Ol' True Eyes
Johnny Bronat doesn't just carry Frank Sinatra in his heart - he props him up
on his bookshelf, hangs him on his walls, lugs him around in his car and even
trots him out at libraries, senior centers and nursing homes on Long Island.
He's got the man... well... under his skin.
It's evident not just in Bronat's massive collection of Sinatra recordings,
posters, videos, photos, books, and commemorative dolls and plates that fills
his Central Islip home, as well as the one he and his wife, Rose, have in
Deerfield Beach, Fla.
It's also clear from the free musical tribute Bronat, 69, began presenting
to audiences long before Sinatra's death in 1998. There's one coming up Oct. 15
at 2 p.m. at the Lindenhurst library, where he'll share much of his
memorabilia and present selections from a repertoire of 40 or so songs, done
sing-along style with the audience.
The idea is celebration, not impersonation.
"To me, he is one of the greatest. He is not the greatest singer, but a
great entertainer. A very personal gentleman. I love the way he holds the
audience, he keeps it under his hand, it's beautiful," says Bronat.
The veteran Catskills entertainer keeps the audience under his own hand by
displaying his eclectic wares: "I have a copy of his birth certificate, photos
of Sinatra taken at Caesars Palace in the '60s ... I even have a picture of his
tombstone. It says 'The Best Is Yet to Come.'"
True fans, after all, are undaunted by death.
Pizza and Love
The way Tony Modica dances, he really cooks.
In fact, the restaurateur's own dance creation, The Pizza Dance, is making
the rounds at schools, parties and other places on Long Island.
This is hot stuff: Modica took the motions behind the basic steps of making
and baking a pizza and turned it into a dance with a syncopated beat. Now he
and his multicultural team of dancers have been putting on a show that
symbolizes how pizza, that melange of chewy and gooey, can also be a symbol for
unity among diverse people.
OK, so it's not the electric slide. More like the electric slice.
"One day I was watching my pizza chef make pizza in my restaurant," La
Bella Vita near his home in Ozone Park, said Modica, 44. He saw music in the
swing and sway of punching and spinning the dough, and then the heave-ho into
Modica, who is also the former owner of Prima Pasta in Westbury, made a
special pizza dance delivery at last month's Italian festival at Hofstra
University, and plans to serve it up as well in a number of Long Island schools.
"Pizza has been very good to us, I think it is nice to give something back
to pizza," he said.
Visitors to his Web site, www.pizzadance.com, can learn the recipe for the
dance. And stay tuned for what he calls "Pizza Dance II, the continuation of
Pizza Dance I." No doubt, with everything on it.