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Bye Bye Big Easy

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I’m often asked how I got into hand modeling. Surely my earliest vision-boards did not showcase soft palms cradling product. It was actually the kind folks at OPI nail products who first discovered these mitts. While on a routine casting in Los Angeles, all eyes in the boardroom seemed suddenly hypnotized by my hands. When the stares broke, the marketing director abruptly grabbed both my wrists and passed my hands around the room, as others began flipping them over repeatedly, adjusting their glasses, and making little knowing nods among themselves.

That afternoon audition in North Hollywood was one of those defining moments that changed the course of my life. I had just moved to LA with nebulous creative aspirations of becoming somebody… Little did I know I’d become somebody’s body

Another key turning-point in my journey happened many years before when my mom decided to leave my philandering father, her enormous Sicilian family, and the only city she’d known as home…

The Big Easy!

She abruptly exited the Crescent City the day before my 7th birthday in a bus called the Mars Hotel…

With a man named Lightning…

And my little brother and me in tow…

Previous birthdays were traditionally held at my Grandmother’s house…

Here I am a year prior to the bus ride, celebrating my birthday in Grandmother’s gazebo, finishing off a slice of custard-cream-filled Doberge cake and some Italian ice cream…

Cut to that fateful birthday a year later, and my newly liberated mother

Note my bewildered brother Frankie, also having a rough time stomaching the culinary transition from spumoni to carob spelt cake.bewilderedfrank.jpg

I blocked most of that birthday from memory. However I do recall an eerie sense that I was embarking on a life-changing journey…one that smelled of incense and BO.

As we drove further west, my heart ached ever more to return to my family in New Orleans. I missed everything about the Big Easy life: The sweet smell of Mawmie’s gumbo; the sticky weather everyone complained about; even some mean ol’ nuns. Heck, if I’d known back then about the high crime rate, I’m sure I would have found a way to romanticize that too.

With butterflies in my stomach, I’d stare for hours out of the back window of the bus, listening to Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou, as I sang softly to fading landscapes and memories: “I’m coming back someday, come what may to Blue Bayou…”

My mother identified with a different theme song, but from the same album. She would belt the words, dancing in what narrow space she had, and pointing to the paint pealed roof: “You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good. PETER you’re no good!”

Eventually the bus stopped – on six acres of very fertile farmland just south of Humboldt, CA. There my mother further abandoned her role as suburban housewife to adopt that of manic organic food fascist.

Before:

After:

Looking back, I had no idea then of the many more twists and turns to come. I’m still amazed how predictably unpredictable life continues to be. And thus, what a difference a year (and a casting trip to the Valley) can make!

Before:

After:

8 Responses to "Bye Bye Big Easy"
  1. Comedy Karma says:

    Oh my Goooooooooooooooood! So hilarious and I want more! Those pictures are priceless. This is a book. For sure.

  2. Lynn Zavaro says:

    Oh no! Don't end there! I WANT MORE!!! Cant wait for the next installment:)

  3. PB says:

    Ditto what Sarah says
    So great to read!
    If I owned a publishing house instead of a friggin' salvage yard, I'd be trying to get in front of the bidding war on this….
    Expecting it would take more than an evening of laughs, and a plate of Cuban food to ink the deal.
    Keep Posting!

  4. Adele Uddo says:

    Wowie, thank you all so much!! I'm hoping for that bidding war someday…and Cuban food would indeed help ink any deal on this end.
    There's plenty more to come, so please stay tuned!

  5. KRISINDA says:

    You are an extremely brilliant and colorful writer. You have a crystal clear way of painting your picture with such grace and creative expression. I am so inspired by you for taking on this challenging task and opening up your most sacred self. I so respect what you are doing and am enamored by your courage. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts and your journey of life!

  6. Adele Uddo says:

    Krisinda, thank YOU for these beautiful words of encouragement. Wow, you've made my day 🙂

  7. Wonderful combo of pictures and words! Our daughter, now grown, is still only pretty sure we were kidding her that she was born in the back of a bus while following the Grateful Dead on tour. My wife and I successfully grounded the very best of both worlds, starting our own private school that had classes from preschool through high school. We treated every child as an individual and protected the right of parents, not the state, to make decisions about their children. We got considerable more traditional academics in with a much broader, deeper base in half the time while having 10 times the fun and harvesting dozens and dozens of adults who are now thriving spiritually, emotionally, creatively, intellectually, and financially in the “real” world and raising families of their own. If you’re ever in the New York City area, you should stop by for a meal and to share stories.

    • Adele says:

      Thanks for the great stories Brian. I love how your daughter was conceived! And I love that your generation is so open to sharing stories, and community…and food. Thanks for the gracious invitation. Where do you live in NY?

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