Author's Blog

By jon

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening class. Today is Monday, April 1st and Tuesday, April 2nd and welcome to the InterU Massive Open Online Course in Business Fundamentals, or as it’s known around campus: MOOC BFD. But don’t go looking for the campus – there isn’t one! A little inside MOOC humor to connect us. I am your instructor, Dr. Gordon Gstaad.

By jon

I’m stalking Philip Roth. O.K., “stalking” overstates it – I haven’t crosshaired him through a scope – but I’m definitely creeping and staring, prowling like a borderline case with a hunting wound. Since I spotted America’s Greatest Living ex-Novelist crossing Seventy-ninth Street his scent has led me on a bloodhound’s sniff around the Upper West Side.

By jon

Lost among the milestones headlining the 2012 U.S.

Mitt Romney, Job Creator
By jon

“When pressed, neither Mr. Romney nor Bain Capital has offered information to back up his claim of more than 100,000 jobs created during Mr. Romney’s tenure as CEO.” – The New York Times.

Phone transcript, Bain internal document, June 9, 1993:

“Hello, is this the Triple A Animal Container Corporation?”


Costco State of Mind
By jon

Condoms, a motherload. This is a mind bender.

At first look, in the packaged-goody overgrowth freighting the shelves of the Costco in East Harlem, these condoms mess with the store’s potato-salad mojo. It’s my first time here. There’s one make and model stocked in the warehouse – Trojan Lubricated, unribbed – and they come as a 40-count in a box the length of a toaster oven. No potential for sticky fingers here. Hung beside a display of First Response Home Pregnancy Test 20-packs and 300-count boxes of non-latex Exam Gloves, the condoms sell for $7.99, shaming the $3.99 Trojan three-counts that Duane Reade extorts to the horny on every other block in the city. Do the math; it’s an orgy of economy: seven ninety-nine for 40? That’s 20 cents a rubber! Call the Kardashians and get the party started. Having questioned the logic of edgeless Costco in edgy Manhattan, the reality is even more bizarre than imagined, like the roller derby resurgence, but with acres of mall parking. Big-box Trojans; who knew?

The Face of Protest
By jon

“You don’t look like a protester.”

I’ve heard that a lot in Liberty Park, where I’ve joined the Occupy Wall Street movement, and in the marches to Foley Square, Washington Square Park and elsewhere. Calling this particular plaza a “park” is a stretch. It’s a cramped slab of marble patio and benches shaded by an occasional tree, but the harsh geometry is animated by the residents who’ve moved in. Sleeping bags, hand-lettered signs, guitars and drums, cafeteria tables, hot food, and a network of laptops pulsing at the center have grown grass-roots vitality on this barren afterthought in the well of skyscrapers. I used to eat lunch here on the punishing benches when I worked my first corporate job, just out of school. Standing at the Occupy Wall Street information area I can see my old office building, a lavish pagoda high in the western sky. I bought my first hand-tailored suit in the Brooks Brothers across the street where a dozen police are talking by the display windows. Pinstriped, with real buttonholes. The suit was a youthful extravagance, especially silly of me to dress like a banker since I wasn’t one and didn’t work for a bank.

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce a la Marilyn
By jon

Indiana calls, again! I’ve just finished three author’s events in two days in the Hoosier state – a book reading, my first corporate-meeting speech, and an interview on the NPR program Sound Medicine – and wish that the publishing industry was HQed here; these people have been fabulous. William Styron got his start with an Indianapolis publisher, as I recall. After the NPR interview I visited the stunningly renovated and expanded Indianapolis Central Library downtown where Kurt Vonnegut’s name is carved into the Indiana limestone between Shakespeare’s and Milton’s, as it should be, and three new copies of my book shine on the shelves.

Stepping in Something Twice
By jon

I’m back in the shotgun seat with Susan at the wheel, driving us out of the Midwest after a hot suburban week with her Hoosier family. Praise be to the neighbor’s swimming pool. We should reach Maine in three days in this mashed potato Impala. It handles like a barge and is our third rental car since we left New York. The first was a Chevy Malibu with a trunk too small to shimmy in Teddy’s camp steamer. Next was a bald-tired Nissan Altima that hydroplaned through a hairy rainstorm in the Allegheny mountains. The radio on this tub is lousy, so I may be back at the Enterprise desk soon.

A Series of Tubes
By jon

Hello fans. This is my first time hosting a site, coming to you via the internet – or, in the words of the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), “a series of tubes.” Please be gentle with me.

I’m in the shotgun seat of a rented Nissan on I-76 in Ohio, headed toward the Heartland, a.k.a. Indianapolis, where my family and I will freeload on the in-laws and their central AC, and I’ll meet with the local bookseller to schedule a September book reading. My wife, Susan, outwitted me and bought a portable DVD player on Craigslist the day before we left, which is keeping our two boys occupied with the sounds and images of mayhem and medieval terror in the backseat. They tired of the license-plate game in Pennsylvania, and NPR makes them retch and cry.