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.


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.