• Random Shower Thoughts

    Random Shower Thoughts

    If you’re anything like me, you may find that you do some of your best thinking while in the shower. Not sure what it is – the ambient sound of the running water, the solitude, the steam – but whatever it is, I often find myself turning into a modern-day renaissance man. In my mind, in that eight to ten minute period, I’ll develop useful inventions and concoct business plans, I’ll perform a killer stand-up comedy routine and maybe even give a passionate stump speech. Often, I’ll think about my day or my week and relive interactions and conversations I may have had, and I play them back, thinking about what I said and formulate what I wish I had said. I’m sure that’s not unique to me – we all sometimes wish we had the ability to say exactly what we want to say, exactly when we want to say it. But for one reason or another – I always put together the best retort, the best comeback, the best counter argument when I’m in the shower!

    Unfortunately for me, those moments of inspiration are often fleeting. I sometimes find myself later in the day trying to remember that killer idea I had when I was in the shower that morning.

    “How did I word that exactly?”

    “What was the name of that new search engine idea I had that would take the world by storm?” (Haha) Kidding here, but you get the point!

    That’s what happened to me one day a little over two years ago. In the shower, just like any other day, and I randomly uttered a sentence to myself. Not sure why, not sure where it came from – and instantly it felt in my mind like the opening line to a novel. A novel that I did not have a plot for, or a setting for, or any real context for. Not even a main character. Just a sentence and nothing more. But this time, rather than shrugging it off, I was compelled to cut my shower solitude short. I quickly toweled off and opened the laptop and typed out that opening sentence with the towel still wrapped around my waist just to make sure I didn’t lose it (the sentence, not the towel). It’s not a very remarkable sentence, it’s actually really ordinary – but for some reason I needed to type it out. Soon, I had a paragraph, and then another, and then another. And what started out as an opening sentence transformed into an opening scene. But what was it exactly? A book? That’s ambitious of me – I’m not what you’d consider a writer. While I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing – I never attempted writing anything on any sort of large scale.

    Well, a few years have passed and after starting and stopping and putting it on the backburner for several months at a time as “life” got in the way, I’ve decided to revisit my random shower inspiration. I’ve found myself thinking about it more of late, and after pulling it back out and re-reading and tweaking and adding a few more scenes, I figured why not make it a little pet project? A little hobby to pass the time. Still not sure what it is exactly that I have, but my thought is that I’ll share it on here in segments as I continue to flush it all out. Hopefully it will find some of your eyes and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to receive some feedback from those more seasoned writers out there! Wherever it goes, it’s becoming a fun little passion project for me – writing down ideas, outlining series of events, scribbling down potential characters and traits – creating a universe out of seemingly nothing at all. I get the appeal and envy those that have been able to truly commit the time necessary to master the craft.

    There’s another valuable life lesson in all this… take notes! Have a notebook and pen at the ready for those random periods of inspiration that are often fleeting. I know I’m preaching to the choir on here – nothing that most of you all don’t already know. But for me at least, there isn’t always “quiet time” to contemplate and reflect and hash out ideas. When they come to me in a time of chaos – they’re often gone just as quickly as they came. My current job affords me the ability to work from home predominantly when I’m not traveling. It’s both a blessing and a curse, but one thing that I never would have thought I’d miss is the commute. That 45 minutes to an hour of windshield time, alone with my thoughts – contemplating the day ahead – or recapping the day and winding down on my way home was valuable time that’s lost. Slamming the laptop shot and walking to the kitchen is a great commute, don’t get me wrong – but there is value in having some time to yourself to reflect and plan and become inspired for whatever it is you do.

    So, whether you’re like me and do your best thinking in the shower – or during your commute, or at the gym – or wherever… take some notes. You never know what that random lightning bolt of inspiration is gifting you! As for my story, I hope to begin sharing it with you in the coming weeks. As for me, I’m going to keep on writing and taking showers. If this writing thing doesn’t work out at least I’ll be clean.

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  • I know it was you, Fredo

    I know it was you, Fredo

    I thought we could use a little bit of levity on this cold and rainy first Monday of October. And I also wanted to share a little bit more from my recent trip down to Cape May, but first, I should probably set this up a bit for you. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite movies – scratch that – undoubtedly my favorite movie of all time is Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (1972).

    I know what you’re thinking, “a guy named Gino saying his favorite movie is The Godfather, how original!” Believe me, I could hear your eyes’ rolling as I write this. But my reasons for loving the movie are the very reasons why it’s been considered one of the greatest movies in American cinema history. Sure, it’s a great mob flick and probably the Padrino of all the modern-day movies of the same genre that follow it. However, it’s also very different. Could you imagine a mobster movie being made today, chronicling a prominent New York crime family without the utterance of a single profanity? Director Francis Ford Coppola created iconic, powerful scenes focusing more on the dynamic of the immigrant family – than say the more commonplace and played out ‘shoot’em up,’ profanity laced mob movies that have become far more prominent. He created realistic, complex characters and artfully told the story of the struggle many faced to carve out a piece of the American Dream in depression era America. I’d argue – along with many others – that it was more a tale of family that happened to take place in a mob world, than a mob movie that happened to portray a family. But enough of that – not trying to play film critic here!

    So, what does any of this have to do with anything? Well – while on my trip down in Cape May, I came across a beautiful Tudor home. I love the Tudor style, and every time I see one, I can’t help but think of the Corleone home from The Godfather.

    Here, you can see a photograph I took of that lovely home…

    Tudor style home in Cape May, NJ

    In the movie, the Corleone family resides in Long Beach, NY – an ocean front town on Long Island’s south shore in Nassau County. However, the actual home that was used for the shoot of the movie was in Staten Island, NY.

    Below, you can see a present-day view of the actual home, who’s exterior remains largely unchanged from the way it looked 50 years ago! The Tudor which was built in 1930 and sits toward the end of a cul-de-sac at 110 Longfellow Avenue sold for $2.4 million in 2016 according to public records.

    The Corleone compound, featured in The Godfather can be found at 110 Longfellow Avenue in Staten Island, NY.

    Now, that’s not the only bit of Godfather history I happened to come upon while down in Cape May. On our way down, my girlfriend and I stopped in Philadelphia to see a show and stayed in Penn’s Landing – a waterfront that sits across from Camden, NJ, nestled between the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Walt Whitman Bridge. There’s a nice stretch of bars and restaurants along the waterfront, along with a park, a maritime museum of sorts and a few docked tall ships. It really is a pretty site, both during the day and at night.

    Penn’s Landing, PA
    Penn’s Landing, PA

    Well, as luck would have it – one of those tall ships happened to be The Moshulu, a majestic four masted ship that was built in 1904. Originally a German vessel, it was seized by the United States in 1917 during World War I. Later, the US would sell the ship to Finland where it would remain in service until 1947 primarily carrying grain and cargo. In the 50’s it remained mostly at port where it was used as a grain warehouse – that is until it was sold to a group of American investors in 1970 and towed back to the South Street Seaport in New York.

    The Moshulu, Penn’s Landing, PA

    So, why was I so giddy to learn the Moshulu was now docked just steps from our hotel? Why did I drag my girlfriend down so that we could see this great tall ship – which I photographed from multiple angles both during the day and at night? Obviously, it must be The Godfather connection. You see, it wasn’t just I that was lucky that the ship was brought back to the US. It was also Francis Ford Coppola that lucked out too, because back in 1974 – this very ship became an iconic movie star in its own right when it was used during the filming of The Godfather Part II. It can be seen during the scenes when a young Vito Corleone emigrates to the United States and arrives at Ellis Island.

    A young Vito Corleone
    The Moshulu in The Godfather Part II
    Immigrant arrivals to Ellis Island, filmed aboard the Moshulu in Godfather Part II

    Shortly after the filming of the movie, the ship was brought to Philadelphia, where it also made a brief cameo in the movie Rocky (1976). The ship can be seen as Rocky Balboa runs along the Philadelphia waterfront during his workout montage. The ship has operated as a restaurant since 1975. Below are some additional pictures that I took during my trip.

    The Moshulu – lit up at night, currently operating as a restaurant in Penn’s Landing, PA
    A broadside view of the ship

    Overall, a highly successful little weekend getaway! We had gorgeous weather and managed to stop over and experience some movie history before spending a couple days down at the beach. Thank you to those who decided to indulge me a little bit on this Monday as I geeked out a bit on a tall ship – but come on, how cool is that?! The ship really does have a very interesting history and there are a lot more fun tidbits that I wasn’t able to get to here. If you’d like to know more about The Moshulu, visit www.moshulu.com.

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  • So, it begins…

    So, it begins…

    I’ve always known that I wanted to write – in some way, shape or form. Starting a blog has been something that I wanted to do for a very long time, and after some failed attempts and starting and stopping over the years – I’m hoping this is the one that sticks.

    What will it be about? I couldn’t tell you! I think initially it well be an outlet for me to get some thoughts together and write about interests that I never considered writing about in the past. I’ve done some sports writing and had a blog about a decade ago that covered one of my favorite teams – but that’s become such a saturated market. With the likes of traditional news media, TV, Twitter and countless podcasts, doling out my opinion on what went down in the bottom of the seventh inning of game 132 on a Wednesday night just doesn’t interest me all that much anymore! Still an avid sports fan though.

    Instead, I think I’ll write about some of my other interests. While I’ve always been a reader – I’m doing a lot more of it lately. Winding down at night with a good book has definitely become one of my guilty pleasures. (Currently reading Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and just finished All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr). I’d love to discuss some of those books with you, and maybe even get some suggestions to add to my reading list too! Also, fair warning, I plan on shamelessly sharing some of my own writing and short stories. More to come on that!

    Ultimately, time will tell what this becomes. It may just be a whole lot of me spewing out randomness into an abyss – but maybe I’ll catch some of your attention along the way and the discussion will fuel me to keep going and find the true voice and purpose of this blog. Solatium in Veritate, or ‘Solace in Truth’ – I kept the title vague and open ended so I could take it in any direction. Solace because I find peace in writing and sharing my thoughts and Truth because I’m committed to being true to myself in terms of what I share here. And Latin because everything sounds so much cooler in Latin!

    So, for those of you who may inadvertently find yourselves here (no, really… how did you find yourself here?), welcome! We may talk books, we may talk writing… heck, we may even talk architecture and photography. Whatever it may be – at the very least, I’ll try to make it entertaining.

    Lastly, I recently got back from a trip to Cape May, NJ. Absolutely beautiful town – if you haven’t been and are within reasonable driving distance – make the trip! I’ve lived two hours away for the last 20 years and only just made it there two weekends ago. The lighthouse is a picture I snapped while down there. Wasn’t really sure what picture to share for my first blog post – but since I’m looking for direction and safe passage, it seemed appropriate enough.

    1 comment on So, it begins…

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