Faces of Greenwich: Frank Perna’s retirement has been filled with classic books, classic radio and a newly created Youtube channel
Updated 1:28 pm, Thursday, August 17, 2017
J: You live in Greenwich?
J: You’re having lunch today?
F: I got it over at the hot dog truck over there.
F: Yeah, Wendy’s Weenies.
J: I’ve seen it a lot. I haven’t eaten there yet.
F: She’s pretty good. I did a little cartoon hotdog for her and she put it on her Facebook. She said the people on her Facebook said, “It’s so cool, I want one.” And I said, “Why don’t you make them magnets?”
J: That’s a good idea. So what did you put on your hotdog today?
F: Just some chili and onion, because I hurt my gum and I am looking for something just to chew on one side.
J: Oh, that’s perfect.
F: Yeah, and so I said, “The heck with this! I’m going to have my chili dog today.”
J: Is it spicy chili or in the middle?
F: It’s in the middle, not really spicy. It’s not really hot; it’s comfortable for me.
J: How long have you lived here?
F: I’ve lived here all my life. I love living on the Avenue because you’ve got so many stores in town and I’m retired.
J: Oh, that’s great!
F: So I’m fooling around with doing my little cartoons and artwork. I like to read the classics, literature: H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And old movies, classics. I love that.
J: What are you reading right now? Or do you have anything you specifically recommend?
F: Right now I’m re-reading Sherlock Holmes. And I was reading something — I started a Jules Verne. I’m listening to some audiobooks on YouTube, too. Sometimes it’s nice to close your eyes and put some headphones on, listen to some books or old radio shows —I’ve been listening to Jungle Jim from the ‘40s.
J: How cool.
F: And it’s so good, the production. And I’m thinking: I can imagine the people in the background doing all of this (taps feet).
J: Didn’t they do that with H. G. Wells and War of the Worlds?
F: Yes, he did do that. He broadcasted it for Halloween. In the beginning he said it was a show, but people had tuned in late and thought it was real. And he came out and apologized, and people didn’t know if he really apologized or if he knew what he did and was using it for publicity. I mean I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I would have done the same thing.
J: So if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?
J: What were you doing before you retired?
F: I worked for the Board of Education; that’s where I retired from. Before that, I did carpet installation, furniture moving — a little guy like me, moving furniture!
F: But, I was at the BOE as a custodian and I figured if an opening came up from the media department I’d transfer there, and no opening came. But I really liked what I was doing, so I stayed there. But I always really liked artwork — and now that I’m retired, I’m experimenting, making short little videos on YouTube. I’m doing my own little radio shows, too. It’s RADIO XYB33: The Whisperer! I’m trying to do production work, I’m trying to find free music, copyright free, and I got a voice app if I need sound effects. I’m starting my own amateur production. You should check it out. Frank Perna — if you see a cartoon character, that’ll be me. Let me know what you think; I like political and social satire.
J: Oh how cool.
F: I’m trying to do standup comedy — There goes Johnny BB Scarpone, your neighborhood geriatric juvenile delinquent! — But nothing nasty, nothing bad. It’s for family. Some people may not like it, because they may not see things the way I see it, but I’m trying to keep it comical. Almost like a George Carlin, Sam Kinison: a little edgy, but I’m trying to keep it clean ... And my science fiction, I’m doing chapter two, “Defenders of Freedom” — like the old-time ‘50s shows when I was growing up. “Gosh what are we gonna do now!”
F: Really amateur, but I wanna do stuff like that, and since I don’t have people helping me and I am doing stuff myself, and I can draw a little bit, I’m going to do a slideshow/radio show/movie feel ... And I want to do the ‘50s feel, like when I was growing up, eating my cereal on the carpet, watching black-and-white TV.
J: Oh yeah.
F: I didn’t know I was going to be doing any of this when I first started.
Frank Perna’s work can be found on his YouTube channel: http://ow.ly/VMx730elM1S.
E: JTuriano@greenwichtime.com; T: @jturianoGT; IG: @greenwichgreen