A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

4.8 5
by Dito Montiel
     
 

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Orlandito “Dito” Montiel, son of Orlando, a Nicaraguan immigrant, and an Irish mother, grew wild in the streets of Astoria, Queens, pulling pranks for Greek and Italian gangsters and confessing at the church of the Immaculate Conception, gobbling hits of purple mescaline and Old English, sneaking into Times Square whore houses—“Kids from

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Overview

Orlandito “Dito” Montiel, son of Orlando, a Nicaraguan immigrant, and an Irish mother, grew wild in the streets of Astoria, Queens, pulling pranks for Greek and Italian gangsters and confessing at the church of the Immaculate Conception, gobbling hits of purple mescaline and Old English, sneaking into Times Square whore houses—“Kids from nowhere going nowhere.”

This is the quintessentially American story of a young man's hunger for experience, his dawning awareness of the bigger world across the bridge, and of the loyalties that bind him to a violent past and to the flawed and desperate saints that have guided him: Dito’s father, Antonio “our insane warrior hero,” Bob Semen, Frank the dog walker, Jimmy Mullen, Cherry Vanilla, Ginsberg and all the others, the drunks, coke-heads, junkies, the insaniacs like Santos Antonios who said, “Now Dito remember, in life you gotta be crazy.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Montiel's saints run the gamut from omniscient priests to wacky con artists. In his rambling memoir of growing up in the 1970s and '80s in a tough Queens neighborhood, he escapes to the East Village to emerge as a Calvin Klein underwear model and lead singer of the punk band Gutterboy. Montiel's childhood was rough but thrilling. "[I]n our neighborhood we would take your everyday type of kids' game and throw in an extra little consequence clause that no one else seemed to have." Games escalated from stealing from the church poor box (consequence: 50 Hail Mary's from saint number one, Father Angelo) through peeing through the windows of Mafioso hangouts (consequence: "being chased by crazy Dimitrios with a meat cleaver") to gang fights (consequence: Montiel's pal Antonio [another saint] kills a guy with a baseball bat and spends six years in prison). When the scene shifts to the sex-, drugs- and punk rock-ridden Lower East Side, Montiel's love affair with Manhattan predominates, as he roams the city with girlfriends, junkies and his mother (more saints) and hangs out with Allen Ginsberg (whose photos of Gutterboy appear in the book) and Warhol protegee Cherry Vanilla. Several Kerouac-like road trips feature the thrill and beauty of being "crazy high" in a non-New York world. Montiel tells his entertaining, sad tales with a combination of affection, glee and nostalgia. He's managed to escape the dismal fate of many of his childhood cohorts, while still cherishing and embracing their humanity. Photos. (July) Forecast: Slam poets and beat fans will go for this, as well as anyone interested in the East Village 1980s punk rock scene or celebrities like Warhol, Ginsberg and fashion photographer Bruce Weber. The upcoming movie based on the book (directed by Robert Downey Jr.) will increase interest. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A scattershot, unmulled memoir—startling in its casual violence and voracious intoxication—from a New York City badboy who doesn�t seem terribly concerned about the trouble he left in his wake. The story is a bit overmuch, this life that seems to have been left in the hands of some mad autopilot, for Montiel rarely appears to be in charge. After the booze and girls and drugs and fights, the minor flash of celebrity and endless haul through nights of one debauch or another—"It was an insane wild terrific night," he�ll say time and again, though getting fried and staying up until dawn may not be everyone�s idea of a terrific night—he never stops to wonder what the point was. But perhaps it�s easier not to have a point (how else to explain this "perfect moment": "I took three blows, two to the head and one across my face by a Puerto Rican with a baseball bat on Steinway Street and felt like a man for some crazy reason"), or maybe that�s just how they raise them in Astoria, Queens. Or maybe not: his father comes across as fairly caring and attentive, even if the glimpses we get of him are stream-of-consciousness noodlings about his tastes in local TV news, or that "one of my fondest memories of my father unfortunately involves an accordion." The brawls and cruel pranks and nonstop mind-bending are Montiel�s alone, and it gets tedious. His friends may be loyal, but they get a clich�d hack job: "Jimmy taught me to be tougher that the toughest. To be real. To be true." Real and true to what? Trying hard to be a Beat, but without the brains. He even spent time with Allen Ginsberg, to no discernible effect. (photos) Film rights to Robert Downey Jr.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560259602
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
08/28/2006
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
737,877
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.65(d)

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