Nowhere in the world will you find more talent compressed in one place than in New York City.
Now I’m not just talking here about the big celebrity names whose talent may be more hype than substance. No, I’m talking about the everyday men and women who inhabit this city of boroughs. Two such talented men are my pals, Tommy Pryor and Phil Gambri.
Tommy Pryor is triple-threat kind of guy. He’s a great writer, photographer and storyteller. He has a memoir coming out soon and his Stoops-To-Nuts website is my go-to place for New York City Nostalgia and great, I mean, really Great photos. http://yorkvillestoopstonuts.blogspot.com
Two of Tommy’s inspiring photographs, Jones Street at Night and Yorkville Sunrise, hang in my writing room.
Tommy is a storyteller in the mold of Garrison Keillor. Keillor weaves tales around his fictional hometown of Lake Woebegone. Pryor’s stories are real stories woven from the fabric of his very real hometown of Yorkville, located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan Island.
The 2nd Tuesday of every month Tommy produces an evening of storytellers downstairs at the venerable Greenwich Village Cornelia Street Café.
When Sinatra sang the line in That’s Life, “I’ve been a puppet, pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a king,” he could have be signing about Phil Gambri, aka The Ancient Mariner. Phil has been all those and more. Phil is a true adventurer.
A product of the streets of South Philadelphia he fled Philly at the age of seventeen. He served on a Navy submarine, has been an actor, hairstylist, stoner, janitor, hired hand, traveling salesman, broncobuster and even a banker.
He arrived with the hippie movement to New York City’s East Village in the early 60’s and never left.
His storytelling style is rugged streetwise New York. He stands at the microphone, speaking with a grizzled whisper, smoothed by a lifetime of Jack Daniels. It is the voice of man who has lived a life worth telling about.
Phil produces Rhymes of The Ancient Mariner http://www.ancientmarinertales.com featuring stories by his troupe of Silver Tongue Devils and 15 open mic performers.