In 2008, when we were set on the idea of writing an Italian Yoga book, Peter took it upon himself to cold call the top 100 agents literary agents in America. Somehow, he convinced one to fly from New York and meet with us at the Caffe’ Paradiso. We assumed she’d run away, but Loretta took us as a client. Either she was on to something or off her rocker.
After Drew did a flurry of w-w-work on the book proposal, Loretta arranged a conference call to discuss the details. It was the week before Memorial Day weekend, and she told us that some publishers had expressed interest. All we had to do was dot the ‘i’s and cross the proverbial ‘t’s.
"Just one more thing," Peter prolonged the conversation. "Loretta, will you be in the office this Friday?"
"I’d like to send you something," Peter added.
"Thank you," Loretta acknowledged, "but that’s not necessary."
"I know this great salumeria in the North End," Peter explained. "I’ll send you a few dozen sausages."
"You don’t have to send any sausages," Loretta said with worry.
"It’s okay," Peter assured. "I’ll pack them in dry ice for you and Gabriel" - Gabriel was Loretta’s assistant and clearly not interested in sausages either.
"Please, Peter," Loretta insisted. "Don’t send any sausages."
"Do you want sweet or spicy?" Peter asked.
"That’s really okay, Peter."
"Sweet or spicy?" Peter repeated.
"Good god," Loretta pleaded, "Please don’t send any sausages."
"Sweet or spicy," Peter insisted, "you’ve got to choose."
Recollections vary, but Peter responded something to the effect of “I knew you liked them” - or “it” or “something” - “hot.”
Of course, he meant nothing salacious by the remark, but it’s also likely Loretta took it the wrong way. It’s unclear whether Peter actually sent the sausages, but we never did hear from Loretta again. Perhaps we lost a literary agent that day, but at least we gained another classic Italian Yoga story.
A few years ago, Peter convinced himself that he, Tom, and Ray needed to start a barbershop quartet. In pursuit of a fourth member with some musical accomplishment, Peter called his Alma Mater, the Boston University School of Music, for a suggestion.
When Ray arrived at the Caffe’ Paradiso and met their new guest, his expression was pure as white light - every emotion on the visible spectrum combined into a single look of blank stupefaction that asked, “Where the f@!# did Peter find this guy?”
Davy Gravy - a name too perfect to fabricate - had the figure of a Christmas tree and a smile only a mother could love. His pants were pulled up to his sternum, and he had no idea how to take (or make) a joke. When he smiled, not one of his teeth was parallel to another. His singing voice, however, was pitch perfect.
After a few tunes, Richard - a friend, fellow bluegrass musician, and family dentist - stopped by. Before even asking what we were doing, he spotted Davy. With entrepreneurial quickness, Richard slipped Mr. Gravy his card - Dr. Brown, DDS - and suggested, “Call me some time.”
This one, Ray noted later, was a mouth on which to retire. The quartet didn’t last, but our laughter has.
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
~ Kurt Vonnegut to Ms. Lockwood’s English class
When we first began to discuss the nature of Italian Yoga, some of us thought it would be a good idea to write a book. However, only one member of the group was willing to do any work.
"Drew," we encouraged, "you want to be a writer. Why don’t you write the book for us?"
When it became apparent that Drew was doing 100% of the w-w-work, he decided to assign a short task to each of his ‘co-authors.’ In any book proposal, Drew explained, there was a single paragraph in the 3rd person about each author’s qualifications for the project. ”For next week, could each of you put together a short piece that I can included as your bio for the book?”
Everyone agreed. When the next week arrived, however, no one even remembered the assignment. Drew drove home the importance of this assignment by pounding the table with his youthful exuberance.
The next week, Drew arrived at the Paradiso to find Tommy hunched in the writer’s pose. Not interrupting his uncle’s assiduous scribbling, Drew waited patiently. After a few minutes, Tom presented a napkin with four sentences on it.
"I did my homework," Tom said with pride.
Drew read it and chuckled.
"Thanks Tommy," Drew encouraged. "I can do something with this."
Next, Ray arrived twenty minutes late and sans homework.
"You’re my dad," Drew grumbled, "I guess I can write yours for you."
Robert, the professor and widower in the group, never showed up at all that day.* Finally, two hours later, Peter arrived looking more disheveled than usual.
"Drew," Peter announced, "that assignment kept me up all night."
With that, Peter handed over a three page beatnik manifesto that told the story of his life. It wasn’t prose or poetry either, and it vacillated between third person and first person narration. Part insanity or part genius, Drew included the document - in its entirety - in the book proposal. What a wonder we never got a book deal…
* Later it was learned Robert was getting a ‘nooner’ and he was excused from all obligations of the day.
Years ago, Tom, Ray, and Peter were eating dinner at Pizzeria Uno. By the time Drew showed up, they had already ordered and Peter had taken the liberty of asking the Brazilian waitress if she was single.
Later, Peter asked Drew, “Who is your perfect woman?”
“I don’t know, Peter,” Drew wondered aloud. “I guess I am more of an ass-man than a breast-man. I like a darker complexion too.”
That instant, a stunning woman entered, and Drew added. “I would say that girl over there is a bull’s-eye.”
Peter nearly gave himself whiplash turning around and asking, “Which one? Point her out.”
“That one,” Drew gestured, “with the curly hair and brown coat.”
With cat-like agility, Peter bounded in her direction pushing chairs and patrons out of the way. Watching from afar, the rest of us observed a conversation of emphatic gestures. It finally concluded with the woman pointing to her wedding ring.
Peter returned with bad news that she was taken but assured me he would keep trying on my behalf, especially since he now knew what I was looking for.
“If she weren’t married, I’m sure she would have gone out with you, Drew,” Peter assured me. ”Don’t forget what Armando says: ‘You must speak to every beautiful woman.’”
Cambridge, MA (December 2012) – Italian Yoga is a documentary of old Italian men in Cambridge – our fair city – MA. Rather than stretching, sweating, or chanting, Tom, Peter, Ray, Drew, Richie, Pepe, Armando, and three guys named Tony sit at the café, sip espresso, and meditate on life through laughter and storytelling.
According to the Kickstarter page for Italian Yoga, these men propose to share their expertise for il dolce far niente (aka the “sweet do nothing”). Practiced from the Greek Isles to Gibraltar, Italian Yoga is the art of Mediterranean mindfulness. Rather than running to work with a venti latte, the goal is to sit and simply enjoy “yoga without the exercise.”
Hoping for a gig that requires even less effort than a two-hour workweek, this unique group of friends is aspiring to Kickstart Italian Yoga.
Ray: Do you have the time?
Peter: For what?
Ray: Of day!
Peter: Nope, but I have time for everything else.
Demonstrating all aspects of Italian Yoga from the Morning Pose to the Nap Posture, this short documentary from the corner café is as serious as your soul will allow. This lively group also includes occasional celebrity cameos, such as Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk fame. “It’s impossible to describe what we are like together,” admits Ray’s son, Drew. “Although each of us is crazy in isolation, together we possess an uncanny enlightenment.”
Did you ever wonder what sage wisdom old Italian men possess about life, leisure, love, automobiles and happiness? If you are yearning for transcendental comedy on the small screen, then this Kickstarter is for you. For the full Italian Yoga Kickstarter, visit the following link: http://kck.st/UCyBhm
Winnie the Pooh is a born Italian Yogi.