A young man’s coming-of-age amid the glitzy backdrop of mid-20th-century New York.
Mesmerized by Judy Garland's performance in The Wizard of Oz, a young Tiber (Taking Woodstock, 2009, etc.) became enthralled with the actress, as well as the possibility of discovering an Oz-like wonderland beyond the silver screen. Unfortunately, the author’s brooding father and overbearing mother created an atmosphere void of yellow brick roads. Despite his troubled childhood, Tiber endured, navigating through an array of failed entrepreneurial misadventures before finding his talent as an artist. At 18, he left home and discovered Oz amid the gay community in Greenwich Village. He underwent a drug-addled sexual awakening, at one point confusing a bowl of pills for “some kind of Hawaiian M&M[s]” and marijuana cigarettes for those “made of tobacco.” Tiber landed a flurry of commercial art jobs before agreeing to teach art history at his alma mater, Hunter College, placating his mother in the process: “If her fat, ugly son couldn't be a rabbi, a doctor, or even a dentist, at least he could be an art professor. That she understood!” The author continued his ascent up the professional ladder, trading his teaching job to become the interior decorator for New York's elite. A mutual acquaintance led him to Charley Gross, the proprietor of the Crystal Room nightclub who, in desperate need of a party planner, turned to Tiber for help. The party—a raucous, violent and generally disastrous boat cruise along the Hudson River—drew A-list celebrities, including the author’s hero, Judy Garland, who reminded the transient Tiber that “Home is whatever's in your suitcase and wherever you hang your hat. Contrary to the movie, it ain't in Kansas.” Her advice resonated, particularly as the author’s life abruptly changed when Gross and his mob associates refused to foot the $17,000 party tab as promised. A humbled Tiber was forced to choose between selling his prized possessions or facing mob retribution, a choice far more difficult than readers may imagine.
A humorous tale of one man's quick rise to fame and even faster fall.