Get Poor Schemes


I drive a ten year old car. My clothes are frayed from too many cycles in the washing machine. Perhaps it is the similarity of my nose to a hawk’s beak that makes people think I am shrewd and business savvy. I can think of no other reason why I am a magnet for people who want to start a business and are looking for a partner.

For the past two years I was a high school swim coach. Last year I was paired with Vlad, a fiftysomething Russian immigrant as my assistant. He has forgotten more about swimming in the Soviet aquatic gulags then I have ever known. His English though, no so good. He wants to start a business where we teach kids to swim after school. It seems like a low risk/low reward enterprise so I agree. We get the permits and turn in our insurance forms to the Los Angeles Unified School District. A woman calls me on the telephone to tell me to rent the school’s pool will be $500 a day. She has the wrong price I am certain, but she is a lost cog in the bureaucratic machine and I am unsure how to grease her. I call Vlad to tell him this. His voice mail comes on, “Hello, this Vlad swim coach.”

I sit on my couch. My brother is watching television. My phone rings. It is Vlad Swim Coach. I answer the phone and try to explain the situation. My brother implores, “Stop yelling, I’m trying to watch Jared Leto’s new movie.”

I go into the kitchen and continue the conversation. Vlad tells me, “Price bullshit. No right price.” I agree and  tell him I’ll try to get hold of that lady’s superior.

We hang up. My other roommate asks, “Why were you just talking in a Russian accent?” My subconscious solution to communication problems is to yell and imitate the other person.

Then there is Byron. We went to college together and lost touch. Years later I was in New York and we bonded over a scheme called Pipeline to Hollywood. I will spare the details of our speculation, but the prospect of the fortune we would make warmed my blood in the snowy February night. We ironed out the details in an East Village coffee shop over vegan chocolate peanut butter cake. We got so far as to buy the domain name, begin a web site, buy a PO box in the Hollywood post office, and issued a press release, but then we kind of gave up.

But this failure did not dissuade Byron.  He called me yesterday as though I was his own personal Bernie Maddoff.”This blog thing you’re doing, that’s the next wave. All these conglomerates are giving up on television and movies and forget print. That’s completely dead. The next thing they’re buying are people’s sites.”

I helped him start his own site. He was keen on keeping the pipeline motif, so we branded it, Pipeline to Riches. I can not get the link to work, so you have to manually type in to help make someone’s dreams come true.


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