the schmooze

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The Yiddish word meaning “to review” is “iberkukn.”

A “nastygram” is a written communication containing unpleasant material, especially one that criticizes, insults,
or intimidates the recipient.

If you haven’t seen the movie, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” here’s a little background.  Jenkins, a New York socialite, loved to sing (“zingen”).  However, she seldom (“zeltn”) hit any notes on a music (“muzik”) scale.  Donald Collup, who wrote and produced the 2008 documentary “Florence Foster Jenkins:  A World of Her Own,” said, Jenkins’s performance is  akin to “the first round of Americal Idol, where performers who have no business singing get up and think they’re great and make fools of themselves.  The general public always watches those rounds—because they’re funny.” 

 Jenkins was rich (“raykh”), and on Oct. 25, 1944, she  rented Carnegie Hall for a recital.  Three thousand people, including 1,000 veterans she’d given tickets to, showed up.  One of them was the famous Early Wilson.  He wrote the “It Happened Last Night” column in The Post.

His review:  “Mrs. Florence Foster Jenkins…has a great voice.  In fact, she can sing anything but notes.  ‘Lady Florence,’ or ‘Madame Jenkins,’ as she likes to be called, if you are thinking of her as an artiste, indulged last night in one of the weirdest mass jokes New York has ever seen.  She gave a quavery recital at Carnegie Hall, on a stage filled with flowers till it resembled an expensive mortuary.”

Wilson added:  “I’m in favor of this fine lady going on with her career because according to stories I picked up last night, her late husband and her late parents discouraged her from singing.  Now she’s having her fling, or should we say sing?  Let’s say fling.”

One wonders if the terrible review killed Jenkins; she had a heart attack two days after the concert, and died a month later.

To another—more recent—story:  CBS’ mysterious cancellation of “Mike and Molly.”  Melissa McCarthy, who’s shot to superstardom since the show’s 2010 debut, took to twitter with an emotional message (“yedie”) regarding the cancellation.  She tweeted:  “I was shocked and heartbroken (“harts tsubrokhen”) when CBS canceled #MikeAndMolly.  I would have shot this show for 50 more years.  I’ll miss my 2nd family.”

Jonathan Farrington, business couch/author/consultant, says, “Do remember that a customer’s loyalty is only as strong as the success of their last contact with you.”

The now-defunct Trump Institute (formerly, Trump Univ.) has been making the news.  Students who enrolled thought they would have access to Trump’s wealth of knowledge.  The teachers were supposed to be hand- picked.

What did they get?  A copyrighted Trump Institute book named “Billionaire’s Roadmap to Success.”  The New York Times reported that 20 pages were copied in part or in its entirety from a 1995 real estate (“grunteygns”) guide.

Reports about people being scammed by Trump Univ. are rampant all over the internet.  Viewers to Ripoffreport,com (Don’t let them get away with it; Let the Truth be known) are told to “create a detailed letter explaining from beginning to end why you are dissatisfied, what was promised versus provided, and details/dates of each contact you’ve had with Trump U and their response as well as your attempts to resolve these disputes…They suggest that dissatisfied customers create a convincing package as though you are going to court with all kinds of evidence (“raye”) …Just create one letter (“briv”), and mail the same letter and package to everyone to save time. They add:  Report Trump U to the Better Business Bureau, N. Y. State Consumer Protection Agency, to the N. Y. District Attorney (DA) and to the N. Y. Attorney General.

Another suggestion:  Contact your local media, the New York Times, and 60 Minutes with your story.  And, finally,  contact your credit card (“kredit-kartl”) or bank and file a dispute…don’t worry if it’s past 60 days, many will do an investigation (“oysforshung”) as they are supposed to.

And, send Trump a letter from your attorney (“advokat”) on your attorney’s letterhead stating that you are seeking restitution for damages simply in the form of a refund and will not pursue further legal course for any amount above and beyond as long as you receive a FULL REFUND.

If you’re really angry (“broygez”), feel free to protest (“protestirn”) at the entrance of the hotels where the Trump University seminar “retreat” atrocities are being conducted should one come to your town.

Note:  The writer, Marjorie Wolfe, does NOT recommend that you equip yourself with large suction cups and scale Trump Tower.  Yes, the building serves as the headquarters for Trump’s business empire, but choose a safer method of communication.  This was a ridiculous and dangerous stunt!!!

Trump told Fox News, “I’ll tell you about the school. Ninety-eight percent of the people that took the courses, 98 percent approved of the course.  They thought they were terrific.”  He later told Morning Joe, “I mean, how do you lose a case where people suing you have signed letters and affidavits saying that the school is terrific?”

Trump attorneys even launched the website, to document just how esteemed the school was, featuring positive evaluations from students whose names have been redacted.

One person wrote, “I’m 25-years-old, barely making $3,000 a month, and they told me to increase (“fargresern”) my credit limit.  I just maxed out three credit cards and I’m supposed to be able to qualify for loans to buy real estate?  Those stupid principles have led me to borrow $700,000 of other people’s money and lose it all.  I’m still paying off some of that debt (“khoyv”) to this day.”  (Note:  the Yiddish words have been added; they did not appear in the original letter.)

On a much more humorous (“humoritish”) note, a dissatisfied customer wrote the following letter to a typewriter company when the typewriter refused to type the letter “e,” preferring “x” instead:


  Sxvxral weeks ago I was offxrxd onx of your typxwritxrs. At first I was plxasxd, but not for long.  In fact, you can sxx thx problem right hxrx.  Xvxry time I want to typx n x, I gxt an x instxad.  This xnragxs me.  When I want an x, an x is what I nxxd, and not an x.  This would xnragx anyonx. What should I do to gxt  an x xvxry time I want an x?  An x that is an x, not an x.  Do you undxrstand  what I’m trying to say?

  I’d likx to know if you’d bx ablx to sxll mx a typxwritxr that gavx mx an x xach timx I nxxd an x when I typx an x, you can havx this damnxd instrumxnt.  An x is vxry good as an x, but, oh, hxll!!!   
Yours sincxrxly, onx of your customxrs drivxn to ragx.

Xugxnx X.

   Source:  “The Forbes Book of Great Business Letters -
   Memos, Missives, Pithes, Proposals and E-Mails”
   Edited by Erik Bruun.

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe’s favorite letter:

“Dear Mama,
     Please forgive me for not writing sooner but I have been very busy.  My career as a model got off to a good start.  Next month my picture will be in Harper’s Bizarre.”


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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