Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My dinner with Paulie Walnuts

Who is Paulie Walnuts? Get the fuck outta here?!?! You don't know one of the best characters on "The Sopranos"?? You know the guy with the white wisps in his hair. Well here he is (on the right). He actually busted my balls a bit by telling me to get the fuck outta here when I asked for a photo, then pulled me back in to get this shot. Nice guy, so were the other "Sopranos" cast members who were there. Like Big Bobby here posing with some colleagues of mine, and the guy who plays the son who is kinda cute in real life. I didn't get his picture but yakked with him a bit. I think maybe he was a little miffed we didn't fawn over him as we did these two guys, but whaddyagonnado?

So why did I get the pleasure of dining with these two guys? No I was not hanging out at the "Badda Bing", but at a big to do dinner by Immigrant Social Services (ISS) who were honoring some Italian Americans who had made a difference in the lives of immigrants here in NYC. The principal of my school was being honored and so was Big Bobby (Steve Schaparell?). So the staff of my school dropped $150 for a plate of crap food (but good appetizers and open bar) to honor our boss and a few others. Post honoring, we ran up to schmooze with the Soprano boys in our drunken states. I was seen most of the evening looking dapper and holding a Manhattan in my hand--very Truman Capote but just less slurry and a little taller. I must say I have learned to drink bourbon quite well. Maker's Mark only of course. Oh and did I tell you that I'm an official ambassador for MM? Yes I am--what does it mean? That I get to go to wild parties where all they serve is MM Bourbon. Not bad huh? But I digress...

The day after all this Soprano-ing, I played host to Ghufran, one of my Afghan students now living in Buffalo, NY. He flew down to extend his German visa so he can stay until August (as opposed to June) to attend a youth conference in DC. Anyhow, he got to spend three days in my whirlwind of a life running around from place to place, on the go all the time. It was a great experience for him and I loved having him here. Besides prolonging his visa (a relatively painless experience) we saw Sara Jones' "Bridge and Tunnel" the fabulous one woman show on Broadway, marked for a special Tony. It was a remarkable show about different people from different places all making a life together in Queens. I'm Ghufram got to see it. Of all the things on Bway he could relate to, this was the best thing. He loved the show.
Ghufran loves to make presentations about Afghanistan to people so I let him go to town at my school with the 4th graders while I painted a mural. I'm actually doing a neat one on a door of the AP's office. Pictures to follow later. We dined in Chinatown with friends. He just charmed everyone everywhere we went. It's great for my friends to meet my students for they get to know someone from another country and they also get to see a part of what I do in the summer instead of just hearing about it or seeing photos. My favorite part of the 3 days was doing a street fair on 6th Ave. in Manhattan. He helped set up and sell shirts all day with me before I took him to the airport to go home. A shame he couldn't stay longer, I was really enjoying his company. But it's OK, because now I'm up in Buffalo with Ghufran, housesitting while his host parents are away in France for a week. Hey I figured why not fly up for a week, get some work done in peace and quiet, see Niagara Falls, sell some shirts and maybe head over to Toronto. More fun to be had here. Read on tomorrow...

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