One day this week it was my turn to be victim of a hack (not to mention a couple hundred friends who had to put up with crazy emails begging to SEND MONEY, PLEASE!!!) The FBI came to the rescue, though nobody could help me through the pit of fixing my accounts. At the end of a long long day of dealing with one more DARK human bean, i went to sleep with a great big smile and the silver-lined-HOPE in the Goodness of Humanity.
As far as i know, only one fell for the scam. And it’s not because he’s a dummy. It’s because all he needed to see, in the first words, was that his childhood pal needed help, and he jumped – and sent all he had in his pocket! His reason: “I JUST LOVE YOU, MAN!!!” He acted from the heart, not from the head. That’s my JOEY PERILLO – Or OUR Joey, as so many know and love him!
Joey was made in the mold of his precious mother – and of his “Other Mother,” Mrs. Robinson, my mom, who used to say, whenever we lost money, “It’s alright. Someone needed it more!” Two people who, too, acted much more from the heart than from the mind and who meant to teach us to always keep our “crazier selves” open to those in need.
But, Joey, little Joey, my buddy on the diamond, would have more than our mommas to mold him. No one could ever have imagined through the joys of our youth what awaited this unique character, who was destined for greatness. Just after our little boy fun, but still in his youth, he would, as the Bible says, “be tried like gold in the crucible of fire” – truly! It was the first real tragedy that most of us kids ever had to face. Our pal, Joey, a young man on one of his first jobs, caught in an explosion, enduring one of the ultimate sufferings a human can face, burned over the majority of his super-active body. And then, with all of us forced to just imagine and PRAY from afar, Joey endured all of the treatments – worse than the fire!
Now, this Joey Perillo was already one of the toughest hombres in the Old Neighborhood of Edgemoor Gardens of Wilmington, Delaware, a Real, Live “Fonz.” i will never forget the time we were at a big party at Mary Ann Blake’s house on S. Cannon, and some gang was out to kill me and Jimmy Peltz. i was literally up against the wall, when suddenly the crowd parted, and Joey stepped in to save me. i never knew what he said or did – maybe nothing? That’s just how he was, the respect he commanded.But this catastrophe was way beyond the scope of even Joey’s strength or “Cool.” How can he take it? i must have asked myself, and God, a thousand times over those long months, helpless…
Since Ancient Greece theatre has always been symbolized by two masks, one of agony, representing Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, and a smiling, laughing Thalia, muse of comedy. The two are always together, never apart, because that is the way life is. Kahlil Gibran in “The Prophet” said that “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” But, all the words in the world cannot compare to one real human soul who takes such suffering and comes out with the same, only infinitely richer, laugh, and a limitless contagion of humor and of compassion. That is Joey Perillo. (i know, Joe, how loud you are laughing at what i write of you! But that, TOO, is YOU!)
How did he do it? There can only be one answer in the end. It certainly was not an easy road. There was agony upon agony upon agony in his life. However, Joey has known Great Love…be it his Mother’s or Father’s or Sisters’ or Brothers’ or Friends’ or Higher Power’s. Whatever the source, it was there. It became perfectly clear somewhere along the way of the Great Companions, of which i am so privileged to have been even the tiniest one.
Joey Perillo became an amazing actor – on the silver screen and the smaller screen, and especially on various stages in and around Philadelphia. He even landed a role as Denzel Washington’s assistant in the masterpiece, “Philadelphia,” chosen as the guy who must show IN A FACE the whole world’s fear and repulsion – at the time – of those, like Tom Hanks’ character, who suffered from AIDS. Our Joey NAILED IT, only showing what a tremendous actor he is, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT MY JOEY!!! He usually wears his heart on his sleeve. His Crucible – and His MANY Mothers – molded him into such a LOVER, of Life, yes, even with its angst, and of his BROTHERS, namely everyone who was hurting or laughing through the hurt. THAT’S my TRUE BROTHER – on the streets of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The Beauty of it all is that JOEY doesn’t act when he loves.
Now, there will be those who don’t seem to like my friend, but JOEY PERILLO, i LOVE YOU, MAN!!!