A Tale of Two Paintings

In November of 1974, I was born. (This isn’t MY story…that’s just a coincidence.)  In that same month, my mother (Nancy Gigliotti) and father (Clem Gigliotti Sr.) opened a restaurant in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, called “Gigliotti’s Restaurant.”   Four years later, in kindergarten, I met a girl by the name of Jennifer, and we were close friends all through grade school.  I’m not sure in what year it occurred, and I am not sure how Clem Sr. and Jennifer’s brother met.  It may have been through my friendship with Jennifer, I don’t know.   But at some point, Clem Sr. got in touch with Jennifer’s brother, Keith.   Keith opines, “From what I remember. My parents were always telling others about my talent and one day they met your parents, And so the story begins.”  Clem Sr. commissioned Keith, then a high school student, to paint two “Italian/Venice-themed” paintings.  The price was $200 each, plus the opportunity for Keith and his family to dine at the restaurant “on the house” at any time.  The paintings were hung in the main dining room.   At some point, possibly around 1984, the name of the restaurant was changed to “The Canopy Restaurant,” and underwent a major renovation…but the paintings remained as the focal point of the dining room.   In 1988, the restaurant was closed, and everything in it was auctioned.  Before the auction, however, Clem Sr. took one of the paintings (which is a rendition of the Rialto Bridge in Venice Italy…
and gave it to one of his very best customers, Vincent “Bud” V., who was always admiring the painting when he and his wife came in for dinner.  With graciousness, Mr. V took the painting.  Everything else, including the other painting (informally titled “Two Men In a Boat”)
was then sold at auction.   Several years later, after my father started another business, he and I were working together and were traveling to Pittsburgh for a meeting.  Both of us still lived and worked out of our offices in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.  On the way, we stopped into a restaurant called Napoli, near Brentwood, Pennsylvania.   To our surprise, we discovered “Two Men In a Boat” hanging in the dining room.  I don’t remember the year.  I would guess as early as 2000, maybe?  We talked to the owner, introduced ourselves, and discussed the history of the two paintings.   Sadly, I do not remember how Napoli came into possession of the painting.   At the time, Clem Sr. could only guess that Mr. V still possessed the Rialto painting, but he had not heard from Mr. V since the restaurant closed.  “Two Men in a Boat” hung in the Napoli restaurant until the Spring of 2011, when the restaurant closed.   But in the meantime, around 2002, Clem Sr. received a phone call from the Mrs. V. Sadly, Mr. V had passed away.  Mrs. V reminisced with Clem Sr. about the good times she shared with her husband at the restaurant, and how much Mr. V enjoyed the Rialto painting.  But, unfortunately Mrs. V informed my dad that she was moving to a much smaller apartment and had no space for the painting.  With respect and gratitude, Mrs. V desired to return the Rialto painting to my father.   At the time, of course, my father had no place to hang the painting either.  As I had just moved into a new home that very week, in California, Pennsylvania, my father asked if I would like the Rialto painting.  The painting, to me, was already rich in history and “priceless” from a number of perspectives.  It represented, to me, those years of my childhood spent at the restaurant, a childhood friendship, and a depiction of one of my favorite spots on the globe that I was fortunate enough to have visited in person, as an adult, on two occasions.  I happily accepted the Rialto painting, and it hung in the dining room of my California, Pennsylvania home until I sold the home in 2007.   The Rialto painting was then carefully placed into a storage unit in Monongahela, until such time as I had another permanent home with sufficient wall-space for the painting to return. And in July of 2011, my wife and I purchased a home in Brentwood, PA, and the Rialto painting again graced a wall in my house……less than a mile from its sister painting, “Two Men in a Boat,” which still hung in the Napoli restaurant.  I sought Keith, the artist, and found him thanks to Facebook.  He rememebred the paintings, my family, and some of the story.  He enjoyed hearing of the interesting developments and the fact that less than a mile now seperated the sister-paintings, despite having traveled to many places and passing through several hands.  At various times, I would stop in at Napoli Restaurant and view “Two Men in a Boat.” As late as May of 2010, my wife’s brother, Brian, and his wife Danielle, held their wedding rehearsal dinner at Napoli.  I shared with some of my wife’s family the story of the paintings and their history as I showed them “Two Men In a Boat.”  There must have been a different owner of Napoli, a younger person than the man Clem Sr. and I spoke with back in 2000, and he seemed a bit confused about the history of the painting.  I even recall him making a statement about the artist being his friend…and he then said some name I did not recognize, which was peculiar as I clearly observed “Keith ____” still legible and undisturbed on the canvas.  But as the conversation with this new owner had already taken a number of bizarre turns, I didn’t correct him.   In the Spring of 2011, my wife and I saw that Napoli Restaurant had closed.  I attempted to contact the realtor via email a number of times to inquire of the fate of “Two Men In a Boat.”  It was not necessarily a desire to unite the two paintings.  After all, one might even argue that the paintings seemed to bizarrely be drawn to one another already, without any assistance from me or anyone else.  Though given the opportunity, I would have happily reunited the paintings with no concrete idea  of what I actually would have done with the second large painting.   But more importantly, I sought to acquire “Two Men In a Boat” because I wanted to assure that this history was not lost, that the beautiful artwork was not discarded as some insignificant piece, and guarantee that the piece of my family’s history…..a family whose once-magnificent and successful time-line had been scarred by twists of fate, but also blessed with other positives….that the piece of my family’s history was preserved.   After all, as you can see, the paintings have a story to tell, and I personally think it’s an interesting one.  I never heard back from the realtor. I was only left to guess at the fate of “Two Men in a Boat.”  But in July of 2011, a Facebook message from Keith came, and it described a surprising email he had received earlier that day.  “Hey Clem.  Guess what? I just got an e-mail from a man wanting some information about a painting he aquired that he called “two men in a boat.”  I told him that I could not remember the painting, so I ask him to send me a picture.  To my surprise, it was the Gondolier painting.   It is now hanging in his home.”  To date, the man and I (as well as Keith) have traded some emails and shared some history, as well as created this comprehensive account of the history of the paintings.  It turns out the new owner of “The Gondolier / Two Men In a Boat” is working as a contractor to renovate the restaurant into a different facility.  As the man reports, “…that building is now under redevelopment and I guess the painting would not go along with the new office space.   I do live very close and I am one of the contractors on the job.  I sent my wife a picture of the painting one day, and she had to have it.  So now, when anyone comes over to our house, the painting is the first thing they will ask about.”  Clearly, the painting has made its way to yet another appropriate home.  I am, by almost any measure, an extremely practical person. But I can not deny the almost organic and somewhat magical resilience of these two paintings.   The way they not only survive, but keep revealing themselves to me is not just entertaining and surprising, but purely beautiful in so many ways.
Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 3:57 PM  Comments (2)  
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President Obama just emailed me to invite me to dinner.

Well, ok.  Maybe not exactly.  But I did get an email.  The sender was “Barack Obama,” and the subject was simply “Dinner?”

I get emails from “Barack Obama” all of the time.  At some point, someone, somewhere decided I am a Democrat worthy of addition to our President’s email list…or at least the list for his campaign.  It was the subject of this email that made it feel a little different, because the subject “dinner?” is most unusual, when you consider that almost all of the other emails from “Barack” have had subjects like “grass roots campaigning,” or “fundraiser” or….well, you get the idea.  But today’s email had a subject I see, often, from real-life friends.  So, I opened it and I read it.  With all due respect to President Obama, I don’t always.  Turns out, it’s a contest.  Our President is holding a contest, and the prize is to have dinner with him.  And all I have to do to be entered into the contest is to give a donation to the campaign of at least $5.

At some point, someone is going to look at this and say it is tacky.  But not me.  I think it’s awesome.  This is no less than the 30th email I have received from the campaign in the last 6 months.  Every time I think about re-upping my donation, but I haven’t followed through with giving one additional penny.

Today is different.  The chance to have a bite with the President is worth $5.  For sure.  And while I hate to expand the pool of competition, I don’t think I have to worry too much about the two or three people that still subscribe to this blog.  So, here’s the link:


Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM  Leave a Comment  

Authentic Abundance RePost – A Place Where Your Authentic Self Can’t Hide


Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 6:14 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Box – 2009 Movie

I will admit that I am late to the party.  A quick Google of the movie title will reveal not only the plot, but also the pages and pages of criticism about the 2009 cinema catastrophe which might even be enough to make one wonder why I even put it on my Netflix list.  I have no defense.  I knew little about it, and I watched the movie.  Let’s leave it at that.  If you want the basics, visit the wikipedia article.

I want to talk about what I think is the most significant gap in the film’s logic, which is also noticeably absent from even the most critical of reviews that I read.  (And, by the way, that is saying a lot.  Because there were more gaps in this films logic than on Pennsylvania highways in winter time.)

Before I do, please do not misunderstand me.  This is not, by any stretch, my sole criticism.  The accents are horrid, the plot inconsistent, and the ending an absolute bore.  The type of ending that makes me angry to a degree not seen since my theater viewing of Cool World.  But all of these things can not aggregate to sum up to more than my frustration with the problem I wish to address.  And that is this….

How are we expected to believe that killing you wife is a better idea than raising, with her alive and by your side, your deaf and blind child?

If you have not seen the movie, don’t.  (In case my subtlety has thus far been missed.)  But here’s where we are.  In the last ten minutes of the film, the two main characters – husband and wife, and parents to one young boy – are told that their sins earlier in the film have resulted in aliens taking away their son’s sight and hearing, and locking him in their upstairs bathroom.  (Try to stay with me.  Imagine how hard it was to actually watch this happen to the two hours I invested watching it unfold.)  The Head Alien, after informing the couple of this, tells them that they have a choice.  The choice is (watered down to basics) this:

1.  Go upstairs, break the lock off of the door, hug your child, and then spend the rest of your lives together helping him to learn to live with his disabilities.  OH!  And they also have a million dollars in a safe downstairs that the alien gave them earlier in the movie that they are free to use to help with all of these problems.

2.  Husband shoots wife in heart.  Wife dies.  Aliens give Son hearing and sight back.  Husband goes to jail.  Son has sight and hearing but no parents.  Million dollars goes away until son is 18.

Guess which option the parents choose?

Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 8:26 PM  Leave a Comment  

Shout Out to Pat Corcoran

Visit my pal Pat’s new blog.   http://catsconvictions.blogspot.com/

If you like it, then tweet, follow, comment……all that good stuff.  You know what to do.  I think there is interesting stuff to come.

Published in: on June 11, 2010 at 3:53 AM  Leave a Comment  

Celebrity Apprentice / American Idol

I know it’s very “internet cliche” to blog about reality television.  I get that, OK?  It’s bad enough that I keep getting sucked into these darn shows over and over, season after season.  And now I’m going to blog about it?  Really?  I’m sorry but, yes I am.  (That sound you just heard?  It’s the seven subscribers I DID have clicking on the “remove” button at the bottom of the email.)  But it’s OK.  It’s OK because I say it’s OK, and this is my blog.  It’s also OK because I just completed my first year of law school, I have no job, and I need something to occupy my time for the next three months.  (Life is good.)

On Sunday’s finale of this year’s Celebrity Apprentice, we saw Donald Trump make the “politically correct” decision.  Making the “politically correct” decision is a bit unusual for Donald Trump who seems to pride himself on going against the grain….usually just to show that he has enough money to do whatever the hell he wants.

However, it is not at all unusual for Donald to declare a winner of someone whom did not actually win.  Trump’s “politically correct” decision on Sunday is the second time in as many seasons of the Celebrity Apprentice when he did not declare the person who actually won as the winner.  Just one short year ago, he declared Joan Rivers the winner despite the fact that Annie Duke not only mopped the floor with Rivers in the final contest but also maintained a level of complete professionalism throughout the entire contest while Joan, and her lap-d0g daughter Melissa, acted like complete fools and behaved in a manner that would lead to nothing short of termination in any other employment situation.  But because Joan Rivers has more street appeal and name recognition, Donald ignored the fact that Joan practically ruined the final contest for everyone by angering the designer that Donald had hired to assist the finalists (along with a thousand other stupid and childish things Joan and Melissa did throughout the entire season) and declared Rivers the winner.  He did so, because it was the right “business decision” for his television show.  He knew he would get more street mileage out of the well-known Rivers then he would from the lesser-known poker champion, Annie Duke who, frankly, I had never even seen before she appeared in Trump’s boardroom.

So, why was The Donald’s decision this past Sunday the “politically correct” decision and how does that differ from what he did when faced with the Rivers/Duke decision?  I address the second question first, because I find it strangely entertaining when other people do that.  (Why not ask the second question first, jerk, if you are going to answer the second question first?  Right?  Whatever.)

Well,the difference between the right “business decision” and the “politically correct” decision is that the business decision last year was based almost entirely on the impact the decision would have on the future perception of the show.  Whereas making the politically correct decision was necessary, lest Donald’s personal image suffers (and subsequently, the same negative impact on the show itself would also occur, but as more of a secondary repercussion.)

So, why was Donald’s most recent decision the “politically correct” decision as opposed to the decision to award the prize to the actual winner?  Because, simply, the entire television viewing public was rooting for Bret Michaels in the wake of him surviving severe medical difficulties.

There is no question, Bret was the dark horse of the competition and likely the most underestimated contestant….with the possible exception of Sinbad who was as bad as everyone suspected or Rod Blagojevich who was surprisingly likable (not guilty!  not guilty!) but a complete disaster as Project Manager.  While Bret was not as amazing as the finale montage made him look, he was solid.  He was good.  And he did very very well.

But Bret did not win.  Not even close.

And believe me, it pains me to say that, because I hated Holly Robinson Peete from the first moment she opened her mouth.  What she said at the finale?  That she’s “not as much of a bitch as she appeared on the show?”  Bull.  She is.  And I couldn’t stand her.

But not only was Holly the clear front-runner all along (as well as being a royal bitch, particular to my girl Cindi Lauper), but Holly also clearly outperformed Bret in the final task.  By leaps and bounds in fact.  Did anyone even understand what Bret’s commercial was all about?  I didn’t find it funny or entertaining.  I didn’t find it terrible or bad, either.  I just did not get it.  Not at all.  I was just confused.

If there is any doubt that Donald knew he was going to award the title to the actual non-winner, I think he made it clear when he announced the “double prize.”  The Donald convinced Snapple to match his final winner’s award.  And if this were merely a case of Snapple wanting to sweeten the pot or do their part, Trump could have simply doubled the winner’s prize amount.  Yet, since he knew he was hiring the second choice because it was the “right thing to do,” I believe he solicited the matching prize from Snapple and used it to give BOTH contestants a $250,000 prize donation for their charity.  He had to do that for Holly, because he knew that she deserved to be the actual winner.

Then we come to Wednesday’s American Idol finale.  This was the first time ever that I watched American Idol.  And I was entertained, but I doubt I’ll watch again.  Especially since Simon is leaving.  He cracked me up, right?  But again, we have a case of reality television creating a winner from the runner-up and leaving the true winner in second place.  Crystal Bowersox led the competition from day one, and despite two or three mediocre performances, she never had a bad night.  And during the final night of performances on Tuesday, Crystal cleaned house.  Lee Dewyze, on the other hand, was just OK all along, and especially just OK on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately, Crystal has that offset type of talent. It’s definitely talent, and amazing talent at that.  But neither Crystals’ look nor her sound are mainstream or commercial like Lee.  Crystal is the type of performer that people are inclined to say “I don’t like her,” when in actuality they are simply not drawn to her.  And the result is that people are quick to dismiss her.  Maybe it’s the dreadlocks hair, or the off beat sound, or the clothes, or the crazy mic stand.  (All of which I thought were either really cool or really good), but she was just not mainstream enough to win.

Not so with Lee Dewyze.  He’s cute, the girls love him, and he has that crazy and rough almost “Joe Cocker Sexy” voice which led him to victory.

After all, to win American Idol you do not need to be the best, you simply must get the most votes.  Being President is like that too.

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 7:49 AM  Comments (2)  

Dealing with a Wet Cell Phone

We’ve all been there.  The cell phone falls in the toilet (never mind how), or otherwise is immersed in water.  So, what do you do?

DO NOT USE A BLOWDRYER.  This is a common misconception — that heating up the phone will “dry it out.”   Any fan of the USA show Royal Pains knows that you do not need heat, you need suction.  Heat is a big mistake for several reasons.  But trying to sum it all up, when someone has already done it (and done it well) would be like trying to make a ketchup better than Heinz.  Why bother?  So, just go here for the 411 on dealing with your wet cell phone:  Wikihow says it as well as anyone could.

If your phone fell in something OTHER than water, what the heck were you doing?  But seriously, try these same steps.  But a different fluid brings upon other complications that may well render the phone un-salvageable.

Good luck.

Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 5:04 PM  Leave a Comment  

Direction Change

This blog began as an effort for me to offers insight and information useful to small businesses and website developers alike.  The blog’s original design was for anyone interested in website information, whether or not a customer of POTW, small business owner, website developer, or Internet marketing consultants, to find the information to be useful as you consider the value of, effectiveness with, and approaches to websites, web presence, internet marketing, pay per click advertising, search engine optimization and search engine marketing, e-commerce, search engine submissions, and all manners and manifestations of Internet marketing tools and strategies.

After over a year of not writing anything, for a thousand and one different reasons, I decided to open up the subject matter to include….well, anything.  This includes not only the original information the blog was intended to convey, but also a wide variety of subject matter like my new endeavor of law school, what was on TV last night….essentially anything I think is interesting or I just feel like writing about.

Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 4:40 PM  Leave a Comment  

Where to Host: An Important Choice

As discussed in Choosing A Website Developer, there are some options when deciding how to begin developing your online presence.  Depending on the initial direction you take, your developer may or may not include hosting in the services they propose.  But whether you are making the “hosting decision” as part of the initial consideration, or it is something you won’t evaluate until the actual site development is done, there are several things to bear in mind regarding the selection of your hosting provider.  Here is a fairly comprehensive list that covers the bases:

1.     Technical Support – Does the company provide technical support via the phone?  Or is it available via email only?  Is there an extra fee?  Is the support unlimited, or do the technicians have quotas or a limit on the time they can spend on each call?  Consider all the details.  For example, Company A offers 24-hour support and charges extra, whereas Company B provides support during normal business hours for free.   Will you typically need support at 3am every night and be willing to pay extra for it?

2.    Security – You do not need to be an online security expert to ask about a hosting company’s record regarding online security.  Your developer can help you find a reliable company that had a track record of exceptional performance.  You should not accept anything less.

3.    Traffic / Bandwidth – Are there limits to the amount of traffic your website can handle?  Are there limits to the amount of bandwidth your website is permitted to use each month?  Inexpensive hosting often involves hidden glitches you may not recognize until after you have signed on with a provider.

4.    Additional Services – As your business grows, will the needs of your web presence?  What does your hosting company offer in terms of what you may need in the future?  For example, are they providing full support of your email and ecommerce/shopping cart needs?  And what is their history and track record?  Will they continue to be around for you?

In the case of web hosting, you definitely get what you pay for.  Cheap hosting is often just that…cheap.  Make sure you find out why a deal may seem better than the rest, and use the above information as a guide.

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM  Comments (8)  
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Maximizing Local Search Engine Results

Internet marketing is a very complex endeavor.  In the last several years, new businesses and even new entire industries have been created as a result of the need to properly optimize websites and promote them and the businesses they represent on the Internet.

One simple and easy way to promote your business online is to submit it for inclusion in the local search engine results.  This is one of the many ways to promote your business online, but it is one of the fastest and least complex. Now, many of my customers ask me if I can do this for them.  The simple answer is no…it’s best and easiest if you do it yourself.  The submission process is mainly designed to be done by the business owner, not the Internet consultant.

The purpose of this post is to give you some simple and easy access to submit your business for inclusion in local results.  But before you continue, please bear in mind a few things:

1.  This is not a terribly complex or technical process, and the results are worth it.  However, you should understand that there will be a few minutes of work and attention required.  Set aside about 30 minutes before continuing.

2.  Verification is required by most of the search engines.  This means they will want to immediatly verify that your listing is real, the information is correct, and email addresses and phone numbers actually are functional.  When you decide to move forward with this process, you should be in your office or accesible at the main contact telephone number and email that you intend to use in your listing.

3.  In some cases, you’ll need to sign up for an account.  No worries…this is perfectly safe.

4.  Finally, you should have a brief description of your company, and all relevant information including hours of operation, pictures, or logos you wish to associate with your company.

Now let’s move forward. Thanks to fellow blogger Cody, from Thrillingheroics.com, I’ve been able to provide  the following simple links.  Thanks, Cody. Here are most of the popular local search engines.

Let me know how it works.  In many cases, the results will be almost immediate!  Gotta love the power of the Internet.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 4:04 PM  Comments (3)  
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