Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
Arthur Avenue's "Mama's Boys"
Whether or not you agree with the lifestyle choices of Giovanni and the boys is your
Yesterday, I was surprised to learn that a new episode of this Monday night program (which made its debut only two weeks ago) was not being shown and according to various reports, there was no
So instead of this blog being what I had planned it to be, which was going to be a review of the show and the pros and cons of what was being showcased, it will give only a brief look into the few episodes that America got into the Real Little Italy of New York—the Bronx. As someone who has been to Arthur Ave. many times, only a short ride from where I live in North Jersey, I know it is indeed the REAL Little Italy, unlike the commercialized tourist trap that Manhattan’s Mulberry Street has become. These types of neighborhoods are shrinking in America with the mom & pop establishments passed down to each generation, and it was refreshing to finally see this Italian enclave getting screen time for the rest of the nation to experience.
I’ve said it in the past, being a cast member of the Vh1 reality show, “My Big Friggin’ Wedding,” I have the inside track on the filming of reality shows. So I know producers egg you on and encourage the participants to act over-the-top for the cameras. To go back to my opening paragraph, there were indeed certain lifestyle choices that one may question or critique. But we aren’t really talking about anything severe here.
This was not a show about constant drinking, sex or fighting. I love New Jersey, but “Sleazeside” is not my first choice for where I’d bring my family to down the shore. I’m sure you all realize what reality show I am referring to here, one that has already ran for five years. Yet a show featuring a great old-school town with residents who have pride in their background doesn’t even make it into its fifth episode? Why? Was it not shocking enough?
Maybe it needed more booze-fueled fist-fights rather than a scene where Peter shops for an
I honestly think the real reason this show was put on this odd and untimely hiatus was more of a PR move from the network. The ratings weren’t through the roof but it had a large, growing fan base. But there was a lot of pressure from the anti-Italian activists out there who will never stop their protests and although they never got “Jersey Shore” cancelled, their voice did lead to a lot of advertisers pulling out. MTV could have that happen and press on. Perhaps TLC could not handle that kind of hit?
Look, I was more than ready to move out of my parents’ house when I was out of high school, and I did so, but that was my choice. It really is a tradition in a lot of these old-school families to not move out until you get married. And as I stated in my recent blog about Italians on TV, here is a fact for the holier-than-thou activists out there: the “Bamboccioni” (those between the ages of 18-34 who still live at home) now make up 60% of the population in Italy. I don’t see any outrage over this in Italy—in fact—they are proud of it.
As I’ll reiterate, this was a TV show, so a lot of that dynamic was exaggerated. Do you really think they all flew down to Florida because they needed their laundry done?? Of course not, but I didn’t see anything detrimental to our heritage. What was so bad? All the guys had jobs and aspirations (Anthony for example wants to be a cartoonist)…they all clearly love their family and again, maybe they had their own goofy moments but I saw it as harmless. Instead of seeing Snookie peeing in the bushes we had a cannoli eating contest!
We got to see all these fantastic markets, pizzerias and caffés and what living like a real goomba was all about. Where else can you go shopping while smoking a cigar and drinking an espresso than in a custom clothing shop on Arthur Ave? The meddigans who go to Macy’s can’t experience that kind of treatment and that’s really how things are over there. That is such a throwback to days gone by and these few blocks in the Bronx are a complete throwback. My mouth was watering for a dozen cold clams the second I saw Chip enjoying them on the street!
Business owners at a lot of these places voiced their comments to the news about how the four episodes added a lot of buzz to the block. They said it best in that whether you agreed or not with all the content of every scene, Arthur Avenue was finally getting its national stage and the people were proud of that. I try my best to perpetuate these types of spots as much as I can and I am planning a return visit to the Bronx very soon. It’s unfortunate that folks around the country won’t get to see these sights on TV unless TLC decides to air the remaining episodes. Will keep checking the schedule and in the meantime, I can luckily just take a ride over the GWB to grab some clams and a cigar.