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Doing things differently comes naturally to assistant art director Ed Truscio. He lives in a 200-year-old house in Palisades Park, N.J. that faces south on a block of eastward-facing homes. His art career began with murals of prehistoric animals done on rolls of brown paper. He once averaged 35 points a game in a basketball league that used 8½-foot-high hoops. His best fish story is one about birds.

"I was fishing off the Jersey shore at about 5:30 one morning," he says, "and I had just hooked a great big fish but lost it when I tightened the drag too much. I had a 3½-ounce Hopkins lure and 15-pound test line, and it snapped! I went back out and I threw a high toss into the air. It caught a sea gull flying overhead, so I'm reeling in the gull to untangle him from the line and he starts calling for help. There I sit, fumbling with this dumb bird and there are 25 sea gulls hovering above, screaming at me. It was like something out of Hitchcock's The Birds."

Fishing is the 30-year-old Truscio's greatest passion, but growing up as one of six children in a Ridgefield, N.J. household, he played every sport imaginable, mostly on neighborhood teams organized by him and his friends. In their midteens, they played in a four-team basketball league of their own devising. Games were held at a grammar school playground. "I was MVP three years running, mostly because I played four hours every day," says Truscio, who was the league's founding president and who also designed a league logo, complete with "E pluribus Truscio" slogan.

One year Truscio decided to try his hand at bona fide organized sports and went out for the high school baseball team. "I'd played lots of ball—every kind except hardball," says Truscio. "I knew hitting might be a problem, but the coach's name was Ted Williams. I figured this guy could teach me to hit." He couldn't. Truscio's .125 batting average convinced him to go back to pickup games in the park.

Meanwhile, his love of design convinced Truscio to pursue an art career and, after graduating from Manhattan's Pels School of Art, he landed his first professional assignment: designing ads for the Manhattan Yellow Pages. "Almost everybody has let his fingers do the walking through my work," he says. Truscio later joined the Ralph Williams Studio, where he designed, among other things, Anacin boxes. In February 1982 he came to SI. "I remember the day I interviewed," says Truscio. "It was about seven degrees and snowing and my appointment was at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, which is a regular workday here. It was kind of different."

That comes from a guy who should know.