Thanksgiving, Michael Sulsona & What the Fuck

Many years ago, around 1975 I imagine, Michael and I are driving through Coney Island in his red Karmann Ghia. As we were riding along I find myself wondering how he is able to be so comfortable in his own skin. While we have only known each other a year or two at the time, you only have to be with Michael Vincent Sulsona for twenty seconds to realize you are with someone who has the capacity to accept his reality nearly the instant it occurs, and never lose his sense of self in the process. To put this remarkable capacity to accept in context, I met Michael not long after he lost both his legs in Vietnam at age 19; he was a Marine

Anyway, there we were driving along, and I ask, “What’s your philosophy on life?” He briefly considers this and says, “What the fuck.” I remember thinking, Wow, that’s cold. So I ask what he means and he says, “When things happen you have to know when there’s nothin’ you can do about it and say, What the fuck, and keep going.” If you think about, what he is saying, you’ll realize it is a deliciously Brooklynized version of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Michael and I have been friends for about 35 years now. I think about writing about him but I always put the pen down knowing I don’t stand a chance in writing the difference he has made in my life. I can’t possibly articulate how much I love him, how he has, in a very real way, become my brother, how much his sons, Philip and Vincent mean to me, how I know that were it not for the solidity of their presence in my life, making it through some dark times would have been much harder.

Believe me, there are not many people I trust completely. There are some I trust completely when it comes to certain things, but very, very few that I trust completely in all things. And I can tell you right now, I trust Michael and his sons that much.

If I could do anything for Michael it would be to make some producers realize Michael is, without question, one of the best screenwriters and playwrights around. Likely one of the best my country has ever produced. He has had God knows how many plays produced, won a number of awards, and continues to produce work that is dazzling in its depth and scope. Michael is also proof the quality of ones work does not always have much to do with who buys it and produces it. Let’s face it, Dan Brown, of “Da Vinci Code” fame has made millions and, truth be told, his writing is so horrible he makes Danielle Steele look Shakespearean by comparison.

The genesis of this essay was a desire to write something for Thanksgiving. And while this essay does not do its subject matter justice, I am damned glad Michael, Vincent and Philip Sulsona are in my life. They are very much my family. And while nothing I write will ever succeed in telling them how much I love them, I’d like to say, being able to write anything about them is something I am very thankful for.


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