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One may wonder why Associate Writer Bruce Newman (shown here standing in front of a pizza parlor) is shown here standing in front of a pizza parlor. It all has to do with fame, obscurity, basketball and, of course, pizza.
Newman, recently reassigned to the pro basketball beat (having bounced back and forth between the colleges and pros over the last four seasons), chose to do a story on the San Antonio Spurs (page 28), precisely because they are not famous. "One of the best things about this job," he says, "is when you discover something obscure or unknown, and bring it to people's attention."
Newman had noticed that the Spurs had gotten very little coverage despite leading their division. "Most of the TV games this season," he says, "have involved Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston. That's how TV perceives basketball." Not Newman.
In the course of spending a week with the team, he discovered that a lot of the players don't mind the anonymity that goes with being a minor TV attraction. "In fact," he says, "they seem to like being unknown."
Newman himself has strong personal views on fame and obscurity, having become well acquainted with the latter when cut from his Evansville, Ind. basketball team his junior year in high school. "That's when I turned to journalism," he says. "It was kind of a relief, because I always knew I wasn't really good at the game, and I admired players who were." As for fame, Newman says, "You want to be famous, but not recognized. I'm constantly amazed by writers who want to be on TV talk shows. It gets in the way of what you want to do."
One of the things that Newman often wants to do is eat pizza. He discovered the marvels of mozzarella while a student at Indiana University and became an instant addict. "For a year in college," he says, "I ate nothing but pizza and Twinkies." He subsequently eschewed the latter, but it wasn't until a year and a half ago that he found a place that makes "the best pizza in New York, if not America." It's called John's Pizzeria, and it's owned by Pete Castellotti, who bills himself as the Baron of Pizza. Located on Bleecker Street, a scant four blocks from Newman's Greenwich Village apartment, it is what Newman describes as well known, but not famous. For instance, a scene for the movie Manhattan was filmed there, and pictures of the famous and not so famous are on the walls and in the window.
Which brings us to Newman's definition of fame. "My idea of fame," he says, "is to be one of those people whose picture you always see hanging in restaurants, but you don't know who they are. You walk into a restaurant, see a picture and think, 'Who's that guy?' "
This brings us back to why Newman is standing outside a pizza parlor. He figured if he couldn't be hung inside, he'd settle for being shot outside.