From the Zola System


New York, New York, USA
January 30
I grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in the Zola System, my father’s philosophy of life. He taught my brothers and me the basic life skills: how to run a street hustle, perpetrate a con or recognize when you were being hustled or conned; information we needed so we could feed our families if another Hitler came to power. My father Aron Zola was a Romanian Jew, a holocaust survivor, a black marketeer, a gun runner, a successful entrepreneur, a true citizen of Detroit. When I was 18, I rebelled against the Zola System and moved to New York City. I was fascinated with cultural heroes – Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and the aesthetic bohemian artist lifestyle that, in my naivete, I thought they lived. Now I see they were working their own hustles on the public, just like the Old Man. Even the Manhattan dating scene runs on the Zola System. To paraphrase Mark Twain, now that the Old Man is dead, I’m shocked how much he learned. I wrote reviews for SPIN, an unpublished brunch guide for New York City, covered the death penalty, reviewed books for the New York Law Journal and profiled sports stars for the Jewish Forward. I have two crime novels and a bartenders guide to New York City that I am trying to sell. After dabbling in so many genres, I finally realized I’d been running from my subject: my father and the Zola System. The Old Man is gone now and I am his eldest son carrying on as he wanted me to do. This was not supposed to happen.


Alexzola's Links

MARCH 16, 2012 3:40AM

My Sweet Mystery

Rate: 1 Flag

There are certain songs you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try.  Be it Cartman’s obsession with ‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx or my occasionally terminal desire to listen to ‘They Don’t Know’ by Tracy Ullman, any song that floats around in your head for any length of time can drive you to utter distraction, fits of violence and road rage only a frustrated lawyer could love.

At this moment, there are two songs floating around in my head.  I hum them while walking to get coffee and sing them in the shower.  However, these songs aren’t making me believe the time to take revenge for another day of no hot water has come.  No, these tunes – ‘Eiffel Tower High’ by Bob Mould off of the 1986 Husker Du LP Candy Apple Grey and ‘You and the Mona Lisa’ by Shawn Colvin are songs I look forward to singing at the top of my lungs while riding the elliptical every morning and annoying the other locals at my Korea Town 24 Hour Fitness.  You see I don’t find these songs annoying.  Frankly I really want to meet the women in these songs.  (Granted Shawn Colvin probably wrote the song for a boyfriend but I think she’s ok with my gender change.)

‘Eiffel Tower High’ is not a ‘great’ Husker Du song; there is a distinct lack of anger, the aggression is muted and the outro chorus goes on at least 30 seconds too long.  However, what it lacks in bile it makes up for in sheer wonder and affection.  The girl in question goes to another high school in my neighborhood and can’t seem to get out of the movies or her mirror.  She loves her Junior Mints and has the air of someone who has seen it all before.  Why she’d want to sit on the floor after buying a seat is beyond me but hey it gets my attention, just like it got Mould’s.  She is someone I would definitely want to talk to at a party.  Frankly, I’m already infatuated with her, just like Tom Waits narrator in ‘I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You.’

‘You And The Mona Lisa’ was released 11 years later and in my mind is about the same woman.  Now she’s in grad school, overworked and trying to get her thesis done so she can finally get the job she always wanted.  This doesn’t do my any favors – I’m still trying to get her attention but she’s far too busy arguing with herself and losing her train of thought. How am I supposed to get over if she won’t put the fucking book down?  Of course, this doesn’t mean I‘ve stopped my pursuit of my occasional love interest but her growth from being lost in the movies to academic literature is quite endearing.

The Song itself is as flawed as the main character. The chorus, is a killer lyrically and melodically but the middle eight?  Not so much.  Fortunately, after a tasteful but far too sane guitar solo (where were you when I needed you Bob Quine), the chorus comes back to stick the fact she is still giving up the ghost in her own private conversations.

In 2012, she’s working in Midtown as a lawyer or is somewhere in Korea Town or the near Valley.  I’ve probably had several dates with her but she still hasn’t gotten it and I probably haven’t either.  I’m still holding a torch for the girl.  After all, she can now afford those fabulous shoes she was always droning on about since the end of the Reagan years.

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