Thursday, June 30, 2016


In one large, faded green metal cabinet in my garage, one-hundred-and fifty-nine copies of my book The Oy Way fill up nearly two shelves. That number is the result of two major errors by Amazon’s publishing arm, Create Space.

When The Oy Way began selling well at bookstores, museums and other outlets around the country, I thought about submitting another printing order. I had also sold copies to many individuals on my own mailing lists, and after making presentations at bookstores, libraries, cultural events, health retreats, and at religious and secular gatherings.

I finally ordered more copies from Create Space, to match the ones I had already received and sold. Unfortunately, they first produced a batch of books that left off the last page. I contacted them, and they said “no problem,” and promised to send me a duplicate order immediately. When I asked who would be paying for the shipment back to the plant, I was told to just keep the books and do whatever I wanted to with them.

When the replacement shipment arrived, it too had a minor printing discrepancy, and I called Create Space once more. They apologized, promised to send a correct printing, and advised me that the incorrect books were mine to do with what I wanted to do.

What remains from those two shipments, are the copies that sit in the cabinet. They are in fine shape, and I primarily give them away as gifts, or sell them to individuals who request them directly from me.

One table tennis player, who bought a copy two years ago, loudly exclaims whenever he sees me, “How’s the Oy Way Man?” When he did so a few months ago at a Southern California table tennis tournament, a woman standing by misheard what he said, and started dancing about in a circle, semi-shouting, “Oy Vey! Oy Vey! Oy Vey!”

My wife and I just purchased two cemetery plots in Santa Cruz, and I have requested that neither the book’s title nor the dancing woman’s words, be inscribed on my gravestone.

I have put the majority of materials connected with The Oy Way, into file folders that now reside in a large plastic container in the garage. I have kept the main selling information in a nearby filing cabinet in my writing room. I would like to either sell the book outright to another publisher, or let them promote and sell it to the public, and I would garner a royalty on each sale.

However, recently there seems to be renewed interest in The Oy Way, and in several diverse ways. Earlier this year, I received a voice mail message from Debbie at J. Levine Co., a prominent New York City Jewish bookstore. It was in response to an email I had sent to its owner last August, regarding a five-book consignment delivered to them in February 2012. Debbie said that they had sold two copies of the book, and the Los Gatos Alef Bet Jewish bookstore, regularly sells a copy or two.  I just spoke with Hiroko Nogami-Rosen, who owns the Dayenu Bookstore in San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center, and she said that she sold out the four books I personally delivered to her, and wants four more.  It’s a 150 mile round trip from my home, and I promised I’d deliver the books the next time I’m in the city, and would autograph them in Yiddish, as I have done in the past with all local bookstores.

A week ago, I received a notice from Amazon, that they had deposited monies in my Cogitator Publications business account, for books that they had sold.

Today I received a phone call from the office of an Ophthalmologist surgeon in town, saying that they had cash for me from the sale of The Oy Way, which they had displayed on their counter.

The renewed interest in The Oy Way will not push me into early retirement, for that was accomplished quite a while ago.

Although these sales may give the false impression that I am being inundated with moneys, the truth is that I receive a sort-of-monthly $10.47 check from the Alef Bet Bookstore. Sadly, today is the last day before they go out of business, forced out by the Internet. Ironically Amazon, “the forcer,” is starting to build brick bookstores.

The two books sold by Amazon added a combined total of $13.42 to my business checking account, and when I called Debbie at Levine’s, she said she’d let the bookkeeper know that I was interested in finding out when, and if, I would be receiving any payment for the sale of two books.

The copy sold at the Ophthalmologist’s will provide me with $14.95 in cold hard cash, and I will probably buy lunch with it for my Ophthalmologist cousin.

I will make a decent effort and try to sell the book to a publishing house, but if that doesn’t work, it’s time to finish my second book, My Incredible Odyssey. It’s based on my travels around the world after my parents died six weeks apart, and that was just thirty-five years ago this summer.

Lest I forget, I have four copies of The Oy Way in my writing room, two in each of our cars, and they are all autographed in Yiddish.

Zayt Mir Gezunt

Use Yiddish while doing mind and body calming exercises found in The Oy Way — Following the Path of Most Resistance, by going here. They are especially helpful at deadline times.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Who Owes What to Whom?

In the middle of the National Basketball Association’s finals, with the Golden State Warriors leading the Cleveland Cavaliers three games to one, the Warriors star forward Draymond Green was suspended for one game. If Golden State won game five, played on their home court, they would have clinched their second straight NBA Championship. They racked up an impressive regular season at home, where they won thirty-nine regular season games, and lost only two.

But now they would have to win without “the heart of their team,” so labeled so by their coach, and anointed so by some of the fawning local media writers. At 6’7”, 230-lbs., Green was a tenacious, driven, man-child of a competitor, and a favorite of most of the sports writers at the San Jose Mercury News because of his loquacious manner and the bombastic quotes he would give them.

No Rhyme…
Unfortunately, Green also had a tendency to get flagrant fouls, primarily for kicking or grabbing the groin of opposing players. This might have been part of a street game played by youth in Saginaw. Without this twenty-six-year-old demon in the lineup, the Warriors were badly outplayed in Game 5, and lost 112-97, Green was banished from being in the arena during the loss, unless he was willing to pay a $140,000 fine, but instead was discovered exiting a restroom in the nearby Oakland Coliseum. He could have afforded the fine since his elevated status had “earned” him a massive new five-year, $82 million contract.

…Nor Reason
Warriors’ management had tried to find a reason to let him play, and indignant fans were visibly upset, especially those who had paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for overpriced tickets to see Green help the Warriors win the championship at home. The city of Oakland had already prepared for a victory gathering at Lake Merritt.

The Write Way?
Several sports writers at the Mercury News tried to explain the situation and attach blame on someone, other than themselves. They had always sought Green out for a notable quote, and the kid from Saginaw always supplied them with interesting fodder for their columns.

The front page of the sports section after the demoralizing defeat read “NO DRAY, NO WAY,” as if without him, a mini-miracle couldn’t have taken place.

In a backhanded way, Carl Steward professed Green’s value under the headline, “Green’s missing defense dooms Warriors in Game 5.” Other columnists praised Green, but were upset that he wasn’t there when the team really needed him. Tim Kawakami added pressure on Green when he returns to the starting line-up in Game 6, as the headline of his story challenged the youngster with “Green owes Warriors one after this.”

Is It Their Fault, Too?
The sports columnists had elevated Green to a God-like status, crowding around his locker, probing him for unique quotes, many of which were oblique words from a young, sometimes immature, man. But as long as he was the center of their undivided and loyal attention, they may have convinced Green to believe he was immune from any negative action against him.

The NBA thought differently, and with their imposed one-game penalty, perhaps other players will refrain from similar underhanded attacks on their opponents.

I was born in Michigan, and until 1986, I had lived there off and on for nearly forty years; my daughter Amy Gotliffe graduated from Michigan State University, Draymond Green’s school; I have family living in the Saginaw area where Green was born; I was a fan of the Detroit Pistons from 1957 when they first came to Detroit, and watched them play at Olympia Stadium, at Caliban Hall at the University of Detroit, at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit, at the Silverdome in Pontiac, and at the Palace of Auburn Hills. In 1986 I moved to California, stayed both a Piston fan during their 1989 and 1990 NBA Championship seasons; and once again became a fan of the Warriors, whom I supported in the early 1960s as the San Francisco Warriors, and whom I have supported since I returned to Northern California in 1986.