Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Watch Out! Here Come the Holidays!

Thanksgiving is rolling up like an Army deuce-and-a-half driven by mercenaries on high octane and I’m not ready for the holidays! I’m pushing through a rewrite of my novel, The Ways of Being Foreign, killing those choice words and phrases that don’t move the story ahead. This is a worthy investment of time because there are common threads between the Vietnam War three decades ago and the situations that make Americans today feel like expatriates in their own country. Memory is a sieve through which we can screen the value of our past actions—and that’s a good reason to write.

More to the moment, I’m also polishing and proofing short stories for Volume II of Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. I’ve been told by the angels at Wild Child Publishing ( to have everything completed by the end of this month. Whew! I don’t want to give anything away, but the last two stories in the series dramatically complete the epic of “growing up” in the late ’60s-early ’70s.

It’s been a year to be thankful, with a number of acceptances by publishers. Today, I also received a note from the editors of The Written Word ( accepting “The Wishing Pool” for publication in the coming weeks. I’m happy, not only for the sale, but because the youngsters in the story nibbled at my heart. Perhaps I once was “Otto,” making bets on when the first snowfall would close school and wondering when my father would come home from his business travels. Perhaps we all were young once, when holidays reached magical stature.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kudos for Cruising

It’s gratifiying to hear some nice words from pre-publication readers of Cruising the Green of Second Avenue.

Cocktail Reviews called the collection “a thoroughly enjoyable book, read in one sitting. Too hard to put down. Too hard to accept that it was over when the last page had been read. I felt lost once finished. The characters are so real that you become friends with them while reading. Still, all is not lost. I hear there are other volumes—something I’m eagarly looking forward to.” (Cocktail Reviews accorded the collection five Champagne flutes, meaning “You would be very glad if you had bought the book. Most definitely recommend it to someone else. You loved the characters/plot/dialogue. Superb/excellent/solid characters/plot/interest level/writing. You would look forward to reading more from this author.”)

Author Tom Rayfiel dropped me a note, saying, “I enjoyed the stories very much. A time of cheap rents and cheaper beer was the impression I got. I particularly liked the comparison of women to medieval theologians parsing every word in their analysis of relationships. I guess some things don't change. You paint what strikes me as a very honest, yet humorous, portrait of the day.” (Thomas Rayfiel, author of Colony Girl, Eve in the City and Parallel Play.

Thank you! I’m reminded of the narrator in Cruising, who said, “Writers, I’ve found, keep things bottled up in their heads. It’s a condition like constipation, and when writers finally crap it all out the world has a literary masterpiece. That’s not to say all output is literary. Sometimes, it’s still crap.” I feel vindicated that Cruising lies somewhere on the spectrum between literature and crap.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tomorrow Never Comes

I tell people offhandedly that, yes, business people in the late ’60s really did have two-martini lunches. California offices had to get on the phones early, before their East Coast counterparts disappeared into a liquid lunch. Then, where I worked on Park Avenue and 46th, the rush to the elevators began at 4:51 so the senior officers could throng into Grand Central and catch their 5:05 to Westchester and Fairfield Counties. Senior execs were elevated to corner offices because of alumni connections, low golf handicaps and good manners. They were amiable, cooperative people—as long as you got to them early in the morning.

God knows, our CEO tried to extract ability and participation. His mantra was to find those brilliant ideas being squirreled away in desk drawers and apply them to the betterment of the company. He exhorted us regularly to “Reach into your drawers and pull out those ideas.” Instead, everyone pulled out at 4:51.

A different culture unfolded downtown, before the Lower East Side became the “East Village.” (I re-visited the area last fall where a street sign on Avenue C read Loisida.) Authenticity called for everyone to be yourself and do what feels right—which is what the characters in Cruising tried to do. Someone asked me in a skeptical tone whether the Cruising stories were based on “real people.” Back when the Aquarians came of Age in the ’60s, we were asking, “What’s real?” But, yes, I had a friend who walked naked across Manhattan (“Klein Comes Back Abashed”), another pal who’d only date heavy women (“Laura Lard Takes No Prisoners”), and my wife and young son participated in an art exhibit (“Sarah, My Donna and Child”). Embracing life became serious business, because we knew in those days that tomorrow never comes. As Janis Joplin so wisely remarked, “When tomorrow comes it's really today!”