The Ballad of Franky Two-Pints


The guido sits in his car, his body sculpted from working out five days a week. He's wearing Armani Exchange, but he only wears it on nights out. The girl at his side? A guidette, the accessory to any ambitious guido.  Her outfit is typical nightclub wear, typically accentuating her body's curves. They like the way they dress, and despite the negative attention others of their age give them for it, it doesn’t bother them. If anything, it’s an invitation for a fight. They’re sitting in his Escalade, waiting for their friends to come out. This has been their weekly ritual, and always will be. His name is Frank Garibaldi, but among his friends, he’s known as Franky Two-Pints. He calls his girlfriend “Babe,” which is easier that way. Not because he forgets her name, but it was his ex-girlfriend's name. He's lucky his current girlfriend is too dumb and ignorant to know about Babe. He adjusts the Italian flag hung on the mirror, making sure it looks perfect. It’s important that people know his Italian ancestry, and it means a lot to him. His car even has a bumper sticker saying, “Italian Stallion.” He once got into a fight with others his age because they called him a wanna-be Italian. He considered it ironic, considering they were wanna-bes too. All teenagers are wannabes, and he figured this out pretty quickly in high school. Hip-Hop kids want to be like the gangsters. Goths want to be mysterious and morbid. Oh god, he really hated those Hip-Hop kids. "Guidos" were this decade's butt monkey. His father gave him crap about the fight. Dad got into fights when he was young too, and about lesser things than his Italian pride. Why couldn't he understand?

Watching Saturday Night Fever on the new flat screen, the worn out tape sitting in the VCR, the guido’s father is enjoying his day off from his package delivery job at UPS. He keeps the relic especially to watch the movie. His leisure suit has long been thrown away. Where, he doesn't remember, or even care to remember. It's his day off, so why would he reminisce about such silly things? During the movie, he thinks about his son, who hasn't been home all day. He hopes he comes to dinner today, and who knows, he might bring his girlfriend. His son has always promised to introduce her. The father sighs at the thought of this, and watches the movie a few more times that day. He still wonders about his son.

Franky’s friends finally come out, fitting comfortably in the Escalade. They're off for a joy ride before heading to the club. Franky's friend notices something in the back, and asks him about it.

"Why is there a baseball bat in the back?"

"Oh, what's it to you?" said Franky.

"What, you don't have be a dick about it. I was just wondering."

Franky sighed, and answered, "I was playing baseball the other day."

"With whom, yourself?

"No! just forget it." Franky kept his eyes on the road.

They stop near the club, and open a few bottles of beers before they go in. This is called pre-gaming, and it's not an uncommon ritual among them. Intoxicated, they stumble around a little, trying to keep their composure, but Franky Two Pints is cursing out random passersby. A couple of black youth nearby glares at him, and tell him to shut up, calling him a guido, a no-good Italian punk. Franky retorts with a shower of racial epithets, one among them the N-word. Franky’s friends tell him to calm down, but Franky won't have any of it: they crossed his line. Franky runs back to the car, and grabs his baseball bat. He charges at them, and the scene becomes chaotic.A few quick bystanders captured the event on their cameras. The evening is immortalized on YouTube.

This story is fictional. There is no video on YouTube, and there is no Franky Two Pints. This is NOT an indictment of all guido youth, but rather the subculture's tenets of hedonism and hyper masculinity must be brought under scrutiny, not to mention the periphery role of women as objects of beauty and sexual gratification. It must be acknowledged that, while there are positive outcomes of having a stable, secure identity, the guido subculture has its negative outcomes (one only needs to research the Howard Beach hate crime incidents). It is these excesses that must be brought to light. It may seem like stereotyping these youth, but it is necessary to note that research done on guidos by Tricarico shows that there is a template of values, symbols, and dress common to all of them. On this template identities are formed, along with behaviors reflecting these identities and the values inherent in them. One could say that the template is the essence of what it means to be a guido. It is this on which we focus. With that in mind, we come to a question: are these extremes in behavior merely isolated incidents, or are they the template of guido carried to its logical end? In knowing the guido head to toe, these isolated cases lose their shock. The guido template is simply running its course.

Another point to bring up is the effects of the guido lifestyle on the family. This isn’t a new issue, since the family was a significant part of the movie Saturday Night Live, in which the working class forerunner of the contemporary guido is depicted. While in that movie the protagonist’s lifestyle did not have a direct impact on the dynamics of his family, his own dreams were at odds with those of his family. Today’s guido has different aims, but are those aims at odds with those of his family? The neighborhood of Howard Beach is strongly family-oriented, but the guidos focus on things apart from the family. How does this affect the relationship between the parents, who wish for a strong cohesive bond, and the children, who pursue their own goals, despite the seeming shortsightedness of them? In the end, one has to admit that the question can be asked of any subculture or any young person who want to carve out his or her own identity. This might seem like a tangent, but the family dynamic is very important to the people of Howard Beach, descendents of Italian immigrants. What effects do guido have on the traditionally tightly knit families of Howard Beach?