REDDING, Conn. — Lennie Grimaldi — a reporter-turned-political insider-turned-inmate-turned-Bridgeport blogger — is nothing if not tenacious.
At just 19, he wanted an exclusive interview with scream queen Linda Blair after a drug arrest. So he camped out near the ladies room at a Westport bar. “The Exorcist” star agreed to the chat.
When he needed color for a profile on mobster Frank Piccolo, he crashed his wake.
And when former Bridgeport Police Chief Joe Walsh refused an interview, Grimaldi sent him a singing telegram that ultimately changed the sweet-and-sour top cop’s mind.
So when Grimaldi was looking for fodder for his latest book, he didn’t need to go far.
“Connecticut Characters: Personalities Spicing Up the Nutmeg State” (Momentum Communications LLC) takes full advantage of the outrageous stories he has garnered over a 40-year writing career.
With his exclusive access to the likes of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim — Grimaldi spent 10 months in federal prison for his involvement in Ganim’s pay-to-play first administration — and future President Donald Trump, who once toyed with the idea of a casino in Bridgeport, Grimaldi was an obvious choice to chronicle their Connecticut ties.
“I worked for Trump as a media consultant for nearly four years so I wanted to share a flavor of what it's like to work for him,” Grimaldi said.
“It's like riding a bronco. Every event is a day at the rodeo. Most people see him as New York-centric, but he's owned lots of property in Connecticut and even a home in Greenwich back in the day.”
But the book branches beyond City Hall, detailing everyone from ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren to controversial urban planner Robert Moses.
Much of the book is culled from articles Grimaldi has previously published. The award-winning writer’s work has appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, TV Guide, Yankee Magazine and Connecticut Magazine.
Born in Bridgeport and now living in Redding, Grimaldi keeps an eye on his hometown through “Only in Bridgeport,” his behind-the-scenes webzine on all things Park City. He wrote a book of the same name that’s now in its fifth edition.
So why write this book?
“I started taking inventory of my life and realized I’ve been doing this for 40 years, grateful for having access to a diverse group of quirky personalities,” he said.
Want to give it a gander? You can order “Connecticut Characters” here .