Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Johnnie Friendly and fighting back.

There's a lot of crap in the world.

And when it comes to handling that crap, there aren't a lot of people you can learn from.

One person I learned from, more from his writing and his movies than from having met him a couple times, was Budd Schulberg, the screenwriter of "On the Waterfront."

I happen to think it's one of the best things ever written.

I met Schulberg when I was getting my Master's degree in English at Columbia. I was doing original research and somehow my Byzantine research trail led to Schulberg. I went down to Grand Central Terminal where they had a giant room filled with literally hundreds of various phonebooks. In about an hour I found his number in the Suffolk county white pages.

Somehow I screwed up my courage and called him.

I was 21.

He answered the phone and we arranged to meet in the city. He took me to dinner where we talked for two hours. Then he took me to an off-Broadway play he was somehow involved in. We had a drink or two afterwards.

And we had a few phone calls after that as I worked on my thesis.

But back to "On the Waterfront," and like I said, crap.

Everybody, or most everybody, freelance or staff, has a Johnny Friendly or two in their lives. Someone bossing them around, making them feel small. Someone taking eleven cents of soul from every dime you earn.

Maybe it's just in the movies where you can stand up to them. Maybe you never really get to in real life. And maybe if you do, you almost get beaten to death by Johnnie Friendly and his mugs, including one "Two Ton" Tony Galento, who was featured in the scene above.

Like I said, there's a lot of crap you have to deal with in life.

And you can't always sock people in the jaw, even if "you wuz gonna be the next Billy Conn."

That said, rather than reading something dumb on Buzzfeed, or even this blog, you'd probably be well-served watching that clip above every 30 days or so.


BTW, you might spot Fred Gwynne at the 2:40 mark. He worked at J. Walter Thompson before he chased down his dream of being a Thespian.

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