Al Pacino and Me

Never met my fellow Italian-American, Al Pacino. And yet, we have much in common. So much, I feel obliged to share some of it with you. Whether you feel obliged to read it is only a delete button away…..

We’re both of Sicilian extraction. Both his father and mine were born in Sicily in the 19th C. Both fathers migrated to America in the 20th C. Both their sons grew and prospered here. [Well, Al prospered a little more than Jack]. Oh, and his grandfather, born in Corleone, married one of my cousins, also from Corleone.

For many years, Pacino was self-conscious about his Sicilian roots. [I have some family members who still are]. You see, while Sicily is arguably one of the most beautiful islands in the world, its colorful 3000 year history has very likely produced more sinners than saints. But then most Sicilians don’t keep score.

Like you, I’ve watched the GODFATHER trilogy more than once. One episode in particular. When the young Michael Corleone goes into hiding in our family’s little hillside town, which indeed does exist just above the city of Palermo. Lovingly shot on-location by another Sicilian, Francis Coppola, we can see its sun-baked cluster of stone houses, twisting cobble stone streets, craggy-faced old men fanning under the afternoon suns, wizened old women still gathering to gossip in the ancient piazzas. And, most particularly, the centuries-old town cathedral where Michael is married in the film; and where my Father was baptized in real life.

When you visit here, when you walk here, when you breathe here, you understand how not even the brightest twenty-something from Silicon Valley can actually escape his own family history. Genetically, culturally, religiously. And the older you get, the less you want to….

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