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I wrote reviews for SPIN, an unpublished brunch guide for New York City, covered the death penalty, reviewed books for the New York Law Journal and profiled sports stars for the Jewish Forward.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.
MY RECENT POSTS
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January 11, 2013 03:49AM
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September 11, 2012 11:26AM
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June 19, 2012 03:40AM
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June 13, 2012 01:20AM
- Remembering Robert Quine
May 31, 2012 02:26AM
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- MY LINKS
On Sunday, November 2, the last panels of Opus will parade across the nation’s newspapers and Opus the Penguin will be retired permanently. First seen in Berkeley Breathed’s seminal comic strip Bloom County, Opus has gone on to have the sort of career that I really admire. He/… Read full post »
There are moments in life that allow men to weep without society branding them as weak. The death of your mother, father, spouse or beloved pet are the most common. However, there are scenes in certain films that fall into the same category: Shane, Field of Dreams, Great Expectations, Rudy all… Read full post »
Wall Street has been on a volatile path this week, up 900 points, down 700 points and today up after going down 380 points to begin the session, the Dow finished up 400. For the average investor, it is the beginning of a bear market that threatens to drag the country/… Read full post »
I rarely, if ever, blog on political matters but Tuesday, I awoke to a couple of items on WCBS that made me think both parties were getting over on the populous. I feel the need to mention it now as they just pissed me off and had me wondering how I/… Read full post »
Tonight at sundown began Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Observant Jews will spend this day fasting while in meditation and prayer while asking G-d for forgiveness for their sins and misdeeds of the previous year. However, this isn’t like a Catholic’s trip to the conf/… Read full post »
Last year, I almost married a woman, with whom I had forgettable sex. She was my 'type,' the kind of woman who makes me drool: brown hair, dark eyes, olive skin. When we were having sex, it just wasn't very good, and I was still thinking of marrying her until the… Read full post »
The panic is just beginning to set in. It seems no one knows what is coming next, the paranoia over bank closings, unemployment and the possibility of unrelenting inflation has fallen squarely from the skyline to the streets of Manhattan. The first segment of the economy to take the hit i/… Read full post »
The most fun I have had in the past week was watching Michael Wilbon suffer on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. I admit my shame. Grown adults shouldn’t get any pleasure out of the suffering of another human being. Admittedly, it is our lot, to suffer and to gather what h/… Read full post »
The streets of New York are almost empty, night and day, almost like it’s a holiday weekend. The rush of humanity blustering around, next, through, by you, fierce in it’s determination to get there first, wherever that maybe, has become shy and timid. The last cabbie that blew/… Read full post »
Like millions of Americans, I am currently under-employed. The supposition that I should feel lucky to have some sort of job in these tough economic times keeps running through my mind.
“Any port in a storm,” my friend Roddy O’Hare councils and he’s right.
In May of 2007, I made the mistake of Googling my first love Amanda, now an attorney working for a firm in Midtown. I was in the midst of negotiating the final stages of the break-up with my latest girlfriend as well as other major life changes. Well, it turns out… Read full post »
Last Tuesday, I got a chance to catch up with my buddy Jimmy Fallon at our local bar. He’s been finishing up his film commitments before he begins working on the precursor podcasts to the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon. I found it touching to hear someone else wax poetic, other/… Read full post »
This is a story about a story, an urban myth, and a tall tale. This story wasn’t earned, as Sgt. Brad Colbert said in Generation Kill (miniseries). It was a gift given in a game of calling bullshit and I have been re-telling it as my own for 12 years.
In your average family, there are a couple of coming of age moments, usually revolving around a bar/bat mitzvah, a confirmation, graduation, sweet sixteen or having your first legal drink with your parents. In the Zola family, there were three of these moments: your bar mitzvah, the first time/… Read full post »
The Detroit Lions are a team that never disappoints. They find new ways to lose on a seemingly momentary basis. Yesterday, however, may have been the greatest meltdown American football has ever witnessed. The Lions threw in the towel on the whole 2008 season after the first play fr/… Read full post »
I thought I learned about arrogance from the Old Man.
"Your father admired your arrogance," Jerry Stein said during his eulogy for my father. I sat back and nodded, filled with self satisfaction.
The Old Man was absolutely contemptuous of the surroundings and people in Bloomfield Hills. At the… Read full post »
A buddy of mine was telling me why he broke up with his latest girlfriend the other day. “I took her to Coney Island. First the aquarium, then we went to the freak show, the original Tontino’s and, of course, for a ride on the Cyclone. She seemed weirded out the… Read full post »
One Sunday in May found me aimlessly walking the streets of the Lower East Side, nibbling on a knish and sipping on a coffee. I turned onto Third Street and saw five or six people crowding around a happening of some sort. Ever curious, I pushed into the middle of the/… Read full post »
Rents in New York are outrageous, true. Not a day goes by I don’t hear of another friend, acquaintance or just one more horrible story of someone losing their business or apartment because the rents have tripled. Just two weeks ago, rumors started to swirl around Barfly, a mainstay/… Read full post »
After depositing my stuff at my dorm at 10th Street and Broadway back 21 years ago for my freshmen year matriculation to NYU, my parents took me to the South Street Seaport for lunch and parental advice. Start a checking account, create a budget for yourself, study hard, don’t try to/… Read full post »
The office building at One Hudson Place is a part of the city most people don’t see, at least from the street. Tucked into the corner of Varrick and Watts Streets right where the Holland Tunnel receives cars to speed away to New Jersey, there are only two reasons to be/… Read full post »
I have found purgatory.
(If you are afraid of blaspheme, being struck down by lightning or are convinced that I have completely lost what was left of my sanity, you want to stop reading right now. Otherwise, please read on.)
It was 1:30amish and restless as always, I started… Read full post »