:: Wedding Party in DC ::
Actually, this was the third celebration of our union. We got married in a Christian ceremony at the Sendai Kokusai hotel, Sendai, Japan, then obtained a marriage license one month later from the Prince George's County courthouse, and finaly two months later we hosted this party for family and friends unable to attend the wedding in Japan. This party was hosted at our friend Leon Harris's home, in downtown Washington, DC.
:: Sendai Wedding ::
Satoko and I were married in a Christian ceremony in the northeastern Japanese city of Sendai, four hours drive north of Tokyo, and the Matsuoka family home for four hundred years. Our officiant, curiously enough, was an American minister who had lived in Sendai for the past 20 years and in Japan the past 25 years. The bride changes from traditional white dress into another dress after the ceremony, for the wedding reception.
:: Family Archives ::
These are photos of my immediate family, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents
from the D'Alessandro, Barone, Fungone & Mazzei families from whence my siblings and I descend.
All four families emigrated from southern Italy - Napoli, Altavilla Irpina, Spinazzolla & Cosenza,
respectively, in the 1900's-1910's, to New York, cross-pollinating in the then sleepy,
not-yet-poltergeisted hamlet of Staten Island during the 1940's & 1950's.
Last night my wife & I happened to watch The Godfather on Bravo and the music was the element that really captivated me. When I first saw this movie, I was 9 years old in 1972, on a family vacation, and my very conservative 2nd generation Italian-American parents, completely unaware of the subject matter of the film, thought this an excellent film for the family to watch... Yet, looking back, and feeling the loss of grandparents, great aunts and uncles, the diaspora across America of my first and second cousins, lost in the melting pot, the score for the Godfather reminds me of a time of my own innocence, of a time when large family gatherings were the norm, when every Sunday evening meant hour long haircuts by my 85 year old grandfather and delicious Italian meals cooked by my 70 year old great aunt. It took a long time to accept the loss of family as one by one that generation died off in the 1970's, to realize that life was not going to be a cocoon of large, warm, loving family relations. Yet, way back in 1972, this magnificent, mournful music presaged that tragic realization that life in America was no longer going to be so cozy for those who choose complete assimilation into the melting pot. The fictional Corleone family were Sicilian; my own were Neapolitan & Barese, but for anyone of southern Italian heritage, whether on the mainland or Sicily there is a chill of genetic resonance and recognition when you hear Rota's haunting mix of Neapolitan & Sicilian sounds and rhythms. It's the motherland calling, the soul yearning, ignorant of the original grievances that caused the rift that sent whole communities and solo immigrants to the shore of a new world that was often no warmer a welcome mat than the hidebound, superstitious and vendetta-plagued hilltop farming communities they sought to escape from. Tears of what...joy? or tears of sorrow demand to be exuded from my being when I hear this film score, crying for a warm, fuzzy fantasy of youth, yes, but one that did indeed contain the seeds of my being, and the cocoon of loving family that sheltered me in my growing years. Let me call these tears of joy and appreciation for Francis Ford Coppola and Nino Rota for awakening in me the dormant love of an ancient homeland with many faults, but big enough to give birth to those who gave life to me.