October 31, 2006

Hobo Italiano! Weeks ago, the annual San Gennaro took over Little Italy and, naturally, locals made sure to avoid the area at all costs. I, on the other hand, fully embraced the horribly claustrophobic side streets downtown with my friend Adam. We lunked across town with borrowed equipment from the Soho film/TV production house at which we work, eager to reach our destination. Pushing through the slow-moving crowds of guidos and princesses from the outer boroughs and suburbs, we were repeatedly bumped into by the loud and obese (who unapologetically continued to chow down on pepperoni rolls and zeppoles). Finally, we arrived at Puglia's, a charming eatery that blends in perfectly against the backdrop of Hester Street. Long tables line the walls, prepared to be occupied by the kind of families that appear in commercials for The Olive Garden ("When you're here, you're an Italian stereotype! Ayyyy!"). The pizzaman works in the back left corner of the restaurant, twirling dough in front of a brick oven. The staff of raven-haired boys attentively wait on customers, running back and forth from the kitchen with hot dishes and cocktails. We were there to shoot a segment about the restaurant's resident "entertainer," Jorge Buccio. In doing so, we gathered enough footage to edit into a video segment to be broadcast in the near future. However, during Jorge's performance outside the restaurant, the party became quite wild. Patrons young and old, trashy and trashier, really enjoyed Jorge's standards and originals, as well as the Frank Sinatra lookalike who, to Jorge's clear disapproval, performed on the same bill. In the true nature of the San Gennaro festival, there lies an invisible line between the public and private. When restaurants lining the blocks add tented outdoor tables, the streets become so narrow and overpopulated that it's difficult to tell if one is dining in or just loitering (and most likely speaking very loudly with friends, as the roar from nearby radio DJ booths, carnival games, and ubiquitous Italian ballads seem to come from everywhere). However, it didn't take long to realize during Jorge's outdoor performance that one man in particular was not dining in: I realize that it may, indeed, be a bit much to focus on kooky New York hobos just weeks apart, but sometimes the homeless are just too wacky to ignore. This hobo is one of those people. Let's cut the dude some slack: he's obviously proud of either his Italian heritage or his Italian tee shirt, and - really - that's all that matters here. He just kind of...showed up...to have a good time, and what's wrong with that? Nothing. Except that he smelled like ketchup a little. The management at Puglia's didn't seem to mind, though, as he provided some solid entertainment. One group of adults, all of whom exclusively wore shades of navy, black, and gray, looked as though they'd cabbed it downtown from their pharmaceutical sales office in Midtown, prepared to "let loose at San Gennaro, baby!" One of the women, whose name I would guess to be Pamela, Denise, or Tami, really got into the act, shimmying up to the hobo and sharing in the awkward, Caucasian dance moves! He, however, may have not even realized it, as the group of co-workers proceeded to buy him cocktails. Notice his facial expression after taking a swig, one that says, "Lady Luck has got my back tonight, yo!" As if he knew he was about to be escorted away by management, the hobo provided some dance moves for a finale that would make Baryshnikov cream his tights: Air bongos? The Running Man? Someone get this guy a TV show! (Or a bedpan. A bedpan will suffice. Or maybe some Triscuits?)
And Here's To You, Mrs. Russo During high school, I appeared as somewhat of a roundtable panelist on a show for teens on an independent, Manhattan-based network that aired throughout the tri-state area. As you can imagine, there was plenty of dead air and B List celebrities, as well as segment producers in their thirties far off base in their knowledge of teenagers. Somehow, however, the show eventually improved. Before long, the show's guests became less B and more B+, and I was soon assigned a chunk of the "entertainment reporting" (if you could call it that) when I was sent to cover several movie junkets. Decked out in only the finest Old Navy tee shirt, torn jeans, and old Sauconys (this theme will return later), I spent one Sunday afternoon at a hotel on East Side where interviews were being held with the cast of the Rocky and Bullwinkle remake. Understandably, Robert De Niro, clearly having made a grave mistake after signing on to play The Fearless Leader, was a no-show (as were Jonathan Winters, Janeane Garofalo, and Carl Reiner). Present, however, were Rene Russo, Jason Alexander, and director Des McAnuff. (Did someone say Des McAnuff? Oh my God, GET THE CAMERA!) After speaking with the very friendly Alexander and nearly falling asleep in front of McAnuff (seriously, I had to bite my inner lips to keep from yawning because, really, what is there to ask the director of a Rocky and Bullwinkle remake?), all that was left was meeting Rene Russo. Not knowing too much about Russo besides her being both ...pretty... and in a movie about a monkey with Pee Wee Herman, I didn't expect to encounter anything out of the ordinary. Oh, how I misjudged that one... Aside from my parents, there was no one who witnessed the raw footage without chiming in, "Rene Russo wanted to jump your bones!" And when a closeted 'mo is told that a hot lady wants to have sex with him, he dare not respond any other way than with a delightfully awkward nod of approval (of course, after I came out, the response quickly changed to the excuse that I was "saving myself" for Rue McLanahan). I realize now that, while being very personable and comforting to a bumbling teenager like myself, Russo was enjoyably inappropriate, as well. With full knowledge that the interview was being filmed for essentially a kids' show, she barreled through themes of anorexia, depression, self-hatred, paternal absence, and sexual perversions in an emotional obstacle course like a star quarterback. The best moment of all was not, mind you, the orgasm faces... the touching of my leg... or the glassy-eyed stare [/longing glances?] employed while discussing an intense childhood crush on an animated mouse... No, the kicker came at the final moment of our interview, when Rene Russo's retort to my admittance of dressing too poorly for a movie junket was that I needn't complain, as she, herself, was wearing "ripped underwear." In other words, she was all, "I'm going to say, 'Imagine your parents fucking' so fast that you're going to have to visualize it, but instead of 'your parents fucking,' imagine my pussy peeking through from behind tattered silk panties!" All of a sudden, Des McAnuff's crotch sounded really appetizing.

My Other Accounts

Recent Comments