Rest in Peace Python Anghelo
Python was the first larger than life personality I first came across when exploring and researching the people charged with making these silly amusement machines. He was an outspoken genius–a “living vampire”–who could to give two s*its about the financial business end of pinball but rather focussed on the end user’s ultimate experience with the machinery (and the art that encapsulated it). He was almost an anachronism, a complete enigma, and a departure from the more even keel pinball personalities like Pat Lawlor or John Trudeau. Colleagues and contemporaries didn’t know exactly what to say about him or how to describe their experiences with him in interviews, other than “Yeah, that Python…he was something else!” I imagine Python feeling right at home in the “excess” of the 1980s.
After doing some preliminary research, I came across Python’s TopCast interview with Clay Harrell (here) from July 2007. Released during a dark period for pinball, Python was on his game–spewing venom, calling people out and rattling off quotable one-liners (one resides in my signature below) as Harrell sat on the other end of the line at some points in stunned silence and other times in complete disbelief of the audio gold his recorder was capturing. Interwoven between the jabs and putdowns, were brilliant insights, clever comparisons and an almost blind faith in the future of pinball. Knowing Python’s reputation for consuming foreign substances, one can almost conclude he was feeling no pain the evening the interview was recorded, but it allowed the man, who normally went bloody bareknuckle anyhow, to absolutely positively pull no punches and give the listener insight and “truth” into an industry which is normally closely guarded by others who have worked within it. The interview, however, incorrectly paints the man as a bitter, sour, angry old coot, when all reports (and other interviews) depict him as fun-loving, jolly and downright friendly. Looking back now, I can see that some of what was said to Clay may stretch the truth, but that TopCast interview helped create (and maintain) the legend of Python Anghelo, especially for someone like me who only got to play his games and never had the chance to meet him in person. It also helped solidify Mr. Anghelo’s place in the pantheon of pinball geniuses. A place where he rightly belongs. Thank you, Python.