Our wedding took place in a large deli-restaurant catering hall (Segals) in the heart of the Garter Belt Garment
District on 37th Street and 7th Avenue--in fact a few blocks from the Purgatory of the Veteran’s Welfare Center
where I had secured my first caseworker position three years previously. It was a Jewish Wedding Factory because on
the day of our wedding there were several others going on at the same time plus a few funerals for variety’s sake.
The wedding was basically a drag. Some distant relatives came up from the graveyards of Albany but my mother did
not. This angered Sue for she thought it was something personal which it was not. I had mentioned about two
hundred pages ago that my mother never took trips away from home so why should she want to travel to New York
City? To travel to New York would have been topologically as well as psychologically upsetting and impossible for her.
My father came with my two bedraggled sisters. Also present and accounted for were Evelyn’s second husband, “Con
Man” Sam Seidenberg (whom she had married about a year before our wedding) my Aunt Rose “The Hose” and her
son Cousin “Cliché” Irwin LaVine. “Suave” Sanford Levin “the Prussian Prig” and his big busted wife “Baby” Ruth
showed up. Naturally Sue invited her childhood sweethearts Ruthie and Rachel. My best “fella” was Louie
On the day of the wedding, for appearance sake and since we were already living together, Sue stayed at her mother’s
house in Brooklyn and I stayed at Sue’s 84th street penthouse. I got stoned on a thousand joints of grass and was so
smashed by the time I arrived I could not remember the names of my relatives to introduce them to Sue’s relatives. I
would walk up to them with my Cary Grant smile and begin the festivities with, “well, let me see, yes I think this is
Sanford somebody. I’d like to reintroduce you to what’s his name. But I don’t know what’s his name...”
I could not even remember who my father was. They all stared at me with a kind of angry, dazed, shell shocked
look. They did not quite know what to make of it. Even “Sad” Saint Sue did not realize that I was stoned until I got
half way down the aisle and pissed in my pants. I marched down the last mile with that same "Gone With The Wind"
smile plastered across my face which I had had that night when I met Sue at the Greenwich Village party. I had
shaved my beard for this occasion. I was thin and gaunt, about 135 lbs. short of my Richard The Lion Hearted Nixon
fighting weight. In a few years, on Sue’s Jewish pasta, I would shoot up to the 165-170 lb. range which is normal for a
5 foot 10 inch frame.
Ruthie came with some of her long haired Puerto Rican pupils and her boyfriend Ronnie, the Director of Phoenix
House. The event turned out to be multi-ethnic street festival farce. I spent most of the day reading Alan Turning’s
thoughts on computers--"Mind or Machine?"
Sue and I were going to spend our honeymoon night in a hotel in New York before returning for a week to the scene
of my Masters’ crimes, Niagara Falls. Then the plan was to reenter U. of B., finish my Masters, get a job and live
happily ever after. However, the night of our Iguana honeymoon was to symbolize the real direction that our
relationship was going to take. We had all of our clothes stolen from our car, including a wedding present of a pound
of Grass from “Redoubtable” Ruthie. We had only left the car for a half an hour and when we returned it had been
ransacked and the clothes off our backs and the grass gone en-masse. Instead of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel
Sue and I retreated to the hotel room.
The honeymoon at Niagara Falls didn’t fare much better. Since Sue and I had already been living with each other for
a year, we both knew we were not cut out for marriage. We actually had a discussion on our honeymoon about divorce
but we were both too lazy and too ashamed to admit failure so soon so we decided that it was easier to stay together for
the time being.
Previous to our marriage I had taught Sue how to drive a la Bell Auto School’s style. She got her license and bought a
brand new red Volkswagen convertible which we named “Rosy”. Once, during our premarital relationship, Sue
decided that she would go off to Europe for the summer and she left Rosy with me. I had an experience not unlike the
one that I had had in the Arctic. One weekend I took her car to the beach at Gravesend south of Coney Island to
meditate on the ocean currents. When I came out of my reverie’s stupor the tide had risen to the door handles.
Some Coney Island Beach Buoy Schmucks helped me push the car to safety for safety’ sake. Due to the salt water
the car never ran the same again. Subsequently that Volkswagen had two engine replacements and although Sue
thought it was due to the corrosive effect of the salt water I maintained that the engines were originally defective from
the factory. Why Not?
Notwithstanding this, after our honeymoon, we find ourselves ensconced in the bottom floor flat of a two family house
in Amherst, New York which is much nearer U. of B.’s Amherst Campus. I go back to check into the Philosophy
Department and ole Dr. Paul “The Metaphysical Faustian” Kurtz is on his way up the ladder of academia and head of
the Department. He is also Editor-in-Chief of THE HUMANIST that purported to have as its main function the
debunking of astrological and para-normal databases and the rejection of the Heliocentric Universes with a subsequent
return to the Ptolemaic viewpoint. I stopped by to let him know that the late Marty Lewis had returned. I entered his
office in a flourish, with my Edgar Alan Poe Cape, cane, black Gene Autry cowboy hat and declared my intentions.
Kurtz: “Where have you been?” Marty: “Oh, just out for a cup of coffee down in Greenwich Village?” Kurtz: “Well,
that’s too bad. Since you left we have established a Quota System. So many blacks, so many Chicanos, so many
wildebeasts, so many Indians, so many Indian Givers, so many Grave Diggers, so many Yankee Fans, so many
Elephants, so many Nerds, so many Prostitutes and so many Draft Dodgers. We’re over our quota of white ding
bats.” Marty: “Sounds like your casting for Noah’s Ark II”. I didn’t blink an eyelash because I could have cared less
about returning to U. of B. If I had really wanted to return I could have sued my way back in.
I went home and told Peggy Sue. Sue flew into one of her pre-hysterical end of the world routines of the Jewish
Princess variety. She mumbled something in her ranting and ravings about me promising to come to Buffalo to
complete my Masters and then to secure a cushy sinecure teaching position.
It was incumbent upon me to get a job quickly because we couldn’t afford to go back to New York. A few weeks later
Sue found out she was pregnant. We talked it over and both agreed unconditionally that we can’t afford, nor did we
want a baby now. Three years previous to this pregnancy, Sue had had an illegal abortion but this time it could be
done legally, at the local hospital, by saline injection; because the new abortion law had just been put on the books.
I saw an ad in the Classified Section of the newspaper for a driving instructor. The reason it caught my undivided
attention was that it was also a tractor-trailer school. Here was my chance to fulfill my lifelong fantasy of driving a
tractor-trailer. I was thrilled to my groin. Woe be to Sue.
I went down to answer the ad in the Warsaw Polish Ghettos of South Buffalo and discovered TONY’S TRACTOR-
TRAILER DRIVING SCHOOL painted across a disheveled store front. Tony “Baby Face” Abadulla was a shriveled up
retired local Mafia "Second Story Man". Sue never liked him for she thought he was exploiting me because I made a
deal to teach driving while he or his henchman would teach me the tractor-trailer. Sue had no idea that I was
getting out of the situation exactly what I wanted because the usual cost for this instruction was over $1,000.
I taught Tony’s Polish Italian students and his henchman took me out in the school’s old rickety-dickety five speed
gas rig. I remember what a thrill it was to finally find myself behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. I flunked the first
test because a dumb ass inspector made me park between two cars! There is no way in the world that anyone in his
right mind would parallel park a tractor-trailer between two cars. Such parallel modalities are okay in the plurality of
universe theory but not in the hurly-burly of real time traffic. All you had to do was pull your frigging rig up along the
side of the road, flip on the blinkers and fuck the world! On the second try I outdid myself and secured the Class 1
License. Naturally Sue went berserk. It was quite a come down in six months from a prospective college professor to
a truck driver but the worst was yet to come. There was also the fact that so far there was little or no pay involved.
She had thought she had married a published poet, a philosopher scholar and potential university Department Head.
Yet here I was circumnavigating the gold paved streets of South Buffalo. As for me, I’m happier than a pig in shit. I
felt like a six year old kid with a 30,000 pound sand box beneath me. Now that I had my Class I License what was I
going to do with it? (Sound familiar?!) At this time, times were tough in the trucking industry. There had been a
recent Union uprising, independent wild cat driver uprisings, widespread violence on the highways and byways and
things in general were dangerous for truck drivers. In order to go over-the-road one had to have at least a Ph.D. in
experience. I was forced to go local. I finally came up with a driver’s job with ACME Food Markets. It was a night job
which further infuriated Sue because we never got to see each other. Sue would drop me off at midnight and I would
return the next morning. The job was fun once I got the hang of it. The part I didn’t like about it was the loading and
unloading. That’s one of the major differences between over-the-road work and local jobs. Of course the former
position also receives a higher rate of pay.
I remember my first early morning on the job. I went to ACME’s warehouse to pick up my truck at 2 in the morning.
Lucky for me nobody was around except the night-shift warehouseman. I backed my tractor under this big-eyed meat
trailer and no sooner had I gotten under when I violated Commandment No. 1 of the Truck Driver’s Manual. “Thou
shalt not forget to check on all air hose connections and double check for a solid hookup.” One did this by applying
the brake and then pushing on the gas pedal to check and make sure the trailer was securely hooked up.
I’m so excited about my first run that I simply put the transmission into first gear and stomped on the gas. At first
silence. Then an excruciating crash and 20 tons worth of ACME meat trailer test the restraining strength of the
Barbie dolly wheels. Then a feeling of extreme disgust. After recovering from the initial shock I look around
sheepishly and through the rear view mirror I see the horny warehouseman come storm trooping out of his cubicle.
He calms down when he finds out that I’m a virgin driver and tells me that I’m lucky that nobody’s around. He
hastens to get a special tractor that is hydraulically designed for such cordial emergencies--a tractor that can stoop to
conquer underneath the sunken trailer and raise it up on the forlorn magnet connection of my tractor. I pull away a
little wiser and happier.
I succumb to a regular routine of traveling back and forth to a string of supermarkets between Rochester and Buffalo,
making a series of serious deliveries at each stop. I stop and dawdle at all the truck diners and eat breakfast with
other truckers. Everyone’s half asleep so not much talking goes on. That’s the way I want it. The only miserable
part of the job is unloading. The heaviest unloading occurred once a week when we would team up to haul meat. Here
I was a 125 lb. weakling throwing around 250 lb. Texas steers. After awhile I got toughened up and got the hang of the
One day I was assigned to this big White Horse Diesel Electric 10 speed forward meat truck and together with another
driver commenced the run. He thought I knew how to drive this type of vehicle but previous to this occasion my only
experience had been with “Terrible” Tony’s archaic five speed gas job. As soon as we got into traffic I stalled out
because in those trucks if you miss one gear in the forward sequence you have to stop the truck in the middle of the
roaring road and start the sequence all over again. The other driver turned out to be a cool head and when he saw that
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and to keep from getting killed, talked me through the sequence. By the time
I arrived in Rochester I was quite adept at the White Whorehouse Diesel.
After six months of this douche bag routine I became pretty expert at wheeling around the rigs and whipping down the
highways and byways of Buffalo proper. It turned out that the feeling pretty well matched the Fantasy Island of my
childhood projections. It was a sheer delight of absolute power, on the empty streets, early in the morning, running
through the gears or down shifting all the way to first as I descended the winding ramps that led to the City of The
Devil. Especially exhilarating were the 80 mph rides without the trailer hooked up and watching all the cars give way
as you approached them.
There was one other major mishap in my tractor-trailer career for ACME. It happened one cloudy day at a
supermarket outside of Rochester. I pulled away from the dismal loading docks and forgot to pull up my dolly wheels.
I can still recall the wheezy, blackboard scratching noise the dolly’s made as they scraped over the concrete siding of
the loading docks. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw this prissy manager screaming obscenities. “Oh” I said to
myself, “that’s what you get for making me dust off shelves and instead of letting me stand around with my hands in
my pockets playing with my dildo. Up yours!!!” I stepped on the gas for I wanted to see what these dollies were made
of. I discovered they were pretty tough. They lasted all the way to Buffalo. I was too lazy to pull over and wheel them
up. I hadn’t had so much fun since the days when I used to bash Madonna gold fish heads. When I got back to the
warehouse I told the warehouseman that some teenagers thought the Dolly Wheels were spherical hubcaps and stole
them while I went for coffee. He bought it without blinking an eyelash. But my truck driving days were numbered
one by one.
Sue and I decided it was about time to move back to Titty City. God has had it! The cats Byron and Shelley have just
about had all of Buffalo they could consume in one meal. The loathsome landlord has had it because he smugly thinks
we are responsible (and he was right) for the post digital operated, “spindly” roaches that have begun to appear in
their domicile. The torn up furniture has had it from Byron and Shelley’s scratching the living stuffing’s out of it.
But most of all I’ve had it with the low pay, Rodney Dangerfield, no respect attitude of the local entrepreneurial
managerial yokels and with no prospect of over-the-road work. About a year into our Sacred Heart marriage, Saint
Susan and I decide to grab the cats, seize the day and get the hell out of Buffalo!
NEW YORK: “TITTY” CITY
I sent Saint Susan ahead to scout for an apartment on the West Side of Manhattan. A week later Sue calls back
informing me that for a reasonable king’s ransom she has secured a small studio on West 75th Street off Central
I rented a U-Haul and packed our roach infested belongings apace. When I got the truck fully loaded I went back to
get our cats Byron and Shelley. I became careless for a few seconds. I left the truck’s door slightly ajar and Byron
and Shelley, scared out of their literary wits, gleefully scampered off into the wild west “Buffaloian” night. I made a
perfunctory rectal search of the grounds but couldn’t find them. Deep down where it undoubtedly counts, I felt kind
of relieved because with our decreasing financial reserves they were becoming somewhat of a burden. Besides, they
never flushed the kitty litter.
Once ensconced in the safe confines of New York City, Sue fresh from her “Buffaloian” abortion, returns to the
working brigade. She contacts the Board of Education and lands a superb teaching position. The job is in the ghettos
of the South Bronx and a few blocks from the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Our place on 75th Street and Central Park
West was a delight. It was convenient to everything of importance on the West Side but most appreciated was its
proximity to Woody Allen (pre-scandals) and Central Park itself.
There were always free festivals of every conceivable ethnic nature taking place. It was an excellent place to “turn
on” and lie under the ethnic sun or have an ethnic rainbow coalition picnic lunch. At night we would wander over to
the Park and see a free professional showing of one of Shakespeare’s dreary plays under the auspices of the City’s
free Shakespeare in the Park Summer Series. Or better still, catch a free glimpse of Barbara Streisand’s and Simon
and Garfunkle’s panties as they descended from a helicopter to give free concerts in the East Side’s Performance Shell.
I apply my hands for a few months as a foot messenger and then decide to get my Hack License. I am employed by a
series of cab companies on the West Side of Manhattan where most of the cab companies have their warehouses.
I began working the night shift because that’s where they tell me the money is. Since I’m not the typical hustling cab
driver (I don’t think the hustlers made a decent living either) I never made any money day or night!
One night when I am going around and around in Pythagorean Circles, I enter the theater district and pick up a group
of stars from the old “To Tell The Truth” quiz program headed by Bennett Serfdom and his probable mistress of the
moment, Dorothy Kilgalen. I drive them a few blocks and drop them off at a restaurant. As soon as they exit a thin
fairly well dressed weirdo black man in a trench coat rushes in before I can pull away from the curb. The vibrations
immediately tell me something’s wrong but it’s too late.
In order to alleviate my anxiety he is extremely polite and very talkative. I detect beads of sweat on his forehead and
all the way uptown I’m sure this is going to be a robbery and that he’s a drug addict in need of a fix. He tells me to
drive to the Columbia University campus area. In retrospect I realized that his manner was expressly designed to
alleviate my anxieties. We arrive at our destination but then he tells me to go down this poorly lit street with hardly
any street lights. Then we make a turn into a street which has no street light at all. Now I know that I’m in trouble.
His attitude has completely changed and he starts to issue orders more gruffly and menacingly.
He dramatically pulls his hand from his trench coat and wrapped around his hand is a paper bag with what appears to
be a gun inside. It could also be his outstretched index finger with a built-in erection but I’m in no position to
challenge it for he has it behind my ear. He tells me to stop, hand over the driver’s money box and my own wallet or
he’ll blow my head off. He rummages through the wallet, leaves the change and papers intact and confiscates the
bills. To my surprise he returns the wallet and the box with the change still intact. He comments that I may need the
change for the rest of the night and he wouldn’t want to leave me without any. He sees no reason to keep my private
papers. He instructs me to turn around and don’t look back for five minutes. For an instant I thought he shot me but
the click is only the door of the cab opening and closing. He makes a hasty exit from the cab and disappears into the
caverns of the indifferent Manhattan night.
I sit there for a few minutes regaining my composure and realize that had that drug addict not found what he wanted
and had that actually been a gun in the bag my life could have ended right there in this junkie’s fit of rage for a quick
fix. As it was all he got was $37. I’m thinking to myself how I earn less than $150 a week for 10 hour shifts and am
risking my life. The hell with it! I resolved right then and there to quit the night shift and go on to days.
Every week in the papers there were stories how cabbies were driven to lonely spots and executed merely for being cab
drivers. Let’s face it, the taxi driving profession is on the bottom of the list of the ten most despised jobs. I still see
forty years after this incident, in my imagination’s imagination, the beads of sweat pouring from his forehead and that
panicked, tortured black face. I can still see clearly the abandoned Columbia University Street and the brown paper
bag pointed at my head. That night my life could have ended senselessly for $37. When I fully recovered from the
emotional turmoil of being almost dead, I went to the nearest police precinct which was on 125th Street in the heart of
Harlem’s crime district.
At night this precinct office is a criminally insane zoo. This is the area where most of the violent street crime is
committed on a daily basis. I felt foolish for even reporting what would seem to them a silly incident when compared
to the range of crimes that they would be dealing with that night--a few dollars lost and no bodily injury. But I’m
there and so I dutifully report the crime with the attending paperwork probably ending up in File 13.
I went back to the night dispatcher and reported it to him and he made a report in a matter-of-fact Danny DeVito
manner. To him this was just the price of doing business in the Rotten Apple. But that’s not how I felt. Since I hadn’t
made that much money I saw no reason not to shift to the day shift. In any event I drove six more months in ever
widening concentric circles and then there was a dramatic change in our geographical circumstances.
In the late winter of 1971 I received a letter from the State Bank of Albany informing me that now that I was out of
school, I would have to repay them $6,000 for school loans. The notice gave me forty eight hours to pay up or else. As
I mentioned, at that time I was not making anything. Sue’s check just about covered rent and food. I am ignorant of
collection agency dodging practices and so I panic. Since I don’t have prospects for increasing my income in the next
half century, I make a decision that the best way to keep the financial pressure off is to dump the loans. From the
psychological perspective I am also a little more than pissed that I have a BA in English/Philosophy and 30 credits
towards my Masters and here I am working as a cab driver. Even though I’m to blame for my situation because I let
slip some golden opportunities with Pan American, The Army and the Weather Bureau; it was still hard to swallow
that I’m stuck in dead end pursuits. The poetry book, THE DISORDERED SPRING represented about half of the debt
outstanding. That project certainly should have been avoided. I was also not responding very well to the direct
pressure of the bank demanding the note in full. By this time Sue discovered that she was pregnant again. I look up
a bankruptcy scam artist in the Wall Street area and he extorts $450 from me just to file. About three months later,
in 1972, I file Chapter VII. Much later I learned that for less than $50 I could have done the same thing the lawyer
Since I haven’t been doing any writing for about two years I started to play around with the rather absurd notion that
since I’m not all that good at writing, maybe it would be a good idea for me to represent other writers as agent and
open up my own agency, procure writing projects, raise venture capital (that’s a joke, for I can’t even raise $6,000 to
pay off my own debts) act as a Finder for various oddball requests such as raising a billion dollars for investors who are
thinking of starting up a city in the middle of the ocean (off Atlantis actually) so that when the oil boom in the ocean
begins they would have control of the traffic lanes. Needless to say I didn’t raise a dime for that or any other project
as a Finder.
One day Sue’s childhood friend Rachel P., employed at The Equitable and her husband, Ira “The Communal” P., came
to visit and off-handedly suggested a delightful place in the wilds of Westchester County’s boondocks--Croton-On-Thy-
Hudson, New York-- complete with stone walls and fireplace that is being vacated by a friend of hers and will soon be
up for rent. We decide to go and look at it and it is a delightful place tucked away in the forest that is encompassed by
Truesdale Drive a few short blocks from the majestic Hudson itself. It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the
City yet only a 45 minute car ride for Sue into her teaching job and only an hour’s ride for me into my latest taxi job
by a comfortable air conditioned Amtrak Train.
The first night in our Croton rented estate was a significant change of pace for the both of us. We actually could hear
the crickets chirping according to the old weather lore formula that said their chirping speed directly reflects the
increase and decrease of humidity in the air and the lower and higher air pressure fluctuations. This fact enables the
observer to predict the approach of low and high pressure areas. And chirp they did that first soft mid-summer’s
night. It was quite a future shock compared to the ceaseless cosmic big bang radiation background noise of the
caverns of Manhattan. The silence, except for the New Age insect sounds, was deafening and the first few nights it was
difficult to get to sleep.
We moved into the bottom flat of the two story home which was actually a smaller residence of a much larger
adjoining stone house occupied by other tenants and the noble landlords, the Seniors. The entire complex was
formerly a high class, high society restaurant Speakeasy called the Mikado Inn which flourished in the late 20’s and
30’s. During The Depression Era it was a favorite hangout for the bootlegging bootstrapped gangsters from Bronx and
Manhattan. The caretakers of the property who lived upstairs were the Edwards, an elderly retired couple.
Mr. Edwards was somewhat of a local historian. He had worked for over forty years on the Hudson Harlem Railroad
Line and knew the area’s history as well as anyone in Croton. He had put together a sketch book of the area and
when he heard that I had dabbled in “agentry banditry” he dutifully showed it to me. Croton-On-Thy-Hudson was
noted for its art and literary colonies of the previous generation and many of the F. Scott Fitzgerald and Great Gatsby
rich and famous had found their way to the shores of Croton. It was close enough to commute to the artistic enclaves
in the City yet far enough away in the country to give a semblance of peace and quiet. It bequeathed its special gift of
time to absorb the breathtaking scenery of the lower Hudson.
Croton was the home of the large switching depots. This was the place where all the transfers took place for trains
headed north to Poughkeepsie Sakes or further up the Hudson to Albany and then on into Canada. The railroad
industry was already in its steady decline towards bankruptcy. The village had become a bedrock bedroom community
of commuters to Wall Street. Amtrak Lines was in the process of refurbishing the railroad operations in the mid and
late 70’s, but the old switching warehouse that was home to thousands of trains and Hart Crane hobos was to remain
in a state of disrepair. It was never used again as it had been earlier in the century. From the opposite direction,
towards Albany, came the endless procession of railroad freight trains that stacked up for miles north of Croton as
they waited their turn to enter the New York City Terminals at the Grand Central Switching Yard. These freight
trains came from all points of the Far West, Mid-West and Deep Shit South.
Mr. Edwards went on to impart the history of the infamous Mikado Inn. He told us that Oscar Levant, the pianist, as
well as other celebrities entertained there. During the 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s most of the heavyweight kingpins
from Organized Crime, if in hot pursuit by local and federal law enforcement agencies, would make clandestine
weekend stop-overs or hole up there until the heat was over. Originally a Japanese Pagoda topped the buildings but
was destroyed during World War II by a bigoted array of enraged local residents. They saw the pagoda as a symbol of
the Far Eastern Evil Empire.
The Mikado Inn’s foundations had been built from the stone carted from the Croton Dam Quarry that had originally
been ferried from Italy at the turn of this century. The Croton Da-Da Dam, and its accompanying reservoir system
stretching up to Yorktown Heights and beyond was used as the back up water supply for New York City. It was
shipped down by pipe to the Kensico Dam where it was filtered and then put into holding pen reservoirs of North
Bronx. It would lie there in storage to be used in case of an emergency. It was called upon more than once during the
droughts of the early 1980’s.
The owners of the Mikado Inn were a country Japanese husband and wife team. When the Second World War broke
out, their property was confiscated by the government and they were conveniently hustled away to spend their
remaining retirement years in a concentration camp in the West. The pagoda was destroyed but the grounds and
houses remained intact with the original stone and woodwork, large fireplaces, servant’s quarters and eating areas
surviving to this day. The courtyard presided over a haunting wispy slip of a small stream, Silver Lake, that
regretfully eventually emptied into the Hudson River. In the 1970’s the Mikado Inn was officially made a Historical
Landmark by the Town of Croton Father-In-Laws.
Even at Croton-On-Hudson, we never successfully solved our cockroach problem because it wasn’t long before they
started to make cameo appearances in the Edward’s upstairs apartment. This was part of the reason, a year later, that
Sue and I were asked to move our bottoms to the bottom flat of the house next door which was two floors below the
Seniors’ apartment. There, on the Nordica Drive side, when you opened the door you would immediately face the
enchanted forest of Silver Lake. With the birth of our first son, “Bethlehem” Robby Lauren Lewis in 1973, we saw
the need for more room. When the apartment next to the Seniors’ apartment became available we moved in there for
two years until Sue became pregnant with our daughter “Patty Hearst” Tania Pearl Lewis. The Seniors, at that point,
didn’t want anymore juniors or seniors living next to their bedroom and so we reluctantly had to vacate the Mikado
Inn and transport ourselves over to the one apartment complex in Croton at the time, Bari Manor.
All of the above transition gibberish from Manhattan to Westchester County is necessary to set the stage for my
entrance into the freelance, literary agent phase of my disjointed career. Enter again Rachel “Rescue P. who invites
Sue and I to a party in their newly purchased Brooklyn Co-Op in the Park Slope District of Brooklyn.
At the party was one of Rachel’s college buddies who had gone on to law school, had just graduated but was still in the
process of preparing for the Bar Exam. Butch Rosynuts who happened to have secured a project from a publishing
house that he wasn’t at all equipped to undertake. He was to write law books for American Legal Publications, a law
review publisher in Irvington-On-Thy Hudson. He was looking for a diplomatic way to dump the project without
leaving the publisher in the lurch.
Enter Ghost Writer Martin Lewis. I told him that I would be happy to ghost write the books for him. “I would go and
visit the publisher and tell him that I’ve become your agent and that you’re too busy to travel back and forth from
Manhattan with weekly progress reports on his books. I would act as a go-between”. Butch buys my idea. Everybody’s
happy. It gets Butch off the hook. The publisher will be happy as long as the product is presentable and I’m happy
with my first large freelance assignment.
I admit, it may be a little unusual, to say the least, when a freelance writer ends up farming off his work to an agent.
This project consisted of writing legal summaries or review books for the law students who did not feel like reading the
actual textbooks. At the time there were two competing companies for the business out there and they were American
Legal Publications and Blackstone out of California. Blackstone by far was the more popular and successful of the two
but American Legal was giving them a run for their money. American Legal also published other non-fiction titles
such as music books, photo books and other expensive coffee-table productions. But their bread and butter books
were the review books. They also maintained their distributor, Universal Law Books, situated in the Woolworth
Building in downtown Manhattan. Often I would have to hustle down to Universal and get certain law books that I
Mr. Harvey, the publisher of American Legal, was a 60ish, roundly balding, editor type. He was determined to
continue to keep American Legal as the leader in the field on the East Coast. Two weeks after the Rosenfeld party, I
put on my best looking Scam Man suit that I could muster from my dungaree littered wardrobe and made an
appointment to see Harvey under the pretext that Butch was sick and could not make this meeting.
I waltzed into Harvey’s Buckout Street warehouse on the riverfront of Irvington-On-Thy-Hudson in complete control
of my scam. I look directly into Harvey’s bald face sitting there in his leather chair awash in unread manuscripts. I
tell him I’m Butch’s agent and that Butch no longer has the time or the inclination to travel back and forth for
editorial meetings. Harvey mumbles something under his breath about Butch just being out of law school becoming
high and mighty and getting an agent. Then he sits back and listens to my wild story that I weave strictly for his
benefit. At first glance Harvey is angry because he expected to deal face-to-face with his writer. I spend the next hour
convincing him that that’s not necessary. I’ll see to it that all the material will get to him on time, camera ready for
Finally Harvey reluctantly agrees and I waltz backwards out of American Legal with my first freelance long range
project. It was quite a coup snaring this account out of thin air, especially in light of the fact that technically attorneys
were supposed to be writing these books. The deal struck was a lucrative one, $1,000 for every book. The books
usually ran 100 pages. I’d figured I could turn out one a month or perhaps two. A lucrative side project was a second
set of books that American Legal turned out which were two to four line summaries of major Decisions and Dissents.
That let me add an additional $1,000 a month to my income for only a half a day’s work.
In short, it became obvious to me that the most tricky part of the scam were the occasions when “Hard Boiled” Harvey
would ask to see Butch. I would have to come equipped with a continuing plethora of excuses of why Butch couldn’t
come up to see him or even for that matter to speak to him on the phone. (It’s funny but during this whole
relationship with Harvey it never occurred to him to pick up the phone and speak to Butch “The Bastard”).
I would claim various colds, flu epidemics, Aids’ infections (before it became fashionable to claim such infections) and
an assortment of accidents. I was even prepared to write Butch’s obituary if need be and announce Butch’s sudden
fleeing of the country to assist a Panamanian Dictator, or a sudden heart attack followed by a slow agonizing death.
Harvey bought into all this and never discovered that it wasn’t Butch writing the material--all told I wrote 24 books
plus additional summary material.
The fact was that I only saw Butch “The Bastard” once more in my lifetime after that first initial meeting and then we
had a good laugh over Harvey’s frantic efforts to see him. Several times during my two year association with
American Legal, Harvey insisted on seeing Butch and at these times I had to be extremely, clever, evasive and
downright mutually distractive to get Harvey’s attention off the subject so by the end of these meetings Harvey had
completely forgotten about his inexplicable desire to see Butch. The beauty of this setup for me was that in the
beginning when the writing was bad Butch would get blamed and Harvey would swear a blue streak and pound his
desk. Later, as I got better, Harvey calmed down and we started to adjust to a regular routine. Towards the finale I
got to be quite an expert at writing these books quickly and had covered every legal topic from Future Interests to
Constitutional Law to the perverted complexities of Patent Law. There is probably a whole group of law students that
either owe their failure or Degrees to me. (In fact in the 21st Century I ran into a lawyer who did just that).
I do remember one time that Harvey absolutely insisted to see Butch. He embarked on his desk pounding activities
and his bald face glowered a St. Helens livid lava red tint. Well, I certainly could not let Butch come out to American
Legal at this stage in the scam for he had been out of the real action for so long I would lose the project for sure.
I told Harvey that Butch had gone to Europe and while skiing down The Matterhorn had lost use of both of his legs and
was recuperating in a Geneva Hospital in Switzerland. At that point Harvey did three angry somersaults and fired
Butch on the spot. It was the only time during the whole project where I thought it might be necessary to resurrect
Butch and bring him up to see Harvey. I would have to coach him. I would then have Butch rent a crutch from Rent-
A-Crutch, Inc. (a fast accident chain of being) and bandage both of his legs. I managed to save the account by having
Butch fake a call from his bedside, a la Howard Hughes, from Switzerland. Butch smoothed things out but said he
wouldn’t be able to visit him until the cast came off in two months. I had hoped (and hoped rightly) that Harvey would
forgive and forget and he did.
I then talked Harvey into letting me hire other freelancers to do other books he was contemplating. He approved that
idea as long as they were lawyers. I promised him they were (they were not). Then he started the same desk
pounding routine again wanting to see the writer so I actually had to go out and hire a freelancer who wasn’t a lawyer.
Harvey never found that out. But I had to listen to another year’s worth of tirade abuse which he inflicted on the
second ghost writer until he became “good”.
Harvey quieted down but it was never smooth sailing. I dreaded these weekly encounters where Harvey would end the
meetings by insisting to see the writer with proof of his legal credentials or harangue the writer for his use of an
incorrect format which could only be straightened out, naturally, by an in-person visit. He never got to see the other
writers either. I, of course, was still writing all the books myself.
The freelancer I was eventually forced to use was “Frantic” Phil Goutell “The Term Paper Genius”. I had met
“Research” Phil about six months before the Rosenfeld escapade when I answered an ad in the VILLAGE VOICE for
research Term Paper writers. It turned out that the position was nothing more than a term paper writing scam that
was invented by two wheeler dealers and former Harvard undergraduates. They got the idea that since so many
students didn’t like the chore of writing term papers, they would form an organization of researchers that would
perform this distasteful chore for them. For a price! A very stiff price! They felt they could make a fortune
overnight. They were right! They became millionaires in three years.
I walked into the regional office at a 5th Avenue skyscraper in the middle of Manhattan Motown and discovered an
extremely well organized operation in progress. Thousands of research papers that had already been written were in
their files and were to be used over and over again, at the same price, that is if they came at all close to the student’s
request. A battery of writers would take up the slack should there be nothing of value in the files. Imagine if you
will, that these were the days before the general use of computer files. Had they had them, the business would have
been considerably more successful. Unbeknownst to me, however, was the fact that their most successful years were
drawing to a close. Many of the East Coast university professors were getting wise to these canned presentations and
ghosted papers, the quality of which naturally ranged from the extremely poor to the excellent depending on the
writer’s ability. They were beginning to complain in large numbers to various Attorney Generals’ in many states.
When I arrived, the New York office was already under investigation and being exposed in the Media.
I applied, starting writing and left aside the question of the morality of writing the papers. Besides, I was an
Ontologist and Ontologists don’t mess with Ethics. I met “Frantic Phil” Goutell at the office and discovered that he
was their best writer. He was also their fastest and could churn papers out five, ten at a time--as fast as they could
assign them he would take them. The toughest assignments, the topics nobody wanted were turned over to Phil. He
had even written some Master's and a few Ph.D.’s.
All types of students crossed our threshold, from scholars to nuns from St. Agnes of Assisi. They had one thing in
common. They wanted to rid themselves of the unpleasant chore of writing and researching. The writers for the firm
actually made a pittance compared to the cut that the owners took. The main office was located on Route 9W on
Sylvan Avenue outside Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. As far as I can determine they still operate there but on a much
I stopped by one day to hand in a batch of work, when a dazed skinny student walked through the door with a cage full
of ferocious mice in a maze. Apparently he was given a laboratory paper for an experiment to determine whether or
not mice experience puberty north of Columbia University. He decided to bring in the experiment, mice and all.
Naturally the project fell into the capable hands of “Research” Phil. Phil grabbed the cage by the short hairs and
marched out the door to perform the Skinner based behavioral nonsense in his apartment--the Flat Iron Building on
23rd Street. The student received a B+. Phil told me later that the only reason the student didn’t get an A on the
paper was that Phil had flushed the whole experiment down the toilet and made up the paper from his prodigious
knowledge on the subject. I knew that the beginning of the end was approaching when one foreboding afternoon Phil
and I were standing around the front reception area shooting the shit about who was the fastest term paper writer in
the solar system, him or me, when the door burst open and in stalks obnoxious Roland “Gimme A Story” Smith--the
beleaguered TV Anchor for Eyewitness News. At this time he was just another exploitative investigative “Geraldo”
reporter (you know Geraldo—the guy who emptied out the Insane Asylums ((Willowbrook comes to mind)) and in the
second decade of the 21st Century we’re still suffering the effects of that scandal on the streets of New York City—In
other words, since then, no new Insane Asylums have opened so where are the crazies going to go-- huh Geraldo?!).
Behind him was a contingent of reporters, cameras, lighting and sound people. He stormed in as if he owned the place,
“Smiley” Smith rudely burst forth and thrust a tape recorder into Phil’s outstretched face. He commenced a barrage
of questions about the organization, the ethics of writing term papers for money, where the owners were (in the
Bahamas of course). Phil refused to be interviewed and referred them to the owners. A few seconds later, when
Smith realizes he’s talking to the peons and that he’s not going to intimidate or impress anybody, he leaves in a huff
and a puff. Phil and I looked at each other and we both knew it was time to get out. A few weeks later, Phil calls me
up to inform me that the Attorney General had called him and warned him not to write for that organization
anymore. There was a full-fledged investigation of the owners in progress. I decided to end it then and there and so
did Phil. Phil kept his hand in the writing game by writing pornography for book publishers and operated his own mail
order deception business out of the Flat Iron Building. That was the last time I saw Phil until I talked him into
helping me, for a price, with the Harvey Law Review Book Scam. I knew, because of Phil’s speed, he would be the
perfect man. Towards the end of our relationship with American Legal, both Phil and I became adept at what we were
doing because the formats always remained the same. Harvey, for his part, decided to end the association. One of the
reasons was that Harvey was going to retire and was attempting to unload the publishing house on Simon & Schuster
who themselves were heavily committed to the review book business. The reason was that both Phil and I were
turning out the books so fast that Harvey, being like most cheapskate publishers (technically rich with their father’s
money but unofficially bankrupt with the company’s money) pleaded that he was strapped for cash. The payments
couldn’t keep up with our production. He wanted us to slow down, advice which both Phil and I duly ignored because
we both needed the money. In 1973, two years into the scam, Harvey called it quits. That was the last I was to see of
Phil until 1976, the year of my first Promotion. Phil and some of his cronies were to assist me. Following the Harvey
debacle, good ole Rachel “The Pink” P. comes to visit once again but this time she has something radically different
on her mind. Summer vacation! Europe!! With the teachers? “Yes,” we would like to join her and Ira the Pink P.
and et. als.
During the first summer in Croton, Sue and I decided to go to Europe. Sue’s teaching job gave her access to low cost
fare, travel expenses and clever little lodging packages. We decided to take advantage of these teacher discounts. We
figured that we would make it as inexpensive as possible so instead of traveling the way the typical tourist we would
“rough it” and rent a “Volks.” Van in Holland after our sojourn in England. Then we would bring a tent along with us
and make use of the numerous camp grounds in Europe.
Before we departed in late June, we took a trip to an Army and Navy Store in Manhattan and bought a small red pup
tent for two, sleeping bags and all the miscellaneous gear so necessary for roughing it on the bleak Continent:
camouflage fatigues, mess kits, flashlights and Loch Ness Monster repellents.
We boarded a plane out of Kennedy and six hours later we were in London. This was going to be an adventure for me.
To date I had only been to Mexico, Northern Manitoba, the Southwest, South America and taken a few trips to Florida
to visit my sister Evelyn and her second husband, Sam “The Flea Bag” Seidenberg.
Naturally we went along with Sue’s friends, namely Rachel “The Analyst”, Ira “The Red Nose Reindeer” and “Pout-
Nosed” Ruthie K. Once our few days together in London were over, we would all go our separate ways. Sue and I
would head for Amsterdam, Holland. We were all scheduled to meet at the end of August in Rome. Ruthie was a
bachelorette and stayed that way until her first marriage at the age of 43. She was attractive in her own fashion but
she was from that left wing school of Feminism that stressed the unshaved, disheveled look. She lived alone in a small
apartment in the East Village. She had a series of close relationships with various ethnic types of varying ages, sizes,
intelligences and colors from the very young (a student in her high school class - she was teaching at the time) to the
very old (a 110 year old Indian Scout from the Revolutionary War). One has to give Ruthie credit, she lived her life
exactly the way she wanted. No ties, traveled when she wanted, worked when she wanted, farted when she wanted and
fucked when she wanted.
She did have the irksome habit of never being on time whether it was to a dinner date, work or to a meeting of the
minds at the airport. Ruthie would come bustling in at the last moment before the plane took off, or when the waiter
was about to take the order, and act as if she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why everyone was so upset with her
for making them wait. She just operated on a different “Lorentzian” clock than the rest of people-kind. Instead of
leaving a little early in case something unexpected came up, Ruthie always left her house leaving just enough time to
get to where she was going. Naturally, something always came up at the last minute. Some things she had no control
over and others she did. The net result was that she was always late because she never adjusted her routine to
accommodate the unexpected or other people’s expectations. In other words, when Ruthie got there, that’s when
things began. Before or after an event never existed if she hadn’t yet arrived.
Ruthie’s personality and mine meshed. Although different on some levels, Ruthie’s sense of humor intrigued me.
We both had trouble staying at jobs for a long period of time. However, Ruthie had need of a large coterie of friends.
She would spend endless hours on the phone keeping in touch and filling up her days with conversation. I was more of
a loner, non-communicative and a hard boiled recluse. Ruthie was a teacher and had had an endless series of teaching
jobs. She remained longest in the area of instructing the legally blind or teaching the emotionally retarded. But it
wouldn’t be too long before she got fed up with all the bureaucratic bull shit of the educational system and filled her
remaining days with a series of douche bag secretarial and temporary employment jobs or paid the rent with
unemployment insurance with perhaps a little help from home. (All guess work on my part--go ask Ruthie she will set
the record straight).
Shortly after Sue and I were married, Ruthie’s current boyfriend, the Director of the first Phoenix House, dropped out
of her life. There was the rumor about that he had returned to drugs and pimping as a better way to make a living.
Ruthie claimed that she didn’t marry him because he had a freakish, stubborn nature, a violent streak and a mean
temper to boot.
Following Ronnie, there were a string of lovers and lovers’ accomplices in Ruthie’s life culminating with a sixteen year
old dumbbell student from her legally blind class with an enlarged prick. (Ruthie at this time was in her early 30’s).
Ruthie entered her Spanish-Puerto Rican phase and established a coterie of friends with some disadvantaged,
dissatisfied families in the lower East Village.
A generation ago, Ruthie’s semi-Bohemian way of life would have been scorned but envied. I say semi-bohemian way
of life because Ruthie was not an artist in any form but she was always on the periphery of the artsy-craftsy world
simply by virtue of fact of her residing in the East Village. She knew a lot of the literary types yet somehow was never
in the thick of things because she was not an artist herself. I surmise that if Ruthie had lived in 19th Century France
she would have been the head of a Salon meeting place where all sorts of autistic vagabonds would congregate and
panty-less shoot the shit. Ruthie’s ability to make friends with practically everyone she met would have insured her
place in posterity’s posterior.
One day, while browsing around in a Village Boutique and gently scratching her crotch, she met an Ethiopian illegal
immigrant freak, Zack “The Quack”, a refuge from the recent Communist takeover in his country of origin. Zack
“The Quack” was definitely on my wave length and he and I got on extremely well up until the time of my divorce 12
centuries later. It was the good natured, bearded Zack “The Quack” who accompanied Ruth and us to Europe and
rounded out our repertory troupe. Zack and Ruthie managed to hack each other to pieces for another ten years.
Since Zack had been committed by family tradition and ties to Malecka “The Sikh”, his childhood sweetheart from
Ethiopia, Zack and Ruthie never got married. They did however stay in touch even after Zack’s and Malecka’s
Next on our character building assassination agenda are Ira and Rachel P. Rachel, Sue’s other best friend, grew up, as
did Ruthie, a few blocks away from Sue in the Flatbush Section of Brooklyn. They went to Brooklyn College and
during the college years in the late 50’s and early 60’s Rachel “The Third Reich” Perelson, Sue and Rachel’s Pinko
future husband, Ira “The Red” Perelson, were involved in the Antinuclear Movement and attended demonstrations in
front of the U.N. and in Washington in support of Nuclear Disarmament. Sue and Rachel had a flirtation with The
Dubois Club but were not deeply committed to its extreme left wing causes. Rachel’s mother, in her generation, had
been involved with Party work but Ira’s father and mother were the typical, though left footed, middle class bourgeois
Ira’s father owned a men’s shop in Brooklyn and his parents made their bed in a sprawling, sexy estate which was
ensconced on an Atlantic Ocean beachfront property in Far Rockaway. The house abutted one of the famed nude
beaches in The Rockaways. Since the property actually touched the tide line and since it was blocking the free passage
of people strolling up and down the beach, all sorts of freaks, flakes and 1970 weirdoes would mix in with the
P’s guests. It was not at all unusual to look up while relaxing on a lawn chair and view Nudies parading by as if they
were out for a Sunday stroll in their own bathrooms. One could simply put on the field glasses in front of the house
for an afternoon of X entertainment.
Occasionally, on weekends, Sue and I were invited to spend the day there and later after Robby and Tania were born
they too spent many interesting hours at the nude carnival oblivious to the surreal performances going on about
them. Within ten yards of the P’s property line was the mating grounds for New York City’s most attractive Gays of
both persuasions. In full view, they would stand, pose and show their main attractions to the passers-by both friend
and foe alike. The place was a voyeur’s dream. After the novelty of the nudity wore thin they just became
background radiation noise and props in support of the leading cast of characters that were in constant attendance at
the P's estate.
Rachel graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in computer mathematics and was hired right out of college as
a programmer for The Equitable in the heart of Manhattan. She remained there until the Recession of the 1990’s
hit and she lost her job. (Not sure of that fact either).
Rachel met Ira at a romantic PLP demonstration. They dated each other through the college years and married a few
years after leaving college. They moved into a Park Slope Brownstone which they purchased with their hard earned
capitalistic money and so the dedicated C. became the proud land owner of property that would see its value
quadruple during the next two decades.
Ira P. grew up in the Flatbush area and received his degree in Landscape Languages (Chinese). Ira considered both
the Russians and the Chinese as villainous, Marxist revisionists. He favored the Chinese brand of Communism rather
than the Russian Dressing style. He thought the Russians were nothing more than Capitalistic Russian Dressing
Boobs. As it turned out Ira was dead on. Ira went on to receive his Masters in Chinese Chop Suey and always got his
rocks off when he was able to converse with the waiters in Chinatown in their own language. Eventually Ira wound up
teaching high school history (the Marxist version of history) to Chinese refugees from the New Zealand-Hong Kong
He was quite active in the Progressive Labor Party which is the Anti-Revisionist Movement of the radical wing of the
Communist Party. In all respects though Ira was a personable chap and even had a sense of humor which is rare for a
Party Member. He was a hard working, dedicated soldier on the front lines, passing out leaflets, working on PLP’s
newspaper and attending demonstrations against racism, poverty and he supported such political headliners at the time
as Georgie Jackson, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver and Booby Bobby Seale.
Ira made feeble attempts to get me interested in Party affairs. He convinced Susan and I to attend one of their
Sunday afternoon brunches in Manhattan at the Ansonia Hotel on 72nd Street and Broadway. For my part, I was
disappointed because there was nothing intellectually satisfying going on at the meeting. It was nothing more than
three hours of clichéd slogan shouting interspersed with boring, repetitive speeches exhorting the crowd and
condemning the monsters of Capitalism. It was about as thrilling and edifying as a religious revival held by Billy
Graham in a mine field.
No one in their right frame of mind and reference point could argue with the theoretical aims of the Party, but I didn’t
see how anyone like Ira, with his massive intelligence (reading the NEW YORK TIMES cover to cover every day since
he was born) could be snowed by the inane political clichés, logic chopping and propaganda of the Party hacks.
Hate and paranoia filled the auditorium. I remember the stage area where the various speakers would thunder
venomous propaganda from the podium while below them in a protective cordon square circle were the Party Goons
guarding the speakers and the meeting from possible disruption by outside agitators or from members of their own
Party. That in itself was a legitimate, timely duty to perform; but it also appeared to me that they had the ancillary
chore of spying on their own members to see who was enthusiastic about the speeches and who was bombastic. It was
the goons’ duty to report these people to the higher ups or to personally confiscate them and drag them into the back
room. If they could not reeducate them they would boot them out or boot the Capitalistic ideas out of them. I was
reminded of the atmosphere wherein historians said reigned during the atrocious 30’s in Nazi Germany where the
crowd was watched for political shirkers.
This was the last PLP meeting that I was to attend. From time to time Ira would leave behind issues of the newspaper
of PLP hoping that I would take the time to read it and come around to his way of thinking. Sue and I thought this
nothing more than an unpleasant nuisance which we overlooked. Finally, in exasperation of ever converting me, Ira
gave up but made the telling statement that when the Revolution occurred, I along with other rat pack comedians
would be thrown up against the stainless steel wall and shot. There was no room for comedians in the New Order.
Although he said it tongue-in-cheek because Ira was a gentle person, should there ever be a Revolution Ira would be
logically impelled by his own detergent brainwashing methods to joyfully carry out that implied threat whether he
liked it or not. I guess it’s those inevitability of consequences of a particular political theory that makes the theory
null and void.
But Ira was no hypocrite. I had, as others did, both inside and outside the Party, a lot of respect for him. He stood
right out there in the vulnerable forefront of the Movement and defended his beliefs and spoke out despite the
numerous dangers. He had been clubbed many times during demonstrations, so many times that he had contacted a
club foot. The F.B.I. had an extensive file on him. His lines were tapped and his job threatened. Yet Ira would loyally
perform all the duties that the PLP prescribed.
The fact was that he almost did lose his job when during a demonstration in front of City Hall, one of his former
students was beaten up and arrested by the police. The PLP was involved in these racially motivated disputes and they
came to the student’s defense in full force. Ira, for his part, had been passing out leaflets at his school in support of
the jailed student. Naturally, The Board of Education did not take too kindly to political agitation on school grounds
especially by a teacher. They used that as an excuse to get rid of Ira. They also alluded to his rather liberal Marxist
interpretation of history that he was teaching to his students. Ira was fired but the Union in collaboration with the
PLP and one of their top left wing female lawyers came to Ira’s defense. Two years later he was reinstated with full
military honors and transferred from Brooklyn to Chinatown! This incident points up just how liberal the Educational
Establishment can be when it is forced to embrace a person like Ira within its system, someone who is dedicated at
heart to smashing that very system and yet is allowed to work within that system.
So much for the characterizations of Ira and Rachel. Sue and I both liked them. We departed at the end of June from
Kennedy Airport and arrived in Lucky London for our first week which would be spent at the usual tourist attractions
such as viewing the Queen’s arse-hole from a considerable distance.
A photo taken at the time that we arrived in London shows me standing in front of our Pension in a well-to-do London
suburb. I looked like a displaced Juan Valdez of Delancy Street, dressed in my sleek turbo powered poncho slung
across my drooping shoulders along with my 35mm Russian made camera and a slew of lenses dangling at obtuse
angles from my grotesque neck. The camera had been purchased from a 42nd Street schlock shop. When I purchased
it I had the vague notion that I might dabble in photography after my writing ceased. I didn’t pursue that silly
inclination except to purchase the camera paraphernalia which included a tripod. The rest of my outfit consisted of a
Fidel Castro camouflaged pair of khakis with cowboy boots and black cowboy hat. My canteen and mess kit were
precipitously drooping from my neck accompanied by my good luck beads and charms from my happier Hippie era. My
trousseaux was completed with my rabbinical beard and Dijon mustard mustache.
At last, we went our separate ways. Ruthie was off on the Euro-Rail to France with no underpants and a plethora of
rhododendron growths under her arm pits. Ira and Rachel were off to Scotland and Ireland to look under the
Klansmen’s skirts. Sue and I hopped a hovercraft and headed for Holland’s opium dens. We spent a pleasant week in
Amsterdam and then made forays out to the outskirts. It was springtime in Holland and everything was in James
Joyce tulip bloom. We met up with one of the characters who hang around the docks and serves as a general nuisance
to the arriving tourists--Michael, a young Dutch student. We purchased a Volkswagen bus for our camping trip that
we eventually sold in Italy at the end of our trip.
Holland, and Amsterdam in particular, was the Mecca for Hippies in the 60’s and 70’s. They would be allowed to sleep
in the parks overnight without a sleeping permit so long as they didn’t disturb the local yokels. Also reserved for
them was a special nightclub in the center of city where drug abuse was permitted as long as one stayed in that hotel.
Michael procured for us some Hashish for use on the rest of our trip.
The people were delightful in Holland in contrast to the twerps on the Continent. We stayed a week with a Dutch
couple. Besides the tulips, the Red Light District was the main attraction in Amsterdam because prostitution was all
the rage and legal. A special district had been set aside for the prostitutes and government inspectors were on the
After two weeks we said our good-byes to Michael “The Stoned Tulip”, packed our V. Van with all our gear and headed
to the Continent by Ferry, drove quickly through Germany and then on to France. We stayed in France for a week
and then left Paris burning after returning to some of Sue’s old haunts at the Sorbonne. By July 3rd. we had arrived
at a village outside of Paris and spent Bastille Day fornicating among the fireworks and dancing of the Stars in the
streets. Heading south by south west we drove into Austria and spent our nights in the van at campsites.
In one Austrian campsite, high in the dubious Andes, we met a Dutch physician returning to Amsterdam. When he
heard that I was somewhat of an Literary Agent in the States he pulled from his moldy rucksack a hardcover book
that had been published by a firm in Amsterdam and asked me if I would get it translated and submit it to American
publishers. When I heard what the book was about I said I would try. It was probably a very interesting book because
he happened to be the prostitutes’ personal physician in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. He told me that the book
described the moving experiences of his daily contact with the hapless prostitutes. He described the Dutch Mafia who
covertly controlled the brothels and pimps.
Unfortunately, when I got back to the States, I had little success in interesting publishers in the book. No one wanted
to spring for the translation expenses. I remember toying with the idea of paying for the translation of THE
STRUCTURE OF PROSTITUTION myself and then submitting it. But when I checked around and found out the rates
for the translation I dropped that notion as an idea whose time would never come.
We left the good doctor in a sea of good wishes for his literary future and headed into Switzerland the land of the doll
house landscapes where every nook and cranny gives you the impression that a hired maid has come in over the
weekend and spruced up the entire countryside.
In Sweet Switzerland the unnerving habit of mine of wanting to get back to my point of origin started to make its
presence known. Instead of stopping to look at the sights along the way, I was in a hurry to arrive at our destination--
Rome. Sue urgently pleaded with me to stop and view this or that strange Attractor off the beaten path. I just shoved
my foot on the gas and plowed right across Europe. I did not do this on purpose or out of meanness but out of
necessity. Looking back on it I wish I had slowed myself down to enjoy the trip more but as I said, I seemed to be
driven by that same molecular electromagnetic force that compelled my mother’s matter never to wander far from the
Mason Dixon Line, home, or when she did, to return to it as soon as possible. My concerns were masked by the
surface concern that our mode of transportation would eventually break down and leave us stranded penniless
somewhere in the wilds of Europe. I never felt relief from this anxiety until I boarded the airplane heading home
This feeling of anxiety was compounded by the fact that I never enjoyed visiting museums. They always reminded me
of vast collections of dead, inorganic, cold, sterile, meaningless artifacts strewn together in a hodge-podge effort to
deluge the onlooker with instant knowledge and education which in reality the onlooker was severely lacking.
Tourists, it seemed to me, thought they could catch up on thousands of years of culture and research by simply visiting
a few museums, historical landmarks, buildings or view famous paintings to make up for their laziness of interest
during their day-to-day mundane lives.
The Vatican Museum was especially depressing for here were the collections of paintings of limitless value by the
thousands. Such wealth should not be collected or owned by any one institution and the least deserving of these
institutions was the Catholic Church. Because outside their very walls the poverty stricken world gaped in envy at the
Church’s booty. I could also mention in passing, which I will, that billions of dollars of priceless real estate is
controlled by the Church. Yet, who down through centuries has professed their only interest was in the other world of
the soul’s self-repose.
The Vatican was even more depressing than the museums in Paris because there was so much wealth of art and
architecture gathered together in one place that it overwhelmed the senses. Most of the celebrities housed in these
museums and historical spots during their lifetime, when they needed that much sought after recognition, were
ignored, scorned, burned at the stake or beheaded.
As feared, just outside “Jazzy” Geneva, near Lake Lucerne the “Volks.” Van died. We pulled into a service station
and it was determined by the Ph.D. mechanic in attendance that the generator was shot. So we were forced to stay a
few days at the campsite of Lake Lucerne while they ordered a rebuilt one.
This was our first night that we actually spent in the tent for up to now we had slept in the V. Van. It rained that first
night and the water being several inches deep on the ground, flooded the campgrounds and soaked us through,
together with the tent and our belongings.
The next morning we took off to visit the awesome Matterhorn. We stopped to view it exactly at the spot where the
tourist train stopped. The train tracks ended right at the foot of the Matterhorn. We didn’t hike up the mountain
because we were tired. Several days later our generator arrived and we were on our way to Northern Italy, then across
to the Eastern Coast to hop the Ferry to Yugoslavia.
In Rijeka, a seafaring city in Western Yugoslavia, we met a retired “Popeye The Sailorman”, a commercial vessel
captain and his loathsome wife. They invited us to spend the week with them. Why not it was free. Yugoslavia was at
the time, well within the Communist Bloc of Eastern Europe. It was then, however, the most Western of the countries
and therefore the most liberal of them. But things were still austere.
I remember coming down to breakfast one morning and the Captain and “Olive Oil” intently watching me eat with
the look of communist consternation in their throats. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until they made it known
that they were upset with me for leaving any traces of visible food on my plate. If they didn’t lick their plate clean,
they made sure all excess residues would be stored away in jars such as bacon grease, butter grease and oil which could
be used again and again. Obviously their current hardships plus the hardships imposed by World War II on their
childhood had had their effects on their upbringing. They thought we were just your typical rich, not too resourceful,
wasteful, spoiled brat Americans. We did our best to assure them that we were and didn’t want to disabuse them of
these notions. We apparently seemed wealthy compared to the standard of living that they aspired to. The thought of
going on a vacation abroad was beyond their wildest dreams. The best they could do for us on our last night with them
was to take us to what they considered the best restaurant of the city, high on the City hills overlooking the
Mediterranean. We let them squander their life savings on us by accepting their invitation to dine.
In the morning we were on our way down the rock and pebble strewn highway which paralleled the sea’s southerly
direction to the resort village of Dubrovnik. Instead of staying at a camp site when we arrived in Dubrovnik, we
decided to stay at one of the fancy villas on the hillsides which overlooked the seaside city. We didn’t last the night
there because the first thing we did when we got to the room (no not fuck) was wash our clothes. We then hung them
out to dry but made the mistake of putting some of the damp clothes on the wooden furniture in the room. The
landlady happened to come in just at that moment and she fell into a Serbian Yugoslavian anti-American rage and
summarily asked us to leave. We gathered our damp clothes and headed for a nearby camp site.
The next day we loaded the Van onto the ferry bound for the southern tip of Italy. We traveled up the southwestern
coast of Italy to Capri, visited the underground caverns that housed sequin colored waters which flowed from the
subterranean terraces deep within the earth’s mantle. Heading northeastward, around endless miles of hairpin turns
in the Andes Chain we finally came to the outskirts of Naples.
We decided to spend the week there but on the first night at camp, Naples was to live up to its reputation as being
“Thief Ville” of the Continent. As rosy middle fingered Dawn was budding in the East, I sensed something was in our
tent. (It turned out to be a “Napalian Sunpire”). A hand stealthily reached underneath my pillow and grabbed the
remaining Hashish that I had stashed there. We decided it would be safer for our virginity to repair to a hotel in
Naples proper. We holed up there for a week. That week I spent most of my time reading an autobiography of
A slight diversion was a hike up Mount Vesuvius but that ended in a semi-comic-tragic disaster. When I reached the
very top and was about to peer into the mammoth crater I had an attack of diarrhea and had to clutch my bottom and
race down the volcano like the lava must have flowed on Pompeii several thousand years ago. I raced to my tent which
we had pitched on Vesuvius’ dangerous western face. When I felt better, I hobbled back to Naples. There we went in
search of a doctor. Finally we found one and by a variety of hand to ass signs I made it clear what my ailment was and
was given a prescription. I did not feel well for the rest of the trip. By the end of the week I was feeling well enough
however to set out for Rome. We entered Rome in early August, in the dead heat of a stifling Italian summer. We
took a room in a Pension that was a few short blocks from the center of Rome.
Sue, of course, had to see every museum, every church, every painting, every building and turn over every stone in
the Coliseum. I don’t know what she was looking for among those ruins. Perhaps if she turned over enough stones a
gladiator or two might go scampering across the 110 degree columnar wasteland. I just sat in the middle of all that
stoned beauty of the desecrated Coliseum, with the sun beating down on my diarrhea infested bowels, waiting for Sue
to come to her senses and go to sleep like the rest of the Italian Stilettos did in the torrid afternoons. However, one
night we had the chance to see LA TRAVIATA performed by an Italian Troupe in a large amphitheater under the
stars. It was an impressive performance and the acoustics were far better than the Metropolitan Opera House.
I had been anxious from the day I had arrived in Europe to return home and looked forward to the day when we would
board the plane out of Rome. I had had my fill of frescoes, Don Giovanni’s, statuary and other “fartofacts”. For the
last two weeks the evenings were spent finishing my Freud book or sitting at the outdoor cafes with other Italian
One final problem had to be disposed of before we could safely leave Rome and that was the problem of getting rid of
the Van. In order to sell a car in Italy the bill of lading had to be notarized by an Avogado, a lawyer, not just a
common Notary. We finally tracked one down and disposed of the Van much to my Alka Seltzer relief. However,
except for the generator episode at Geneva, my fears had proved groundless. Just before Labor Day we joined forces
with Ruthie and Zack, Ira and Rachel at the Rome Airport and sped home to good ole Croton.
Sue, at this point, is fully pregnant with Robby Lauren Lewis who was to be duly born with much ado about
everything on March 9, 1973 at Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown. He was fully assisted with his birth with
the latest in the La Maze techniques.
In the early 70’s, this French Tickler method of natural childbirth had become well established in the more liberal
hospitals of the big cities and had penetrated into Westchester County by the time Sue had conceived. Sue had heard
about La Maze classes being conducted by a ravishing Swedish blonde matron, Sigrid “Full” Nelson, in the village of
Briarcliff Manor a few miles south of Croton.
Sigrid was one of those super charged enthusiastic females who thought that everyone should have babies, even men,
and the more the better. They should have them by the huff and puff technique. So Sue and I marched off to class
and she dutifully breathed her way into motherhood. In the Delivery Room March 9, 1973, at 9:10AM was the good
doctor, me in my green wedding gown and Lone Ranger mask, camera flashing away, a group of training nurses in
their training bras who were watching the technique in action and the voices of the Holy Mormon Tabernacle Street
Sue was huffing and puffing away like the little engine that could saying; “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
I was calmly snapping pictures, assisting the doctor by handing him his grappling irons and passing the camera back
and forth to him so I could get in some of the pictures. In fact I got so carried away that I found myself standing
there with the scalpel and was prepared to complete the operation myself. Anyway, oblivious to all this, Robby
managed to slip out and almost fall on his head that blustery March morning to the cheers of surgeon, nurses, sexy
Sigrid and the Mormon Choir not to mention yours truly.
Because I was still slaving away for Harvey of American Legal Publications, Sue would have to report back to work in
about a year’s time. Therefore, after the first year I was left to raise Robby by attending his nursery school sessions
and spent the next six years of Robby’s young life taking care of him until Sue got home in the late afternoon. Two
years later Tania Pearl Lewis (the size of a postage stamp) was born on January 24, 1976.
I had to supplement my not too profitable venture capital finding efforts, literary agency and legal ghost writings
activities with another part time job in the evenings, that of the Limo driver. They weren’t actually Limos they were
station wagons going back and forth to the airports bringing executives to and from their various assignments after
they landed at Kennedy or LaGuardia airports. The service was called Riverview and was notorious for its rag bag rag
tag drivers that worked there. I fit right in with this loony bunch. Many nights I would spend out in the parking lot at
Kennedy reading books and waiting for planes to arrive or depart. By this time I had ceased writing altogether. I
could have accomplished a lot but wasn’t motivated. Our Limos’ CB air wave jargon was distinguished from all the
rest. Instead of giving the traditional acknowledgment of “Ten Four” or “Roger Dodger”, our slogan was “PANTIES!
PANTIES!” to any verbal correspondence with the dispatcher.
From time to time Twin Pines Literary Agency (that’s me) would get manuscripts--most of them terrible but every
once in awhile some pretty good stuff. I had no luck getting them published which proved to me that I had made the
right decision to quit writing because if some of this real good material didn’t stand a chance of getting published how
could mine? I also tried to get some extra cash by charging reading fees, correction fees or doing other questionable
editorial chores. By my listing in THE WRITER’S MARKET I secured a half a dozen fees amounting to the grand total
of a $1,000 income for the year. I had secured my business certificate for $6 and called my agency Twin Pines Literary
Agency which was later converted to Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc. when I self-incorporated for $50 with a do-it-
yourself kit secured from the “we believe in you” State of Delaware.
THE METAPHYSICIAN:PATHWAYS TO
THE SPEED OF DARKNESS EQUATIONS
VOL. 2 CONTINUED
Enter Aubrey “The Class B filmmaker” Wisberg! One ennui filled Sunday afternoon I was sulking at home when the phone rang and hardly did I
finish with my hello when this booming, high pitched, whiny, British accented son-of-bitch starts bellowing, ranting and raving about a certain Joseph
E. Levine, the motion picture magnate distributor. How Levine had screwed him out of a $9 million picture deal.
I interrupted at this juncture and asked him who and what he was and what he wanted with me. Perhaps he had the wrong number or wanted the 24
hour sex line? “No,” he said. He had just seen my listing in WRITERS’ MARKET in the section for Literary Agents. He had gone through a series of
agents in the last few years and he felt they were all lazy, good for nothing crooks and didn’t pay enough attention to him. (He didn’t realize that I fit
this description to a T).
Since he sensed by my listing that I was fairly new, being founded in 1970 (the year now being 1972) I would be looking for clients and hungry for
sales. I therefore might give exclusive attention to him. He was very forthright on that matter. He told me he had been with the best, William
Morris Agency, until five years ago when he felt they had gotten too big to give him the attention he deserved. At present he was with Sara Donna
Agency, an agency located on Broadway and 72nd Street on the West side of Manhattan. It was a small two person agency, an old woman, Sara
Donna, in her seventies, tending to be senile, suffering from “Sometimer’s” Disease and asleep the rest of the time and her young college student
doing secretarial chores. He had just dropped Bertha Klausner who didn’t keep in touch with him. He thought he would do me a favor and give me a
call. He informed me that he had a fifty film track record and at one time in Hollywood, during its heydays, there was at least one of his screenplays
playing at every theater in town. He had had a couple of books published and co-authored with a retired Coast Guard Captain--on the latter’s
adventures in the coast Guard against the rum runners in the Caribbean. He had several full length plays. He was originally from London but had
moved to Hollywood in his teens and rapidly grew a reputation for prolific production of screenplays in the 20, 30’s and 40’s. He was now entering his
sixth decade and still considered himself as prolific as any of the new generation of flim-flam filmmakers.
When the film industry changed dramatically in the 50’s and 60’s and demanded more politically oriented scripts to fit the mood of the nation,
Wisberg, as well as many other old time filmmakers, fell on their asses. He was by no means penniless and was living quite comfortably in a East Side
apartment dwelling with his wife at the Volney Hotel off East 70th Street. He spent the 50’s and 60’s attempting to raise capital from Independent
investors and production companies in order to shoot his own films. In fact he had shot several independent productions, some in the “Can” but a few
actual releases--the most noteworthy of which was the original screenplay for HERCULES starring Steve Reeves back in the early 1950’s.
When, as he continued unabated, he presented the idea of a HERCULES motion picture to the studios in Hollywood; their response was “Hercules
Smirkules!!. No one wants to see a Greek Gink in a Chinese loin cloth on the silver screen!” “Well" he said, “we all know that the success of the
original picture plus the many sequels proved them, as usual, wrong.”
The reason he was so angry with Joe E. Levine he explained, was that he had originally formed a partnership with Levine to co-venture the project.
Joe Levine at the time was a small time loser theater operator out of Boston and Wisberg was at the height of his career. They were to film
HERCULES in Italy with an Italian production company and starring the American actor Steve Reeves. They both traveled to Italy to form the
production company. The whole deal was made on a handshake and they were supposed to share fifty-fifty. Wisberg would go back to the states
and do some pre-production work there while Levine stayed in Italy to do his pre-production work there. They shook hands on the deal and Wisberg
went back to the States.
Levine, he alleged, decided to go ahead and shoot HERCULES without Wisberg’s aid and that left Wisberg out in the cold because by the time he
returned the film was “in the Can” and ready to be released. All Wisberg got out of the deal was $30,000 for the rights to the screenplay.
Levine started to distribute the film via his small distribution theater chain and it caught fire. It was then distributed nationwide. According to
Wisberg, it made over $9 million in profits half of which he claimed belonged to him. The whole film was shot on a budget of under a half million
dollars. But Levine acted as if he had no deal with Wisberg and went on to parlay the $9 million in profits into a very successful distribution company--
AVCO-Embassy Pictures. The proceeds made Levine a multimillionaire overnight and a power to be reckoned with. AVCO was to make him one of
the most powerful distributors and filmmakers in the world. AVCO Embassy eventually, in the late 70’s, converted to Allied and then was sold off at
Levine’s retirement. By this time Levine had become involved in just about every scam in the entertainment area. Wisberg couldn’t sue for the
whole deal had been consummated with a handshake.
Wisberg then became involved in a few independent productions and even invested some of his own skin flint money but none of the films earned
their keep. Most were “on the shelf reef” when he was calling me ten years after the forlorn facts. A few had been released such as the sequel to his
HERCULES, starring the little known (at that time and later former Governor of California) home repairs scam artist, punk muscleman, Mr.
Universe, Arnold “May The Swartzenegger Force Be With You” in HERCULES COMES TO NEW YORK. The film was shot on location across the
street from St. Patrick’s Church in Manhattan where the giant statute of Hercules (Ajax) can be seen holding up the world. Wisberg’s most famous
picture was a science fiction farce, well ahead of its time for story line and special effects, THE MAN FROM THE PLANET X.
Wisberg by this time had been a babbling brook going on for an hour and summed up his tirade by saying he would graciously give me a chance and
send me up a screenplay and other works to see what I could do with them. He said he had several new projects in the works and literally dozens of
scripts on his shelf that had never seen the light of day.
Naturally I was on cloud nine when I hung up. Assuming the caller was legitimate, and even though Wisberg appeared to be overbearing, obnoxious,
narcissistic, eccentric, boorish, demanding, spoiled, arrogant, not playing with a full deck or both paddles in the water, slightly out of touch with reality
and the marketplace; he was my ticket to ride overnight into the Big Leagues. Here was my first chance to market a douche bag with a track record
that couldn’t be easily ignored. Unfortunately, as I would gradually discover, the time was not ripe in the 60’s and 70’s for the type of artistic
nonsense Wisberg was peddling. He wasn’t marketable no matter how many films he had made in the past.
In his years as an Independent, he had been in loose collaboration with Howard Hughes on a picture starring Ava Gardner. He had shot a comedy with
Jack “Benzedrine” Benny, a classic, which was always shown on TV New Year’s Eve as a part of the midnight Rocky Horror Show rerun about an
angel coming to earth to perform good deeds. (Incidentally, this past decade has seen a plethora of films on this theme).
I raced to the nearest library and checked out a copy of the latest MOTION PICTURE ALMANAC and sure enough there was Wisberg safely
ensconced under the W’s with several pornographic paragraphs describing his over 50 films. There were only a handful of producers that had more
credits than him. There were no great classic pictures among his credits and except for the original botched but commercially successful HERCULES
picture, none of the rest made that much money. But they did provide Wisberg with a comfortable life even after several years of having nothing
accepted. His record was that of a solid journeyman of the trade and could not be challenged. Which none did. They just ignored his record and
claimed that his material was too conservative and not apropos for the times.
One week later, the first of what was to prove too many scripts arrived. It was a screenplay and it was obvious that I was dealing with a professional
who knew the art of screen-writing inside out. I dutifully set about marketing it to some of Wisberg’s recommendations that he had garnered from
VARIETY the newspaper Bible of the entertainment industry. He also sent me some leads from the Classified Section of the TIMES. These were
independent producers who had limited seed money or up-front pre-production costs moneys and were looking for scripts. They were usually shooting
low budget pictures for under a half million dollars and full length plays. He sent me a copy of two Coast Guard adventure books written by him and
his co-author, a retired Captain from the U.S. Coast Guard. They concerned the adventures of the Captain against the modern day pirates and thugs
who inhabited the North and South Atlantic patrol areas. They had been published by Chilton Press out of Philadelphia, a middle finger level press
that really specialized in CHILTON’S CAR REPAIR MANUALS. I had little (in fact no) success with these fly-by-nighters. But Wisberg kept feeding
me a steady stream of manuscripts--screenplays, teleplays. Wisberg was interested in seeing if they could be brought out in new editions by a top
level Press in New York. They were good reading but dated and more relevant to the preceding decade before Castro. The publishing industry at this
time was only interested in “how-to”, psychological non-fiction, sex literature (the weirder the better) and published very little fiction. The slant
usually had to be politically oriented and probably left footed at that. Later in the decade this process would reverse itself but it would be too late for
Wisberg and me, for by that time we had parted company.
He sent me two full length plays, both excellent drawing room comedies with Off-Broadway potential. They weren’t Broadway potential because they
were not your clichéd, stereotyped, glitzy, garish musical or comedy which Broadway continues to foist on the unsuspecting, gullible masses who fill
their half baked half filled theaters. Certainly there was nothing that Wisberg sent to me in those three years from 1972 to 1975 that wasn’t
commercially viable. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything which was of a blockbuster nature either, except for one book, a love story and sea
saga set in the South Pacific with strong similarities to Joseph Conrad’s works.
It was depressing when I finally realized that here was an English Gink like Wisberg, with some degree of talent, experience and an impressive track
record but I couldn’t come close to landing a single contract on his behalf. This was not a reflection on me and my agent capabilities, although
admittedly I knew nothing about being an agent. However, Wisberg’s work should have spoken for itself. If it got before the powers that have the
say-so (and I can assure it did) and then they casually reject it that can only reflect on the dunderheads who controlled and still control the
commercial entertainment industry, i.e., the book publishers, accountants and attorneys, movie producers and the lackluster illiterate investors who
For the most part these were businessmen who knew less than I did about the entertainment industry but were only in these power positions because
they had stolen money elsewhere in their careers, usually confiscating millions in real estate deals, or 20 to 1 tax write offs on offshore oil wells or by
virtue of their fringe occupations with the Syndicate or their connections with Wall Street Stock scams. They managed to paste together a few million
dollars and fancied themselves able to judge the commercial viability of manuscript submissions.
It gave me an idea to what degree the industry had degenerated from an already degenerative condition at the time that Wisberg was attempting his
comeback as the “Rocky” Stallone of film script writers. In the legitimate theater world for instance, a small clique of theater owners and investors
such as the swinging Schuberts, or fast talking producers like Joseph “The Many Colored Trench Coat Clapp Trap” Papp, David “The Schmendrick”
Merrick or Hal “The Prince of Clowns”, or some large foundation ducking the tax laws such as The Kennedy Center for The Performing Farts in
Washington, controlled most of what the public could see on Broadway and off-Broadway theaters. Unless one was in this Eastern Clique or moved in
those circles there was no way plays of quality could get a legitimate hearing in the Big Leagues. I remember paying a visit to Merrick “The
Schmendrick” and as I recall it, it was he who patronizingly made the comment about Wisberg; that though his plays were technically perfect they
were old fashioned and his time had passed and that he should spend his reclining years in peacefully passing wind.
I paid a desultory visit to Wisberg at the Volney Hotel and was ushered into a sparsely furnished two bedroom spacious apartment on the East Side of
Manhattan. Wisberg, at that very first meeting, gave an indication of what I was in store for in my relationship with him. The most he could offer in
hospitality was a cup of stale tea and Saltine Crackers. In my three year association with him, after dozens of visits to his “penthouse”, after running
myself ragged all over Manhattan, after my outlays of postage and marketing time on his behalf; I never received more than just tea and the same
old Nabisco Saltine Groucho Marx Animal Crackers routine.
Wisberg lived with his Charles Dickens’ ghoulish grin and English accent and was an exact replica of how I would picture Captain Hook the Pirate. He
was cocky and stocky, with a round ruddy complexion, dressed in 1930’s attire or what he thought was proper attire for the typical Hollywood
producer--the attire that one might see in a Call Girl B movie with silk scarf stuffed into an open at the neckline Bloomingdale’s One Day Sale shirt.
His eyes were blocked off completely by a cheap pair of imitation Dr. Land’s polarized sunglasses. To complete his hilarious trousseaux he wore a
priggish Director’s cap and was reclining in a stereotypical Director’s chair. This windbag was just as pompous and overbearing as he had been in our
telephone conversation. He was always attended to by his living color and adoring but adorable doting wife who spent her day in a sheepskin smock
but in her day might have been a beauty for she was still attractive. She was probably, like Wisberg, in her middle if not late 60’s and looked it. She
was always subservient in his presence, complementing him at every turn, with his every belch and fart and backed his every bombastic assertion and
Wisberg went to great lengths to brag of his accomplishments, patting himself on the back and tooting his own horn. I was treated to a great deal of
theatrics and bragging during that tortuous first meeting. He gave me a tour-de-force of his work area where sat an old portable Remington on a
table surrounded by a neat pile of papers. On the shelf were at least 50 manuscripts all neatly bound, screenplays, books, teleplays and short stories.
He told me these had all been hand written in the last ten years and all I had to do was find a buyer and he could supply an unending source of
material for the next ten years. He informed me how disciplined and prolific he was. He wrote everyday and could produce a screenplay a month
whereas during his Hollywood days he produced at the rate of one a week.
Wisberg looked much younger than his 60 odd years and was in robust health obviously full of energy, full of himself and his Bastille shaped head was
just brimming with new projects for the future. This attitude was a little bit pathetic now that I look back on it. He was never to regain the success of
his Hollywood years. It was tragic in the sense that there wasn’t anything that passed through my hands that should not have done well in the
commercial marketplace. His plays were excellent drawing room dramas, had they been timely, though Broadway material they were not.
His screenplays, a lot of which were science fiction or adventure stories, pilot proposals for TV Network series, would have fared well in the 1980’s
and 1990’s when the Video and Cable market boom would be fully exploited. Because, as Wisberg said in a long lecture he gave to me on the subject,
soon there would be an insatiable demand for every type of film imaginable. This was back in 1972, a decade before his prediction would come true.
Any young enterprising filmmaker would do well to hook up with Wisberg because of his one man production company capabilities, experience and
unlimited source of fresh material. He could shoot just about any project for far below what the larger of the Independents were shooting for the
Major outlets. He foresaw the fortunes that were there for the taking. Ironically Wisberg was both behind and ahead of his times.
His books were rejected for the same or similar reasons. One book he showed me of high adventure in the South Pacific and a tender love story, I
thought could hold its own with any of Michner’s sagas and even could be compared with the worst of Conrad’s sea ventures.
His teleplays, or pilot proposals for a TV series received the same polite, patronizing rejections by NBC, ABC and CBS for their new Movie of The
Week programming schedules. That was not surprising because this was the era that the media was infiltrated by scum bag MBA’s in grey flannel
underwear--accountants, lawyers business types, recently paroled from the ivy coated walls of Harvard, Wharton and Columbia University Business
Schools. These dapper Dan young assholes knew absolutely nothing about the manuscripts or the entertainment industry but only knew bottom line
payouts and balance sheet projections.
Wisberg’s teleplays were not exactly masterpieces but they were ahead of their time. He showed me one proposal set in the Caribbean off
Miami which concerned the rum running, drug related criminal activity. Ironically such programs as MIAMI VICE and other look-alikes made
smashing successes of these themes proposed by Wisberg as early as 1973 and which he wrote sometime in the 50’s or 60’s.
I had been hand carrying these script proposals to some high rated, gutless vice presidents at ABC, NBC and CBS and one and all came to me with
that glassy eyed stare and disinterested comment, “Wisberg, oh he was good in his time, technically proficient, but the bottom line is that people don’t
want adventure yarns, cop stories or narcotic themes. They want left wing activism, or Archer Bunker comic strip characters”. Need I even mention
where these boy and girl wonders are today (in the middle of the Cable, Video-DVD revolution) probably shoveling shit and “shinola” in a Toledo, Ohio
I didn’t fare much better in the venture capital fund raising arena. Movie production was an extremely high risk venture which couldn’t be
backed with any provable business projections. Venture Capital firms play it safer than the banks who they condemn as being too conservative. They
like sure things like computer and genetic engineering technologies where they can make millions on very highly leveraged deals which needed very
little of their start-up capital and netted them not only huge profits but a large share and control of the companies. No wonder the bottom fell out of
the home computer industry later in the decade with these parasites sucking the life blood from the companies and not giving much back in return.
In the publishing jungle there was a different sort of resistance. The late 60’s and 70’s were the heydays of the great publishing mergers through
leveraged buyouts and the great consolidations, cutbacks, downsizing, outsizing, reengineering, reconfiguration and circumcising the staffs that
plagued the 80’s and 90’s were brewed in the 70’s. Wisberg’s market potential suffered as a result.
Publishing companies would feel the fallout from these economic shenanigans. The smaller firms were swallowed first by the bigger ones in their
own line of business and then horizontally as opposed to vertically integrated with companies that had no knowledge of the publishing industry, to
form super international mega cartels that just thought it would be kind of cute and status enhancing to own a film or publishing company or two. As
a result, editorial power waned and the real decision making processes in the House went to the corporate raiders wheeler dealer types with grade
school educations. They would only buy books that were absolutely guaranteed to do well in the marketplace, that is to say written by current
blockbuster authors. The industry degenerated into a bureaucratic technocracy and was in a complete shambles and remains that way at the turn of
the century despite the computer revolution.
Most major Houses including their reprint, trade book and paperback divisions were nothing more than holding companies, shells for tax loss purposes
for their larger parents and distributorships for current back list titles. Anyone who wasn’t in the Mario Puzo, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal or William
F. Buckley, Jr. entourage clique of the West Village Eastern Establishment, or at least an adoring member of their fan clubs, could not hope to get
his/her manuscript read by even the readers who were hired fresh off the campus of the nearest Divinity University half-way-house.
Wisberg spent a great deal of his time and my time, ranting and raving about these and other injustices that encumbered the outsider. For the most
part I sympathized with him because in actual fact he was right. If he had been an untalented writer with no track record I would have dismissed his
allegations as just sour grapes. No one however disputed Wisberg’s talent. They just couldn’t back him because they were all afraid to take any
chances for fear of their own jobs. Yet I still dreaded these tirades every time Wisberg got a rejection or was involved with his latest hassle with the
Industry. He was constantly suing or being sued by the networks or independent producers, accusing them of stealing his ideas and then rejecting his
scripts. On not a few occasions he probably had some cause but these cases are so hard to pin down and win that it was better left dropped.
In the time that he was not spending on polemics against the industry, he would give little pep talks so I would get super charged and run
around Manhattan touting his work. There was a period for about a year that I was foolish enough to do this and this was because of my own greed
and laziness. I thought by hooking on to Wisberg’s coat-tails, his fame, such as it was, that with one sale I could plummet myself into the big time.
Wisberg knew about and exploited this weakness of mine. This theory would have proved to be valid except for the fact that I never came close to a
Wisberg, for his part, would add fuel to my fires of ambition by mailing me clippings of this or that producer with a strong order like tone
suggesting that I follow up on yet another wild goose chase. He thought I was his personal unpaid agent with nothing to do except to traipse around
and follow up on his every marketing whim. He was dangling the carrot of instant success in front of me which kept me under his thumb for a much
longer time than I had anticipated. I gradually became disenchanted with this egotistical sot and his pipe dreams. The break was mostly brought
about by economic pressures from the real world. I had pushed his material for over two years and the only thing I had to show for it were polite
verbal or written rejections and not a dime in my pocket for my troubles. Wisberg even wanted me to roust his other agent, specifically Sarah Donna,
and attempt to get her to renew her efforts on his behalf.
I made a trip to her run down agency on West 72nd Street. When I arrived, some actor was doing a reading for her. In the back of the room was an
old lady slouched over and snoring. She looked to be in her 80’s. Her secretary, a blue eyed creature fresh from her senior year in high school was
diligently taking notes. I walked over to Sarah Donna and woke her up. I introduced myself and as she groggily came out of her drunken stupor she
mumbled something concerning her need for a good typist. I could have the job and stop wasting my efforts with Wisberg. I could work for her for a
minimum wage at $2.00 an hour and all the saltine crackers I could eat. I could learn the business from the bottom up. No thanks. I was 33 at the
time, married with a family. I declined vehemently and as I left she resumed her snooze. A few weeks later she passed away without ever waking up.
Wisberg was in a position to teach me a lot. He knew all about Hollywood and its inside workings. He knew how to raise money and how to produce a
picture from start to finish. He knew quite a bit about the “agenting” business too. But the only thing he ever taught me was how to stuff business
envelopes properly. One day he gave me an exclusive lecture on the art of folding business letters in three sections when he saw how sloppily I was
doing it. To this day, whenever I mail a business letter, I make certain I do it in the exact opposite fashion.
I made several trips to the slick fast buck venture capital operators in the City but to no avail. Most of these venture capital companies were run by
retired Mafia Dons or Jim Dandies. With great fanfare they usher you into their freshly leased-by-the-day wood paneled leathered chair rooms. They
sit you down in-between their pseudo legal partner (who has just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an option on the Brooklyn
Bridge) and some ducktail graduate from the nearest bar tending school. They themselves can hardly be seen-- even sitting on three phone
directories piled high upon their leather lined seat cushions. The heads of these companies grew up on the streets of Brooklyn and stole a few bucks
from somebody’s old man, probably their own, and then hung out their venture capital shingles. They listen to your proposal and do a lot of, “I see, I
see, hmm, hmmm that’s very interesting”, more grunts and groans, moans and ah has, hemming, hawing and clearing of throats, raised eyebrows and
contorted faces. They thumb through your proposal backwards to give the impression they just finished a two day all expense paid course in speed
reading from Evelyn Woods. It is just about at this juncture that you realize that the only deals venture capitalists make are with their own family or
with people who really don’t need the money. You bring them the money (your collateral) and then they use you and your partner’s money to buy
you out. One learns rather quickly to avoid the venture capital scams.
Wisberg even had the chutzpah to suggest that I approach the Banks as a source for production money. Back in the 30’s and 40’s banks like the
Bank of America of California regularly financed pictures and even financed a few of his. In no way were the gutless banks of the East Coast going to
finance a film venture that wasn’t guaranteed by at least 500% collateral. Ten years ago the Bank of America had found itself insolvent. The only
deals banks are interested in are making billions on the fees they charge for bounced check scams or wheeling and dealing in foreign currencies in
the Cayman Islands or charging exorbitant fees for use of their outdoor cash machines.
Wisberg told me that he once put $700,000 of his own money in the HERCULES COMES TO NEW YORK farce film but had trouble with the release
due to the monopoly of the Distributors. With private investors we fared no better for they were a cowardly bunch of so-called entrepreneurs only
interested in tax shelter deals of oil, gas and real estate that would yield them 1000 to 1 write-offs.
Wisberg did have a good deal that he was offering the would be investors. It would be much cheaper dealing with him because he could save
them money on most pre-production costs. Since he was his own production company he could cut costs with his ability to shoot a film well below the
standard budgets. If he could get seed money he did have access to Stars. When I met Wisberg he was negotiating with Burt Reynolds to do one of
his films but thought better of the idea when Reynolds demanded an astronomical sum and made other demands which Wisberg described to me as
outrageous. He told me after the meeting that he thought Reynolds to be nothing but an arrogant, spoiled brat.
Wisberg quite naturally had other contacts like Bob Hope, Jack Benny, the Gabor Sisters and Howard Hughes--all of whom had appeared or had been
connected with his films.
He sent me on useless errands to see some of his old cronies, independent producer friends that occasionally back other producers’ films and peopled
the penthouses up and down lower Park Avenue. For the most part these were superficial, over-the-hill, duck-tailed, white haired retired
producers who fancied themselves in the muck of things when the fact was that they were outsiders. They were polite, genteel snobs,
acknowledging Wisberg’s abilities but all to a man they claimed to be involved in interesting projects of their own. The only projects they were
involved in were filming themselves feeding the pigeons in Central Park.
Finally I located my own investor, George “Abadulah” Abrams, Chief Executive Officer of George Abadulah Advertising. Mistakenly I felt that I
might have stumbled onto a legitimate investment opportunity and I set about trying to put a deal together.
I got the silly notion into my head that when we had our meeting with Abrams it might be a professionally impressive touch to have our own attorney
with us. I had had previous dealings with a street wise lawyer Louie "The Lawyer" Bongos whom I was involved with in a negligence case.
Sue and I had been driving “Rosy” on the Major Deegan Highway in the Bronx. She put her brakes on and was hit from behind. We both suffered
“tushy” whiplash. One of Sue’s friends, Jacky, suggested a lawyer in the South Bronx who handled tushy whiplash cases. Since we needed the money
at the time, because Sue was temporarily suspended from teaching due to The Board of Education Masters Degree debacle; we went to see Bongos.
Bongos took the case and referred us to his hand picked doctor on retainer, whose offices were on Park Avenue.
Dr. Zorba "The Teenage Medic" gave her a perfunctory checkup. His waiting room was filled with what appeared to be other negligence cases
and obviously he was running a negligence case factory. Bongos, after a year, negotiated a settlement with the insurance company. I was impressed
with his smooth operator operation and called him as the attorney to take care of legal matters in the upcoming film negotiations. Naturally, Bongos
said yes for it turned out to be the fastest $200 bucks he ever earned for just two hours that he put in at the meeting. I took my last $200 from the
bank and turned it over to Bongos.
The day of the big meeting we all arrived separately. Wisberg in his producer-director ensemble, Bongos in his five hundred dollar Italian tinker
tailored polyester seersucker suit and me in my cowboy hat and dungarees. The Abadulah Agency was furnished with the top of the line furnishings,
complete with a rent-a-receptionist, six inch Wall-To-Wall carpets and modern paintings graced the walls. The Abadulah Agency occupied about four
floors of the skyscraper. I had the feeling before the meeting that I had finally arrived at my first big movie deal.
We were ushered into a mahogany paneled conference room and seated at a large conference table, with yours truly next to what proved
to be Abudulah’s chair. Bongos brought along a fresh supply of yellow pads to do his lawyer doodling on and to impress the yokels with his
industriousness and to ease his not too industrious conscience that he was doing something for his $200 fee.
Wisberg was his usual dingbat self, all puffed out like an NBC Peacock strutting its feathers--like a rutting moose from Manitoba. And when
Abadulah waltzed in a half hour later with his entourage, he was the picture of the lucky con-man who wakes up one day and finds himself in charge
of a multi-million dollar operation and can’t quite figure out how he got there. And then there was me. I knew absolutely nothing about negotiating a
film deal. I was winging it and ad-libbing as we went along. Bongos was nothing but a glorified negligence ambulance chaser and knew even less about
film negotiations. So there we were-- a roomful of hustlers, hustling each other.
Abadulah spent the whole first half hour of the meeting telling us how he had built his agency from scratch. Bongos, Wisberg and I began to
wonder if Abadulah misunderstood why we were there. Perhaps Abadulah thought that we were prospective clients whom he had to impress. Bongos
interrupted with a few lawyer type general questions which had nothing to do with anything in a vain attempt to get us back on track and when
everybody glared at him he sat immobile for the rest of the meeting scribbling gibberish on his yellow pads.
The two peacocks, Abadulah and Wisberg, took turns patting themselves on the back. Then Abadulah broke the impasse by telling us that he was
seriously considering backing a film venture by Jim Brown the former professional football player. We were puzzled at all these revelations for they
had nothing to do with us. By now it was apparent that Abadulah was a flake and was wasting our time and the only thing to do was cut our losses and
get the hell out of there. All of the sudden Abadulah rises from his chair and his flunkies rise with him. He says he has important advertising
meetings to attend to and that he will leave his flunkies to attend to the rest of the meeting and makes a hasty departure. Well, we all knew that
without the key figure who represented the real investor at the meeting, the rest of the meeting would be a farce. Bongos is getting edgy for he feels
he has earned his fee because he’s filled two pages of legal pads with illegible scrawls and “doodling” and is seriously considering asking for more fee
money should his twelve hour deodorant pad run out and he be forced to stay any longer. Wisberg, the male “ballabuster” of Mulberry Street, is still
pontificating to Abadulah’s three stooges. I’m sitting there trying to figure how to end this drawing room comedy “bubbameiser”.
Finally, Bongos excuses himself for a court date he just remembered. I drag Wisberg out of the room by his short hairs, leaving Abadulah’s flunkies
wondering what they were called in to do in the first place. Never once during the meeting did the topic come up of investing money in Wisberg’s
films. And so ended my venture capital raising days. Just before the Abadulah meeting however, I was so sure that we had something solid going that
I decided it was time to incorporate and make my agency appear larger than it was. I sent away for a do-it-yourself incorporation kit for $50 and
changed Twin Pines Literary Agency into Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc.
I had one more visit to The Volney Hotel. Wisberg cheerfully greeted me at the door and informed me that he was hard at work on a Libretto in
collaboration with the singer and lyric song writer Johnny Mercer for a musical. Unfortunately, a year or two later, Mercer passed away and so
Wisberg was left stewing in his own petard. Five years later I would get involved with Wisberg in an off-off-Broadway production of one of his better
(ENTERING THE COMPUTER ERA)
The Wisberg fiasco left me broke and disillusioned concerning my ability to ever sell a script. So by early 1973, three
years after Twin pines Literary Agency had been formed, I was ready to close my little shop of literary horrors. Harvey had long since stopped
assigning me projects and then he merged with Simon & Schuster and retired. The term paper business, due to the Attorney General’s and other
investigations, had all but disappeared. There were some rewrites on manuscripts where I picked up a few ill-gotten fees and some manuscripts for
marketing were crossing my desk. Most were amateur productions compared to Wisberg’s and didn’t stand a chance for publication. Even Abadulah
had the nerve to send a couple of screenplays he had written in order that I might waste more of my time raising capital for them. He had less of a
chance than Wisberg of getting film money for he had no track record whatsoever. Needless to say I spent no further time on these wishful projects.
It was dawning on me that being a literary agent was not to be my vocation, avocation or a permanent vacation.
Sue was working diligently in a South Bronx Ghetto Elementary School and I started driving again for Riverside Limo--back and forth to the airports
at night and weekends.
Once again Rachel P. comes to the rescue but I was easy prey for a change. Ira and Rachel paid a visit to Croton one Sunday afternoon and as they
were leaving for home Rachel off-handedly made the remark that The Equitable Life Assurance Society (her employer) had a position of Technical
Editor opening up soon and would I be interested in it? I, just as off-handedly, said I would be. Rachel said she would ask her boss, Margie, if the
position was still open and get back to me. The position was still open and so I put on my Sunday best and interviewed with Marge “The Barge”. I was
offered the job at the end of the interview. I believe that the only reason I got it was that Rachel used her influence with Marge. I hadn’t any
experience as an editor, never mind a technical editor dealing with computer manuals.
The following Monday I purchased my monthly commutation pass and joined the army of daily commuters that invaded the caverns of
Manhattan from the barrios of the wilds of Westchester. Croton was a fifty five minute commute, two stop express ride into Grand Central. It was
then a short 15 minute brisk walk ten blocks to the 52nd Street and The Avenue of the Americas’ Equitable Building.
The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States was at the time a $22 billion dollar bonanza and ranked in the top ten insurance companies,
third behind New York Life (MET) and number one “The Rock” (Kidney Rocks), Prudential, with a healthy business in pensions, life and group
medical plans. It was located in the vicinity of the Rockefeller Center Complex and across the street from the NBC, ABC, CBS buildings and one
block north by Northwest of Radio City Music Hall--right in the hubbub of the Midtown Manhattan business world. It was a radical change from the
deafening quiet of Croton. The Equitable Building was home to over five thousand employees and another 3,000 inhabited the Home Office on Maiden
Lane in the Wall Street area. Worldwide, Equitable had over 50,000 employees. Our building housed the great computer complex and most of the
new health and life insurance scams and dodges perpetuated on the unsuspecting public were hatched there.
Scattered throughout the Manhattan area, as well as in every major city in the country, were the independent agencies and the agents who sold
Equitable’s fast buck get rich quick schemes.
About a dozen or so floors of our building were given over to the computer section. Computers in 1973, you must realize, were just coming into
their own in the business world but hadn’t yet made the impact they were to make in the next decade. Even though we were 15 years into the first
generation computer revolution it would be the second generation computer revolution that would make the biggest impact on the economy, politics,
the public, society and culture through the popularization and “pragmatization” of the newer PC’s, laptops and networking strategies.
By the time I arrived on the scene, Equitable had become flooded with computer analysts, systems analysts, computer technicians,
repairmen, servicemen, designers and hordes of computer sales personnel and their accompanying consultants. They were responsible for selling,
developing, analyzing and patching up Equitable’s latest health nut programs.
I, along with a female editor who had arrived two years before me, were to head the editorial department. In another part of the building was a
weekly in-house newsletter which was published for the benefit of the hapless employees. My specific job was to rewrite and update some of the
computer manuals that were used to design and program the health plans. Another chore would be to take notes and write up the minutes at the
weekly meetings that Margie held for her programmers, analysts, technicians, sales people and outside vendors. The latter of whom were constantly
trying to sell her every new system that came down the computer turnpike. Margie, a surprisingly nice person for a corporate type, represented the
new breed of technocratic females who were to quickly rise above the glass ceiling to lucrative jobs in the top of the computer profession. I was to
work for and report directly to her.
If I had not been shortsighted, lazy and disinterested I would have realized that just like my Pan American opportunity ten years ago, that this was a
valuable opportunity to learn the computer industry from the ground up. The industry was just in its infancy and growing rapidly. I would have been
able to secure a skill that would have assured my financial security in the coming years. Unfortunately, at that time and for a long time afterwards, I
had little interest in the new computer technology.
It was all Greek to me. All day long I was surrounded by preppy programmers, analysts, designers and salespeople who would be speaking
“computereese” to their compatriots and very rarely did they utter a complete sentence in English. I was bored rather quickly with my new position
and an unremitting ennui set in almost immediately. I had little interest in learning the trade of technical editing. I only stayed as long as I did for
Sue’s and Robby’s and then Tania’s sake. At least I was earning more money than I had earned from my freelancing and case working days.
But I was completely lost at our weekly vendor, troubleshooting meetings. I just kept my mouth shut and tried to interpret what was going on at
the meetings for the Minutes that I would dutifully type and circulate. Marge “The Barge” was about to embark on a massive rewriting of the
computer manuals. She thought it would be prudent if I took computer classes in BASIC, COBOL and FORTRAN so that I might the more readily
translate the technical language into readable manuals. But the classes bored me and put me to sleep. The other students quite naturally were deeply
interested in the material and it wasn’t long before I fell irretrievably behind my classmates and then I finally dropped out altogether. The flow
charts reminded me too much of the electrical drafting diagrams that we used to draw at Hudson Valley Technical Institute. They were just as
complicated and unintelligible.
It was a perfect opportunity to learn the latest up to date training on the state-of-the-art equipment and software but my mind was simply not
tuned into the advantages of acquiring this useless knowledge. There was little indication in 1973 of the explosion of computer technology that was on
I adjusted comfortably to my daily routine and had a lot of free time on my hands. I was given little else to do, so it was very easy to hide out in this
vast conglomerate wasteland. It took the corporate dingbats at the Equitable about three years to discover that I wasn’t doing anything fulfilling or
fulfilling a useful function. “Unbeknownest” to me I was about to be downsized ten years before it became fashionable to be so.
I used to go on long lunch hours one, two and even for as long as three hours. I spent most of this time sitting at the little fountain parks
that surround the Rockefeller Center Plaza Area. I would feed the pigeons and then they would feed me and then together we would watch the great
street theater where hordes of out-of-work actors, vendors, clowns and acrobats would daily perform free of charge on the Midtown streets. Standing
around gawking would be the tourists, business executives and sexy secretaries from the nearby buildings.
No one realized I was gone and no one bothered me in my little cubbyhole tucked away in the corner of some ubiquitous section of the 23rd. floor of
this immense building. Every person there, except for the other editors, were involved in the programming aspect of the business. I was an outsider
and the people around me weren’t quite sure what I was doing there. Perhaps they thought I was a graduate from some management spy-on-your-
own-employees program so rampant in the 70’s. I am sure most of these nitwits did not know what an editor was.
Occasionally I would venture down to the 42nd Street area and browse around the pornography magazine shops and drop into some of the more
classier of the topless and bottomless bars. I even attended a few sessions at some of the Japanese whorehouses in the Jewelry District. But I soon
realized that on my salary I shouldn’t get into the habit of frequenting the local call girls.
I enjoyed the train ride to and from The Equitable because it took about an hour door-to-door. There were in those days always seats and in the
summer the trains were pleasantly air conditioned. It gave me even more leisure time to read books. Rachel P. was on the floor above me and from
time to time I made occasional visits to her office but there wasn’t much that I could converse with her about. She was a skilled computer
programmer and very into her work. She was more of Sue’s friend than mine. I felt very isolated at The Equitable when in reality it should have
been a wonderful opportunity had I seized upon its potential. I was ripe (wallowing as I was in my overpowering ennui) to get involved in the
promotional shenanigans that reared their ugly heads during my last year as a Technical Editor for The Equitable. These promotional hijinks had
their origins with Sam “The Sho-Gun” Seidenberg, Evelyn’s second honey of a husband.
END OF VOLUME II
1. As Insurance Man...PxP (“KISS! ((Keep It Simple Stupid!))”....
The Man From Fang Associates,
Genius Without Direction”).
2. As Play Producer...R-R1 (George Floodgates And The Ingenue. Broadway Tryouts. SECOND FLOOR
FRONT and Nazi Intrigue. The Revolt of The Larchmont Penny Loafer Players).
3. As Limo Business Operator...B-Q4 (The Godfather. “Hey Urang, Take Me For
A Ride In Your Big Black Caddy. Make Me An Offer I Can Refuse.” First Affair.)
4. As Space Man...P-N5 (Return To My “Roots”. Selling Space For
THE JEWISH WEEK. "The Jewish Who!?”)
5. As Motorcyclist...N-Q2 (Cycling At 40 Below, Over 40 M.P.H.,
Over 40 Years Of Age And “Breakin Dem” Bones).
6. As Manufacturer’s Rep...P-N6 (Door-To-Door With The Card-Sharp
From Vegas. The Computerized Weather-Man).
7. As Columnist...Q-K2 (Meet His Honor The Mayor of Bonkers.
Going Bonkers In Yonkers. Little Caesar
Salad & The Nite Owls. Magazine And
8. As Night Watchman...Q-R5 (The Watchman’s Story).
9. As Weekend Mechanic...N-B3 (When My Real Education Began -- B0CCES).
10. As Tenant Organizer...Q-R4 (“Evita, Elayne The Brain” And Bringing Bonkers To Its Political Knees).
11. As Employer...R-N1 (Sweet Sixteen And Her Mother Will
Even Drive Her To Work!).
12. As Adulterer...K-B1 (Sleeping With The First Cousins...Both Sides).
13. As Vacationer...Q-R8Ch. (Block Islander, TIME’S BOTTLES.
Down On The Farm With Onion, Lady And
The Rest Of The Beasts Of Prey).
14. As Separated And Divorced...N-N1 (On Parole At The YMCA. Discovery
Of The Mountain Climbing Metaphor.
The Journey Begins For The Summit
Of Art’s Ba Da Bing—The Perfect
15. As Embezzler...P-B6 (Burning My Bra With The Women Of
WOMEN’S NEWS. Stealing My
Commissions From The Pulitzer
Foundation. Sleeping In At THE
“BESTCHESTER” BUSINESS JOURNAL).
16. As Messenger...B-K3 (New York By Foot. By Motorcycle).
17. As Unemployment Recipient...PxP (Battling The Bureaucracy At Bull Run).
18. As Delivery Boy...R-B7 (PENNYSAVERS At Dawn, TV Listings At Twilight).
19. As Bum...Q-K4 (Down And Out. Off, Off, Off The Bowery.
The Queen and King Of the Singles World.
Moonlight Cruises To Nowhere. Publications For The
Uncommon Man. Meet Barbara “The Wig” And "The Flying Dutchman",
Duncan Donuts of "Bandito Publications,
Penthouse Aspirations, Stouffer's Gambit Declined.
A Magazine For Singles and THE SAINTS OF ESTERWOOD).
20. As Exerciser...K--B1 (On The Run On The East River. Ruthie keeps
Track. A Typewriter For Weight
Lifters. Studio 54. Let Your Yellow Pages
Salesman Do The Walking).
21. As “Exilee”...P-B6 (Where Have All The Rest Stops Gone?
On the Road With “Bestchester” County
As My Host).
22. As Poor Man Again...P-N3 (Rock Bottom. Car Sleeping And Car
Rousting. Parking Lot Mayhem.
Parking Meter Manslaughter).
23. As Defendant Again...B-K2 (Sue Sues! “Sue Me! I’m The Bastard!”)
24. As Gas Jockey...N-B5 (The Royal Dutch Shell Game).
25. As Medical Guinea Pig...R-B7Ch. (The Professional Volunteer And
26. As Telemarketing Rep...BxR (The MCI Scam).
27. As Male Secretary...K-K1 (Call Director. In The Belly Of The
Corporate Beast. “He’s Not At His
28. As Retail Sales Baboon...PxBCh. (Macy’s End Of The World One Day
29. As Snoopy...KxP (A Peek-A-Boo At My Ex’s Diary).
30. As Word Processor...K-K1 (As IBM’er, King Of The World).
31. As Metaphysician
Years: 1984 - 2017...QN6-MATE!!!!! (END GAME !!!!! The Heathen vs.
The Reborn Christian Fundamentalist-- Miracle At Valhalla.
The Charismatic Charismatics. Romance In My 50’s.
The Second Generation Gap. Robby L.
In And Out Of The Army, In and Out of Drug
Rehabs, Tania P. To College then to Nashville and back.
Susan L. A Second Marriage. My second Marriage: The Australian Strange Attractor.
Three Fine and not so Fine Women: Low Maintenance, Neutral Maintenance and High Maintenance.
Setting To Music And Sound Effects, Recording And Narrating the complete
DIVINE COMEDY and the Classics in Poetry from 2000BC to 2017AD. Metaphysics
and Lattice Mechanics. Beyond Quarks, Gluons, Flowons, Higgs (the so-Called God Particle)
and Rainbow Wave-Frequency Gravity Theory. Infinitism Revisited, Symmetrics vs. Asymmetrics.
Relativity, Chaos, Quantum Mechanics And Gravity, Grand Unification vs. Grand De-
Unification. The “Finite” Speed of Light vs. The Infinite Speed of Darkness. A Rather
Lengthy History Of Anti-Time and finally The Speed of Darkness Equations - Unification-
DeUnification, The Final Years: The last Be-Loved-Behated-- Terry St. Germaine
and I sue Everybody! (E&Y, Social Security and the, U.S. Census Bureau, NYS Labor Dept. Et. Als.)
Summary: A look Backwards, Presently And Forwards.
THE PROMOTER FROM CROTON-ON-THY-HUDSON
I had mentioned that Evelyn, my sister, had met Sam “The Scam Man” Seidenberg a few years after she separated and divorced from
Gene “The Scholar” Schrier, the college professor and stockbroker from Binghamton. Evelyn had moved back to Albany with their
adopted son Billy “The Fugitive” to work in the alcoholic outpatient and emergency room of Albany Hospital and Albany Medical Center
Sam had been divorced twice and had two children, whom he never kept in touch with--one from each marriage,. He was a high school
dropout from Albany High School and five years older than Evelyn and seven years older than me. He had a brother, Alvin “The
Chipmunk” Seidenberg, who owned a discount schlock jewelry storefront on Central Avenue in Albany. Sam and his brother didn’t get
along. It was probably the case that his brother was more successful than he.
Sam was an obnoxious, earthy, robust, extrovert sort of guy with a muscular build, slightly balding head (used for a solar sex panel) and a
loud booming voice. Like the natural selection salesman, he was the type that could walk up to and annoy anyone. He got a thrill when
he could be-little people or embarrass them with his overbearing manner and especially if they put on airs or were more educated than he,
anyone for that matter who appeared to have the upper hand over Sam. This was to make up for his own inferior position. He didn’t even
graduate grade school. These tactics were designed to bring everyone down to Sam’s level. He would discount everyone with a barrage of
insults, expletives and jeering jests.
There was, however, another side to Sam that was likable, that was his fun loving, devil-may-care life style which was probably what
attracted Evelyn to him. It was that free-wheeling way of his which made me fond of him and captivated by this charm and charisma I
became friends with him. He was a live-in substitute for “The Gortzburger” of my army years.
Like me, Sam had had a series of douche bag jobs, yet in his case he had never had the opportunity for something better and because of
his lack of education he was doomed to an eternity of douche bag jobs. He had driven a cab in Albany, been in the Navy, received a
medical discharge for psychological problems and had worked briefly at that same discount house that my father had gotten into trouble
with. My father didn’t like Sam and wanted nothing to do with him and was against Evelyn’s marriage from the beginning. Neither my
father nor my mother showed up at the small wedding ceremony. In fact Sue and I were the only witnesses to this insanity that took
place at the Reformed Temple on New Scotland Avenue. Sue didn’t like “Sho-Gun” Sam either.
At the time that he met Evelyn he was involved with flea markets as a dealer in cheap chotchkes. Sam, Evelyn and Billy had moved to
Florida where the flea markets were more popular than they were on the East Coast. Sue and I went to visit them once or twice before
Robby was born. Sam and Evelyn traveled back and forth from Florida to Albany for the first couple of years of their marriage and then
finally after a stint in Guilderland, New York, a mile outside of Albany, settled in Ravena, New York ten miles southwest of Albany. Sue
and I visited them every time we traveled up to Albany. During this period their daughter Becky Seidenberg was born.
It was on one of my visits to Florida that Sam “The Yam” took me to my first official flea market. Little did I realize at this time that in
two years I would be organizing my own flea market. At the time I just thought it was a way to pass the day. Flea markets were nothing
more than a bunch of smelly dealers getting together on a hot field selling poor quality durable goods that one could just as easily pick up
in any Wal-Mart for about half the price. Sam had his station wagon crammed packed with worthless objects and was lucky to sell $2.00
worth of goods. He spent most of his time flirting with the wives or girlfriends of the other dealers or picking fights with husbands, lovers
or boyfriends and insulting and poking fun at the prospective customers. I thought nothing more about flea bag markets at the time.
When Sam and Evelyn moved back to Ravena, New York, Sam rented an old store front and bought a bunch of dilapidated “antique”
wooden goods at below wholesale cost and tried to make a go of it there by selling at thrice retail. If it wasn’t for Evelyn’s nursing jobs in
Florida and Albany, Sam would have starved.
The only other contact I had had with flea markets was when I lived in the East Village. There it was natural to find all sorts of artsy
“craftsy” dealers selling their wares on the streets of New York both in the East and West Village. In fact Ruthie and Sue had two close
friends, Ronnie and Liz, a husband and wife team, dealing in homemade jewelry and other leather artifacts for S&M aficionados. We had
attended a couple of the annual Washington Square Park Arts and Crafts Shows in Greenwich Village proper. Once a year, beginning in
the early 1970’s, we would go to the Pete Seeger Croton Festival at Croton Point Park on the Hudson. The Fair was initiated by the folk
singer Pete Seeger in an effort to draw attention to the state of the condemned shark turd infested waters and other environmental issues
of the Hudson River. He founded his Hudson River Sloop campaign in a successful attempt to get the river cleaned up by sailing up and
down the Hudson with his Sloop full of unemployed Hippies, eight bottles of Fantastic Cleaner and preached to the general public on a host
of left wing hopeless causes. This festival gradually grew to become one of the largest folk festivals and arts and crafts show on the East
Coast with dealer and entertainers from all over the country cramming into Croton Point Park for a week of singing, dancing, belching,
farting, fucking and displaying their fish wives and wares.
Except for these brief glimpses of flea markets and festivals, I had no interest in them, or at least I did not think I did. One day, out of
the clear blue sky, literally speaking, on my daily morning trip from Bari Manor to the railroad, I passed this huge empty field at the foot
of the hill which terminates at Croton’s crotch--the railroad station. I had passed this field hundreds of times and it had had no effect on
me. It was background scenery. But this morning, for some reason, as I started to descend to the station, my attention was riveted on
this vast eleven acre expanse. In the middle of the property stood a large sign that displayed the renting real estate agent’s telephone
number. Except for that sign the property was barren, rock strewn, with grass and swampy marshland. At its Southern Cross Border was
the Van Cortland Manor, a congenial congenital tourist trap, where for a few shillings one could be transported back to Colonial 17th
Century New Amsterdam. The estate and grounds had been converted into a historical site and museum. On the west the land was
bordered by the old Route 9 Revolutionary War Highway which extended 30 miles south to New York City and 140 miles north to Albany,
there linking up with The Northway to Lake George and Canada or stretching westward-ho to Buffalo.
Naturally, the road was a lot less traveled since the New York State Thruway had been built ten miles to the West. Route 9 was well
traveled nonetheless, used as a busy local thoroughfare between the bedroom communities up and down the Hudson. On its northern side
of the property was a bowling alley and the east was flanked by wild scrub brush and hilly terrain. In fact the whole area was surrounded
by a steep incline of hills making it a natural, sunken coliseum stadium complex. Further to the west, about a mile distant, was the busy
railroad yard of Croton. There the marsh lands emptied into the Hudson. The entire panorama could be taken in at a glance from the
hilly road that descended to the railroad station at Croton.
While lost in a sea of wild contemplation of this scene an idea flashed across my psychopathic consciousness. What a wonderful place to
hold an Event-- a giant flea market perhaps. Not an ordinary flea market of thirty or forty dealers but a gigantic flea market with dealers
from all over the country. The promotion practically came full blown to my mind as I stood there in a vapid euphoria that I had not
known since the days when I would observe the weather from my window while waiting in anticipation for an upcoming storm.
The power of the idea was so great that I was held fast to the spot. I was then drawn like a magnetic monopole into the center of the field
to get a closer look at the real estate sign. As I descended the hill a thought from my distant past had surfaced. Once, when I had been
returning by subway to my place in Manhattan, my attention had been drawn to a bunch of flyers announcing the great Woodstock
Festival in upstate New York. I didn’t attend that festival but I knew intuitively that it would be a world shaking event what with all the
top stars appearing for free. That event was to usher in a whole era of post hippie, free-wheeling, free-basing, free-loving festivals of the
early 70’s. Two hundred thousand people from all over the globe stormed into an upstate wheat field and put on one of the biggest festival
fuck-ins ever held with its effects to be felt far into the future. Of course, a flea market was a far cry from this type of festival but after
five more minutes of meditation my mind was made up. I decided to get control of that land and throw one of the largest flea markets
ever held. When I looked up I found myself in front of the real estate sign announcing that the land was still not sold.
As if I was on automatic pilot from that moment on, for the next ten years, 1973-1983, I would be involved in one promotion after
another. Even though I had never participated in a flea market before, I seemed to know intuitively what steps to take to put the event
in operation. Instead of going to work that morning I marched over to the real estate office which just happened to be across the street
outside the complex.
The broker was a man in his middle forties with a graying goatee and Isaac Asimov sideboard whiskers. He told me that the land was
owned by a real estate syndicate in New Jersey. It seems they were hoping to get approval to put up a sprawling shopping center complex
but currently they were being challenged by the Village Elders and the Towns-People of Croton because it was thought that the
commercialization of the area would destroy the idyllic country setting. Of immediate concern was the traffic congestion that would be
caused on Old Route 9. He told me that the owner might be interested in leasing the land in order to defray the taxes that were still being
levied until the decision of the Village came down. He would contact them and get back to me. Towards the end of this first discussion he
informed me that he was intrigued with my idea. It sounded like a money maker and to keep him posted for he might become a silent
partner. He could not become an overt partner because of his conflicting interests on the Village Board.
I left the agent and spent the rest of the day at The Equitable plotting the Event. I figured that it was merely a question of going to every
flea market in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey and handing out flyers and speaking to dealers personally. A very powerful flyer
had to be created in order to get the message across and be convincing in such a short time. Dealers were naturally suspicious of any new
promoter who was trying to enter the field. I estimated in round figures that I wanted 300 dealers and would charge them based on a one,
two or a three day attendance. Now most flea markets up until that time were lucky to have fifty dealers and the fact that I was shooting
for 300 without any connections in the business world would be a small miracle in itself.
The dealer money would then be leveraged and used to pump into a blitz type of advertising program just before The Event. The profits
would be made by the admission fees at the gate. The plan was to be at the break-even point in regards to expenses by opening day and to
clear about $20,000 net for the three day affair based on an attendance of five to ten thousand per day--paying customers.
The technique I was using was based on a clever device used by independent or not well funded film companies in the 1960’s and was
called the “Master Four Wall Operation”, where a so-so flim-flam film would be shot, edited and spliced and the best parts extracted for
advertising purposes. Then the Four-Wall Operator would go into an unsuspecting community, lease all the theaters for a short span of
time, do a publicity blitz based on the badly spliced, edited films, making the movie appear to be a Blockbuster from Blockbusters. Then
he would sell out the theaters ahead of time. By the time of opening night the Operator would have fled the area where he would put in
the Four Wall Operation all over again with the profits from the previous blitz at a new location. By the time the critics’ reviews and
word-of-mouth spread, of the poor quality of the film, the event had accomplished its purposes. Of course my attempts were the
legitimate use of the Four Wall Operation in that The Event I had projected would be good in its own right and was not of a fraudulent
nature or the type which gave a bad name to the truly legitimate use of The Four Wall Operation.
Adding to our possible success was the fact that there were already two other annual events scheduled for the 4th of July in the Croton
area. They were the fireworks at Croton Point Park, and further north near Peekskill, at Grand Island. I knew about these events and
they just happened to be synergistic opportunities that presented themselves. There was also a third event which I did not know of that
took place annually at The Van Cortland Manor. Every year they celebrated with a free picnic in honor of Independence Day. I figured
whatever happened we would automatically benefit from those crowds.
A few days later the real estate agent called me back and told me that The Syndicate in New Jersey would lease the land to me for a $500
option fee through July.
So overnight I was the excited owner of eleven prime acres in Croton. I knew because of the proximity of Route 9, the railroad, and
ample parking lots, that I had picked the ideal spot for The Event--right at the crossroads of the lower Hudson Valley. There was no
reason why we couldn’t get attendance from as far away as New York City. The only thing left to do was to design the flyer which would
be the key element in getting dealers. If I got the dealers the crowds would surely follow because each separate market had its regular
The idea struck me to make this The World Series of Flea Markets and that’s exactly the way I billed it. A three day Fourth of July
Event where dealers from all over the country would be allowed to camp out on the land and sell their wares and their wives (or the
wives-- their husbands) if they chose to do so.
I was off and running. I had managed to save $2,500 of my own money while working at The Equitable and I put that together with
another $2,500 that I borrowed from Household Finance Corporation on the pretense of buying some furniture for our Bari Manor
apartment. I borrowed the money on the strength of Sue’s co-signature which I borrowed since I had been a bankrupt two years earlier
and I needed her signature. In this and any subsequent promotion I felt I had to do whatever was necessary and never let anything stand
in the way of completing a promotion once undertaken.
I paid the $500 option fee to the agent. I took advantage of all the free time that I had at The Equitable (seven hours out of an eight hour
day). I used their phones, envelopes and postage. I had the flyer printed up at a nearby copy shop announcing The World Series of Flea
Markets to be held on the three day Fourth of July Weekend. I figured that if indeed The Event lived up to its potential that I would need
some assistance as I got closer to opening day. Phil “The Term Paper Genius” Goutell said he would be happy to help at the Festival. He
would bring along “Sing-Along” Alice and Mel “The Hustler”, two freelancers from Brooklyn, to work at the gates and to keep people
from sneaking in. I also thought it might be good jurisprudence to bring in some muscle, Sam “Prince Charming” Seidenberg, as we got
down to D Hour. Sam said he would come up a few days before the Festival and help set it up. But other than those commitments, I was
going to swing the whole thing by myself. From the desks of The Equitable I flooded the local media with the flyers used as a press
Every weekend I would attend a different Flea market in the area, circulating flyers and trying to talk the dealers into coming. I would
go to the antique shows at the Armories and The “Bestchester” County Center. I attended the largest Flea Market on the East Coast in
southern New Jersey.
The dealer response was slow at first until I decided to scale the entrance fee to as low as $10 for one day and $25 for three. This price
was much more attractive to them and was reasonable in comparison to other shows. I estimated that I would break even with the dealer
money thus leaving the gate money as pure profit.
By June the dealers started to sign on in droves as soon as the word got out by word-of-mouth that this might be The Event of the decade
as far as dealers were concerned. Dealers by nature don’t like to be left out of a good thing. By this time “Saint” Susan had gotten wind
of what I was doing and at first she was worried that I might be jeopardizing my Equitable job and then was convinced that this was just
another harebrained scheme which would be as unsuccessful as the literary agency. She basically took a “show me” attitude. She didn’t
actively interfere but played it safe.
The word was also getting out in other ways. “Term Paper” Phil called me one day and told me to go to the newsstand and get the
current issue of TIME MAGAZINE. When I did, I saw a two paragraph article with the headline "The World Series of Flea Markets
Comes To Croton" under its "What To Do This Fourth of July" column. This plus numerous announcements in the local papers plus my
own stapling of flyers to telephone poles in and around the surrounding area of Croton had finally brought The Event, a few days before
we were to open, to the attention of the local authorities.
The phone rang and on the other end was an “angrified” male voice that identified itself as the Village of Croton Supervisor. He had on
his desk in front of him one of my flyers ripped from a telephone pole.
He goes on in a threatening manner that The Event will not be able to take place because I have already violated a number of local
ordinances not to mention strict zoning and most of the Ricco racketeering laws. I started to break out in a cold sweat for I have already
sunk my savings into it and its only seventy two hours before opening day.
I rush over to the Municipal Building where these local yokels hang out and get ushered into the Supervisor’s office. First he asks me if I
have Event Liability Insurance of at least $1,000,000. Of course I don’t! I tell him I do! The cost of that type of insurance is prohibitive.
He interrogates me on the health and emergency services I have planned as well as sanitary provisions such as the distribution of sanitary
napkins and condoms to every senior citizen. I inform him I’m bringing in Port-A-Johns from Port-Au-Prince, Kansas for toilet facilities--
six in all. (I’m thinking to myself if six aren’t enough, look, either let them eat cake or let them piss in the Hudson!)
His main concern is that coincidentally on the same day there will be fireworks on Grand Island, Croton Point Park and at the Van
Cortland Manor. (I found out later that the Board of Directors of Van Cortland Manor complained that they didn’t want my event
interfering with theirs). According to my flyer, since this was going to be The World Series of Flea Markets; they were assuming that it
would be very large indeed. These crowds combined with the crowds from the other events will, in their uneducated concerted opinion,
cause a Woodstock type of situation and the Town of Croton is not prepared to handle such an eventuality. Old Route Nine, being a two
lane highway for the most part, could not handle the traffic. Traffic would be backed up to the Tappan Zee Bridge, eight miles south to
They were also worried about the grounds itself and the surrounding area. The Village Trustees, as well as the Mayor, he told me, are
against having The Event at all. Had I provided any plans for these contingencies? Did I make any provisions for cleanup? He told me
that the real estate agent who had leased the land should have known better than to give permission for an Event like this. At the next
meeting they were going to make a motion for his suspension if in fact The Event does take place. They also mentioned the fact that I
had failed to approach the Village for approval for such a large undertaking. The Real Estate Syndicate in New Jersey wasn’t in good
standing due to the fact that most of the Trustees didn’t want any commercial development on the land in the first place, especially by an
When he was finished I knew I was in hot water and would have to think fast in an attempt to save The Event at any cost. I decided to
bluff it out. For openers I played dumb as if I had made a big mistake, apologized profusely and said I didn’t mean to slight the Town
Board. I would have gone to them immediately had I known I would need their protection, I mean permission. I pointed out that I wasn’t
an outsider but a resident of Croton and I had an interest in seeing that a respectable flea market took place (one that would go down in
Croton’s history) and not something that the Town would regret. That in no way was it going to be another Woodstock because there
wasn’t going to be any entertainment. I would provide all the sanitary and emergency facilities required by law. I would purchase
Liability Insurance (which I had no intention of doing. I’d risk it). The Event was being held on private property and I would confine it to
that property. It was properly organized and under careful scrutiny by my organization. (An organization up to then of one, me!).
Therefore, there was no reason to expect crowds of the magnitude of Woodstock. Secretly I was elated at the prospect of another
Woodstock and that my simple provocative flyer had initiated such a response and that it gave them cause to think it would be another
Woodstock. Perhaps there would be huge crowds after all. For my finale, I made a plea on behalf of the dealers (never once mentioning
the hardship to myself) saying that I had about 300 dealers (which I did) that paid for their spaces. These weren’t just local dealers but
dealers from all over the country and if they traveled to Croton and found the land closed down there’s no telling what would happen. The
advertising had already gone out and couldn’t be recalled so everything they feared about excess crowds defecating on the Croton
landscape would happen whether we threw The Event or not. The traffic jams would be worse because the confusion caused by the closing
down of the mine field would necessitate more traffic control. Finally, in reality, (and deductive-induction) it was too late to call it off!
By the time I had finished with my Johnny Carson/David Letterman/Jay Leno monologue off the top of my head, I realized that I had
presented a rather powerful argument to assuage their fears. They didn’t suspect that I was bluffing and exaggerating my position by
accepting their premise that The Event was going to be a foregone success.
They were outraged that I had backed them into a corner and said that they were going to meet with the Mayor (who incidentally
moonlighted during the afternoons as a railroad conductor for the Metro North Railroad) tonight at a special meeting held for this very
special purpose. I would know their final decision by tomorrow afternoon. I went home scared shitless but elated at the thought that I
had them on the run. Deep down I knew however that there was the very real possibility of them calling my bluff and saying tough luck
and let the chips fall where they may. I was ecstatic about the fact that Van Cortland Manor, on my southern flank, was going to have an
event that would allow one crowd to feed upon the other. This was a big boost. I was now convinced that we would have 10,000 people per
day pass through the pearly gates securing us a gross profit of $30,000 which could be rolled over to fund my next Promotion.
The next afternoon I was called back in. The Mayor had decided to let me go ahead against his best wishes because I had convinced the
Supervisor it would do little good to cancel it. It wouldn’t be fair to the dealers and the public at this juncture. The real reason that The
Event was allowed to proceed was the fact that that same morning I decided to shore up my position with a little legal advice on where I
stood “vis-à-vis” the Town and their Holy Roman Empire Ordinances.
I decided to call on good old “Yankee Doodles Yellow Dog Legal Pad” Bongos of the late Abadulah Abrams film farce and he granted me
an emergency audience that morning.
Bongos’ private secretary ushers me into his plush leather stricken office and he proceeds to give me a fatherly “you should have known
better” lecture on “Bestchester” Village politics. Telling me that I violated cardinal rule number one when dealing with these local
fiefdoms. Most of the powder keg power brokers in key positions are on self inflated ego trips and more concerned with their own self
importance than they are with the supposed welfare of the community. In order to cater to that vanity and out-sized pride I should have
gone through the obsequious motions of acknowledging the power brokers’ Divine Right of Kings by getting the Village permission first.
I countered his “reductio absurdum” argument with “that reasoning is easier to dish out in retrospect, but the fact of the matter is that I
would have been turned down from the outset had I sought their permission instead of just charging forward with the courageous if not
momentous announcement of The Event. Even if I had not been prevented from throwing The Event, surely they would have imposed
restrictions and conditions that would have made it impossible to achieve and The Event would have never got as far along as it did. I
decided not risking having no Event at all by keeping it under wraps until the last minute”. Bongos applauds my bravery and says he’ll
see what he can do by making a few phone calls to the Village. He takes a hefty fee (to be paid later-much later-actually never) for the
privilege of doing so.
By late afternoon I’m back at the Municipal Building. They have decided to let me run the Flea Market unmolested on the condition that
I hire extra police for crowd control to the tune of $1,600. At this point, one day before we open, I’m willing to co-sign my own death
warrant. They shove a hastily drawn up Magna Charter Agreement in front of me and I sign and leave the Municipal Building full of
unjustified hope, fear and relief.
“Slippery” Sam arrived that evening and his job would be to direct people down to the gate and to try to keep them from sneaking in.
Sneaking in was easy to do because of the open layout of the land. The people could practically walk in and bypass the gate unmolested.
Eleven acres was a considerable amount of land to patrol.
The following day “Pell” Mell, Alice “The Boobless Gypsy” Cropsey and Phil “The Term Paper Genius” arrived in the early morning
Croton sunshine and would be responsible for controlling other possible open areas. The previous evening the dealers started to arrive en-
masse and they did cause somewhat of a traffic jam a few miles outside of Croton due to their large campers blocking the narrow curves
of Route 9. The dealers, for the most part, lined up alongside the “Higgsion” God Particle Highway and waited for dawn before
disembarking on the field.
By 9 AM, mostly due to Sam The Jewish Shogun's efforts, the dealers were on the field and unloading. The place was pre-Mandelbrot
chaos. Sam handled this end of the festival with aplomb. With his gruff voice above the “rin” and din of unloading, he would bark orders
in all directions trying to get some sort of dealer self control. He didn’t take any shit from the dealers who can be just as obnoxious, pig
headed and boorish as he himself was. Left to themselves they are an independent lot and resent being told what to do. But Sam “The
Yam” told them and they snapped to it. He assigned them to their slots on the field and by 10 he had them neatly arranged in two-by-four
Sue’s stereotypical Jewish Mother from Flatbush, Brooklyn arrived the day of the Fair. She would spend her first night counting the
proceeds from the Till. My job would be to collect those proceeds at the gate sitting at a long table spread across the main entranceway.
Charging a fee at a Flea Market was perhaps a tactical mistake because it was not normally done. Most flea markets back in those days
were not-for-profit enterprises. However, I had charged such a low entrance fee. Not to charge a few pennies at the gate would have
insured a loss before I even opened the gates. This was not a Charity Event given by a charitable organization but an Event that I had
invested heavily in money, time and the risk of my own job at The Equitable. I thought I had the noble right to recoup my investment
and shoot for a profit by charging $.75 per person. (Ten years later it became fashionable at flea markets to charge as much as a $2
entrance fee plus parking). The gate fee was not an unreasonable reimbursement for bringing together three hundred dealers under one
When the public did come it was hard to get the admission because the land was so big that there were numerous places that the people
could simply run down the hill and be on the grounds. The ones that did pay the fee mumbled to themselves or directly to me about being
forced to pay for admission especially when they saw others simply walk in. Such a thing up to now was unheard of. Even the movie actor
Elliot “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” Segal mumbled his disapproval in passing. Easy for him to say, he’s already made his millions.
But of greater significance to the success or failure of the Fair was the thing I absolutely had no control over--the weather. That three
day weekend was to prove to be one of the hottest on modern records. The weekend newspapers had pictures of people flocking to Jones
Beach and the rest of the New York beaches in an attempt to escape the heat wave. That would mean that a mass exodus would cut
heavily into our projected crowds. This was the main factor for the Flea Market’s failure. Croton and the surrounding area, except for
our field, was completely vacated--nothing more than a ghost town during the height of the Festival. It wasn’t only our event that people
ignored but other events as well had greatly reduced crowds for the people opted for the beaches.
Despite the heat, the first day as far as I was concerned was a stunning success. I remember Sue’s mother gleefully counting up the first
day’s proceeds which amounted to about $2,500. It should have been more than double that figure had not twice as many people slipped in
as had paid their admission. This meant that somewhere in the neighborhood of five thousand people had passed through the field on the
first day and that with luck on the next two days the investment would be recouped and a healthy profit unleashed despite the relentless
Albert Camus French Canadian Existential Algerian heat wave.
But by the second day, with the heat still pouring out of the Croton skies, it was obvious to one and all that the crowd would be nowhere
near what it was on the first day. My vision for success not unlike that of Woodstock was shattered. Here I was burdened with all this
unnecessary police protection standing around collecting overtime. I remember that the Captain of the Croton Police Force and I got into
a conversation on the second day and he was commenting as delicately as possible how I had been had after he heard how I was forced to
agree to the police protection which should have been provided by the Village free. Only if it was necessary later, more police could have
been called in but not before the fact. He felt sorry for me and the way I had been treated by the Village Elders, a bunch of self-serving
bureaucrats, who saw an opportunity of getting $1,600 and doing nothing to earn it. He agreed to pull out on the third day which would
give me the basis for lowering the negotiated fee.
The dealers, who right from the opening gun, had been their usual childish, bitchy, spoiled selves, had been complaining apace. Most of
their complaints were ridiculous or about things no one had control over not the least of which was the weather. I guess they expected me
to climb into the sky like a whacked out Daedalus and hang a cloud over the molten sun. It was at least 120 degrees on the field. During
the afternoons the land looked like one vast retired dried out prune.
By the second day the complaints took on a more ominous tone and centered on the obvious fact that the place was devoid of customers.
At least the first day there had been a crowd. By the third day the crowd had dwindled to a few hundred people (spread over eleven acres
of land). On the beginning of the second day the dealers got increasingly more vocal. I felt that for the first time that our people might
be in harm’s way. The unremitting heat was putting everyone on edge. The dealers started to make all sorts of outrageous demands
from wanting their measly ten dollars entrance fee back to demanding instant advertising to drum up business. They accused me of not
having advertised the Event. This of course was nonsense for I had pumped more advertising in this event than any Flea market in
history heretofore had. Then they tried another tack, thinking that thousands of people would suddenly rush from their air conditioned
villas if only I stopped charging admission! I did stop charging on the third day but just as I suspected that didn’t translate into heavier
crowds. There were times during the last two days when I worried that Phil, Mel, Alice, Sam and I were in physical jeopardy for there was
a lynch mob mentality among the dealers. By the third day there wasn’t anyone to charge admission to so what the heck I could
flamboyantly make this gesture to pacify them.
By the third day the jeers, threats and taunts of the dealers had reached such a crescendo that I didn’t venture far from the protective
confines of the front gate. The two previous days I had put in numerous trips to the field in order to observe firsthand what was
transpiring. I also wanted to enjoy the Event myself but was getting tired giving the same old lame excuses for the same old complaints
over and over again. Eventually I just stayed off the field and let Sam “The Rump” take the brunt of the verbal abuse. He was very thick
skinned and at first almost enjoyed the violent verbal interplay with the dealers. He did amazingly well and relished giving the dealers
back a good dose of what they were dishing out.
I told the dealers when they came to me that I had nothing to do with The Event. That I was a hapless employee hired to do a job and
then I would turn them around and pointed in Sam’s direction. I told them that he was the man with all the authority. They would go
traipsing off in hot pursuit of Sam “The Carny Man”, the man with the red, white and blue straw top hat. By the third day I hated the
sight of the dealers as much as they hated me. They were especially hypocritical and narrow-minded in their outlook. It was perfectly all
right for them to make a profit with shoddy, overpriced merchandise but they begrudged me that same right. They felt I should have
worked day and night for three months, risking my job and savings in order to put on a charity event for them to make their fortunes.
Increasingly, every time I would see a delegation of dealers headed my way, I would simply by reflex point to the man with the straw top
hat. He wouldn’t be hard to find because his bellowing voice and top hat stood out from the crowd. There were always swarms of dealer
drones surrounding him, plaguing his every move throughout the Festival. I felt more secure because two of the three days I was
surrounded by Croton’s Finest and the dealers couldn’t do anything to me. This agony would become more and more frequent as the day
I played the innocent ticket collector and sent the disgusting rumpled dealers with their three day’s worth of dirt and grime sprawled
across their faces to Sam. God only knows what he told them. After a while Sam, with his fading “Cro-Magnum” personality on the
wane, couldn’t hold them at bay any longer. He got wise to my deflection techniques and started to sic them on Mel, Alice and Phil at the
other end of the field. Phil, Mel and Alice would throw up their hands in disgust and simply send them back to me and then the whole
vicious charade would start all over again. By the beginning of the third day, Mel, Alice and Phil had taken all the abuse they could
stomach. It was apparent to them that they weren’t going to make a dime for all this aggravation. They resigned right on the spot, just
missed stepping on the third rail on their way across the Croton train yards and copped the next freight train back to Brooklyn. This left
only “Slick” Sammy on the field to calm the dealers. That proved too much even for “Uncle” Sam Seidenberg. He blew his stack and
then took off. The last I saw of him was a glimpse of his red, white and blue straw hat and his over stuffed “tushy” scampering up the hill
just out of reach of the outstretched claws of the frantic dealers. He was summarily beheaded while heading in the direction of Albany
trailed by a whirlwind of dust and debris.
That pack of dealers, shortly thereafter, came traipsing back to me, foam dripping from their awesome mouths and snot pouring out of
their nostrils, looking for another victim to vent their rage on.
I found out later that I didn’t have to feel sorry for Sam for I believe he had marched off with a good percentage of the money from the
first day. As for the real estate broker, I never heard from or saw him again during the entire Festival. He had run for the cover of his
real estate office and had stayed hidden under his wastepaper basket. When the Village Board threatened to throw him off it, he
distanced himself from the whole project. It was then and there that I was to discover the main axiom of promotions that would hold for
all future promotions. That people are behind you as long as they smell an easy buck and don’t have to stick their necks out too far but
given the slightest hint of failure 99% of people will run for cover and don’t have the courage to face up to defeat. There are very few
investors out there willing to take real risks and not complain in case their risk goes sour. Most people simply want a sure thing and in
promotions there is no such thing as a sure thing.
One interesting sidebar event happened on the first day during this fiasco. While making a tour of the mine field, I was called over to a
food vendor’s booth by an attractive, diminutive, dark-skinned Filipino woman with a pointed Thracian bust. She introduced herself as
Miss Philipina "The Filipino". She told me that besides being a food vendor she was also a promoter and asked if I was the one who
dreamt up this event. At first I was a little cautious about taking credit for it because I was afraid that she might be ready to unload a
barrage of complaints. On the other hand, the field was crowded at the time and no one, not even me, knew at that moment what a
disaster the Festival would eventually turn out to be. I told her yes that I had conceived the Event. She said she was impressed by the
scope and size of the promotion and would I be interested in joining up with her to develop an event to help celebrate the 30th
Anniversary of the United Nations this Fall? She said she was an employee at the U.N. and so had many contacts with the dealers of many
countries. It could prove to be very lucrative to organize some sort of celebration or outdoor festival to commemorate this Anniversary.
The idea struck me immediately as pregnant with potential and I felt that with her inside connections the chances of success were much
higher than the Croton Festival would turn out to be. I said yes and we shook hands on it. I felt that even if the rest of Festival was a
flop it had served its purpose by pointing my nosebleed in the direction of my next Event. She gave me her name, phone number and the
address of the business office where we could meet to discuss our plans in the late summer for an event that would take place in October.
The World Series of Flea Markets drew to a vapid anticlimax with a whirlwind of exhaust fumes as the dealers exited in a huff and puff
leaving behind them a vast sea of garbage and gifilte fish. I was drained after three days of making excuses of why we didn’t have
another Woodstock crowd. Sam had returned to Albany, a pound of grass and a thousand dollars richer. Mel, Alice and Phil returned to
NYC and Sue’s mother to Brooklyn babbling to herself and Susan that maybe I wasn’t a lazy good for nothing “n’eer-do-well” Schlep
Artist after all. I had all the makings of a real provider!
The Croton Citizen Register , the local yellow stained dish rag of a newspaper, on the first Tuesday following the Event, featured a banner
headline condemning me and the dealers for leaving the field and the Town of Croton in a mess. They castigated the City Fathers for
allowing such an event to take place on their “hallowed-be-thy-name” grounds.
One month later, Sue, Robby, Tania and I slinked out of Croton, one mile South to Ossining, New York. We moved into the Highland
Terrace Apartments on Route 9 proper. This exodus was in part brought about by a running battle with the neighbors who lived and loved
downstairs from us. For the past two years they were filing numerous complaints to the landlord concerning the noise made by Robby and
now Tania Lewis. Idiots! Kids can’t earn a living so what else can they do but make noise!
THE UNITED NATIONS
I did not hesitate for a moment after the Croton fiasco to get involved with my next Promotion. Croton, if anything, had charged up my
promotional imagination. Croton was only my first Promotion and without any experience whatsoever in the field of Flea Marketeering
and with practically no assistance from anyone, I had managed to get together 300 dealers from all over the country. If it had not been
for the heat I could have made a handsome profit on the venture. As it was though, I had an outstanding loan to HFC and Beneficial
Finance. However, I did recoup half of my investment. Although hectic the promotion had its high moments of adventure. It certainly
whetted my appetite to get involved with more sophisticated events. That’s why the U.N. venture appeared so attractive. I realized that I
had a real flair for inventing, creating and producing special events on a shoestring budget. For the proposed U. N. venture I would not
have as much capital on hand and yet it was projected to be of a much larger scope than the Croton Event. When the dust settled I had
little more than $500 to throw into the venture.
Within a week I was on the phone to Philipina "The Filipino" to make an appointment so we could get rolling on the preliminaries before
the Fall. Philipina told me that we could meet at High Noon the following day. She gave me the address of a Midtown Mini skyscraper, on
5th Avenue, high on the 30th floor--off 42nd Street across the street from the New York Public Library.
I arrived and was escorted in by Filipina to what appeared to be several sparsely furnished law offices. In the main office I was introduced
to an elderly man in his late 60’s. She addressed him simply as Max “The Fax”. His walls were decorated with law books and several
names of attorneys had been engraved on the outside door of the suites. The view from Max’s window looked directly down on the roof
and all the pigeon shit of the Library across the street.
Max, so said Filipina later, was her legal sponsor while she was here on a temporary visa from the Philippines. She was a refugee from
the Marcos government.
I came right to the sullen point. I said that what we do should be simple and highly leveraged. We should rent out the streets between
42nd Street and 52nd Street, including 1st Avenue that lies directly opposite the U.N. This territory should include Dag Hammarskjold
Plaza. We should throw an exclusive Country Vendor Show, not like the typical flea market, but with Filipina’s connections at the U.N.;
we should invite only the best vendors from every country. These would be dealers with top quality arts, crafts, jewelry, etc.
There would be no admission but we would charge the vendors $500 for their spaces. That would give us a gross of around $100,000 with
180 plus countries participating. The festival would be billed as a celebration to honor the 30th Anniversary of the U.N. Dag
Hammarskjold Plaza, since it was situated directly across from the U.N. Building, would be used exclusively for volunteer entertainment
groups. The volunteers should not be too hard to obtain because there were thousands of street people performing who would give their
left armpit to perform at such a multi-international event. People are performing all over the city for free and looking down at Fifth
Avenue on the Public Library steps, I pointed out to Max that right in front of our eyes were groups performing for the passersby and
tourists. Our event would coincide and complement nicely the multitude of other events which will be scheduled for the same day and
that could only enhance our turnout considerably. (The old Clement “Insurance” Stone Synergy Serendipity Bull Shit Principle).
I would handle the outside promotion and Four Wall Promotional Operation, such as securing the streets and initiating the media blitz,
while Philipina would be responsible for using her connections at the U.N. to alert the vendors of this wonderful opportunity to sell their
wares. Max was obviously impressed with my well thought out off-the-cuff presentation. He asked a few insignificant questions and told
me that as a one third partner in the deal he would turn over the use of his offices to Philipina for the venture. We would have access to
stationary, phones and postage machines. He would pick up the tab for incidental expenses such as renting of the streets. We could
consider his office as a base camp. I really didn’t need Max’s offices for I had The Equitable’s phones, Xerox machines, postage and
Max then went on to say that he was not going to be involved at all with the Event but he would monitor it closely through Philipina. If we
were a success on the streets of New York he had numerous properties throughout Manhattan (in Philadelphia and Chicago) that I could
use for other promotions. I could Four Wall any one of them and he would pick up the tab for whatever I had in mind but only on the
condition that we were a success with our U.N. venture. That was fair enough. Certainly the odds were better than the Croton affair.
The price for the vendors of $500 was not an outrageous sum in comparison to what some promoters were getting in the Coliseum Shows
at Columbus Circle. Those fees often exceeded $2,500 a spot for such trade shows as The Boat Show, The Home, Show, The Electronics
Show and the like. There was one other annual festival on the streets of New York, The 52nd Street Annual Festival that ran from the
Hudson River on the West Side to the East River on the East Side--right across 52nd Street. Except for the dubious Feast of Saint
Gennaro, it was the Granddaddy of all festivals. It was the one that I used as the model for my Event. It was run by a retired Army
Major "Supremo Domo" and was billed as a non-profit event. This tactic was only a scam yet it was well attended by crowds of up to a half
a million people a day. My event could be contrasted to that event in that at the 52nd Street Festival everyone could participate so there
were a large percentage of schlock vendors. In our event, only the top quality vendors from each country could participate. The Major
"Supremo Domo" also ran various other Armory boondoggles events throughout the city. He had connections and the backing of the City
power structure. He was able to cover his profit making ventures with the cloak of a non-profit status. The Mayor and other city officials
were not opposed to showing up and giving speeches in support of the event on the various media which gave an air of authenticity and
legitimacy and helped considerably in drawing the crowds.
There were, of course, numerous other minor festivals on the streets of New York. Next largest in attendance were the various ethnic
neighborhood festivals. Most of them were exercises in profit taking by food vendors. Heading the list in popularity was the Feast of
Saint Gennaro on “Mul-Beri-Beri” Street in Little "Our Thing" Italy. Block parties throughout the West Side commemorated one left
wing cause after another. Finally, there was the large food vendor festival on 9th Avenue running from West 57th Street to the Times
Square area. But the Major’s 52nd Street Festival was the largest.
I knew that our Fair could not expect to top the well established Major’s what with his political cronies’ backing and non-profit front. Our
location was off-center so to speak and confined to the East Side along the East River. But, with proper execution it would be well received
and a unique--one-of-a-kind venture. We agreed that we would split the proceeds three ways. At that, Max abruptly rose from his throne
and said: “The office is now Philipina Filpino's. Come and see me when this Event is over. If it is not a success you won’t be able to see
me!” In fact I was to see Max one other time after that meeting.
Right from the start my antenna should have been alerted for trouble because the whole thing seemed too easy. I didn’t pay attention to
the danger signals. I was on cloud nine again just being involved in another grand design promotion. I was thinking ahead to other
promotions that I would run in Max’s buildings. One of the ideas that was swimming around in my brain at the time was to organize one
of the largest outdoor festivals to be held in a large city where we would close down the city for a day and shoot for a $1,000,000 gross of
dealer money. We would use the entire city for a festival not unlike the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The idea hopefully would become a
reality after our October Fest at the U.N.
In any event, I had this U.N. Promotion on the agenda. I trusted Philipina to perform her part which was doing next to nothing. I would
do my outside promotion and at the right time in October we would bring the two parts together for a perfect mesh.
When I got back to The Equitable, the reality of the situation hit me. I had no initial idea of how to go about getting possession of the
streets of New York. This was, of course, my first priority--that of Four Walling of the territory surrounding the U.N. Buildings. As I
pondered the various approaches, it seemed wise to make an end run around the City Bureaucrats and instead of going directly to the
Recreation or Parks Department and getting turned down too abruptly, I decided to go to the people who really control the streets-- the
police, specifically the people at the local 17th. Precinct Station who were responsible for the environment surrounding the United
Nations. Intuitively I knew that that’s where I should begin my Four Wall Operation.
I took off a few hours from work in order to pay a visit to the 17th. Police Precinct. I entered the station house and went smartly up to
the front desk, saluted the Desk Sergeant and informed him that I was the President of Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc. “I would like to
see someone in charge concerning the organization of an event to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations.” Just as smartly
I was sent into the office of the head honcho of the Precinct. I explained that I wanted to get permission to use the streets adjacent to the
U.N. for a Festival. After I finished my spiel, he looked up at me with an air of policeman suspicion and asked, "are you a non-profit
organization?” “No! Don’t be ridiculous!” “You mean you expect me to rent 42nd Street to Dag H. Plaza for a profit making venture?
Streets paid for by the taxpayers?” I said “yes”. “Sorry we can’t do that. All street fairs on the streets of New York are non-profit
Well, I knew that was a load of bull shit, especially in regards to the 52nd Street Festival. I pressed on. “I would still like to do it.
There’s always a first time for everything and this is it”. I wasn’t about to hide behind the smoke and mirrors of being a charity venture.
“Mine is strictly a profit motive venture. But it would be a unique event for New York City.” He was impressed by my straightforward,
bold Chutzpah. Then he made the remark “that most people in New York would like to see a festival in honor of dismantling the U.N. and
kicking it out of New York altogether what with all that diplomatic immunity bull shit and massive amount of monies the United States
has to pump into it to keep it from going bankrupt--not to mention all the extra work it entails for the police in extra protection.”
I had to get him back on track, for interesting as it was, I didn’t want to receive a “no” and then be subjected to a long lecture on why the
U.N. shouldn’t be there in the first place routine. I interrupted his polemic with, “we’re scheduling this for October. Can I file a request
for the streets?” “Well, I can’t prevent you from filing the request and I’ll forward it to the Recreation Department. I don’t think you
stand much of a chance since you are a profit making corporation. And even if they did grant you the streets you wouldn’t be able to do
anything on 1st Avenue across the street from the U.N. for security reasons. Demonstrations of any sort are not allowed in that area
except on special occasions and this wouldn’t be one of those occasions. However, as I said, I will forward your request”. With that I
saluted, shook hands did an about face, said a few “mah nish ta naw’s, hi lilaw hizehs, b’rai pree ha goffins” and left. On my way to The
Equitable Building I was depressed. The likelihood of gaining a permit seemed limited and if we did, the fact that we couldn’t have first
Avenue under any circumstantial evidence was devastating to the concept of the Event because that meant the festival vendors would not
be facing the United Nations. This was of course a crucial element in the original design of the Fair. I called Philipina “Colada” and told
her we would have to wait for notification.
As a last resort I was prepared to suggest that we could form a joint venture partnership with the United Nations Public Relations
Officials, and convert to a non-profit Festival by donating half the proceeds to U.N. Charities. That was the least desirable of the
alternatives because that would necessitate our losing control over the design and ultimate execution of the Promotion.
The next day at the Equitable I got a phone call from the Police Precinct telling me that in an effort to speed the process up he forwarded
my application verbally through channels, first to the Parks and Recreation Department and then on up to the Mayor’s office. The Mayor
said since we were not a not-for-profit organization he could not give the streets of New York to us because they were paid for with the
taxpayer’s money. It sounded like a good idea to His Honor but unfortunately he had to turn us down. The Captain apologized profusely
and seemed sincerely disappointed because he might have enjoyed such an exciting project taking place in his precinct.
I thanked him for trying and was suffering from promotional depression for the rest of the day. But somewhere deep down in my gut I
felt that that was not the end of it. I thought that we would produce the Festival even if we had to hide behind a non-profit Four Wall
I decided to wait twenty four hours before calling Philipina Colada with the bad news. The next day, at about 2 PM in the afternoon, the
phone rang and produced Captain “Blue Balls” at the other end. He said that the Mayor had changed his mind and that if I wrote out a
check for $1,000 payable to the City of New York and brought it over to the Station House I would get my permit and police traffic control
for the Festival.
I called Philipina immediately and set up an appointment in Max’s office. Max, without a word of explanation on my part, wrote out the
check and that was the last time I was to see Max “The Fax”. I hustled the check over to the Precinct. The Captain wished me luck and
said he would see me on the Saturday morning of the Festival with a full contingent of police and wooden Trojan Horses (beware of police
bearing wooden Trojan Horses) to control the crowds.
I walked out of the station house floating on air with that exhilarating feeling of creating something from nothing, no paper work, no red
tape, no bureaucratic bull shit. A Four Wall Masterpiece! It might now be possible to turn a profit of $90,000 on an investment of $1,000
of someone else’s money. I was now the proud temporary owner of 12 blocks of prime real estate on New York’s plush East Side. In
some respects, for the next three months, I felt that these streets belonged to me and that I was responsible for what was to transpire on
them. I had gained control of them with not a dime of my money and the promotion was rolling along right on schedule. In two short
months we would turn Max’s $1,000 into $100,000!
The first thing I did before I went back to the office was to inspect my property and attempt to visualize the day of the Festival when the
streets--congested now with noonday business and commercial traffic and the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan, would then be
crammed with hordes of people straining for a chance to see some of the top dealers in the world. I also envisioned Dag H. Plaza being
filled with non-stop entertainment for the length and breadth of its borders. I strolled up and down each street lost in the euphoric feeling
that this second promotional event would propel my career straight up to the pinnacle barnacles of success.
The area surrounding the U.N. Building was a congested thoroughfare as people threaded their way past the vast U.N. Complex, to cross
the bridge into Queens or Brooklyn, or make their way downtown, or at night, uptown to exit the city. However, like the Wall Street
area, the United Nations’ streets on the weekends are relatively deserted except for First Avenue where there are vast numbers of
tourists. On Festival Saturday it would be these tourists that would form the nucleus of our crowd.
My next chore (after contacting Philipina and informing her that the streets were secure and that she could go ahead and start making
vendor contact in the United Nations) would be for the next 30 days in Phase One of the Promotion-to produce the press flyers and
promotional material for media distribution.
As we moved into September my queasy feeling of uneasiness had been converted into a full fledged anxiety panic attack. By now I had
gained a full head of steam and the Promotion was assuming ever larger proportions as the word spread. Yet somehow I felt I was single-
handedly doing all the work and that Philipina wasn’t doing a dam thing. My fears proved to have a basis in fact.
I had been badgering Philipina on a weekly basis for a progress report of her solicitations in the U.N. and even offered to go in there
myself and secure the countries. For some reason, which I couldn’t quite figure out at the time, she was against that idea and kept
putting me off with “she would take care of all that at the right time”. Well, it was September, forty five days to the Event. Now was the
right time! I finally got it out of her that she did not have the connections at the U.N. that she said she had. In fact, recently she had
been let go from her “secretarial” position at the U.N. and had no inside connections whatsoever. She was a freelance food vendor nothing
more. I was shocked but not surprised. Since she had no access to the U.N. or any more access than the normal citizen, that meant that
it wouldn’t do me much good to start from scratch at this stage to get dealer countries because the red tape that would be thrown my way
would eventually result in the vendors not signing up and paying their fees until after the deadline and that would be too late. By the time
the various countries had given their stamp of approval for their vendors to participate the Festival would be over.
I decided the best approach would be to forget Philipina for all intents and purposes and proceed the best I could on my own even though I
knew that the outcome would be unprofitable since the core of the promotion was missing. In an attempt to fill the streets, I decided to
open the Festival to attract dealers. I had to restructure the fee to an amount that the Schlocky dealers would be better able to afford. I
went from $500 to $25 overnight. But even then the dealers would not be easy to obtain due to the short interval of time that had passed
between this promotion and the Croton fiasco. But I had to do something. By now I had sunk several thousand dollars of my own money
into the venture and it would be nice to at least break even. Even breaking even would be quite a come down from a choice event with a
$99,000 profit to no profit and a Schlocky event.
I had even tried to borrow money on a personal basis. I called my cousin Sanford in Albany, who at that time was and still is today
(actually dead now) a millionaire and head of a worldwide sporting goods network. Sanford claimed to be broke. His real reason was that
he didn’t think I would ever give him back the money. At least he could have given some token amount if he felt that way instead of the
$1,000 I asked for. The irony was that I got the money from Sue’s brother, Irving, someone I hardly knew. Of course, he informed Sue
that he gave it to me because she was his sister.
It was a nice gesture on his part because he could not really afford it at the time in the same way that Sanford could. Sue’s brother was
an Assistant Principal at Brooklyn High School. He also had a hobby being a gem dealer on weekends so he understood my promotional
needs. He had gone to the Croton Event and taken a booth and might even had made a few dollars there. Naturally, I gave him a free
booth and all the space he wanted at the U.N. Festival. If the Festival had been a success he would have received a lot more back than his
original $1,000. As it stands (2015 A.D.) he hasn’t received his original investment back but I’m sure someday there will be a check in
the mail--directly from my home star Martytron. I met very few loyal people or real risk takers in my ten years of promotions.
Irving’s money was just as quickly pumped into the promotion and irretrievably lost. Deep down I guess I knew that I had another
failure staring me in the face but I couldn’t let that feeling get in the way of seeing this through to the bitter end--win, lose or draw. It
was depressing to say the least, to have to carry on something because of its scope.
As soon as I opened up the Festival to all dealers by reducing the fee from $500 to $25 the end result would be at best a break even
situation with many large debts outstanding. It was with little enthusiasm that I went about the unrewarding job of soliciting dealers at
the various Fairs in the Tri-State Area. I had a massive amount of territory to cover in a short span of time and I had to practically beg
the dealers to come. To my surprise, however, my Croton reputation had not interfered with my promotional ability to convince the
dealers that this Festival would be second in attendance only to the 52nd Street Festival.
Philipina, as it turned out, did absolutely nothing but wait for the day of the Festival when she would make a small fortune selling food
and fortune cookies. She had absolutely no knowledge about promotional techniques although I believe that Max “The Fax” was, as he
said, a real estate investor and would have followed through on his commitments. But Philipina was a phony. I paid a few desultory visits
to Philipina’s scrawny East Side apartment in a vain effort to get Philipina off her Filipina ass and to do something. There, she lived in
squalor and chaos. There were a half a dozen waifs running around half nude and making such a ruckus that it was impossible to plan any
strategy there. The one thing that Philipina did do was the night before the Festival she hastily constructed paper signs (most of which
fell down on the crowd the next day). We strung up the signs that night across the streets and tied them to telephone poles. The
neighborhood ruffians assisted us in this painstaking and dangerous task until 5 in the morning. When we were done it was just four
hours before the official opening of the Fair. Philipina waited to the last minute to mark off the dealer areas and to assign numbers to
the booths. Good ole Mel and Alice showed up along with two dozen or so “wild Indian” children from a local Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood
commune and tried to put the streets into some sort of order for the opening of the Festival. At five in the morning, it seemed silly to go
all the way back to Ossining to get some sleep so I just stayed up until the Festival began and finished marking up the dealer spaces and
helping the police set up their wooden Trojan Horses.
I had a vast amount of territory to occupy because even though we had 300 to 400 dealers show up, with ten square blocks it was nowhere
enough to fill all the streets. We gave the dealers as much space as they needed and crowded them in as close to Dag. H. Plaza as possible
to give the effect that the streets were all filled up with dealers.
We got some local Radio and TV coverage but most of the coverage was negative because of the poor turnout. By virtue of the fact that I
had promoted it as a Fair that would be as big or bigger than the 52nd Street Festival, the Media bought into it and threw it back in my
face when it didn’t happen.
Besides the reasons I have already alluded to for a lack of turnout, it was Philipina who was responsible for getting the word out in the
U.N. neighborhood where she lived and worked. She hadn’t delivered any of the flyers for the festival. I found that out on the day of the
Festival, when the dealers were berating me out on the streets because they had not seen one piece of local advertising. The dealers, in
reality, had no complaint. The fee they were charged was next to nothing, unheard of for an event of this scope. Some made money. I
didn’t make a dime. I was out about $5,000 after it was all over and had spent two and half months of time, night and day in my spare
time. As it was, the crowds were well over 50,000 but by New York City standards that was a poor turnout.
I was the only one of our organization that stuck it out and bravely patrolled the streets, up and down, back and forth, from 42nd Street to
Dag H. Plaza, continually throughout the long day. I made myself deliberately visible so that the dealers could vent their frustrations.
The only other people to make money on the Fair except for some of the dealers, were the New York City taxpayers, the police and
Philipina who did a booming business with her food concession. I was interviewed by all the local and some national media as I patrolled
the streets and took their abuse well into the evening hours. I had attempted to get the best vendors in the world and had managed to get
the worst. At about six, Mel, Alice and Phil abandoned ship and were sick of the whole rotten mess and escaped the angry dealer’s wrath
in their van. I never saw them again. At seven I went over to Philipina's concession. She was beaming and asked when we could do
another one? I walked away in disgust. At 8PM. I hopped the next train back to Ossining. The 30th Anniversary of the United Nations
had been duly celebrated!
OTHER PROMOTION COMMOTIONS
Back at The Equitable, things had turned sour and been going steadily downhill. I was taking longer and longer lunch breaks and doing
less and less work. Marge “The Barge”, the woman who had hired me, had embarked on her long range project of rewriting the computer
books. Then she was just as abruptly promoted and in her place was put a middle management Gyro, Lou “The Benzedrine Speedo”. Lou
got a notion into his crack filled head to crack down on all “the dead wood” of the department. His first target was me. When he saw that
I wasn’t performing any visible (or invisible for that matter) useful function, I should be the first to go. The irony being that no one was
performing a visible or invisible function including him. Rachel “The Pearl” was angry with him for what she perceived as his singling me
out for extermination. From his perspective he was only doing the managerial prudent thing. He was simply struggling to rise up the
corporate ladder on the broken backs of the peons below him. He was fairly liberal in his treatment of me. He gave me three months’
notice and told me I could use the phone, desk and office to set up interviews for another job.
Although I wasn’t emotionally or psychologically cut out for it, I decided to ask for a transfer to the real bread and butter money making
part of the organization, the raison d’être for all these fancy computers, i.e., the selling of insurance. I resigned as the Technical Editor
and was reassigned to the Julian Light Equitable Agency on 38th and Lexington, a few blocks south of Grand “Catheter” Central Station.
It was at least one bright spot. I wouldn’t have to walk as far to the train.
I said previously that The Equitable, like most other insurance company scams, was divided into hundreds of small independent agencies
spawning all over the nation. They were usually headed by one of the “heavy hitters” of insurance sales--a General Agent as they were
known in the trade--or General Fuck-Ups as I referred to them. The chief ass hole of The Julian Light Agency (The Equitable had the
unnerving habit of naming these agencies after the scoundrels who headed them) was Julian “Light Foot” Light. Julian Lightfoot secured
his position mostly on his Merit Badges from the Boy Scouts of America and the proceeds from the premiums of the policies that he sold
to his in-laws. In fact, he sold so many policies to his rich in-laws that one wonders why he never became a lawyer--what with all those
laws on the bottom line of his contracts.
The Agencies were responsible for the care, feeding and toilet training of wet-behind-the-ears agents. Their other motive for existing was
the incessant competition between the rest of the Agencies in the Equitable Group to see who could sell the most insurance. 90% of the
agents who were to pass wind through The Equitable’s doors (and the same holds true for other insurance companies and sales
organizations in general) would never make the grade. The turn-over was that high. Only the top 10% salesmen in the Company made a
very good living. The rest were mediocre producers in middle management sales slots and were commonly referred to as the day-to-day
drudge drones. At the bottom of the ladder was Yours Truly together with the rest of the naive, wild-eyed, boggled-brained fried banana
heads three year trainee agents. Most of those, including me, were not well connected or well hung. They didn’t have a chance for
survival in the business of screwing the public at large.
The real crime being committed here was that through their hard work, blood, sweat and tears, the new agents unearthed many good
prospects by a constant tele-marketing blitz and then were fired for lack of production just about at the time when they were going to
make substantial sales. They were also prevented from making those sophisticated sales (which gain high production points) for lack of
proper training. At this point, the drudge hacks would move in and capitalize on the trainees’ ground breaking activities. They would
follow up the good leads left behind by the defunct sales force. Then the vicious cycle would start all over again when a new batch of
agents would be hired for six months.
The typical hapless agent’s day, was to come in, in the morning and head to the phones to badger and harass some equally hapless small
businessman with the inane proposition of why he should buy business partnership buy-out insurance so that when his partner
conveniently kicked the bucket he could pay off his widow, his mistress and secure complete control of the business and at the same time
have the delightful benefit of not being taxed for the favor. Part of the agent’s noxious day would be given over to an hour or two of toilet
training which would be nothing more than a pep rally given by the latest Knute Rockne manager type on some update of the latest
computer hatched estate planning program. Can you just imagine the absurdity of poor trainee agents making appointments with wealthy
clients to give them the latest in complicated estate planning suggestions when most of these same agents didn’t have a pot to piss in
much less had never even been to an estate and wouldn’t know one or what to do if and when they ever got one.
The Equitable, like all the other major companies of its size, specialized in handy dandy health plans to be used as door openers. (As far
as I was concerned all the plans were door closers for I never sold one!). Nobody, of course, wanted to have a Kubler-Ross lecture about
death, dying, old age and sickness, so the insurance companies had to devise cleverly worded dodges to deflect the prospect’s attention for
a few minutes much in the same manner that you might do to a cat with a ball of yarn or a card sharper would do with the shell game
He would pretend like he really wasn’t discussing insurance but something much more esoteric and absorbing. Then at the right moment
he would open his trench coat and flash a computer designed medical plan for their business. Somewhere during the presentation he
would manage to convert the discussion to the purchasing of pension plans packed with life insurance on the owner yielding an excessively
large commission for the agent. This was where the really big money was to be made. The “Heavy Hitters” who were good at this sort of
flim-flam were all wealthy men. At that time the hero’s hero at The Equitable was a trans-sexual swinger called Danny “Boy” who made
more money than the Prince Charming Chairman of The Board of The Equitable. He drove up to The Equitable in his chauffeured Rolls
Royce and was flanked by a battery of lawyers, accountants, private secretaries and a bevy of high priced Call Girls for the clients who
constantly fed him and his ego a steady diet of prime business targets and then the client would be bamboozled with electrical fast
financial footwork. These people were the Cassius Clay Ali shadow boxers or Michael Jackson Moonwalkers of the trade.
Anyway, here I was dropped into the insurance selling world out of nowhere. This was the real meat and potatoes end of the business. If
it wasn’t for the profits made by this end of the business, all the fancy computers and Mainframes at the Home Office would be unplugged
for lack of timely payments on their time-sharing equipment. The profits of most insurance companies usually were reinvested into huge
pools of funds in real estate, capital venture funding enterprises, entertainment or service industries. The irony being that the insurance
selling end of the business wasn’t of the least interest to these corporate barracudas bastards.
I had to attend six months of insurance training in order to secure my Agent’s License. Most of these sessions were nothing more than
an excuse for some of the “Heavy Hitters” to strut their stuff in front of the babes-in-the-woods. It was a carnival side show to display the
cunning razzle dazzle speeches and to prove how the streets were paved with insurance premium gold. The training seminars were the
arena to display their esoteric knowledge of ESOPs, Tax Shelters, Keogh Plans, IRA’s, Pension Administration and torturous health
plans. It was all custom designed bullshit to part the prospect from his not so hard earned cash.
Most of the people in that classroom didn’t know an ESOP from Be-Bop and would never have an actual shot at selling it or an ERISA
“The Pissa” Pension Plan, much less ever understand the complicated financial diagrams that were bandied about and that purported to
solve all the world’s economic problems. The practical day-to-day telemarketing work and the visiting of local small schmucky
businessmen in the middle of their lunch break was the reality of seeing business people who were lucky to raise enough money to meet
their next payroll. In most instances these people couldn’t even read their names off their monogrammed shorts so that precluded
bringing up any esoteric plans at all. If by some miracle we did get an opportunity to present some esoteric plan concocted by the Home
Office Mainframe Maniacs, we weren’t prepared intellectually to make the sale. It took at least three if not five years of dedicated
training to obtain the CLU designation, the equivalent of a Ph.D. in insurance, before you could hope to understand what you were selling.
Most of the young hurly burly agents’ days were spent trying to convince small business owners to dump their old insurance coverage and
buy The Equitable’s. I somehow managed to stay awake long enough to pass my Agent’s test to secure a license. I got on the dreadful
phone and looked up prospects in the yellow pages. I was shy and an introverted to begin with, despite my entrance into the promotional
field. Telemarketing was an agonizing, preposterous proposition for me. I made calls and some appointments and went through the
motions, but like most agents I made very few sales. I stayed on because I had nothing better to do.
Sue was still working at P.S. 64 in The Bronx, on 172nd Street and Walton Avenue, ten blocks North of Yankee Stadium. She would come
home every day describing the horror show of working in the ghetto with an insensitive bureaucracy, teaching half starving, child abused
fifth graders and their alcoholic and drug ridden parents. We had just moved to Ossining and were assisted in that move by one Bill “The
Mover” Megneys, one of the aspiring youthful offender agents at The Equitable who left a few months later to get a job in the personnel
head hunting business. He started making money right away for these were the Go-Go years for computer personnel head hunting
agencies due to the computer explosion about to take place.
Robby was two. It was 1975 and Tania Pearl Lewis was one year away and would be born a la Lamaze in January of that following year. I
was 36 and had had a dozen jobs and two Promotions under my belt and was anxious to get more involved in the latter.
On the personal level, shortly following Robby’s second birthday, he contacted a mysterious disease accompanied by an extremely high
fever. We took him to the hospital for ten days of hospitalization. It was difficult for both of us to separate and leave him there as it was
the first time we had been away from him. He looked very forlorn and lost in the nightgown that was thirty sizes too big for him as he
toddled down the corridor hallway of the hospital to greet us each day. He couldn’t quite understand why he couldn’t come home. They
found nothing wrong with him and like most of these mysterious diseases do with children of this age, the 105 degree fever subsided and
we took him to our hearts and home to our and his great relief. Domestic tranquility reigned at home for the next few years because at
this time Sue was fat and thick with the soon to be Tania Pearl.
My mind was preoccupied with my next Promotion and what form it would take. One day, three months into my Julian Light gig, I got a
call from Alice “In Brooklyn Land” and her lover and co-sponsor “Pell” Mel. They wanted me to come over to their Brooklyn ghetto
duplex crash pad and discuss a possible rock and fuck festival promotion. It seemed that Alice knew this successful woman rock and roll
promoter in Manhattan who agented for several famous rock stars and heading her stable was Stevie Wonder. They wanted me to dream
up a proposal to present to her.
We made an appointment to see her in her West Side, Columbus Circle High Rise Luxury Condominium near Lincoln Center. I proposed
a Four Wall Shea Stadium Extravaganza featuring her stable of recording artists. That proposal, after a lot of hem and hawing went
nowhere. She wanted Alice, Mel and I to put up $45,000 front money to pay Stevie Wonder which she said was his advance fee for the
event. This, of course, was ridiculous, for no self respecting Four Waller ever put up any front money never mind $45,000. I looked at
Mel, Mel looked at Alice, we all looked at each other, reached in our pockets, turned them inside out, shrugged our shoulders and bade a
hasty retreat after executing a Louisa May Alcott about face. That was the end of my Rock and Roll promoter days.
Hard upon the heels of that little interlude, I received a call at home from a man who said he was a real estate broker in Fishkill, New
York and that he owned some land there called Snow “Job” Valley which was a winter ski resort. There was a restaurant, bar, outside
picnic tables and outdoor oven barbecues for cookouts. There was over a 100 acres of land which he would turn over to me free of charge
to institute some long range event that would make money during the off-season. He would like me to come up and take a look at the
land and see what I could suggest.
Being somewhat of a vacant land expert by now, I gladly accepted the challenge and visited Snow Valley. He was right. It was a gold mine
waiting to be excavated complete with a log cabin, a quaint restaurant with dancing floor and bar facilities. Outside there were literally
dozens of outdoor barbecues spread over gentle, flower infested rolling hills. I told him he ought to make this a permanent Arts and
Crafts home and I would organize it. He gave me the right to do anything I wanted with a handshake. He also gave me the name of a
good friend of his who was a local disc jockey and who would surely use his show to give us all the free publicity we needed. The creative
juices started to flow because this had the all the sexy elements of a good Four Wall operation-- free advertising, access to food and liquor,
music and prime land.
I started by spending the next week planning the event that I had hoped would give me a base of operations for all future promotions
albeit that the land was located off the beaten track. Seven days into the planning the broker called me and said he had reconsidered and
did not want to get involved at this time and without further explanation he hung up. After this second false start I was anxious to gear
up for something but I was to have several other false starts before I got involved in an event of some consequence.
It was semi-transparent at this juncture that if I wanted to get an event in motion I couldn’t wait around for phone calls from would-be
pseudo-promotional types who would get cold feet at the last minute and run for cover. I had to take charge of my own promotional
destiny and use what little funds I had left to initiate my own special events. The idea of running another flea bag market for a bunch of
flea bag, obnoxious, over demanding, boorish clods of dealers turned me off. I decided to take one step up the promotional ladder to
Antique Shows. The idea that was formulating was a possible co-venture deal with Sam “The Scam Man” Seidenberg up in Albany. But
after a few afternoons running around the City of Albany looking at Armories for rental purposes, plus the fact that I couldn’t trust Sam
after the Croton double-cross, led me to the conclusion that Albany was not big enough to hold the event I had in my mind. It was also
too far away from my home base of operations. I returned to Ossining (home of Peter “The Falk Colombo”) and decided on another
tack. I would try for the biggest Armory in New York State, the one residing on 62nd and Park Avenue on Manhattan’s plush East Side
just south of the Hunter College complex.
After spending a few weeks trying to negotiate my way through the City’s maze of bureaucratic red tape, I finally was able to glean that
the Armory was booked in advance for the next year. I was told that the next largest Armory was in the South “Fort Apache” Bronx. I
wanted an event in Manhattan not in a war zone and one that had plenty of off-the-street traffic with a perfect Four Wall environment.
South Bronx just didn’t measure up.
My next move was to scale the event down in size and bring it closer to home. First I checked out the spacious “Bestchester” County
Center where numerous coin, gem, arts and crafts and annual antique shows are held alongside of professional wrestling, roller skating
and volley ball exhibitions. But rents were exorbitant so I settled on the Armory in downtown White Plains. It was just big enough to
hold fifty or so dealers. The show was a disaster as far as crowd turnout because due to lack of funds I was unable to promote it and
hardly anyone showed up. Irving, Sue’s Brother, for the third time, was one of the dealers who did and by now he realized that he might
never recoup his original investment in Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc. After this show, I was quite depressed at that point; that I couldn’
t get motivated because I couldn’t swing the funds to initiate another Promotion.
Meanwhile, at The Equitable’s Julian Light Agency, after six months of non-stop phoning and follow-up home and business calls I haven’t
sold a girl scout cookie to a disabled Viet Nam Veteran. I was forced to continue my weekend and night driving for Riverview Airport
Service. After a trainee agent was with a company for six months he was expected to show some selling progress and meet a quota. If he
wasn’t near that impossible quota he is pressured to move on out on his own. If he doesn’t leave at the end of the year he is thrown out
on his ass.
I was just about at that stage at the Julian Light Agency, so I decided to do one last ditch effort to sell some insurance. The week before,
Equitable’s Dildos at the Home Office had come up with one of the first computer analysis of a personal estate program that today are in
common use. I decided to modify it and condense it on one page and put it on a flyer. One hot, steamy July Sunday afternoon I took one
hundred or so of these newly announced computer generated free estate planning program flyers and went around my neighborhood--the
better section of course, and put them on windshields. It was the one I put on a car in a luxury condo community that was responsible for
the call I received the next morning at The Equitable.
On the other end of the line was a gravely God Father voice introducing himself as “Bang Bang The Fang” "Urang-A-Tang of Urang"
“Gang Bang” Associates, an insurance firm in “Bestchester”. He told me he was looking out the window this past Sunday and saw me
handing out the flyers. He took the one from his car’s window, read it and was impressed with anyone who would take their Sunday
afternoon and brave the 100 degree heat to try and solicit new insurance business. Anybody that would do that is someone he would want
to work for him.
He asked me how I was doing with The Equitable and I told him that I would leave The Equitable if the right opportunity came along. (I
didn’t tell him I was about five minutes away from being fired). I would be willing to meet with his partner, Tennis “The Menace”, Esq.
Tennis would come to New York the following day and talk with me. I had nothing to lose and the time was ripe for my days were
numbered due to lack of production. Nothing was happening on the promotional front. I might as well make the move if the position was
as interesting as “Bang Bang” Urang had made it up to be.
THE “BESTCHESTER” SYNDICATE
Tennis “The Menace, The Fast Fuck Buck Barracuda Cool Operator”, Esquire, came a- courting the next day. It was apparent that Tennis
was a slick, smooth operator--handsome, well dressed, in his late 20’s, an attorney with a customized goatee and silver plated tongue.
Right in The Equitable’s phone room, while the agents were slaving away on the phones, Tennis interviewed me and after about a 30
minute hustle Tennis had me convinced that I would have a better opportunity with a small insurance firm than I would being swallowed
up in The Equitable’s statistical meat grinder, “Since 1976 had produced the landmark ERISA Pension Administration Act, it would be a
banner year for firms like his since business owners were more than anxious to get their pension houses in order. The 1976 ERISA
Pension Act made it mandatory that Sloppy Joe bookkeeping practices of medium and small businesses would no longer be tolerated and
any violation of the new law would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They gave the companies two years to clean up their act.
For Pension Administration firms such as theirs that meant a great influx of business for the foreseeable future. It might take five years
before The Equitable allowed you to work in the pension field. With Urang you could begin immediately and with a little preliminary bull
shit training I could be selling to companies in pension trouble in “Bestchester” with half the commute time.” We shook hands and I told
him I would report Monday morning. I duly resigned my commission from the Julian Light Agency and said good-bye with a middle finger
salute from my backside as I exited the Equitable building passing a Bronx windy cheer and never looked back.
Monday I traveled by rocket ship for the twenty minute ride to Urang's and entered a six story office building that housed Urang's, Inc. It
was “plushly” outfitted on the third floor, thick oak doors, letters engraved in gold vermilion with Tennis’ and Urang's monikers. “Bang
Bang The Fang" Urang's office was off to the side and smaller than Tennis’ larger windowed office. The rest of the floor was divided into
cubicles in an attempt to give the impression that the firm was a lot larger than it was. Dom Don "The Lucky-The Undertaker
Detoqueville", a young, handsome agent, had his own office. Harry "The Horse" was the Casualty Insurance Agent who was loosely
connected with Urang but tried to give the impression that he was independent of them. Harry's partner was Jimmy "The Gimmie", a
rotund fat ass with greasy balls as his adjuster who handled all the fire insurance examinations. In a small office on the opposite end of
the floor was Moody “The Immigrant” Pizzano who was still in law school and ran an immigration card scam on the side as well as being
the middle man involving transactions where he would attempt to secure bank loans and help owners fill out the loan forms for not so
bankable ventures in exchange for a hefty commission.
In the reception area was Calorie Grail flanked by the latest IBM equipment especially designed for the boiler plate operations at
Urang's. Grail was one of those secretaries without whose presence no office like Urang’s could function for it was she that made some
semblance of order out of the bogus form strewn enterprise.
Dom Don “The Undertaker” Detoqueville, due to the sales of a few large policies to relatives, had been given a reward of his own office
and the commissions of these sales allowed him to slide for a few years without selling much of anything. Those earnings also allowed him
to pursue with vigor his marathon man running and skiing hobbies. Dom Don had formerly been an assistant funeral director in his
father’s mortuary slab funeral parlor in the North Bronx. Dom Don would spend many a lunch hour around the conference table camp
fire relating gruesome Vincent Price stories of his father’s business in a mater-of-fact manner. He would pontificate on his embalming
expertise while munching on his Italian Wedges. Dom himself had embalmed Brian Piccolo, the defunct professional football star
(remember the movie- Brian’s Song) who died of cancer during the peak of his career. Dom had appeared in a cameo role in a gangster
movie called The Seven Ups. Dom naturally played one of the pallbearers. A good portion of the film was shot on location in and around
Lucky's Funeral Home. Dom was Tennis “The Barracuda” Fair’s protégé and was extremely polished and knowledgeable on the surface
details of pension plans.
“Our Thing” Urang was the son of a well-to-do father, a former New York State Insurance Commissioner and unofficial Godfather of the
Arthur Avenue Section of The Bronx. Urang wouldn’t hesitate to confirm with what respect the inhabitants of the area paid in deference
to Urang Senior, when he would walk along Arthur Avenue. They would even go so far as to kiss and bless his stinky dinky pinkie ring.
As a result of his Influenza influence Urang got off to a heart rendering running start in life--first in the real estate business in The
Bronx and later in the insurance business. Urang had been born with a silver poltergeist in his mouth and always had the best of
Tennis, Urang's erstwhile partner, had the same rich upbringing but instead of being an Italian Prince was a Jewish Prince. Both of them
were spoiled brats. This was the perfect blend of the Jewish legal beagle brains with the Italian promoter wheeler-dealer. They formed a
lucrative partnership and stayed married for several years. The marriage finally dissolved a decade after I joined The Organization.
The Organization’s activities consisted mostly of a flim-flam, smoke and mirrors show and bilking small and medium size companies by
talking their owners into converting their pension plans into Group low benefit plans so that there would be large amounts of cash funds
left over that could be skimmed off the top to pay for multi-million dollar life insurance policies on those same Principals. They had met
in law school, where at the time Urang had been a real estate man in The Bronx. When rumors spread that ERISA “The Pissa” was in the
works both Dom and Tennis, classmates at “God Have Mercy on Our Souls Law School” in Dobbs Ferry, discussed the possibility of
opening up a Pension Administration Firm.
Tennis finished school and passed the Bar. (The only bar Urang ever passed was his local Pub). Urang knew intuitively that Tennis would
be the perfect patsy to front as a legitimate lawyer for his firm. He would be capable of conning the accountants of the targeted
companies because accountants wanted to deal with attorneys. Urang himself would take the Bar five times and to my knowledge hasn’t
passed it to this day with or without his father’s influence and his own deep hip pockets. (Urang is dead now so he can’t take it again).
That’s not because Urang was stupid. It was because he liked the night life. He never studied for the Bar but always took it cold. Urang
had established numerous contacts through his father’s influence and succeeded in lining up several wealthy construction and
manufacturing firms as clients.
Urang began his agency by selling policies to the builders of super highways and other construction companies. Together with a lot of
chutzpah, a little muscle, a lot of charisma and some questionable bank loans; Urang and Tennis were able to convince Bing Bong Mutual
Life Insurance Company of Binghamton, New York, to finance their business as General Agents for the Company. Mutual Life at the
time was in the top 50 insurance companies as regards to size. Being General Agents for Mutual meant that Mutual would foot the bill in
exchange for all sales of large insurance policies on resident officers of local, small and medium size companies. (This parenthetically is a
perfectly legitimate enterprise). Urang and Tennis would be allowed to go out and give guaranteed minimal salaries to some agents after
Mutual approved them. I was brought into the fold under this type of arrangement. In return, Urang and Tennis among other perks,
received office expenses, two leased Cadillacs on a complicated leaseback scam where the net effect was that they were able to lease the
cars for a dollar a piece and the rest was written off as a supposed taxpayer’s tax depreciation loss for the business. Mutual Life would
also fully furnish the office by purchasing, on special leasing arrangements with a local business, the latest office equipment.
On their part Urang and Tennis had to guarantee Mutual so much premium a year. (All Mutual ever got out of this deal was $10,000,000
worth of bull shit). This left Urang and Tennis with a business shell as a front for their extra-curricular activities completely paid for by
another party but they were still in full control. It also left Urang a good deal of free time to goof off on what he considered necessary to
sell insurance in a big way--the wining and sexual dining of potential clients both male and female. In effect this strategy was nothing
more than the wining and dining of his cronies that he had already sold policies to. It would be the suckers working for Urang and Tennis
that would do the grunt “The Rump” work and bring in the new business.
Urang would roll in in the late morning, bleary-eyed after his trysts in the Naked City, shut the door to his office and spend an hour
shinning his $500 shoes or talking on his special private line to his buddies or some forlorn mistress or high priced call girl. At two in the
afternoon he would exit from behind closed doors, spend a half an hour with Tennis getting a summary of the latest insurance crap that
Tennis was cutting and pasting together. Then Urang would go to Calorie “The Drudge” and dump a whole week’s worth of legal pension
work on her pointed tits. This work was added to an already full schedule of setting up lavish lunches to be served in the well apportioned
legal conference room, sending flowers to his latest girlfriend, or remembering to buy a present for his wife. Then with an Italian flourish
in the latest "Our Thing" apparel he would "swoosh" out the door to one of his three hour lunches only to return at five of five to berate
Calorie for not finishing her assignments or to give us agents pep talks amidst liberal pats on our swollen backs--alternating between
pounding his fists and swearing with simile smiles. Within the hour he would be on his way home to his villa in Northern “Bestchester”.
Numerous times Urang would ride me home at night in his funereal black Caddy.
The fact was that Urang “The Fang” at the time was only 32 and looked 42. I was 42 and looked 32, Tennis was about 38 and looked and
acted like 8. Urang was a little overweight but good looking in that Italian Cosa Nostra sort of way, very humorous and all in all an
intelligent person. His was more of a suave, brilliant, ignoramus approach to life than was Tennis’ style but he knew how to have fun and
enjoy life to the fullest. Tennis would try to emulate Urang’s lifestyle (but Urang was out of Tennis’ league) by indulging in two hour
lunch periods. Tennis had much more pressure on him to actually administer some of these plans that were pouring in. Yet many an
afternoon Tennis and Urang, “The Bopsy Twins”, as Tank "Wisely" referred to them (another budding agent who would be joining us
soon) would team up to tour New York’s restaurants and better brothels. Mostly they spent their time swinging from chandeliers like two
semi-kosher chimpanzees in the newly constructed, pre-Aids infested Caesar’s Palace, an establishment that catered to one’s every
sexual whim and fancy. Even so, Tennis was forced to stay behind a good deal of the time in order to dream up new schemes to convince
small company presidents to drop the soap, their pants and their current pension plans.
Urang was happily married and his wife really didn’t have to work because Urang gave her everything. Tennis was also married yet both
successfully managed to live double sexual lives while maintaining relative domestic tranquility at home.
Dom Don "Lucky" Detoqueville was married but being handsome and personable was engaged in allegedly multiple affairs that he carried
on in the daytime in-between his sport’s interests and jogging efforts. Harry "The Horse" was married and a former lingerie salesman.
He spent his days wishing that he could fool around as much as Urang and Tennis. Dom Detoqueville was basically lazy but a good natured
person. He had his security in the robust commissions from the Pecadillo Case which was an ongoing thing and he was continually trying
to dump bigger and bigger policies on the major clients that made up the nucleus of the agency’s business. He had an excellent command
of ERISA “The Pissa” and Pension Administration procedures under Tennis’ tutelage. He couldn’t pyramid his few sales into a solid base
and was let go about year after I left the firm. I stayed for three years.
It was into this heady, Bloody Mary, wheeler-dealer atmosphere that I began my tour of duty by force with Urang's Agency. It was quite a
change from the serious, no nonsense selling atmosphere of The Equitable. Things were a lot more relaxed at Urang's and everyday was a
picnic in this carnival setup. I was to pitch my sales tent in the cubicle right in front of Urang "The Fang's" office so I could keep tabs on
the freaky pin striped flakes that constituted a non-stop parade in and out of hushed conferences with first Urang and then Tennis “The
Menace”--all behind closed sterling silver doors. It was a welcome change from the uptight, rather traditional stodgy 19th Century style
of the large corporation. At Urang's it was a matter of no substance, all bull shit--but bull shit in the grand style. It was a fast talk
operation with impressive gift giving, chauffeured driven forays to box seats at Yankee Stadium for targeted accountants, tickets to
Broadway Shows, or trips to sexual picnic encounters of the kinky kind at Caesar’s Palace.
It was just a different way of selling insurance--the fun way. (To quote Urang “and what’s the difference how you sell insurance it’s all a
smoke and mirrors proposition anyway”). Urang and Tennis, “The Bopsy Twins”, were experts at it.
When I arrived at Urang’s I decided to take the initiative and use my writing and promotional skills in an attempt to attract potential
prospects’ attention. I began in the usual manner with the Yellow Pages calling all accountants and attempted to get appointments for
Tennis so he could bedazzle the hell out of them with his brilliant X rated Pension slide show. I tried, together with the other agents,
without much success, to understand the basics of Tennis’ flim flam routine. I must confess I couldn’t make much sense out of what
Tennis was saying in his weekly lectures to us in the Conference Room.
About three months into the Urang "schtick", I managed to garner my first large life insurance sale to a doctor. I had established
numerous contacts with accountants and had several cases pending but I had to depend on Tennis to sell them. None of them ever
materialized. Even if they had matured to a sale situation, Tennis and Urang would have done their best to keep it under their hats for
they would rather not share the large commission with me. Even Dom suspected the “Bopsy Twins” of cheating him out of a large
commission in the Pecadillo case. In a large measure, it was due to this reason which eventually led to Dom leaving “The Organization”.
Urang and Tennis claimed that Dom was lazy and resting on his past large sales to carry him. They also blasted him for his coming in late
and leaving early habits. This last point was a bit ludicrous for them to even bring up since Urang was lucky if he put in an hour’s worth
of work. That ploy is often used when one wants to divert attention from one’s own shortcomings and goings. Alas and alack, no one
bought into this projection hypothesis. Least of all Dom and he kept right on doing his own thing. One of the main troubles of the
Urang's Agency was that you had a company full of scam artists all trying to out scam each other. Something had to give.
My potential client, the good Dr. Strangeglove, showed up at the office one day and I managed to hook and finagle him with a policy that
should have netted me $3,200 in commissions. Urang and Tennis claimed that Mutual had to be repaid the monies that they had “loaned
me” as a draw for a salary up until then which coincidentally came out to just about that amount. Imagine any other industry trying to
pull that crap, by calling a salary a loan and not taking into account the hours you worked for the firm! But the insurance companies are
notorious for this type of monetary criminal shenanigans.
Six months into the Urang gig an agent from another company, Tank “The Conciliator” Wisely joined us. He and I then moved into our
own office away from the tirades of Urang. Tank and I would spend the beginning of each day making some token cold calls on the phone
and then we would gossip over the latest deals that Urang and Tennis were involved in or gape at the latest blonde bimbos that passed
through the hall in a constant stream back forth from their offices.
Then one day I got the brilliant idea to exploit the ERISA threats of beheadings and punitive damages against companies who failed to
comply with their arcane statutes. I think it was Tank Wisely or even Urang himself who brought to my attention three books being
advertised on the market which purported to describe in detail local, small and medium sized companies’ pension plans in force. If this
was so, it would be very valuable inside information to know. One could easily feed back to the Tutelary Heads of these companies, facts
on their own specific plan. One could then go on to point out the weaknesses in their current plan and the CEO would be bound to be
impressed because he wouldn’t know where our firm could get such information. But the so-called information, unbeknownst to some,
was public record taken from income tax returns. But since most of these owners couldn’t read much less begin to understand their own
pension plans they were duly impressed.
Such assertions would surely grab the attention of key personnel within a given firm and getting the higher ups’ attention in any company
for a long enough time to make a sales pitch is most of the battle in insurance sales as well as sales in any field for that matter. At that
point, I would sic Tennis “The Barracuda” on them and the poor slobs wouldn’t have a chance.
I convinced Urang to buy the three books and while Tank and I were waiting for them I devised a blockbuster of a sales letter designed to
exploit the information in those books to the hilt. Since it is necessary when dealing with junk mail to get a prospect’s attention in the
first few sentences I devised an eye-opener opening. In bold caps across the top line blared the question: “DO YOU WANT TO GO TO
JAIL?” THAT’S WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLY WITH ERISA REGULATIONS IN YOUR CURRENT
Then I went on to ask if the following figures, which I got from the books I had received by then, matched the figures from their
company’s pension plan? Of course, they did. For they themselves had supplied the figures to the government without realizing that the
government would publish them. Then I remarked in the third sentence that they had better call us today, time was running out--if it was
correct if their plan didn’t fit ERISA’s requirements. Besides, it was way over-funded by their current insurance company and they were
spending anywhere from $25,000 to a half million dollars unnecessarily in a poorly conceived plan. That money could go into their own
Well, that letter caught their attention alright. In a few days Calorie “Holier Than Thou” Grail was deluged by calls from irate Presidents
of these firms, outraged that we had access to pension information that up to now was thought to be confidential. Even a Congressman
had been notified. After I quieted them down from the effects of the infamous “DO YOU WANT TO GO TO JAIL?” letter I started to
convince them that it made little difference where we got the information. The point was that the information was describing their plan
and if it did they were in trouble up to their presidential assholes and facing heavy fines or even jail time. In addition, they were spending
way too much money on their plans. We hoped that after they saw the light that they would take the saved funds and roll them over into
hefty life policies with Urang and Mutual Life on themselves and their families. I also told them that for the last 20 years the large
insurance companies had been designing pension plans which called for unnecessary cash reserves to go into life policies for their
employees when in fact a Group type of arrangement could cancel out these large premium outlays because most of the up-front premium
money went into the insurance companies heavy hitters’ deep pockets as commissions. The insurance companies were being subsidized by
the overinflated pension plans’ premiums and the corporations were subsidizing the growth of the multi-billion dollar insurance
By now I had their undivided attention and that was what the letter was designed to do. Indeed if they would like to know more about
saving $25,000 a year or more in premium payments Tennis would be happy to pay them a visit. We received over 10% response from
that mailing and that is 8% over the normal response for any type of sales mailing. To answer the more insistent ones demanding an
explanation of how we got the data, I told them it was all a matter of public record in Washington, D.C. They should take the matter up
with their erstwhile Congressman if they didn’t want this information disclosed to the pubescent public.
We caused such a commotion with this letter that many of the Presidents had called their own representatives, accountants, brokers and
insurance companies. The insurance companies were caught with their pants down for they couldn’t easily answer the charges. I followed
up with a similar letter to all the major brokers in the area and even some of the other insurance companies. I told them that although
the plans were in trouble Urang, Inc. was fully equipped (we weren’t even partially equipped) to handle them, and that we would be willing
to take the most problem riddled plans off their hands and administer them properly. The response was good because the brokers were
now being pressured by the parent companies and their own clients to get things straightened out in the next fiscal year. It was also
apparent, as the word spread, that millions in commissions would be lost, especially, to firms like Urang's.
The insurance companies got nervous and didn’t know what Tennis was up to. Things got so hot that representatives from the largest
insurance company in the world, New York Life, had their New Rochelle office contact Tennis to invite him to give a talk on ERISA
Regulations. They used this reason as a smoke screen in order to find out what Tennis was up to. They wanted to pick his brains. And to
think that this whole uproar was the result of a junk mailing! Tennis agreed to give a talk at NY Life in New Rochelle but at the last
minute wimped out. Years later I realized that he backed out because his whole scam would have fallen apart under the scrutiny of the
heavy hitters in the field. He conned me into taking over for him. He said he had an important meeting on my behalf with my client
which might result in a sale for the firm and of course a large commission for me since I had supplied the lead. Tennis knew that I didn’t
know “didley” squat about his flim-flam operation but I didn’t have any choice since he dangled the tanned carrot of his closing the big
case that very afternoon. So here I was about to give a complicated lecture to some of the most knowledgeable pension agents in the
business on the ERISA Problem for insurance companies. I ad-libbed and winged it for about an hour. The agents didn’t have a clue of
what I was talking about. I threw in facts and figures from the Encyclopedia of Insurance that I could not pronounce nor understand. I
read verbatim from some of Tennis’ hen scratched yellow pad legal notes and ended in a brilliant two handed flourish saying that
companies like ours would come and knock out their poorly conceived over-insured plans in just one visit.
Gradually I began losing my audience to upward rolling eyes and gripping grimaces, or squirming in the seats maneuvers. Coughs and
“ahems” started to infiltrate the auditorium-- followed by a few all knowing “God will get you for that” glances between the agents. There
were even a few farts and belches unleashed in my direction. This I took to be the signal to wrap up the discussion and tie up the loose
ends. (This would be quite difficult because the whole lecture was a loose end!) I sensed that the agents were bursting at the seams with
questions and were beginning to feel that they had been had. I then let on to the stunned audience that I had been summarily summoned
to Chicago International Airport to help solve an emerging pension mystery developing in the airport waiting room. If I didn’t take the
next plane the whole pension system of the Mid-Western States was in jeopardy of collapse. I had been informed that they were holding a
plane on the tamarack at Kennedy so unfortunately I couldn’t field questions at this time but all problems should be referred to Urang's
and the answers will be dully proffered. With that finale (and Tank Wisely holding the door ushering me in a well planned cab parked
across the street) I left with a swirl of computer readouts trailing out of my briefcase and a horde of outraged agents shaking their fists
over the windshield of the cab as we squealed away from the curb into the security of approaching dusk.
The upshot of that lecture was that some of the companies who wanted to do business with us wanted to take a personal tour of Urang's to
verify that we were the right firm to handle their overload. Now, in order to secure their business, it was necessary to have the latest in
computer hardware to handle the amount of paper work involved. I scheduled a couple of on-site meetings but knowing we didn’t have
the equipment on hand, and in order to impress the visitors, Urang went to an office leasing company and rented computer equipment to
be brought in the day of the inspections and then just as hurriedly removed after the inspections. All this flim-flam activity generated
several leads but I never saw a dime in commissions for all the business that must have eventually materialized. Urang and Tennis used
the standardized operating dodge of insurance company employers; that the cases were pending and not consummated but would be so in
the distant, “obscurum futurama”. I tried to reason with Urang that this was an insurance sale not some bizarre sex act but to no avail.
Another scam perpetuated at Urang's was pulling the wool over the eyes of their Parent Company, Bingo Mutual Life. As I told you
already, everything in the offices belonged to Mutual so naturally they would, from time to time, want to check up on their property.
They had special insurance detectives traveling throughout the regions visiting all the General Agents to make sure no hanky-panky was
going on. Fang's was the Paradise of Hanky-Panky. Once a month a bright, freshly scrubbed, well brushed, manicured hick from the
Home Office would make a sweeping tour-de-force of the lower Hudson Valley. When one of these Dilly Dallies put in his pathetic
periodic appearance at Urang's, Urang and Tennis would be ready for him. Urang and Tennis, being the high rollers they were, naturally
had to have the latest in luxurious accouterments. But Mutual would only swing for the basic office ordered from a defunct Montgomery
Ward Business Catalogue.
On the day of the big inspection “Bon Bon” Urang and Tennis had to hide all the frills and bring back from storage all the olive drab
furnishings supplied by Mutual. The Man From Mutual Life, when he arrived a la carte, would be ushered into Urang’s office with great
fanfare and servile obsequiousness on Urang's and Tennis’ part. Urang and Tennis would both be on their best behavior. Where on other
days their office attire would be semi-nudity, today they would be spiffed up with suits and bow-ties from Bloomingdale's and winged-
tipped shower slippers. While Urang and Tennis were bullshitting them inside the office, outside the movers would be busily setting up
Mutual’s old property props. Then and only then would the Man From Mutual be allowed to inspect. He always thought something was
amiss at Urang's but he never actually caught Urang and Tennis in the act of musical chairs. Mutual didn’t press the matter too hard
because the Urang office was currently one of the top producers in insurance premium. The Mutual Man would then go down on his hands
and knees and inspect every piece of furniture in the place while Tank Wisely and I looked on with smothered, bemused, silent hysterics.
After the furniture inventory, the Mutual Man would be whisked away into Tennis’ dimly lit chambers where he would be treated to a
good dose of Tennis' bookkeeping from the second, third and fourth generation sets of books that they kept. Then Urang and Tennis
would lateral the Mutual Man off to Dom "The Lucky" DeToqueville. It would be DeToqueville's job to take him to the local pizzeria for a
few slivers of pizza with nothing on it and a bottle of Millers, the Champagne of Beers, while Urang and Tennis would duck out the back
door and into the exclusive restaurant across the street, Embryo's, to wine and dine and congratulate themselves on another successful
inspection passed. It was left to Dom "The Lucky", after the Mutual Man was stuffed on all the pizza he could eat in a half hour, to drive
him directly to the airport leaving him with a wave, a good boot in the ass to help him up the runway and a fond farewell. By this time
Urang and Tennis had left Embryo's by the rear door and were headed for a good rub down by some local Bimbolinas at Rex Agrippina’s
Sex Palace in Manhattan. The furniture movers were hard at work reinstating the status-quo and leased frills as befitting two professional
Jack-A-Knapes such as Urang and Tennis.
I had been with Urang's for several months and hadn’t sold much insurance. I was drawing down about $200 a week which Urang finagled
out of Mutual. The one sale which should have netted me $3,200 in commission money still hadn’t been paid but the good life at Urang’s
was almost worth the price of admission. One couldn’t help but be swept up in the whirlwind of “hubristic” activity at the office.
There were numerous rumors circulating concerning the parties held at night in the Village of Hardysville. They were usually held in
Urang’s office or in their legal size conference room. There was some questionable circumstantial evidence that Urang was into sado-
masochistic indulgences complete with whips, chains, handcuffs and the rest of the kinky sexual paraphernalia.
It was also rumored that the Hardysville Police patrolled the area to provide protection for some of the more outlandish of these orgies.
The big party of the year of course was the Christmas Party held at the office. Urang would spare no expense when it came to social
activities. He paid hostesses to parade around in micro-mini skirts, rock bands, replete with liquor and at least one six pack and a fully
catered affair which lasted into the dawn hours of the following day. It would be attended by past, present and future clients as well as
accountants and lawyers that formed the pipeline and conduits to these clients.
I attended my first Urang's Christmas In Drag Party and it was there while I was munching on a sandwich and sipping a drink in the
conference room that in walked “Rose Hips”. She introduced herself to me as Urang's erstwhile cousin, a teacher of Drama at a high
school in New Jersey. It was obvious that Rose Hips had more class than the rest of the bimbos at the party and was not in the Urang
clique because of her teaching profession. She had a joint in her right hand and offered it to me with her left hand-- after she introduced
herself. Now Urang and Tennis were very conservative in their views about drugs as compared to their radical business dealings. Rose
Hips told me that Urang would have an Italian furor if he walked in and saw her smoking a joint. I felt a little uncomfortable because I
knew Urang had a temper and things could get unpleasant but I said let’s smoke anyway. Sure enough, about five minutes later Urang
stumbled in, looked at Rose Hips, at me, at the joint passing between us and you could see a look of massive displeasure slowly spread
across his Mid-Eastern Sardinia organizational face. Since it was his favorite cousin he held himself in check and didn’t go into one of his
fist pounding routines.
My marriage had been entering its seventh year and had been shaky to say the least. I was ripe for an affair. I started to date Rose Hips
when I could get away from home. Subsequently we became good friends. Urang, at first, didn’t like the idea but he could hardly object
because he was allegedly having his own affairs. Urang was not an evil person per say. He had a lot of that Syndicate charm and
personality in him, was well read, of above average intelligence, handsome in that Italian way, witty, but given to childish fits of
intemperance when things didn’t go his way--a sharp dresser who knew how to mix pleasure with business with aplomb--a loving father to
his four year old daughter, an excellent provider for his wife--and most important of all a good negotiator. He knew how to get the most
out of his people without paying them a penny (a few slaps on the back usually sufficed in lieu of a paycheck). He was a natural born
leader who was involved financially in the backing of the local politicians to shore up his own political base and a real diplomat in full
charge of his fiefdom.
On some of the rides home that Urang would give me, we would discuss his past, how he got in the business and how he had hooked up
with Tennis. I was curious as to how deep Urang was involved with Dis-Organized Crime and so broached the subject head on. Urang said
he had been approached several times to use his business as a front for the Organization because of his location, savvy, and wide range of
contacts throughout the county, but thus far he had steered clear of the rather lucrative temptations and had maintained his
independence. He did acknowledge that he did move somewhat in those circles--on the fringe with no direct affiliations to the Mob.
Occasionally Urang, along with one of his more intelligent Bimbolinas, Rose Hips and I, double dated. Surprisingly, the women that Urang
chose to run around with were for the most part not only beautiful (Las Vegas show girls, models and the like) sexy but also extremely
intelligent. And through it all Urang managed to maintain a relatively calm home life. Urang Senior tried to cajole Urang into curtailing
his night life but was otherwise pleased and proud of Urang’s accomplishments for his young age. On his one visit that he paid to the
office, he bloated with pride that Urang had more contacts at his age than he did throughout all of his years as the Insurance
Commissioner. The day he paid a visit with his entourage, everyone was on their best behavior and asserted their allegiance to Urang
Senior as if he were a Mafia Buddha from Budapest.
Urang was of two minds when it came to Rose Hips and me. On the one hand, he didn’t want anyone working too close within his
organization to have the upper hand by dating a close relative. For then Urang would have what he perceived as a vulnerability by that
person having access to private family information about him, his organization and intimate family matters. He had little to worry about
on that account because Rose Hips was very loyal to “Cousin Urang”, as she affectionately referred to him. She was too involved in the
teacher’s world to be concerned about Urang’s trifling affairs. She had always looked up to Urang and knew less about Urang’s business
than I did from merely being around the office. On the other hand, Urang liked me and as Rose Hips told me using Urang’s own words, “I
was a genius without direction. If I ever found that direction I would go straight up like a rocket and he would like to be around for the
fallout if I ever took off". An interesting comment indeed from the son of the Godfather of Arthur Avenue.
By this time in his career, Urang had already surpassed his father in political clout in “Bestchester” County and upper Bronx. By his
early thirties he had already made his first million and was on his way to a hundred more with his expanding real estate holdings that had
come mainly through his alliance with a wealthy widow who owned numerous county properties. His father had been indirectly tied up
with the Kennedy Clan, both Robert and John and was active in the Democratic Party as was Urang through his generous contributions.
Tennis, his partner, didn’t like me nor I him. Tennis had a superiority complex and looked at me as just another hapless agent passing
through the portals on his way to insurance oblivion. When I ceased to have any utility for the Organization I would be summarily
dismissed with a wave of the hand. It was Urang that made Tennis although it was true Tennis would have survived on his own because he
had his law degree, and unlike Urang, had passed the Bar and more importantly had a good working knowledge of the legalities of pension
plans and of the ins and outs of the insurance game in general. But if it wasn’t for Urang, Tennis would never have been considering the
purchase of a million dollar home in “Bestchester” in the spring of that year. It was Urang who gave class to Dennis’ rather lackluster
I visited Rose Hips several times in her small but cozy house in Jersey. Rose Hips was a forty year old divorcee. Her former husband had
a job in Saudi Arabia. He was an alcoholic who abused her and her two daughters. Rose Hips' daughters were in their late teens. One
was about to enter college while the other, a few years younger and still in high school, was in and out of trouble with the local authorities
for drug abuse. I felt guilty dating Rose Hips while I was still married but having affairs was a common thing at Urang's where everyone
had a mistress. It just seemed that that was one of the qualifications to remain at Urang's. The only one in the office that didn’t carry on
any affairs was my partner, Tank “The Boy Scout” Wisely, who was too much into the family life, his kids’ scout troop affairs and too ugly
to even consider the possibility. Calorie "The Holy Grail", Urang's personal secretary, was also straight-laced and was the person most
responsible for keeping the office running on some semblance of a professional level.
One time Sue and the kids took a trip to Albany. I was to follow the next day and meet her there. I actually traveled ahead of her,
stopped in a motel outside of Albany with Rose Hips the night before and joined Sue two days later. While Sue was entertaining my
relatives I thought it only proper to entertain Urang's relatives. Next door to our motel room, putting the finishing touches on the best
seller IRONWEED and his mistress, was the novelist William Kennedy.
Eventually our sexual relationship ceased and Rose Hips and I moved into the “just friends” phase of our affair. I didn’t know it at the
time but Sue had begun a few affairs of her own, one of which she described to me as nothing but a hand holding affair with a fellow
commuter on the train to and from work.
Once, while driving to work, Sue asked me if I had ever gone out with another woman during our marriage. I told her that I had dated
Urang's cousin a few times but now we were only friends. I should have realized that by Sue’s reaction of quiet detachment, although
visibly hurt, she was about to indulge in some peccadilloes of her own. I even borrowed some money from Rose Hips to buy some
furniture that I had promised Sue but couldn’t afford.
Following the Christmas party, Urang saw how much damage had been done to the office that he decided henceforth to conduct all social
gatherings across the street at Embryo's Restaurant. It was at Embryo's that Urang and Tennis did most of their business related
entertainment of prospective clients or celebrities that were just passing through on their way to engagements in New York City. Urang
was host to most of the Italian celebrities that were appearing weekly at the “Bestchester” Premiere Theater-- a combination bowling
alley, pin ball arcade, lounge and first class theater where major productions took place. Urang and Tennis had a small investment in the
Theater and therefore whenever such Italian greats as Sinatra, Frankie Valle, Victor Damone, Frankie “Provolone” Avalone and others
were appearing, Urang and Tennis would duly wine and dine them at Embryo's or Antigone’s Palace depending on their sexual proclivities.
A few years later the Premiere Theater would be the subject of a widespread investigation on local corruption and a scandal broke as the
FBI noted skimming of proceeds by the key investors. It closed down and shortly thereafter Dick Clark “The Eternal Teenager”,
Enterprises took it over and tried to make it a semi-legitimate enterprise. They were unsuccessful as it wasn’t long before a number of
organizational men had infiltrated its ranks again. The entertainment that was brought there was too clannish and didn’t reach out to the
general audiences of “Bestchester”. The Theater went into its second receivership in five years and never recovered. It was converted to
an office complex in the early 80’s. As far as I know, Urang and Tennis had nothing whatsoever to do with the collapse of the Theater for
their involvement was on the fringes. It was controlled by interests much larger than theirs.
It was about this time that I was to make my second big sale of the century of a large pension plan to a small corporation. The key to the
whole deal was the accountant “Gunner Hans”. His job was to talk the president of the company into dropping their current plan and
settle for one of Tennis’ “buy one get one free” pension dodges.
Urang decided it was time to pin down the accountant. He found out he was an ardent Yankee fan. Urang invited him and me to a
Yankee ball game with a Limo. and box seats. Urang, at that time, didn’t have his own private Limo. and driver but used a local yokel
service for those special business negotiations. Later Urang had not only his own Limo. and driver but a Rolls Royce to impress his bigger
The day of the ballgame we were picked up by a Limo. driver who had a small Limo business with local corporations in the County. It was
called Gucci Gucci’s Limo. Service headed by “The Italian” Gucci-Gucci. Right from the start I could sense that Gucci was jealous of my
close relationship with Urang. Urang, being the Democrat that he was, invited Gucci to join us in our box seats. Gucci was understandably
out of place with Urang and his Bimbo, the accountant and me what with him in his uniform and Urang’s patronizing manner. But Gucci-
Gucci was in awe that Bob would condescend to socialize with a working class slob such as himself. Unbeknownst to Gucci, Urang had
his reasons. He was on the lookout for a Limo. service that would drop everything and be at his beckon call, day and night. It wasn’t too
many weeks after that ball game that Gucci’s became Urang's private Limo. service. For awhile this didn’t affect me although right from
the beginning Gucci and I had a mutual hatred for each other. For his part it was the fact that I was close to Urang and he was nothing
more than a hired lackey. Gucci and I would lock horns the following year but for now he was just a mild irritation and a source of jibes
between me and Tank Eisley--as Urang’s hired goon.
We found out later that Gucci had served in the Civil War and had a metallic substitute for his head. He was divorced and was reputed to
be very violent and always appeared to be under great constraint to keep his temper in check. His wife had left him because of his hair
spring temper. He was living with his current girlfriend in Hardysville.
It turned out that the Yankee ball game deal was also one of those interminable ones followed up with negotiations, counter-negotiations,
proposals and counter proposals; the net result being that I never quite knew whether a sale was made or not. Tennis and Urang were
experts at bagging a deal and making it seem that it was just about to take place but at the last minute made it seem as if it was falling
After about six months into the Urang gig, I was getting restless. I realized that I wasn’t going to make a living, nor did I want to, by
selling insurance in any of its misappropriated forms. I was having a lot of fun at Urang’s but I wasn’t making any money. “Saint”
Susan was getting edgy and nervous and constantly reminded me of how I was being taken advantage of by Urang and Tennis with their
promises of riches just around the corner that in fact were nothing more than shrewd tactics designed to get me to work for low wages. I
was anxious to get involved in another promotion.
Enter the flamboyant, hubristic, filmmaker Aubrey Wisberg again! At about this time I received a long windbag letter from Aubrey “The
Producer” Wisberg. I hadn’t heard from Aubrey for about three or four years. It seems he was in Texas for a preview of his play
SECOND FLOOR FRONT. Wisberg was very excited about this regional production and indicated that if SECOND FLOOR FRONT could
achieve acclaim in a conservative state such as Texas, then certainly it should be well received in the sophisticated Northeast. He urged
me to renew my efforts on behalf of SECOND FLOOR FRONT. I had read SECOND FLOOR FRONT previously and had been duly
impressed by it. It was a tragic-comedy based on the real life event that was at that very time unfolding in Queens, New York. It
concerned an Orthodox Jewish man who wakes up one day to discover that he is married to a former Nazi prison guard from a
Concentration Camp during World War II. In Wisberg’s version, which followed the real life events; there is a comical First Act showing
an elderly Jewish widower who is convinced by a Brooklyn Orthodox Match-Maker to take a wife.
The play turns from comedy to stark tragedy when gradually he makes the discovery that the Matchmaker has got him married to a
former Nazi Guard. In the real life events, a man from Queens had discovered after 20 years of marriage that he has married to a former
Nazi prison guard and the authorities were at that very moment seeking to deport her as a war criminal. They proved to be successful and
five years later she was deported to stand trial in the then West German Republic.
It struck me immediately that Wisberg was on to something big here because of the timeliness of the topic. I had already gone through
the normal channels with the play and it had been turned down by every producer of substance (lack of substance in reality) in New York
including, Harold Prince of Thieves, Dave Schmendrick Merrick and Joe “Slap Stick” Papp. It occurred to me that if Wisberg could land a
production in the Southwest of such a play whose topic was completely foreign to their security interests, then it might be possible to
launch a financially successful regional production in “Bestchester” County. Here there were the Jewish groups in large numbers. My
plan, as it evolved, was to take advantage of the Jewish interest in the play’s theme by going directly to the Jewish Organizations to see if
they would be interested in it locally as a fund raiser. They could share the proceeds in exchange for their getting their organizations
behind it and promoting it to their memberships. It seemed because of its theme it would be a natural seller. Then, after enough money
was raised we could travel with it from region to region across the United States wherever there was a Jewish Organization. I knew the
fund raising potential of Jewish Organizations once they were unleashed and got behind something they supported. Especially potent were
the Women’s groups like Hadassah, B’nai B’rith and the umbrella organizations, The Jewish Federation headed by the billionaire
Bronfman brothers. It appeared to a be a natural Four Wall operation. I decided to launch a production of SECOND FLOOR FRONT
Shortly after I received the letter from Wisberg I took a ride home with Urang "The Fang" and started up a discussion of Wisberg, my
agent endeavors on his behalf, his track record as a movie-maker and the current running of his play in Texas. I told Urang that I was
thinking of putting on a production of my own; Tennis and he could join me as silent partners and that a production could be launched
locally very cheaply. Urang was intrigued because of Wisberg’s possible contacts in the movie industry and told me to drop my insurance
activities and begin work on SECOND FLOOR FRONT.
A few weeks later Wisberg returned to New York and we met at The Volney Hotel. I told Wisberg that I’d rather not waste any more
time shopping around his scripts to "do nothing" producers that occupied positions of power in the New York Theater District and that I
would launch a production of SECOND FLOOR FRONT based on the Four Wall Concept which I had fine tuned to perfection. Wisberg
was skeptical of an amateur production of his work, overly concerned for his fading reputation should it do poorly. On the other hand,
both he and I knew that producers weren’t exactly lining up at his doorstep for his plays. He agreed but told me that I would have to keep
him closely informed as to the progress of the production. He then asked for a $1,000 option fee for permission for exclusive rights for six
months. I thought that was a rather stiff fee at the time because even the professional productions off-Broadway, according to the Guild
contracts, didn’t charge much over $350 for an option fee. Ours was only going to be a Regional and off-off-Broadway production with a
view to converting it to a professional Broadway production. At the time I didn’t know this and Wisberg took advantage of my ignorance
and got his $1,000 option fee from Urang. I told Urang that it was a normal fee which I thought it was. (In addition, Wisberg never
offered to give me my $100 (10% of the $1,000) agent fee for getting his option fee).
With that done, I was now the proud owner of SECOND FLOOR FRONT and about to engage upon a new, exciting play producer career. I
knew exactly nothing about the theater or theatrical production having never before been involved with the theater. I hadn’t even
attended very many live performances in my time. I wasn’t familiar with the embryonic terminology or the technical end of the
business. In my view however, like the flea markets, antique shows and festivals, to me it was just another promotion and should be
handled accordingly. I would pick up the necessary knowledge as I went along. I was beginning to feel like a teenage Zero Mostel and got
into a SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER mood. By the time of the Opening I should be an expert on the theater. I returned to Urang's in full
spirits and full of myself and ready to launch the Regional Production of SECOND FLOOR FRONT.
The first order of business was to secure a Production Company. Here serendipity had a hand for a few weeks prior to my obtaining the
Option on SECOND FLOOR FRONT a new secretary had arrived at Urang’s Rosemary’s “Baby". She was a sprightly, hazy thinking,
“twerpy”, slightly off center, redheaded divorcee recently escaped from London. At one of our famous lunch breaks in the Conference
Room at Urang's, Rosemary let it be known that in her spare time she was involved with The Fenimore Players, a well known Community
Theater Group throughout “Bestchester”. The Group had been putting on plays for 15 years and had a respectable reputation. It was
currently headed by Joan “Quincy", President, with its home base in the Larchmont, Rye, Mamaroneck area.
Rosemary's "Baby" suggested that I drop over and talk to Joan “Of Arc” and see The Fenimore Players in action at a Dress Rehearsal
that week. This seemed to me an excellent idea and that it was going to save me the trouble of scouting the County for a suitable
Production Company. If they were anywhere near up to par I would approach Joan “Quincy” after rehearsal. Indeed, I thought the Four
Wall concept of linking up with the Jewish Charity Organizations would more than compensate for the amateur status and shortcomings
of the Fenimore Players. I went to the Dress Rehearsal. They didn’t appear to me as half bad nor half good. But I was impressed with
the professional, serious manner in which they conducted their rehearsal. I approached Joan backstage and introduced myself as a
producer representing some local investor group that was going to back a play currently having a successful run at a Texas University of
some note. The investors wanted me to tryout the play in the Northeast on a regional basis and if it did well the Production Company
would be converted to a Broadway Repertory Group. $1,000 of the proceeds would be earmarked for the coffers of The Fenimore Players
plus the additional public relations and Media coverage could only enhance the Group’s stature in the community. She was intrigued with
the idea as well she might be with that presentation of my objectives and she told to me to leave a copy of SECOND FLOOR FRONT and
she would read it during the week and then I should make an appointment with her the following week at her home.
Joan and I met again in two weeks, in her backyard, at her beachfront hacienda in Larchmont. Joan leveled with me and said although it
was apparent that Wisberg was a talented writer and she was impressed with his track record, she was not too enthralled with the theme
of the play. (This was probably due to her WASP heritage.) That it didn’t quite come off. (Whatever that meant!). That anything that
she couldn’t get that enthusiastic about she couldn’t back. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be fair, in the light of this being a Broadway
Tryout, to prevent people in the Production Company from becoming involved because it could be used as a vehicle to help them along
with their career paths. Besides, it was a fact that The Fenimore Players had a Board to consult so she would bow out of any involvement
but would do nothing to prevent the Production Company from becoming involved except to recommend against it. The Board would
probably feel that the $1,000 would be a welcome gift to the financially beleaguered Production Company because like most community
theater groups they operated on a shoestring and rarely made any profits from their productions. She would pass the play along to the
Board and I could attend the next Board meeting and present my case.
I was disappointed that she didn’t get behind the venture because she controlled Fenimore’s list of past attendees, and the more people of
influence in high positions in the community as well as in the Independent Production Company, the better the financial result would be.
But I thought once the proposal was before the Board it would be a simple matter to convince them that it was in their interests to put on
the play. For even a mildly successful play would give them much wider exposure than they normally would obtain with their regular half-
ass production schedules.
At the Board meeting they were excited about the fact that should the play eventually end up on Broadway or Off-Broadway, some of the
actresses and actors would have a chance to stay with the Production. The Board agreed to do SECOND FLOOR FRONT. I had them sign
a Four Wall Contract leasing the Production Company for three months including the performances in November and December and that
they would receive $1,000 fee of the net gate proceeds for their trouble.
The next order of business on the Board’s agenda was the selecting of a Director for the Play and here we ran into a major snag. After
several hours of debate between the forces loyal to Joan Adams and the forces supporting the play; the Fenimore Players couldn’t come to
an agreement of who should direct the play. The weeks passed by and still no Director from the Production Company so no rehearsals. I
realized that I would have to do something or risk losing the promotion altogether. It was against my better judgment to get involved
with the production end of the venture since I had little experience but I had no choice. I would have to look outside the Company for the
Again, by serendipity, in that same Conference Room at Urang's our Director was to materialize out of thin air-- off the street so to
speak, in the form of 6’ 6” Thong “The Flake” WaterGates. It seems that “Lord” Thong was one of those nasty strays that Urang and
Tennis were wont, from time to time, to bring in out of the cold (like they did me). I guess, in the beginning of their association with
Thong they (especially Urang) had taken a liking to him because of his tall stature, warm outgoing personality, kow-tow blustery,
charismatic personality and bull shit throwing proclivities. He had made a good first impression but not a lasting impression on the
Thong had been married to a well-to-do daughter of a local politico and that probably was the principle reason that Urang and Tennis
associated with him. They thought there was a probable sale of a large policy on the politico and the political clout that would accrue with
their association with him. Be that as it may, Thong was just recently divorced and went through a personal bankruptcy. He took to
hanging around Urang’s making sales calls and appointments from the Conference Room’s phones and otherwise making a nuisance of
himself by getting in everyone’s way. He was constantly harassing Urang and Tennis with one harebrained scheme after another. Tennis
and Urang, for the most part, ignored him now that his influence was severely curtailed due to his recent divorce.
They would constantly make snide remarks to each other and suggest ways to rid themselves of Thong now that his usefulness to the
Firm had been outlived. It was on one such occasion when the Bopsy twins were out gallivanting about town that Thong was eating in the
Conference Room. Thong was holding court to the bug-eyed agents, bragging about his college days in the theater. My ears perked up
when Rose Hips and he got into a heated discussion about the theater. As I looked at him it was evident, despite his preposterous con-
man aurora and buffoon appearance, that he did have a presence and commanded attention, two good qualities for a Director. Two other
assets were his booming voice and theatrical gestures when he spoke. The thought ran through my mind that he would be just the man
although it also crossed my mind that Tennis and Urang would be aghast at the thought of putting the production in “Lord” Thong’s
incapable hands instead of sending him down the river in a cement slab. Being Director of the Play meant that he would be around the
office daily and mixing in the affairs of the Firm. I was up against the wall and wasn’t interested in Urang’s problems. We had two
months until opening night and the Promotion must go forward at all costs. If you overlooked Thong’s bull shitting capabilities and short
fuse, he did at times have a no nonsense pantyhose approach to life and might be just the person to whip the lethargic Fenimore Players
into action. I came right out with it and asked Thong if he would like to direct SECOND FLOOR FRONT, a play in which Urang was the
silent backer. Thong was at first taken aback and shell shocked but recovered his bombastic composure in about two seconds and
immediately seized upon the opportunity to propel himself into the limelight and into Urang's and Tennis’ good graces in one fell
He was still living off the proceeds of the politco's daughter and his creditors were still kept at bay so he could afford for the next two
months to be available for pre-production work. That was the easy part. Next, I had to convince Urang and Tennis. I went into an
immediate closed door high priority session with them. They were both livid. In fact, it was the first time I saw cool headed Tennis “The
Menace’s” color rise to the occasion on his pretentious pale cheeks. I had struck a raw nerve. Urang, along with Tennis (in a pathetic
imitative manner) went through about five minutes of their fist pounding routine--first Urang, then Tennis, then Tennis, then Urang gave
a battery of sputtering reasons why they didn’t want ”Gorgeous” Thong anywhere near the office. The Fenimore Players had contracted
to do the play and it was up to them to get a Director. It wouldn‘t only be them but The Production Company who would be flabbergasted
when they saw Thong in action.
They went on like this for another fifteen minutes. I let their silly tantrums run their silly course and then proceeded to calm them down
by pointing out the fact that Thong, so he had said, had University Theater experience. He had directorial presence, was energetic and was
the type of person to keep things moving. Besides, it really didn’t matter what kind of schlub we fronted as Director; the key to the
operation was the advance sales to Jewish organizations. Thong could be dropped later when we converted to a professional Production
Company. Thong could be just the shill flunky to get things rolling. More importantly, he would be our man who would control the
situation in our favor should the Promotion develop in a positive way. It would be valuable to have one of our people in a key position in
the foreign Production Company. And last but not least it would get Thong out of the office. That last point struck a chord and
"Thumping" Thong was in!
This interesting way of looking at things hit home especially with Urang for he always liked to think one of his people was the key point
man in any situation even if the person was a flaky outside nuisance like Thong. Urang came around and I knew I would win the debate
for Urang had the real power at Urang's. He, in the end, would do what he wanted to do and Tennis would have to capitulate. I pointed out
that The Fenimore Players were in a turmoil over this Director business and we have to get rehearsals moving or drop the whole
promotion. That cinched it because Bob didn’t want to see the venture go down the tubes because it perked his vanity to be involved with
a Broadway bound venture and he wanted to be associated with a movie producer like Wisberg. Not to mention the fact that he would lose
his non-refundable $1,000 option payment to Wisberg.
Tennis couldn’t have cared less, being an artistic eunuch. He thought the whole thing was absurd right from the beginning. That Urang
shouldn’t get involved in amateur theater groups and tried to tell Urang that they were in the insurance game not the entertainment
business. I guess he was completely oblivious to the experimental theater of the absurd that transpired at Urang’s on a daily basis. He
felt the project was doomed to failure and now that the nincompoop Thong Luddite Watergate was going to be involved it would be a fiasco
and they would be the laughing stock of the County. It was the last straw for Tennis. He left the room and didn’t want anything more to
do with it. He washed his hands of the whole matter. After Tennis parted Urang went into a rage against Tennis and recounted how he
was the man in charge at Urang’s and if it wasn’t for him Tennis would be slaving away as some hack patent attorney in a government
cubbyhole. If it wasn’t for his risk taking and flair for negotiating combined with a mixture of socializing, wining, dining and catering to
the clients’ more sensuous needs that Urang, Inc. would be just another faceless, toothless, drab insurance agency eking out a living for
its owners. I agreed wholeheartedly with Urang and Urang told me to tell Thong that he better get his ass moving with rehearsals today
and that The Fenimore Players better get off their artsy fartsy buttocks or they would hear from him personally.
In the end, it was Thong’s obnoxious qualities that made him win the day and that made him just the right man to handle the Fenimore
renegades. They were the typical suburban theater troupe puffed up libertines peacocks with their own sense of theatrical importance--a
vain and pretentious lot of upper-class suburbanites in Reebok Tennis Shoes. The fact was that SECOND FLOOR FRONT was going to be
the biggest event in their fifteen year old history. Joan “Of Arc" said that the only reason they would let Thong "The Lumbering
Luddite" direct the play was because they couldn’t come to an agreement among themselves but that they would live up to their
commitment. (Hooray for ethical people!)
These attitudes certainly didn’t bode well for the production of the play itself because now it would be handicapped by the notion of a
Production Company saddled with a play that they were not behind 100%-- a Production Company whose President thought they were
fools to put on. She would not give it that much needed backing of her own contacts. And, of course, they now had a Director who they
were even less thrilled about never mind not one of their own But from my point of view two major problems had been solved and that
left the third problem in the triple crown triad triangle of the Four Wall Operation--the theater itself. After I secured it then I would be
able to move into the promotional end of things where I felt most at home and get away from the political in-fighting within the Theater
I went back into the Conference Room and informed “Lord” Thong. He was shocked but elated. Yet he still had the chutzpah to demand
payment of $2,500. I told him that would be no problem and that we would write it into the Fenimore Production Contract. He would be
paid out of the proceeds at the gate. Thong went off mumbling to himself for he already thought he was a V.I.P. and that Tennis and
Urang really needed him. He had no idea how close he came to being ejected from the building in a cement suit. Thong had it in his false
vacuum packed head that he was going to grab some quick money ahead of everyone else which gave an indication of just what kind of
boob we were dealing with.
I contacted Fenimore and told them that the Director problem had been solved and that at the next meeting Urang expects him to be
approved. It came to pass that Thong made a good enough impression to just pass muster. Joan saw right through Thong's schtick and
bag of hot air balloon tricks and had him pegged as a phony and so did The Fenimore Players who would grow to hate his dictatorial,
clitoral, overbearing, boorish manners, his walrus like mustache, and his Leaning Tower of Pisa appearance. But in the end it was just
these qualities that made “Lord” Thong “The Flake, The Luddite" Watergate just the right man to handle the Fenimore Renegades. As
for the money Thong demanded, it was highly unlikely, even after a success, that the Bopsy Twins would give Thong a dime. Urang
thought it best to humor Thong concerning the money to make him work harder.
The final order of business was to secure the theater. I wanted a big theater because I planned on getting a large pre-sold audience from
The Fenimore’s lists and the Jewish Community. I wanted a town that would be convenient to the home base of The Fenimore Players.
Rose Hips had mentioned a high school theater auditorium in Rye High School. I went over and looked the place over. It was mammoth,
holding at least 900 people. It seemed to have more than adequate facilities, parking, etc. I negotiated with a naive boggled eyed Rye
High School Administrator and to impress him I told him that this was a Broadway Tryout and played up Wisberg’s track record. He went
for it and said he would lease it to me for the months of November and December with the contract stating that nothing would have to be
paid up front. A $6,000 fee to cover janitorial, rental, security and miscellaneous expenses over that period would be due at the end of
the Production. I signed without blinking an eyelash and the Production of SECOND FLOOR FRONT was underway. To the tune of
$1,000 option fee (out of Urang’s pockets not mine) I had secured in 30 days, a first class theater, complete Production Company and a
Broadway bound script. Everything else was to be T.B.P.A.L.D.--MLMIAA! (an acronym commonly used in Four-Wall Scams meaning, To
Be Paid At A Later Date---Much Later--Maybe, If At All!). Thong, on his end, wasted no time getting the Fenimore Group front and
center and started rehearsals and casting on their home grounds off Murray Street in Larchmont in the cellar of a church. It was loaned
out by the church free of charge. It wasn’t a bad theater in its own right for it had a stage and seating arrangements.
Now I could swing into the real promotion of SECOND FLOOR FRONT in an attempt to sell Block purchases of tickets to the local and
regional Jewish Organizations. I came back to the office and obtained a list of the major Jewish Groups in the area and started to use my
insurance sales cold calling expertise and promotional sex appeal in an attempt to get them to use SECOND FLOOR FRONT as a Hell
Raiser or a Fund Raiser at the very least.
At first the calls went better than expected. I received a positive response from the Jewish Groups. There was some resistance because
they were used to supporting First Class Broadway Productions as Fund Raisers. The more sophisticated audiences of “Bestchester” were
more interested in luncheons coupled with discount tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway performances. Most of the groups, however,
said they would bring it up at their next Board meeting for a vote. Though this was encouraging news, the delay, red tape and lack of a
guarantee of timely purchasers or any purchasers at all was more indicative of the kind of support I would get. A few even invited me to
come over to their meetings and one Hadassah Group in Larchmont had a tea just for me and “Lord” Thong. A small number signed up
and committed to buy some tickets and some of the Men’s Groups would recommend it to their members. But virtually none would give
us a formal endorsement, or partake in any active fund raising. I think they were just interested in receiving all the funds collected and
Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc. wasn’t at the time a very charitable organization.
I made the usual press releases to all the local print and visual media and received good press on the fact that Fenimore, a local group,
was involved in a Broadway Tryout Production.
One of the larger publications, SPOTLITE ON RYE MAGAZINE, (which subsequently grew into the largest four-color glossy in
“Bestchester”, with separate editions for the major towns and villages of “Bestchester”) got wind of the production and invited Thong, me
and some of the Production members to a catered cocktail party.
The party was attended by the Mayor of Rye, NY, his entourage, several officials from the surrounding villages of Mamaroneck,
Larchmont and New Rochelle as well as the upper crust of the community. Sue “Fresh” Meadows, Editor and President of SPOTLITE
MAGAZINES together with her husband, a corporate lawyer on Wall Street, were our hosts.
Simultaneously, as I was proceeding with the Promotion, “Waspy Prince” Thong was pushing ahead with production. I didn’t want to
interfere with Thong’s choices but he did let several professional actors and actresses pass through his hands and settled for less talented
people. Both “Rose Hips” and I agreed on that. He picked an adequate supporting cast. Both Thongie and I were responsible for picking
the excellent male lead who was to play “Jake”, the man in the play who was married to the Nazi Guard.
Wisberg kept pestering me to visit rehearsals after they were in full swing. I finally could hold him off no longer and invited him up one
night. I met him at the train station. He wanted to formally meet Thong and the Production Company. He and Thong took an immediate
dislike to each other. Finally the two Bombasts had come face to face!
Later in the night Wisberg pulled me aside and castigated me on my choice of a Director. I gave him the same song and dance I gave
Urang and Tennis and this pacified him. Wisberg showed up in his typical Hollywood Producer’s outfit complete with sun glasses and
off-white silk scarf from Bergoff Goodman. The Production Company didn’t know quite what to make of this clown. They were amused
and yet in awe of his credentials and a little bewildered as to all the attention being lavished on them when only a few weeks before they
had been nobodies wallowing in opaque oblivion in a Community Theater.
The pressure was beginning to build and tensions between the Production Company and Thong began to surface as the days progressed
towards Opening Night. By the end of the night that Wisberg showed up he had grudgingly accepted the amateur status of the Production
Company and the less than appealing notion that “Luddite” Floodgate would be its Director. I sent Wisberg packing on the next train
south to the City and made it my business to keep him and Floodgate as far apart as possible for the duration. I also knew that if
Wisberg constantly popped up he would be relentlessly making all sorts of pompous demands on the Production Company. And since
these were not paid, non-professional actors they weren’t about to do Wisberg’s bidding. Wisberg made no such distinction and felt they
were at his beckon call.
I attended most of the rehearsals during the evenings with Rose Hips. Urang encouraged Rose to attend in order to represent Urang’s
interests. When things were really bad between Thong and the Fenimore Crew, I was at the point of dismissing him and asking Rose to
take over. She sympathized but felt that the rather exhaustive plans for the Production was beyond her capabilities for she was only a
High School Drama Teacher. She was too busy and it wouldn’t bode well for the Production to change Directors in the middle of
rehearsals. She felt that Thong was a complete blockhead and idiot and knew absolutely nothing about dramatic techniques--the basics of
blocking, lighting, pacing, casting and the thousand and one other details necessary to make a Production come together with a special
magic. Thong was always fighting with someone in the Crew. I basically agreed with Rose but felt that by some miracle Thong would
make it gel at the last minute although we were running two weeks behind schedule. The upshot was that Thong stayed on and we crossed
our fingers. There was another snag when Urang stuck his nose in the casting by suggesting that we put in the wife of one of his clients,
Ingénue “Julliet Picadillo”. She had a dilettante interest in the theater but no experience. So one Sunday morning Thong and I held a
special audition for Urang’s suggestion for the Ingénue role. Thong was angry for being forced to even hear “Ingénue” and it was obvious
that she couldn’t act. Ingénue turned out to be a beautiful maiden with virginal, curly black hair which she let hang down in ringlets.
Thong and “Ingénue” were immediately smitten with each other and for the rest of the production they carried on a lurid affair in full
view of the entire production Company. They were so hot for each other that during rehearsals Thong and “Ingénue” would lie down on
the carpeted theater floor in the aisles and fondle each other while Thong simultaneously carried on his directing duties and the actors
went through their paces. “Ingénue” was attracted to Thong because of Thong's stories of how he would have her name in lights. I heard
through the grapevine that “Ingénue” had been having problems with her husband. Now that she was required to be at rehearsals there
was an even bigger problem emerging.
Meanwhile, on the promotion end, with about thirty days till Opening Night, it was apparent that the Jewish Groups would miss the boat
and if they did make up their minds it would be too late to launch an effective letter and phone campaign. I thought I would need some
PR assistance to exploit more than just the Jewish audiences. I contacted a woman I had met at the Rye cocktail party, a professional
Waspy PR woman, Molly “By Golly” Babushka .
I paid Molly "By Golly" a visit at her Rye home. She boasted about her County wide connections with the major corporations especially
PepsiCo, Texaco and IBM. She was also involved with many women’s charity groups. She sold me. I thought I should set up a meeting
with her and Urang at Urang’s. Because of my closed mouth approach with Molly, as to who exactly were the backers of the play and my
real relationship to Urang, she remained suspicious of me. At the end of our meeting she said she would agree to meet with Urang if he
paid her a $1,200 fee in advance and $1,200 after the Production.
When Urang heard the proposal he was appropriately appalled. He had already given $1,000 to Wisberg for nothing. No one else was
going to weasel any more money before Opening Night. People would just have to wait until everyone got paid. I pointed out to him that
in a Four Wall Operation the trick was to use anyone who could be of benefit in order to widen our circle of contacts. With Babushka's
corporate clout we would benefit immensely in regards to sales over the long haul. I would still do my promotion with the Jewish Groups
but adding the Corporate audience was just another feather in our caps. Surely “you Urang can convince Molly to wait for her fee like
everyone else and that’s why I have set up this meeting.” So Urang and “American By Golly Molly” met.
Urang’s initial approach to "By Golly" was to try to brow beat her into submission in the Conference Room behind closed doors. I was
told afterwards that everyone in the offices heard what was going on. Urang tried to extract out of her why she had had the nerve to come
in and ask for $1,200 when she hadn’t done a dam thing? Molly, for her part, insisted on maintaining that things would be accomplished
after she was paid. Urang ranted and raved on and on, back and forth, until Molly started to give ground only because she was scared,
flushed with promotional outrage, with a little lust thrown in and duly intimidated. She told Urang that in all her professional career she
had never been treated with such contempt. “Marty ‘The Metaphysician’ had come to me for help not the other way around. She was
used to getting money up front.”
Urang told me later that afternoon that she claimed that I was incompetent, cowardly and with no backbone to speak up and make the
promotion work. (How did she think the whole Promotion developed up to now in the first place!) The cruel irony of the whole
situational farce was that in the end, even though I convinced Urang to hire her to work as a supplemental factor to my promotional
efforts; there wasn’t one ticket sold that could be directly attributed to her efforts. She turned out to be a “Bestchester” boobie phony. It
was due mainly to Urang’s stalling tactics that Molly never received a dime for the promised up front money. I was glad, especially in the
light of her slanderous opinions of me based on an absolute fabrication of the facts. With all her corporate connections she didn’t sell one
block of tickets while on the other hand during the same period I had sold five hundred tickets. End of argument on competency and my
ability to speak up!
Urang, as a peace making gesture, and because he had hot pants for Babushka, invited her out to dinner at Embryo's. It was there that
Urang put the ole squeeze on Molly "By Golly's" suburban tits. Hearsay has it that she rejected his advances. A few weeks later when
she realized that Urang would never come up with her fee she tried to put pressure on him by threatening to bring criminal charges
against him for attempted rape! She claimed Urang had pinched her nipples while dancing at Embryo's. Urang thought the whole affair
preposterous. He would treat any female client with the same disrespect. But even Urang wouldn’t do that in the middle of Embryo's
dancing floor with witnesses looking on. Besides, now Urang claimed she was ugly.
Knowing Urang, he probably did make some sort of approach. Urang told me to get the message across that he felt like driving past
Molly's house and throwing a Bomb out of the car window. When Molly realized that her charges were without a legal foundation,
witnesses and ludicrous, coupled with the fact that she hadn’t done anything to earn her fee; she dropped her allegations and quietly
disappeared from the Production scene.
At the same time that this farce was being played out to its melodramatic conclusion, the Production Company itself was in full revolt. It
seems that I had done a good job in convincing them that they were on their way to Broadway. They were beginning to make animal like
snarls that they should be compensated as professional actors. I tried to get petty cash for them but Urang would have none of it. A
pushy female Stage Manager named Scurvy “The Birchy Bitch on Wheels” wanted to be reimbursed for her typing chores especially the
typing over of the entire script.
Across the street from Urang’s, other bills were being run up at the Copying store. Foremost of these was the outstanding note for
twenty five copies of SECOND FLOOR FRONT which came to several hundred dollars. We also contracted on credit for lighting effects
from a local lighting store and “purchased” all the props from an antique store on credit. To date Fenimore had been paying for some of
these items out of their limited funds. We promised to reimburse them after the Production ended. It was getting harder to stall them
off, especially Savvy “The Botched Botulism”. Savvy went so far as to make a trip over to harangue Urang for money. She made wild
claims that she was starving and couldn’t pay her rent. Urang thought she was a latent lesbian Sappho sicko and tossed her out on her
All these financial pressures naturally interfered with the morale level of the Theater Group as a whole and the night before the Dress
Rehearsal Savvy had garnered enough sympathy from the Crew to attempt a revolt. They were going to refuse to perform unless they
received some money. I thought that if I could just stall them long enough to get past Opening Night they could then be paid out of gate
receipts. I reasoned that it would be a good idea to invite Urang over to give them a pep talk.
Urang was accompanied by his Blonde Bimbo Henchwoman adorned in a pointed Mama Madonna Training Bra. He had been getting
weekly reports from Rose Hips as to the progress of the play. He walked in in the middle of a performance dressed up in his pin stripe
"Our Thing" suit, black trench coat, sun glasses with a top hat and cane. He was flanked by his stooge Gucci Gucci the three headed
freak Heavy Metal Plated Dunce from Hardysville Commons, who held the door open and stood stark naked with his splendid chauffeur’s
uniform hung limply across his outstretched hairy arms.
There was a hushed silence that came over everyone. Even “Lord” Thong stopped his heavy groping long enough to look around and
smirk at Urang’s pretentious entrance.
The Production Company came to a stunned standstill and wondered who the mystery flake was. Urang introduced himself as the Titular
Head of Urang, Inc. and told them to continue. He wished them luck and said “see some of you in New York on the Great White Way.”
He then just as mysteriously disappeared. That night it was the grand entrance and exit of Urang that prevented the revolt of The
Fenimore Players headed by Savvy “The Dexidrine Headache No. 69”. They thought just maybe some of them might end up on Broadway.
Urang’s appearance lifted their sagging braless tits and morale.
Wisberg was then invited up to the Dress Rehearsal and he was pleasantly surprised that the Production came off well. Thong had
matured considerably as a Director. Wisberg likes “Jake”, the Lead, and surprisingly has few criticisms. The Promotion itself has fallen
flat with the Jewish Groups staying aloof because they are taking a wait and see attitude. I have to gamble that enough people come by
word of mouth which puts most of the burden on good reviews for Opening Night. I decide to close off the back half of the theater so we
only have to fill four hundred front seats. Wisberg leaves and says he will return Opening Night, in one week, accompanied by his doting
wife. Thong is greatly relieved and flattered, flustered and overinflated that he and Wisberg can finally sit next to each other without
“fistulating",“flatulating” or barfing into each other’s face.
Since everything that can be done, has been done, I along with Rose Hips and “Lord” Thong go to New Jersey to see if we can line up
various hotels up and down the coast--hotels that would be willing to be Four-Walled. It even crosses my mind to have a special
New Year’s Eve Production of SECOND FLOOR FRONT at a Holiday Inn--that has been offered to us free of charge but Rose talks me
out of it feeling that on New Year’s Eve people want something upbeat. I go along with her wise decision.
We start to line up possible theaters in the Jewish Community Centers and Synagogues and even check the Four-Wall possibilities at a
First Class Theater in Paramus where Broadway Productions are staged after their initial successful runs on Broadway. The next
production to conclude at Paramus was SHITZIAN'S CREEK. Urang informs me that his best client, "Fat" Mat Massive, has invested
heavily in SHITZIAN and that after it finishes its run in Paramus, if we get good reviews "Fat" Mat might use his influence to get us a
run in Paramus. This would add more money to the coffers and aid us in our Four -Wall Operation in New York City. The idea being to
raise enough money regionally to bring it to New York under its own steam, convert to an Equity Company and go off-Broadway and then
Four Wall Broadway without the necessity of the traditional method of selling outside shares. All these plans however are contingent on a
good performance in Rye, New York. The Head of the Paramus Theater agrees to come the second night for a special performance thrown
for private investors and theater owners. I had sent 400 free invitations to various investor groups throughout the Metropolitan area.
This event will also give the Heads of the Jewish Organizations time to make up their collective minds. As far as I was concerned the
second night was the key night of the Promotion.
After the Dress Rehearsal, Rose and I both realized that we needed at least two weeks before the production would be at its peak but of
course we didn’t have the time. Opening Night sees the theater half filled, about 400 people, most of them from the advance tickets that
I had sold. The Play goes off as well as can be expected. Wisberg is enthralled with it and thinks that Thong did a masterful job. Rose
Hips, Urang, Tennis and I must grudgingly admit that certainly Thong did do the impossible. Urang arrives in his Rolls Royce with his
Blonde Bimbo and flanked by "Fat" Massive and his entourage. Tennis showed up with a beautiful new black bare bottom beauty model
and cast off actress from the “Bestchester” Premier Theater. The Wisbergs arrive and sit in the closed off section. They bend over
backwards to congratulate Thong. Thong is besides himself and is literally alone in the spotlight. But the gleam in his eye is due just as
much to his torrid affair with Ingénue. The moment I met Thong “The Flake” I knew he would be right for the job once I focused in on
him and overlooked his pompous “bombacity”.
After the performance, everyone was invited to the Cast Party at "Red Headed" Rose's spacious house on Long Island Sound. It was at
the Cast Party that the beginning of the end for SECOND FLOOR FRONT made itself manifest. It began innocuously enough when
Urang, Tennis and their Bimbos were sitting at the table with "Fat" Mat and his entourage. "Fat" Mat looks up and looks at me as I pass
by. He makes a gesture with his thumb like the Roman Emperors were wont to do--thumbs down--meaning, for reasons known only to
him; that he is not going to back the play. Urang, naturally, not wanting to alienate a million dollar client has to side with "Fat" Mat and
whispers to me to make a hasty exit as soon as possible from the Production. I however felt that the key to the whole Promotion was not
Massive’s backing but the Four Wall-Operation itself to be highlighted by the Investor Night Performance the following week. If the
Investors like it and the theater owner from Paramus likes it then we don’t need "Fat" Mat. I wouldn’t need Urang either. I could take
it all the way to Broadway myself.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Investor night was a disaster, mainly because of something that we had no control of again--the weather. A
snowstorm began three hours before curtain time and dumped about six inches of snow on the ground by show time. No one was on the
roads. For many reasons I couldn’t cancel Investor Night so I decided we would run. We were going to be lucky to have a dozen people in
the audience. An hour before curtain time I was standing by the ticket counter when one of the male foppish actors angrily approached
me. He was a person who had been a continual thorn in the side of everyone, always complaining during rehearsals. He rushed to the
ticket booth, reared back and fired a punch directed at my mouth. I ducked but then he invited me outside. On the way out he was
bitching that I didn’t call the investor show off. He didn’t know that the whole future operation of the Play depended on this night. This
guy was a real flake and was looking for someone to take out his frustrations on. I heard he was kind of close with Savvy “The Artistic
Bitch”. So we rolled around on the snow, spared a little, but both being out of shape we got winded fast and our punches were too weak to
hurt one another. A school bus drove up in the middle of the fracas. It was a bus load of constipated retarded kids going to see the play
for free. Their chaperone came over and pulled the actor's asshole off me. In his eyes he was able to establish himself as some kind of
hero to the children when in reality we were both winded and ready to stop fighting anyhow.
About a hundred people showed up that night but no Investors. The Paramus Theater Director either stayed away on purpose or couldn’t
make it in from New Jersey. At that point I knew the Promotion was dead in the water but we had the rest of the month and a half of
weekend performances to complete.
We played them all out to nearly empty seats. By the time we were finished the Production was at its peak. The reviews in the media for
Opening Night were mixed which didn’t help the attendance. The Fenimore Players still believed they were going to get their $1,000 so
they continued the Run. It was towards the end of the night on Investor Night that I overhead some executives from the Jewish
Organizations saying on their way out that although the play was good the topic was too sensitive. They would have been interested in
more light hearted fluff. That was a strange position for them to take for the main theme of the play, Nazis in America, continued to be a
major topic of sensation and media coverage through-out the late 70’s and well into the 80’s. This particular case wasn’t resolved until
the early 1990’s when the former guard was sent back to Germany to stand trial for war crimes.
An interesting side bar to the wrapping up of the play was to result in Thong “The Rake” Luddite Floodgates and Ingénue eloping on the
last night of the play. Ingénue had secured a quickie legal separation from her husband. It was rumored that Thong planned to marry
her which would mean that Thong would be first in line for Ingénue’s fortune (New Jersey construction monies). It was also rumored that
Ingénue’s family were going to cut her off if she married Thong. And that is the last I heard of that matter. I never saw Thong again
after that night. Of course The Bopsy twins, especially Tennis, were livid with jealousy when they heard about those rumors and were
even a little scared that Thong might influence the Ingénue’s relations to move their insurance out of Urang’s hands. I don’t think much
came of that threat. Thong didn’t get paid and was summarily forbidden to ever enter Urang’s again. No one else got paid either because
there were no profits to speak of. The City of Rye Bread was left holding their worthless note and there were thousands in expenses that
were outstanding. A huge debt had been run up on the play that was a fairly steep amount for a Regional Production.
The Tom Edison Lighting Company was pressing for payment and there was still static being generated from the Production Company and
Savvy's forces but that gradually died out when they realized the contract had stated that all monies would be paid out of profits. The only
creditor that sued was the duplicating store. Bob eventually (kicking and screaming) paid that bill but not before I had to appear in Small
Claims Court on his behalf. The day I arrived at court a man walks up to me to shake my hand. I figured it was the opposing attorney
trying to butter me up. I was representing myself. I refused to shake hands and then he says “you better shake my hand for I saved
your life!” I asked the turd face what he was talking about and he said that he was the person who had stopped the fight when the actor
was on top of me. According to him he thought I was about to be killed. Nothing could have been further from the truth. But if it did his
ego good I let him believe that he was a hero. I shook his hand turned around and wiped it off with my handkerchief and we settled for 50
cents on the dollar of Urang “The Fang’s” money.
The only other person to sue was, of all people, Susan “Fresh” Meadows, for the cost of her “free” Rye Bread, New York cocktail party.
She was going to use the clout of her Wall Street lawyer husband. She actually had no case but for some asinine reason Urang didn’t want
this to go to court so he had me go over to her house and quietly pay them off. Even "Red" Rose, who worked for Urang, but was a
member of The Fenimore Players, tried to recover the costs of food for the Cast Party. Fat chance! Urang fired her a few weeks later and
the Broadway tryouts of SECOND FLOOR FRONT drew to a vapid conclusion. The only person who really came out way ahead was
Wisberg with the $1,000 for the Option and he came out none the worse for wear on his reputation which had already hit rock bottom
In a few weeks all the hoopla concerning SECOND FLOOR FRONT had subsided. The big talk around the Conference Table was Dom
“The Hunk" Lucky DeTocqueville running in the New York Marathon and coming in 10,000 in a field of 10,001. I was back at my desk at
Urang's attempting to sell insurance but I knew my days were numbered for after the excitement of the theater world I knew it was going
to be difficult to adjust to the mundane activities of selling insurance.
My debts had risen considerably with this latest fiasco. Sue wasn’t too thrilled with the increase of creditor pressure and the decrease of
funds coming from my end of the bargain. The most vocal of these creditors were AVCO Financial, HFC Financial and two banks Chase
and Manufacturer’s Hanover where I had over extended two credit lines to pay for my ventures. There were of course the private debts to
Rose Hips for furniture and to Sue’s brother, who was and still is waiting patiently for remuneration, monies to the Croton Village Elders,
not to mention money outstanding on the play promotion to the Rye School Board, et al. HFC finally broke ranks and threatened
garnishment of Sue’s salary when they saw they couldn’t intimidate me because I knew all the tricks after my days spent writing Law
Review Books for American Legal.
Sue was the panicky type and so buckled under the pressure and considered all debts, my debts, instead of our debts. Urang loaned me his
own private attorney, Mr. “Mack The Knife” Marbleade to put HFC in their place. He secured an agreement letting Sue off the hook
because the signature on the loan was not hers. She wasn’t so lucky with AVCO as they moved pretty fast when they saw what happened
to HFC and managed to wrangle $1,000 from "Saint" Sue’s salary.
As for the rest of the scum bag creditors, I concocted an infamous long legal looking letter on Twin Pines Film Syndicate, Inc. stationary,
claiming that due to financial reverses Twin Pines was putting itself into an unofficial Chapter XI, Reorganization mode. I threatened to
file for Bankruptcy if the creditor pressure became too great. When the Reorganization was complete creditor payments would be made
over a long range plan of twenty years to be determined at the discretion of Twin Pines. This ploy worked quite well for it kept the
creditors relatively quiet for a decade or two before wrapping up all the loose ends in my second world record bankruptcy.
It was 1979 and I was entering the Bronze Age of 40 and I was jobless again, broke and in debt. Sue continued on with her teaching
unabated. Robby and Tania were safely ensconced in Elementary School and we were settled into life in our Ossining apartment
overlooking the beautiful traffic strewn road of old Route 9.
From time to time various creature creditors would come out of the woodwork but I managed through various dodges, flim-flam, and
smoke blowing in the face deflection techniques to sidetrack them in a sea of red tape. Tank “The Scout” Wisely had been fired for
smirking too much behind Urang’s back and wearing his Boy Scout Uniform to the Conference Room without permission.
Since the collapse of the play production I had felt uncomfortable at Urang’s and quietly resigned and started driving station wagons to
and from LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports for Dammit Limo which was a subsidiary of Pisston Limo Service out of Long Island. The
Long Island Parent firm had a monopoly on the Airport service on Long Island and Connecticut and was attempting to establish a foothold
in “Bestchester” with a small fleet of wagons located in Pleasantville, New York.
This personally was quite a come down from the lofty air I was breathing as a potential Broadway Producer--to taxi driver but I had been
there numerous times before in my illustrious career. I looked at it as just being sent down to the Farm Club for seasoning.
The Long Island Parent firm was the largest of the wagon fleets with over 200 wagons. In “Bestchester”, at this time, there were a large
influx of giant corporations making a mad dash to grab up all the large estates that had been on the auction block and convert them into
sterile office complexes to house 21st century computers. The late 70’s and early 80’s saw the rapid exodus of companies fleeing the taxes
and crime hassles of New York City to the quieter, saner terrain of the suburbs. It was during this era that such heavy hitters as IBM,
PepsiCo, Texaco, America Can, Hewlett-Packard, MONY, Citibank, MCI, General Foods, AT&T and after the break-up of AT&T, New
York telephone and NYNEX (now Verizon) and others, gobbled up vast tracts of prime lands in the County and escaped the carpe-diem
choking environment of the caverns of the Clockwork Orange Caverns of Manhattan. The executives who worked for these firms would
be continually on the move and Kennedy and La Guardia were the points of embarkation and debarkation.
A number of Limo services had sprung up during the past decade as a result of the corporate travel demand. There were wagon services
such as Riverview, which dominated the Northern part of the County, and Dammit and Pisston which dominated Southern “Bestchester”,
Long Island and Connecticut. Private Car services utilized newer model cars. There were still the standard Limo services such as County
Limo with stretch Limos and chauffeurs and Hazy Fergazy who controlled the monopoly at the airports. Also the bus lines maintained
hotel and airport service and this segment of the business was dominated by the Ferrocci Brothers (friends of Urang) with their Puberty
Business in Southern “Bestchester” based in Bonkers, New York.
So by the time I came to Dammit, the various territories had been pretty well established and peace reigned throughout the industry as
long as no one crossed into another’s jurisdiction. There was plenty of business for everyone including the dozen or so smaller companies
who chose to cover local territories and offer regular taxi services rather than convert to the more lucrative but expensive airport services.
In conjunction with the airport services, the messenger services for corporations were blossoming in “Bestchester”. Of course, there was
the old standby--the baggage handling services. These were the concerns that grew up over the rather large baggage loss shortages that
the airlines accrued. They were mostly manipulated and controlled by a Syndicate in Brooklyn as were the by foot, by bike and by
motorcycle messenger services in Manhattan.
The messenger business between “Bestchester” Corporations and their counterparts in New York City was handled by several
independents--the largest of which was Thruway Messenger Service across the Hudson River in Pearl River, New York. There were also
several large services based in and around Portchester on Long Island Sound in “Bestchester” County.
In any event, for the next six months I worked on and off for all three divisions. I drove a wagon for Dammit out of Pleasantville, a seven
mile drive south of Ossining. I worked for Thruway on the baggage handling end, driving my own vehicle into Long Island and
Connecticut to return baggage that had been deliberately lost by the baggage handlers and then “found” by the airlines in complicated
“kick back” schemes.
By now I had a pretty good handle on all three businesses and how they operated and so was ready when the opportunity presented itself
at Dammit. I was ready to cash in on this knowledge and experience. It seems, that in New York State, as well as other states, it was
necessary to have a Department of Transportation Number printed across the side doors of your vehicles in order to legally run back and
forth to the airports. It just so happened that Pisston had its numbers for Long Island and Connecticut but New York State was dragging
its feet for the issuance of the DOT numbers for “Bestchester”.
One of the reasons it was stalling was the State considered Pisston a foreign corporation. Dammit was technically in violation of the law
and running to the airports illegally with unmarked cars. Up to now the State had looked the other way but it was receiving local
pressure. I was to learn later, the pressure was coming mainly from Puberty Bus Lines and the Ferrocci Brothers who were getting a
little nervous and ticked off because Pisston was out to grab a monopoly in “Bestchester”. They were even beginning to encroach on some
of Puberty’s business which had resulted in them picking up passengers in the forbidden areas of the hotel regions which was off -limits to
anyone except Puberty Lines. The State moved against Dammit and indirectly against Pisston, by telling them they would have to pay
$5,000 per day for every day they were operating illegally with unmarked cars and without their DOT numbers.
This effectively shut them down. I remember the day of the shutdown very clearly when all the drivers received the news. We were all
called into the parking lot behind Fooley’s Bar in Pleasantville, headquarters of Dammit, and told that they were temporarily suspending
operations because they couldn’t secure DOT numbers. They would reopen in six months and in the meantime all drivers were to be let
go. If anyone wanted to drive for Pisston they would be welcome to commute to Long Island. Well, I wasn’t about to make that
ridiculous commute so I was out of work again. That day I decided to walk the seven miles home from Pleasantville to Ossining and by
the time I reached home I had hatched my next Four-Wall Operation--to take over where Dammit left off. For this undertaking I knew I
needed the dubious credit sources of Urang, Inc. and so that very afternoon I went out of earshot of Susan to a nearby phone booth and
called Urang and told him how I had been working for Limo services off and on and learned their internal workings. More importantly,
with the influx of corporations this business was bound to grow during the next decade.
Urang told me to come into the office the following day. “It sounded interesting and we should discuss it further”. I met with Urang in
his private office and convinced him after three hours that now that Dammit was prevented from running wagons to and from the
Airports that there was a vacuum to be filled that stretched countywide. All the Travel Agencies were left holding the bag and had to fend
for themselves. They had to resort to smaller, inefficient and more expensive Services. One of the advantages of Pisston’s Service,
because of the wagon concept, it was able to run at reduced rates. That in less than 90 days we could fill the void and take advantage of
this “window of opportunity” while Pisston struggled to get its DOT numbers. We could garner at least 50 to 75% of Dammit’s Travel
Agencies. The Travel Agencies back in the 1970’s and 1980’s were responsible for booking transportation to and from the Airports as well
as making hotel and plane reservations. We could do in a few short weeks what it took Pisston and Dammit six years to build up. We
should give the illusion that we were a full fledged Limo service with a large fleet that was perfectly capable of taking over the volume of
business that these Agencies and Corporations could dispense and that their backlog could be easily handled. Within a few days we would
take their stranded clients off their backs.
As far as drivers were concerned, there were certainly plenty around and we could even go after some of the former Dammit drivers.
Urang’s offices could be home base where the scheduling and dispatching would take place. Being on the fourth floor, it was high enough
and centrally located from the Airports and the fringes of the outlying parts of the County thus making it an excellent Headquarters.
Most importantly it would supply good communications between the drivers and Home Base. For these were the days before cellular
phones and radios and other communications at vital moments were often interrupted by local as well as electronic interference. This was
especially the case at the crucial spots at the Airports--the passenger pick-up points.
The more Urang listened, the more he realized that I had stumbled on a rare “window of opportunity” much better than the Wisberg
Promotion which had depended so much on outside forces over which we had no control. That for a little effort on my part and a little
cash outlay on his end we could have a monopoly by piggy-backing on the work already accomplished by Pisston and Dammit Enterprises.
If Pisston were to eventually get their DOT numbers and stage a comeback in the County we should by then be well enough established to
have at least 50% of the market share in 6 months.
Urang was all ears as he started to warm up to the potential of the Four-Wall Operation. It coincided nicely with his own real estate,
insurance expansion plans now in progress. This business could be a welcome adjunct to his growing number of enterprises especially the
more status-image enhancing Limo end of the proposed plan. It was also enticing because it was an immediate cash return business. We
had to simply go to one of Urang’s car dealer friends in the County and lease a fleet of wagons. We could start with five to ten cars and
within ten months grow to a fleet of 50 or more. Urang shook hands on the partnership that would be widened to include Tennis, Gucci
“The Bean Bag” and his girlfriend. Urang reasoned that Gucci was needed because of his ten years experience as a chauffeur.
I didn’t like the idea of teaming up with Gucci “The Goon” but since Bob was no dummy when it came to building a business from scratch
I went along with the suggestion. Later, as it developed, Urang was 100% wrong in putting his faith in Gucci. Gucci was nothing but a
headache and hampered the business at every turn. The only help I needed for this venture was the initial outlay for the leasing of the
wagons, communications and an office to use as a Headquarters. But Urang insisted on the Gucci point.
Tennis was brought into the meeting and as usual Tennis had the typical lawyer’s skeptical, nebbish, deal killing, rolling of the eyes in the
head attitude. “Oh here we go again!” He was still smarting from the SECOND FLOOR FRONT operation. (Where he did absolutely
nothing to help). However, even Tennis “The Nebbish” saw that Urang was enthused at the idea and that there would be little point in
talking Urang out of it. Tennis maintained the same arrogant position that he did in all Urang’s extracurricular activities. If it worked
out, fine. He would be the first in line with his hands out. If not, he had nothing to do with it. He washed his hands of the whole matter.
(Tennis had the cleanest hands in the County--like so many lawyers, would-be investors and so called “risk takers”). Tennis would be the
first one patting himself on the back and boasting about his cleverness in the backing of a successful operation. But he would never
commit up front.
This operation was to prove to be the classic example of a great idea failing, not for lack of funds, but for faulty execution by the wrong
parties and by being put under the control of such blubbering nincompoops as Gucci Gucci and his cohorts. I accepted Gucci and Urang's
controlling conditions because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take over the largest Limo. Service to the Airports in less than 30
days. And that’s exactly what happened or almost happened. Urang’s assignment would be to use his influence and his father’s influence
upstate in the Albany government offices in an attempt to secure DOT numbers as soon as possible. I was to team up with Gucci and line
up Travel Agency business. Gucci and his girlfriend would act as dispatchers and in general be in charge of office administration.
The first order of business was to go down to a local car dealer where Urang knew the owner and lease two station wagons. I tried to
advise Urang that two wagons weren’t going to be enough even for a start up situation which this was not. We were taking over a thriving
business. Once the Agencies realized that we were taking over, both they and the corporations would want to see proof of our fleet to
show them we could handle their volume efficiently and professionally. Urang was foolishly conservative in this respect by taking a wait
and see attitude concerning the DOT numbers. He got two wagons and said we could get the rest when needed. (Urang's brilliant idea was
to take a snapshot of a large car lot filled with cars and send that to the corporations as proof of inventory! Not a bad Four-Wall Tactic!).
He paid $100 down on each wagon and we were in business. He paid another $500 out-of-pocket to lease communication equipment. For
less than a grand we were poised to take over a multi-million dollar business of baggage, messenger and taxi service. A real coup!
Urang gave us one of the larger offices to set up shop and we used it for the dispatching area. Within a week of Dammit’s closing down
we opened for business. I was right. There was panic among the Travel Agents. They were wondering where they could obtain cheap,
efficient service for their clients. I simply went to the phones and cold-called like my insurance days at the Equitable from a list of the
Travel Agencies in the County. By the time I was through, at the end of the day, the phone was ringing off the hook with advance
bookings. Some were for lucrative future contracts for Catskill Resort transportation.
Gucci was going absolutely berserk. In no way was he cut out for anything larger than his quiet little private Limo. service that he owned
in Hardsyville which consisted of some weddings, a dash of funerals and a few corporate clients. His 50+ I.Q. rating just couldn’t cope with
being thrust overnight into a three-state operation. This together with his emotionally immature hair-spring temper and the overload of
work brought out the worst in him. He and I were at it right from the start. I had a much broader outlook and a vision of where we were
headed. Gucci had no grasp of the larger picture and would have been content with making a few extra bucks by simply enlarging his
client base. He had no idea what amount of business was out there until it hit him right smack in his face.
I more or less mistakenly pacified him, letting him have his way like the bully that he was. I had to vacate the office right from the
opening gun to drive to the airports in one of the Limos in order to keep the commitments we were making to the Agencies. By this time
Urang and Tennis saw that we had a potential success on our dirty little hands and that we would need drivers immediately. But what they
didn’t realize is that you just couldn’t pluck them off the street. It would take a few weeks to get them organized. We didn’t have that
time. As we turned down and missed more and more appointments the word would spread among the close knit Travel Agencies that we
couldn’t back up our claims.
Both Gucci and his girlfriend turned down business because he thought we couldn’t handle it. I warned him that we shouldn’t turn down
anything or else word would get out but he didn’t pay attention. We should accept everything during the first few weeks even if it meant
that Gucci, Urang, Tennis and their Bimbos-in-Residence would have to get in the wagons and drive to the airports themselves! Urang and
Tennis were taken aback at the response and weren’t prepared for it. Urang was concerned at this juncture over the D.O.T. business and
so I suggested that he pick up the phone and make his peace with the Ferracci Brothers of Puberty Lines. (Maybe they could get together
and share an opium peace pipe at the local bagel outlet). That suggestion was something that Pisston probably never thought of doing or if
they did they never kept their promises. Even Urang was surprised when he called Ferracci, identified himself as a fellow Ginzo and asked
Ferracci what the problem was with Pisston. Ferracci told him, just as I suspected, that it was simply a case of greed on Pisston’s part.
They had been attempting to pick up passengers at the hotel and bus stops at the Airports. These areas were strictly off limits to anybody
but Puberty busses and Connecticut Limo, the chief competitors of Pisston. Urang agreed to comply with all stipulations of Puberty and
with that Ferracci gave Urang his blessing. Urang kissed Ferracci’s pinkie ring over the phone and that was that. Simple!
But Pisston wasn’t about to sit back while they were waiting for their DOT numbers and see their business stolen from underneath them.
It seems that some of their drivers had gone to the Island and they had heard rumors that I was looking for drivers and that I was going
to form my own Service. The information was passed on to the Head of Pisston. At first they tried to use strong arm tactics to get us off
the road and I received a number of calls from gravely voices in the middle of midnight warning me to get the hell off the road if I knew
what was good for me. They thought that I was in this alone and that I could be easily intimidated. Once I passed this information on to
Urang, Pisston changed its tune and wished us luck with our “window of opportunity”. Urang must have gotten his message across that he
had political clout and muscle in “Bestchester” and was well connected and wasn’t going to be bullied off the road. But I was still edgy
because I was the only one on the firing line being on the road every day and I could meet with an untimely accident anywhere from here
to the airport or at any of the lonely stops drivers had to use while they awaited their arrivals or departures. It was in my interest to get
off the road as soon as possible. I was the brains of the whole operation and “The Goon” Gucci should have been the one on the road.
Urang was busy with other things in his Agency and wasn’t sensitive to the day-to-day operating problems and the growing rift between
me and Gucci. It was a lethal mistake to place Gucci in charge of everything merely because of his gruff, corrosive manner. None of the
drivers would put up with Gucci’s clean air act fetishes for very long. Gucci would waste my time with inane lectures on cleanliness.
Since Gucci was a non-smoker he thought the whole world should be. He didn’t let anyone smoke in his Limo. I’m amazed that he got
away with that nonsense since the executives were paying high prices for the use of the Limo. Gucci’s grim, tough exterior must have
intimidated them into complying. The Wagon Services, however, were a completely different ballgame. The clients were your not so
polite, lower working class slobs, middle and lower level executives as well as the general "herd" public. Some of them were not about to
be cowed or coerced by this crew cut Neanderthal gorilla in a chauffeur’s costume. The Wagon business operated in a much less uptight
atmosphere. It was less formal because it was cheaper. But Gucci couldn’t or wouldn’t compromise and instead of bringing down his
standards he tried to elevate the standards of the clients which was another major mistake.
Gucci was such a fanatic about cleanliness that everyday he would thoroughly clean the Wagons and so have them more off the road than
on. One day he called me over to the garage and gave me special instructions on how to wash down a car. I watched with wild eyed
bemused detachment for I couldn’t seriously believe Gucci expected me to devote that kind of time to cleaning the Wagons as well as
attending to my driving appointments. When the business really took off, there would be no time for this sort of nonsense. At the very
least, maybe once a week, the cars would have to be shipped out for cleaning . He actually got so worked up he called me a dirty pig one
day when a customer had left a crushed cigarette on the floor. I let that insult pass but I knew sooner or later Gucci and I would have to
clearly define our relationship “vis-à-vis” one another. I was a partner in this Ricco Racket and not his flunky.
Another area where Gucci, Urang and Tennis were edging me out of control was when they put Gucci in charge of the Limo. and Wagons.
It was he who decided who was going to drive what, where and when. The three of them had many meetings behind closed doors when
discussing something of importance concerning the Car Service. I felt that I had been excluded, and in their eyes, now that I had
successfully launched the Service, I was expendable or to be treated as simply another driver. I wasn’t about to let this go on much longer
because Urang and Tennis were proving to be true to form--untrustworthy. They were up to their old tricks from the insurance business
ethics--sucking up to people and when the deal was about to be successfully consummated they did everything in their power to squeeze
the other party out. I was also getting nervous about a month passing by and no DOT numbers. Urang kept stalling and said his father
was working on it.
All this came to a head one Saturday afternoon when Gucci and I both happened to be alone in the dispatching office. Gucci had been
looking for a good excuse to get rid of me now that I had him safely ensconced in a business that was developing beyond his wildest
dreams and capabilities. He deliberately picked a fight and before I knew it had landed a sucker punch to the mouth. I hadn’t had one of
those since my Tom King Army days. Only this punch carried a lot more clout for Gucci was no slouch. He was in shape, lean and mean
with a World War II gleam in his eyes. He drew blood. I was so stunned for I realized that I was no match for Gucci. Besides, it was
dangerous being in this building all alone with Gucci, engaged in a fight with a madman with no one to interfere. I realized the best thing
to do was retreat. I broke off the attack and ran out of the building. I had received a real scare as now I realized how jealous and how
much Gucci hated me. It must have appeared to him that I had gotten everything, including this venture, handed to me on a platter.
Gucci never realized that I had paid my promotional dues. He couldn't begin to organize the type of ventures that I had gotten involved
in. By virtue of my many failures I had earned the right to this success. His retarded brain couldn’t analyze the situation to that degree.
Gucci realized that as soon as he hit me he might have made a lethal mistake for he wasn’t that familiar with Urang and that I just might
be in much higher favor in Urang’s eyes than he had calculated. Urang may just bounce him if he heard about this. So Gucci went
frantically looking for me.
Meanwhile I had ran past a few buildings to an abandoned parking lot and simply stood in the sheltered part of it with tears streaming
down my face. I wasn’t crying because of the bloody lip that Gucci had given me but for the fact that I saw another promotion collapsing
around me. It was especially depressing since this one was going to work. It had been my misfortune, of all people to team up with, on a
successful promotion-- to hook up with Gucci. I was just terribly sad reviewing the whole past twenty years of failures, going from one
thing to another, with nothing at all to show for it. Here I was about to be thrown out on this venture. Since Urang controlled it there was
nothing I could do about it. The more successful we became the more eager they would be to get rid of me. When Gucci finally found me
he was visibly relieved. Accompanied by his girlfriend, he was all smiles and apologetic, almost human, saying he lost his head, blah, blah,
The next day I marched into Urang's office and said that this has got to stop. Either I’m a partner or I’m not. That I expect to have just
as much power as Gucci and I will drive any car I felt like driving. That I don’t want to be a driver anymore. That’s it’s time to shit or
get off the pot! Get a fleet of cars and service the demand properly or get out of the venture now. Drivers should be hired immediately. I
wanted to be included in all future meetings.
Urang listened patiently and the only time he interrupted was when I made the comment that Gucci was a “Gavone” and Urang said that
since I wasn’t Italian I didn’t have the right to make that remark. That I shouldn’t let Gucci hear me talk like that. I should have
realized that with that comment, Urang was giving me a clue as to whom he was really backing.
Then Urang did a strange thing. He said let’s go for a ride in his Black Caddy. So we went to the garage and got in his car and drove
around the block a few times in his Limo. On the trip to nowhere, Urang acknowledged that there were severe personality conflicts
between Gucci and me and that it might be a good idea, until we both cooled off that I lay low, go to the mattresses so to speak, to use
Syndicate jargon, until this blows over. “I’ll let Gucci think he’s running things until we’re on a solid footing and then I’ll axe him when
he gets too big for his britches and bring you back in to organize the expansion of the business. But there’s no way that you two can work
together.” With that said we arrived back in front of headquarters. Urang opened the door and I exited and so my three year association
with Urang, Inc. came to an abrupt conclusion in 1979.
Rose Hips and I kept in touch over the next few years, by phone and by an occasional date. She always maintained that Urang had the
greatest respect for me, knew I was a promotional genius and someday would come into my own. Shortly after I left Urang's, I learned
that “The Fang" had moved out of his present location and purchased a private house from the lawyer, Mr. Karl Marx, the same lawyer
that had represented the Xerox store in the SECOND FLOOR FRONT law suit. Now Urang would have all the comforts of home,
fireplace, plush offices and bedrooms upstairs where Urang could entertain his female clients in style. I’m sure the parties that they
threw during his occupation of it were much wilder than the orgies at the old building. But I never attended one nor did I ever enter the
building although Rose Hips said many times that Urang had expressed his interest in me dropping over for a visit.
As for the Limo Service, in this instance Urang’s power to work magic was less than spectacular. I knew as soon as I left, the whole
project would collapse for no one, not even Urang, had the slightest idea how to expand and develop it to its full potential.
I met Urang with Tennis a few weeks later in a local Pizza Parlor. Tennis was his usual lawyer, arrogant, aloof self and said nothing but
hello and good-bye. Urang was personable, shook hands, asked after me and when I asked him if they ever got their DOT numbers he said
his attorneys had been unsuccessful at getting the permits from Albany. He had reluctantly dropped the Service. Gucci had been kept on
to be his flunky driver alternating between a stretch Limo. and a Rolls Royce. Not long after this Gucci was back to his own small
business. He was back in his element after blowing the biggest chance of his banal career.
One interesting fact that I forgot to mention about both Urang and Tennis is that strangely enough these two wheeler dealers, through
their connections at their former college, had managed to finagle cushy teaching jobs for two or three nights a week at Lord Have Mercy
College. I just mention that for what it’s worth (not much but interesting nonetheless). But, in any event, that was the last time I broke
bread with the “Bopsy Twins”.