What If?

What If?
What If?- our Musical Concert series at La MaMa E.T.C. - www.BriannaLaRoccoPhotography.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Late Night, New York True Stories 1- "If Tarkovsky were a cabby..."

By Alessio Cappelletti, Director of Mind The Art Entertainment's Filmmaking Division on Tuesday, October 26, 2010-

I just got in. its 2am. I had this in my mind for awhile now, writing down people Ive crossed life paths with, only for a moment, who've touched me on those often late empty surreal streets of the Big City. I think its important. Like strength in numbers. If I write my stories and send them out to people- stories about the magic and mystery of life, about people really reaching out and connecting....maybe more people will believe in it and reach out to and that magic will get stonger. This isn't about practicality, its not about getting in a cab, spitting out a destination and then putting on headphones or burying ones face in their phone....Why is it always the destination that is so important to us....this is about the journey and taking advantage of every moment life gives you. This isn't about me arriving at my apartment...its about the journey, en route to it....that in life, Im slowly realizing, is important.

Per usual, I had barely eaten today...why? Most of MTAE and my and roommates could answer that. I often lose myself in my work and the hustle and bustle that is New York City (in terms of Rhode Island pace of life- "Toto, we sure as shit ain't in Kansas anymore"). We had just finished an amazing board meeting with the MTAE (Mind The Art Entertainment Crew- which I am a member of), filled with the silly antics, cut with decisive business planning that is our get togethers. They ate authentic Puerto Rican Food (thank you Authentic Puerto Rican Restaurant on 122nd) and I munched on crackers, and raw cashews, and a shake- I brought in my bag. After words myself, President- Christian De Gre, and VP Ashley Williams decided to stop by a dim little surreal spot in the village for a night cap, catch up, and discuss plans further...It was here, I realized how amazing we had it....for all our struggle and strife, we were doing what we love and making major headway- my feature film, plays we have going up (all of us involved in either-directing, acting, producing,etc.), a bar/theater/ varied entertainment space that we are in the midst of securing, designing, then opening as our own, so many amazing things...Life is good...It aint perfect, It aint ever perfect but it, in that moment, in the company of not just friends but family, talking of fears and dreams, was beautiful...truly...and we came to this conclusion (a conclusion to a question that over my life so far has brought much pain and confusion)...why do we do it all...why? For money, success, fame- why? Why do we kill ourselves, work 50 plus hours a week, risk our social lives, relationships, our mental and physical health...Because we love...with all our heart...not just our projects (those are a means to the end)...we love making people realize that they arent alone, that the pain or joy or fear that is in their hearts, shakes their souls, takes their breath has also been in ours... because we want to touch people, we want to support eachother, we want to connect...we want that for everyone...we want everyone to do that with each other, everywhere.

We paid the bill, and they helped me find a cab going toward my own part of the universe (the other side of the concrete rainbow)...and when every cab sign seemed dark...Ashley pointed- "Alessio, there's one!"...and there it sat, waiting for me on a perpendicular street. The barely noticeable driver, shrouded in shadows and slashes of light from sleepy street lamps, over head, softly motioned me over.

After we said our goodbyes and gave our warm hugs, with equally warm beer and whiskey in our bellies...we separated from our paths intersecting to continue into the crisp quiet autumn night on our journeys, alone....

I jumped in and slammed the door so he would know that I didnt care if he didnt usually travel to Pluto, we were about to push his rocket ship to its limits and I wasn't about to get out for Jesus Christ, himself.

Cabby (with a gentle accent)- "So where in Brooklyn are we going?"

Me:"....Um...How did you know I was going to Brooklyn?"

Cabby (tiredly smiles): You look like you live in Brooklyn, where you goin?

I laughed hard and warm, then gave him my address.

Me: You know most cabbies dont seem to like to go into deep Brooklyn at 1am.

Cabby: I don't see why, it's nice.

We sat in silence for a few moments and ofcourse my first reaction was to start to reach for my ipod-

Cabby: So how was your night?

I stopped. Did he just ask me what I think he did? That's strange most cabbys are usually quiet or listening to music or on their phones, speaking languages that I can only imagine are as exotic as the lullabys they are spinning to their sleepy children on the other end. Maybe he was just trying to make small talk in hopes of finding more bills in his hand, when all was said and done. But it didn't feel like that. So I decided to be sincere.

Me: "It was good...really good. I just got out of a meeting and am tired but am happy...I didn't eat anything all day I got so wound up in my schedule"

Cabby: Are you hungry? You wanna stop and get something?

Okay totally unusual...no cabby has ever offered me that but he sincerely did.

Me: No...but thank you...

We were quiet for another moment. Then-

Cabby: How many roommates do you have?

Me (happily intrigued): Okay...how do you know I have roommates?

Cabby (Laughs): Cmon...I know these things, I drive cabs all day. I know people. All night I should say.


Me: Do you like it?

Cabby:....Yes....more than day...its quieter and less traffic.

Me:....Two...I have two roommates...girls.

He turned around with a big grin and a raised eyebrow that reminded me of the way Id imagine my uncle would've reacted when annually playing Santa Clause at Christmas as I sat on his lap and told him I'd been a good boy all year. It made me laugh and sad at the same time...because I miss him. But it felt good, we werent just going from one place to another, point A to B, project to profit...we were living...

Cabby: Do they have boyfirends?

Me: (Laughing) One does, I dated the other- we're all very close.

Cabby: Thats good.

Me: How about you?

Cabby: I live with my family?

Me: Where?

Cabby: In New Jersey.

Me: I don't think I could ever stay in the city, raise a family here, I come from up north- Rhode Island?

Cabby: Youd be surprised, this city is very addictive and after awhile it gets in your blood changes your way of thinking. How long have you been living here?

Me: almost 7 years....How about you?

Cabby: 20.

Me: Do you like it?

Cabby:...I did the first ten (he laughed hard. As did I)...if I could, Id like to live on an island...

Me: So you like warm weather? Where are you from?

Cabby: Russia...I dont know, I like-

Me (completing his thought): The quiet, the nature...

Cabby (laughed): Yes...but you get addicted to this place.

Me:...I know...I know...Its tough, its a city of industry- Im in the film industry...

Cabby: Really?

Me: Yeah, Im a writer/Director.

Cabby: What Kind of movies?

Me: Dramas, I guess...Im in the midst of trying to get financing for my feature length project...(then I filled him in on my meetings with MTAE and my connection with them)

Cabby: But you look young, very young to be doing this stuff....How old are you-27, 28

Me: 24, gonna be 25 in November.

Cabby: My God...well its all business with those people...everything in life is business...

Me:...I know...

I was getting this weird warm itch. Like, a feeling like I wanted divulge my whole life to this man, we were so much alike and even though that had yet to established...I could feel it...I had two choices, I could hold back and just be a normal passerby...or I could open up with him, try to connect and see hat would happen...be sincere...two guys traveling over a lonesome bridge, both on a journey, both could be dead at any moment or any moment after...whats the risk?

Me: Ya know, one of my favorite directors come from your country?

Cabby (kind of excited): Who?

Me: Tarkovsky.

Cabby: Great filmmaker. How about Fellini?

Me (Laughin hard): He's my favorite filmmaker of all time! Him, Bergman, Kurosawa_

Cabby: All amazing. My favorite is Charlie Chaplin. I feel he is the greatest- he is to movies, what the Beatles are to music.

Me: My father loves Charlie Caplin, he used to show me all his movies when I was a child...its so weird because Charlie Chaplin can be so funny but his films have such heavy messages.

Cabby: Well, Charlie Chaplin is really not comedy...

Me: Really?

Cabby: Yes (I see a smile creep across his face n the corner of the rear view)...he is seriousness for people who don't understand seriousness.

That blew me away I mean, really blew me away. It reminded me of a quote my father used to say, that was published in his articles on the great Italian playwright, Pirandello and also why he loved Fellini and Chaplin so much- "The greatest tragedies aren't ones that bring us to tears but ones that bring us to laughter."

Me: So is that what you are passionate about?

He seemed to understand what I said and looked confused.

Me: I mean, in your spare time are you passionate about movies, music...do you love to listen or watch them whenb you arent driving.

After a moment of him pondering and searching, the look on his face changed and became one of deep serious thought- now, looking back, I feel it was the same face I must've made when choosing to open myself to him...but maybe this one was deeper, the risk actually, present.

Cabby: No....I have...um (searching for the word)....depression? I can't bring myself to do anything, I work because I have to but, I have no passion. Its the pills I take, they leave me without a want or passion for movies, or music or even women.

I was floored. I could not believe how open and naked this guy was presenting his soul to me. I didn't know what to say...or I did...but now my risk had presented itself...at a crossroads again, two options:

Me: I used to suffer from that too. I was also on the meds and they do that. If you don't mind me asking, why are you depressed?

Cabby: Well...(he struggled with this)...you're young 24/ 25....Im 45... I used to smoke, ya know?

Me: Marijuana, you-you mean?

Cabby: Yeah, drink all night, go to clubs, do Ecstasy, go with lots of girls. When you are young, you can stay out all night, drink, do these things and they wont hurt you...you could be out in the cold and the temperature doesnt hurt you...your immune system is fine.. But when you do that for so many years, it fills your body with the- the poison. And so I had to get the poison out of my body.

Finally I understood what we was saying.

Me: You had to detox...

Cabby: Yes...and I have to take these pills for depression, ya know. I don't really wanna to go to clubs and dance anymore.

Me: yes I do...I used to have depression. Sometimes I still get down, Im 25 but sometimes feel like Ive missed out on my youth bec. of all the work Ive put into my career like I'm-

Cabby (this time he finished my thought): 45.

We both smiled.

Cabby:...I read...its the only thing I still have a want to do?

Me: What kind of books?

Cabby: Everything...anything...Im reading a lot of books on religion, spirits...

Me: You mean "spirituality"

Cabby: Yes...Thats the weird side of depression, it can make you wanna look for ways to feel better.

Me: I read a pretty good book on spirituallity- its called "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle

Cabby: Whats it about?

Me: Living in the present...Tolle feels all religions are connected and highly unified in message...that they key to peace is living in the the "Now" or the present moment. That all pain comes from fear of the future (which doesn't exist because it hasn't happened yet) or the same for the past (which you can no longer reach cause its gone)...Peace is being here now. And our mind will try to convince us otherwise but the mind is the cause of depression, anxiety (which I suffer from), and if we treat our mind as a machine who's thoughts do not define who we are then thats another way to peace and slowly the mind will quiet.

Cabby: I totally agree, I feel there are no real differences in the core message of any religion- they all point at the same things. You should check out Hinduism...thats what Im reading...its also very interesting.

Me: That's amazing my roommate is Hindu and has taught some about it!...You know what I think...All religion s the same...they have the same meanings.

Cabby: Yes, I totally agree.

Me: Well, you understand these great concepts...why are you sad?

He paused again and this time seemed to really fight with what he was about to say:

Cabby:...our potential....I feel like we have all this potential if life, to live life and do things but we only use 2%...I only use 2%...and nobody cares...look at all these people on the sidewalk, in 100 years they'll all be dead...in 200 years no one will remember Fellini or Bergman...no one will remember you nor me...so

Me (I finished his sentence): What's the point?

He paused then looked in rear-view and nodded at me.

Me:...I feel like the point isn't whether their is an after life or not or how successful you are here...we can die at any moment and what car we had, what work we were doing that day, won't matter...what matters is how we use every moment to love and touch people...go out of our way for no personal gain, just to love people...If I can do that everyday, then I feel I am using all of my life's potential in those single acts of kindness...We all come into this world alone and leave alone...but the paradox is that we are all united in how alone we are, so...we're really not alone...

He took it all in then nodded. We pulled up to my apartment. After I paid him:

Me: Listen, the conversation we had...that was you using a ton of potential and you gotta keep doing that because it touches people- to be reached out to. No cab driver does that, never mind most people-

Cabby: No, it doesnt mean anything...it was ordinary.

Me: No it wasn't...it was special. What you're doing is making the world a better place.

Cabby: No, Im just a cab driver...that's all.

Me: No...you're a good person, who cares about connecting with another....and thats rare...I will remember you.

He smiled then turned to reach his hand through the plate glass opening, for me. I smiled and firmly shook it.

Wherever he is, right at this moment, struggling with the feelings in his heart and pain from the restrictions of the body, mouth, and mind's inability to come up with a form of expression to reward him with peace; picking up transient body after transient body- all wearing headphones, all buried in cellphones-till his eyes are heavy and he must wander back to his own point B, his own destination. I pray he finds his potential, his peace. I pray he finds more pick ups that want to hear and speak. I hope if you get anything from this story you get that. Open yourself to another and write about it to others so they can believe that perfect strangers can within minutes become the closest of friends, bearing souls. And if they can do it in a matter of minutes, from a completely different backgrounds, of completely different ages and occupations...why can't the rest of the world? What are we afraid of?

Ill tell you what Im afraid of...wasted time.

I watched him drive off into that same crisp autumn night...we separated from our paths intersecting to continue on our journeys....

...but not alone...connected.

-Alessio Cappelletti

Brooklyn, NY

October 26, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Alessio,

    This was so amazing to read. Thank you for sharing this with us. When i got you that cab and we said our goodbyes i said to Christian "I hope that cab driver goes to Brooklyn!" and luckily enough he did, and more.