Saturday, January 10, 2009

New York State of Mind

Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to Miami Beach
Or to Hollywood
But I'm taking a Greyhound
On the Hudson River Line
I'm in a New York state of mind

One of the movies I received from that friend back in December was Inside Man, with Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Directed by Spike Lee, this movie is one of those that brings a full-blown flavor of New York to it.

For one thing, there's the foul language. I grew up with it, and while I have done my best to steer clear of it as often as possible, there's something about a New Yorker's ability to color a sentence with it. Yes, there are alternatives to such language, but try teaching those alternatives to the common New Yorker and he or she is bound to ask, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Then there are the accents. Three of the roles in particular bring out those regional pronunciations in such a way that I become nostalgic for my old stomping grounds.

Samantha Ivers plays Nancy Mann, and her New Jersey accent is as strong as it is probably natural. You can't expect a girl born in Hackensack to be able to drop that accent at the drop of a hat, thought she might be able to. Even easier is summoning it back, as I do with my NY accent. There are people who hear me fall instantly back into the speech patterns of my roots, and they're amazed, as well as amused. Ms. Ivers kills me almost every time I hear just one of her lines, "Fat ass? Are you kidding me?!?"

Then there's Victor Colicchio, who probably lands any and every role he's had for his NY accent. If you want to know what a real New Yorker sounds like, listen to every line delivered by Sergeant Collins. That's a New Yorker from head to toe.

Finally, Bernie Rachelle plays Chiam, who tosses around a Yiddish accent like nobody's business. Throughout the movie, there are clips of everyone being interrogated. At the end of Chiam's interview, Denzel's character asks about diamonds. Chiam's response is in a through and through Yiddish accent.

These things...They make me wish I could simply board a plane and visit the neighborhood I grew up in. Then maybe take that long walk to the Wantagh train station and head into Manhattan, and wander the city for hours on end. If I could afford to stay in the city, I'd visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. I'd also visit the site of the World Trade Center, where I'd probably shed a few tears for the lives lost there. And somewhere in there, I'd try to sneak in a trip to Brooklyn, and visit the site of our old family business.

I don't necessarily want to move back there, but I so do miss the colorful people and the city that never sleeps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Sargent Collins aka Vic Colicchio.

And yeah I've been in lucky getting work, but I very seldom get hired for my NY accent. I use a few different hispanic "voices" and most of my credits are for those characters.
I also use"hector Comachos" voice in a lot roles.

But yeah I'm an old time New York native and thanks for taking not of that. much appreciated