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Raise a drink to Trees Lounge

theater October 25, 1996
Web posted at: 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT)

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- If you've seen the right films, it's not hard to spot Steve Buscemi.

He's the short, sort of bug-eyed character who turns up in movies by Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers and Jim Jarmusch.

But now Buscemi's the director and star of a colorful new film chronicling the life and loves of a barfly in his favorite neighborhood hangout.

"Trees Lounge" is inspired by the drinking games that used to occupy Buscemi's time in the actual Tree Lounge located in Valley Stream, Long Island.

"That was my life when I used to live in Long Island. I used to work in a gas station. I drove an ice cream truck," Buscemi explains. "Trees Lounge is a real bar and mostly all the characters are based on people that I know there."

resevoir dogs

The ice cream route gave way to an acting career with Buscemi popping up in Jarmusch's "Mystery Train," Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," Robert Rodriguez's "Desperado" and typical of the self-effacing character-actor's choices in films, the Coen Brothers' macabre "Fargo."

Buscemi played a director in "Living in Oblivion," but now he really is one in the beer-soaked memoir, "Trees Lounge."

"Somebody asked me if "Lost Weekend" was an inspiration," Buscemi said. "I like that film, but I didn't want to do a film about the evils of alcohol."

An underage girl played by Chloe Sevigny leads Buscemi's character into temptation. He was not, he hastens to point out, a Long Island Lothario.

directing

"I had some teen-age girls who would hang around the (ice cream) truck and nothing ever happened," he said. "But I just imagine if I had continued doing that and didn't have much else going on in my life. That could have been a real scenario."

Buscemi doesn't know if his friends back home will even get to see the film he's directed. He doesn't think "Trees Lounge" is scheduled to be shown at the multiplex in Valley Stream.

"Right now, I don't think it's slated for there, but I hope so," Buscemi said. "We are going to have a screening there. So I want the people from the town to see it."

Once they do, the people from Valley Stream will see Buscemi raise a toast to the old days of drinking in Trees Lounge.

 
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