A Bronx Tale (1993): “..my father…who had to watch how the streets of the Bijlmer threaten to harden me..”

A Bronx Tale

Kiddo Cee: “A Bronx Tale (1993) is a classic from the nineties with not only the umpteenth star role of my favorite actor Robert DeNiro but also his directing debut. If you have never seen it for any reason. Do not sell yourself short any longer and “go get a late pass!” The story is an epic based on true events with timeless one-liners such as “in your life, you only get three great ones…she may be your first!”, “but if she doesn’t open the car door for you when she’s inside…dump her!” and of course “Did Sonny really shoot that guy over a parking space?!” But it is also the film where my life motto comes from: “the worst thing in life is wasted talent!”

“What I like so much about this film is that it’s about a small Italian-American boy, Calogero, known as ‘C’, who grows up in the rugged slums of the Bronx and he learns everything he needs in his later years of life. Like the fact that love overcomes racial hatred and that the so-called ‘straight path’ is not as black and white as a crosswalk. He hears and sees everything and because he is taken under the wings of the local Mafia boss, Sonny (Chazz Palementri), he quickly experiences particular situations that make him wise at a young age. It’s also the cause that at the age of ten his piggy bank is weekly filled with amounts of money that his righteous father Lorenzo (Robert DeNiro), the local bus driver, would have to save up for months.”

“There is a scene where Lorenzo, who has warned his son several times about the possible bad influence of mafia boss Sonny, finds the ‘blood money’ and goes to the local café with ‘C’ on his hand to return it to Sonny. Even after seeing it for the 80th time it still gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat! Not so much the verbal confrontation between the two men who both have quite big mouths and both wish the best with ‘C’ in their own way. But more the aftermath of the confrontation between small ‘C’ and his father outside the cafe, hit me hard.”

“The little man mentions that it was his savings and that his father had no right to take it away and give it back. His father replies that it is unfairly earned money that is stained with blood and that people are afraid of Sonny instead of loving him. In short, ‘C’ is not allowed to hang in that café with Sonny where illegal gambling competitions are held and other wrong practices. Small ‘C’ clamps his teeth in anger and calls out in tears to his father that Sonny was right and that “the hardworking man is a loser is.” His father tries to make it clear to him that it is not so and that the ordinary man who works hard for honest money, gets up early every day to legally struggle for his family, is a hero and not a fool. “Let a Mafioso give it a try!” Little ‘C’ bursts into tears and admits that he does not understand it all. I mean what do you expect? He is only ten years old. His father understands that, embraces him and lifts him up the whole way back home with the comforting words that ‘C’ will understand it all when he’s older. There is no need to rush things and he should now enjoy a carefree childhood.”

“While thinking of this it almost makes me emotional, because this is very recognizable to me. As a boy, I often had this conversation with my father, who also never strayed from the straight path and who had to watch how the streets of the Bijlmer threatened to harden me and gave me very different life lessons than he wanted. He may have been the one who had brought me in touch with rap music at a young age, himself being a DJ, but the influence that especially gangster rap had on my worldview could not be predicted.”

“Fortunately, his life lessons, that of my mother and grandmother have always been my compass. Even during my derailment in the so-called possé period. Even the message of older (somewhat criminal) friends that I dealt with and who thus renamed me Kiddo Cee came to the same conclusion. “Do not waste your talent!” There is nothing wrong with a strong combination of streetwise & book smart as long as the balance is there and you know how to switch between different situations. It is exactly this combination that is my main thread in my personal life as well as in my musical career. Even in my career as a teacher of social studies, it remains the main focus of my conveyance. It is the combination that ultimately saved both the lives of me and young ‘C’. No spoilers! The combined pearls of wisdom of his father, an honest, hard-working bus driver, and Sonny, the tough but fair mafia boss who both wanted the best for him.” – Chander Peroti (A.K.A. Kiddo Cee).

Photo and story by Feargal Agard.

Also Published by the newspaper Bijlmer & Meer in the Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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