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 I wrote reviews for SPIN, an unpublished brunch guide for New York City, covered the death penalty, reviewed books for the New York Law Journal and profiled sports stars for the Jewish Forward.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.


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MARCH 22, 2012 3:03AM

The Fashionable Assassin - Yalie #2

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Tuesday, I found a strange note on my outer door.  It was hard to miss among the multi-colored business cards left in the black metal grates – a wonderful script written in black ink on cerulean blue paper.  It read as follows:

I read your blog.  My former partner was mistaken.  Call 917-982-7089 to learn more.

Ever since Sacred Fools Theatre announced The Magic Bullet Theory (Premiering March 23!) as part of it’s 15th season, I’ve been getting strange notes and e-mails from various conspiracy freaks, wanna be government spooks, the twisted, malformed and just plain crazy.  Not that I’m bothered by all the attention.  Frankly, it’s just the price of doing business in the Space Age.  The e-mails I delete, the notes I tear up.

Yesterday, I found another note on the same paper, same black ink and beautiful penmanship asking me to meet at Taylor’s Prime Steaks at 8 sharp.  The author claimed to have important information concerning the Yalie #1 post from March 3, 2012.  I was instructed to wear a French blue Oxford style shirt and to carry a black umbrella.  The writer would be wearing a long beige overcoat with pink carnation and would be drinking an Old Fashioned.

Ok, I thought.  Someone’s been reading too many Ian Fleming novels.  But I’m known at Taylor’s so I figured I was safe as long as I took a cab and made sure everyone knew what was going on.  I arrived at 7:45 in a French blue shirt sans umbrella to find the author of the notes already sitting in the middle of the dark bar.  We shook hands and he identified himself as Yalie #2 – the former partner of Yalie #1.  He had some major issues with my old friend’s description of the proper way to assassinate a target.

“Eliminating a target is easy.  Any fool can plant a bomb or pass a poison pill.  Thinking ahead is the key to a successful operation.  Proper clothing choices can make or break any operation,” he said as the bartender served my Manhattan.  To that end, he offered the following tips for color scheming a government hit:

*Always wear midnight blue to a splatter event.  You want to blend in with the crowd beforehand, and soak in the crimson of your targets insides without drawing too much attention at the after party.

*When the target is in my sights I don't see a bulls-eye, but rather a kaleidoscope of different shades of love.

*Strangulation is an event best accented with light auburn breathable turtlenecks.          The vision of a warm, flesh colored neck on the assailant seems to accelerate asphyxiation in the target by up to 50%.

*Whenever firearms are involved, you've got to go with tortoise shell.

“These are the assassination imperatives, not tools.  The right camouflage will go a long way to helping operation no matter how off the rails it may go.”

After several more rounds of Manhattan’s and Old Fashions and talk of events, targets and things, Yalie #2 had to leave.  He instructed me to order a Baked Alaska with white and green frosting.  When waiter lit the desert, I was to knock it over onto the carpeting and he would slip out in the smoke and confusion.

“They don’t serve Baked Alaska,” I said.

He seemed shocked.  “Oh, well then.  Thanks for meeting me,” he said, slinking out into the Los Angeles night.

This morning I found another note from Yalie #2 on my door.  He claims he too will attend the March 31 showing of The Magic Bullet Theory.  “Your friend and I have to have a chat,” it read.  “Especially if he’s going to be giving proper advice on target elimination.”

(Hat Tip: Pete Caslavka)

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You certainly appear to be attracting more than your fair share of weirdos lately.