I won't go into everything in the old post again, but in doing this blog, I have tried to pay homage to a lot of the "forgotten heroes", both in front and behind the camera, who carry films on the journey from concept to screen, and often, as with Mike, make our lives a little better for having met them.
Whenever I see tabloid coverage of actors, I try to remember that they are people. with family and friends who love them, to whom they are not just faces on a screen but Moms and Dads and, in this case - uncle's.
In the comment section on the post linked is a beautiful comment from Regina Squicciarini, for whom Mike was not Big Mike or Scutch, as we affectionately called him (see license plate below), but Uncle Mike.
Please read the comment - I can't say what she did as well as she did - but it reminded me of why, in doing this blog, I never wanted it to be a place to bash even those actors (and, more often here. directors or crew people) that may have made mistakes on set, or with whom I didn't have a good realtionship. In those posts, used pseudonyms.
I asked Regina if she could send along some pictures of Mike, and she has graciously done so, including the one at the top. I wanted to headline the article with one where Mike was smiling and the good guy we knew, not in the character of the tough guy he played. (forgive my awkward retouching to remove an old phone number)
I like that there are The Sopranos references in the photos, a show where Mike was extremely proud to be part of the family. With the recent passing of James Gandolfini, who I know was a big fan of Mike's, it gives us a moment to reflect on a show that, while not hiding the uglier sides of the Mob, also did a pretty good job of representing Italian-American families as people. As a third generation Italian-American myself, I was not upset that the show would broaden stereotypes of Italian-Americans (those existed with or without the show), but rather, the family scenes, the scenes in the homes, seemed real to me.
A large part of that was actors like Mike, for whom, as I said, family was SO important. No role was more important to him than his care for two aging parents, and from the brief conversations I've exchanged by email with his niece, Regina. I gather that extended to his entire family. That concern for showing families as families in the traditional, not Mob, sense, seemed to pervade the show, and it depended om folks like Mike for whom the experience was real.
On this day after July 4th, maybe not a bad time to remember that those stereotypes we see on TV and on screen, whether it be the mob enforcer or the hip hop artist or the wacky Hispanic guy (who Luis Guzman has done such a good job portraying, and done so with so much detail, that many of his characters are now just called "Luis", his real name), that these folks a members of families, and that will ultimately be where they are best remembered long after their screen image has faded.
My work life has been a bit crazy - will get to the next installment of "Floating" within the next few days.