Heritage Pop Culture Tradition

Paisan Con Recap

I truly believe there are moments in life God places you in a situation for a specific reason. It is then up to us to use our free will and decide to rise to the occasion or ignore it.

That is exactly what happened to me last weekend.

I received a call from a friend prior to Paisan Con asking if I would be willing to help with interviews during the celebrity panels. Shockingly, I didn’t panic or let my anxiety totally destroy me. I said sure, send me a list.

As someone who doesn’t keep up with movies or television, I looked up each person, made some notes, thought of some questions to start a conversation, and was as ready as I was going to be for the event.

Paisan Con Kicks Off

My first interview was with John Capodice. Most people know him best from Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. I, however, remember him most for a guest spot on NYPD Blue as a detective who was slowly experiencing a mental breakdown. It was an amazing performance.

I asked him about his upbringing. What it was like growing up as an Italian American in Chicago. If there was ever a time when he felt his upbringing ever helped or hurt him in the entertainment industry. What is he doing to help carry on his family stories and heritage to his grandchildren.

Jack Cittarelli and Andrea Cammarato Van Benschoten at Paisan Con
Me interviewing Jack Cittarelli at this past weekend at Paisan Con.

I’ll be honest. He made it very easy. He was kind, and jovial, and open. At the end of the weekend I stopped by and thanked him for making things so easy for me. His wife was very complimentary with my interview skills. I also had the opportunity to interview Bobby Czyz, Jack Cittarelli, Giuseppe Iatarola, Nicholas Turturro, and others. I was able to work with Mario Bosco and the production team to work out scheduling so everyone was able to present. I even handled an IT issue.

It was as if just about every skill I had acquired over my life was pulled together for one event. It is going to sound overly dramatic, but it fed my soul. I was able to share my passion for my heritage and genealogy with others. I met new people who shared their passions of food, faith, and family – the foundation upon which our people built a way of life in America.

It was a fantastic event. And I can’t wait until next year!

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