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Straight from my mind to your screen—here’s a collection of my thoughts, from the heartfelt to the odd, and everything in between.



Only In New York. Story #132.
Park Avenue Parachute

It’s Friday, January 31, 1975. I’m a hot-shot young senior manager for the Blueblood Madison Avenue Agency, Young & Rubicam, and just back from a V.I.P. trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to visit the banana plantations of our newest client, Chiquita brand bananas. I’m having my first meeting with Eli M. Black, the ... Learn More

DATE: Feb.11.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

The Salad Oil King. Rip-off #38.
High School Dropout Brings American Express to its Knees.

Alfonso "Fonso" Gravenese's vegetable oil became a business darling on Wall Street. To add credibility, American Express Bank made numerous secured loans against the company's growing inventory. Unbeknownst to all but a few, Fonso AKA the Salad Oil King, the 128 tanks filled with inventory along the New Jersey Turnpike were 90 percent... Learn More

DATE: Feb.11.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

Only In New York. Story #69.
The Taxi Driver

I was on the way back from a business lunch at Sal Anthony’s Restaurant near Irving Place and 14th Street. As a grizzled New Yorker, I knew the fastest way back to my office at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations was to hail a cab and head northbound on First Avenue. At... Learn More

DATE: Jan.27.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

The Salad Oil King. Rip-off #32.
How to Cheat School Children out of a Free Lunch.

It was a simple, despicable, immoral elegant scheme. Alfonso Alfonso" Gravenese, AKA The Salad Oil King, paid off government officials to get awarded contracts to provide underprivileged kids with a balanced free lunch. Then to reimburse himself for the bribes and make a crapload of "bonus" profits, Fonso reduced his operating costs by... Learn More

DATE: Jan.27.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

Only In New York. Story #54.
Uncle Tip-Top and Tony Four

Who are Uncle Tip-Top and Tony Four? They were my enterprising uncles, long since passed. Uncle Tip-Top (real name Tom) was a fleet supervisor for Ward Baking, the company which manufactured a popular brand of highly-processed, empty-calorie white bread called Tip-Top. Its ironic slogan? “Tip-Top Bread Builds Bodies Eight Ways.” Tip-Top’s fleet of 200 ... Learn More

DATE: Jan.20.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

The Salad Oil King. Rip-off #31.
How to Control the Worldwide Price of Vegetable Oil

Alfonso "Fonso" Gravenese obsession with the accumulation of wealth knew few bounds. By the 1950's he had scammed more than half a billion dollars from government do-good programs. With that war chest, he would create the "Mona Lisa" of white-collar scams. Fonso traveled offering then developing third world countries like Egypt, Argentina,... Learn More

DATE: Jan.20.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

Only In New York. Story #54.
Wedding Night at the Plaza

Our wedding was a grand affair in Westchester County with over 200 family and friends. The best part? Our guests gave us over $4,000 in cash (a lot of money in 1964). It was off to the island of Jamaica for our honeymoon the next day. So, the 22-year old groom... Learn More

DATE: Jan.14.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

The Salad Oil King. Rip-off #13.
How to Always Win Yo-Yo Contests.

Alfonso "Fonso" Gravenese, AKA The Salad Oil King, loved to gamble….on sure things. Growing up, Yo-Yo contests were held daily in Little Italy. The entry fee was 5 cents per play. Fonso knew his opponents were bigger and older, but he had a streak of larceny in his ice water veins. Minutes... Learn More

DATE: Jan.14.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

Only In New York. Story #12.
Whitey, Billy, The Mick and Me

When I was in high school, I sold sell hotdogs and soda at the old Yankee Stadium, which, fortunately for me, was only about eight blocks from my school. It was great making some spending money and wandering around the hallowed halls of the Stadium. I especially looked forward to Saturday day games.... Learn More

DATE: Jan.06.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books

The Salad Oil King. Rip-off #24.
How to Create Obscene Profits in the Black Market.

During World War II every American contributed to the war effort by receiving and using ration stamps to ensure everyone shared the pain. But, there were those like Alfonso "Fonso" Gravenese and his Mafia cronies who made a handsome profit in the black marketing of goods and services through the use of... Learn More

DATE: Jan.06.2021 | CATEGORY: My Books