A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs When the funny business stopped paying, comedy writer Andrew Borakove needed to find a better future. Broke with another kid on the way, he was desperate to reinvent himself. That's when the gong appeared.
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A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs

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A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs

A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs

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From the deserts of Arizona now to the Midwest Plains, in particular, Lincoln, Nebraska, and a story about...


LYDEN: ...gongs. Recently, our colleague and the regular host of this show, Guy Raz, spent some time at a dull-looking warehouse in a quiet part of Lincoln. Parked outside, a van painted like Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine.


ANDREW BORAKOVE: As you know, this is a colorful van.

LYDEN: Guy picks up the story from there.

BORAKOVE: I needed a parking van...


The mystery machine belongs to 50-year-old Andrew Borakove. He bought it on eBay a few years ago.

BORAKOVE: I tell people I can never be depressed driving around town because there's always some 4-year-old waving to me maniacally.

RAZ: The mystery about why he drives it fades when you check out the back window. This is some good bumper stickers. Happiness Is a Warm Gong. Gongs, Not Bongs. My Child Is an Honor Gong Player. This is the cargo van for Andrew's business, and that business...


RAZ: ...is the business of gongs.

BORAKOVE: That's the kind of gong you hit before you make La Choy Chinese food.

RAZ: Inside this small warehouse in Lincoln, Borakove's got thousands of them from around the world.

BORAKOVE: This, for example, is a Thai gong.


RAZ: Lincoln is where Borakove runs his Internet gong business. It's called Gongs Unlimited.

BORAKOVE: But then we could walk over here to Chinese gongs.


RAZ: And last year, he sold close to half a million dollars' worth of gongs. When would you use this gong? Like, for what occasion?

BORAKOVE: You know, I'm thinking like some sort of nude party for the solstice, or a Bjork record release party is pretty much what I'm thinking.



RAZ: There are giant gongs the size of a subcompact car, small personal pan pizza sized gongs, gongs that cost 25 bucks, and then what Andrew calls the BMW of gongs: handmade by a Swiss gong maker called Paiste.

BORAKOVE: And he tuned them to the vibration of the planets.

RAZ: The vibration of the planets. This one's tuned to the vibration of the planet Mercury.


RAZ: That's what Mercury sounds like. Now, at this point, you may be wondering how a brash New Yorker got into the gong business and got into it in Lincoln, Nebraska. Well, in Borakove's case, it was out of necessity and somewhat of an inspired move. He and his wife used to live in L.A. where he wrote scripts for comedy shows like "South Park" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." But about eight years ago, the work started to dry up, and so did the money, and a second kid was on the way.

BORAKOVE: One day, I was like, you know, God, I don't know what the heck I'm going to do. I'm like - I'm literally on my hands and knees, and all of a sudden, I was - I totally give up. And (unintelligible) and it went - like a day or so after that, I was meditating, and this image of a gong appeared in front of me.

RAZ: Now, the thing you should know about Andrew Borakove is that there's a definitively serious side to him, the side that's into healing and meditation. And so, yes, he had a vision of a gong, and later, a dream about living in a Midwestern college town. He did some Internet research, and he discovered a lot of people actually buy gongs and not a lot of people sell them.

So he packed up the wife and two kids and settled on Lincoln, Nebraska, a place he'd never even visited and knew nothing about. When you told your friends and your family and all - you know, we're moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, what'd they say?





BORAKOVE: The surfers in San Diego were like, where is that? Somewhere, like - and they scratched their heads quite a bit.

RAZ: And five years on, business is booming.

BORAKOVE: Everyone buys my gongs. I have - someone bought a gong to give to James Cameron. I've sold Chris Christie's brother. Here's an interesting thing – sold out - I sold to a death rocker. He was like: I need it to be very dark. I've sold a gong that went to a prison.

RAZ: Why a prison?

BORAKOVE: Fifty-two - because they had - it was a minimum security prison in Minnesota. They put on a talent show. They needed the gongs.

RAZ: Not to mention more obvious customers like yoga studios and car dealerships that want to bang a gong every time there's a sale.

BORAKOVE: You can walk into Target and buy a gong? No. The gongs are here.

RAZ: And from here, they go everywhere. Andrew has shipped gongs to Kuala Lumpur, to Dubai. High quality gongs, he says, are hard to find.

BORAKOVE: But I've shipped Chinese gongs back to Hong Kong several times, and I just always love it. That's my favorite thing.


RAZ: These days, Andrew is working harder than ever, sometimes well into the night. He has even designed his own gong. He calls it a subatomic gong.


BORAKOVE: I also feel we may be the reason why so many whales and dolphins are being beached. They're hearing that call, and they're trying to get to Nebraska.

RAZ: Andrew Borakove knows he's never going to get rich selling gongs, but he doesn't miss the brutal life of a Hollywood writer, the feast and the famine. Now - well, now, he's really happy.

BORAKOVE: There's a fear, I think, in every industry, because you always hear these stories: Oh, I was a stockbroker, and I was making $200,000 a year. Now, I can't find - I'm like, well, be an entrepreneur. Be creative. You got to find that side of you. And I was always entrepreneurial because when you have to sell TV shows, you have to come up with an idea, ha-ta-da, and you got to go sell it and all that stuff.

And, come on, we're selling gongs. We should be having a good time. There's got to be some goofiness to it all.


LYDEN: That's our colleague Guy Raz reporting in from Lincoln, Nebraska with producer Brent Baughman. You can find Andrew Borakove's website at gongs-unlimited.com.

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