Publicity Stories #2 ~ The New York Times

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I’d had plenty of press as ‘Guru of Garbage’, but never experienced the ‘power of publicity’ until I was featured on the front page of the ‘City Section’ of the NY Times. The Village Voice article had produced a lot of inquiries, but a small amount of actual business. I realized that today’s news truly is tomorrow’s fish wrap unless you’re waving it in someone else’s face. The significance of the Voice was that other publications and journalists were fishing in my pond for thought-provoking content for their venues.

Manhattan User’s Guide’ interviewed me and created a flow of new clients and parties. Too bad I was selling my time for so much less then. ‘Where NY Magazine’ dubbed me “Weatherman of the psyche”. I liked ‘Whetherman’, but the editor didn’t. Some writers were looking for a free reading. Pitching the article was their excuse. I quickly learned to separate the wheat from the chaff and to avoid questionable press and advertising.

Having fresh publicity facilitated my speaking business. I spoke about the history of palmistry in New York City at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The National Design Museum asked me to create a workshop / lecture series on the symbolism of the sun to complement a major solar design exhibition (testimonial). I’d given previous talks at the museum about designing products with recycled materials.

I was a faculty member of the NYC chapter of NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research) for nearly 20 years. I spoke at astrological conferences about combining hands and horoscopes. I offered hand reading workshops at the New York Open Center, Learning Annex, Theosophical Society, and East West Books.

As the eighties came to a close, I was switching back and forth between environmental and metaphysical work. I’d designed and fabricated an ‘all natural’ architectural loft for an artist and award winning film editor in Tribeca. When I completed the project, she celebrated by transforming the space into a salon and inviting a unique collection of notable individuals. She was my Gertrude Stein. That’s where I met Robert Lipsyte.

Bob was a celebrated journalist and novelist. As a 25 year old sports writer for the NY Times, Bob wrote about a boxing match between little known Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, ‘The Champ’. Destiny united Ali with Bob and marked the beginning of two illustrious careers. Ali became king of the ring, while Bob became a famous sports journalist, Ali’s biographer, and friend. Bob met the Beatles on their first American tour with Ali. Bob also won prestigious literary awards for his YA novels and was the Emmy- winning host of the nightly public affairs show on WNET~ The Eleventh Hour.

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When Bob found out what I did (besides designing and building lofts), his curiosity was roused. A natural skeptic and cynic, he couldn’t wait to challenge my esoteric mind and ideas. Bob hungered for answers to unanswerable questions. My ambiguous responses made him even more inquisitive. He enrolled in my ‘Metaphysics 101’ class at the Cooper Union. That’s when he jokingly started calling me ‘his guru’.

I think Bob wanted to help me become the ‘champ’ of metaphysics. He asked if he could feature me in the weekend edition of the Times. He also asked me to be a guest on The Eleventh Hour. I said ‘yes’ to both. Unfortunately, the TV show was discontinued before my time. PBS gave his spot to Charlie Rose. I’ve lost touch with Bob, but know I can call on him anytime for any reason and he’ll be happy to hear from me.

Newspapers are good for short term publicity. My big surprise was receiving thousands of inquiries within a few weeks. Momentum from Bob’s article expanded my speaking and party businesses and generated even more free publicity.

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