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Author Topic: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?  (Read 6085 times)

betheroonie06

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Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« on: October 01, 2006, 10:38:32 AM »
Hi. I moved here in May, so I'm still kinda new to the area. I saw "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" on Friday, and I thought it was amazing, but I want to know if Astoria was really "a tough neighborhood" in the 80s or not. I asked one of my co-workers who has lived in Queens all his life and he said that Astoria was never a bad area, so I thought I would see what others had to say about this. Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Offline Jtrane

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 10:49:03 AM »
I think it's important to take the movie in context as only one persons memories.  The neighborhood might not have been that tough then, but the story focuses on Dito and his memories of the neighborhood and the crowd he ran with.
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Offline Harlan

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2006, 02:07:02 PM »
My understanding (mostly from people posting here!) is that it wasn't all that unsafe for most people, but that the high schools and kids that age were on the rough side. Not a lot of street crime, not all that much hard drugs, but it could be tough depending who you hung out with...

Offline mcdirk

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2006, 02:20:13 PM »
It may have been tougher than it is now, and maybe it was more the 80s than the 90s.  I moved out here in 1993 and a lady I worked with was alarmed - she told me it was a dangerous neighborhood, but I never saw any problems with crime, at least not until this year.

Offline rosey723

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2006, 05:53:04 PM »
It’s not that it was unsafe to live here.  As a kid in growing up in this neighborhood, you knew who were the bad kids and you just stayed clear of them.   It was like most places in the city.  The kids who were looking for trouble found trouble.  You just knew where you should be and where you shouldn’t be.  I, too, have lived here my whole life and have never had a problem. 

betheroonie06

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2006, 06:00:30 PM »
Thanks for your insights, everyone!

Offline oggie

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 04:28:31 PM »
Astoraia in the late 50s early 60 had some bad guy s around.So u stood out of ther way .The vietname war an the draft got most of them out of the neiberhood an changed there out look on life.

Offline domenica

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 04:54:04 PM »
Definitely depended on who you ran with. 80's my hubby was a kid here and he has the scars from stab wounds to prove the race issues that went on in the schools. Staff turned their heads the other way and everybody kept their mouths shut out of fear. Things have changed since then. Astoria Park was considered dangerous at night, lots more bikes and fast cars down there than now, certain areas around here that are gentrified were not safe for women at night. But aside from that, the neighborhood was very safe in the areas where "you were supposed to be".

Offline violetsprl

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 07:10:32 PM »
I actually read the book before the movie.
I really wanted to like the movie...the book was much, much better. Highly recommended.

Offline Chris

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2013, 10:04:33 AM »
I moved to Astoria in '87 and did see AGTRYS and thought they made it tougher than it really was, but I didn't grow up here. I never felt unsafe.

Offline JoeyC

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2013, 12:40:32 PM »
There were some guys like that, some not like that, some way tougher than that.  I did not think they were portrayed as that tough or bad. 


In the book, story is way different, movie changed a lot of things. For one, Dito is much more worldly guy, traveled country, hung out in Manhattan, and knew some celebrities.   There is photo i book of him when young, in a Manhattan club posing with a group that includes a young Giancarlo Esposito ) known now for tv show  Breaking Bad


It was movie that portrayed average kids, maybe a little wild, not 'Bad kids. dangerous guys.." 

Offline holyfrjole

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2013, 03:12:51 PM »
Hadn't seen this thread the first time around. That movie was a joke. I grew up here and was about the same age is this guy at the time the movie was taking place, give or take a couple of years. The neighborhood was NOT dangerous, no more or less than any other neighborhood around here. I had fairly protective parents but they never found the neighborhood concerning either (my mother moved here as a teen in the early 50s). The thing I find most interesting is that this is a pretty small neighborhood - even if you don't know someone, someone you do know will know the person. It's like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon (without KB). But not one person I was friends with knows this guy or knows someone who knows this guy. We all had similar experiences growing up here, but none of us had experiences like he did. If I didn't know that the movie was supposed to be taking place in 1980s Astoria, I'd think it was taking place in 1950s Bensonhurst. I mean, sure, everybody has different experiences, but there would at least be some common themes or threads for people growing up at the same time in the same few square miles, yet I didn't and neither did any of my friends, many of whom I'm still friends with. I don't want to say his story was total bullshit, but I think he definitely used some creative license. I wasn't impressed.

Offline astoriabot

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2013, 03:51:34 PM »
 I can write a whole novel about Astoria and things that happened here. It was one of the most interesting places to grow up in. But I will keep this short and only talk about the Ditmars area for a second. I won't be talking about the rest of Astoria because I'll be here for a year talking about it.
 
 Not everyone but alot of people growing up here was kind of in a click/gang (that's if you were out a lot). I used to play ball by hoyt park a lot and always had a few scuffles with kids from other parts of Astoria. I used to live on 28th and hoyt but also on 41st and Ditmars. Both places had their own crews. Luckily I knew both because these 2 never got along well. The kids from 41st were a bit more sophisticated in their dealings with other crews, in that they were associated with bigger gangs like red&black, latin kings, etc..  On 28th and 24th ave, the kids there were a bit more "loose" in a sense that they were more of car theives, coke dealings, and some random acts of jumping other people. On 28th and hoyt, in one of the buildings, was a major drug manufacturing place that got shot down years ago, but remember that so much traffic was going in and out of it. I also recall many times where crews would jump eachother when one of them would buff another out with graffiti.  In order to join some of the crews you had to beat someone up, buy the leader a dozen spray cans, or some other stupid stuff or someother stupid stuff like that. Going to Junior High School 141 kind of sucked too for some, because that's when most crews got to interact. For example, kids from the terrrace (that's what we used to call the ppl growing up by astoria park's ghetto buildings on 19th ave), kids from astoria projects, ditmars area crews, 24th ave crews, and a few more from other parts, all mixed in and sometimes would get ugly. I do remember during halloween everyone would go out bombing. Basically means you would dress up in poopie clothes and knock random ppl over the head with eggs. Chuck them at business's, strangers, and other crews. Halloween you should always be prepared to fight when bumping into others' territory. Lots of drugs were around then and everyone seemed they were on it.  Most of the people I grew up with back then are either in jail, dead, turned crackheads, or live dead end jobs. They never had any aspirations to better themselves.

As for Greek mafia activity, there was quite a few but low-key. Mostly in collaboration with the Italian mafia. Both fought against albanian take-overs during the late 80's and 90's. A lot of the social Greek clubs you see have many x-members roaming the streets.  I believe today they still operate in racketeering, extortion and other stuff mainly in other neighborhoods. One of the more known families are "Velentzas". I believe they're still in cahoots with one of the main Italian families.
Here's a little backstory to what happened to some Italians and Greeks when caught sleeping. Albanians took over some gambling spots for a few years. Link Here . I believe after these incidents, luck flipped on the Albanians though.

It was not always all doom and gloom. On the flip side, growing up here was pretty much safe. It always depends on what your daily activities were like, where you went to school, and who you hanged out with.
If you were a herb though, you get herbed up. 

Offline plank

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2013, 05:20:03 PM »
I didn't grow up here, but as a movie, I thought it was weak and he is way overrated. maybe the book was good, I didn't read it.

Offline AlexNYC

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2013, 09:18:23 PM »
What as missing from the movie was Perry's Delight, the ice cream place that was catty corner across from the building Dito lived. There's no way they can live across the street and not have hung out or frequented there. But Perry's was gone by the time they made the movie, so no mention. I didn't read the book, so I'm not sure if it was in there.

Offline 28Grand

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2013, 09:29:44 AM »

If the A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints doesn’t match your memory of Astoria in the 80s it’s because Dito was portraying his memory and experiences, not yours.

You’re entitled not to like the movie (or the book) for whatever reasons. But I don’t see the point in criticizing either as inaccurate because both are memoirs, not a historical pieces of nonfiction minutely researched and footnoted.

Though I wasn’t friends with Dito, we did have overlapping social circles and knew/know people in common, some of whom are depicted in the movie. I would say Dito captured the essence of those people and what it was like living here at that time for some, including me. I really liked it.

The neighbourhood may have been shown to be a little more grittier in the movie then it actually was, but I find no fault with this because my story of Astoria is very much different than Dito’s or anyone else’s.


Offline nyhardcore

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2013, 09:36:41 PM »
lol, this threads too funny! i was also born and raised here. i also know dito, the ruggierio bros. the stories in the movie/book to place over a few years not one summer, but the movie was a little weak!, it did bring back memories like hoping the fence to astoria pool at night, keg parties on shore blvd. The movie took place in astoria mid 80's. and it wasn't all that bad ,mostly graffiti crews ( TIK, TSS, OG TRK,etc...) than gangs,(the only one I can remember was Zoo Crew which was before my time), astoriabot summed it up, thats the way it was. but for some reason every halloween we where always getting into riot with the kids from the acropolis , :laugh: . Car break where rampant ,almost every car had a benzi box! if you had a german car it got broken into! even if it didn't have a radio. and not to mention the usual cast of crackheads (not to name names but if you where a teenager in the 80's you knew who they where). I miss those days! thats when NYC was fun.




Offline James Maxx

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2013, 03:39:12 PM »
As a local, born and raised in Astoria I can say it was pretty much safe and like most have said it depends who you hang out with.  There were pockets of shady areas and thugs like the park at Astoria Blvd., the low-income housing buildings near there, the Acropolis (before they went condo) and the worst areas were by Astoria Park and anything past Broadway (still a seedy area lots of low lives hence no condos ever get built there).  Car theft and grafitti was common.


I used to be outside playing with local friends and walked home from school daily.  Not so bad.
The movie did a decent portrayal of Astoria at the time.  I don't think it made it look so bad just some kids doing stupid things getting into fights etc.

Offline dito

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2016, 02:56:51 PM »
i was pointed here by a friend. I loved and always will love the neighborhood I grew up in. In all reality, the violence was watered DOWN a lot. Not the entire neighborhood. For the most part, it was an incredible place to grow up in. As it says in the opening monologue. Of course, everyone is entitled to an opinion wether they liked it or not. But if you knew the friends (the movie connected about 9 kids into 4) but if you knew them, us, you would know there was unfortunately a lot more horrific stories of violence mixed in. The hope was not to glorify the violence but to show what it felt like to be a kid, not as tough, as the ones I knew, but a lot luckier. To put all the violence the small circle of us were engaged in would have been too much in my opinion and further taken away from the beauty that was also there. I grew up on 24th avenue & 31st street. And yes, Perrys was across the street but our budget couldn't handle recreating it. Glad to see some of you enjoyed it and maybe it brought back some memories of a magical time & place.

Offline AlexNYC

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2016, 09:21:17 PM »
Nice to hear from you Dito. I agree, how gritty or violent cliques of friends are or are not varies from block to block and period to period. Astoria and many neighborhoods of NYC were a good place to grow up from the 1940s through perhaps the 1990s. Kids would spend the vast majority of their time after school and days off with other friends. Today kids don't hang out outside that much anymore. It's a different world.

By the way your upcoming film, The Clapper, is getting a lot of positive buzz. I wish you much success.

Offline astoriagirl

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2016, 09:41:45 AM »
That movie was ridiculous in terms of accuracy - Astoria was never that tough.  I hated that movie for that reason.  I wondered "what" Astoria they were depicting - - certainly not the place I grew up.

Offline Eamonn

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2016, 12:50:19 PM »
That movie was ridiculous in terms of accuracy - Astoria was never that tough.  I hated that movie for that reason.  I wondered "what" Astoria they were depicting - - certainly not the place I grew up.
I didn't grow up in Astoria but I can tell you that in the Bronx, Astoria definitely had the reputation as a nice neighborhood. Has been the case for many years.

Offline dito

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Re: Accuracy of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2017, 10:55:04 PM »
of the 7 kids the book talks about in Astoria 2 were murdered. 1 by one of our mutual friend also in the book. 3 are deported. if your street was quaint good for you. Mine was beautiful and I loved growing up there and a lot of people i knew went on to do great things and have families etc. but my immediate friends were not that lucky.



 

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