Posts Tagged With: canicatti

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Mopey 0005 (February 10, 2016)


“When lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday, cash me out.”
~Frank Sinatra








A few sunny days on the Mendocino coast allows me to sip my morning coffee and enjoy the view:

One day, I drove into Fort Bragg to have my tire repaired. Waiting for the repairs allowed me to do what I love doing best, wandering aimlessly. Among my wanderings, I visited the Noyo Headlands Park that the Agency I created and headed, the California Coastal Conservancy, helped to bring about. The Park represents to me an ideal use of an urban waterfront — an environmentally sensitive open park along the shorefront. I believe it will soon be considered one of the nation’s premier oceanfront park and restoration areas. Now if we can only get the City of Fort Bragg to post proper signage along PCH so that people can find it, it will be a boon to the City’s economic health and to the environment.
I urge you to visit it and see if you agree with me.

The overcast skies and rain have returned. Still the walks along the bluffs are exhilarating — the churning surf battering the black cliffs below. Now and then I notice a tiny bit of color among the bushes as I walk by.
One morning, the sun was out. My walk along the bluffs took me to an area that, despite my almost 50 years of visiting here, I had not gone before. I felt a little like Kirk and Spock visiting a new world — except here there were no large breasted aliens with skin tight costumes, colorful body paint, and prominent dark eyebrows. What there was, however, were white crested waves pounding the bluffs and curling onto the black sand beaches hidden among the cliffs.

Later, as the sun dropped toward the horizon, we strolled along the bluffs again.
All this dramatic natural beauty began to irritate me. I longed for a sidewalk, curb and a gutter blocked up with urban refuse. So, after my morning walk, I fled north to Fort Bragg in the hope that I could find a dingy bar filled with out of work loggers or a cafe with the paint peeling off the walls where I could drink weak American coffee.

As I approached the town and circled the round-a-bout, I took the road that said, “No exit,” or something like that, since it agreed with what I was feeling. I drove up what John Olmstead called the Mendocino Ecological Staircase in hopes that I would find a forgotten tavern among the Redwoods. The homes, more shacks than homes, became shackier as I drove, the fences more home made and the “No Trespassing” signs more prevalent. I realized I was entering the zone that 20 or 30 years ago harbored the areas high-value cash crops. I soon came to the end of the road and retraced my steps down the Staircase.

At the edge of the city, another road stretched off to the East. This road promised to cross the mountains to Willits on Highway one. I suspected, since this was a numbered road, a roadhouse would exist somewhere along it. So, I drove again up the staircase until I reached a sign that announced a curvy road for the next 25 miles. I knew that roadhouses only existed on straight-a-ways and I decided to forgo the possibility of encountering the ghost of Patrick Swayze and returned to Highway 1.

After passing through the harbor in hope I would find a fisherman’s dive with no luck, I drove into the back streets of Fort Bragg.

I had just about given up when I spotted a place on a woebegone corner of the city that seemed to have some promise.

I parked, went in and found what I was looking for. The twelve stools at the bar were filled with men and women, most of whom were my age or older. Nearly all of the men wore baseball caps and a few were dressed in work clothes. A woman with blond hair, who now would be referred to a naturally proportioned, presided behind the bar. Although I intended to order ginger ale, I decided to order the bar’s special amber ale instead. I felt it would be more appropriate. Much of the discussion around me involved the bar’s multiple Super Bowl pools whose mathematical basis was far beyond my comprehension.

A man sitting next to me knew Duke Snyder when they both lived in Compton. They would meet walking their dogs and discuss baseball and life while their dogs humped each other.

In the corner sat a man with dark skin and a magnificent beaked schnozz, I thought he was either Native American or Mediterranean based upon the size of his proboscis. I know schnozzes — we Italians revel in the potatoes or hatchets grafted onto the front of our faces. We believe it makes us look distinguished. I learned that during the 1950s, the beaked one pitched triple A ball for a team in South Carolina before his arm gave out. I was in heaven. Next to him sat a small dark woman with many tattoos who kept bouncing up and down running off to talk excitedly with someone else sitting at the bar.

Feeling happy, I ordered a second ale.

Later, more people showed up including a younger woman who seemed to be over six feet tall. She had long braided blond hair. She slammed down the drinks like she was born to it. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and appeared happy to be there or at least happier than being where they were before they got there.

I left after I finished my second ale because I wanted to be able to drive home and I had begun to feel the buzz. When I die, I want my ashes sprinkled on the floor of the place.

Later that night, we all returned to Fort Bragg because in was “First Friday” when all the galleries stay open until late at night. I bought an old used book that contained some interesting illustrations. We then had dinner at a Mayan Fusion restaurant in the harbor. It was quite good.

The next morning we hiked along the bluffs of Spring Ranch just south of the town of Mendocino. Spring Ranch is a Coastal Reserve created by California State Parks and the California Coastal Conservancy.

It is an example of the type of project I had in mind when I wrote the Conservancy Concept into California’s Coastal Plan, shepherded the legislation through the legislature and administered the agency during its formative years. It not only removes the land from the vagaries of regulatory conflicts but begins to push back the impacts of prior land uses, ranching and the like, through restoration. At the time the Conservancy was proposed, restoration of environmental resources was not a high priority of the State and in the case of wetlands opposed by many in the environmental community as well.

The Reserve is long and relatively narrow, stretching from PCH to the ocean for several miles. This type of public acquisition, small narrow units, along with the purchase undeveloped subdivisions along the coast were frowned upon by the State because of management and cost issues. Yet, we believed they were necessary if critical coastal resources were to be preserved and the goals of the Coastal Plan achieved. I am pleased to see that, in part through the efforts of the Conservancy, up and down the coast these objectives are now accepted.

Although the several entrances are a little difficult to see, once you do, you can stroll down across the coastal terrace, along the bluffs, and through a magnificently restored cypress grove. There are a few benches along the way where you can sit and watch the tumultuous surf crash of the rocks, and if the season is right, see whales migrating and seal pods roaming the waters and hauling themselves onto the rocks to sunbathe.

The Reserve is an excellent counterpoint to the more urban Noyo Headlands Park a few miles north. You should visit both if you are in the area, and don’t forget to stop at Point Cabrillo lighthouse and park and the Mendocino Botanical Gardens also, another Conservancy project in the area I am proud of. And, of course, end your trip sipping the wines at Pacific Star Winery while sitting on Dad’s Bench watching the sun dip into the ocean.

That afternoon, as I suggested above, we had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery.
I bought a new hat there also.

IMG_1097 2

The next day was Superbowl Sunday. I wasn’t feeling very well so after breakfast I returned to bed for most of the day. The following day the temperature reached 80 degrees. It is not natural for it to be so warm in February. After my walk, I napped to avoid the heat of the day as though I was still in Thailand.



IMG_0984 2

This is a photograph of my painting of a view in Cinque Terre. The painting itself was from a photograph I had taken of the place. The painting was then photographed and that photograph was photographed to present here. The colors and tints of the painting and the current photograph are not quite the same.





A. Quigley on Top:

The following is the fourth in the series containing excerpts from the Prologue to Quigley’s uncompleted magnum opus, WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL STABILITY.

The importance of organization.

“The importance of organization in satisfying the human need for security is obvious. No individual can be secure alone, simply from the fact that a man must sleep, and a single man asleep in the jungle is not secure. While some men sleep, others must watch. In the days of the cavemen, some slept while others kept up the fire which guarded the mouth of the cave. Such an arrangement for sleeping in turns is a basic pattern of organization in group life, by which a number of men co-operate to increase their joint security. But such an organization also requires that each must, to some degree, subordinate his will as an individual to the common advantage of the group. This means that there must be some way in which conflicts of wills within the group may be resolved without disrupting the ability of their common organization to provide security against any threat from outside.”

“These two things—the settlement of disputes involving clashes of wills within the group and the defense of the group against outside threats—are the essential parts of the provision of security through group life. They form the opposite sides of all political life and provide the most fundamental areas in which power operates in any group or community. Both are concerned with clashes of 8 wills, the one with such clashes between individuals or lesser groups within the community and the other with clashes between the wills of different communities regarded as entities. Thus, clashes of wills are the chief problems of political life, and the methods by which these clashes are resolved depend on power, which is the very substance of political action.”

“All of this is very elementary, but contemporary life is now so complicated and each individual is now so deeply involved in his own special activities that the elementary facts of life are frequently lost, even by those who are assumed to be most expert in that topic. This particular elementary fact may be stated thus: politics is concerned with the resolution of conflicts of wills, both within and between communities, a process which takes place by the exercise of power.”

“This simple sentence covers some of the most complex of human relationships, and some of the most misunderstood. Any adequate explanation of it would require many volumes of words and, what is even more important, several lifetimes of varied experience. The experience would have to be diverse because the way in which power operates is so different from one community to another that it is often impossible for an individual in one community and familiar with his own community’s processes for the exercise of power to understand, or even to see, the processes which are operating in another community. Much of the most fundamental differences are in the minds and neurological systems of the persons themselves, including their value systems which they acquired as they grew up in their own communities. Such a value system establishes priorities of needs and limits of acceptance which are often quite inexplicable to members of a different community brought up in a different tradition. Since human beings can be brought up to believe almost anything or to put up with almost anything, the possible ways in which the political life of any community can be organized are almost limitless.”


B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Trenz Pruca’s First Rule of Management:

If most people agree with what you plan to do, don’t do it.


C. Today’s Poem:

He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
Pulled the blanket over his head.
Tucked up his knees.
He’s nearly forty, but not at the moment.
He exists just as he did inside his mother’s womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he’ll give a lecture
on homeostasis in metagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep.
Wislawa Szymborska





“Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”
Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground




Canicatti Sicily, 1968


Categories: April through June 2014, January through March 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Pookie 0003 (November 13, 2014)

“By now it is clear to most thinking people that every decision we make on major public problems simply makes matters worse.”
Carroll Quigley in his review of Ferkiss’ “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis.” 1974.




1. A brief tour into the Borgalino

Canicatti, except for the fact that my mother was born here, is a rather uninteresting city at least in so far as art, architecture and history are concerned. Essentially established by the Saracens for commercial purposes along side a small stream (Canicatti means clay ditch in arabic), it has remained more focused on commerce than art ever since.

Nonetheless, they really do it up for Carnevale.


I have no idea what this float is all about.

Canicatti was the site, however, of the massacre of unarmed civilians by US troops during WWII.

The “old town,” across the river from the fortress, where originally most of the people lived is called Borgalino. It is there that in 1917 my mother was born. Since then the city has metastasized and covers much of the valley and surrounding hills.

Veduta - 1933

Canicatti 100 years ago

We visited the Borgalino one day in pursuit of intergenerational connections or what is now generally called roots.

Santa Spirito today

Convento S. Spirito - senza data

100 years ago

Maryanne and I pose in front of the church and convent where my mother was baptized. The adjacent picture shows the church as it looked at about the time my mother was born.

The much altered home of my mothers birth.

My mother was only seven years old when my grandfather died of his war wounds. As my mother tells it, as he lay dying, she prayed that he would live so that she would not have to wear black for the rest of her life. She was saved that fate by being shipped off to America not too long after the funeral.


Borgalino today
100 years ago
2. The Cimitero and a surprising story.

Following our visit to the Borgalino and my mother’s birthplace, in pursuit of symmetry we naturally then visited the cemetery where my grandfather and many of the relatives, including Vincenzo, are buried
The Cemetery

The Crypt

The Grave

It was here we learned one of the family legends we had never heard before. It seems that during WWI at the battle of Caporetto or perhaps it was the Veneto, I was unclear on which, my grandfather Giacinto Corsello and his brother Salvatore were serving as officers in the front lines when the Austrians attacked their machine gun position. The brothers held them off for a day until Giacinto was wounded in a poison gas attack. He was removed from the front for treatment (he would die from the effects of the gas about seven years later) leaving Salvatore alone at the machine gun to face the Austrian hordes. Which he did heroically for another 24 hours before he was killed in a second poison gas attack. This much was probably true since the brave and heroic brothers had the medals, if not their lives, to show for it.

The legend or myth however is the family’s belief Hemingway wrote about their heroism in either The Sun also Rises or For whom the Bells Toll and Salvatore was played by Gary Cooper in the movie. I doubt this because, in For Whom the Bells Toll, although Cooper dies valiantly holding off the Fascists, the event takes place in Spain about 20 years after the brother’s actions. In The Sun also Rises, Cooper, plays an American ambulance driver. Nevertheless, I am greatly pleased that my grandfather has a legend associated with him no matter how false it may be.

3. Giovanni’s country place

We later visited Giovanni’s country home where we watched a storm come in over the mountains. The house is quite rustic. He invited me to stay there whenever I return to Sicily. Giovanni likes to slip off to the place as often as he can to sit and sip wine.

In the garden
Here comes the storm

4. A last supper

On our last evening in Canicatti we visited with Guillermo’s family for dinner (of course) in a restaurant that served Sicilian food ”hunter’s style” (a La Cacciatore).

The Antipasti

I have no idea what this was

My main course was wild boar

“Those who use the past to oppose the present must be ex-terminated.”
Li Shu

My sister fooling around

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Pepe 0003 (November 11, 2014)



1. Antonio’s House

In the morning after I woke up, I walked down the stairs and was greeted by a six-foot three-inch tall skinny Nigerian named Friday.

Friday comes by in the mornings to assist Antonio servicing his guests. Friday’s goal in life is to become a blues singer and while he putters about, he sings snatches of songs, sotto voce.
George, Friday (actually Venerdi) and Maryanne

Antonio’s home, surrounded by his garden, nestles, oasis like, in an uninspiring neighborhood on the outskirts of Canicatti.
The entrance to Antonio’s home.

It has been his home and that of his father before him and has the well settled feel of at least two generations arranging things for their long-term comfort.  Bookcases lined the walls alon with cabinets filled with various personal acquisitions. There is even a stand containing a walking stick collection.
Clockwise from the top left: The patio; Maryanne and George in the garden; Antonio preparing dinner; The main room with fireplace and table set for breakfast.
Antonio is a pediatrician and a beguiling host. He fancies himself a gourmet chef of Sicilian cuisine and for good reason — he is one.
Antonio at his favorite place in the house

I could not possibly describe all the various dishes he made for us but a few stand out — a dessert made with fresh (one day old) flaky ricotta covered with home-made fig jam — fried meatballs of finely ground pork and veal incased in breadcrumbs from fresh Sicilian bread soaked in water — an infinite variety of preparations featuring eggplant including a compote with olives and other things to die for — calamari stuffed with almonds — freshly made tagliatelle in a pesto sauce made with basil picked from his garden that day — An ice cream dessert (cassata) he called the history of Sicily containing Arab, Norman and Angevin originated ice creams — and on and on.
The Sicilian History ice cream

Most of his spices, vegetables, fruits and nuts come directly from his small garden each day. FullSizeRender
Pookie, glass of wine in hand, prepares to eat home-made Rigatoni with crayfish.

I sleep in his daughter’s room complete with pictures and favorite things seemingly just the way she left it before departing to study medicine at the university in Milan. Rather than an interloper, I felt like I was in a place built over the years to provide security, comfort and joy to whoever occupies it. I sleep well there.

In fact I would prefer spending my days there rather than touring or visiting relatives I had not seen for 40 years.

2. Meet the Relatives: Part I

I first arrived in Canicatti in 1968 with my son in tow having driven from London in a three wheel vehicle. The American side of the family had not laid eyes on the Sicilian since 1928 when the patriarch of the family unceremoniously, but for the good of the family, married his newly orphaned 16-year-old niece and sent off her younger siblings, my mother included, into indentured servitude in America thereby securing for himself his brother’s inheritance — for the good of the family.

Here I am in 1968 standing in front of a part of that inheritance with the patriarch himself, Vincenzo with one of his sons Giovanni who we will meet later. As I learned at the time from other townspeople feared Vincenzo  and reviled, all four-foot ten inches of him. The beanpole on the right is me in 1968. I can truly say that I am twice the man now than I was then.

Since then, Vincenzo has died and as is typical among Sicilian families they have broken into two warring groups who do not speak to or about each other. The reason for their enmity is unknown and probably forgotten by now.

The first group we visited with were the sons and daughters of the banking side of the family. Giuseppe the oldest son of Vincenzo was director of the local bank. now retired. Guillermo, the son of Giuseppina one of Vincenzo’s daughters, is a rising presence in the bank. We spent a delightful evening with them all, large and small.
Sitting on the sofa


At Dinner, of course

Playing with the children

Maryanne George, Guillermo and his wife.

Guillermo is an enthusiastic marathon runner as well as a banker. I promised him that should he visit us in California I would speak to Bill Yeates about the possibility of him running in one or two while he is there.

3. A visit to Enna and Piazza Armerina

The next morning we departed to visit a few of the sites in the area. Our first stop was Enna.

Enna was the last stronghold of the Saracens before the Normans conquered them under the Great Count Roger. Unlike the Reconquista in Spain three hundred years later, the Normans did not expel the Muslims and the Jews, nor did they forcibly convert them. Instead, they welcomed them into their administration and military and adopted many of their cultural practices, (Most of Italy’s great pastries and desserts come from this period).

Enna, like Erice in the West, sits on a mountain about three thousand feet above sea level and commands the view of much of southern Sicily.

Unfortunately, the stormy that day limited touring.

A statue in Enna that reminded me of me: walking stick, fedora and protruding belly.

A portion of the castle at ENNA

We then left for a site that a visitor to Sicily should not miss: The Roman mosaics at Piazza Armerina, perhaps the finest collection of classical mosaics in existence.
The so-called Bikini girls – (actually depicts Roman female athletes in competition.)

A fanciful scene of Putti living it up on a boat.

4. Meet the Relatives: Part two, a night at Giovanni’s

That evening we spent with the other side of the family at Giovanni’s house. Giovanni, brother to Giuseppe and Giuseppina, as far as I know, did not pursue higher education and perhaps as a result was not as formal as his siblings.

We were met at the door by:

The following photo is of me and my cousin Giovanni. As you can see, I appear considerably heavier and shorter than I was forty years ago.
photo 1
Pookie and Giovanni

Maryanne and two cousins, Teresa and Maria

All the relatives gathered that night at Giovanni’s


“The state is a good state if it is sovereign and if it is responsible. It is more or less incidental whether a state is, for example, democratic. If democracy reflects the structure of power in the society, then the state should be democratic. But if the pattern of power in a society is not democratic, then you cannot have a democratic state. This is what happens in Latin America, Africa and places like that, when you have an election and the army doesn’t like the man who is elected, so they move in and throw him out. The outcome of the election does not reflect the power situation, in which the dominant thing is organized force. When I say governments have to be responsible, I’m saying the same thing as when I said they have to be legitimate: they have to reflect the power structure of the society. Politics is the area for establishing responsibility by legitimizing power, that is, somehow demonstrating the power structure to people, and it may take a revolution, such as the French Revolution, or it may take a war, like the American Civil War. In the American Civil War, for example, the structure of power in the United States was such — perhaps unfortunately, I don’t know — that the South could not leave unless the North was willing. It was that simple. But it took a war to prove it.”
Carroll Quigley



Only in San Francisco…

(For those still confused, they jacked up one side of the building after taking the first photograph.)

Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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