I used to live in a castle. Castle Von Doom. This was when I ran with wolves, always went over the limit (4 rocks and  a shot) and had many battles with the Dreaded Egg Lady of Yorkville. And one my my closest compatriots in these glorious salad days was Vinnie. We met during a production of Hamlet, which was being done as part of the fabled Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot. I was replacing another actor as the Player King, Fortinbras, and Bernardo. Vinnie was, among other roles, the Player Queen. One night early in the rehearsal process, Vinnie and I decided to grab a beer at Motor City, a bar on the at the time desolate Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side. We hadn't really hung out at all before, and figured what the hell? Instantly, we realized we were both uber-nerds with lots of interests in common- comic books, The Simspons, Weezer. We laughed our asses off for a long time that night. Many drinks into the evening, I announed to Vinnie that I had powers. Super powers. Vinnie did not believe me. I pointed to the only other person in the place, an attractive girl sitting at the bar, and started making "come to me" gestures, while also saying "come to me" over and over. Vinnie laughed, as did I. I turned back to Vinnie- who's face suddenly looked surprised- because the girl walked up to the table, and asked if she could sit with us. We said "Yes!" She told us her name was Ziggy. We nodded. She said she lived near there. We nodded. She left. Vinnie looked at me like I was crazy, asked me why I didn't leave with her- sadly, booze gives courage and stupidity in equal shares. I ran out of the bar- but Ziggy had vanished in the night. We decided she must have been a succubus, and I was lucky to be alive.

After that night, we were fast friends. Many nights we spent at rehearsal, at Motor City, and also literally jumping from roof top to rooftop, running across the FDR at sunrise after an all nighter, and working on some fantastic theatre- The Seagull, Henry V, Last Call. We quickly gave ourselves, and our circle of friends, many new names from different universes. In the DC universe, Vinnie was Batman, I was Superman. We figured out who would be which hero in both the Avengers, as well as the larger Marvel Universe. We were gloriously mad. We became room mates after about a year- Vinnie, me, and my brother Jerry. We named the place Castle Von Doom. The parties there were legendary. As time went on, we got a little older. I still remember, clear as a bell, taking a cab home one night after rehearsing Muse of Fire. Vinnie asked me what I thought about Shannon- a girl who he would go one to marry and who is one of the most excellent people in the world.

These days, we live far apart with families and all that. No matter. He is one of my best friends, and I know if I ever need him, all I need do is face the east and cry "Avengers Assemble!"

His birthday is today. Thanks, universe, for this wonder of a man.

And here's a link on the latest about ROSE RED and MOON OVER BUFFALO:


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