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The Simple Annals of Vinnie Fanucci

The circumstances of my early life afforded me opportunities a wellborn boy might never have had. Not that I was poorly-born, but I certainly wasn’t wellborn either. Let’s put it this way, I was just…well…born – without being wellborn. My strained syntax has led some to label me a White Semanticist, but I consider myself more of a Grammar Cracker.  And I always thought a syntax was something you paid to the devil for having a little fun.

 

These are the size of the mirrors we glaziers worked with regularly at our family’s glass shop. 

More to the point, when I was a teenager working at my family’s glass shop, I was privy to a cast of colorful characters we employed from time to time. They ranged in temperament from the rowdy rascal to the lovable lug to the bastard biker. This clutch of inexpert glaziers were usually from the Italian Northside enclave of Syracuse. They all knew each other from high school and they also knew that Eastwood Glass was a quick way to transform themselves from hungover on a Sunday to gainfully employed on a Monday. This employment makeover usually was the result of receiving a call from one of their network of friends alerting them that Eastwood Glass needed a couple of guys for some jobs that Monday.

 

One of these bevy of factotums was Vinnie Fanucci. Mr. Fanucci…nah, that doesn’t sound right. No matter how many times you say “Mr. Fanucci” it just doesn’t ring true – it sounds like some kind of Italian undersea character featured on Sponge Bob SquarePants. You simply cannot have a “Mr.” before Fanucci and not think in terms of a cartoon character. While he wasn’t exactly a Mr. Fanucci, he was definitely a Vinnie – through and through.

 

Vinnie and his motley band of cohorts (Johnny Ventresca, Mike Procopio, Stewart Vendetti, Nicky the boxer, a fat guy named Tiny et al) all somehow made it through high school – probably because Principal Spadafora couldn’t stand the thought of having them back for another year and ushered them through the system. And since they weren’t in jail and were able to blink their eyes in unison, they qualified easily as potential Eastwood Glass Shop employees. Vinnie worked on and off for us in the late 70s and early 80s and enjoyed the casual barrier to entry into the workforce that Eastwood Glass afforded him. He was amateurish yet dogged in performing the skills of a glazier.

 

Vinnie was a streetwise guy, combining equal parts kindness and rowdiness. He suffered from strabismus – a misalignment of the eye whereby he’d be looking at you straight in the face, but he’d be describing something happening 30 feet down the street. His affliction is more commonly referred to as being wall-eyed. His visual defect wasn’t a problem, but it could’ve been. I mean it’s not like we were working with large and dangerously brittle panes of glass that could sever an artery or something.

 

Vinnie’s friendly Roman face possessed warm, endearing puppy dog features – like if Robert DeNiro had been born a Beagle. He learned his roughhewn ways on the street where I’m sure he also learned any Japanese tea ceremony etiquette he may have picked up.     Read the rest of this entry »

A Day in the Life: A Fond Memoir

To fully appreciate this tale you’re going to have to know a few things. English would be nice. Although Para Español oprime número dos. If you’d like this story to entertain you, blink once. If you’d like this story to inform you, blink twice. If you blinked at all, please seek psychiatric care immediately and then just read the damn story OK.

Sign of the times: Unemployed pick up moves back in with parent.

I’ll set the stage. The year was 1976 and as a 15 year old hormone factory living in frigid Syracuse, NY I was privileged to work on the most mega-ginormous off road equipment ever built. I use the non-word mega-ginormous to convey my sense of adolescent shock and awe at the sheer enormity of these machines. I’m talking monumental dump trucks, massive front end loaders and colossal excavators. My route to this “It’s a Large World” Disneyland of construction equipment was through my family’s glass and mirror business. Whenever I wasn’t in school I was immediately and profitably absorbed into the work force doing anything from cutting glass (actually scoring glass, then exploiting the fault line) to slapping up mirrors in cookie cutter tract homes. Great work if you can get it, or are fortunate enough to be born into a family that has it. In any event, one of our heavy industry accounts was LB Smith. LB Smith was a General Motors dealer, but not in the traditional sense. They were a dealership in GM’s steroidal Terex division. This division didn’t manufacture Impalas or Corvettes, instead they produced the world’s largest collection of outrageously gargantuan off road equipment the universe had ever seen. Bigger even, than a Dolly Parton wig. Read the rest of this entry »