Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 376 – 379

Sold no books, extending my record-breaking streak of goose egg-innings. The old business model may need tuning. In this regard, I note that my own FB link to a piece I wrote recently about a Serbian cartoonist drew one-third the “Like”s as her “sharing” of it, causing me to reflect that I may have more readers in parts of the former Yugoslavia than in 45 of the 50 states and maybe ought to open franchises in cafes in Zagreb or Sarajevo.

On a more positive note, the last café journal contributor to order copies (2) has paid for them. His check had first been promised six months ago; then a more reliable neighbor would post it; then his former martial arts trainer would deliver it. None of this was surprising, given the contributor in question; nor was the trainer’s neither delivering the check during the week or at the place promised. That it arrived was good enough.
And I gave three books away: a “Cheesecake” to Rex, with whom I have had fun comparing growing-up, him in Honolulu, me in Philly. (In Hawaii, I learned, there are no Jews, Irish, Italians. We are all “haoles”); another “Cheesesteak” to James, because the first one I’d given him had been lost when his truck, with all his belongings inside, had been stolen. (The truck and everything but his iPhone and debit card were recovered. He promised to return one “Cheesesteak,” so if any reader wishes to acquire a “pre-owned” copy…); and a “Lollipop” to the author of an on-line article about Chicago basketball sent me by her uncle. She lives across 47th Street from my old turf and I thought she (a) might like it and (b) throw some sales my way.

In other news…
1.) Had a long IWKYA-centered chat with a fellow from Cornell, in town for a “hack-a-thon.” He’s into computers and health care, and is concerned about cardio risk factors. (He might have earned more space, but he didn’t buy and was blown away by later encounters.)
2.) The first was with a young woman whose name’s uniqueness – Ginzy Gore – must have launched a thousand opening lines and whose bright orange hair would have made fire engines pull aside. She had been told to look me up by a fellow I hear from a couple times a year. He asks if I can put him in touch with an old girl friend, and when I say I don’t see her but Adele does, he says “I don’t think Adele is talking to me,” and I say I will ask her about the ex-, and Adele says “Enough’s enough. He can find Rhonda at Facebook.” Anyway, I was expecting, like, a waifish, ethereal aspiring poet or novelist, but instead in walked a woman who writes for scholarly journals about national security and the intelligence community – and with a self-possession that should have her showing up on CNN tomorrow. When I sheepishly revised my misjudgment and confessed my own area of expertise to be underground cartoonists, she revealed her work for a non-profit devoted to early recorded American music and her frequent communications with Robert Crumb.
3.) The next day, Elizabeth, a sweet-tempered octogenarian church harpist, who is receiving chemo for terminal cancer, got into an adversarial exchange with Emilio, a sometimes testy barista when she asked for a mask to replace her broken one. Behind her in line was Leon, a documentary film maker, who usually spends his café time dominating a table of admirers with loud-mouthed opinions sprinkled with celebrities’ names like flies on a shit sandwich.
“I’m sick of people playing the sympathy card!” he screamed. “We’re all dying! You’re just dying sooner than most.”
I recognized this as a philosophical position previously trotted out by Stoics, Buddhists, and Montesquieu, though generally more subtly moderated, and in a more empathetic manner. Besides, I’d never liked the guy. So I walked over to offer my opinion: “Mind your own fucking business!” I don’t have the fine points of the ensuing argument down, but, essentially, he asserted he can not stand by when workers are being abused, a sentiment not totally on point since the barista in question is management, and to which my rebuttal – formulated while reminding myself that, if it came to a right cross, to elevate my rear heel – distilled to “Asshole!”

Since Elizabeth didn’t have her hearing aids in and missed most of the debate, I got to repeat my version to a circle of her friends and was rewarded with two fist-bumps and a Namaste bow. She went to the corner flower cart and brought back a white rose for Emilio, who hugged her. They both cried.
When I told Adele, she reminded me Leon had recently lost his partner. “He’s grieving.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t’ve called him an ‘asshole,’” I said. “But he’s not getting a hug.”

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