmingham, Michigan’s exclusive Townsend Hotel during which he went home, got into a confrontation with is wife and was taken to the local precinct. Tigers President and GM Dave Dombrowski was forced to retrieve his star player at 6am so he could play in a playoffs deciding series against the Minnesota Twins.

The reaction from the Tigers has been typical of the modern athlete: his teammates are behind him love him etc. Dombrowski claims to be shocked by this turn of events while Tigers manager Jim Leyland promises Cabrera will have the best year of his career. And everyone in Detroit Tigers Nation are keeping their fingers and toes crossed that this incident with a scotch bottle and smoking car engine is just a bump in the road in a larger recovery. After all, if Miguel Cabrera keeps up his current production at the plate over another 4-5 years, he will find himself in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The reaction from the Detroit media, however, is ironic to the point of laughable.The Detroit Free Press’s Mitch Albom claims Cabrera ‘no excuses’ this time while Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News wonders if Cabrera’s career might be ‘on the line. Yes, these are the same questions and gross generalizations we have come to expect of the sensationalist media. So Albom and Wojnowski, Henning, Foster and Sharpe being shocked, SHOCKED I SAY at the alcoholic behavior of a Detroit athlete is to be expected on that level.

However, this is DETROIT and these same columnists who speculate and rankle at the actions, behavior and choices made by the greatest Detroit Tiger slugger sinceHank Greenberg always give the immortal Bobby Layne a pass. Yes, Bobby Laynewas the quarterback who last led last Detroit Lions to glory, winning three of four NFL Championships for the Lions in the mid 1950’s. Layne was also a fall down drunk. My great Uncles Irv and John (among others I’m sure) were employed by the Lions to drink with Bobby the night before a game and get him to either the LIndell AC or Golden Lion, bars located right across from Tiger Stadium, before Michigan’s mandated 2am closing time so they could drink and party after hours.The Lions would come to collect their QB around 7am to sober him up for the 1pm kick off. My great Uncles received tickets to the game as payment for their civic duty.

Would a sober Bobby Layne have won more for the Lions? That is a question that is surely debated by various Lions fans to this day. However, rest assured, the current crop of Detroit gonzo wanna-be reporters would scream to put Layne back on the sauce when the Lions started to lose.

Will a totally sober Cabrera win the Triple Crown and take the Tigers back to the World Series for the first time since 2006? I hope so. However, if a drunk Cabrera can do it better and faster than the sober version, I’m all for loading up his Gatorade bottle with Johnny Walker Blue. And believe me, my fellow Tiger fans feel the same way.

Of course the Detroit sports reporters will be horrified by a drunk Miguel Cabrera swatting dingers 450 feet to the opposite field; and these morally challenged hacks (look up the word plagiarism Albom) will just as quickly demand giving him his medication when he is sober and in a mid season slump.

But hey, they still love Bobby Layne.


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