Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Special thanks to the Emmy-award winning producer Trevor Crafts, head of FullMind Creative
I'm be in Brattleboro, Vermont Friday giving a snowman presentation. Hope to see you there!
December 12th, Friday;
7 pm SNOWMAN PRESENTATION & SIGNING Brooks Memorial Library 224 Main Street Brattleboro, Vermont (802-251-8195)
Also, please check out the new People magazine. I'm on pg. 60!
As primer there's a cool interview I did with the Authoring Auctioneer.
Or listen to this fun radio spot on WKBK in New Hampshire.
For those interested in signed copies of The History of the Snowman please visit the great bookstore Morningside Books @ Broadway & 114th St.
In the Schenectady Area? The beautiful Open Door bookstore not only has signed copies but the snowman mugs. Click link for hours & directions.
Finally, I wanted to thank everyone writing me compliments on the book.
Plus I wanted to explain to those who wrote me and thought the reviews on the right and below here were funny and thought I was joking that actually the quotes are real;
– Monty Python's Michael Palin
– Joe Jesselli, Smoking Gun.com
"Best Book of the Season"
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I'm about to begin a book & speaking tour which starts in a few hours as of November 29th (check right column) but have alot of announcements to make. I will leave this post up for awhile with changing news reported on Today's Snowman.
I hope to see many friends I've made online through the book, many who helped me on the book. I want to thank David Giacalone and Laura Lee Linder in particular for making me feel welcome to return to Schenectady in a few days. (Laura was helpful in the actual research of my book, The History of the Snowman and is very involved with The Schenectady County Historical Society and First Reformed Church of Schenectady. She is finishing a DVD on historical Schenectady. Further info on David just posted a generous write-up of my upcoming event and has a very cool website which is a unusual combination of haiku, law stuff and snowman interests. Right, you have to see it to believe it. I was just enjoying a piece about a sexy lawyers calendar!)
One other blog I want to recommend is Snow*Vigate. It's a journal for poetry, flash fiction and many other forms of writing with alot of snow metaphors from the creator, Doug Martin, who is snowman obsessed. "We want to see genres coming together and huddling in a blizzard to keep warm. We want to see verbs slapping the hell out of lazy nouns. We want to see God's syntax in snow. The unconscious is sexy. So are the tails of barnbirds, I am told. The 'snaw-rad' leads here. The 'snaw-rad' loves you." Cool, right?
Finally, I want to recommend some holiday gift ideas, all books.
First up is a must buy for book lovers in the Philadelphia area. Philadelphia Portrait of a City is a beautiful coffee table book by photographer Michael Gadomski;
"The photographs, many of which are double page spreads, takes the viewer on a tour of the city from the lofty heights of City Hall to the waterfront at Penn’s Landing. Several of the city’s important districts are visited including the unique historic district where America’s independence was born, the bohemian South Street, Antique Row, Avenue of the Arts, Society Hill, University Park, and the modern skyscrapers in Center City. The numerous gardens that are found in and around Philadelphia are also visited as well as some of the city’s annual events such as the Flower Show and the Chinese New Year celebration. The book also peeks inside some of the city's famous buildings like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Independence Hall, The Shops at Two Liberty Place and The Bourse to name just a few."
The book is available through all the online booksellers such as Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble and others. You may also purchase personalized autographed copies of the book directly through his website.
The next recommendation is a children's book by Tim Young, an old classmate of mine who, ironically, was scary talented. He did the Penny claymation thing on Pee Wee's show and other stuff, all amazing. I really didn'y know him at Pratt Institute but I reconnected with him thru Facebook and was excited to see this new project a pop-up book called I'm Looking For a Monster. I'm getting it for my nephew for Christmas!
Last, but not least, I throw in this reminder again of my book and that I am doing everything humanly possible to get the word out (did you see the list on the right side?). At around $12 on Amazon, (what a value!) with FULL COLOR INSERTS and over 150 illustrations, many which cost me an arm and leg for permission rights...well, I'll just say – I need to sell about 500,000 copies to see a profit. Let it begin with you. There I said it. I'm groveling.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Well, here's the interview...it's all about snowmen and my new snowman book...I was dealing with a bad cold and cough so I may sound a bit funny...but, anyhoo, Mr. Media is very cool and I suggest you visit his site and check out his list of celebrity guests he's interviewed. I've been going through his archives all week listening to the Chris Farley story, getting to know Robert Schimmel and learning alot about the business.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The topic of conversation during my travels through the Pennsylvania heartland the past couple of days has been the battle of the election lawn signs. This is nothing new. Just my first hand account from the front-lines.
Last night I stayed in the old stone home of a distinguished academia couple situated predominately on the corner of an intersection in the eastern part of Berks County, where only hours earlier some wild maverick had stolen a large Obama-Biden sign. This ad was worth about $60 in plexiglass and was wired and secured near the front door on a tall pole that requires a ladder. The pole was all that was left from a sign that once belonged to one of the state's oldest pubs dating back about two centuries. Sam upped the ante after a couple of smaller lawn signs had disappeared. That night we kept going over it while Sam contemplated whether or not to contact the police. "When I called four years ago, the police just wanted to know why I was voting for Kerry. What's the point." Someone argued because if it's a brick through the window next time there's a record of cause and motive on record. Someone else reasoned that the action could just motivate revenge. By the second Scotch, Sam and I were re-enforcing stereotypes and blaming NASCAR somehow (I was thinking; "while we're in a war over oil, shouldn't NASCAR drivers be carpooling on the racetrack?"). I thought I solved the whole mess the following morning when I spotted a white and blue sign laying on the ground in the distance. But the sign only said "Christmas Trees Sale."
A couple of hours east, a friend drove me through Fort Washington, Pennsylvania siting which lawns had McCain or Obama signs that had recently mysteriously vanished. Some homes quickly replaced them. We passed a mansion with a billboard size lawn sign for McCain. In the car we all shared stories, quoting racial remarks overheard at auto shops and in supermarkets. I had only one incidence. A guy, my age, asked me who I was voting and countered, "Well, you want the White House filled with jiggies? You're gonna wound up with a congress of blacks."
Before I made this trip, my friend from New York City, we'll call him Joe the Dreamer, stayed with me a couple of days to canvas my Pennsylvanian neighborhood back in the east side of the state. I warned him that my next-door hunters would not welcome him and his Vegan ways. To his credit he went door-to-very-far-apart-door using his VW hippie mobile dressed for his last Burning Man trip, walking past many a McCain sign to chat up the locals. He told me he considered it a real success—I'm not sure if this is because I know he had a cold and he told me he shook alot of hands but I considered it a great success that he returned for dinner alive. Or maybe I'm not giving my neighbors or him enough credit.
My friends from Berks County have decided not to contact the police after-all but their mood improved when I said I would write a little something about their theft. For them this is not all about changing anyone's mind but exercising their freedom of speech and continuing to get the word out that this is going on. I'm not convinced. I think deep down people think they can change people. But nobody is "undecided." This election was determined a long time ago, we just haven't counted up the votes. Stating who we are on our lawns just creates a wedge. Am I a horrible person for thinking our society is not mature enough for all of this? The signs don't work. They just make us worse.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Today’s email; 2009 NYFA Artists' Fellowship Applications are due Friday. Application materials must be submitted and postmarked by midnight on the due date of your category.
Dear Jurors of the NYFA Grant Committee,
I would like to respectively apply for a 2009 NYFA Artists' Fellowship to complete my current art performance slated for early 2009. Sadly, this work is currently in danger of not being realized due to a lack of funds.
Since 1978 I have enjoyed a long, lustrous relationship with the New York Foundation of the Arts starting with my first major project (Disability), where I shot myself in the foot. In 1987, I received my second NYFA grant to fund Your Insecurities Are My Broken Limbs, which consisted of me being shoved down a flight of stairs. Finally, thanks to a Pell Grant in 1996, I was triumphantly run-over by a family Winnebago in the critically acclaimed, Run-Over. This lead to a series of happenings I conducted in alternative spaces, executed in front of select art circles where either I was run over or pushed down something. In the new millennium I explored getting stuck in everyday things (most notably; wet cement, a washing machine, retractable ladders) in mundane locations (new pavement, laundromat, fire escape). I am quite proud of this diverse body of work and take seriously my role as a non-traditional artist.
With the successful completion this summer of my of most recent project Downsize, in which my wife of twelve years walked out on me, I have spent the past two months deliberating over my next artistic venture, a spontaneous, yet staged dramatic performance involving burlap bags, a tribal war mask, a gun (again), and a 1998 Saturn hatchback. Heist is my ambitious statement on the current economic collapse and Wall Street’s emotional effect on artists, both consensual and concessional, a logical step from my previous pieces Sweeping Out Water Fountains Under Gloom of Night (2002-04) and Bodega! (2005). Inspired by my own confining experiences of being late with my rent, this event would capture a moment of “role-reversal” toward my current financial institution.Visual and political puns emerge, ingeniously using class, justice and ethics of power with the actual act of robbing a bank. Addressing issues of self-esteem, society restrictions and irony, both apparent and concealed while placing others and myself in great danger (again). Making poor life choices is a reoccurring theme in my work (so says my life coach). Heist would be a natural extension of these ideas, expressing a narrative frame of my life, allowing me to draw from my immense life experiences and expansive anger, and ideally, turning my anti-commercial tendencies into a fortune, that would present new opportunities for me and any future art projects (should I decide to stay in the country).
I ask you to consider and process my request for a NYFA grant briskly as the tenuous time frame for this ongoing piece is February 20th, 2009, the date my unemployment runs out. The location chosen for the event has been the Citibank on 36th St and Avenue of the Americas due to it’s inviting layout and proximity to my current art studio. With proper financial backing of an NYFA Fellowship, I can complete the necessary research and add a qualified henchman, both which will prove paramount to this project’s success. Enclosed in this application are slides illustrating a floor-plan of the aforementioned Citibank and mug-shots of leading candidates to recruit as the driver of the getaway car. The preamble to this performance would be a surprise entrance before proceeding to close off the establishment. At this point my years as an artist being shot at and/or wounded will be instrumental and critical to the complexities I hope to archive during this unscripted progress.
Upon request, I can provide your committee with references from those who would vouch that I would actually go through with this. As with many of my artistic endeavors, revelations will unfold during the course of the project—the one-day performance will be, no doubt, filmed and documented on the bank’s security cameras and receive tremendous media coverage, from both television and print media. Full credit would be given to you—I intend to explicitly state that Heist was made possible thanks to funds from the New York Foundation of the Arts.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope that the NYFA council and it’s members appreciate the importance of work like this which expands and invigorates the elastic boundaries of what our society perceives and accepts as art. My resume and character I know speaks for itself and will make yours an easy decision. It goes without saying, that the prestige attached to an NYFA Fellowship would give such a plan creditability and stir excitement among other avant-gardists exploring shady activities, encouraging them to seek support and sponsorship. Your generosity would not only allow this dream to be realized but assure the safety of those involved...both voluntarily and involuntarily.
Friday, October 17, 2008
The real identity of this man is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher who actually owes the state of Ohio $ 1,200.00 in back taxes for his income. The records on file in the Lucas County court has a tax lien filed on January 26, 2007 and remains unpaid to this date. It's all here.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
From management guru (and Freelancer's Lament friend), Lee Silber, is this wonderful list for you freelancers out there. His new book is Rock to Riches. I'm going to leave this up for awhile as there's alot to soak in. Here's an excerpt to the intro for the list in his own words;
"...I sometimes feel like I am just now getting it right. (Hey, forty is the new thirty, right?) I recently had some time to reflect on what I have learned during my forty (and a half) years on this planet. In the past four decades I have had some stunning successes, and struggled at times, too. I often wish I could go back and slap my younger self and then share the life lessons I learned later (the hard way.) Since that isn’t possible, I’ll share some suggestions with you. I came up with the following forty things I wish I knew when I was younger. (I suffered so you don’t have to.)"
1. Practice No Regrets Living. Don’t wait to do the things that you want to do. It seems that the older I get the more complicated things become. It was easier to travel, experiment and take risks when I was younger.
2. People Matter Most. No matter how much money you make or success you have, it’s always more satisfying to share these moments with family and friends.
3. If You Have An Addictive Personality, Pick Something Positive. Yes, “everything in moderation” is good advice, but there are times when a person is so over-the-top-excited about something they will want to jump in with both feet. This is great when it’s something healthy, positive and productive.
4. Don’t Waste Time Worrying About The Past (or The Future). How many minutes have been wasted worrying about things that may—and more likely may not—ever happen. My advice, expect the best but be prepared for the worst. Try not to worry about things you feel guilty about from your past. Either fix them, or forget them.
5. Don’t Worry What Others Think. Peer pressure and the need to fit in don’t just keep kids up at night. Life is so much easier when you live it for yourself, free of the pressure of worrying what others think. Do what YOU want to do.
6. Take Risks When You Are Young. It’s easier to recover from a bad decision when you are younger. It is also true that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” To try to go beyond what you think is possible and to take some chances is healthy and leads to learning experiences that prove invaluable later in life.
7. Starting Your Own Business Is The Best Way To Get Rich. Yes, real estate and the stock market have made many people wealthy, but building a business is also one of the better ways to create wealth. Plus, there is nothing like being your own boss. I have started five businesses and highly recommend entrepreneurship.
8. Live For Today, But Plan For Tomorrow. Living in the moment is one of the ways to be truly happy. Doing so without any plans or provisions for the future is foolish. Yes, live like there is no tomorrow, but save for the future and take care of yourself physically, too.
9. Your Time Is Your Life. Frittering away hours may seem like no big deal when you are young. However, when you start to realize that you have pissed away a good portion of your life, the concept of time shifts. Your time is your life energy. You have a limited amount to squander. Being more aware of where your time goes and how you spend it is one of the most important life lessons you can learn. Consider that every item you paid for you paid for with a piece of your life. You used up your time (i.e. your life) to earn money for that purchase. Was it worth a piece of your life?
10. Goals Are THE Secret To Success. By now everyone knows that I am passionate about having a plan for your life. I have done this for myself since I was fifteen-years-old. My goal-setting system has evolved from a list of things I want to do to a series of powerful statements, images and feelings about the future I want to create along with a plan to make it happen.
11. See The World When You Have The Chance. Traveling is such a worthwhile thing. I rank it right up there with success of any kind. The ability to take off and get away is one of the most exciting, fulfilling and fun things I have done.
12. Keep Track Of Your Victories. Many people dwell on the things they didn’t do (but wish they did) or things they did (but wish they hadn’t). When you look back at your life, chances are you have done more than you thought you did and made many good decisions. Post your proudest accomplishments in a place where you will see them.
13. Commit To A Lifetime Of Learning. A library card is more valuable than a Mastercard or American Express card in my opinion. It isn’t because I have written eleven books that I believe this. It is a result of all the books I read as I researched my books that I recommend a daily dose of reading—or listening to tapes in your car.
14. A Mentor Can Work Magic. The secret to my success was to find someone who knew all the right moves, all the right people and all the right things and was willing to share. I have had some wonderful mentors who made a huge difference in my life—providing a shortcut on the road to success.
15. Get Your Mid-Life Crisis Over Early. First and foremost, there is no need for one when you are living the life you want to. If you do feel like your life has been a series of compromises and you want to make up for lost time, try to do it early and get it over with quickly.
16. Wait For The Right One. When I hear things like, “Marriage is a lot of hard work” and “Relationships requires constant compromise” I often wonder if these people simply married the wrong person. When you find your soul mate (Read: Best friend and love-of-your-life all rolled into one) being together is simple, satisfying and super easy.
17. Take Care Of Your Stuff. I have always been the guy who did the preventative and required maintenance at the right time—before things broke. Hanging onto items that work well without having to spend money on new ones is one of the ways I have been able to save, travel and take time off.
18. Money Saved Is Money Earned. The secret to “having it all” is to live large on less. Many of the most affluent people I know are very frugal. (Not cheap, but cost-conscious.) They have the best of everything, but they wheeled and dealed to get it for less than full price. Being able to buy what you want without paying full price for it is an art. It’s also a mindset—and one worth working on. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep that counts.
19. Simplify. I was raised by pack rats and I was becoming one, too. I awoke one day (during a move) and starting selling off some of the things that didn’t serve my life any longer. Now that I live in a beach house (with a baby), I have to keep things moving or else they start to stack up and there’s no room for my surfboards. (Wink.)
20. You Need An Outlet For Your Creativity. Playing drums in a cover band was not what I dreamed about when I was a kid. It is, however, the perfect outlet for my creative (and musical) aspirations today. I may never be a rock star, but I can still have a small (very small) sampling of what it’s like. Find some way to express your creativity.
21. Early To Bed (2:00 AM) And Early To Rise. . . I have found that many prolific writers work well into the night. I have also used the early morning hours to get things done. I guess it’s my need to be different (I’m up while the world sleeps) and the need to eliminate distractions that makes 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM the perfect time to work. Find your own prime time and don’t waste it on trivial tasks.
22. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. I realized recently that many of the things I have stressed and obsessed about over the years were not worth the time and energy—they simply didn’t matter. It’s easy to get upset and to feel slighted over silly things, it’s far better to just let them go if they won’t matter in a month.
23. Make a Difference. Charity does begin at home and the place to give back first is to your family and friends. There are also a lot of opportunities to make a difference in other areas—whether you give your time, money or share your expertise—this is one of the most rewarding things to do.
24. Brand Yourself Before Someone Else Does. When people hear your name what three things do you want them to think of? I have worked so hard to develop a reputation that I am proud of. I did this by acting as if I were the person I wanted to be and then when I achieved it, I continued to make the tough (right) choices.
25. Things Are Never As Bad As They Seem. Bad things happen to good people. It is the person that is able to put things into the proper perspective that prosper. When you have been through a tough time or two you start to realize that you are more resilient than you thought and no matter what happens, you can, and will, go on.
26. Sometimes You Have To Give Up Good For Great. My mentor said used a baseball analogy to make this point. He said I needed to hit more home runs (think big and take some chances). At the time I was just hitting singles (thinking small and staying safe). It wasn’t until I was willing to give up good for great that things really took off.
27. Give People More Than They Expect. More advice from a mentor. Most people just do enough to get by. It is the person who goes the extra mile and does more than others expected that gets ahead in business and in life.
28. Thank You’s. I have learned that following up and following through is rare. Most people don’t know how to do it, nor do they want to. Sending thank you notes is the perfect follow-up. It is also a classy, thoughtful and appreciated thing to do.
29. Don’t Lend Money—Ever. Enough said.
30. The Best Things In Life Are Free. Sunsets, picnics in the park, walks on the beach and are all priced right—they’re free. The same is true about special occasions and gifts. Sometimes it IS the thought that counts more than the cost.
31. Take Time For Yourself. I was once the kind of person who would create things-to-do lists that were a mile long. It would have taken me months to complete the things on my list. Now I build white space into my list of tasks. It’s almost like I plan for spontaneity. Try leaving some room in your busy life for unexpected things to come your way and take time for yourself.
32. Make Memorable Moments. Some people call me the life of the party, the fun uncle and the person to call when you are feeling down. What I want to create is memorable moments in other people’s lives. It is the same in my own life. I am always trying something new, never allowing myself to get into a rut. I will also stop and take a mental snapshot to burn a particularly pleasant experience deeper into my memory.
33. Take It One Pitch At A Time. I read an article about pitcher Al Leiter who said that the secret to his success was to take it one pitch at a time. He couldn’t change the last pitch or predict what would happen three picthes from now. All he could control, and thus concentrate on, was the pitch he was about to throw. I have used this philosophy for my writing, promoting and presentations. By being present I am able to focus on what’s right in front of me. That kind of clarity is key to overcoming procrastination and fear.
34. Pursue Your Passion. I have had flashes of “everything is right in my world” but many times what I am passionate about is not profitable. I know that I need to “do what I love and the money will follow” but for some reason this is an area I need to work on. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot right with my life, but what I really want to do (open a retreat center on Kauai) remains out there.
35. Appreciate The Small Things In Life. Many times we wait for the big moments in life to celebrate. There are so many simple things we do daily that are special moments. Some people keep a dairy, others meditate and still others tell their significant other about their day. Try to take note of the small things that make you smile during the day.
36. Don’t Fight Change. I’m old school and was fearful of change—especially new technology. I felt like I was being left behind. Then I figured out I needed to focus not on the technology itself, but on how it could help me reach my goals. This simplified things. Now I go with new developments that serve my goals and not worry about the rest.
37. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others. As a competitive person it’s hard to resist the temptation to see how I stack up against those around me. This is a losing game because some people will consistently have more and trying to catch up to them can leave you deep in debt and cause you to do desperate things. It’s good to strive to be, do and have more but don’t forget to appreciate who you are and what you have.
38. Empathy Is Everything. Seeing (and feeling) things from another person’s perspective is one of the most vital skills you can learn.
39. Find Work You Love So Much You’d (Almost) Do It For Free. Most of my fan mail comes from creative people who hate their day jobs. They are also trapped in those same dreaded jobs because they must make a certain amount to survive. I have found that the freedom of finding work you love—and being able to pursue it—can come from cutting back and living on less. Not having to make as much money means you may be able to do what you truly desire, even if it doesn’t pay top dollar.
40. Figure Out Your Uniqueness And Celebrate It. When I was an Economics major in college I was living a lie. I am, and always will be, an artist. I fought the fact that writing, performing, presenting and creating were my strengths. I would beat myself up because I was bad at math and struggled in science. Now I celebrate my creative self.
Friday, October 3, 2008
"Here in Delaware, we literally share a broad maritime border with Spain. So, when Zapatero rears his head, I'll be ready with this magic wand to turn him back! I'm wearing women's underwear! Hello? Is this on?"That's the winning caption. Congratulations, Yablonowitz (Greg Martin)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Okay, you know the drill. Write the perfect caption for the above cartoon. Both pro-Democrat or pro-Republican punch-lines are eligible. Please send in entries before Thursday’s Vice Presidential debate.
The judges are stand-up comedian Richard Belzer and humorist Lenore Skenazy. Richard is a star on the hit Law & Order and his new book, I Am Not a Cop comes out next week. Lenore is the funniest columnist there is today (Mad, NPR, Daily News, NY Sun), but many of you know her from her TV appearances and as the mom who let her 9-yr old take the subway. Her upcoming new book is called Free Range Kids.
The winner will get a signed copy of my new book, The History of the Snowman (Picked Best Book of the Season by Amazon, it makes a nice holiday gift.).
Good luck…and have fun!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Oh, what a lovely economy it is. It means tightening the belt, going to places like CarTalk, that's right I'm cartooning for CarTalk (in exchange for plugs, spark plugs.). I'll be now appearing in Milford magazine, too. I'm waiting to hear back from Women's World Weekly. I'm trying to get in the WWW.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
PHOTO CREDIT: Hélène Binet
If you are in the Columbus Circle area this Saturday and Sunday (27th & 28th), I highly recommend going to The Museum of Arts and Design's grand opening. This is the first time the general public can visit the new building and admission is free (it will be $15 after this weekend).
I was lucky enough to tour the new museum today for it’s premiere and the shows are amazing and the new structure exciting. The best exhibit is on the fifth floor called Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary featuring work by 50 artists from five continents who create objects comprised of ordinary and everyday articles, like combs and buttons.
Portrait of a Textile Worker
Therese Agnew, 2005
This 10-ft “painting” is really a large quilt made from tens of thousands of fashion labels.
Jill Townsley, 2008
This pyramid was created with ten thousand plastic spoons held together with only rubber bands which slowly loosen, allowing the structure to eventually collapse.
The address is 2 Columbus Circle (and that's the subway stop as well). The hours are 10am to 5pm on both days (and expect long lines). Have a great time!
I was granted permission by MAD for use of the photos.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
John J Savo is a young talented writer and auctioneer from Pennsylvania who just self-published an epic fantasy tome called Lux War: CORONATION, one of a series. I’ve known John for years, initially meeting at his family’s auction gallery (Rebecca's Auction) which I frequented until my house was crammed to the rafters with stuff I had bought. At most auctions the players are dealers planning to resell their crap but I would show up for the entertainment value as much as anything else. John’s very funny and theatrical and this charisma comes out on his popular blog, The Authoring Auctioneer. (Full disclosure, John can be an intimidating figure (he looks like a good-looking Penn of & Teller) Often I would bid on something just because I was scared of him.)
Freelancer’s Lament: I would probably show up more to your auctions if I didn’t feel you would break my legs if I didn’t bid on everything.
John J Savo: Really? Because I'm not much of a leg-breaking kind of guy, even though I am Italian. I'm more of a ball-breaker. I'd much rather smash someone with my wit than with my fists. For me, there's much more satisfaction in making someone feel terrible on the inside than on the outside, like bacterial infection of the stomach lining. Besides, one can't be charged with aggravated assault for a well-executed insult. So I may pick on you if you come to one of my auctions and not buy anything, but let's face it: You can never NOT buy something.
FL: I love the brashness of your blog. You told one reader who wanted to wash your mouth out with soap to go to hell. What’s the worst thing you’ve said or done to someone at your auction?
JJS: I've never really had to do anything terrible to someone during my auctions. I've had to kick a few people out for being unruly or obstinate, but that only happens once in a blue moon when a customer thinks he runs my business, not my family and I. Nine of out ten people are good. It's that 10% that raises my blood pressure. Like the moron that left that comment because he or she had to read the f-word on my blog. "Boo-hoo-hoo.”
FL: Friends whose job it is to perform in front of people for a living always tell me they hate people. We have both said the same to each other, but I think you’re lying. How do you REALLY feel about people, as a group?
JJS: Again, I think most people are just trying to survive. Most people are good, I think. (I still hope, anyway.) The problem is, the assholes get all the attention and so are always on the forefront of society's news coverage. I guess that's a theme of my blog: Point out the absurdity that humanity sometimes displays and make fun of it in the funniest and angriest way I can.
FL: Would you like to continue auctioneering?
JJS: I feel that the auction business is something I was born to do. After all, I grew up in it. But my goal is to constantly improve it. We've come a long way in the past few years. Our quality of merchandise and buyers is getting better with each sale. We're starting to gain some national recognition. So yes, I would like to continue as long as it keeps growing and maturing and remains a challenge. Of course, that falls on me, my brother, and my father. We put a lot of effort and creativity into each of our auctions and more and more people are starting to notice.
FL: What's the worst part of auctioneering?
JJS: The second worst part is of the auction business is the manual labor involved. I don't have a team of lackeys to move the merchandise out of the estates and into my gallery. That duty, all duties, fall on me, my brother, and my father. It's grunt work that involves fighting elements, dirt, and adverse architecture. I can't stand it, but it's a necessary evil. The WORST, top most thing I hate about the auction business? The people who think that we, the Savo Auctioneers, are only at our gallery or at work on auction day. Some think that all the inventory magically appears and sets itself up into neat little rows and vignettes, and that all we have to do is show up and "talk fast."
FL: The best?
JJS: We don't buy the merchandise we sell. We're an auction company. We provide a service. Therefore, we sell on a commission basis. So the best part of the business is when I'm able to sell something for someone and shock the hell out of them. For example, a couple of months ago, we sold a vintage beer can collection for a gentleman. He had no idea the value. The collection consisted of about 250 cans, ranging in age from the late 1930s to the last few years. It was sold as a group. After taking bids from seven people from all over the country, the collection achieved a final selling price of $4,250. The guy who owned the cans almost fell over with joy and amazement after we told him. That's a good feeling, to be able to make someone's day because we did a good job.
FL: Cool story? Can you share another?
JJS: Well, there's always something in an estate that can surprise people. Years ago, we removed the contents of a doctor's estate. Like usual, the executors thought we were crazy, because sometimes gold looks like garbage and garbage looks like gold. People who don't sell in the auction/antique trade are often boggled by the things we take and the things we don't take out of a home. In this particular doctor's house, the surviving family members believed us to be super insane when we took a cadaver's skull and then asked if the rest of the skeleton was somewhere. (You know, it was from one of those skeletons you see propped up in a physician's office all the time.) Unfortunately, only the skull remained. We offered it up for bidding and it brought somewhere around $350.
FL: John, do you have any theatrical background?
JJS: I have a degree in theatre and public speaking, but I haven't been in a play since 2001. It was at that time I found out I have an allergy to divas and primadonnas. So, for health reasons, I had to give it up.
FL: Let’s talk about your new book. In Lux War: CORONATION you create a whole new world— you even provide a glossary s a guide for readers.
JJS: Lux War is a fantasy, but it is a story about the human condition more than it is about magic and armor. It explores the consequences of political greed, genocide, revenge, and love. Yes, love has consequences. The setting—the fantasy part of it—becomes a harmony to the characters. The plot is larger than life, and so the world in which it happens had to be equally large and unique. The characters affect the setting as much as the setting affects the characters. Lux War isn't really about good versus evil. It's more like real life, where all of the players are bad, but a few have some redeeming qualities. Still, the characters draw you in, much like being unable to look away from a really bad car crash.
FL: What type of readers are you hoping to attract?
JJS: My novel is not for children. It is gruesome at times and intelligent in the rest. It was written for adults who enjoy the genre but need some smart drama at the same time.
FL: Did you set goals for yourself as to what the book would or could accomplish?
JJS: I honestly didn't know what to expect with my first one, but I've learned there's a lot of competition out there and it's very difficult to get agents or publishers to look your way. I can empathize though. As an auctioneer, I'm constantly told by people how good their stuff is. However, 8 out of 10 times, it's the same crap that everybody else has. But I'm not one of those 8. I know my novel is like the 2 out of 10 people who actually have something wonderful to sell.
FL: Who were you thinking of (writers-wise) when you wrote the book?
JJS: Well, naturally, I was thinking of Tolkein and all that he accomplished with Lord of the Rings. I didn't look to him for style, but for inspiration. It's funny that I wrote a fantasy, because the three writers that have influenced me the most are Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Woody Allen.
FL: Let's mention you do a radio show called "Cash or Trash." You guys are funny together. It’s gotta be a thrill to be doing a radio show with your family. [Sundays, from 3PM to 4PM streamed on www.WILKNEWSRADIO.com] How's that going?
JJS: Great. My father, my brother, and I (the Savo Auctioneers) host the show. We discuss life, humanity, and the auction world (the tagline of AuthoringAuctioneer.com). We do our best to entertain while educating people about the auction business. It's one of the things that has helped improve our business. We've gotten some great merchandise and have met some great people because of it.
FL: Desert Island. What five books are you taking with you?
JJS: Oh, Christ... Umm...
1. The Great Gatsby
2. A Moveable Feast
3. The Seven Percent Solution
4. Hound of the Baskervilles
5. The Lord of the Rings
FL: 5 people you’re bringing with you?
JJS: My wife (or fiancee, whatever you want to say), naturally. I have to pick four more people? I guess it wouldn't matter, because I'd probably just end up killing those other four for their meat.
FL: What’s your life-story in a fortune cookie message?
JJS: "You love ice cream but despise ignorance."
To buy Lux War: CORONATION. For details on Rebecca’s Auction. Enjoy John’s blog.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Sometimes being creative means compromising. Career and life guru Lee Silber recently shared his list of forty items to remember (we'll get back to that list soon with info on his new book). Meanwhile this was #39;
"Find Work You Love So Much You’d (Almost) Do It For Free. Most of my fan mail comes from creative people who hate their day jobs. They are also trapped in those same dreaded jobs because they must make a certain amount to survive. I have found that the freedom of finding work you love—and being able to pursue it—can come from cutting back and living on less. Not having to make as much money means you may be able to do what you truly desire, even if it doesn’t pay top dollar."
Being a freelancer seems to go hand-and-hand now with living smaller and living more green. And it's now in style! That said, here's an amazing slide-show in The New York Times by Bethany Little, please click the above photo. And here's the story she wrote. There was just another grest story in The Times by on tiny homes by Steven Kurutz.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Need to be inspired? Let me recommend going to these four places;
1) The Grady Alexis Gallery will be showing Manhatitlan Codex a collection of artist Felipe Galindo a.k.a. Feggo. The paintings were inspired by Mexican immigration to the U.S. The Meet the Artist Reception is Friday, September 12th, 6 to 9 pm. The show goes on until October 18th. To learn more about Feggo read Freelancer's Lament interview with the man.
2) Spoken word artist, Joe Frank is a genius. "I came upon Joe Frank's work by accident a number of years ago while driving to my home in the Napa Valley late at night. I couldn't believe the originality and sheer brilliance of what I was hearing. From that moment on I became a dedicated Joe Frank fan." – Francis Ford Coppola. He can be heard on the following or free downloads on iTunes by typing in Joe Frank or becoming a member on his website where his past programs are available;
|California||KPFA 94.1 FM / KPFB 89.3||Berkeley||Sundays at 9:00 PM|
|KDVS 90.3 FM||Davis||Saturdays at 11:00 PM|
|Colorado||KDUR 91.9 / 93.9 FM||Durango||Sundays at 10:00 PM|
|KHEN 106.9 FM||Salida||Tuesdays at 11:00 PM|
|Illinois||WBEZ 91.5 FM||Chicago||Sundays at 11:00 PM|
|Massachusetts||WMUA 91.1 FM||Amherst||Tuesdays at 10:00 PM on "Strange Bedfellows"|
|Montana||KGLT 91.9 FM||Bozeman||Sundays at 9:00 PM|
|New York||WNYC 820 AM||New York, NY||Sundays at 11:00 PM|
|Satellite||XM Satellite||Channel 163||Thursdays 11:00 PM (Eastern) 8:00 PM (Pacific)|
3) This website has high-quality short stories by new and/or established writers. "Filmmakers, musicians, and other artists are already exploring innovative alternatives to the traditional, top-down models of publication. Now Fictionaut brings the possibilities of the social web to literary writing. Part self-selecting magazine, part community network, Fictionaut is a way for readers to discover new voices and for writers to share their art, gain recognition, and connect with their audience and each other." – Fictionaut
4) For those who want to be more interactive and dive right into the action let me recommend Open Salon. I have some posts there myself; some new and a couple which have appeared here before. I'll be happy to answer any questions about this site as I've been involved there for a while.
So there you go. Here's a photo from Brimfield, Massuchusetts where I was last week. I did a book signing but, fortunately, ran out during the first day...(yeah!)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. – There were two hot tickets this month – maybe the only one who attended both the Democratic Convention AND US Open is the band Earth, Wind & Fire, the opening entertainment for both.
For the past 30 years I have watched the Open grow up since it moved in 1978 from the grassy courts of Forest Hills to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. I spent part of my childhood there before the move–my parents brought me there as a kid as a break from our Bronx apartment beginning as a baby going to the ’69 World’s Fair. It must have been just as crowded then as now. This week the grounds turn into a human traffic jam by noon. I have no idea what it was like in Denver but the wait to stand in front of an empty urinal in Flushing is close to 20 minutes.
Every year it’s my routine to reserve the last weeks of August for the Open to see friends who I will not see any other part of the year. Many have Open relationships – friendships which only exist during this three week period (for real fans the Open begins with the week of qualifying rounds). The court with most memories and drama for me is the food-court. It’s a strip mall at the hub with all human tributaries of the event spilling into it’s plaza. I have bumped into high school teachers, old friends, and enemies of mine. I have fallen in love here, ended relationships here…even got fired here (last year when arguing with my new week-old editor and ex-boss of TimeOut.). It is here that highlights are coupled with low points. In 1980 my closest friend from high school was escorted off the grounds for pinching Chris Evert’s ass when she was signing autographs in the food-court. It was at the food-court that I sat down at an empty table with tennis great Illie Nastase after I saw my hero disgrace himself and get defaulted for taking his shorts off during a dispute with an umpire (“It was an entertaining match, no?”). It was the food-court where I was consoled after I was shellacked in the semis of my last NCAAs (but it was my biggest tennis thrill, playing in Louis Armstrong Stadium). I know this place like the back of my hand–in ‘04 I created the US Open map for Tennis magazine, now run by Chris Evert. My favorite story happened when I was sitting on the top row in a neighboring court. I asked my friend if he knew who was sitting next to him and then explained, “That’s Stan Smith.” My friend got so nervous that he turned to the tennis great and said “I’m a big fan of your sneakers” and then knocked his knapsack off the bleachers, sending it banging down the support beams. I called the move “smooth,” getting a chuckle out of Smith and then we all watched my friend climb down to find his bag.
As usual, I have been spending the past two weeks catching up with old friends, listening to old stories of matches long over but never forgotten. As one friend reminisces of what could have been if he stayed on one more year on the pro tour (careers end with either injury or in his case, an exhaustion of funds), some are still going strong (Terry just won the Bronze in the Senior Olympics at 73). And some just starting out. My neighbor, a 15-yr Russian girl, is a top prospect and is playing here in the juniors).
Polo Ralph Lauren is holding a contest to benefit cancer–$3,000 spending spree if you correctly guess how many balls are in the container.