Stand-up Jimmy Failla captures remaining seedy underbelly of New York in chronicle of cabdriving day job
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
I love books about the old seedy underbelly of New York City – even as of just the 1980s, pre-Giuliani clean-up. But who knew there was still a lot of that out there if you just knew where to look for it.
Failla populates his book with plenty of crazy New York characters, from the streets, riding in his cab and from his own family. We get Failla’s own gambling grandmother, still pointing out favorite horses on the Racing Form in her last hospital stay.
Just a couple of the memorable fares Failla once drove included an imposing tough guy who “invites” Failla to smoke pot at gunpoint. Like a few of the uncomfortably tense scenes from “Goodfellas,” you don’t know whether the guy is seriously unhinged, or only kidding – or maybe both at the same time. Another passenger, an elderly but still agile man, appears to have escaped or discharged himself from the hospital, still in a gown. He shares a rapid fire series of stories that Failla relates to his readers.
There’s also the more momentary thrills of having driven famous passengers, just from random luck, like Dennis Hopper – who shared a few pearls of wisdom with Failla, and Al Pacino, whom Failla didn’t realize he was driving or conversing with until after dropping him off at his destination.
In “Follow That Car!” Failla puts a lot of energy and excitement on the page, and a reader won’t want to put it down, as a result. It’s a very entertaining book – along with showing the remnants of that old New York, Failla knows how to grab your attention and keep it.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua