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A New York Minute (18) September 2014- Al Pacino!

17 Sep

September 17, 2014

Hello, and welcome to your New York Minute. This week’s episode is brought to you by Pharell’s big hat.

Al Pacino was born in Manhattan, but it took some Brooklyn law breaking for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I live in South Brooklyn, and in more than one New York Minute I talked about organized crime and the movies. There was Kid Twist and Coney Island, the Bowery Boys, even the mob shaking down the crew filming Saturday Night Fever. Al Pacino starred in some of the greatest organized crime films ever made, The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two. Many years later, he also starred in a Godfather parody called The Godfather Part Three.

Pretty much for as long as I can recall, I had been told that one of the houses in The Godfather was actually located right around here, so the other day, just for you, I set out to find “the Godfather house” and sure enough, it was right in my backyard.

As seen in the movie

As seen in the movie

Turns out it was the house that Clemenza lived in, and although I already had the address, I found out that the neighbors are pretty good about people, like me, who still come around looking for the house and taking pictures. I’d ask if you go, please be nice and respectful, as it is a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s a narrow street, so don’t try to double park, and also, please don’t knock on the door and ask if Martin Scorsese ever drops by from some capicola. Um, not that I did that.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The most interesting thing about the house isn’t the building itself, which is pretty nice, it’s the neighborhood. It is located just a few minutes away from the inspiration for another famous Al Pacino film. Just the next year, Al, (we’re on a first name basis, we’re good like that), was back in Brooklyn filming Dog Day Afternoon, and unlike The Godfather, this was based on an infamous bank robbery that happened wayback when I was a kid. And it turns out that I pass the robbery location almost every single day.

The scene of the crime: then and now

The scene of the crime: then and now

I’m not talking about where the film was shot, this is the actual robbery scene. Back in the 70’s this was a Chase bank, but today it is vacant. Want to rent it? The way this area is going, it’ll be sure to be a hipster juice pub thing any day now. Anyway, the building has gone through a few owners, it still has the cut corner that was a trademark of Chase banks of the era.

The movie was filmed in Windsor Terrace, still in Brooklyn but with Prospect Park as a backdrop. In a nutshell, the bank robbery went bad, hostages were taken, and it turned into a police standoff with the hundreds of onlookers rooting for the crooks. In the end, the cops seem to give in to their demands but Pacino’s character gets 20 years in prison. Spoiler warning! That was a spoiler.

dogdaymovie

Interestingly, both films also starred the amazing yet odd John Cazale, and if he were born in Brooklyn this would have been a neat and tidy way of wrapping things up but he had to spoil it be by being born in Massachusetts. No foresight there, thanks a lot.

Although I was too young to see any of the filming of these movies, in 1991 I did get to see the filming of Steven Segal’s Out for Justice, and believe me, that’s not a feather in anybody’s cap.

This has been your movie star, and Steven Segal, -filled New York Minute, and like Pacino said in The Godfather III- “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

What, you were expecting Scent of a Woman? “HOOOOOO-AH!” There you go.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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Showdown at the OK Corral Post Office

18 Aug

August 18, 2014

old west post office

You can learn a whole lot from watching old westerns on TV. For example:

  • Most towns are run by a gang that has the sheriff intimidated. This is true from The Magnificent Seven to A Fistful of Dollars to today’s New York City, where Al Sharpton has been pulling the strings of Mayor Li’l Billy De Blasio and dictating police policy for months.
  • Shoot first, ask questions later. But if you shoot well enough, the answers become irrelevant. Weren’t a whole lot of answers to be given after the gunfight at the OK corral, and no one left alive to answer them anyway. Usually, when a gunslinger has called you out in the middle of Main Street for a shootout, you pretty much know why. Marty McFly knew exactly why Mad Dog Tannen called him out in Back to The Future III. (“I do my killing before breakfast.” “Oh yeah? I do my killing after breakfast.”)
  • The post office has been around from the earliest days of settled America and is just now getting around to delivering Christmas presents from 1876.

A few weeks back the post office had decided, as it usually does, to just not care about delivering packages for a while. Not that they do much of a job of it anyway. Usually, in Saarah’s building, the mailman slows his truck just long enough to toss some mail into the bushes of the building next door. On this particular day, Saarah was waiting for a package, a small box about the weight of six magic markers and a crayon, to arrive.

So what happened? Take your best, most educated guess.

  1. The package was delivered to her apartment door by the courteous and polite mailman.
  2. The mailman left a slip in her mailbox so she could pick it up at the post office.
  3. The mailman did nothing but eat a gyro as he walked past the building, yet the package was marked as delivered on the USPS website.

The correct answer is #3, but to be honest, he may have been eating a hot dog, not a gyro.

When Saarah tracked the package online and saw that they claimed it was delivered, she shrewdly knew that the information was incorrect by the clever deduction that the package was not delivered and we went down to the post office on Saturday to pick it up.

Saarah and I pulled up to the post office about 2 seconds after the pair of cars ahead of us also pulled up. Both of those cars were the same distance from the muni-meter, I was just behind one of the cars. This is important. Now I don’t know about your local post office, but all the ones in my area (and this is especially true on a Saturday) are staffed by one sleepy postal worker who may or may not speak enough English to order a Big Mac, and no one else. On a Saturday, there is generally a long, grumpy line, and it only gets worse as the time passes since the office closes at one. If for any reason your local post office is clean and efficient, with plenty of help behind the counter and short, fast lines, please tell me which drugs you are taking.

This is where the Old West theme I started with really kicks in. Cue the theme from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.

okCorral_1622167c

Guy on the right is DeForest Kelley as Morgan Earp.

The drivers of the two other cars got out and eyed each other. One had a package, half sealed, and a roll of tape. The other had a stack of letters in a box. They looked at each other, looked at each other’s mail, then both turned their eyes to the muni-meter. It all came down to the meter. Whoever got there first would get their ticket first and get into the post office first.  And they both knew it.

Just like the final shootout of The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.

They stood and stared into each other’s eyes. Neither moved. Their eyes. Their mail. The meter. Their mail. The meter. Their eyes.

It was tense. You could hear a tumble weed roll by. You could hear the gentle snoring coming from the post office window.

And suddenly they both had the same thought and dashed as fast as they could to the meter. It was as if they were having a showdown in front of the post office, but instead of drawing guns, it came down to who was quicker to the muni-meter.

No matter who won, though, I was destined to be third in line, meaning they would both beat me to the post office, one with a huge stack of mail, one with an unfinished package, and who-knows-how-long of a line already in the office.

But none of it mattered because as soon as I pulled up, Saarah had jumped out and went into the post office ahead of all of us and beat the other two and got in line a good three minutes first, and in that time some other people got in line so the two ahead of me were a good five people behind Saarah.

I put my money into the meter, put the ticket on my dashboard, and sauntered into the post office just in time to meet Saarah at the window.

The white hats won this one.

 

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Life and Death: August 16th

16 Aug

August 16, 2014

These famous people died on August 16th:

1948: Babe Ruth

1949: Margaret Mitchell

1956: Bela Lugosi

1959: Admiral “Bull” Halsey

1977: Elvis Presley

babe

These famous people were born on August 16th:

1954: James Cameron

1958: Madonna

1962: Steve Carell

cameron

Hardly seems like a fair trade, does it?

 

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