Weird Coincidences: The Ducky Boys and Costuming.
Author James Hannon finds out that his Bronx/Ducky Boys World and his Costuming World are starting to blend together in very strange & coincidental ways. This looks like a job for SuperGirl – who was instrumental in uncovering this string of coincidences. Sound interesting? Read on……
Well, so far every big project I’ve worked on has had at least one huge coincidence that made me realize I might be onto something really cool.
For my 2004 documentary, Out of Our Dens: The Richard & the Young Lions Story, while looking for Detroit names who remembered the band RYL, I came across legendary NYC radio DJ Pat St John – who unbeknownst to me was a legendary Detroit radio DJ before coming to NY and not only did he remember the band, he LOVED them. And while thats cool, thats not the coincidence part. The coincidence part is that when I spoke to him and invited him out to the bands rehearsal studio to see them play, we found out that HE LIVED FOUR BLOCKS AWAY. Pat became one of the biggest champions for RYL and my documentary afterwards, and more importantly one of my good friends…
For my 2010 book Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang, I came across Kevin Byrne, who was the younger brother of two of the founding members of the Ducky Boys Gang – twins Jimmy & Frankie Byrne. When I went to interview Kevin, we interviewed in the house that they all grew up in on Briggs Ave in the Norwood section of the Bronx. The coincidental part was that this house was 300 feet from the building that I lived in growing up. I remember going trick or treating at this house as a kid (and was told that I was lucky to walk away with my pants) – I’m about 18 years younger than the actual Ducky Boys, but I walked by this house tens of thousands of times without realizing that the occupants would influence my career/life so many years later. And also Kevin & I are now good friends as well…
There was also some big coincidences involving The RiffSurfers band that I used to manage, Star Wars costuming and Pat Dinizio of the band The Smithereens. That one was so big that it took up two blog entries and a few Youtube videos to tell it all… Read about that one here since its way to long to explain in a paragraph. LOL
Anyhoo, for my new book on people who costume outside of Halloween (myself included), this string of coincidences has happily continued.
I met Ann McManus right after NY Comic Con 2011. An idiot writer for a major health magazine (I wont give them an ounce of publicity) thought it would be funny to his readers if he trashed costumers who weren’t the perfect size/weight for their costumes. Happily, there was a HUGE backlash from the ever-growing costuming community and the magazine backpedaled. They didn’t do a great job apologizing, but they were certainly put on notice that the costuming community is larger than they thought, and we stick up for each other. Ann and I were vocal on a thread of a mutual friend and started talking. I saw that she was an amazing costumer and made her own very intricate costumes, so I asked her if she would like to be interviewed. I found out during this interview that she was also from the Bronx, so we went off on a lot of conversational tangents about the Bronx.
Flash-forward to last weekend (6/3/2012) and I saw that we were both going to be at Wizard World Philadelphia 2012 (also know as Philadelphia Comic Con), so I wanted to meet her in person and get a picture with her. She was in a very cool Super Girl costume (that you see at the top of this article) and we had a pleasant conversation, and got the picture. We took the picture, and went about our merry ways… I posted a ton of pix on Facebook here – The pictures got some attention from my friends, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Flash forward to this week, and while posting pix from the Roller Derby event I did with the 501s Northeast Remnant, one of my friends found the Philly Comic Con pix and commented on the picture I took with Ann. As we all know Facebook is kinda goofy, and somehow put that pic on a lot of my Facebook friends page which got more attention today than it did last week when I first posted it. And apparently it got posted on Ann’s friends pages as well… To the point that her husband understandably asked who this geeky guy was.
She explained that she had helped me with an interview for my new book on costuming, and that I had written a book on the Bronx about a gang called the Ducky Boys… He responded (probably very shocked, but I wasn’t there to see his reaction) that he actually used sections of MY BOOK “Lost Boys of the Bronx” to teach his students. Ann explained that he’s a high school English teacher in the Bronx and that he said he uses the book because its of local interest and they like street culture. And that he’s actually trying to get it into his official curriculum… All this without knowing that Ann was helping me out on my new book about costuming.
You literally could’ve knocked me over with a feather. This coincidence wouldn’t even make a good fictional plot because it would be too unbelievable.. It just goes to show that the world is a LOT smaller than you might think…
A smaller coincidence of note is that Ann’s husband is a costumer too, and had a great Black Adam costume at Philly Comic Con the week before – And I have been reading a Black Adam graphic novel in small pieces over the last few weeks – and was impressed with his costume in her pictures – before I realized that was her husband. Its cool, but not as jaw-droppingly coincidental as the big one…
Well, thats my story tonight. I hope that Ann and her husband and I become good friends over the coming years like Pat & Kevin from the first two projects. But we’ll let that work itself out organically :
Now for the shameless plugs… I put it at then end so you could skip it if you’d like… LOL
First off, I wrote a Book last year, called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. It is about the real-life exploits of the Ducky Boys gang that was so terrifying in the 1979 movie The Wanderers. They also happened to roam the Bronx neighborhood that I grew up in in the early 1960s.
Please check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or get a signed copy directly from me (Its actually cheaper thru me and you get some free bonus stuff, but I understand you like the warm & fuzzy feeling of dealing with the big stores)
Secondly, I am currently writing a new book about the really cool people I have met doing this costuming thing. There are a lot of interesting stories about how and why people got into this hobby. Many people get into it for the nerdy and fun aspect of the hobby, but there is so much more to it – For example, The 501st and Rebel Legion devotes a LOT of time and energy into helping people (especially kids) who need it – Any given weekend, there are members of our group visiting hospitals, participating in charity walks and raising money and awareness for a variety of organizations (Make A Wish, FAAN, Autism Speaks, amongst many others) – So we’re not just geeks – we’re geeks that really try to make the world a better place…
Anyway, in this new book, I am looking for interesting stories of people who costume. It could be Star Wars or Star Trek related; It could be Superhero costuming; It could be Renaissance Faire, SCA or even LARPing; it could be Historical Re-Enacting; If you put a costume on outside of Halloween, I’d love to hear your story – so please drop me a line at JamesHannon@Lantern-Media.com – you could end up immortalized in a book. But please hurry – before I finish writing it.
And the third and final advertisement… I’ve been writing this blog for a while now, and there’s a lot of variation in my topics… There’s quite a few more costuming stories, some Bronx and Ducky Boys stories, reviews of movies, and concerts that I’ve been to, and tips for writers and/or procrastinators… Take a look thru the rest of them – I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you.
See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!