Drew Atria: La forza interiore
“Marlon Brando’s favorite thing to do was to sit in a phone booth on 42nd street in Manhattan and watch people. He studied their facial expressions, watched the way they walked, listened to the way they talked to each other and studied how they looked. It was this fascination that allowed him to sink into characters like Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront and The Godfather’s Don Corleone.
I have always practiced law that way. I look at eyes, I can tell a lot by eyes. I am good at picking a jury because I focus on nuances. I want to teach that skill. It is not a law school curriculum item or a class in any school but I think it’s important.
hI like astrology too; not the generic two sentences you see in a newspaper column, I mean the detailed natal charts that show how the planets and moon were aligned when you were born. I know a lot about a person just from knowing their birthday.
Malcolm Gladwell took it step further in his book “Blink.” He said you can tell a lot about someone by looking at a room where they live or work.
Recently, I shifted from working full time to part time. My new office is my life cocoon, floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Here are my 35 and 33-year-old sons when they were toddlers. Here is my Sicilian grandfather’s ship manifest from Ellis Island: Vincent Atria 12 years old arrived from Naples, Italy on the USS Nord. He was a shoemaker. I can still see his developed bicep muscles from hammering shoes his whole life. This framed manifest makes me to think about him every day. When he arrived here, The Statue of Liberty had only been in New York harbor six years. He is within me.
Here is me playing high school football and that is me running track. I was a sprinter. I grew up in the Italian neighborhood close to Newark. I didn’t think we were poor because everyone lived in small apartments just like we did. Ours had no heat at night. Instead of money, we had “la forza interiore:” inner strength.
That strength is why I was recruited to play football at Our Lady of the Valley High School in Orange, New Jersey. I had athletic skills and knew how to make that opportunity work for me. I knew it would. I never had a back up plan.
Tommy Devito and Nick Massi from the Four Seasons lived near me. Those guys had the “la forza interiore” gift too. I could always recognize it.
I am waiting for my second grandchild to be born. Got my bags packed to go to Gainesville to see him. That phone call will come any second.
See that empty spot on the wall? It is for this new baby’s picture.”