Anyone see this article in the New York Times the other day?

Abuse and Racism Accusations Bring ‘#MeToo Moment’ to Northwestern

It’s a detailed description of the hazing abuses at one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country, Northwestern University.

And it’s a further reminder that hazing is as persistent as the common cold; everyone wants it to go away, everyone keeps trying to come up with remedies to combat it, but no one can defeat it.

Why is that?

Is it human nature?

We all want to belong to a community of our peers, and many of us will do things that go against our better judgement, just to be a part of that community. But why do the people who are already in the community, even in charge of the community, feel compelled to have the newcomers display their loyalty with cruel, inhumane and often dangerous demands? Is the hunger for power, and the manifestation of that power, that strong?

Apparently yes.

It doesn’t help that those in power were once the powerless — and if they had to suffer, so does the generation after them. And so on. And so on. And so on.

Most well-known hazing cases are found in the college ranks — on teams, in clubs, pledging frats, etc. But don’t be fooled — it happens in high schools too, and even middle schools. My book GAME CHANGER deals with a hazing incident on a high school football team that very nearly turns fatal. Many readers have written to me saying, “Does that really happen in high school?” It sure does. Look it up.

Northwestern is making a big show of being shocked by the hazing revelations, and vowing to change their culture. The question is, are the countless other schools who do the same exact thing but haven’t yet been caught going to do the same thing? Doubtful. Too much money to be made. So, much like gun violence, Americans will take time out to be periodically appalled, then go back to business as usual, watching, cheering, ignoring.

How do I know this? Because just because I wrote about it, doesn’t mean I’m not one of them. Football season, here we come!



Hey guess what? The paperback of GAME CHANGER just came out!

Now this “action-packed, thrill-a-minute yet highly important book” – that’s a direct quote, from my mom – is available at the low low price of whatever paperbacks cost these days!

But YOU can get a copy for FREE!! And have it signed!!! By the author!!!! Me!!!!!

I know, I know, there’s only so much excitement one person can take. So no more exclamation points. Just the rules.

I’m giving away four free copies. To be eligible, all you have to do is answer the following three questions correctly in the comments section below.

Good luck!!

1) Which of the following was not a super-bowl winning quarterback?
a) Joe Namath
b) Joe Montana
c) Joe Exotic

2) Which of the following is not a penalty in football?
a) Holding
b) Kissing
c) Clipping

3) A team scores two safeties, three field goals, and an extra point. How many points do they have total?
a) 13
b) 14
c) 15
d) this is a trick question

Holiday Letter 2020


Hi everyone! Well it’s been a minute since we’ve done a holiday letter (‘been a minute’ – love that! because it actually means way more than a minute, so it’s kind of like the opposite, like when ‘bad’ meant ‘good,’ kids are so clever!), so it felt like we were due. And this seemed like the perfect year to do it. Because 2020 was a lot, right? You can kind of trace the progression of the year to how people started their emails. We went from “I hope you’re bearing up during these trying times” to “I hope you’re hanging in there okay” to “Can you believe this shit?” to “Fuck my life!” And those were the business emails.

But we’re humans, right? And humans persevere. Which is exactly what the Utz-Greenwald clan has done. Here’s a quick rundown:

Charlie, 27, got married. His wife, Noora, is terrific. They lived with us for a while during the early days of the pandemic but then decided they needed their own space, so they moved to Brooklyn. Now I don’t need to tell you, Brooklyn is a pretty with-it place, so no one was more surprised or impressed than us, when a mere two months after they got there, they wound up on the cover of New York Magazine’s “Brooklyn’s Hippest Couples” issue. Maybe it’s because they have that Indian-Jewish-Catholic thing going, or maybe it’s because they live in a yurt made entirely out of artisanal vegan jelly beans, which they built in the middle of Fort Greene Park, but they’re obviously doing something right. Noora is a graphic designer who recently re-designed the official flag of New Delhi, and Charlie is a business coordinator at CNN, where he’s in charge of the new #fakenewsmyass social media initiative. (They have a lot of likes. From what I understand, that’s a good thing.)

Joe, soon to be 26, lives and works in Boston, where he’s a sales executive for a firm called Meltwater. At first we were really impressed, because we thought he worked at a company that had finally figured out how to melt water, but then we found out it was a media monitoring service, which frankly sounds even more exciting, because who doesn’t want their media monitored?? In just 16 short months Joe has been promoted from “guy who calls people who don’t want to be called” to “guy who calls people who don’t want to be called but answer the phone anyway because they’re desperate for human contact because there’s a pandemic going on.” As a result, he was Meltwater’s Employee Of The Month for two straight weeks. Way to go Joe!

Jack, 24, also works in Boston – well, technically, Cambridge, because that way he can kind of imply he went to Harvard. He’s doing great at VMWare, where he sells cybersecurity that he swears can’t be hacked by the Russians. (It turns out that in the fine print, it says that it usually can’t be hacked by the Russians. But who reads the fine print? Nobody, lucky for Jack!) He’s got a great girlfriend, Iria, but sadly she lives in Spain, so they’ve only seen each other once since March. Luckily, that one time was a five-month trip in which they visited every one of the Galapagos Islands (including 13 major islands, 6 smaller islands, and scores of islets and rocks), so don’t cry any tears for them!

Cathy, age deleted, is cruising right along – or should I say, zooming right along! Her zoom therapy practice is going great guns, her zoom yoga class is a great source of relaxation, and she just started her brand-new zoom cooking school! Called CONES TO SCONES, she specializes in “sweets with sweetness,” and she’s already got twenty-two students from around the world! Tommy is so proud of her, and he tells her so every night when they get into their zoom bed.

Tommy, 58, is doing great and has really made the most of this year! His main job, marketing Broadway shows, has slowed to a crawl, so not a lot going on there. Luckily, he’s used the time to really concentrate on his other job, writing books for kids. Oh no, wait, he hasn’t done much of that either. Which leaves plenty of time for yard work and home renovations, right? Well, he’s Jewish, so also pretty quiet on that front. I guess that means he does most of the housework now? Actually, let’s not go there. Can we talk about the dogs now?

Coco and Abby run the show. What else is new?

Thank God enough of us took the Biden vaccine, herd immunity from Trumpid 17-20 is right around the corner.

Love to all.




6:57 – Wake up. Enjoy three seconds of ignorant bliss before remembering what’s happening in the world. Groan in abject dread, roll over and try to go back to sleep. Fail.

7:13 – Go downstairs to the Elliptical machine. Tell myself that one good thing that can come out of this crisis is getting in shape and losing weight. Spend the entire time on the elliptical thinking about the chocolate chip cookies I’m going to have for breakfast.

8:04 – Shower. Use a lot of soap. A LOT of soap.

8:28 – Get dressed. Have trouble deciding which pair of sweatpants to wear. My socks don’t match. Who cares?

8:32 – Say good morning to the first adult child who has moved back in. He answers with a grunt. The other two adult children who have moved back in aren’t up yet, even though their work days start at nine. Oh yeah, and my oldest son’s girlfriend is also with us. She’s great, but still, that’s a lot of twenty-somethings for one bathroom.

8:39 – Take the dogs for the first of their nineteen daily walks.

9:25 – Go down to the basement to my workspace. I exiled myself there for privacy, and also because the background décor has kind of a cool funky vibe, which will come in handy for all my zoom video conferences.

10:00 – The first zoom video conference of the day. “Hey, that’s a cool funky vibe you got there, Tom,” says one of my colleagues, which makes me feel good, since she, like almost everyone I work with, is approximately the same age as my kids.

10:42 – Scroll the news online, just long enough to be frightened by the state of the world, dismayed by the state of our country, depressed about the stock market, embarrassed that I’m dismayed about the stock market when there are far more important things to worry about, and awed by the courage and dedication of health care workers.

11:24 – Time for a snack! I go upstairs, past the room where one of my kids is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, through another room, where another kid is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, and into the kitchen, where my third kid is on the phone, telling his boss that people really aren’t in the mood to buy anything right now. I peer longingly into my office, where my son’s girlfriend is working away. She sees me and waves cheerfully. Why wouldn’t she be cheerful? She’s got the sweetest spot in the house.

11:26 – I don’t find a snack. The kids ate everything.

12:30 – Another dog walk, this time at Sherwood Island. It’s not crowded, but it’s not empty. It’s gorgeous. I thank the Gods of Westport that it’s still open, and keep reminding my wife, who is too damn friendly to other people, to make sure to respect the six-feet rule.

2:15 – Another zoom call. I start getting used to seeing people in little square boxes, and find myself fascinated with other people’s decors. I never would have suspected that quiet, unassuming Brad from accounts would have a giant photograph of a nude bowler in his living room, but there it is.

3:05 – Road trip. I work up the strength to go to the grocery store. I take a deep breath and put my gloves on. I walk in, saying to myself Youcandothisyoucandothisyoucandothisyoucandothis. The store is moderately crowded with people, but extremely empty of toilet paper.

3:45 – Wash my hands, using a lot of soap. A LOT of soap.

3:55 — Time to visit Mom. She’s eighty, but looks sixty. I ask her if she needs anything, she says no. She goes to the market every day. I tell her that’s probably not wise at this point. She says, “I enjoy it, I’m very careful, I wear gloves, I bring Purell. I’m fine.” I decide the same thing I’ve decided since I was ten years old – arguing with my mother is pointless.

4:45 – Time for the last Zoom conference of the day. More accolades for my cool, funky vibe. I work in the theater business, and my colleagues and I discuss the perilous state of our industry. Everything is locked down, and will be for the foreseeable future. There are no shows. There are no ticket sales. There’s no income. Everyone is hurting, badly. It feels slightly uncouth to complain about it when there are so many people in the world suffering way worse than we are, but we do it anyway.

5:22 – Time for another dog walk, the ninth of the day. The dogs look up at me like, Are you serious right now? The streets are filled with walkers, joggers, and bikers, and we all wave and smile. It occurs to me that people are much more friendly to each other during a pandemic.

8:15 – Dinner. Everyone in the house will take a turn cooking. Tonight it’s my middle son’s turn. He makes one thing, but he makes it very well. He also cranks the music to 11 while he cooks. We plan on taking our dinners very seriously during this crisis. It’s the one time of day when we all come together; when we try to stop worrying for an hour; and when we remember how truly lucky we are that we have what we have – a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, and a family that enjoys each other’s company. We even laugh a little.

9:10 – We spend twenty minutes scrolling Netflix to try and find something we all want to watch. We fail.

10:15 – My wife and I call my wife’s sister, who’s a nurse at Norwalk Hospital. She’s been working almost every day, and is exhausted. We tell her she’s our hero. We tell her all her colleagues are our heroes too. We tell her we love her and we tell her to stay safe, and she promises she will. We hang up and we worry.

11:30 – Time for bed. I take a very mild sleeping aid. So sue me.


Pretty much exactly the same thing as Day One.

MY BIO (or, what to put on your blog page if you’re too lazy to write actual blogs)

Tommy Greenwald’s book GAME CHANGER has been named an Amazon Best Book Of The Month, a 2019 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and a Junior Library Guild Premier Selection. Tommy is also the author of the CRIMEBITERS, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON and PROJECT Z series, among many other books for children.

Day-job-wise, Tommy is the Co-Founder of Spotco Advertising, a theatrical and entertainment advertising agency in New York City, and the lyricist and co-bookwriter (with Andrew Lippa) of JOHN & JEN, an off-Broadway musical which has been produced around the country and internationally.

To read woefully outdated information about Tommy, visit To send an email telling him how much you liked whatever book it was that you just read, he can be reached at

Huddle Up If You Want A Free Signed Book!

On September 11, 2018, my book GAME CHANGER will be published. I’m very excited, as it’s my first “serious” novel, after a bunch of books about wise alecky kids doing wise alecky things. GAME CHANGER is my love letter to, and cautionary tale about, football – specifically, youth football. It was inspired by watching my son Jack play football through high school. I loved every minute of it – which I feel kind of guilty about now.

But enough about me – do you want to win a FREE BOOK? Because I’m giving away three signed copies! To enter to win, just show off your football knowledge by answering the three incredibly complex questions below. Please register your answers in the comments section – and good luck!

Tommy G


The New York Jets are in the…
a) NFL
b) NBA
c) NRA


Which of the following is a penalty?
a) hitting
b) hugging
c) holding


Who of the following is an NFL superstar?
a) Tom Cruise
b) Tom Brady
c) Tommy Greenwald

Get hooked on HOOKED! Win a free signed copy!

Hi all, long time no blog.

Very excited to announce my first picture book, HOOKED, has just been published. Let’s celebrate with some free signed copies, shall we?

The story of HOOKED is based on a real-life adventure I had with my son, Joe. It involved going to a pond one cold winter’s day and undertaking a certain activity.

For your chance to win one of FOUR FREE SIGNED COPIES, just correctly answer the question below…


What activity did Tommy Greenwald and his son Joe do, that inspired the book HOOKED?

a) Ice-dancing

b) Ice-sculpting

c) Ice-fishing


Please enter your answer in the comments section of this post — and good luck!

Your pal,

Tommy G


Image result for hooked amazon greenwald


THE REAL US Winners Announced!

I put on my nicest clothes and enlisted my dog Coco to pick the winners of the FOUR FREE SIGNED COPIES of THE REAL US. Congrats to the lucky winners (no spoiler alerts here — you have to watch to find out who won)!

If you didn’t win, don’t despair — contest for CRIMEBITERS 3 coming right up!


Hey, Do You Want A Free Signed Copy Of My New Book?

Okay, but first you have to read this short piece I wrote. Small price to pay, right?



A beautiful girl with a giant pimple in the middle of her nose.

That’s the first thing that popped into my head — no pun intended, I swear! — when I embarked on the story that became THE REAL US.

This was a few years ago, and up to that point, all the middle-grade novels I written – the Charlie Joe Jackson series and its spinoffs, the Crimebiters! series – had a broadly comic bent to them. So naturally, as I dove in to this new story, I assumed that I would go down a similarly humorous path. But interestingly, I soon enough found myself writing a (slightly) more serious book about friendship, self-identity and the limits and labels we put on ourselves, and others, throughout our middle school years.

These are issues that I’ve always been fascinated by: it traces back to when I was a kid myself, trying to straddle the worlds between music (I was a pianist and percussionist) and sports (I played soccer). It wasn’t easy, because each of those pursuits was so self-contained, and all-consuming. And then I saw it in my three boys, Charlie, Joe and Jack, who each found a world to belong to in school, and then found it difficult when they were interested in exploring beyond the boundaries of that world.

Add the extra complication of looks into it – how the “attractive” kids are expected to act a certain way and hang around with a certain kind of person (namely, each other), and how the “less attractive” kids are supposed to stay in their lane and know their place – and you’ve suddenly got the makings of a story that could go in a lot of different directions. And I was interesting in following those directions and seeing where they took me.

I loved creating Calista, Damian and Laura – the heroes of THE REAL US. My goal was to make them funny, confused, complicated and real, or at least as real as fictional people can be.

But don’t worry. Calista – the beautiful one – still gets the giant pimple in the middle of her nose.

You didn’t think I was gonna let that one go, did you?


OKAY NOW… To enter to win one of FOUR FREE SIGNED COPIES of THE REAL US, please use the comments section to answer the following question:

In the essay above, I mention a sport. Which sport is it?

a) Equestrian

b) Soccer

c) Competitive Eating

Good luck!

Your pal,

Tommy G

Writing A Series, Seriously

I just started working on the fourth Crimebiters! book.

This, after writing six Charlie Joe Jackson books, plus three CJJ spin-offs.

You’d think I’d have this series this down by now, right?

Not right.

Writing a book series is haaaaard. It presents its own unique ‘series’ of challenges. For example, you are writing a bunch of stories about characters who don’t really age… so can they change? They have to, to keep it interesting to the writer and the reader, but they can’t change that much, because they’re still the same age! See what I mean?

In the Charlie Joe series, I cheated a little bit, because the characters do actually go through middle school, and graduate by the end of the last book. But in Crimebiters!, I’m sticking to the letter of the law, and keeping the main characters pretty much right where they are, age-wise. So I had to come up with storylines that keep things hopping.

Book 1: Jimmy adopts a dog Abby, and he becomes convinced she’s a crimefighting superhero vampire dog, forms Crimebiters with his friends.

Book 2: Abby goes to obedience training, and Jimmy worries she’s losing her powers.

Book 3: Jimmy’s friend Daisy adopts a cat. Brawling ensues.

Book 4: Jimmy steps down as President of the club. A power struggle ensues.


They don’t age. But they do change, and evolve, and grow. I think.

Did I succeed?

You be the judge!