Monday, June 21, 2010

Hugo was in





At some point last year I found myself standing in front a steel storefront painted dull dark brown, wondering what the heck was in there. A man came to the door and asked if I wanted to come in, and the truth was, I did want to go in. So I went.

I found myself in a room lined with floor to ceiling shelves holding vintage electronics, mostly radios I think but other mysterious things as well. Then in the back, a machine shop that would make a perfect set for a Guy Maddin movie. Between sight and sound, I was getting dizzy; Mr. Picciani is very generous with stories, a top notch oral historian of NYC. I stayed for stories, wishing I had a memory like his, and asked if I could come back and bring my camera. He told me to come back and bring my husband.

I didn't have my husband when I found myself in front again last week and to my surprise he came to the door. I asked him what he was up to, he said mostly charity work, informally. He said he was nearly broke from giving his money away to friends in need. I told him he should open his shop as a museum but I fear I meddle too much. But maybe he'll let me pay him to fix my broken camera in his custom machine shop. If he does cameras.

He hasn't always worked as a machinist. At one point he was the curator for the South Street Seaport Museum. Back in those days he was friends with Joseph Mitchell, and that's how I heard about the book The Bottom of the Harbor. Mr Hugo didn't think I'd be able to find a copy of it though, back in the days he worked in the Museum neither he nor Mitchell could get their hands on a copy. Someday I'll have to remember to give Hugo one.

Here's more about Hugo Picciani on vimeo.

3 comments:

Lisanne said...

It will prob. be the next book you find on the street..I find that things often work out this way.

amarilla said...

Maybe there's a copy on the bottom of the harbor.

Maki said...

I like this. His face and his important things and window.
The video was interesting.
I love your told your town amarilla.