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

My Vacation

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

Every once in a while, you get a huge surprise, I mean huge…  and you’re not ready for it, I mean you’re really not ready for it.

While on vacation at Sloan Kettering, two lovely guys came by on Halloween to say “Hello,”  so I would like to say thank you to Dan Horton and Larry Malang.  They came by to see my one man show entitled Latex Love Art.  While I’m at it, I should thanks to JoAnne, Dylan, and David Kenney.  Thanks to everybody

©JoAnneKalish

©JoAnneKalish

Motivation?

© Joe DiMaggio

Musician Doug Stegmeyer © Joe DiMaggio

What motivates you?  What motivates me?  In the case of this particular blog, what motivates me is a simple phone call from an old friend.  It was a phone call and the timing on it was perfect. Al Stegmeyer called and wanted to know why he had not seen a new blog from me since July or August. There is a very good reason for it.  I explained to him why I had not been blogging.  To all my ships at sea, I will tell you why in about 60 days.  Al was kind enough to invite me to a dinner celebrating his brother being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. That great musician was Doug Stegmeyer.  His mother Peggy Stegmeyer, a world class piano player and music teacher will be celebrating her 90th birthday.  For anyone who does not know know who Doug was, he was the bass guitarist for Billy Joel. Nothing would make me happier than to spending an evening with Peggy, Al, and family, in celebration of a good friend and one hell of a musician, but I will unfortunately not be able to attend.  So to all the Stegmeyers out there I wish you health, happiness, and a beautiful rainbow.  I will be there in spirit.

An Additional Note – A NASA scientists once explained to me that every note in music travels into space and remains there for infinity.  So Doug your music is still heard all over the universe

small rainbow

© Joe DiMaggio

Hannah Or-ly

 

 

© DiMaggio/Kalish

© DiMaggio/Kalish

To All The Ships At Sea

Yes it’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog. I’ve been on location, shooting, editing and working on a new documentary.

The most important thing in my life these days is time.  I’d like to take a little bit of time out and tell a story about two beautiful people.  My brother Amir and his beautiful wife Hannah.  They live in a beautiful home on the West Bank in Israel and have an amazing family. It’s a home filled with love, understanding, compassion and true caring.  This is a family that doesn’t see hate or prejudice. They’re always looking at the beautiful Sun in the desert they call Israel.  It’s a special time as Passover is right around the corner.  In a world that is moving at light speed (yes I used it again,) we all need to take a breath and really enjoy the sunrises, sunsets, smell the flowers.  A hug, a kiss are both wonderful things that are free. So Hannah I wish you a great journey.  I’ve included a few photos from our Book A Land of Milk & Honey.

Sunset West Bank © DiMaggio

Sunset West Bank © DiMaggio

JoAnne Kalish with Hannah Or-ly Dead Sea 2009 © Joe DiMaggio

JoAnne Kalish with Hannah Or-ly Dead Sea 2009 © Joe DiMaggio

© DiMaggio/Kalish

© DiMaggio/Kalish

 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

The Silver Star

The Vestibule Cover

One of Jess’s Books

This blog should have been put up June 6, 2013

There are many people who judge their wealth by how much money they have in stocks, bonds, bank accounts, the size of their automobiles and how many summer homes they have. I’m not going to question them for the simple reason I am one of the richest men in the world. There are only 8 or 9 people who can verify that.  I became this wealthy because of great friendships.  The oldest living friend I have , since  Will Barnet has gone onto his studio in the sky at 101 years old. It now brings me to Jess Weiss my second oldest friend. The great part is he’s alive and well.  The first time I stepped into his office I noticed there was a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt thanking him for his bravery and next to the letter was the Silver Star, Purple Heart and several other Medals which unfortunately, I’m not familiar with.  That was approximately 20 years ago.  I said to Jess, “my God you’re a hero” and he looked at me and said,  “no I’m a coward.”  Like most true heroes they never speak of the war. They lived it and bled with it and it’s imbedded in every fiber of their being forever and probably will remain with them to the next level of consciousness. He explained he saw 3,000 men die that day and during the balance of the war about another 7,000 men.  He never elaborated on why he received all the medals he did. Jess was there for me when my mother, father, my son and my brother died. His words of wisdom, his teaching allowed me to go on and not give up. That translates into an infinite amount of money. Obviously the money is meaningless but the friendship is worth everything. So on the 69th Anniversary of the D Day Invasion I take my Beret off to my dear friend Jess Weiss. Monday he will be attending a dinner held by the French consulate and will be giving a short speech on Omaha Beach. I hope they’re not disappointed because Jess is not only one of the bravest men I know, but one of the humblest as well . God is truly in him. The French Government has just bestowed this Medal for Jess’s outstanding service 69 years ago on Omaha Beach.  Thank you my friend.  All Americans and all Frenchmen thank you.

Knight Medal of the French Legion d'honneur

Knight Medal of the French Legion d’honneur

©DiMaggio/Kalish

©DiMaggio/Kalish

David Lynch and  Jess Weiss (Transcendental Meditation Conference)

David Lynch and Jess Weiss (Transcendental Meditation Conference)

Paul Laddin Sends Joe a Poem

Hi to all the Ships at Sea,

There are hundreds and maybe thousands of photographers and filmmakers that make a lot more money, than I do. I’ll tell you what I’ve got though, I’m the richest man in the world because I have so many beautiful and special friends. My friend Paul Laddin is a true Renaissance man. He’s been a working artist for the last 6 decades. At one point in his career he was one of the original Madmen in the advertising business. He’s won many many awards for his talents. With all of that, he is just a regular guy and beautiful person. After a conversation we had, he sent me this poem and I’d like to pass it along. If you go to dimaggiophoto.com and click on Paul Laddin you can see some of his artwork.

Photo tip for today: anytime you’re photographing snow, always remember to open up 1.5 stops; no one wants to see grey snow and…and while you’re at it stay away from the yellow snow.

Poem by Dylan Thomas,

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas

All the best,
Joe D

Visual Impressions with Joe DiMaggio, Sponsored by Adorama
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Wine Gets Better with Age

“I was a young lad when I met Joe and JoAnne, I was a junior (maybe) in high school, showed up at their waterfront house to interview. Thought JoAnne was his daughter, good thing I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say that. They’ve become more of my second family rather than a job, and that’s why I never truly got fired. I processed black and white film and printed,(my 14-year-old asked “whats a darkroom?”) stamped color slides for days on end, drove cool cars, traveled and sat ringside at the Cooney Holmes championship fight. Fished, moved them to the sticks and idealized all they did (almost All). Love you guys dearly, I don’t blog but that’s all”

Andrew started with both JoAnne and myself when he was 15 years old. He loaded my cameras at heavyweight champion fights. Over the years, we all became very close friends and now the relationship has grown into absolute family. He has an extraordinary family, beautiful wife, children and is extremely successful in his business. He has taken photography, his original passion, to a whole new level. He has a brutal schedule. His passion is so strong, that he will drive two hours in one direction, shoot for half an hour and drive three hours back in traffic. Not only to make a great photo, but it becomes a zen like experience.

Of course I told him he was out of his mind to do that. Thank God he doesn’t listen to me all the time. To this day, if I called Andrew and said, I have a 6 figure assignment and I need your help, he would come out of retirement, (there’s no doubt in my mind) he would drop what he was doing and join me anywhere in the world. If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. The following two photographs, well they need not be explained. Photo tip for today: take what you really like, turn it into a passion. You’ll make great art, and maybe take a little stress out of your life. His black and white photos motivated me to go out and shoot some serious black and white.

This image is shot in raw, processed w. silver efex pro and Lightroom. Nova Scotia, Peggys Cove, Lighthouse.
Andrew_Coast_Stormy

©Andrew Elrich

©Andrew Ehrlich

All the Best,
Joe D

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Old Friends, New Year, Life Itself

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

Hi to all the ships at sea,

I would like to wish everybody a healthy happy, new year (hey idiot, it’s the 15th-where have you been?!) Sorry guys, the last 45 days have been brutal, and I’m not going to go there today. I decided to take Saturday off, and I went to visit my former English professor/football coach, who has just been admitted to the Stoney Brook VA Nursing Home. It was the best 60 seconds and the worst 19.5 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life. I’ve loved this man for 50 plus years, and I’ve resolved myself to the fact that will be the last time I get to see him. I drove 7 miles to see one of my former assistants, he showed my three photographs that blew my head off. They were just gorgeous. He explained how he did them,why he did them, not that he had to; the photographs did not require any information, they moved me from a very negative place to a very good place. 15 miles west and an hour later, I went to see my oldest friend Pat Nap and he looked great! In the day he was a great football player and a world-class amateur wrestler, and ya know what, he still looks great today. OK-this moves us another hour and a half down the road and I stopped by to see my spiritual advisor, Jess Weiss. We had three or four emails in the last week, and three or four phone calls. His lovely bride of 38 years passed away four weeks ago. I went to see him because he’s my hero. The first time I walked into his office, above his desk was the silver star and ten other medals. I told him he was a true hero. He explained to me that he was a coward. He felt guilty that he left Omaha Beach alive during the D-day invasion and thousands of his brothers did not. Jess has written five books, I strongly recommend reading one of them or more…he’s not only a true hero, but he’s a visionary. He is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. His 97th birthday is in two weeks and looking into his eyes, I saw a 20 year old man. Thank God for Jess. My life partner JoAnne Kalish reminds me that I’m a photographer and filmmaker and that my blogs should be about photography and filmmaking. This blog IS about communication and respect and history. That’s what photography is. I remember someone telling me, life is hills and valleys. In twelve hours I went from the highest mountain to the lowest peak and back to the highest mountain, so I guess that person was right. LIFE IS PRECIOUS. Please spend every second you can enjoying what you have.

Healthy, happy new year
Joe D

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