Tag Archives: Brooklyn

On this day, 92 years ago

On this day in 1925, my father Vincent Patrick Preziotti was born.

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I visit This Day in History and discover that Katherine Hepburn, most noted for her performances in The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, was also born today, in 1907. I remember Dad’s nightly AMC movie marathons filled with spaghetti westerns and comic dramas, many of which starred Katherine and her long-term on again/off-again love interest, Spencer Tracy.

Dad was a die-hard Brooklynite. He loved baseball until the Brooklyn Dodgers left for California. His favorite pastime was strolling the boardwalks in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and even the Rockaways.

He loved to dance, a common interest he shared with my mom. I have the fondest memories of mom washing dishes in the kitchen, of dad pulling her away from the sink, suds and all. Charlie Parker on saxophone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Ella on vocals, mom and dad waltzing from the linoleum to the parquet floors in the dining room. On days like today, I truly miss the house on 81st street.

When Dad was a young boy his uncle Joe managed the Thunderbolt and Tornado, sister rollercoasters to the Cyclone. Dad often reminisced about being a ticket taker and people watching. He was a quiet man, with a gruff exterior. He was reserved at first, but once he felt comfortable in your presence he would blossom. A voracious reader of the newspaper, he would often engage in conversation about current events, mostly politics. And some of those discussions would be heated and full of fire; he was Italian after all.

In my early years, we would fight something awful. My mom unwittingly influenced me toward liberal leanings (she was registered as an Independent) and it took me a long time to find a middle ground where Dad and I could speak to one another without raising our voices. Over time I gradually learned to mindfully pick my battles with my right-wing Republican housemate. These days I wonder what he would think about our current administration, and as I find myself alone with my thoughts, occasionally talking to Finn, I wish I could talk to Dad and hear his voice.

I have two voicemail recordings of my dad. One is about a dentist appointment. He needs me to come with him. I can hear the hesitation in his voice, of wanting my help but not wanting to interfere in my life. It makes me cringe, the thought of him thinking of himself as a burden.

The second recording is of him wishing me a happy birthday.


The Judgment of Paris presented by Company XIV

An unlikely performance space resides in a gallery/dance studio on Bond Street. Bond Street Brooklyn that is; unassuming on a half-residential half-industrial street. If Austin McCormick’s work makes a splash, the hustle and bustle of Smith Street may have some healthy competition in livening up this dead zone.

The set design is gorgeously orchestrated in the Baroque style with matte silver tin ceiling tiles framing the outer edges and top of the stage, accented by a glittery black theatre curtain. A crystal chandelier hangs center stage, and a strategically placed boudoir mirror (used as an onstage dressing room) allows the audience to glimpse an aside of the character’s emotions behind the scenes (especially telling by Helen later on in the performance).

The drama is narrated by a ringmaster (Nick Fesette) egging the audience to patiently await the tale of love and lust. Waiting is not long, as four blonde dancers (including a voluptuous Mae West-type and a male with Tina Turner worthy legs) rowdily enter stage left donned in champagne colored corsets, matching cancan skirts with petticoats and ruffles in crimson red. Spouting lewd comments in French, together their high kicks expose bosom, bottoms and legs, like a naughty set of Rockettes.

The Judgment of Paris is one part burlesque/one part spoken word/one part dance  – McCormick’s original script inspired by  operatheater, and history/mythology. Creative liberties are taken with the story regarding the relationship between Helen and Paris, construed as a love story (rather than an abduction), narrated by a courtesan (Gioia Marchese).

As the story goes, Paris is ordered by Zeus to choose which of the three goddesses–Athena, Hera or Aphrodite–to bestow the Golden Apple. Each of the goddesses dance for Paris with offerings of:  wealth (a golden infused Hera performs ballet on point), bravery & strength (a tutu’d Athena dancing to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy) and love (Aphrodite performing a clothed fan dance). An unsuspecting young man really? Given the choices, which would one would you choose?

Aphrodite, the Golden Apple in her possession, promises Paris love and lust with Helen of  Troy. One of the most poetic scenes involves Paris and Helen sealing their fate with an erotic love dance. The female lead wears sheer mauve georgette that is almost ethereal–a play on the good/bad angel theme that seems to haunt Helen throughout her rise and fall.

A most powerful dance sequence portrays the battle led by Helen’s husband, King Menelaus of Sparta…here Fesette proves his true talent as dramatic artist. Spellbound by the force of his voice, I was captivated by the slow motion effects of the troupe preparing and engrossed in battle. Dressed in sparkling chain mail, the dancers movements are magnified by the enveloping mist. A mystical scene, contemporary in its depiction of war.

The Judgment of Paris, presented by Company XIV is part of The Apple Trilogy. The studio is located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn accessible by the F or G train to Carroll Street and a short walk from Smith Street. Cross streets of Bond and Union Street.