Friday, March 23, 2018



Sexism. Racism. Ageism. 
They are here to stay, as long as we let them.

As a youth, some seventy-years ago, it was a world where I saw no real battles between males and females. Those in power in my world were principals, and in elementary school the power rested in the control of Mary Sullivan, the larger than life leader at Brady Elementary School. During World War Two, whenever there was an air raid drill, all students and professors would gather in the halls as Mrs. Sullivan pounded on the keys of a small piano, and led us I the singing of powerful, patriotic songs. I can still picture her, sitting on a small stool, as her abundant behind hung over the stool’s edge. That still remains as the strongest memory I have of participating in the War.

Today, March 19, a distinguished elected black official displayed his innate intelligence. No, it wasn’t Ben Carson buying unnecessary and expensive office furniture, although his inane
actions matched those of most of Trump’s incompetent, inexperience cabinet members. 

It was when DC councilman Trayon White posted a video to Facebook with the following narration: "Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y'all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation.” He kept talking about, 'We a resilient city.' And that's a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful." That could be considered, by some, as an anti-Semitic remark, and even forget about the quality of his ebonomical language selection.

When I taught at the University of Detroit in the late 1970s, the media reported that members of Detroit’s all-Black Board of Education had cut some of the necessary services for Detroit’s students, who were mainly Black. Yet, many of the board members were being chauffeured around town in limousines. When I spoke with one of my own college students, a Black woman in her mid-thirties, who had two children in the public school system, she defended the practice. “You did this for years, now it’s our turn.”

Believe she was referring to me as the “you,” since I was white.

It once seemed semi-flattering to be called “Sir” by teenage girls selling tickets and refreshments at a movie theatre. However, I was a reverse racist before machines were able to tell them the correct change that was due. It was difficult to do so if the costs for popcorn and a drink came to $3.83, and I gave them $4.08. They usually had a problem subtracting one from the other, and handing me a quarter in change.

When I taught journalism at a college, I would send my writing students out to the streets of San Jose, and have them describe a scene. I was in my late thirties at the time, and invariably, one student would write, “An elderly man sat alone at a bus stop.” When I asked the student in her twenties what she meant by “an elderly man,” in most instances the reply was that the man was in his forties.

Sadly, Some Elected Officials
Are Sexists, Racists and Ageists
You can start at the bottom, with the President, who manages to incorporate all of these attributes. Some times he does so in the same tweet. 

However, by the next tweet, he has a whole new outlook on the subject. Some of his supporters are pleased that he is flexible in his thinking; others are frightened, not knowing what comes next.

As Far as Sexism
The women connected to the Democratic Party, are out to take over the world because they believe that it’s their turn, much like the Blacks felt in Detroit. It’s a fine idea, but first you have to learn the basics about political life, and how to run a successful campaign.

I applaud the young women and men who are trying to change the country with their actions after the massacre in Florida, but they should not learn from the actions of the current and former female leaders of the Democratic Party.  The following three “leaders,” helped put Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congressperson, managed to help divide the party in 2016, by refusing to provide Bernie Sanders’ people access to the party’s mailing list.  

When Schultz was Democratic National Committee’s chair, she allowed Hillary Clinton’s Campaign to seize control of the DNC months before Clinton’s nomination. According to Donna Brazile this diverted resources from state parties, and denied Sanders any chance on winning the nomination.

Then there’s Donna Brazile, who was an officer and then chair of the DNC, who contradicts herself in her book “Hacks.” She says she was trying to help make the nominating process honest, yet she admitted that she passed Democratic primary debate questions on to Clinton. 
She obtained the questions through her position as a CNN political analyst. Since she was vice chair of the DNC at the time, it added to the strong impression that the very biased DNC, heavily favored Clinton.

Then you have Clinton and her ill-prepared advisors, who forgot that needed electoral college votes are found outside Democratic strongholds in the far west and near east. While Clinton’s naïve advisors projected her to win the popular vote, they convinced the equally naïve Clinton, that she didn’t need to waste her time campaigning in Michigan (16 electoral college votes), Wisconsin (10), and Iowa (6). If she had won the electoral votes in those states along with her “native” state of Arkansas (6), she would have totaled 270 Electoral College votes, to Trump’s total of 268.

It didn’t help that Clinton alienated voters by calling those who supported Trump as being beneath her station, labeling them as “a basket of deplorables.” At the same time, she was feeding her own coffers with $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.

However, she is consistent and when she recently told an audience in India, that states that supported her in 2016 were more culturally and economically advanced than those that backed Trump. She stated that women who voted for Trump may have been motivated by “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Let the Future Begin
The Sooner the Better
There’s hope for the future with the young trying to change the country, one step at a time. Since most of the older, elected legislative representatives are afraid to do anything, afraid of the NRA, afraid of losing their power, afraid of how Donald will turn on them, then let us hope that the students will bring their energy and enthusiasm and help elect representatives, who have the betterment of our disintegrating society as their goal.

Do not let the weak and cautious people in power steer you away from your goals. Do not trust any official who tells you they are with you, after they have been against you up until it’s time for you to vote.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


“If I Am Still Alive in July, I Plan On Being There” This week we are having our semi-annual, mini-reunion lunch in San Jose with four Japanese-American friends, whose ages range from 86 to 95.
I just wished one friend here in Santa Cruz a Happy 90th, another has a 93rd coming up, and two more long-term friends just “celebrated” their 90th birthdays. When we speak nowadays, we jokingly talk about the Golden Years being mainly filled with rust. But at least we are all still talking, although it seems that each week I learn of further woes that have noticeably slowed down contemporaries of mine. One long-time friend was in ICU for three weeks after a heart attack, someone else was having yet another operation, and another from high-school days in Detroit is barely alive with necessary tubes protruding from various areas of his body. I turn eighty-two this month, and most of my high-school friends are now eighty-three. Somehow, I jumped from grade 5A at Brady Elementary School in Detroit to grade 6A, and don’t remember earning that promotion. However, because of it, I have friends that are mainly six months older than I. THE GOOD OLDE DAZE When we get together in Detroit this July for the 65th anniversary of our high school graduation, among other topics, we may reminisce about the “good olde days,” some of which never occurred. We may learn about who had died, when and how, what our compatriot’s children had accomplished, how their grandchildren are doing, and in some instances, what’s doing with great-grandchildren. If you live miles away or an ocean apart as I do, you can stay in touch via email, telephone, Skype, Face Time, and with typed or handwritten letters. I am the only person I know who still uses pen and ink to connect, and I don’t know if I know myself that well. I also help the U.S. Post Office; each time I affix another “Forever” stamp on an envelope. Although we are on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, we are fortunate to have old Central High friends like Bernie Portnoy and his wife Chris from Naples, Florida stop by when they are in the neighborhood. Even a short reunion, helps keep a sixty-eight year friendship flourishing . STAYING ALIVE There were more than five hundred others who graduated from Central High School in the 1952-53 class along with me. At the 50th reunion in 2003, there were eighty-seven names of former classmates listed in the class booklet on the “In Memorium” page. In the 2013 booklet, there was no such page, for it was agreed upon that such an expanded listing would be too depressing. The physical get together, including the dinner, was spread over many hours, and there were one-hundred forty-five alums at the last reunion in 2013. I was there for four hours, and if I had been able to talk with every classmate, I would have had just a few minutes with each. I have been living away from the Detroit area since 1986 (this time), and at other times from 1960-1962, and 1969-1973. I have not been in close contact with most of the CHS class of 1953. Although I searched for certain friends at that reunion, afterwards, I found to my dismay, that some of those whom I sought were there, but because of the years in-between, I had not recognized them, or they me. Perhaps, they had recognized me, but didn’t want to be recognized.
When it comes to connecting with others at the actual, physical reunion at the Glen Oaks Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan this July, even with a reduced number of attendees, visiting with one another for more than a few minutes, becomes a daunting task. TRY TO REMEMBER If you do recognize “an old friend,” that does not necessarily mean that a scintillating conversation will take place. With our memories fading by chance and by choice, many tend to deliberately forget or revise the stories we actually lived way back when. When I first drove to California in 1960 with a Detroit friend, we ended up in Long Beach where there was a fishing boat accident. Our timing was right, and we photographed the injured captain being taken away by rescuers. We drove down to the Los Angeles Times, and they bought our shots and paid us for them. On my second day in LA, our photograph appeared on page two. Twenty years later, my friend and I were at a party, and after I told this story, my friend bragged about the $250 we were paid. That sum didn’t seem right, and when I returned home, I went through my freelance file and found the duplicate of the Times check in the amount of $25. I realize that inflation may have occurred, but at gatherings we all may have a tendency to elaborate and enhance the details of what has happened to us in the past. I expect that to happen to some degree next July.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Book Stories
Part Two

At times, synagogues, bookstores, magazines, and publishers and synagogues have been a pain.

I sent out emails to more than thirty synagogues in Northern California looking for speaking engagements. One was circulated by the program committee at one synagogue and a woman who didn’t understand what “Reply All” meant, sent this response to me along with all of the committee members, “Do we want to pursue this? I don’t especially.” Then another member wrote, “For free on a Sunday morning it would be well received.” But not by me.

After pleading and cajoling the tattooed, twenty-something head of consignments at a local bookstore, she reluctantly accepted one book, but only after I filled out a two-page form. Three weeks later, my wife went to that store and looked for the book in the Judaica section, the health and exercise section, and the humor section, to no avail. She checked with a clerk at a computer, and discovered the book — sitting on a shelf in a back room waiting to be put out.

When I contacted a Jewish magazine in Los Angeles to do a possible review, a young man invited me to visit his office when I was there in June. He would be happy to have a review written if I would spend more than two thousand dollars, and he’d throw in a commercial on a religious Jewish television network. Oy!

I even ran into some difficulties with my publisher — Create Space — a division of Amazon. When I ordered a much-needed two hundred copies of The Oy Way, I received them promptly as usual. The only problem was that the cover was a different color than all of the previous ones, and two pages in the back were missing. When I contacted Create Space and explained the situation, they matter-of-factly replied that instead of being printed in their plant, it was outsourced to another printer who misread the correct color. I told them that it was unacceptable, and they said that they would send another two hundred that they would print at their facilities.

I few days later, I received the rush order and was pleased until two days later I received another two hundred copies. When I called up Create Space and asked what I should do with them, they said I could keep them, which I did in a way. I gave away copies to more than thirty libraries around the country, gave others to a struggling Yiddish bookstore in Brooklyn, to the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur for fundraising, and also to KlezCalifornia as incentive gifts to contributors.

I won’t make any real money out of The Oy Way, unless more people buy it from my website here, or my upcoming You Tube videos go viral when they are posted next month. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More On Book Stories

More On Book Stories
Part One

After The Oy Way was printed last spring, my real work began; I had to sell it.

I hustled media reviews and made presentations at synagogues, bookstores and organization meetings. Sales weren’t large enough for me to retire, but I had already retired in 2006. Retirement with a book to sell is no retirement.

I was pleased that bookstores in California, Michigan and New York had either bought copies outright or had taken them on consignment. The most fertile sales outlet was the relatively small Aleft Bet Judaica store in Los Gatos. At times, I would bring in five books and a few days later I would receive a call from the Israeli-born owner Nurit saying that they had sold out and they needed more.  Happily, I received such a call today, and I will be making a presentation and book signing there on November 13, and at numerous other venues in October, November and December. You can see the schedule under "What's Nu? on the website here.

At times, I ran into some not-so-positive situations.

I just received a copy of Washington Square Magazine that goes to 80,000 alums of San Jose State University, and they estimate that 50,000 digital readers will see it. I was a bit dismayed when I saw the visual coverage found above. However, when I questioned the layout, the editor and the art director said it would attract the readers. What do you think?

Speaking of SJSU, when I spoke on campus in March, I managed to convince the manager of their Spartan bookstore to take ten copies on consignment, which they did. I was unaware that they had become the Barnes & Noble/Spartan Bookstore, and as a vendor I had to fill out an eight-page form to be considered. Before I did so, I contacted a person at their headquarters back east, and asked them why I needed to do so with such a small number of books. Since you don’t question B&N, especially at their headquarters, they then asked me who was the publisher, and I told them it’s already on sale at Amazon. That ended my relationship with B&N for they would carry no books that were being published and sold by that competitor. I was lucky that I had found out before wasting any more time filling out that oppressive form. Tomorrow I go to San Jose State and rescue my unacceptable ten copies.

Part Two is on its way, or perhaps it has already arrived. If you have any spare time until then, go back to The Oy Way website.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Give Me a Brake — Part Two

It’s been more than seven weeks since Part One was published on this blog regarding the trails and tribulations of The Oy Way, whose web site can be found here. When you grow older, you will find that time goes by far too quickly, in case you haven’t already noticed.

Ewe Tube, Oar Knot

The secret is to keep growing older without growing old, and to do so, sometimes you have to reluctantly adapt to the far-too-rapid societal changes including the electronic world of You Tube.

At times, You Tube and “went viral” have to be linked together in order to achieve dubious success for an honest effort. Although The Oy Way is selling at a steady but slow pace, when I was in Los Angeles earlier this month, I hired Gordon Eick, a noted filmmaker, to capture the essence of eight Oy Way exercise movements. The video is now being edited and will eventually appear on You Tube.

There was little joy found in demonstrating these movements (shown above on the book’s cover), while clothed in a flowing, flannel-like shirt with a yarmulke sitting upon my head in 90-degree weather in Griffith Park. It was especially frustrating to do so as people walked by talking loudly, screaming children abounded, dogs barked, and helicopters noisily hovered above. It meant numerous reshoots, halting the shoot in progress, and mopping my brow as I continually shvitzed. We reshot most of it in a more tranquil, far cooler setting in the Japanese Garden in San Jose a few weeks later.

Review What Was Said

The book just received a short, but glowing, paragraph in The Midwest Book Review, that read, “Sure, the English language is fine, but there's always room for a bit of extra flavor to it. "The Oy Way: Following the Path of Most Resistance" is a humorous delve into the Yiddish language as author Harvey Gotliffe writes how to use the language's unique expressions to spice up one's languages, with a touch of meditative exercise in the process. "The Oy Way" is a unique addition to any language or humor collection, much recommended.”

Order, Order in the Court!

My cousin Ron, a documentary filmmaker who used to work with Bill Moyers, lives in a grand old building with a courtyard in New York. Ron bought three copies of The Oy Way as gifts, giving one copy to Margie King Barab, who you probably remember as the fourth and final wife of Alexander King. He is the author of several books on my shelf including his 1963, well titled, “is there life after birth?” Recently, four of my college friends passed on, and we will discuss this pertinent question in a later issue.

Margie, in turn, ordered seven books for friends, and wanted one autographed specifically for Bel Kaufman, and I did so in Yiddish. Bel has three impressive items on her resume that few others possess. On May 10, 2012, she turned 101. In 1965, she wrote the bestseller Up the Down Staircase, and she is the granddaughter of the legendary Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. It’s an honor to think that somehow The Oy Way and I are now connected to Sholem Aleichem, albeit in a very indirect way.

Where Have You Gone?

We are in a sad way with the possible demise of the bookstore, especially the independent bookstore. The nearby Capitola Book Café is fighting for survival and on June 22 held an author’s get together, where fourteen of us did a “reading.” The night before, best-selling author Cheryl Strayed appeared and there were more than three hundred people attentively listening to her reading from her new book Wild.

Perhaps there is some hope for the survival of independent bookstores as described in the Huffington Post piece published here, on "Celebrating Independents Day.” However, to make this a reality, addicted Amazon online book buyers will have to extricate themselves from in front of their computers when they seek new reading challenges. They might find a brave, new, stimulating world in the aisles of their neighborhood bookstore.

Happy Birthday Two Awl of Ewe

When you write, edit and publish your own blog, you can include whatever flotsam and jetsam you desire. So we wish the following relatives and friends a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, which is really the anniversary of your births which fall between June 25 and July 18, and between 1924 and 1953. Happy day to Rochelle, Amy, Carmen and Hilda (same day, different years), the same connection for Robert Dale and Martha, also for Cindy and Dranreb, and finally happy birthday to Patricia.