difficult for me to think of him, owner of Video
Dynamics in Warwick, Rhode Island, without remembering
him and his buddies tooling along the road in a
convertible along Hermosa Beach, the top down, the
California sun going along for the ride, the radio
blaring the Stone’s latest hit and him singing
|Venice Beach, the author and Armand, not thinking about Icarus in the seventies.
Photo by Vin Fraioli or more likely Deb
oh ohoo, Miss You!”
was a long time ago.
had driven all the way from Rhode Island to see him.
He had left Rhode Island, for good, or so we thought.
That was a deep and scary thought for us natives,
leaving the state. Armand went to the other side of
the world, where people actually thought they could
change for the better. Worse, fulfill their dreams.
a case of Icarus in Sunny California. The wings would
melt, slowly, but they would melt.
I pull into the parking lot.
Dynamics is housed in a grayish building near the
airport, an example of the quick architectural boom of
the 1960’s. The general waiting room is full of
papers, tapes, magazines, and in a reverential corner,
a shelf full of awards, Telly and Axiom among them.
Video Dynamics is a full production studio which has
for years been cranking out commercials, local TV
shows (“The Real Estate Show,” among them),
cooking shows, graduations and very recently, an
interview with Sergio Laccone, a singer songwriter
from Italy and me.
emerges. He looks as frazzled as if somebody’s
always calling him. His hair is still thick, but
twenty something years later, he has lost the West
busy, these days,” he says.
I’m really into this show we’re doing, “TV
Maitre’d.” The show has been going very well. We
profile restaurants. It’s not a review. We don’t
pass judgment. We do one show a month and we’re now
in the third year of production. We air four times on
Channel 12, four on Fox. This month, we’re
highlighting “Luciano’s” in Foxboro. Have you
|Armand DeLuise hangs out happily among his tools.
Photo by Vin Fraioli.
restaurant. Great guy.”
what a change.
was going to UCLA back then, majoring in History and
taking every Motion Picture and Video course he could
find. He went to school with guys who are now famous
names in the business. When I showed up in my orange
1971 Pinto and pulled into the parking lot, he yelled,
“Hey, man, slow down! You can tell you’re from the
East Coast. You should lose some of that
I referred to him as Easy Breezy after that. Life was
different there. He shared a house on Hermosa Beach with a bunch of guys also
from Rhode Island. One, I remember, came home one day,
and said he’d quit his job.
quit?” I said.
I was fired,” he said.
something was wrong. He wasn’t upset. If this were
back home, a dark curtain would have fallen on top of
I’ll just get another job.”
job?” I said.
were different in California.
The world was not flat as it was here. Gravity
was not as heavy and the state was not surrounded by a
dense forest full of monsters. There were
opportunities to open with only the key of one’s
I went back home, but Armand stayed. He
graduated from UCLA, came back home briefly
to visit (with a friend whose grandfather was a
famous animation expert), and then went back to the
West Coast. When he got a job as a cameraman for
“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” we weren’t
was actually doing it.
he’s here now. In Warwick, Rhode Island.
we going to do this interview?” he asks. “And by
the way, thanks for the short notice about Sergio. You
could have told me he was taking his guitar. Next
time, give me some information, please.
I could have used two cameras.”
sorry, it won’t happen again.”
show,” I say.
yes. “TV Maitre d’” has been our staple for
quite a while. We had 44,000 viewers last week
according to the polls.
All in all, twenty-eighty shows in three
recently some tag lines for a national company, and of
course, shoots for local businesses, like Providence
Business News. I try to cater to the needs of my
sometimes a project comes along that I’m passionate
about. Years ago, the photographer, Sal Mancini, was
displaying works of his, images of old factories. I
was inspired by them to do a piece for the Rhode
Island Foundation which they used to encourage
revitalization of the factories. That worked out well.
Also, as a result of a profile we did for the Urban
League, we were helpful in getting two kids adopted
who were waiting for homes.”
you do is practical and commercial. Do you miss the
creative days? You know, when you were in
print this,” he says, “but every day I face the
fact that my creative passion is suppressed by a need
to generate income.”
won’t,” I say.
Lifestyles,” Armand met another guy from Rhode
Island, Ed Tannenbaum, in of all places, California.
Ed had developed a technique of computer graphics
which, when filming a live dance performance, would
generate an altered version of the dancer’s
movements projected on a screen in a parallel,
simultaneous performance. For the time, the concept
was a unique and charged dimension of live
performances, “an electronic, interactive
collage,” as Armand calls its.
Armand and Ed took these performance pieces on the road, from Los Angeles,
to Canada, Japan, Germany, and France.
he came home.
|Armand DeLuise, 1970-something,“That was a long time ago,” near Venice Beach. Photo by Vin Fraioli who was actually able to find it in his archives.
you watch the shows we do,” he says, “you’ll see
my way of seeing things. I think I bring a uniqueness,
a sense of vision. It’s the way I sense the
composition and relationship between objects. The same
way a photographer does, but photography is much more
difficult than video in setting up the frame. With
video, we have the extra dimension of time and its
relationship within the frame.”
music,” I say.
A painting compares to one measure of music.”
all of that, how did you manage to come back, you, of
Armand doesn’t remember, I’m sure, is the little
trip my wife and I made to Los Angeles in the early
1980’s. I was going to study dramatic writing. We
visited Armand in his house near the beach. He was
busy working as a cameraman for “Lifestyles” and
he had turned vegetarian (“I don’t eat anything
with eyes,” he used to say).
Now, the dumb buoyancy of hope and change had
hit us, my wife and me, on the verge of turning the
big Three-O. I don’t know if he remembers that I and
my wife were accepted into the Strasberg School and
that she was offered a job there. Then, what happened?
My wife and I began thinking about back home, the
house that we owned, the position I had teaching at a
University. I said, “Do you want to do this? Do you
want to be poor?”
she said. “Let’s go home.”
Armand drove us to LAX the next week.
looks at me.
you remember,” he says, “my whole focus back then
was to serve one purpose: to make enough money to go
back to California to open my own production company.
So, in the late 80’s, the real estate boom was in
full swing in Rhode Island. My foray into real estate
was to make enough money to buy my own equipment and
to get started. But, I lost everything in real
I found myself back here, busted, and
looking for a job. Nobody would hire me. I
ended up shooting graduations with a bunch of New
England Tech interns. Through one of those guys, I was
introduced to Paul, the owner and founder of Video
Dynamics. He recognized my background and abilities
and he gave me a shot. He had built this company out
of nothing. Remember, this was in the days when
advertising agencies were going strong. He made all of
these big contacts, like the Hasbro account and we
were doing mock-up commercials for their marketing
research department. Paul passed away. Poor guy, had
his own demons on his back. His family asked me to run
the company and I eventually bought it. I was always
planning to go back to California as soon as I could,
but, then, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I
met my future wife, Lisa.
funny,” he says. “ I just couldn’t get out of
Rhode Island. It took all of that for me to recognize
where I wanted to be. It’s gorgeous here.
I live where I can see the bay and watch the
swans. And you know, I grew up near the water. We have
three great kids. I’m happy. It’s very cosmic,
very Tao. What happened to me, as I was floating along
the river, I didn’t chase. It chased me. And now, I
have a life better than I dreamed I would have.”
I think. There it is, those lines in the “Four
Quartets.” But I don’t bring it up. I just think
the end of all our exploring
be to arrive where we started
know the place for the first time.
I say, “Icarus did not fall, but floated back to
are you talking about?” Armand says.
I saw in my mind’s eye when you were talking. By the
way, I want you to film a cooking demonstration.”
With Sergio. He’s coming next month.”
for the warning.”
DeLuise and Video Dynamics can be contacted at 401
Fraioli is a writer, sometime actor, classical
guitarist, husband, father living in Rhode Island. He
is a world traveler giving concerts and lectures, and
a frequent contributor to IMAGINE. He was born in