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Storyrocket Number

150-671065631

Intended Medium

Movie, Television

Language

English

U.S. Electronic Copyright Office

978-0-9998941-0-1

Material Type

Book

Funding Platform

None

Location

New York, New York, United States

The story follows a 14 year-old's journey through the "White Flight" suburbs and his coming of age visits to gritty 1971 New York City during an important mind-shaping, and altering, era of his life. The lessons learned come mostly from darkly humorous experiences and raucous escapades in the decaying yet colorful city, and are centered around a seedy Times Square arcade called Fascination—a hangout that “could take more than just a kid’s money.” At Fascination, where he meets city kids his own age, but of different colors and societal backgrounds, the teen observes things close up—much of it not safe, good or even legal, but all of it fondly remembered. In one instance, he recalls Fascination as a melting pot of gangs, runaways and those who had nowhere else to go: "Most chickens seemed to embrace the lifestyle, mainly because Fascination provided them with a safe haven. Some of them got busted up pretty bad just for being queer out on the street. Black eyes and even broken arms on some of the frailer ones—the results of hate-fueled muggings or beatdowns—weren’t uncommon. At least at Fascination, they had something of a sanctuary among their own kind."
Era

Recent Past

"1971 New York City" was a mere skeleton of itself after what might be called its golden age. Its bones picked clean by turbulent social issues, laid out by urban decay and left to rot through the neglect of politicians and citizens alike. High crime, polarized race relations, the shame of the Vietnam War and civil unrest on the streets contrasted with the shiny pop culture shown on television. The lure of that gritty New York City to a fourteen year-old boy and how it changed his life is fondly remembered in a series of raucous escapades.
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Logline

A series of unblinking written pictures of the less than stellar days of 1971 New York City as seen through the eyes and rowdy adventures of a restless teenage boy exploring the frontiers of Fun City the summer before he entered, and then escaped his own high school demons.

Synopsis

Imagine yourself back in 1971 New York City. An urban arena whose golden age had faded years ago. A dirty place rife with crime, corruption and political upheaval. Now picture yourself as a restless fourteen-year-old boy who can’t resist the siren call of its streets and all the smarts they have to offer. It was this era in New York City our author recalls as an adult and a summer he lived as a teenager.

Fascination is a novella that takes a series of unblinking written pictures of those less than stellar days of “Fun City” as seen through the eyes and rowdy adventures of a teenage boy exploring the frontiers of The City the summer before he entered, and then escaped his own high school demons in New Jersey. Tony Mangia's "fictional-memoir" pays attention to many details of the turbulent times—in a both pop culture and social issue sense—you feel as if you are walking the same dirty sidewalks he remembers. It isn’t all politically correct, but neither were those days. And through all of the wonder and notoriety of that city, he somehow finds some goodness and redemption. It might even be called a love letter to the Ugly Duckling New York City of the '70s.

The story follows the 14 year-old's journey through the "White Flight" suburbs and his coming of age visits to that gritty New York City during an important mind-shaping, and altering, era of his life. The lessons learned come mostly from darkly humorous experiences and raucous escapades in the decaying yet colorful city, and are centered around a seedy Times Square arcade called Fascination—a hangout that “could take more than just a kid’s money.” At Fascination, where he meets city kids his own age, but of different colors and societal backgrounds, the teen observes things close up—much of it not safe, good or even legal, but all of it fondly remembered. In one instance, he recalls Fascination as a melting pot of gangs, runaways and those who had nowhere else to go:

"Most chickens seemed to embrace the lifestyle, mainly because Fascination provided them with a safe haven. Some of them got busted up pretty bad just for being queer out on the street. Black eyes and even broken arms on some of the frailer ones—the results of hate-fueled muggings or beatdowns—weren’t uncommon. At least at Fascination, they had something of a sanctuary among their own kind." 

There were no cell phones, GPS devices, or helicopter parents back then; just his friends and a short bus ride from suburban New Jersey to learn about life and himself. It’s an enjoyable, and at times unsettling, storming into adulthood adventure where, like his free-flowing, shoulder-length hair, the main character flies from one escapade to another. Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of buying fireworks in Chinatown or pot in Washington Square, getting jumped in the slums or first love in Central Park, our protagonist finds finds himself enamored with The City.

The leader of the tough city kids inside Fascination, Rollie, comes to school our protagonist — now bestowed with the surprisingly accepted nickname Maggot — on more than book smarts and makes him realize the streets are real and not just a backdrop for television cop shows.

Experimenting with drugs, sordid episodes while hitchhiking, apathetic lessons from teachers at school or seeking out the truth about different races, homosexuality, society’s class distinctions and sex all lead him to look inside himself and question the prejudices he is being indoctrinated into by his peers. This curiosity builds up to an encounter with a pervert inside a Times Square porno theater which escalates into an act of rebellion that is so destructive, it is almost deadly. A wild escape through Times Square ends up with Maggot and his friend Eddie seeking refuge at the Fascination arcade.

In the end, like the flower-child protest patches he tears from his jacket, he strips away most of his anger and comes to the realization that he never had a legitimate reason to protest anything.

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Cast Wish-List
  • Tony (Maggot)
    Male 14 Years old
  • Rollie
    Male 18 Years old
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