paparazziI left the office early on Thursday October 25th and headed back to my apartment on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. As I approached the front stoop of my brownstone, I saw a man leaning against a car, right across from the front steps. A camera with a large telescopic lens hung from his neck. I was curious and approached.

“What you are shooting?”, I asked.

“Matt Damon”, he replied in a thick European accent. “He is in the bakery down the street and he’ll be leaving soon. His kid goes to the school across the street.”

I got more information than I anticipated.

“Are you paparazzi?” I asked.

He smiled and said, “of course”

“From Italy?” I asked,

“No Spain." And we shook hands.

I hung around. Within two minutes, out from the bakery comes Matt Damon. His head was nearly shaved. He walked with whom, I presumed, his father and mother. They approached us. My new friend starting snapping in frenzy, as if he held an automatic hand guN providing constant fire. Pop! Pop! Pop! Matt, walking with great ease and nonchalance, crossed the street, entered the school and disappeared.

“Hey!” I said. “I was at the Woodstock Film Festival last week. The Executive Director said my film, Idle Threat, was the #1 film not to miss. Do you want to take a few shots of me?”

He smiled and posed me next to an iron fence. He checked the light and rifled off a half dozen photographs. We exchanged business cards and he promised to attach them to an email the next day. We parted with a hand shake.

Interesting encounter. Matt Damon - one moment - A film maker the next – photographed by a Spanish interloper. Such is a glimpse of street life… on the upper west side of New York City.

Irate Idler or Elitist Progressive?
A few days ago, I stopped on Columbus Avenue on my way to the bank. There was a traffic officer approaching me and I noticed at the same time, a gray van idling at the curb side. I asked the officer about the idling law and he knew very little about it. But the driver overheard my questioning and his ears perked up. He left the van and approached us both.

“Hey you, tree hugger, does it feel good to be an elitist progressive?"

The cop walked away. So I was left standing next to this fellow with bursting tattooed arms. It is not offen I get confronted with someone OUTSIDE his car. 

I tried to politely disengage and avoid hostility. I walked down the street, made my banking deposit, and headed home, once again coming across the irate idler. He was once again inside his van, chowing down on Chinese take out.

“It’s you again!" he shouted and began revving his engine. I never gave him eye contact. He began revving his engine wildly and shouting words I could not quite understand.

The words were not elitist progressive… I can assure you of that.

The day after the second screening of IDLE THREAT at the Woodstock Film Festival, I took a hike up a nearby mountain to burn off a ton of excess energy. Bright Autumn colors. Once at the summit, I could see the Hudson River off in the distance. On the way down, I passed to women with their dogs. We chatted and I told about IDLE THREAT being the #1 recommended film at the festival… and I told them the story of how engine idling is so widespread in NYC. One of the women was from Denmark and said.

“I never used to idle when I lived in Denmark. But I’m here now ten years… and it’s so common in the American culture that now I idle myself. But now having talked to you… I won’t idle again.”
Funny how adaptable humans are.