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Articles by: Darrell Fusaro

  • Life & People

    What It's Like to Be Submitted for an Emmy®


    Want to know what motivates me to be so productive?  The answer: Pain.  I have found nothing relieves emotional pain more effectively than getting busy.  


    "If you're feeling shitty make something pretty."
    - Diana, Darrell's cousin


    This remedy is no secret, you may have even heard the saying, "Move a muscle: change an emotion."  What does any of this have to do with being submitted for an Emmy®?  Nothing, but since the news program I produce in Los Angeles was submitted for one this year I decided I'd make a preemptive strike.  In my attempt to avoid the high high of potential nomination as well as the low low of being passed over I decided I'd bare my soul.  Miraculously it worked.  By shamelessly pointing out my less than virtuous craving for approval, via cartoon confession, I've made it through the Emmy® selection process emotionally unscathed - even after finding out we weren't nominated.  Here they are, my before and after shots of the Emmy® selection process, so you can enjoy a laugh at my expense too.

    Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can. -Elsa Maxwell


    BEFORE



    and AFTER


     
     
     
     

  • Life & People

    Get the Best of Both Worlds: Rome & Los Angeles (or Here & Hereafter). All For Just $5,000US!


     
    Last week I met my friend Mike Dugan in downtown Los Angeles to see his new place.  It only cost him $5,000 and it is literally - to die for!  He calls it his "Downtown Condo" and it's located on the corner of Temple & Grande directly across from the Frank Gehry designed, Walt Disney Concert Hall.
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    Los Angeles is a great place to live (with acceptance)



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    Walt Disney Concert Hall what a view!
    Who said there's no more real estate deals to be had in Los Angeles?  Apparently there are but only for those who can really accept the unavoidable reality that one day this life will come to an end.  Why is that?  Because they are located in the mausoleum of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.  It's true, just like my friend Mike, you too can be entombed in the cellar of the Cathedral for as little as $5,000. 


    All kidding aside I appreciate Mike's new "condo" because it ironically relieves my fear of death.  And this is good news because as long as I can remember I had a terrible fear of death.  As an mere eight-year-old I was overly concerned about being drafted to the Vietnam War hoping that day would never come.  Too scared to let anyone know I was afraid, I kept it to myself.  Big mistake.  I am sure if I confided in someone else I would have been relieved to discover I wasn't the only one who was afraid of death.
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    Death may be inevitable but the fear of it doesn't have to be constantly lingering in the shadows.  My friend Mike is a living example that the acceptance of death adds joy to living.  I have found acceptance by changing my perception of death.  Looking at it as a part of life and not the end of it.  I also throw in that, "It can't be that bad if it's the one thing, other than being born, that we ALL have in common."  Honestly, I still get a little creep-ed out every time I fill-out paper work when I go in for simple procedure at the hospital when it refers to power of attorney and how to divvy up my organs.  In cases like these I find just diving right in and signing without too much thought (or reading) frees my spirit of unnecessary worry. 


     
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    Accepting this fact of death rather than fearing it, trying to avoid thinking about it, or denying it, helps me appreciate every moment and everybody in my life to the fullest.  In this healthy frame of mind strangers become fellow travelers and allowing someone ahead of me in traffic is a pleasure instead of an irritating obligation.  Acceptance of death has the unlikely effect of adding life to our lives.
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    My friend Mike is a guy who really knows how to live


    Here is a comforting read from the book, Around the Year with Emmet Fox, that Mike Dugan gave me over 25 years ago and that I still read from each morning.  Enjoy.

    "WHY WORRY?

    Nothing is really worth worrying about. Nothing is really worth getting angry or hurt or bitter about. Positively nothing is worth losing your peace of mind over.

    These important truths follow logically upon the following fact: You are going to live forever - somewhere. This means that there is plenty of time to get things right again if they have gone wrong. No matter what mistake you may have made, enough prayer will overtake it and cancel it. If those you love seem to be acting foolishly, you can help them with prayer to be wiser, and, meanwhile, if they suffer, it means that kindly nature is teaching the a lesson that they need to learn.

    But suppose something awful should happen? Well, what then? Suppose you lost everything and landed in the poorhouse. What then? Think what a wonderful demonstration you could make there, and you would probably learn several valuable lessons there, and, anyway, it would be quite interesting. Suppose the whole universe blew up. What then? When the dust settles, God will still be in business and you will be alive somewhere, ready to carry on."

    -From Around the Year with Emmet Fox, daily reading for November 21st.
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    THE END

  • Life & People

    The Key to Great Story Telling. Thanks to Alphonso D'Abruzzo (aka Alan Alda)



    I recently came across this simple and easy-to-remember key to telling a great story.  Like most valuable things in life I stumbled upon it seemingly by coincidence.  It happened when I decided to grab a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop other than Starbucks.  Which is a huge step out of my comfort zone.  But I had no choice since our local Starbucks was closed this week for renovations.  So on this particular day and under these circumstances the Rumor Mill Cafe turned out to be the most convenient place for me and my friend Ed Biagiotti to meet for our regular afternoon coffee.  I ordered my grande drip and since Ed hadn't arrived yet I decided I'd flip through one of the donated books these non-franchise chain coffee shops tend to have laying around for customers to read.  On top of the short pile of books was Alan Alda's autobiography, "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned."


    Although I'm not a huge Alan Alda fan I do know he lives in New Jersey and his real name is Alphonso D'Abruzzo.  Since he and I had the Italian New Jersey connection I figured, "What the hell?"  Which in New Jersey speak means, "Why not check it out?"  So I picked up his book, sat down at a two-top, opened it up to the very first page and there was this quote; 

    "Act One: Get your hero up a tree.
    Act Two: Throw rocks at him.
    Act Three: Get him down out of the tree.
                        - attributed to George Abbott, on playwriting"

    This is great advice to keep in mind anytime you're about to tell a story whether it's in the form of a play, screenplay, book, or even verbally.  It'll work for them all.   The best advice is always simply stated.  But how it gets to me is nothing short of miraculous.  So for this one, thank you Starbucks for being closed for renovations, thank you Rumor Mill Cafe for being the only convenient option available that day, thank you Ed Biagiotti for showing up late, thank you who ever you are for donating Alan Alda's autobiography to the Rumor Mill, thank you George Abbott for putting this great advice so bluntly and thank you Alan Alda for just happening to be an Italian New Jersey-ian living your entire life to get to the point where you decided it was worth putting all together in a book to share, and for some reason feeling so strongly about George Abbott's advice you decided to quote him on the very first page where I would find it. 


    BTW, the coffee at the Rumor Mill Cafe is great, too.

    Oh, and get this, when I went back to the Rumor Mill Cafe the next day to meet Ed again for coffee I searched for the book and it was gone.

    "Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake."

    -From the book, Alcoholics Anonymous


                                               

  • Life & People

    My Rotten Mother Was The Perfect Mom



    I dreaded our forth grade assembly.  All the kids scampered around the classroom asking each other, “Is your mommy coming?”   Without waiting for a response, they’d finish with; “MY mommy’s coming!” 


    Over and over, the same thing would bounce out of every kid’s mouth but mine.  I answered by nodding yes and praying to myself, “Sweet Jesus, please don’t let my mommy come to the assembly.”


    At School 9 the assemblies were held in the auditorium.  It was really an indoor basketball court with a stage.  Folding chairs were set up for the audience.  The students from all the other grades attended and the parents of the students performing were all invited.  Because the assemblies were held during the day it was usually only mommies who showed up.


    Our performance began as planned.  Throughout the performance I was tormented by the thought that at any moment my mother would show up while I was on stage.  It wasn’t until we were halfway through that I began to feel relief, thinking to myself, "Maybe my mom’s not going to make it after all!"


    Then there was a loud “Ka-Chun-Ka!” sound that came from back of the auditorium.  It was the loud sound of those, “Ka-Chun-Ka!” bars, the long brass bar handles on the doors to the auditorium that you have to press down hard to open, and when you do they make a loud, “Ka-Chun-Ka!” noise.


    The doors flew open and the entire audience abruptly spun around toward the back of the auditorium.  Silence.  Everything stopped.  It felt like I was dreaming while standing in shock.


    There she was, my mommy, drunk out of her mind standing slightly off balance in the doorway with her frosted hair all banged up, a purse dangling off her left arm, wearing a tight sweater, Capri pants and heels.  Oblivious to the fact that the entire audience was twisted around in their seats and staring at her in shock, she pointed at the stage and proudly shouted, “My baby!”

     
    All at once everyone swung back around in their seats curious to see who her “baby” was.  Frozen on stage, I convinced myself, as my face heated up like the coils in a toaster oven and turned just as red, that maybe they’d think it’s one of the other kids; after all, there are four of us standing on the stage.  But as soon as she blasted out, “Daaaaa-rell!”  it was all over.  I just wanted to fall on my cardboard sword and end it all.


    Walking home from school humiliated I couldn’t imagine anything worse, until I heard Brazil 66's, "Mas Que Nada," blasting from the open windows of our house.  When I stepped inside my mom grabbed me by my hand, pulled me into the living room began leading me around as she danced with a drink one hand and holding mine with the other.


    “Come on Darrell, dance with mommy.  Maybe if you moved your ass a little more we wouldn't have to shop in the 'husky' department.”


    Seeing your mother drunk is one thing, but being forced to dance with your drunken mother is discomfort like no other.  Even though no one was there to witness this, except for my younger brother, Eric, (who pretended to be a cat so he wouldn’t have to dance with her), the pain of humiliation was excruciating.


    At the stroke of five o'clock my dad walked in the back door and mommy made a beeline for the kitchen.  The crash of the silverware drawer hitting the floor was followed by my father's shout,


    “Billie, will you put down the knife!”


    From past experience I knew she didn’t really intend to stab my dad; she just wanted to get his attention.  But this time she really wanted to teach him a lesson.  While my dad tried to convince her out of killing someone with the knife.  She began to strip until she was standing in the kitchen completely naked.  Then she threw down the knife and ran out the back door.


    “God damn it!  Darrell, Eric get out here!” my father yelled, “Your mother just ran out of the house.  Naked!” 


    When my father caught a glimpse of me his impatience grew to outrage, “What the hell are you doing putting shoes on for?  Your mother’s not wearing any!  Come on we’re gonna lose her.  We got to go get her!”


    So there I was with my little brother, Eric, chasing our naked mother through the neighborhood and it wasn’t easy keeping up with her, she was jumping hedges like a wild gazelle!  It was like and episode of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom."  Then our neighbor’s porch lights started popping on like flash bulbs on cameras.  It wasn’t until we were halfway down the block that my father was able to tackle her.  Unfortunately, it was on Rhonda Mangels’ front yard.  We were in the same class.  I can still see her standing there behind her screen door with her parents just staring at us.  I had a crush on Rhonda, but now it was clear my chance of ever winning her over was shot.  From then on Rhonda Mangels was like kryptonite, anytime I'd see her what little self-confidence I had evaporated on the spot, nothing remained but inadequacy and the urge to hide or die.  Oh, and all my friends who lived in the neighborhood and walked to school with us were now coming outside to see what all the commotion was.  They watched as my dad, heading in the direction our house with my mom, struggled to keep her wrapped in the terry cloth robe he tackled her with.  Eric and I followed behind.


    It wasn’t long after this episode that my parents divorced and our mom moved out.  I thought having her out of our lives would change how inadequate I felt.  It didn’t.  I still felt like a turd compared to all the other kids on the School 9 playground.  I knew I needed something special to transform myself from what I believed everyone thought of me, into someone they would admire.


    That day came when I discovered where my dad hid his card playing money.  I knew with money I could impress the other kids.  I had a plan, if I only took the change, and not the bills, my father would never notice.  Our dad worked during the day, so each day I walked home for lunch; I’d steal a roll of quarters.  This was 1972 when a ten dollar roll of quarters was worth like, ten grand!  So, I was able to buy massive bags of Starburst fruit chews.  I didn’t even like Starburst fruit chews, but the cool kids like Wayne Giambatista did.  It worked like magic.  As soon as I’d arrive at the playground at lunch recess all the kids would crowd around me and I’d throw out Starburst fruit chews to the group.  It was like throwing herring to hungry sea lions.  The kids went wild for these fruit chews.  It was incredible, like being a Rock Star with groping fans.  I had arrived, I was famous.


    This went on for weeks seemingly unnoticed until the owner of Carousel, the local candy shop, asked me where I was getting all the loot.  I told him it was from allowance and shining shoes.  This lie made me feel uncomfortable but not enough to stop.  Then while skipping home for lunch to snatch another roll of quarters I noticed my dad’s car in the driveway.  Because of his job he was never home at lunchtime.  I panicked; “He knows!”  There was no way out, if I don’t show up for lunch it would confirm my guilt and if I do, I faced severe punishment and possibly death.  I decided, since running away wasn’t an option for a cowardly ten year old, that I’d take my chances with trying to deny it.  I continued toward our house working out the most plausible lie, or excuse, if the evidence he had was too great to surmount.

     
    Before I got up the front steps my dad swung open the screen door and looking down at me he began, “Darrell I want to talk to you.  Someone’s been taking rolls of quarters from my card money.”


    Bracing myself as he continued.


    He asked, “Have you seen your mother around here, lately?”


    I stood in shock and slowly nodded, “Yes.”


    Can you believe it?  Only ten years old and I threw my mother under the bus.


    The years following this incident flew by without our mother around.  Her leaving us became my great excuse, for all sorts of irresponsibility and bad behavior, especially when I got caught.  When I was eighteen our father died.  Without direction or a rudder I was lost.  Failing miserably at life I was full of self-pity, quick to blame it all my problems on our mother’s leaving us.


    At twenty-four years old, unable to lower my standards as fast as my behavior I finally hit a wall.  It took a military Court Martial for me to realize that my problems were of my own making, no one else was to blame.  The only alternatives left were either change or die.  Thank God for the U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who made that painfully clear to me.

    It was during this time, motivated to change, that I reached out to renew a relationship with my mother.  It had been many years since I had been in touch with her.  When I contacted her she was very happy to hear from me, but because she left when I was so young, the best way to describe how I felt would be, ambivalence.  Over the years I continued to keep in touch with her, with letters, postcards, and phone calls telling her I loved her, but I was doing this mostly because I felt I ought to.


    A picture I took of my mom on one of her visits with us after she moved out.
    A picture I took of my mom on one of her visits with us after she moved out.


     
    Then about seven years ago, out of nowhere, guilt over stealing those damn quarters began to resurface.  Should I say something to my mother and admit what I did and apologize? 


    It went back and forth in my mind, “I should apologize to her for that.” to “Why should I bring that up?  It wasn’t a big deal.  I was only a kid.  It happened so long ago, besides, she left us.  She’s lucky I’m talking to her at all.” 


    But every time I thought of my mother I’d remember the quarters and wrestle with why I should or should not apologize.  The agony of the back and forth kept on.  It's true; avoidance is a full time job.  So, I threw in the towel, asked God for the courage and called her.  The conversation went like this:


    “Mom, remember when I was little and you got blamed for stealing the quarters from daddy’s card playing money?  I lied to daddy; I was stealing them and blamed you.  I feel really bad about doing that.  I’m sorry.”


    She responded kindly, “Isn’t it funny the silly things we do when we are young?” and then after a pause, her voice quivered,  “Darrell, I don’t want to go to my grave with you and Eric thinking that I didn’t love you both.”  She began to cry as she continued,  “The hardest thing I ever did was to leave you boys, and it kills me to think how much I loved you both and that you both probably think I didn’t.”


    A warm feeling grew in my chest; wonderful moments began to bubble up to the surface of my heart.  Memories of my mom teaching me how to tie my shoes, how she’d never get frustrated and praised me continuously for the slightest improvement.  I remembered her teaching me how to color in the lines of the coloring book and her sharing her secret on how to make the image pop by applying more pressure to the crayon along the outline of the drawing.  All of a sudden I was struck hard by the clear recollection that while I was a small boy she always told me how special I was and that I would do amazing things when I grew up.  I felt compelled to let her know that I remembered how wonderful she was; it came out simply,  “We know you loved us.  I love you, Mommy.”  It said it all.
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    Funny, how this all came about by admitting my faults, rather than demanding she acknowledge hers.  Looking back, was my mother really that rotten?  Did my mom really set out to humiliate me by pointing me out at the assembly or wanting me to dance with her?  No, I can believe she really was proud of me and was just trying to include me in the wonderful moments when she was drunk and temporarily free from her anxieties.  In any case, if it weren’t for my mom being exactly the way she was, my life would have turned out differently and I would have missed out on the wonderful life I have today.  So as far as I'm concerned she turned out to be the perfect mother, for me.


    So, thank you mom.  To all the other moms out there, good luck.  Have fun and regardless of any mistakes you make along the way, eventually your kids will realize how fortunate they have been to have had a mom exactly like you.
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    My mom with her husband, Joseph, and my brother Eric in more recent years.


  • Life & People

    I love Spring but always hate losing sleep over it.



  • Life & People

    My Interview with actor Tony Denison


    Tony Denison is one of the Emmy nominated ensemble cast members of the hit show, “The Closer,” which returns for another season this July 12, 9pm/8pm Central, on TNT.   I asked him a few questions regarding his successful career as an actor for this video segment of “Café Americano.”  In this interview he freely shares about his first time on stage and how insecure he was.  So, if your heart’s desire is to act, or begin any creative endeavor, then you will learn from Tony’s experience that its never too late or too soon to get started.

  • Life & People

    Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Badly


     

    Everybody loves a hero.  Someone to look up to, whose success we admire and aspire to reach.  They inspire us by their ability to have achieved success in areas that we ourselves hope to one day.  They are living proof that our dream is attainable.  “If they can do it, so can we!”

     

    Unfortunately, for most of my life, heroes were a bummer.  You see, I belong to a smaller group who are overwhelmed by the great accomplishments of others.  Standing in awe of their success, we become intimidated.  Surrendering to the belief that they possess a secret something we lack, we give up.  Then we wander the earth condemned to live life alternating between regret for never having tried and resentful toward those who made it.  Of course we tell ourselves it was only because, “they got all the breaks that we really deserved,” but deep down we know better. 

     

    So, how do those of us who tend to fall prey to this way of thinking find any inspiration at all?  I think I may have found the answer and it has become my motto for success -“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

     

    Credit for this conclusion must go to one of my Art Instructors at the now defunct Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts.  His name was Mr. Bonavito.  Mr. Bonavito was a real old-timer rumored to have exhibited with Picasso.  Ironically, this transformative event occurred the day he caught me looking through a book of Picasso’s masterpieces.  He looked over my shoulder to see what I was looking at and then said,

     

    “Don’t look at that, it’ll screw your head up.”

     

    I looked up at him, “Really?”

     

    “Yes, if you want to be inspired don’t compare yourself to what these guys accomplished at the height of their careers.  Compare your work to what they were doing when they were just starting out.  You’ll see most of their stuff was crap, just like yours.”

     

    That was the most effective compliment I had ever received.  Mr. Bonavito’s simple advice revolutionized my outlook.  It clicked!  The secret to succeeding is, “Its OK to suck as a beginner.”  For the first time in my life I realized that everyone sucked as a beginner, even Picasso.  And everyone was insecure in the beginning too.  Even the most courageous have insecurities about a new challenge.  Maybe this should have been obvious, but I never even considered it.  What an inspiring thought!  If my heroes could suck as beginners, then I could too!

     

    So, if you are starting on a new adventure toward your heart’s desire, be inspired that those you look up to were once just as insecure and inexperienced as you.  Remind yourself that, “anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” and take a liberating step toward your success.  Before you know it, you'll be a hero motivating others with your lousy start, too.

    Recently, I was on the set with professional actor and Italian-American, Tony Denison. He is one of the Emmy nominated ensemble cast members of the hit show, “The Closer,” which returns for another season this July 12, 9pm/8pm Central, on TNT.   I asked him a few questions regarding his successful career as an actor for a video segment of “Café Americano.”  In the interview he freely shared about his first time on stage and how insecure he was.  So, if your heart’s desire is to act, or begin any creative endeavor, Tony’s experience makes it clear that it’s never too late or too soon to get started. 


    *To watch this video click on the related link below.

  • Op-Eds

    The Makers of Magic Mop Infomercials and a Sh*t-Flinging Monkey are Insulted by Comparison to Darrell Fusaro




    My Italian Immigrant grandparents would be proud to know that today I am living the American dream.   Not only have I enjoyed the freedom of expression as granted in our First Amendment right, but I have been on the receiving end of it as well.   Recently, I have received some “anonymous” Internet comments regarding my first documentary film, “The Basement.”  They praise my ability to have made the “worst piece of filmmaking” ever.  Here are some excerpts.

     

    “Life is full of surprises. Some times you get genital herpes…”

     

    The camera work seems as if the cameraman was drunk and this so-called movie was being shot from the inside of a liquor store paper bag.”

     

    “…the nausea from this pile of dung made it really hard to focus.”

     

    “I’d … compare it to a Magic Mop infomercial and whatever movie a sh*t-flinging monkey would do, had he a $7 budget.”

     

    The last one is my all time favorite, even if the makers of the Magic Mop infomercial and a sh*t-flinging monkey are insulted by being compared to me.  Unfortunately when criticism is this outrageously over-the-top it is hard to take it seriously.  I also believe the ability to remain anonymous when being critical amplifies the cruelty, as pointed out in the New York Times, April 21, 2010, article by writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, “E-Playgrounds Can Get Vicious.”  In it she writes,

     

    “Why is the Internet such a cruel playground? Kathleen Taylor, the author of ‘Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain,’ has a theory. ‘We’re evolved to be face-to-face creatures,’ she said in a recent interview. ‘We developed to have constant feedback from others, telling us if it was O.K. to be saying what we’re saying. On the Internet, you get nothing, no body language, no gesture. So you get this feeling of unlimited power because there is nothing stopping you, no instant feedback.”

     

    This by no means diminishes the sting of such criticism, but then again, nobody kicks a dead dog.  And if I worry about what people may or may not like about every new endeavor I embark on, I’d never have the courage to start at all.  I believe in the old adage, “it is better to try and fail, than to have never tried at all.”

     

    One childhood experience stands out.  While I was in elementary school my third grade teacher asked the class, “What year did Christopher Columbus discover America?”  Instantly the rhyme rang out in my head, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”  I knew the answer!  But as I was about to raise my hand my enthusiasm was replaced with terror.  “What if that’s not the right answer?  Everyone will make fun of me!”  So, I didn’t raise my hand, but John Gerbino did.

     

    He answered, “1492!”

     

    From that moment on, I despised John Gerbino.  Anytime anyone anywhere mentioned John Gerbino, I would comment, “He’s a brown-noser!  A real apple polisher, a goody two shoes, a weasel.”  I never had anything nice to say about John Gerbino.  My contempt for John was with me right up until I graduated from High School.  Why did I hate John Gerbino?  Was it because he knew the answer?  Not at all, I hated Gerbino because he had the courage to do what I could not, take the risk and raise his hand, in spite of potential ridicule.

     

    That being said, whenever I do endeavor to step up to the plate, I have to be mature enough to learn from all the constructive criticism that is offered.  If I refuse to consider the constructive criticism from those with more experience than I, I would never improve at all.  The key word here is, “constructive.”  Matter of fact, when I was serving in the Military, a U.S. Marine Corp Gunnery Sergeant seared this into my thick skull by asking me the following question.

     

    “Fusaro, Do you know what the biggest room in YOUR house is?”

     

    ‘The living room?’ I answered.

     

    ‘No you idiot, the room for improvement.”

     

    So today I see these critiques and comments as a compliment to my ability to finally have the courage of John Gerbino.  They also reinforce my gratitude to be living in America where we have the freedom of expression, the right to be wrong, the ability to try and fail, as well as, the courage to learn from or ignore the criticism of others. 

     

    Feel free to comment.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Life & People

    You Have No Choice but to Succeed (with Bluetooth Hands-Free)


     

    Can you imagine if the phone rang and there was no caller ID?  What would you do?  Would you even answer at all?  Without caller ID it would be like playing Russian roulette, your only choice would be to pick up the phone and hope for the best.

     

    That is what it was like living in the years BCID (Before Caller ID) and why I believe Bluetooth hands-free technology is one of the best inventions to roll out in recent years.  It has brought with it some of the excitement of the good old days.

               

    First of all, I am fascinated at how well this cordless Bluetooth earpiece works.  When the phone rings, all I do to receive a call is press the button on the device attached to my ear.  Then I hear a, “blupe da blupe” sound which lets me know that I have answered and just like that I am talking to the caller.  No more fumbling for my phone, I don't even have to take it out of my pocket.  But with this luxury there's no opportunity to check caller ID before answering.

     

    I also don’t have one of those new BMWs with the built-in Bluetooth caller ID technology that projects a hologram of the caller’s head rotating around in space above the center of the dashboard.  Mine is the basic device, so even when I am driving and a caller calls I have no idea who is calling until I answer.   And for this I have become incredibly grateful.

     

    Up until now caller ID has given me the ability to pick and choose who I feel are worthy enough to interrupt and speak with me.  Of course I can come up a ton of great reasons why it is OK to avoid certain callers at certain times.  But unfortunately, I discovered by doing that I was choosing to miss opportunity.

     

    Don’t get me wrong, I think caller ID is absolutely necessary, for instance it has curtailed a lot of devious behavior.  One of them has been the total obliteration of the ability of young boys to make anonymous crank calls.  Too bad this technology was late in coming, since it would have saved many of my ex-girlfriends from awaking to a ringing phone at 2am anticipating a family emergency and instead hearing my drunken voice slur, “I wuv woo,” before they hung-up on me.  So yes, caller ID has its place.

     

    But for me, its better I have no idea who is calling.  It gives me no choice but to answer.  And since I have found it to be a fact that the greatest opportunities in my life have always been disguised as an inconvenience, by choosing to “ignore” an inconvenient caller I’ve been choosing to miss out. 

     

    By having no choice but to answer also eliminated the twinges of guilt and subsequent justification that came every time I chose to press the “ignore” button.  Not to mention all the time I save from not having to retrieve and listen to the ignored caller’s messages later as well as having to return their calls.  Its true, avoidance is a full time job.

     

    So with basic Bluetooth technology I have been given no choice but to seize opportunity when it calls and so can you.  Just do what I do.  Even if you commit to it just for today you will be amazed at all the wonderful conversations and opportunities that would have otherwise been missed.  So put on your Bluetooth earpiece and the next time you hear the phone ring in your ear, without checking the caller ID take a deep breath and ask yourself, “I wonder what wonderful thing is going to come of this?” then press the button on the earpiece and after the, “blupe da blupe,” enthusiastically answer by saying, “Hello” to what may very well be the opportunity of a lifetime. 


  • Life & People

    Italian-American Nicknames Are No Joke




    Everyone’s familiar with nicknames.  Mikey, Snookie, Noodles, The Situation.  We’ve heard them all.  But the ones given to you by your Italian-American friends?  They always seem to carry more clout.  I learned this while looking for jobs in L.A., making calls trying to land interviews.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  The problem is my name, “Darrell Fusaro.”  Why?  Here’s an example,

     

    The executive’s receptionist answers: “So and so’s office, how may I help you?” 

     

                With every ounce of courage I respond: “May I please speak to “So and so?”

               

    Then she asks the dreaded question: “Who may I say is calling?”

     

     “Darrell Fusaro.”

     

    “Dale?’

     

     “Darrell.”

     

    “Harold?’

     

    “No, it’s Darrell-

     

    “I’m sorry, what is your last name?”

               

                ‘Fusaro.”

     

    “Gerald Bizarro?”

     

    Eventually we’d get past my name and the receptionist would promise to pass along my information.  But my confidence would always be depleted.

     

    Although feeling weak and ineffective, I plodded along with my footwork.  Little did I know that the next call I made was going to be my last.  After the dreaded “Who may I say is calling?”, I blurted out my childhood nickname: “Fuzzy Fusaro.”  The receptionist put me on hold and within seconds there was a man’s voice on the line asking, “Fuzzy Fusaro, what can I do for you?”  For the first time in my life, I was being treated like a “somebody.”  It was remarkable!  Who did he think I was?  Could my Italian-American nickname really make that much of a difference in how I am perceived?  Who cares?  I liked it.

    Next thing you know, I am signed with an agent named “Dick Woody.”  (Yeah, and I thought my name was bad enough). Before the ink was dry on the contract I was starring in TV commercials.  At every shoot it seemed like they rolled out the red carpet for me.  Dick Woody was calling every week to inform me of another director who wanted him to “get Fuzzy.”  I even got a call from Nicholas Pileggi, best known for writing the book and screenplay for the movie “Goodfellas.”  What was the cause of all this new-found respect?  Could it be that my silly childhood nickname, “Fuzzy Fusaro,” was being perceived by Hollywood as that of a Mafioso?  Regardless of what the cause might have been, this true Hollywood story was soon coming to an end.

     

    The Screen Actors Guild was organizing a strike for higher wages, but Dick Woody was still getting calls for me to work.  I voiced my concern to Dick Woody, but he reassured me I had nothing to worry about.  And just like in every Greek tragedy when the main character chooses to ignore their conscience in the pursuit of fame and fortune, their downfall is for certain.  

     

    Mine was swift.  Someone dropped a dime about me working on a commercial during the strike and the Screen Actors Guild called me in for questioning.  Just like you’d expect in a Mob trial, I was sitting at a desk with a microphone answering questions from a panel of inquisitors.  The jig was up.  I got five years, no professional acting for five full years.  Dick Woody folded up shop and it was over as fast as it started.

     

    Humbled, I retreated back to my ordinary life as “Darrell Fusaro.”  At first I felt robbed of my chance to make it big, but now I am grateful for the experience.  Once I settled down, I realized that in all the excitement I was more anxious than happy.  Looks like the simpler life’s for me.  Unfortunately, I have to be reminded of this fact, because every once in a while I get the urge to reemerge as “Fuzzy Fusaro.”

     

    Lucky for me, he and Dick Woody are currently on hiatus…

     

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