Sunday, December 8, 2013

From Terrorist to Beloved World Leader

When I visited South Africa in 1989, apartheid was still in effect and Nelson Mandela was still in prison. But signs of the coming changes were everywhere. Many of the seminars I led were attended by both white and black South Africans, something that would have been unheard of just a couple of years earlier.

I was most surprised at discovering how harsh the segregationist laws were. Having covered a great many stories about the civil rights movement in the U.S., I assumed the South African struggle was similar. But it was much more violent and dehumanizing. I was surprised when I found out that the black South Africans had been forced to move on very short notice when apartheid was first put into effect following World War II. They all lived in what were basically huge shanty towns twenty to thirty miles outside the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Blacks could not be in any of those cities after dark. I was told of several wealthy black South Africans who actually had luxurious homes in Johannesburg, but kept out of sight at night and had white friends or employees pretend to be the real owners of their homes.

Every public building, even supermarkets, had airport type security, including X-Ray conveyor belts for any packages being brought in. There were charts with photos of the kinds of bombs the African National Congress used in their war against apartheid. The man who brought me in was a minister as well as the owner of a motivational tape company. He was originally from Rhodesia, and his voice broke when he told me of his young assistant. She had died three years earlier when an ANC bomb went off in a drugstore she was shopping in.

The white government was just as violent, and I visited the township of Khayelitsha outside Cape Town. A woman friend who had emigrated to South Africa from California took me into the township, even though her Xhosa (the tribe best known for its "click" language) housekeeper warned us not to go. South African police had shot and killed a protestor there just two weeks earlier. But the residents came out in huge throngs to warmly greet us as we arrived. 

Overshadowing all of this was Nelson Mandela. Though still in prison, he was undisputedly the leader of the black population. Everyone knew he would be released soon, as he was a few months later in 1990. And though he surely deserved the title "terrorist" in his early days, most people, black and white, seemed willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of any future leadership role he might have. He more than proved that confidence was not misplaced.

It was election time in September, 1989, and the major excitement was focused on the Liberal Party, and their signs reading Vote Your Hopes Not Your Fears were to be found on every block. Though they won little power, it was considered a real breakthrough that they got some members elected to the South African parliament.

I was very impressed with the warmth with which I was greeted by white South Africans. Most of them seemed to really be working hard to convince Americans they were not the monsters being portrayed in the world media. In hospitality and friendliness they reminded me of the Pennsylvania Dutch people I had met over the years in my home state.

And the abundance present at the ubiquitous buffets all over was breathtaking, but that will have to wait for another post.

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Friday, November 22, 2013


As do most Americans who were alive then, I vividly remember the day JFK was assassinated. As a fledgling newsman and announcer at WTVR in Richmond, Virginia, it was rather a surreal experience. Virginia had voted for Nixon in 1960 over Kennedy, 53% to 47%.  The management of the station initially refused to suspend commercials, but gave in when the entire on air staff threatened to walk out if they didn't follow the lead of all other broadcasting outlets.

At the time, of course, no one realized that an era of innocence and optimism was suddenly ending. Our TV station was a CBS affiliate, so Walter Cronkite was creating a note of calm in chaos as he soothed the nation with his mellifluous tones, while a somewhat hyper Dan Rather reported from Dallas, thus becoming a national figure for the first time.

Like most TV stations then, we went off the air following the 11pm news and a video of the Star Spangled Banner. No nonstop cable news, so we had to wait until the next morning to pick up what was happening.

We all knew something momentous had happened, but had no idea what was coming next. Some feared the Russians would attack, especially when it came out that Lee Harvey Oswald had spent time in Russia. In Richmond, I heard more than one supposedly patriotic citizen voice satisfaction at the turn of events.

There was a lot of attention focused on Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and celebrating of the elevation of the first Southerner in a long time to the White House. This was, after all, a time when
it was still illegal for a white person to marry a black person in Virginia, and where the concept of "massive resistance" to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision continued after nine years. The antipathy to Kennedy expressed by many Virginians was due in no small measure to the fact that most black voters had favored him over Nixon in 1960.

Speaking by phone (rotary dial phones were all we had then, Bell Telephone, in fact, introduced the first push button phone just four days before the assassination.) to friends and family in Philadelphia, it did seem I was on an island of disconnect. They described how people were gathering in groups to mourn together and offer each other comfort. This was not happening in Virginia. My girlfriend and I comforted each other in isolation and silence once I got home.  We were only 106 miles South of Washington, but might have been in another country altogether.

A few years later, I was working at WRVA Radio, also in Richmond, and filling in for Lou Dean, the all-night talk show host. For two straight nights, my guest was Mark Lane, author of Rush to Judgment, the first book to despute the Warren Commission's findings about the assassination. My opinion then is pretty much unchanged now. I felt that if any conspiracy was involved, someone would have come forward to tell their story. Today, with so many more media outlets available, and so much money to be made for stories like this one, it is inconceivable to me that the truth wouldn't have already come out.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I suppose for many people, reaching a certain age, say 70, allows one to feel he or she has been a part of a large segment of history. This has to be much more so in our current world of rapid change, when I think we have gone through more social, technological, political and economic changes than in any other times.

On a number of occasions, my own life reminds me of two films describing this via characters who get to sample a huge swathe of important things and people around them. These are Woody Allen's 1963 mockumentary, Zelig, and Forrest Gump, with Tom Hanks playing the everyman who seems to be everywhere.

I was reminded of this when looking at the two political races the spotlight was most focused on in Tuesday's election. The gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia. These felt familiar to me, somewhat like local news. 

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, so New Jersey was my backyard, and all our family vacations were in Wildwood on the Southern Jersey shore. When I worked at KYW Newsradio, our Jersey bureau was the biggest radio news coverage for that state. As a state, New Jersey is somewhat unique in that it doesn't have any powerful TV stations of its own. It lies between the huge markets of Philadelphia and New York, which both make a fortune when political advertising dollars are spent in The Garden State.

I had a further connection in that, for about 8 months, I actually worked at WBUD Radio in Trenton, and learned how very small town New Jersey politics was. And how corrupt. I even became personal friends with the young mayor of Trenton, a very liberal hippy type who was trying to make big changes.

On to Virginia, where I was much more involved by virtue of several years as a top newsman at WRVA Radio, the top-rated station in the entire state at the time.  We were located right across from the famed Capitol Building designed by Thomas Jefferson, and had our own studio in its basement. I was in charge of recording and editing for distribution throughout the state, the governor's news conferences, and was often the reporter who closed the session with a "Thank You, Mr. Governor." 

I myself was approached on several occasions about running for political office, starting with something local in Richmond. I never was interested. For several months, filling in for an injured colleague at WRVA, I wrote speeches for U.S. Senator Harry Byrd Jr., and was very friendly with the up-and-coming political star, J. Sargeant Reynolds. Sarge was just starting out when I got to know him, eventually becoming Lt. Governor when I had already moved on to New York. He was often touted as the next JFK. He was part of the illustrious Reynolds family--his branch was the aluminum one, though he was also related to the tobacco family. Like the Kennedys, the Reynolds family had more than its share of tragedy, and Sarge died at 35 of an inoperable brain tumor. 

So it is no wonder that I feel somehow connected when I watch all the political reporting from Virginia and New Jersey. But the truth is, like the world itself, politics are vastly different today and a lot less personal than they were forty-some years ago, and not nearly as much fun. But I was there, so following it all  is something like comfort food to me.

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Friday, October 11, 2013


My closest friend, Rupa, just lost her closest companion, Eric. He had participated in many of our long distance visits via Skype and FaceTime, as reflected in this screen shot I took of one of our video calls, when Rupa was speaking from her Vermont garden with Eric roaming about.

It takes a pet lover, I believe, to truly empathise with the devastating loss such a passing can bring. It reminds us of our own similar losses. Because of their much shorter life spans, all those with cats and dogs will experience this loss, perhaps several times. 

Eric reminded me of my own black and white cat, Quincy, and how hard his death hit me when the vet called with the news. He had some kind of rare blood disease and was even given two separate transfusions from other cats in an effort to save him. I needed to be alone with my thoughts and memories, and I remember my girlfriend at the time was very upset that I didn't immediately turn to her for comfort. 

Something was true for me then that I've never admitted or talked about in the twenty-some years since I lost Quincy. This is simply the fact that his death affected me more deeply than that of my mother. I felt sort of guilty feeling this, but my mother had been mentally gone for several years when she died, so that I had already mourned her by the time her body followed. Quincy, on the other hand, was with me every day, a bundle of unconditional love, great fun, and the mystery that any cat brings into any human's life.

Cary Dennis, writing about the loss of a cat, said this in Salon:

It is awful but after its weight lifts there comes a new kind of life. The new kind of life that comes is perforated, aerated, wrung out and less rigid, more patient, more devout. Strangely so but true.

As was true for Eric, what sometimes makes the loss of a cat more difficult is that we have to make the final decision as to when to let it go, and direct the vet to take that final action. That the decision is always tempered with love and compassion, and to end or avoid extreme suffering, doesn't take away the pain of that responsibility. 

Though those who haven't been personally impacted by the loss of a wonderful furry companion cannot fully understand this, it is sometimes more difficult and a greater source of grief than even the loss of a human loved one. In the case of beloved cats, no matter how independent and sometimes ornery they can be, we have created much of their world for them and they have repaid us with unconditional love and the taste of adventure having a direct link with the jungle and our own primordial past provides.

More than most people in our lives, cats are endlessly interesting and entertaining, and so the gap they leave behind is often larger. I have lost four of the fantastic creatures--Quincy, Hobbes, Brandy and Lucifer. This means I can really "get" Rupa's loss, but also relive some of my own magical memories. And I am often reminded of what Morrie Schwartz was quoted as saying in Tuesdays With Morrie, as he himself was dying:

"we live on in the hearts of everyone we have touched and nurtured while we were on earth."

Monday, September 30, 2013


That's it, and many thinking people have stopped using it since I first railed against its use and the whole concept of retirement back in the 1970s. This was originally based on much research that showed retirement was deadlier than most diseases--that people who retired into a so-called life of leisure, often died within a few years, having lost their passion for life.

As a writer, I am lucky to have a profession that has a long history of non-retirees. 

When I meet someone new here in Panama, I am often asked if I retired here. A fair question as I have passed the stereotypical retirement age. But like most people in the creative arts, whether it be music, writing, theatre, painting, etc., the word "retire" is not in my lexicon. I am writing more and involved in more projects now than at any time in the past forty years. As a result of all this, my income is entering an impressive upward spiral, and projections are it will increase at least tenfold by the end of 2014.

However,  as a sort of objective bystander, I can say that retiring in Panama is a great and affordable adventure. I have a few retired friends who love the lifestyle, the bargain/booming economy, and the tropical climate. 

I do have to pay for my prescription drugs, though they are cheaper here--the same for doctor visits. No Medicare coverage or Affordable Care Act here (tho I can fly back to U.S. for any major medical needs under Medicare) and Sara Lee and Stouffer's prepared foods are much higher priced. But the average quality restaurant meal is well under $10, and produce and local meats are cheaper than fast food in the U.S.

Panama can be a great place to live, if you enjoy the things that are very reasonably priced here. But it is not as well-organized as the U.S., or as fast-paced. Anyone who moves or retires here without checking it out with a personal scouting expedition first is a fool.  I came for a visit last October for ten days, but was planning to move here in February. I knew, however, that I could easily pack up my two carry on bags and two checked bags and move somewhere else if I didn't like it. I wasn't relocating a family or a whole house full of possessions. And I wasn't planning to retire anytime ever. 

This is a great place to not retire to. Even though you can't get a job if you are not a resident or citizen. If you can earn a living through some creative activity you can market online or through agents outside of Panama--or simply if you are lucky enough to have passive income coming in that will let you live comfortably (about $2000 to $3000 per month will do nicely, tho it can be done for half that with a bit of belt tightening), life can be a relaxing tropical dream.

And the biggest selling point is not bargain prices, or a happy-go-lucky culture. The best thing going for you coming to a foreign land with a new langauge to learn is that much research has shown that your brain will stay more youthful and grow more creative when challenged by learning and speaking a new language and being forced to even modestly change your lifestyle in a new environment.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013


So now I have to deal with the fact that it's been almost a month since my last post on this blog. The reason for this is simple. For the past month, I have been sharply focused on launching the newly digitalized audio edition of the original 1987 Moneylove Tape album produced by and for Nightingale-Conant. 

This was the bestselling six cassette album that became a bestseller. Over it's more than twenty year distribution life, many people contacted me to let me know the profound impact it had on their prosperity.  So getting the rights back and turning it into mp3 audio files I could share online was a big deal.

Coinciding with this was the arrival in my life, through a couple of close friends, of some highly respected Internet marketing gurus. So I decided to see, once and for all, if I could get someone to take over the marketing of my Moneylove material, including the book, two cassette albums, and the more than forty monthly audios I have produced so far for The Moneylove Club. I am still working on that one, with about four major organizations in the mix.

A careful analysis by  myself and some others has indicated that there is no other prosperity teaching material coming even close to mine--and that much of what is out there is taken, often directly, from my original Moneylove book and the Nightingale-Conant album. So I have had a strong incentive to reach out and let people know that not only is the original audio program now available again, but that I have been producing cutting edge new material for my new audio series, as well as my blog at I also recently got back worldwide rights to the book.

I've been a bit in overwhelm, doing lots of Skype calls with collaborators, often overseas--as well as going over the first copy I have let other professionals produce for marketing my stuff--and then fulfilling audio orders when customers have reacted by quickly responding to the marketing emails. It's been a whirlwind, definitely more work than I wanted to take on, but exciting, fun, and extremely satisfying to know that today's marketplace still appreciates what I have to offer.

In addition to all this, I am formulating some prosperity coaching group video sessions, and considering approaches from several Moneylove fans who want to translate and take my work to Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. My plate is full for sure, but I imagine that not all of these projects will fully evolve, or I will just have to seriously consider hiring my first staff ever. And I really don't want to deal with that now, especially living in Panama.

And all that doesn't even take into account the fact that I spent at least three evenings a week in July and August rehearsing a play I appeared in, and then performing it for three nights in Panama--and am working on doing some stand-up comedy performances in the near future. This is one reason I tend to laugh when someone new I meet here asks if I am retired.

But all of that has meant I haven't had much time to focus on other activities, and therefore not much to write about on this, my non-prosperity blog. I would love your feedback as to whether you are enjoying this site, think I should keep it going, or couldn't care less.  If you would, let me know at my personal email address at:


Thursday, August 15, 2013


I haven't made a habit of sharing other blogs on this one, but I am compelled to do so today as I think this post, by one of my favorite blog writers, Seth Godin, is profound on a subject that concerns all of us avid book readers and authors.
The End of Books

After reading Seth's post, I started reflecting on the nostalgia that emerges when I think about books, realizing that these were my first true love as a young child. My mother taught me to read at the age of three, which led to my exasperating many early teachers. 

My two most exhilarating early experiences were going to Leary's Bookstore just off Market Street on 9th (riding the 11th Street trolley, which stopped on my corner), and walking to my closest public library, four blocks from my South Philly home on Broad Street. 

Leary's lasted 119 years from 1850 to 1969, and I was struck by a sentence in this article from Philadelphia's own Saturday Evening Post, "If you love books themselves, you may have chosen the wrong century to live in."  Leary's Book Store   

One amazing thing I remember vividly about Leary's was that it was wedged in between two sections of the giant Gimbel Brother's Department Store. The story was that the owners of Leary's refused to sell and Gimbel's had to build around it. I remember buying used hardcover copies of the Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, and Oz books for 35 cents each. Every trip to Leary's was a joy that makes me a bit sad for today's generation missing out on that kind of adventure.

At the library, a milestone for me was reaching the age of twelve, for that meant I could have an adult library card and take out twelve books at a time. I carried a large shopping bag to accomplish this and walked on air the four blocks back home in anticipation of spreading the books out on the living room carpet and deciding which one to begin reading first. That milestone was more important by far to me than hitting sixteen and getting my driver's license. 

Books were not only my first true love, but are the main reason I am so grateful that I was born in the last century instead of this one. This despite the fact that I do love my Kindle and all the access the Internet provides to new reading formats like blogs.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013


I recently posted a comment on Facebook and this new term just popped out, as often happens. What I said was:
I do seem to have run into a bad batch of contacts recently who don't follow my minimum standard of saying what they're going to do and then doing it. These disappointing folks are in the U.S. and Panama and a few other countries. But as I reflect on the meaning of it all, I have come to the realization that this is good news as it leaves me open to new people and new adventures. If all those rotten apples did follow through with their promises, I would hardly have room to breath--so it's really a form of natural selection. In my case, survival of the funnest. Oops, another new term--this may require a blog post.

As often happens when I think I have invented a new word or phrase, Google humbled me fast. Survival of the Funnest is the name of a video game, and grammarians have been arguing for some time about whether "funnest" is a real word. Actually, I am told on good authority that it is the regular superlative of the adjective form of "fun."
It was notably used when Steve Jobs employed it to describe the iPod upon its introduction to the world.

I do note, getting back to my original point, that friends who are in my life for the long haul seem to be the people I've had the most fun with. I don't know if anyone else has made or researched the connection between dependability and fun-ability. But I have observed that people who seem to have difficulty delivering on their promises, difficulty doing what they say they are going to do, are the more serious types. These are often Type A workaholics who fill their lives with so much activity, they can hardly keep up with their own intentions or promises.

I just learned a new word, which describes a fairly recently diagnosed mental disorder (we do seem to have more of those today than at any time in human history)--Cherophobia. It means the fear of happiness and fun. Perhaps it's a stretch, but I wonder if those people who can't follow through on what they say they will do are afraid that doing so will bring them too much happiness. 

And back to "survival of the funnest," I remember that when I was researching and writing my book, Psychological Immortality, many of the people who went far beyond normal lifespan expectations were those who had a lot of fun in their lives, in both their personal and business lives.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013


As this photo taken a hours ago from the street in front of my apartment shows, I live very close to The Veneto Hotel and Casino, which is now gaining worldwide attention because of its indirect connection to a top celebrity.
Here's one story from the NY Post

I posted this reaction yesterday on the Panama Forum Yahoo Group:
Obviously the reporters writing all the stories about the Veneto now that it famously is featured in reports about its co-owner being the husband whose wife Simon Cowell got pregnant, haven't been to the hotel or Panama itself. A colorful tourist attraction in its own right, the parade of prostitutes at the casino bar, and interspersed throughout the slot machines on any given night, is a huge draw for the hotel. A large majority of its guests are American men who come specifically because of the Columbian hookers (hardly any other nationalities       are represented). 

No one knows how many men have the Veneto as their main Rest and Recreation destination, but it is a significant and highly profitable number--both for the hotel and the "working girls." And sex is not the only commodity readily available--many men, visitors and expats and locals, enjoy just chatting with the women, who are friendly, never obnoxiously hustling, and often movie star gorgeous. The Veneto is the premiere destination in the world for men who want to fulfill their Sofia Vergara fantasies.
Despite all the references to the many breast and butt enhanced hookers hanging out at The Veneto in newspapers around the world, I couldn't find any photos of the subjects. Perhaps this is because, like most casinos in the world, The Veneto frowns on picture-taking on the premises. However, not being known for obeying rules, I managed a couple of candid shots on the casino floor.
 I must confess here that I thoroughly enjoy the nightly Parade of Professionals at The Veneto. I haven't personally partaken of the goods for sale, but friends have. 

These men tell me that their experiences are always relaxed and respectful, and they get the feeling that the Colombianas really like pleasing them, in all sorts of ways. Perhaps we should assume that all Colombian girls are raised to be superb actresses, little mini-Sofia Vergaras, with warmth and a great sense of humor. But back in California, a young Colombian friend of mine told me that she and all girls in Colombia are trained from an early age to serve men--that this is the way to true happiness. 

We could get into a long discussion about whether this is sexist and just plain wrong, but we have to first deal with the reality that adult Colombian women are not going to change this deeply imbedded cultural attitude. My own observations have informed me that these "working girls," (and it also seems to be true for many Colombianas with normal jobs, termed "civilians" by the hookers)  look and sound and seem happier than a lot of women I know in the U.S. who are independent and consider that every relationship has to be an equal partnership. 

I'm not recommending this outlook and approach to any woman anywhere. My own preference is to be with a strong-willed woman who is completely in charge of her own life and is not here to take care of me. This way of life, however, doesn't always lead to happiness. In fact, I have personally found that the happiest connections I have with a woman come about when I am committed to, and willing to, give her everything she wants. 

It certainly is not just about sex, though one very successful frequent visitor from the U.S., a charmingly pleasant man who has three ex-wives, recently told me he frequents the women at the Veneto for the simple and stress-free reason that, "They always say 'Yes!'" 

As a seminar leader and self-help author, I can't help thinking that these "working girls," which is their favorite way to describe themselves, have a lot to teach us. Maybe a seminar and/or a book with a title something like, The Wisdom of Panama's Hookers. They have a lot of information not available to most men and women living in more sophisticated societies. But this will take a great deal more Spanish proficiency on my part to discover. What a nice incentive to begin to hablo espanol.  

Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy the scenery at The Veneto. My title for this post comes from the fact that I see it as a collection of beautiful and colorful flowers. And like any great botanical garden, you don't have to pluck a flower and take it home to enjoy the experience.      Jerry

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Friday, July 26, 2013


So thanks to lots of detailed advice from friends, friends of friends, expat forums such as the Yahoo group, Americans in Panama, and the Facebook group, Tropical Cowboys and Cowgirls, I just did the mandatory exiting of Panama within 180 days to renew my visa.

I was warned that things can change quickly, and this proved to be so, though it all worked out well since I didn't stress out but just went along with the program, including lying to a Panamanian customs officer so I'd be allowed to reenter Panama.

The first change was at the Gran Terminal, the national bus terminal, located adjacent to Allbrook Mall, the largest in Central America. It's got a great food court, glitzy shops and puts most U.S. bus terminals to shame--even the Banos (bathrooms) are clean, though they do charge a quarter to enter.  

My new friend Sonny Davis, told me the easiest way he discovered to do the crossing was to take a Frontera overnight express bus, which he told me leaves at 10:30pm and arrives at 5am. 

The one catch is that you have to buy the ticket the day of your departure, so I spent 7 hours grazing the several food courts at Allbrook, people-watching (made more pleasant as about 8 beauty queens walked by at various times with sashes representing South Africa and other nations. They walked so fast, and had several people each with them, that I didn't get a good look at the sashes, but did get a very enjoyable good look at the girls themselves...they could have been anywhere from 17 to 21.

I was told when I got my ticket at 4pm that the express Frontera bus left at 11:15 and I should be there by 10:30. I thought of seeing one or two movies, but found out the only English language films at the Allbrook cinemas are not shown before 10pm, not even English subtitles before then.

Luckily, I got to the bus waiting room a bit before ten, as they suddenly switched busses and put us on a Tica bus, more modern and usually more expensive. If anyone showed up after 11, they were out of luck. Luckily the bus had a functioning bathroom as it did not make the stop in Santiago scheduled by Frontera. 

We arrived at the border at about 6:20, perfect as the Panama customs windows don't open until 7am. I was told by everyone that I would have to fill out customs claims forms leaving and coming back into Panama, but that is no longer so, at least not today. But a new twist was that you had to go into a room and put your luggage (or backpack in my case) on a table to be searched before you could check out. The Costa Rican customs windows did require the claims paperwork but no search.

The only other potential hitch in a very smooth double crossing was on leaving Panama. The customs officer said that in order to go back into Panama, I needed a ticket showing I would be going back to the U.S. in the next 180 days. I did have a Tica ticket for January from Panama City to San Jose, Costa Rica, which everyone said would do the job. 

This particular customs agent said that had changed. Here's where the lie came in, as I told him I had checked with Immigration in Panama City and they told me the bus ticket would all that was required. He bought it, though he also gave my new friend, Tony from Mexico, the same hard time, but relented when Tony told him that no one had told him that new rule before he arrived at the border.  This almost immediate backtracking leads me to believe the custom agent may have been making it up as he went along.

I don't know if it was this one customs agent, or it was a one day rule, or an actual change in policy, but I definitely breathed a sigh of relief at not being stuck in Costa Rica.  As it was, Tony and his lovely wife and I were finished with everything at about 8:15am. Sonny Davis had said I should then walk down to the bus stop and buy a ticket back to Panama for the 10:30am bus. 

As we walked by an empty Frontera bus, however, the driver said he was leaving for Allbrook Mall at 8:30. Tony said we should go for it, though when we were the only three passengers as the bus pulled out, I did wonder if this was a ploy by a gang of bus bandits to kidnap expats and take them into the nearby mountains. More sighs of relief as several stops allowed more passengers to climb aboard.  Back at Allbrook at 4:40, exactly 8 hours after the bus left the border, and I was home a half hour later. Going, the fare was $14.40 for the overnighter, coming back, $16.90 (though the ticket I bought for January was $41. one way on the more expensive Tica line). 

I'll share this with my expat friends as it includes this new information which may or may not be true if they do the same round trip visa run.
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Sunday, July 21, 2013


I was reflecting and pondering various things earlier today and I suddenly pictured myself being interviewed and someone asking me if I thought I was very smart, fairly smart, or not so smart at all. I realized that I really couldn't give an authentic answer to that question.

I think I am exceptionally brilliant in certain specific areas, and pretty dumb in others--and somewhere in-between in still other aspects of life. Three ways in which I think I am very smart:

1. I can write about almost anything at almost any time without ever having writer's block.

2. I can get up and speak to a large audience with no fear and go on spontaneously for hours at a time.

3. I can see the humor in almost anything, and can come up with a gag or quip or witticism on a moment's notice.

And here's where I am most brilliant:  I have chosen to focus most of my life's activities on professions and careers that those attributes are best suited for. As a broadcast journalist, speaker, and author and comedy gagwriter and stand-up comedian, I have been able to tap into the things I am smartest at.

On the other hand.

1. I am a technological idiot. Really. The only thing that allows me to stumble forward in my computer and Internet activities is that I spent at least an hour a week for three years at The Apple Store in San Francisco, using the fantastic One-to-One $99 a  year service, and sometimes asking the same dumb questions two or three times before I sort of figured it out.

2. I am really not good at business and marketing, and am always looking for other people with those talents so I can focus on my own talents at creating content.

3. I am still often clueless about women, who continuously mystify me. Remnants of my very shy teenage self remain. Despite this, I have been blessed to have had great friendships and relationships with amazing women who are beautiful inside and out--and even that sometimes mystifies me. 

I think most of us are smarter and dumber than average in certain things, and the trick is to know which is which.

Despite not being a "business person," I am often cited as one of the best prosperity teachers, mainly because I have studied the emotional arsenal needed to be successful and am able to teach a lot of this to others. You can check this out on my prosperity blog at:

Sunday, July 7, 2013


For me, I think the worst thing another person can say or even think about me is that I am boring. I, of course, believe I am endlessly fascinating--at least to me. I am certain, like most of us, that there are times I go on and on about something the person I am conversing with has no interest in whatsoever.

My dear late friend, Susannah Lippman, and I had a unique agreement. We gave each other permission to admit when the other was boring us. As a person not very interested in food, she sometimes even limited my expounding on my foodie experiences in various restaurants. "I am only going to listen to you talk about food for ten minutes, Jerry," she would say, shutting me off just as I was getting to the really delicious part. And I would do the same when she was spouting off about one of her enthusiasms that aroused less than passionate interest in me. "I love you dearly, Susannah, but if I hear one more word about UFOs or alien life forms among us, I will burst."  As a result of this pact, we hardly ever found each other boring in forty years of friendship.

Perhaps the hardest thing in the world to tell another person is that they are boring you right now. I have told people they are stupid, annoying, deeply mired in poverty consciousness, politically misguided, and that I had no desire to date them--but I cannot recollect a time when I said to someone, "I have to go, you are boring me to death." Or, "Do you know you are boring as hell?"
Of course, this last doesn't really make any sense. I've always imagined that if there is such a place, heaven would be much more boring. All that harp music for a start.  And, to be honest, most of the people I find most interesting, probably are hellhound.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


In working with some coaching clients, I noticed that almost everyone has something they are holding onto in their consciousness that is holding them back from their own momentum and creative surge. In one case, it was the old family home that didn’t seem to be selling easily, in another it was a bitter and vengeful ex-wive, but the divorce had been twenty years earlier. In still another, it was $20,000 a friend owed my client and seemed unlikely to ever be able to pay back.
And, though it surprises me this realization came upon me so recently, I could not think of a single thing that ever prevented me from going on to my next stage in life. Or at least nothing that leaps out at me at the moment. So, I can assume that I am either pretty free of these encumbrances, or that mine are so deeply hidden that I haven’t been aware of them at a conscious level.

Here’s the thing. None of these events or assets or liabilities are worth losing sleep over, and they are certainly not worth allowing them to get in the way of our dreams and aspirations. Every moment spent remembering, worrying, stressing over something that has hold of us emotionally and won’t let go, is a moment not devoted to becoming who we are meant to be. After all, who’s in charge here?  

It isn’t about these issues and objects not letting go, it’s about our having some inner compulsion to keep them around. Once we realize the damage they are doing to our path forward, like big tree stumps in the road of love and life, we will gather together whatever resources it takes to remove them, like dynamite (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Get rid ofthe old wife!  Forgive the debt!  Get on with your life!

Wait a minute, I do remember an infatuation that had me tied up in confusion and indecision for about 18 months. Jessica went back to her old boyfriend, and I had been certain she was the ideal woman for me. I got really sappy about it, listening to every song I could find about misguided and unrequited love. My favorite was Michael Feinstein singing Irving Berlin’s Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket, which had certainly described what I had done with my emotions concerning Jessica. 

I don’t even remember how I let go of her, but most likely someone else showed up and I was awake enough to see a real live woman had advantages over a fantasy memory.
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Monday, May 27, 2013


There is something many people do that loses them business and friends and even relationship partners. It becomes a bad habit, and the odd thing about it is that it is usually done with the best of intentions.

I'm referring to the fact that many people over-promise and under-deliver. This one single facet of doing business or relationships destroys people's reputations and credibility very quickly.  It should be the other way around, which is why I suggest to anyone doing business of any kind that they give their customers and clients more than their money's worth.

It's understandable the when someone is insecure or desperate for business or wanting to be liked, he or she will over-promise. There is a strong desire in most of us to be liked or loved by others, and one way not to do it is to promise someone the moon and deliver a tiny meteorite instead. I notice that this is a big problem in Panama, where the locals always agree with whatever you are asking for, even if they know there is no way they can deliver it the way you want it, or when they promise to have it ready. But it's certainly true all over the world, and the U.S. is a place where you find it strongly evident in two industries, printing and contracting.

Very rarely is a contracting job finished when the contractor said it would be, and very rarely is a printing job delivered on time. I remember a printer in New Jersey who did a booming business because he had come up with a solution to this problem. If he knew with some certainty that your job would be ready on Tuesday, he'd promise it for Thursday. Everyone else in the printing business in those days did the opposite, promised it for Tuesday when they knew it was unlikely it would be ready before Thursday.  

Of course, that printer was ahead of his time. Now many businesses have gotten in the cheap habit of promising something at the lowest common denominator of performance, so that they always exceed the promise.The New Jersey printer didn't just make a promise he knew he could keep, but he put just as much effort in doing the jobs in less time than other printers. His intention was to set a reasonable time for delivery, and then work hard to beat it. What you see a lot of today is businesses just lying so as to look good. So they eliminate one practice that hurt credibility and just substitute another. 

Looking over your own life, would you say you usually are in the under-promise and over-deliver category, or the other way around?
If the latter, you might explore being honest and just saying you have no idea when it will be ready, but you will do your best to make it happen as soon as possible.

We all love getting more than we asked for, or getting it sooner than expected. Now living in a country definitely not known for high standards of customer service, particularly in restaurants, I sometimes yearn for a place where someone over-promises and under-delivers as opposed to one where people often don't promise at all, just nod and smile a lot, and hardly ever deliver what was requested by the time it was asked for.

In Panama, it does help to have the patience of a Zen monk, and that's just the way it is, by golly.

To see an example of over-delivering, check out my free prosperity blog, with information many consider more valuable than the expensive prosperity programs offered all over the Internet.  Not to mention the 39 page free Moneylove Manifesto you can download there.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


So the IRS is under fire for delaying action for tax exempt status requests from conservative groups, with Speaker of the House John Boehner claiming he doesn't just want resignations but wants to know "Who is going to jail?" 

Now it does seem certain IRS employees did focus unfairly on right wing groups asking for tax exempt status, a list that grew exponentially after the Citizens United 2010 Supreme Court decision. But the whole issue is as phony as the Soviet military capacity was during the height of the cold war.  Because the IRS shouldn't even be considering tax exempt status for any of these political organizations, liberal or conservative, under the original 501 (c) 4 law as written by Congress. That law states emphatically
that such tax exempt status be limited to:
 “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell has been discussing the real scandal all week, and hardly anyone else seems to have noticed it, including Nancy Pelosi who today called for a new law to limit tax exempt status to non-political social welfare organizations. That law is already in place, it is the original wording of that section of the Tax Code.

Proving that the IRS has been guilty of doing stupid things for many years, back in 1959 some idiot there changed the wording to read "primarily" instead of "exclusively" for social welfare groups. This opened up the law to its fuzzy current status, where many IRS bureaucrats don't really know how to evaluate these tax exempt requests. No new law is needed, it only requires that the law as originally enacted be enforced. This would eliminate from tax exempt status any and all groups engaged in political activity at any and all times.

The lack of knowledge about this egregious change of wording by the IRS proves two big things. First, that a single word can mean a world of difference. Second, how really stupid most politicians are and how ill-informed, as we hear all the rants about how the IRS delayed consideration of tax exempt status for groups that never should have been considered for such status at all. And every such group, liberal or conservative, which now has this tax exempt status should have it revoked. It's the law and the U.S. is supposed to be a country of laws.

'Nuff said.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


So what are these awards--the JOOP AWARDS?  They are awarded to the five people in the media who I believe we should most treasure for their unique voice, honest take on events, reasoned perspective on major issues, and articulate, unpretentious communication skills. JOOP stands for Jerry's Opinion Only, People, and if I were stranded on a dessert island, these are the five I would want to still have access to so I could keep in touch with world events.  And then there are the UNJOOP AWARDS, the five media personalities I believe we could most do without, and would all be better off if they were removed to a dessert island and no longer available to the rest of us.

These are not in any  particular order of importance or preference.


1. David Brooks--perhaps the most rational Republican commentator out there. His NY Times columns are some of the few available that maintain the spirit of the old-fashioned newspaper columnist. And one of the only must-see TV events in the field of political discourse is his weekly debate with Mark Shields at the end of the Friday edition of PBS Newshour.

2. Andrea Mitchell--NBCs Chief Foreign Correspondent, is one of the hardest working reporters in network news. And she always checks her facts, a quality dramatically lacking in many of her colleagues. I've seen her work ethic firsthand when we were both at KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia (we even dated a few times), and she almost singlehandedly changed the presence of women in media from ditzy weather girls to respected journalists.

3. Andy Borowitz, our best political humorist, period. His columns for are in the tradition of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Mort Sahl.

4. Peggy Noonan, another Republican voice of sense and sensibility. She's come a long, long way since being Ronald Reagan's primary speech writer. I don't always agree with her, but she always tells the truth, gets her facts straight, and leavens her commentary with humor and humanity. She also wrote one of the speeches considered among the ten best of the 20th Century, President Reagan's address to the nation after the Challenger shuttle explosion.

5. Andrew Sullivan, founder of the Daily Dish blog, and frequent guest on TV political talk shows. That rarity of rarities, a conservative gay Republican, he is always provocative, often at odds with his party, and just a refreshing presence on the media scene.

Wow, how about that for diversity? Three Republicans, two women, one gay man. Together, while on that dessert island, I think I would get a truly fair and balanced view of what was going on.


These are the media stars I could most do without, who get their facts most wrong, and who never would have met the standards I had to live by when I was a broadcast journalist.

1. Ann Coulter, who is more of a media clown than a serious commentator, probably has done more damage than most of them, since in order to bring attention to herself, she makes the most outlandish provably wrong political statements. Some people must take her seriously, so that she has become a bestselling author instead of being laughed off the stage or publicly shunned. Her transgressions are too numerous to catalog here, but whenever she appears, you can be certain of one thing, at least one major lie will be told and retold.

2. Rush Limbaugh, America's right wing Windbag-and-OxyContin-Addict-In-Chief. The most notable thing about him is that you can listen to his show today and not be able to distinguish it from any show he did twenty-five years ago. The same prejudices against Democrats and women and minorities, the same lame jokes. If we ever think we have made intellectual progress as a nation, that view is quickly dispelled when we realize this guy has the number one radio talk show in the U.S.

3. Glenn Beck, the ultimate conspiracy theorist and Joseph Goebbels mini-me, his views are so outrageous that he has largely lost his influence. If political commentators were forced to undergo psychological evaluations, this man would be institutionalized rather than talking to anyone.

4. Laura Ingraham, another conservative blonde bimbo, though she seems more articulate and intelligent than Coulter. 

5. John McLaughlin, host of The McLaughlin Group, which used to be on my must-see list, and was a favorite political talk show for over twenty years. But, sad to say, John is losing coherence week by week, and I wouldn't be surprised to see any announcement that he is suffering from Alzheimer's. His panel members try to ignore his many gaffes and prop him up, but he embarrasses them and himself by refusing to pack it in. The former Jesuit priest and Nixon speech writer could have left a couple of years ago at the top of his game.

There you go, and once again, remember these are Jerry's Opinion Only, People.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I remember vividly and fondly that my maternal grandfather and I argued regularly and fervently. Quite often it was about politics, and this was when I was 10, 11, 12. I remember me shouting out several times, "If you think it's so bad here, why don't you go back to Russia!" And we loved it and each other. 

It was a more innocent time, and a less politically correct time, when people engaged in heated debates without fear that it would offend or lead to violence. This was part of the fun of watching the Siskel/Ebert movie reviews, and on a much milder scale, it is why I am such a faithful fan of the Friday night debates between Mark Shields and David Brooks on the PBS Newshour, or some of the back and forth on Morning Joe. But this is wuss-like stuff compared to the good old days of Argumentative America. I know there is no such word, but it's as if we have been timidified, pounded into submission, so that in places like Fox News and MSNBC, it is more likely to find all the arguing one-sided. 

I also have fond memories of some of the fake celebrity feuds that sometimes went on for years. Jack Benny and Fred Allen, Milton Berle and Henny Youngman,  Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. All of these heated rivalries were played for laughs, and the more insulting they were, the more fans loved it. Now, we tiptoe around invective unless the anger is real.

I think we've lost something in this homogenizing process. Watch some of the heated debates in the British House of Commons. The rival politicians are known to often get together for a warm beer at the pub afterwards. Our rival politicians are not nearly as free or colorful in their interactions, and hardly talk to each other outside the floors of the House and Senate. 

Maybe what I'm really complaining about is that it is getting harder and harder to be a grumpy old man. But I'm going to work on it, so watch out!


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Friday, April 12, 2013


I only had a passing acquaintanceship with this American comic genius who died today at the age of 87, but he was the kind of person who left an indelible mark on anyone who ever met him.

It was in the early 1980s when I was on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference. One of the students, an aspiring mystery writer who happened to be a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Smith Deal, was a good friend of Jonathan's, and a neighbor of his in the upscale Montecito suburb of Santa Barbara. I was running the all-night "pirate sessions" at the conference, where aspiring and published writers would come and read their work and have those other writers sitting on the carpeted floor in the large room offer their comments and critiques. Charles said Jonathan was working on his first book, and would be willing to come and talk at one of the sessions. He showed up on the dot at midnight and basically gave a hilarious one man show for the next several hours, going in an out of character more rapidly than anyone I'd ever seen before or since. 

At an outdoor cocktail party at the conference at the historic Miramar Hotel, I was standing nearby when Jonathan walked up to a distinguished African-American gentleman who identified himself as a college professor. Jonathan went into full improv mode and pretended to be a Southern congressman who was still championing segregation. The professor seemed stunned, having no idea that it was a put-on, which Jonathan continued for twenty minutes before turning and just walking away. I don't know if the professor ever found out whom he'd been talking to, but I got a lot of laughs telling the story for several years afterwards.

Another time, at Charles' home in Montecito, we were waiting for Jonathan to show up at lunch. His wife of many years, the very quiet, white-haired Eileen, who died in 2009, was there. She was the sturdy dock to his meandering ship, and began to worry when he was 45 minutes late, considering they only lived around the corner. Charles went out looking for him, and found him doing a routine for two telephone workers on a telephone pole. Jonathan said it was one of the best audiences he'd ever had.

Many a top comedian has said this in the past, and it is certainly true for me as a fledgling stand-up comic. Jonathan Winters' talent was so multifaceted and spontaneous that if I felt I had to reach his level of performance, I might just give up. Check out his videos on YouTube and you'll see what I mean. It was a rare privilege to know him even briefly.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Lots of folks ask me what it really is like to pack up everything and move to a new country and start learning a new language. In some ways, like describing a spiritual journey, it's almost impossible to convey the reality of it--the joy, the strangeness, the adventure, and the challenges. 

Thanks to my good friend, Tony Busse, who's been here six years, I had a lot of information when I decided this would be my destination, Panama City, Panama. But when I arrived on a sort of scouting expedition (even though I had already committed to moving here on February 1st) last October for ten days, that data was exponentially and dramatically expanded. Living here for just over ten weeks now, I have even more knowledge and awareness about this new identity as An American In Panama. 

So here are some of the things I've discovered and learned:

A knowledge of Spanish is only essential if you want to have the full experience of being here. Many expats don't bother with more than a few phrases, "Hello." "How much?" "Yes." "No" "Goodbye." They think they are having a full expat life, but I don't agree, which is why I am focusing a lot of time and effort on learning the language. After extensive reading of studies that show learning and speaking a new language is a way to enhance memory and brain health, I have even more of an incentive to do so.  But it's a real challenge, having been monolingual all my life.

Latina women are friendlier than most women in the U.S., and beautiful younger women seem to genuinely like relating to and flirting with older American men. They really don't all look like Sofia Vergara, but enough of them are in her class of beauty to make for a very pleasing esthetic. And if you're a man who likes pretty women in summer dresses, this is the year-round situation here.  
When I read that the average year-round temperature here was 82 degrees, I did not realize that this meant that at least a couple of months would be in the 90s. That's hot, but having lived in Miami for ten years, I am quickly adapting. 

A major advantage is the easy availability of cabs you can hail on almost any street, and the $2. fare with no tip that will get you anywhere in the city. But traffic is terrible, worse than Boston and the Interstate 405 in LA, and there is no rush hour--it is all rush hour except on Sundays and holidays. Much of this is due to massive construction projects throughout the city, mostly the state-of-the-art new Metro subway system, that is supposed to be finished next year. This is why I am so lucky to have found a place to live in the El Cangrejo neighborhood, where just about everything, including great restaurants and several casinos, is within walking distance.

Though my street is in pretty good shape, many of the sidewalks have chunks of cement missing, or sudden curbs that appear to take you up or down the hilly city. If you don't watch the ground,  you could break your neck. Sometimes the smells are not too pleasant, though the air is generally cleaner than most U.S. cities.

The prices can be 40% to 50% less than the U.S.  Restaurants are particularly inexpensive, and a nice meal for under $10 is the norm, plus retirees get an additional 25% discount at many places, even if they are not locals. The meat is not tainted by hormones and chemicals, and most of the fruits and vegetables are organic. The tap water is also very drinkable. 

Some of these things I've mentioned before in blogs and on Facebook, but they are worth repeating as I find myself appreciating them more each day of my new life here. Other than a great trip last week to Lake Gatun, I have not explored much of the vast outdoor experiences of Panama. I haven't even yet visited the highly regarded botanical garden and rainforest within city limits. Or more than one of the many beaches on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides. Or visited the Embera Indian villages.

The wonders I have yet to see and experience far outnumber the ones I have already explored. That is perhaps the greatest attraction of this small Central American nation. There is always more to see and do, and you learn to take your time down here. After all, Siempre hay maƱana.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013


To my way of thinking, as I juggle all sorts of aspirations and possibilities, life isn't about having it all, but rather about making room for it all.

Two major go-getters in my life right now are urging me to take some big steps in expanding and enhancing my prosperity consciousness ideas as originally contained in my bestselling book, Moneylove. This has already led to a Spanish edition of the book, which will be ready in an online ebook version within the month. Plans are also underway for a new sequel, plus many new audio products on the same subject. Then there's my new enthusiasm for a book on time and how we perceive and use it. And plans for some big seminar events with a couple of partners throughout Latin America. 

While all of this is going on, I am taking my first Spanish lessons, looking at the best place to take salsa lessons, getting acclimated to a new country, culture, and language, and sampling some new food item almost every day. 

My plan was to have a leisurely time preparing my material to be the very first English-language stand-up comedian in Panama. I already have the offer to perform at a brand new 300-seat-theatre at the elegant new Royal Sonesta Hotel and Casino, whenever I want. It will open in May, or maybe June or July, this, after all, being Panama. Now that effort is being slowly pushed to a back burner, though still very much alive and well. 

My point is that I feel very good about myself and my life right now, and part of this is that I have left room for both to grow in any direction that feels right. More than any specific goals or plans, when I made the move to become an expat, I intended to go with the flow, to follow my heart and to move in any direction where it seemed there was excitement, fun, and positive energy. 

The existential question here is, "How much room have I left in my life to take advantage of opportunities and fun offers that are bound to come up?" Ask yourself, if you have the time and room.

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