Friday, January 18, 2013

Interview 11: Gary Goldstein

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview my new friend, Gary Goldstein. He is visiting the ECS as a guest and sharing loads of interesting insights into his work. Be sure to look around and see what he has to offer. Here are the results of our interview. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

Hi there Gary! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Universe. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

 So tell me, who is Gary Goldstein?

I am the author of "Jew in Jail," the true story of the nearly six years I spent incarcerated for robbery, which was a direct result of my past addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling.  I am also a motivational & inspirational speaker on recovery from addiction, and get enormous satisfaction out of helping other addicts get and stay clean.

I was born on October 18, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Long Island University in 1983, and am a selected member of Sigma Delta Chi and Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges.

Wow, your story sounds inspiring already. You have accomplished a lot despite your incarceration…And you it’s a small world; I too was inducted into Who’s Who for both high school and college.  

So whacha got for me today?

My book, "Jew in Jail" tells my non-fiction story of what it was like for a minority - a Jewish prisoner - to do time behind bars from 1998-2004, and attempt to get clean and sober, in order to turn my life around.

It deals with all of the mistreatment and harassment I received from not only my fellow inmates, but also from the correction officers and other staff members of the New York State prison system.

 I wrote "Jew in Jail" to help others in similar situations of being either addicts, or someone living with low self-esteem and self-confidence realize that it is never too late to change and go on to live a full, productive, law- abiding life.

I have a feeling that your story is filled with many harsh truths, but that a clear message of hope is projected.

 So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of “Jew In Jail”?

"Jew in Jail" follows my time as a minority in prison and what I had to endure on a daily basis.

It is my first person account on how I had to fend for myself in this "world within the real world," and how I decided from the moment the doors to the prison closed on me for nearly six years, that I was going to use this time in my life as a stepping-stone to turn my life around, and go from a "Jew in Jail," to a Jew who "would not fail!"

As such, I began to eat healthy, attend hundreds upon hundreds of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous meetings, learn the computer, tutored other inmates in school, and worked out each and every day to get not only my mind on track, but my body as well.

There are many categories and levels of minorities and for anyone who isn’t one it’s hard to understand that struggle, but add on a heap of other obstacles and it just seems impossible to rise above. Whatever a person’s ethnicity, race, nationality, or faith is, I’m glad people like you are brave enough to share their stories and  a beacon of hope to others.

 Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

Actually, I wrote "Jew in Jail" as I was doing my time, as a way of chronicling everything I was going through while I was locked up on a daily basis.

It was extremely therapeutic to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper as they occurred, provided some privacy for myself in what otherwise was a very wide open, noisy atmosphere (I was usually incarcerated in a medium security, dormitory setting), and allowed me to analyze my situation and measure my growth as it took place.

The one problem that I eventually experienced was when, one day, a correctional officer searched my cube area, confiscated all of the pages of my manuscript, and also wrote a ticket against me for possessing "contraband!"  However, the guilty disposition that was ultimately handed down in a disciplinary hearing was later overturned, and I ended up receiving my manuscript back, based on a violation of my First Amendment rights.

Ever since my release in 2004, I have been promoting "Jew in Jail," at literary conventions, book festivals, or anywhere I speak as a motivational & inspirational speaker on recovery from addiction, including drug treatment programs, hospital detoxes, jails, or schools.

I have had an idea for another book in my head for a while now, and also have taken many notes, but for now, at least, I am quite content to continue to promote "Jew in Jail," and go around the country delivering motivational & inspirational speeches to help others, since that gives me tremendous satisfaction knowing that what happened to me wasn't in vain.

I also find writing to be very therapeutic. When I wrote my first book I had no idea that’s what I was doing. I was just writing to keep myself calm and my head straight.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?

I would definitely have to say Dr. Phillip C. McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, because he is all about helping others too!

I can see that. As a motivational writer and speaker, you’d have to read from others with success in that field and he has quite a following

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Hmm, my answer to that question would be any of our brave American soldiers who return home with missing limbs after risking their lives to do battle overseas, and then possess the will to go on and sometimes have to start over learning to walk with prosthetics, or even relearn simple things, like speaking, counting, or everyday bodily functions.  They are the world's TRUE heroes, and a motivation and inspiration to me personally.

Good answer. I won’t ruin it with any further comment on the matter.

Who is so you and why?

Well, when I was growing up in school, the girls used to call me David Cassidy, because I looked like him, especially with the bangs.  But if you look at my photo nowadays, you can see that Mother Nature has put an end to that comparison forever!

Cassidy not as young as he used to be; with a shaved head the comparison might still stand :).

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?

I read or write in my own bedroom, at my computer, and sometimes I am listening to either the news, or some music on the radio.

I prefer to read paperbacks vs. ebooks, for the simple reason that I am old fashioned, and like to actually hold the book in my hand.

I am currently reading "The Millionaire Messenger" by Brendon Burchard,  a book about sharing your message with the world, which I am passionate about doing these days, regarding recovery from addiction. 

Once I find a book that I really like, I can sit in front of my computer in my bedroom reading it for hours - or until I am finished!

I like to read with music on sometimes, if it’s soft music. I can never just pick up a book and read it straight through no matter how much I like it. The reading portion of my mind is very immature and always thinks it’s missing out on something if I don’t stop and dabble in other reads at the same time.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

I guess I would have to say how the New York Mets won the 1969 World Series, because it was so improbable.

I can remember watching baseball as a young child that year with my father, and just being amazed at how the Mets performed in the face of adversity.  As I got older, I was able to appreciate it even more.

By the way, you can tell by now that I always root for the underdog!

That’s cool. Even back then, you had a mind for inspiration. I tend to root for the underdog a lot too...Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

No doubt!

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Without a doubt, that movie would be "The Ten Commandments," because it is an epic film depicting the biblical story of the Exodus, and features some of the biggest movie stars of all-time.

As a fan of classic movies, I can’t argue with this choice. This is such a classic story and a really good movie. While I hardly find an actor I’d want to know personally, I do have a few faves in terms of their performances and Heston was good at what he did.

What makes you geek out?

I am a very big fan of Law & Order: SVU.  I really don't watch television that much anymore, but aside from the news, and sports, Law & Order: SVU is one show I have continued to enjoy for years.

I don’t watch much TV either, but used to enjoy Law & Order from time to time. This is a very compelling and hard to resist franchise. The stories they tell are so real and, many times, pulled straight from the headlines.

 So what’s testing your patience right now?

Not to be redundant, but I am really looking forward to continuing to deliver motivational & inspirational speeches on recovery from addiction.

The last speech I delivered, which was to inmates graduating from a drug program at the Henrico County Jail in Richmond, Virginia, was likely my best yet, and it just gives me so much satisfaction to be able to use all of my past experiences and mistakes made to try and help others, since it also continues to help myself too.  Here is the link to that speech, as I was fortunate to be allowed to bring a video camcorder in with me and have it taped and posted to YouTube.

On a lighter note, I do enjoy going down to Florida every winter for a little fun and sun in order to get a head start on my tan!

Even a very focused individual like you needs some R&R at some point. I love that you are so dedicated to your calling, but that you’re so serious about personal health. I hope you have fun in Florida this winter.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

A song I have really been listening to a lot lately is "Man In The Mirror," <=watch by Michael Jackson, because it deals with looking at oneself and making changes (do you readers all see a theme here?!).

Otherwise, I also like any songs that are uplifting and make me feel happy, like "Walking On Sunshine," <=watch by Katrina & the Waves.

On the other hand, I despise songs that are vulgar and put people down, especially rap music. 

These are two great songs…No offense, but it’s not very original to say that you don’t like rap. Rap is a musical category. Just playing devil’s advocate here-- if so much of Rap wasn’t vulgar would it still be so bad? Is rock, metal, folk, and alternative music never vulgar?...Just something to think about.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had?

I absolutely love going horseback riding, and have done it many times, although not recently.

However, now that I am writing about it to answer your question, I plan to "get back in the saddle" soon!

I totally agree with you here. I love horseback riding, but haven’t done it nearly enough. I you get a chance to do it again very soon.

 Remind me again how I was lucky enough to meet you?

I read a post of yours on LinkedIn recently, which is just one of the many social media sites I subscribe to in order to promote my book, "Jew in Jail," and career as a motivational & inspirational speaker.

Well glad you did, and I’m glad I posted that message. I’ve gotten to meet so many wonderful authors from all walks of life. It’s been very reassuring in my own efforts as an author and helps keep me fueled to continue my Eternal Curse Series.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

The world is constantly changing, and people are finding less time for pleasure, because they are forced to work more hours in order to make ends meet for themselves and their families.

Technology and innovation, although mostly beneficial to society, and the world in general, also have a negative effect, in that it is causing many people to become lazy and spend way too much time on their gadgets, as opposed to exercising and eating healthy.

So my hope is that in five years, people will find the correct balance in their lives in order to feel fulfilled.

As for me, I suspect that in five years, I will be continuing to speak and make a positive impact in other people's lives, by passing along all of my past and current experiences on what it takes to succeed and live a happy, fruitful life.

In addition, in five years, I am confident that I will be able to say that I am clean and sober for over 10 years, and, therefore, have people take anything I speak about to heart, because I am someone who always "keeps it real!"

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Gary Goldstein, check out these great links: