I have an exciting gig coming up next month!
My nephew, John (photographer and film maker), hired me to be an assistant producer for a photography book project he has been working on for 6 years. I will be helping him with the final phase of his book which is about Sicily. The book draws inspiration from various family members and from the Sicilian culture. John and I both grew up in Indiana. John’s mother, Jeanie, was ill for so long and so early on in her life, that John and his brother Vince spent a lot of time at our house with my mom and dad, as well as with their other set of grandparents. John and Vince, as well as the other grandchildren, adored my parents and were always enthralled by the stories my parents told of the “old country”.
John went to Sicily for the first time with me about 6 years ago. He instantly felt a deep connection to our home village, Grotte. I introduced him to all my first cousins, aunts, and uncles. John also immediately fell in love with my very animated eccentric hat-collecting-singing-funny Uncle Charlie (one of my mom’s older brothers) who raises chickens, grows fruits and nuts, tends his own vineyard and makes the best wine on the island, has the olive orchard that has been in the Licata family for a very long time and which produces the most exquisite green fragrant olive oil on the planet, is an ace cook who makes his own sausage, gardens and grows most of his own food, preserves vegetables of all types, cans tomato sauce with his sweet wife, Zia Tota, AND makes the best minestrone (called “minesha” in the Sicilian dialect) and “machu machu” (pronounced “mah-koo mah-koo”, a fabulous -and dangerous if-you-know-what-I-mean- bean soup that is considered to be the best comfort food any Licata family member has ever dished up! Uncle Charlie can rattle off about 30 tongue twisters in the Sicilian dialect. He insists on teaching tongue twisters to his nieces and nephews who live abroad and raucously laughs at our feeble attempts to imitate him. At 85 years old, this guy never stops! Need I say more? I would have to say that Uncle Charlie is one of the principal muses for John’s Sicily photography book.
The book pays homage to my parents (John’s grandparents), to my sister Jeanie (John’s mother), to our ancestral village, Grotte, to extended family which includes Uncle Charlie, to Sicilian culture, and to the beauty of Sicily. John is wrapping up the project in May, but focusing on capturing the “missing images”. This job will take me out of the country again from May 7 until May 29th. I will be in Sicily helping John get the last images he needs for his book. Since John already has lots of photos of Grotte and of our family members, we will start our work in Palermo where we will photograph Franciscan monks who live pretty much the same way they lived in medieval times. We will also go to the small Sicilian island of Favignana where the annual tuna fishing takes place. The fishing tradition is called the Mattanza and it has been happening annually for thousands of years. In fact, on some nearby smaller islands, there are prehistoric cave drawings depicting scenes of tuna fishing! John will document the fishermen. I will serve as John’s translator and interpreter using the dialect with the fishermen and other villagers, and am organizing our itinerary and managing the various bookings and reservations for our crew of four which includes John, Reynaldo (producer), Salv (the other assistant producer) and myself.
John also would like to get more photographs of the old men who carry their chairs from their houses to the piazza (!!) where they sit with their friends for much of the day socializing and watching the world go by. Apparently, they are very difficult to photograph. John says he gets the stink eye every time he tries to photograph the old men in the piazza, so my job will be to chat with them in the Sicilian dialect and make sure they are comfortable and permit John to photograph him.
The book has about six pages of John’s written work, which I edited and am also in the process of translating into the Sicilian dialect. Translating and writing in the Sicilian dialect is tricky. I am working from memory here. I have to think about what John is saying and recreate that dialog in my head, imagining how the words would flow in Sicilian if my mother were telling the story! How I wish I had my parents to look over my translations and give feedback on my work! However, I will be seeing Uncle Charlie in September and I will have him go over my translation at that time to make sure it is 100% perfect! Knowing him, he’ll probably try to sneak in some tongue twisters. I am pretty excited about this project. I am busy as ever as I start working on finding subs to cover my classes while I am away again.
Oh, and we do not YET have a working title for the book. One of my jobs is to help John come up with a title. I have a feeling it will come to me while we are working away at our project in May!
This is a non-yoga-related job…unless I lead some early morning yoga classes for John, Rey, and Salv! Now there’s a thought!
I know I am doing this work for John because I believe he is a great artist and I am proud to collaborate with him, but I also think I am doing this work for Jeanie. Why else would I come back from Peru, and turn around 5 weeks later and leave the country again? Since losing her, I feel myself taking life by the horns and wanting to do everything I can possibly do! I feel this great surge of energy that I’ve never had before. It’s as if I am living for her, as well as for myself. I imagine her smiling at John’s project and watching his project come to full fruition.