A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

( 5 )

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 ...

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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."

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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 clichéd 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: 8/28/2006
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 804,248
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Dito Montiel

Dito Montiel, his work, and his band Gutterboy have been featured in cover stories in such magazines as In Fashion and Details. His articles, interviews, poetry, etc. have appeared in Vanity Fair, Interview, and numerous other magazines. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

Biography

Dito Montiel is the writer and director of the film adaptation of his memoir, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. He is the author of The Clapper, and his articles, interviews, and poetry have appeared in Vanity Fair, Interview, and numerous other magazines. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

Author biography courtesy of Thunder's Mouth Press.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Montiel:

"I did everything from selling peanuts on 42nd street when I was 14, to walking dogs, to unloading trucks, to whatever! I wrote -- and write -- because I have to. Because I love it. My inspiration comes from everywhere, and everyone."

"I love reality TV. I know it's not cool , but Big Brother is the greatest TV show ever! I'm in Venice, Italy now. Our film just won the Critics' Choice Award. Sting and Trudie are waiting downstairs for us to all take a Gondola to a movie premiere, and all I can think is that I can not believe WILL GOT KICKED OUT AND LOST THE POWER OF VETO!"

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    1. Also Known As:
      Orlando Montiel (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Santa Monica, California
    1. Education:
      High School

Table of Contents

Growing up under the rr
Father Angelo Pezullo 3
Orlando Montiel, Sr. 7
Antonio 17
A Visit from Santos Antonios Berserk 26
A Game of Tag in Mayberry, Indiana 28
"Clowns" 34
Saints, wanderers, brief acquaintances
Who Is Larry Kert? 41
Jimmy Mullen of the Bronx 46
Travels, deserts, gettin' lost
As Far Back As I Can Remember ... I can Remember Manhattan 57
Mayberry, Indiana, on Highway 1 68
Fourteen Days with a Crazy Indian Modern-Day Saint 70
The Hashish at Ray's House on the West Side Is Scary 81
0 83
What You Will and Won't Do 85
Freaks, bizarres, friends, living obscenities
Angelo Ruggiera 89
Gutterboy 91
Freak Magnet 94
Bob Semen, Frank the Dog Walker, and an Open Letter to Walt Whitman 98
Splitting Wood 108
Ronald Reagan, the Grimace, and Punctuation 110
Adventures in Male Modeling and Street Vending 112
Finding Englightenment through Talk Show Host Richard Bay 117
Cherry Vanilla 119
Christmas in New York with Annette 126
One Night 130
Bruce Weber 131
Seventeen 139
Allen Ginsberg Wants Bitter Melon, but No Genitalia 145
San Francisco 153
The Most Successful Unsuccessful Band in History 161
Healing
A Conversation about Deepak Chopra while Eating Pot Cookies in a 2nd Avenue Apartment (the Eggplant without Hair) 177
Twenty-Six Moments 181
The First Cold Breeze of September 188
Is It Possible to Get Closer to God in a Peep Show Booth 190
Explaining Mayberry 193
Further Explaining Mayberry 195
The Monday Night Pace 199
You Think You've Seen the Best Minds of Your Generation Wasted 201
Anonymous 207
Healing 209
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2005

    Check Out the Author's Band: MAJOR CONFLICT

    Now that you've read Dito's memoirs, reflecting the life of a New York punk rocker from Queens, be sure to check out Dito's first and most passionate foray into the maniacal world of 1980s punk rock. Hearkening back to the emergence of New York Hardcore, Dito found himself playing music along with members of the most uncompromising of New York Hardcore bands, namely Urban Waste and Kraut. With that, a vertiable supergroup of NYHC were born, and they were called 'MAJOR CONFLICT.' Recorded in 1983, the sheer brilliance of MAJOR CONFLICT'S 'SOUNDS LIKE 1983' enhanced CD will blow your mind. Includes the 1983 sessions, which have never before been released and offer you a glimpse into the wild and reckless world of New York Hardcore. Also features Major Conflict's sole release up until now, an elusive 7-inch made famous by its obscurity, as well as live songs recorded at institutions like A7, CBGB's and Max's Kansas City.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2004

    I loved this book

    I've waited all my life for something to move my generation the way I'm sure On The Road did it's and for me this is it. To compare anyone to good ol' Jack is sacrilidge I know but I feel this worthy. A great great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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