June 3, 2014
I have always been fascinated with the difference between reality and cinema life, and sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference between the two worlds. To be honest, I had a very sheltered life, and my exposure to the outside world was watching TV - but mostly shows that were on early in the morning and on Saturdays. I became obsessed with a film series starring The Bowery Boys, who were a gang that hung out at Louie’s Sweet Shop at 3rd and Canal in Manhattan. Before the Bowery Boys, they were the Dead End Kids, who got their start in a Broadway play “Dead End.” Samuel Goldwyn brought the kids to Hollywood, and soon regrets it due to the physical damage they cause his studio. Boys will be boys as they say, but as a young tot myself, I was impressed with the idea of being a part of a gang, and for me that gang was clearly the Bowery Boys.
I was mainly impressed with the actor (and real street punk) Leo Gorcey, due to the fact that he led these gangs of New York misfits into numerous adventures. His fictional name, Terrence Aloysius "Slip" Mahoney, or just “Slip” had a nice ring to it, and as a young boy interested in words and phrases, I found a hero of sorts. He was famed for his consistent use of using malapropisms, which Is using an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound. For instance, he would say “a clever seduction” for “a clever deduction, ” “I depreciate it! (“I appreciate it!”), “I regurgitate” (“I reiterate”), and “optical delusion” (“optical illusion”). What endears me to this character is that I have the exact same problem with the English language. I have consistently used malapropisms throughout my life (and still do) due to either a speech impairment or thinking too fast for my pronunciations. I had a friend, who always liked to comment in front of other people while I was talking, when I did use the wrong word, and publicly I laughed it off, but in reality, it was really painful for me to have him make fun of me in front of other friends or a crowd. Which made me feel closer to Leo (“Slip”) than my real friend.
I think due to my speech impairment, I felt I had a choice of being withdrawn from people or better yet, utilize your imperfections and magnified it to a remarkable degree, and therefore you will stand out against any crowd or audience. I decided to use the shame I felt and focused on that as almost a seductive tool. I always imagined myself as a Sidney Falco trying to make it in the world. But also memory plays a part, in that one imagines themselves more miserable than they actually were. Like wandering through the hallways of a noble house in Marienbad, one is never sure if looking at your life is actually correct or not. When I look back to my past, I imagine it as a film, and I have done this for so long now, I totally can’t recall what actually happened or my film version of history.
I know there is the Bowery Boys, but also around the same time there were also the zoot-suit riots in Los Angeles. When I walk down on Main Street, Downtown, I try to imagine what it must have been like in that time or night, where the violence took place between members of the military (mostly white men) and the teenaged or young male Mexican-Americans, who wore zoot-suits. To wear such beautiful clothing and to be hunted down on the streets of Los Angeles for having style and a specific culture, is totally not real to me. The photographs I have seen of the riots, always seem like a depression era Warner Brothers movie to me - even though the action takes place in World War II era downtown Los Angeles.
To this very day, I try to make sense of what I think is my history, but I can only recall the representatives of that narrative, and that, I believe was only a film I have once seen many years ago.