Friday, October 24, 2014

This Is One For The Ages

By the time August 2003 had rolled around I had just completed my first self-produced album: A Walk With Rocco. It was recognized by the Recording Academy of Music garnering Grammy-Entry-Nominations. 

My Grammy Entry-Nominations include: Best Instrumental Composition: September Sadness, Return of the Jade Idols, Best Instrumental Arrangement: September Sadness, Return of the Jade Idols, Best Pop Instrumental Performance: September Sadness, Return of the Jade Idols, Best Pop Vocal Album: A Walk with Rocco, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): The Times Were Of Gold, Gardens of Imagination. 

I had a friend, not just my good friend, but my best friend, who at the time had always been my number one fan. He'd always promote my first CD to everyone he encountered. Well, it just so happened that a guy who claimed he worked for Billy Joel moved in next door to my friend. My friend saw this as a grand opportunity to get my music into the hands of the Piano Man himself. 

I would later find out that this guy had absolutely zero connections to Billy Joel. I basically became this guys pot dealer from 2003-2006 until he did finally move away. This guy was calling me like 3, 4 times a day. At the strangest hours. I bent over backwards to get this guy some weed. It was getting quite annoying to say the least. I wasn't even a pot dealer. Can you imagine the lengths and hurdles I had to go to get this guy pot? What a joke. I knew this guy was busting my balls, but I had to see how far he'd take it. He took it pretty far. More than I would have liked. 

In that time, I wrote of my experiences with this character, and so it was to be that I would write my first screenplay, Billy Joel's Car. The story told the true life story of being hoodwinked into believing I had a genuine friendship with Billy Joel. This dude had even gone so far as to  conjure up phony movie studio contracts. Well, pretty early on, I kind of started to be skeptical about this character. So everything that he did, I incorporated into my screenplay! 

Even though this character was a one-of-a-kind fellow, I don't hate him. In fact, if it were not for him, I would of never had my Rocco at Cedarmere (2005) concert made; which was my first official foray into filmmaking.

Rocco at Cedarmere, filmed cinema verite', at the historical home of William Cullen Bryant, goes way beyond the scope of a party leading into a fantastic once in a lifetime concert/event given by the host, Long Island's own Rocco, musician-filmmaker. With the personal candid interviews given on the spot by fans and friends, along with the captured conversations of the audience, a story begins to take shape that is both heartwarming and inspirational between Rocco and his friend and protege Mark, who also gives the performance of a lifetime.

This guy had me believing Billy Joel himself was going to show up at my concert. That's why I hired a film crew to film my CD Release Party Celebration/Concert for my second CD, For A Day. That was the whole crux of the matter. Well, as you've probably guessed, Billy Joel never showed up. How could he of? Billy had no idea I even existed. This went into my script as well. 

I was kind of pissed at the time and did sue him, but I eventually let it go. It was September 11th, 2008. Just my luck would have it that I would be given an assignment at my job that would change my life forever. I worked with the mentally-handicapped for a number of years, and my assignment on this particular day was to pick up some milk and eggs, for a cake that was going to be made later in the day at the hubsite. What is so interesting about this is that my manager told me I could only go to King Kullen for the eggs and milk. Ok, whatever.

So as fate would have it, on September 11th 2008, I was driving on Forest Avenue, and who should be standing in front of a local barber shop, than lo and behold, Billy Joel himself! Yes, The - Billy - Joel! I thought my prayers had been answered from the heavens. I yelled out from my window that I needed to talk to him. So I make an illegal U-turn, and now I'm face to face with the maestro himself. To me, the most gifted musician to have ever recorded pop music. 

I quickly told him my story about how I wrote a script around him, and how this guy played games with me. Billy was surprised to hear that I had written a script featuring him in not one - but two contrasting character acting roles. Billy graciously told me to send the script to his office in Oyster Bay. 

By this time, there was a long line of cars beeping their horns at me. I cursed them out, but before leaving, I yelled out at Billy, "God Bless You Billy!" Billy was taken aback by this. As I was pulling away, I could here Billy muttering, "God Bless You Billy? Did he just bless me?" He kind of shook his head with a smile, took a drag from his cigarette and watched in disbelief as I peeled off into the sunset.

Well, I never did hear back from Billy again. But that was just fine with me. To have had that moment with the one and only was good enough for me. I doubt he ever read my story.. 

But here's the thing. If that knucklehead I met through my best friend didn't happen, I never would have written Billy Joel's Car, my first script, or the dozen or so scripts that I've written since. 

The Billy Joel's Car script couldn't of been all that bad; because I had invested a-lot of time and effort, not to mention suffering literally: Blood, Sweat and Tears getting it to where it would eventually be optioned by a well connected upstart Hollywood movie studio. By the time of the option, February 11, 2009, (my wife's birthday I might add) I had invested well over ten thousand dollars into the craft of screenwriting. I took lessons from a seasoned professional, learned the art of writing a story, character development, character arcs, proper formatting, and so on and so forth. It was truly an experience that I will treasure 'till the end of time. There had even been a rewrite of my story by a promising aspiring writer in his own right. But, I soon became disillusioned with the whole process, and would eventually opt-out of the option - mostly for creative reasons. That's why I made my own movie, KYRIE. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't work with these guys again, if there was an offer I just couldn't refuse. 

Nor would my critically-acclaimed Rocco at Cedarmere movie have ever been made if it hadn't been for this funny guy. One can go so far as to say that my brand new, to me, my greatest album, KYRIE and my self-produced, Albeit flawed masterpiece of a movie, Kyrie, would have never been made as well.. Profound.


In retrospect, The one thing I would have done differently, would have been in trying to keep my child shielded from the damaging effects of events that have transpired over the past few years. She suffered for my sins. My little girl suffered. My kid. Maybe I'm amazed by the fact that my wife would have stuck by me during this difficult three years. Only she knows why.. War is non-discriminating. It makes ordinary people do things they wouldn't normally do. It effects the innocent more often than not the intended target. War is Hell. 

I owe this guy. Do I dare say it? I love him. I mean.. I'm in love with him. No, jus' kiddin'! Hehe.. ;) No, really, I'm sorry I ever tried to sue him. If I could take it all back, I would in a heart beat. I'm truly sorry for everything - because I know, in my own way, I've caused this person pain. If ever for some reason, I ever did 'make it,' in the entertainment industry.. I'd find a way to help those (like this guy) who maybe I wasn't so nice to in my life. Because I truly am sorry. I really am. 

Well, that's my story. As Jack Palance would say, as the host of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," 'Believe It... Or Not!" It's funny how this world keeps spinning around. Riding High in April.. Shot Down In May. But Come This Here July, I'm Gonna Wrap Myself Up In A Big Ball.. And Fly! MY - MY! :)