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Nicole Marie Sorkin

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Books by Nicole Marie Sorkin

Check the Gs, By Ray Shasho, Author Interview
by Nicole Marie Sorkin   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011

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At an age when most kids are just getting rid of the training wheels on their bicycle, Ray Shasho entered into a crazy world of secret lingo and bullying sales tactics at the Chin Lung Art Gallery, his father's retail store on the corner of Thirteenth and F Street in Washington, DC. Check the Gs is the true story of how this bizarre family business changed his world forever. Raised by a Cuban Catholic mother and Syrian Jewish father, Shasho made his first sale at the age of six and never looked back. Life in the family business (and in the Shasho family) was never boring. From FBI interrogations to angry mobs, each new day at the Chin Lung Art Gallery brought with it new adventures. Check the Gs tells a story for everyone who is proud their family and heritage but not afraid to laugh at its many eccentricities, and for anyone who has ever worked in retail and experienced its humorous situations and misadventures.

 PBR:  Today we have the pleasure of talking to Ray Shasho, author of the new book Check the Gs.  Thank you, Ray, for spending a bit of time with us.

RS:  It’s all my pleasure. I also write a classic rock music column, so I’m normally the interviewer; it’s nice to be the interviewee for a change. 


PBR: It is known that some people have photographic memories; being able to remember images clearly in their mind. From my observation reading your book, I’d say you have a “phonographic memory” the way you remember songs and how you associate them to the events of your past.

RS:  I think so. I can still feel every moment of my life, as if it were yesterday. Remembering so easily provoked the passion to write the book. Remembering certain songs over the years also helped to timeline certain events.  


PBR: What are some of your favorite songs and recording artists?

RS:  Being a Top 40 radio deejay in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I enjoyed just about everything, especially when you compare the music then with what’s being played today. I think the Golden age of music was definitely the 60’s. I grew up listening to WPGC “Good Guys” Radio in the Washington Metropolitan area. On WPGC, you would hear Motown, Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles, and they weren’t the oldies, they were the current Top 40 artists.  And the deejays were so cool. You could tune in at 3am, and the jock on the air was just as captivating as the day jocks.  Anyway back to your original question, I’ve always been inspired by the Brits and the likes of Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Robin Trower. Of course the Brits were inspired by American Blues.  But I also loved anything by Sinatra. I attended five concerts by Sinatra.


PRB: Now you definitely have a “wacky” family, as you so comically state, but they are also a wonderful family, with much love and a strong bond.  How have they taken to “your version of history” as written in your book?

RS:  The entire family could not be more supportive. Mom and Dad are in their late 80’s now. They live only minutes from my home here in Bradenton. Mom immediately phoned all of her friends to buy the book. Dad wanted lots of pictures in the book but I wanted the reader to use their imaginations. They are behind me all the way. I’d love to see the both of them on Jay Leno. As a matter of fact Leno came into the store once looking for video games.


PBR:  I was curious about how the word “G” got defined?

RS:   Definitely an enigma. Every Syrian Jew in the retail business identifies a customer as a G. I’m not sure how far back it goes, it’s accepted as common language and no one every asked why we used it. Our family used a lot of strange slang that we used in our everyday language. I knew we were different but I also thought we had somewhat of an advantage than most people, like we were part of a secret society or something.


PBR: As you can tell from my review of your book, I thoroughly enjoyed your storytelling.  Do you plan to continue your writing career?

RS:  Yes, I hope to. There are three new books buzzing around in my head. I’d like to try and write two books at the same time. I may have to line up two laptops side by side to accomplish that. I think I have finally found my calling in life. Now it’s up to God to allow me to continue.  


PBR: We certainly wish you the most success with your book, and again thank you for your time.

RS:   I’m so glad that you enjoyed the story and thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss it  …now get out there and Check the Gs! 

Web Site: Pacific Book Review

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