Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Esai is Taken
Frequently I have been in a public space, perhaps a place such as Washington Square Park, when someone has pulled me aside and whispered something like "Do you realize who that guy is?" Of course, everyone has different standards as to what constitutes greatness and importance, so my initial reaction is to take these introductions with a grain of salt and do my research later. However, with current technology, later can be now if one has a portable device with Internet access.
On September 5th at 9:20 PM, Joe Rios (producer of the film documentary in which I was host - see here) approached me quite excited and whispered to me that this was ESAI MORALES, a lifelong idol of his. Apparently, this was a name I should have known but sadly did not. I did the prudent thing and took a handful of photos along with some video, just "in case" this person turned out to be worthy of a story.
I moved aside and pulled out my iPad to get a brief overview.
As I began to type his name in the Wikipedia search bar, his full name was completed quickly, so I knew that this person was likely a heavyweight. A few seconds scanning his Wikipedia entry, and I was embarrassed that I had never heard of him. There was a broad range of films and TV series, nearly 100 in total, many of which were quite familiar to me. Morales is perhaps best known for his role in the 1987 film La Bamba.
Reading his bio more closely, I could understand why my friend Joe Rios would have idolized Morales and found him to be an inspiration. Like Joe, Esai was Puerto Rican and grew in New York City from a working-class family (Esai grew up in Brooklyn, Joe had a very rough upbringing in the Bronx). Morales is the classic success story that every urban youth needs to hear.
I can't imagine another place where a man or woman who has achieved so much, essentially a celebrity, would sit on a park bench with a local and just sing his heart out. I was introduced to Esai and spoke to him briefly. A piece of the video footage I took that evening may be used in the film documentary that Joe is producing. Although it was crude and hand held, it documents the extraordinary nature of the park and this city, where anything can happen and often does.
Born in 1962, Morales began his acting career by attending the School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. I also learned that Morales is a vegetarian and political activist. Whatever he is doing, it appears to serve him well. He looks to be in great condition and is quite handsome and charming. For any women who might be interested, I am sorry to say, Esai is taken :)
Related Posts: Mzuri Sings, Myra's Isle, Walid Soroor