Posts Tagged ‘Fable’

My daughter arrived in SF this weekend to visit her grandmother in LA who had a mild stroke. She and I had lunch on Sunday. After lunch, we went to a Peet’s Coffee for coffee and conversation. I was startled by several insights that she had, that I had not thought of before. While talking about people’s self-image of things like sexuality, race and the rest, she mentioned Sesame Street. I always saw the show as fun and a bit preachy. She pointed out that to her and she assumed others of her generation, the colors and the various roles of the characters communicated that it was not your color, where you lived or your gender and the like that make you who you are, but what you do. It is not whether you are green and live in a garbage can that identifies you but whether you are a grouch or not (Although it could be argued that being green and living in a garbage can would make most people grouchy). If she were right it would make Sesame Street highly subversive. No wonder the conservatives are so obsessed with closing down Public Television.

She then mentioned that prior to her generation (children of the baby boom and the denizens of the 60’s) so-called normal family life, which no matter how dysfunctional, formed the basis of ones personality, and that your other experiences in life (like watching Sesame Street) affected that to a greater or lesser degree. But, her generation was perhaps the first in the West where a significant percentage of children experienced something different from previous generations, so-called, normal family life. As a result, she and she assumed many of her generation, lacking that tradition, perverse or not, often relied on the media, such as in her case Sesame Street, to create that core value system or image of morality upon which the rest of their personality accreted. I then thought about the circumstances of children today, like Hayden growing up on Sponge Bob Square Pants and viewing a gullible, happy-go-lucky yellow sponge who uses his nose as a flute and exists primarily on hamburgers and ice cream as their image of normalit

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Since Hayden was four years old, almost every night I have been with him, I have told him an ongoing bed-time story regarding a little boy about his age and his pony Acorn (the name of the pony H rode at Naida and Bill’s ranch). The stories concerned Danny and Acorn’s adventures with their friends: the White Knight and his horse, Blackey-whitey; the Black Knight and his horse, Whitey-blackey; the Knight of the Burning Toilet; the Monster that Lived in the Closet; the Wizard that lived in a Castle on the Mountain; and Prince Sammy who lived in a palace in Rivertown with ten princesses whose names were, Brandy, Cindy, Candy, Fannie, Ginnie, Mandy, Sandi, Tammi, Winnie and Abigail Fort and Go Braugh. (I sometimes would forget the names, but Hayden had them memorized and would correct me if I did.)

Danny lived in a small house with a barn for Acorn located next to THE DEEP, THE DARK, FOREST (said in a deep scary voice), in the center of which lived, Grandpa Pookie.

It seems that on the last night before I left two months ago, I had begun an adventure about Zeekie a small green creature and Three Giants. I did not finish it that night. Instead, I promised him I would do so when I returned. Of course, by the time I got back, I had forgotten all about it.

On my first night upon my return to in El Dorado Hills, he took me into the bedroom and asked me to finish the story. After I admitted that I had forgotten what it was about, he nodded sagely, went to a drawer in his headboard and took out a piece of paper. On it, he had written out the entire story I had told so far. The words were all phonetically written but understandable.

This surprised me. When I had left only two months ago, I thought he could not yet write. It amazed that he had taken the time and effort to write it down and had the insight to realize that I would probably have forgotten it all.

That night I told him the rest of the story. It wasn’t bad as those stories go and it even had a moral with a twist at the end. The implications of the twist concerned Hayden a lot.

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Rossana Petrillo 4

Artist: Rossana Petrillo born in Campania in 1957. 

Petrillo may refer to: Petrillo (surname) Myrceugenia correifolia, evergreen shrub commonly referred to as “petrillo” Petrillo Music Shell, amphitheater in Chicago named after James Petrillo

One day while looking for inspiration about something to write in this blog, I thought it would be amusing to author a semi-autobiographical fable based upon some historical person bearing my family name, Petrillo. A cursory exploration of the internet revealed, as would be expected of an Italian-American surname, a number of criminals and minor mafia members.

My research also led me to review the execution records of several states in the Northeastern portion of the US which produced at least one Petrillo executed for murder.

It appears, from those records, that those states eventually ran out of Indians to execute or free black men (In the case of the black men, primarily for sleeping with white women which appeared to be a capital crime at that time.) So, starting in about 1860, the number of yearly executions not only increased markedly but the executioner moved on to a strong run of people with Italian surnames. This continued until about the middle of the Twentieth Century when blacks took over again (the Indians, I assume, all having been eliminated), not so much for just sleeping with white women but now for everything else as well, including even things they did not do. I am sure other sections of the country featured other minorities from time to time that similarly heard the executioners song.

There were also the notorious Petrillo brothers from Connecticut, tried, convicted and executed for a scheme of insuring individuals who they subsequently murdered to collect the insurance money.

Now all of these showed promise for a story or two. But sensitive as I am about the stereotypes of Italian-Americans, I continued my search in hopes of finding a more positive model to use.

I could only turn up three.

One was Sophia Petrillo who was played by Estelle Getty in “The Golden Girls” television series. Sophia was the Bea Arthur character’s mother. Unfortunately, she was a fictional character and anyway she was reputed to have burned down the retirement home before moving to Miami to live with her daughter and friends. (There also was an August Petrillo who, at the time the show was popular, was the racist mayor of Mount Vernon NY, a city I lived in briefly, but he was also not the role model I had in mind.)

Then there was James Caesar Petrillo, the head of the International Union of Musicians from the 1930s until the 60’s. There was a band shell in Chicago named for him. That had some promise. A story about a young musician and son of an immigrant who with the usual combination of guile and intimidation worked his way up to become one of the undisputed leaders in the American trade union movement and eventually played a well-publicized duet with then-President Harry S. Truman; James on his trumpet and the President on the piano, had a certain American success story ring to it.

There was also some guy named Petrillo from Pennsylvania who wrote a book called “The Ghost Towns of North Mountain.” I could see a reality series on the SciFi network coming out of it.

But for some reason that day, none of those stories really appealed to me.

Then I discovered that in the sixteenth or seventeenth century there was a famously pretty young male musician named Petrillo that was the plaything of the Prince of Tuscany, a Medici no less. Unfortunately, I don’t do costume dramas.

On the other hand, I thought I could possibly revise his story to make it more contemporary.

In that case, forgetting my temerity about stereotypes, the story I imagined, might go something like this:

Ferdinando, “Freddy Megs” Medici, the dissolute son of Vincent, “Vinnie the Hump” Medici a well-known Mafiosi, one day decided that he wanted to be a producer and manager of rock bands and using his father’s money started doing so.

Francis “Franny” Petrillo was the backup Bass guitarist of the band “Pepperoni Suicide” that was managed by Freddy Megs. Franny was the product of a series of abusive foster parent situations. He was also an exceptionally pretty boy and Freddy Megs fell for him, hard. They began an affair.

Since the homophobic mafioso leadership frowned on such things,  Freddy Megs kept his dalliance with Franny very secret. He also had very public affairs with women that convinced most of those that knew him that Megs was no finocchio.  Anyway, he was not yet a made man so something like this, if it did get out, could always be considered just a youthful indiscretion.

Freddy Megs promised Franny that one day he would have his own band.

Unbeknownst to Franny, Freddy Megs was also having an affair with a transsexual drummer in a punk grunge Dyke band called “The Bloody Rags,” also managed by Megs. The drummer’s name was Melanie.

When Franny found out about Melanie he became very jealous and decided to do away with her. He rigged up her drums to burst into flames when Melanie struck them in a certain way.

And so, at the concert where the Bloody Rags were performing, Melanie’s drums burst into flames on cue. Unfortunately for Franny, Melanie escaped without a scratch and the pyrotechnics were so well received by the audience that the Bloody Rags incorporated it into their act and as a result became famous.

Melanie and the band, now insanely popular, promptly hired a more successful manager then Megs and took off for a tour of Europe, leaving Megs pissed off and Franny temporarily happy.

Freddy Megs soon grew tired of the music business, sold off his bands, told Franny it was over between them and joined an artist community in Taos.

Franny distraught and hoping to punish Megs with guilt, then hung himself from a telephone pole by the E-string of his favorite guitar, right outside the door of Freddy Meg’s house.

Unbeknownst to Franny, Freddy Megs had already moved to New Mexico and had sold the house to Franny’s father, a mega-millionaire who had made his money as Bernie Madoff’s silent partner. Franny’s father spent his life making money and feeling guilty for abandoning Franny when he was an infant. He had recently tracked Franny down and was planning to reveal himself to his long-lost son.

His father, coming out of his house in the morning to meet with his lawyers because he was under indictment for his association with Madoff, seeing Franny hanging there promptly dies of a heart attack leaving all his money to Franny. Since Franny is already dead the money goes to the alternative beneficiary in the will, a non-profit dedicated to reprogramming gay artists.

Eat your heart out Charlie Dickens wherever you are.


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