Pat, We’ll Always Love You!

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

To All the Ships at Sea,

There was a great man by the name of Pat Napolitano.  Patty was one of my oldest and

dearest friends and a person that was very important in my life.  On many

occasions, I’ve mentioned that I’m the luckiest man in the world. I have a

great family, great friends, and a great life partner I call Sunshine.  Most

of these people have been with me, most of my life. They’ve supported me and

helped me to be a better person.

When God made Pat he literally threw away the mold.  He was one of the

strongest, bravest, and true friends God put on this earth.  At the ripe old

age of 15, five people tried to kill me. They had me on the ground kicking

me in the face and chest and delicate parts of my body.  A total stranger

came along and literally pulled them off, one at a time and saved my life.

The bottom line is, if he did not help me, I wouldn’t be around today.  It’s

been many, many years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. This was the

foundation for a very long friendship.

©JoeDiMaggio

Ralph and Pat ©Joe DiMaggioWe’d all gather at Pat’s home 10-15 of us and we’d work on our cars, have a

We’d all gather at Pat’s home 10-15 of us and we’d work on our cars, have a

party and play poker. It was a beautiful time. The Napolitano family had a

curse. They all seemed to have genetic heart disease.  Pat’s dad passed away

at 55 of a heart attack, then his mom, then his older brother Ralph.

You should not be surprised that Pat was the Captain of the Football Team as

well as Captain of the Wrestling Team.  In those days we played both offense

and defense. He was an amazing physical specimen and extremely intelligent.

Patty had an interesting way of motivating people especially someone like me

who was considerably weaker, smaller, and not nearly as brave.  One day

somebody for no particular reason, called me a “Diego Wop”, and called me

out for a street fight. One of our teachers broke it up. and as truth be

known, I did everything I could to avoid it, because I was frightened.  I

managed to avoid this gentleman and I use the term lightly, for two to three

days.  One night after a movie Pat brought me to the back alley of the movie

house in the parking lot.  He had arranged for this person to be there so

the fight could happen.  I still had my doubts and fears but Pat made it

simple. He grabbed my shoulder and pulled me nose to nose, looked into my

eyes and simply said you have a choice Joe D, you can fight him or me the

choice is yours. The fight lasted maybe 40 seconds, I beat him because Pat

taught me you may be afraid but failure is never an option. On the football

field and on the wrestling mat he was an animal but once he left he was a

mild mannered sweet person.  He had a slight birth defect which made him

deaf in one ear. He talked low, slow and cautiously.  They called us the

“Shy Ones”  Andy Boy Saccone, Richie Walsh, Lew Staudenbauer, Teddie Milito,

Jerry Riggerio, Ronnie Valerio, Frank Alagna, Pete Picciano, Bobby Wein, Ray Williamson, Al

Bukowski, Tommy Halinar, Bob Hoffman, Ralph Brandofino, Bob Piracci, and Joe

DiMaggio.  I hope I did not forget anyone of the guys.

©JoeDiMaggio

Pocono Raceway ©Joe DiMaggio

Something happened in March of this year, exactly what it was, I don’t know

but it was very serious. It was the beginning of my friend Pat’s highly

specialized dementia.  As soon as I found out how serious this was, I got

into my automobile and drove to see my friend at Stony Brook University

Hospital. I spent about 3 1/2 hours with him and helped feed him.  He did

not recognize me.  I prayed for a miracle and prayed that God would come

down from the heavens and save him and his life would go on and it would be

good and complete.  My friend Patty had a great wife and two great children.

Pat had another close friend who was the third Musketeer by the name of

Ralph.Commack Titans 1386

Ralph, flew in from Fort Lauderdale.  I picked him up and we went to the

hospital together and visited Pat for 4.5 hours.  It was obvious then that

things were not getting better.  Pat wasn’t shaved in weeks so we asked the

nurse for a shaving kit and she brought us an electric razor.  We shaved our

friend and took turns holding his hand. While I was holding Pat’s hand I

could feel the strength oozing out of his body.  It was a strange feeling.

I had a funny feeling he was not going to be with us much longer.

At the end of our visit with Pat,  I changed my prayer.  Before we left,

Ralph kissed him on the right of his forehead I kissed the left.  At the end

of my last visit I change my prayer that God will take him quickly so he

wouldn’t suffer anymore. God answered my prayer but it didn’t make me feel

happy. I don’t believe in the word closure. I loved him the day I met him, I

love him every day of all the years I’ve known him.  I will always love Pat.

At the wake which was one day and only four hours, there were at least 400

people possibly more that came to pay their respect.  They came from all

over the United States. In all the years I knew Pat, I never heard one bad

word. One of the things I almost forgot to mention was his great sense of

humor.  One day coming back from Manhattan, he asked me for a light for his

cigarette.  He was driving his 1957 Chevrolet and I was sitting shotgun.  I

passed him my zippo lighter.  He lit the cigarette and threw the lighter out

the window. About 30 minutes later he asked me for another light. I pressed

the cigarette lighter in the car, he lit the cigarette and threw that out

the window. At the time I did not think it was funny but looking back at it

I find it hysterical.

I could write a book on what a great friend and helluva person he

was. Pat I will always love you.  To All The Ships At Sea – I pray you have

a great friend like Pat Napolitano

 

©JoeDiMaggio

Pat, Joe, and Ralph

 


Napolitano Collage 6621larger

The Greatest Things in Life are Free

_G0A5188 copy

It never ceases to amaze me the greatest things in life are free.  A little tiny pat on the back, a smile, an acknowledgment that you’re doing well.  But the advent in the digital world, many free things are forgotten.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received a visit from Peter Poremba, the CEO of Dyn-alite, his beautiful wife, and his equally beautiful, charming daughter Olivia.  I’ve know Olivia since she was born.  She’s amazingly beautiful and bright.  She made this get well card for me, which is out being framed as we speak.  Olivia, thank you so much.  Peter and Conni, you done good!  A few snaps of Olivia taken approximately seven years ago, and her puppy Harley.

 

 

 

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

 

 

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger 2272

©Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea, approximately two months ago I did a program at B&H Photography called all things in photography are a compromise. The one thing I would like to make perfectly clear; that is not an excuse for me not to do my best. For that matter, it should not be an excuse for anyone to not do their best. Sometimes your best isn’t really up to code. Attached to this blog is a link to a short film on the great, beautiful, Pete Seeger. It was a work in progress and it was never designed to be published in its present format, but given the fact that Pete has moved to the next level of consciousness, please forgive my one-handed blind shooting. No, I did not intentionally cut his head off but the real sin is the microphone was not tweaked as it should have been. Translated: I had no assistant, no sound man, no PA, and no tripod. However, none of those things are an excuse. https://vimeo.com/85390064

Pete Seeger

©Joe DiMaggio

Pete Seeger Guitar graphic b&w 2336

©Joe DiMaggio

Pete Seeger 1919 – 2014

© Joe DiMaggio
© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

What I’m about to say is my opinion, not fact. Pete Seeger will not rest in peace. He’ll be going to the pearly gates and will be carrying his banjo and singing and will never stop. As a matter of fact, he may try to reorganize part of Heaven. Personally, I’ve never met anyone who ever had a bad word to say about Pete. The reason for this is he was truly a gift to the world. A true visionary before it was popular to be one.  There are very few men who would have the audacity, and nerve to march into Washington and stand up to the bureaucracy. I for one am not sure I’d be able to do it.
I have always been in love with Pete and what he stood for.  I did a short film with Pete and like all films I do, there was no script, outline or storyboard. I took the advice of Albert Maysles and I was a fly on the wall. As I was filming this 90 year old man picked up a sledge hammer and it whistled past my ear. I got on two knees and tried to frame him winging that hammer. Now it may have only been 6-14 inches from me but I thought to myself Pete please don’t make a mistake and I certainly was not worried about my camera.  Like everything Pete did, he was just right on. He went back to his microphone and didn’t miss a beat finishing up his song. What I thought also thought interesting, was that he showed up with his entourage – him and his truck and left the same way. There are no proper words in webster’s unabashed dictionary to describe Pete Seeger. God made just one and there will never be another that will take his place. With all due respect to Dylan, Springsteen, Sinatra, Presley, and John Lennon, they all might eventually be replaced but that will never happen with Pete.  I consider myself an extremely lucky man to have spent time with such a true American Hero.  I will make an honest attempt to put together another very short film on Pete.
So Pete keep playing your songs and when you need to break a sweat chop some more wood. Subconsciously I think that’s why I love to chop wood myself.

Veteran’s Day

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that ALL of my brothers and sisters would like to thank you for your service. Without the heroism of all of the armed forces, we would not be able to live in the greatest and freest country in the history of mankind. I thank you and everyone in the country thanks you. To all the ships at sea, the next time you see a man or woman in uniform, thank them for their service. They will give you back the warmest and kindest smile you’ve ever seen.

 

Award-Winning Photojournalist Bill Eppridge Dies October 3, 2013

Photographers Joe DiMaggio and Bill Eppridge © JoAnne Kalish

Photographers Joe DiMaggio and Bill Eppridge © JoAnne Kalish

To All The Ships At Sea

On October 1, my friend Johnny Iacono called to invite me to have lunch with him and some of our old cronies from Sports Illustrated.  He mentioned Bill Eppridge would also be there.  I said if Bill’s coming I would surely come as well, as I hadn’t seen Bill in a while. He’s one of my heroes.  A day and a half later I was watching the news and saw a portrait of Bill Eppridge on the screen and some of his photos and guessed he had passed.

Bill was a beautiful, human being as well as an extremely talented and great photojournalist. He was humble about what he’d accomplished over the last few decades.

For the record and for those not familiar with Bill’s work , Bill made the very enduring historic image of mortally wounded Senator Robert F. Kennedy lying on the floor of a Los Angeles hotel in June 1968. Mr. Kennedy had just won the California primary and was delivering an acceptance speech when he was shot by an Assassin.  Both JoAnne and I had an opportunity to go to his retrospective at the Fairfield Museum a while back. I had no idea about how many other great iconic photographs, that I remembered in my minds eye, that he had made. The depth and scope of his work at that show really brought it home about how important his contribution was as a journalist.

Coach

Coach Weitz and Coach DiRico

Coach Marvin Weitz and Coach Val DiRico

Today is Tuesday April 30, 2013. In a small private graveside one of the most influential and powerful people God put on this earth will be placed 6 feet underground his name was Marv Weitz.

I would imagine on today’s date there are potentially tens, of thousands of people, who meet the same fate. This person was quite a bit different as he was one of the strongest most dedicated, ingenious educators on the planet. He was able to motivate thousands of average students to believe in themselves and believe that they could succeed in life. He was a great English teacher who happened to be an extremely talented football coach. He became head coach in my junior year at high school the previous year we had an abominable season. I believe it was two wins and six losses. but don’t quote me on that. He took his warm smile, calm demeanor and laid back attitude from the English class and would walk the three hundred yards to the football field and turn into a exceptional motivator. He had the ability of taking a below average or average football player and turn them into a powerhouse. He instilled the combination of  – you can do it,  you won’t fail, you will win. At the end of the day, you believed it. In believing it, it made you a more complete person that went far from any football field. Yes, it was a simpler time then.  At the end of his classes and football practice he would drive several of the players home in the opposite direction of his home, occasionally stopping for a cup of coffee and some positive words to your mother or father on how well their son was doing. Someone once asked me whether I had any heroes. I believe I answered my father, Coach Marvin Weitz and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We remained close friends and  in many ways he was my Consilieri. He was there for my wedding, my children being born, the passing of my parents, my brother and my son Joe. Even though we were three hundred and fifty miles apart (round trip) I would go to visit him at least two to three times a year and spoke to him at least once or twice a month. I needed his confidence, motivation and beliefs. In his later years, and even today, he’s affected tens of thousands of young people. I call it the coach multiplication theory.  For every young man he coached, it wasn’t just one person, but they had maybe 2-3 children and then they in turn had children and they all inherited his spirit, drive and motivation. When I told him that he would smile with a little bit of disbelief but I know in my heart, he genuinely knew what I was saying. I know I will continue to go to him for motivation. Losing and failing has never been an option.  Honorable success is the only thing. It’s not just winning but how you play the game and how you treat your fellow combatants.  It’s a little known fact Coach was a great baseball player and football player. One day I found out he was a great boxer and I found out he sparred with the likes of the “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta.

I will leave you with this –  one day every football game was cancelled in New York due to a hurricane. Coach called the head coach of the number one team – East Hampton and as the story goes, the East Hampton Coach demeaned him and our team, by saying it wouldn’t make any difference if we came in any weather condition, that they’d still kick the crap out of us.  The Coach simply said we’ll be there at 2PM.  It was the only game played on Long Island that day in the middle of a hurricane! The score was tied with two minutes left, we had East Hampton backed up to their five yard line. Our quarter back Artie Pollaci fumbled the snap from center and the ball popped out, I recovered the fumble, and Artie Milleisen scored.  It was the first winning season in the history of our school.  The head coach of East Hampton went home to a Victory Party and from what I heard proceeded to knock the food & drink to the floor. Winning isn’t everything but losing is unacceptable. There’s yet another story to be told about Coach DiRico, who also was a great motivator and leader who played shoulder to shoulder with the great Vince Lombardi. That story to be told another time.  Today is Coach Marvin Weitz’s Day.  Thanks Coach & thank you teammates.

On a photographic note I am ashamed to say that I’ve been unable to locate the negatives that I made photographing my Coach in the day.  The morale of the story is keep better records and files because you may be sorry some day.