Monday, May 9, 2011

A Life Lived Chasing Dreams

Even though the moments I'm about to share led to a horrid torrent of tears with the novice director I told you about, it doesn't take away from the experience of the individual I met that evening. And so here is the silver lining. An unforgettable evening. 


I walked into this home and I was immersed in photos of Al Pacino, fellow judges, D.A.s, autographed posters from the films Carlito's Way and Q&A (the novels he wrote which later became movies)...his home was his personal hall of fame. This is the home of Judge Edwin Torres. Among all of the memorabilia, there were photos of his four daughters, his grandchildren, and ancestors.

Center: Judge EdwinTorres. Background: Fernando Mateo, Jr. (actor)
We took a tour of the entire house. I ate cookies his beautiful wife made and just looked around in wonder at the book case full of his novels written in over five languages. I sat with a legend as he recounted the eighty years he has lived on this earth, his loves, his losses, and how he juggled life on the bench with his artistry. 

I was high off the energy as he walked  around showing newspaper clippings, photos, and telling stories of his childhood. I watched as he was moved to tears when discussing his best friend who died in Korea. I listened as he spoke of working with Pacino in bringing Carlito Brigante to life.

I interviewed a man that reminded me so vividly of my grandfather - no filter, very blunt, opinionated, a charlatan at times, and completely mesmerizing. A man who spoke of knock-around guys...the color and culture lines drawn in New York in the 40's ...stories so similar to those my father told me.  He spoke of his dreams for his current screenplay Pleasant Avenue to become a movie. Even at eighty he hasn't given up pursuing his art, his bliss?! Sooo inspiring, no? 
Left: Herman Chaves (actor); Center: Judge EdwinTorres.
As he spoke - if I'd closed my eyes for a second - I would swear I was listening to Carlito Brigante. Al Pacino clearly modeled the voice of that character after Judge Torres - the Puerto Rican from Harlem. A Puerto Rican who's success in the law and as a novelist is nothing less than amazing.

He answered my questions with fervor, and painted a picture filled with many paths, many experiences. He held no punches. This 80 year old Judge came out of nowhere and called me beautiful in the middle of the interview- you know I blushed? When I recovered, he recounted all he had done and all he still planned to do. I felt overwhelmed by the presence of this life force. When we were done, he complimented me on my questions and after I shook off the glitter from his stories... I held my ground like,  "yea! I know. I rock." 

Center: Judge EdwinTorres.

Before I left, I told him "a movie will be made about you one day," to which he retorted, "not if I can help it." Although he has led quite a life, he has no interest in his story being told. He just likes to be the story teller. 

But at least you have this little glimpse into his life. If you walk away with anything after reading this little story, I hope that you are inspired to keep chasing your dreams no matter your age. Let Judge Torres serve as an example of this: it is in the chasing of dreams that life is really LIVED.

Also, I am an amazon associate. So if you purchase an item through my amazon links, I get some cha-ching in my wallet, which makes me happy.

Its a shame that I can't show you a copy of the interview. I will never see this interview and I have demanded that my work product not be used. The actions of the novice director caused him to burn a few bridges that night. Despite this, the experience that I had while I was engaged in the interview was worth the hard work, time, and effort (drafting of interview questions, time spent preparing, money spent to get to the location, to purchase clothing, etc.) if only for my own personal memories.