Posts Tagged With: Naples

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 0008 (December 4, 2019)

 

“Just don’t take any course where you have to read Beowulf.”
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) to Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) in Annie Hall.

 

HAPPY NATIVE AMERICAN AND ITALIAN PRIDE DAY.

 

Happy Birthday to my son Jason, to Annmarie and to Kesorn.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

I type this while riding on the train on the way to my tri-weekly immunotherapy infusion at UCSF. Later we will spend the night at Peter and Barrie’s house. We are approaching Suisun-Fairfield. The sky is overcast, gray and dark. Next to me, Naida naps. I think I will join her.

It is now the following morning. We’re sitting around Peter and Barrie’s home eating breakfast and watching Marie Yovanovich’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry. My treatment yesterday was same old, same old. They did discover my thyroid continues to underperform so they upped the dosage of whatever magic concoction they had me on. After the treatment, we headed off to Peter and Barrie’s. I enjoyed traveling around the Big Endive by the Bay on public transportation observing the antics of my fellow riders and watching the brief melodramas of the City as we pass by.

We arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home and spent a pleasant dinner together telling stories and laughing as we often do. The following morning, after breakfast, we all set off for North Beach. None of us had been there for many years. I used to live in North Beach for a few years but had not been back in over a decade. We passed the restaurant where I used to sit at one of the outside tables and eat lunch or dinner several times a week. It is also the site where, in my unfinished and never to be finished novel the main character, Dragon, would sit and conduct business lacking an office to do so. The novel opens with Dragon sitting at one of the tables when Mavis the beautiful Tattoo artist retained him to find her missing boyfriend. Dragon leaves the restaurant to pursue his first clue only too return a few minutes later bloody and frightened having been beaten by two mysterious fat guys. And so, the novel continues on to its non-conclusion. (I will be happy to send anyone interested a copy of the uncompleted novel.)

We also passed several of the sites where Carol Doda, she of the large naked breasts and hydraulic piano, and I during her declining years would meet now and then for dinner and tell each other stories, reminisces, and lies and laugh a lot.

We stopped first in front of a restaurant I intended to have us all eat lunch owned by a man who immigrated from the same town near Avellino in Italy where my grandfather grew up and whose wife was the chef and cooked some of the best Neapolitan food in the area. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Ultimately, we chose Cafe Sport on Green Street. Fifty years ago, when I first visited it, the place was a simple cafe with a pool table in the back room. Antonio (perhaps his name was Franco. I do not remember which), the owner, began also serving some full meals and added brightly colored tables. He also began decorating the place with whatever oddities he could find. Eventually, the pool table was replaced by more tables and more odd decorations. It became one of the favorite hang-outs of the Prop-20 Coastal Commission staff. For a short period, another room was added. To get there, one had to pass through the kitchen where Antonio, a cigarette in his mouth with its long ash drooping over the large pots of sauce simmering on the stove, held court. We would joke that it was the ash that made to food taste so good. That room became an unofficial meeting place of the Coastal Staff until the Fire Department realized it lacked fire exit and closed it down.

The four of us had a good meal, talked a lot and joked with the waiter. We then piled back into Peter’s car and he drove us to the Downtown Transit Station where we boarded the bus to the Emeryville train station to catch the train to Sacramento.
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B. A DREAM BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

For the past two nights, I have been having a pleasant dream set in the dream world of my ancestral home in Sicily. It is nothing like the real place I have so often visited. In my dream life, I have several places that over the years I return to. They are nothing like the real places they are supposed to represent. For example, San Francisco in my dream world has no Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, when I look north, I see a crowded harbor filled with large ships and pleasure craft. Further north, there is a mountainous island or peninsular. I sometimes climb those mountains and stare at the endless ocean beyond.

Another dream place seems like a combination of Mendocino and Eureka. Strangely when I face north the ocean is in my left as though I am on the East coast. I spend a lot of my dream time here. On the way to the town, there is an old hotel or resort sited a short way from the ocean. It’s a bit rundown down and the owner is a mysterious dyspeptic man who alternately frightens and annoys me.

The Sicilian town of my dreams appears like it had just emerged from the middle ages or had just been bombed during WWII. Both the women and men wear dark clothing — the woman generally long dresses, the men old working men’s clothing. My friend Vittorio, Naida and I were in a tumble-down house. A middle-aged woman (perhaps the owner) acted strangely, perhaps angry at us for some reason.  Fortunately, she took a liking to Vittorio and pulled him off into the bushes. At the back of the house, there was a large shed open on three sides. The shed operated as an impromptu cafe and meeting place for the neighborhood. In the evening, parties were often held there with a lot of singing, dancing, and storytelling. We had a great time and I woke up happy.

 
C. A FEW TRIPS INTO THE GOLDEN HILLS TO MEET WITH HRM:

 
HRM and I got together several times during the past few days.  The first time we met, while sitting in Subway’s eating a meatball sandwich and discussing his schooling, he mentioned he was enjoying High School and liked all his teachers because they each keep a toy for him that he is allowed to play with in class. It seems that since he had been diagnosed with ADD and refuses to take his meds, the teachers have decided it was best to allow him to release some of his excess energy by fiddling with these during class.

A few days later, I returned for the opening of the newly remodeled skatepark. A large herd of young boys and a few girls on scooters and skateboards crammed the place. After, watching things for a while, Naida and I went to lunch in Town Center.

One day I picked him up at the skate park. On the way to lunch at Subway, I inquired about his welding class. Some time ago I had told both him and my daughter Jessica that between adolescence the onset of adulthood they should develop competence in science, art, math, sports, social science, as well as a trade. I believed given the changes we go through in our lives and the changes the society we live goes through,  flexibility is needed for our sustenance,  health, and happiness. In my daughter’s case art became photography, science virology, math (the statistical analysis necessary for her virology doctorate), sports soccer (she continued to play competitively until very recently), and for social science her minor was semantics.

H then showed me his unfinished steel cube designed to look like a die. It was quite heavy and obviously unfinished. He explained he still needed to file down the welded joints.

On Friday, we went to have lunch a Panda’s a fast-food place we favor. He showed me his finished cube. It looked great. We discussed his upcoming Thanksgiving vacation and the possibility of he and I going away somewhere for a few days.

Another time, I picked up Kaleb and him and took them to the hot dog place in City Center for lunch. They had buffalo wings and IItalian a sausage sandwich called “The Godfather.” Like teenagers everywhere they seemed at sixes and sevens about things to do, a bit bored but unwilling to give up the general comfort of home and running off into the woods or onto a ship and sailing away into an adventure.

 

 

D. ODDS AND ENDS:

 
Days pass, my short term memory slowly continues to shred. I have read a number of books these past few weeks (see E. Below). This is notable because, for about a month or so, I, for some reason, had substantially slowed my normal reading regime.

Naida and I continue our regular routine of spending most days and evenings sitting on our reclining chairs and watching either the impeachment hearings or old movies on TCM. In the early evenings, we walk Boo-Boo the Barking Dog through the Enchanted Forest or to the nearby dog park where instead of playing with the other dogs and running around with them helter-skelter he just sits and waits at our feet staring at us until we give up and take him home for his dinner. When we do go out somewhere to shop or to dinner and I get a chance to see us reflected in say a shop’s glass window I see two slightly dotty old people shuffling along on one of those mysterious errands the aged seem to enjoy.

One evening we watched the movie “Marty” on television. I had always liked it for its dialogue and portrayal of the social lives of young Italian-American men in the 1950s in the Bronx. And yes, I found Marty’s relationship with Clara endearing and appreciated the loneliness experienced by the two central characters, but I had not recognized or appreciated the fear of isolation that pervaded all the characters in the film. Angie’s anger and desperation of losing Marty’s companionship, the mother’s fear of abandonment by their sons and so on permeate the film making it less a comedy and more a caution.

It has been raining and cold for the past few days. The weather reports describe it as an atmospheric river flowing across California bringing with it the weather change. One morning when I went outside it was quite misty. The mist appeared almost solid giving in bulk what it takes away in substance.

We have spent the past few days inside, avoiding the cold and the rain. Naida works on editing portions of Volume II of her memoir while I write this or read a novel on Kindle. At other times we watch the news and political commentary on television. In the evening and at times during the day, we watch the flood of holiday movies on television. We also saw the Battle of Algiers, Giant, the silent film version of Joan of Arc and several other non-holiday fare. I am bored. If the rain and cold keep on much longer, I think I will shoot myself.

 
E. NOT REALY BOOK REPORTS:

 
As usual most of the novels I read are candy for the mind. I guess since I no longer ingest spun sugar, cotton candy for the mind will have to do as a substitute. Well, that’s not true, I have always preferred to flood my mind with fluff. I believe living in a fantasy world is every bit as rewarding as living in the real world — perhaps even more so

I am currently reading, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss the third in a series whose principal characters include Mary Jekyll the Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, Diana the daughter of Mr. Hyde, Beatrice Rappiccini the daughter of a man who raised her on a diet exclusively of poisons leaving her “as beautiful and she was poisonous,” Justine Frankenstein, a significantly over six-foot woman created by the famous doctor Frankenstein originally to wed the equally famous monster, and Cathrine Moreau a puma transformed into a woman by Dr. Moreau. They find each other during the course of the first novel and decide to live together in Mary Jekyll’s home, name themselves the Athena Club and with the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set about solving arcane crimes. Cathrine is the Dr. Watson of these estimable ladies’ adventures. One of the many conceits in the books is to have members of the club interrupt Cathrine as she writes criticizing and commentating on her work.

Another book I just completed by one of my favorite authors, Joe Abercrombie who in “A Little Hatred” begins a new series continuing the tales set in a world living in something similar to medieval England with a dollop of magic thrown in. Abercrombie clearly intended to feature a bit more magic in his series but his main character, The Bloody Nine, was so compelling, he focused more on the Barbarians of the north of which The Bloody Nine was one and their ceaseless slaughter of one another in the Ring, a battle to the death between two heroes to determine who would be king. These are adolescent boys novels which is probably why I enjoy them so much.

“Dark Pattern” by Andrew Mayne features a mathematical biologist who gives up his post as a college professor to track down serial killers using the techniques of his academic specialty to do so. He is as obsessed with pursuing them as they are in their chosen profession of murder.

“Not my Fae” by Tom Kelly a multi-book series about a Las Vegas cop who discovered the city is really run by fairies (Fae) and demons and what is worse he learns that he is a fairy and even worse he is a son of Gaia and the King of the Fairies. Needless to say the stories deteriorate in each successive novel to such an extent that the author has to explain why in the afterward of his most recent novel.

“The Vital Question” by Nick Lane sounds like another trashy detective story, but it is not. Lane is a biologist. I think it is best that he explains what his book is all about

For me the best books in biology, ever since Darwin, have been arguments. This book aspires to follow in that tradition. I will argue that energy has constrained the evolution of life on earth; that the same forces ought to apply elsewhere in the universe; and that a synthesis of energy and evolution could be the basis for a more predictive biology, helping us understand why life is the way it is, not only on earth, but wherever it might exist in the universe.
Lane, Nick. The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life (p. 16). W. W. Norton & Company.

It is a slow read, but I think important to help clarify my thoughts about the biosphere.

 

 

F. THANKSGIVING:

 
On Thanksgiving, I picked up HRM in the Golden Hills and drove him to Naida’s daughter’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was very enjoyable and the food was wonderful. I had to leave a bit early to take HRM back home. Naida, later told me the family spent a few hours after dinner playing word games and singing rounds.

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PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

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The above photograph of the San Francisco Bay Area taken from space demonstrates not only a marvel of technology but the beauty of this corner of the earth. When I look at the photograph, however, I notice the grey urban developed areas. It reminds me of mold in a scientist’s petri dish devouring the agar until it is all consumed and the mold first cannibalizes itself then dies. In fact, the photo may indicate something very much like that on a global level may be happening. Like the mold in the petri dish, the principle organism remaining the white areas of the photograph ( humans), having exhausted the resources in the area, seeks out additional resources (agar for mold and in the case of humans, a variety of other organisms and inert materials) and energy in order to convert them into substances of use (chemically and mechanically) ultimately producing waste and energy (usually in the form of heat.)

The organisms in the dead zone (us) now lacking resources and energy send out filaments (roads, railroads, electric transmission lines, etc.) to transport resources and energy back into the dead zone so that the remaining organisms living there can flourish while the resources and energy at the source are eventually used up.

Meanwhile, waste in the form of unusable garbage and energy build-up everywhere until all the living organisms gradually die. In the interim, the organisms (us) slaughter one another in competition for the resources. This may be a good thing if it reduces demand enough the resources have an opportunity to renew themselves.

A stable population, renewability, and technological advances that promote a reduction in per capita use of resources and energy is “good” technological advancement. Whether humanity, as it has evolved, is the organism that can recognize develop and implement the “good” technological advancement remains to be seen. If not, then, like the mold setting about to devour the last bit of agar in the Petri dish, it is time to be getting ready to begin chanting kaddish.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

While drifting through some old files on my computer, I came across an article I had written back in 1972. Shortly after I had helped put on the 1971 Buckminster Fuller’s World Games Workshop, I had a brief career as an education consultant, primarily for the Sonoma County Board of Education. During that time, I co-authored the following article. Only a brief portion was available through the internet. If I wanted to view it all, I had to go through some elaborate verification dance. I, to quote the members of the Scooter Gang, “Boring.” Nevertheless, I include here what wnNas immediately available.

 

 

“ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY WITH BUCKMINSTER FULLER’S GEOMETRY

MARTIN J. COHEN and JOSEPH E. PETRILLO

Cybernetics Systems Program, 125 South Seventh Street

San Jose State College, San Jose Ca. 95114

An experimental program in geodesics and Energetic and Synergetic Geometry was carried outwith third, fourth and fifth-grade students. This experiment was followed by a workshop designed to help elementary school teachers incorporate Fuller’s concepts into their teaching programs. Both programs included the building of geometric models, construction of geodesic domes, the study of basic structural patterns in the world, and the application of these patterns to environment and nature studies. In addition, the teacher’s workshop discussed methods of implementing the new studies through integration of study in mathematics, natural science, and social science. Both programs emphasized “learning through doing” — playing with, building, and experiencing physical models and structures and made extensive use of replicable media and learning aids.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
SET — WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

I include this simply as an aide-memoire: there are more meanings for this innocent-looking trinity of letters than there are for any other word in the English language—fully 62 columns’ worth in the complete Oxford English Dictionary, and which naturally include such obvious examples as the condition of what the sun does each evening; a major part of a game of tennis; what one does if one embarks on a journey; what one does if one puts something down on a table; a collection of a number of items of a particular kind; and a further score, or more, of other disparate and unconnected things and actions. Set is a term in bowling; it is what a dog (especially a setter, of course) does when he is dealing with game; it is a grudge; what cement does when it dries; what Jell-O does when it doesn’t dry; a form of power used by shipwrights; what a young woman does when she wants to secure a man’s affections; the direction of a current at sea; the build of a person; a kind of underdeveloped fruit; the stake that is put down at dice … need I go on? In the search for a synonym it is worth pointing out, and only half in jest, that it is quite possible that one or other meanings for set might fit the bill, exactly, and will have you all set, semantically, and quite neatly, without nearly as much effort as you supposed.
Simon Winchester

Also, Set is an Egyptian God.

Set, also known as Seth and Suetekh, was the Egyptian god of war, chaos, and storms, brother of Osiris, Isis, and Horus the Elder, uncle to Horus the Younger, and brother-husband to Nephthys. His other consort was the goddess Tawaret, a hippo-headed deity who presided over fertility and childbirth. He is one of the first five gods created by the union of Geb (earth) and Nut (sky) after the creation of the world. His name is usually translated as “instigator of confusion” and “destroyer” and he was associated with disorder, foreign lands and people, and the color red. He is sometimes depicted as a red-haired beast with a forked tail and cloven hooves or a shaggy red dog-like animal. His symbols were the griffin, hippopotamus, crocodile, and tortoise, but he was mainly associated with the serpent. Epithets for Set include “Lord of the Desert” and “Ruler of the South” as he was originally a god of Upper Egypt (the south) and the barren lands beyond Egypt’s borders.

So, let us all set ourselves down and praise the great god SET.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Pookie and Naida’s Journey through the Northwest (continued) on Top:

 

Yellowstone Park and Gardiner Montana
The next morning, we woke up and left the BHB intending to return to Yellowstone Park and visit Tower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we left the building we were greeted with a magnificent view. A large valley spread out in front of us dotted with herds of elk and pronghorn antelope munching on the green and brown grass. On the far side of the valley, large hills rose up and beyond them, snow-capped mountains and the blue sky.
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We had a pleasant breakfast at the BNB, talking with the owners and other guests before setting off back into the Park to visit Tower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we passed back through the town of Gardiner on our way back into the Park, we passed herds of Elk along the roads and grazing on the lawns of the town. The town itself was a mix of western picturesque and tourist ugly. After entering the Park we passed additional herds of Elk and Bison grazing the rolling grasslands accompanied by gaggles of cars parked along the roadway disgorging piles of tourists taking photographs of the herds. We also passed some of Yellowstone’s more beautiful vista’s.

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The falls and the canyon were both impressive and picturesque.
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Naida and I got separated as she misplaced her purse and walked back to find it and I ambled off along the path above the canyon. It became a bit comical when she returned and saw me ahead on the trail and tried to catch up but for one reason or another, she got close but then fell back again. Eventually, she caught up and celebrated doing so.
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We returned to Gardiner with a stop at one of the mineral springs.
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That evening we ate dinner at a pleasant restaurant with mediocre food. We enjoyed sitting before the fire listening to western music.

The following day, we set off for Yellowstone Falls. We found it, along with hundreds of other tourists, marveled at its beauty and took off for the lakes.
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Along the way, Naida told stories and entertained me identifying the plants and animals we passed by. To Naida, Yellowstone was in her backyard when she was a child. Her father would take her there often on day trips. During a stop for a quick lunch, she pointed out the bear-proof garbage cans. At one time Park garbage was piled up in large open dumps. The bear population of the Park exploded as the bears spent their time scrounging the dumps and the unsecured garbage cans. The park administration believed the bears and other animals were losing their wildness and becoming dependent upon the refuse so they stopped dumping refuse in the park resulting in a radical fall off in the bear population because they lost their ability to live in the wild.

Yellowstone Lake, a large expanse of water that fills a portion of the ancient Yellowstone crater was quite beautiful.
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We spent some time enjoying the view before retiring to the old hotel on the lakes where we bought some books and had a snack.
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It was at this hotel or perhaps at one in the Grand Teton’s National Park we visited a few days ago that Naida told me the following story:

Perhaps 70 years or so ago, Bill Geyer, Naida’s husband who passed away almost two years ago stopped at the hotel for a few weeks. He was about 11 years old at the time. He and his buddies found a small mouse inhabiting the room with them. They befriended it and even gave it the name Crunchmiller. When it became time to leave the boys became concerned that their friend Crunchmiller would be mistreated or killed by some future inhabitants of the room, not knowing he was a friendly and playful little rodent, so Bill decided to write a letter to the Hotel Manager pleading for the Crunchmiller’s life on the grounds he had become a rodent of character and discretion. The Manager becoming so impressed with the letter promptly sent it off to Reader’s Digest, the Fox News of its day where a few weeks later it appeared in print. Bill’s mother, so proud of the letter and her son’s compassion she wrote a book about it. When I enquired about what became of Crunchmiller she responded, “No one knows and no one seemed to care.”
On the way back to Gardiner we passed through the Park Headquarters at Marathon where a herd of elk grazed on the lawns including this big fella:
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That evening back at the BNB, we prepared for leaving the next morning to visit one on Naida’s relatives a cousin Julie Madison in Alder Montana. Unfortunately, she did not have her cousin’s phone number. Nevertheless, although people may no longer use phone books, Naida was able to locate her cousin’s phone number in the one-horse town of Alder Montana by calling “Chick’s Bar.” The bartender, sure enough, knew her cousin’s number and gave it to her. The next morning after saying goodbye to the BNB owners, we left to plunge into old-time Montana.
(To be continued)

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Taxes never can be set so high that they could ever discourage the wealthy from pursuing their efforts to become even richer.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—
Life’s little duties do—precisely—

As the very least
Were infinite—to me—

.
I put new Blossoms in the Glass—
And throw the old—away—
I push a petal from my gown
That anchored there—I weigh
The time ’twill be till six o’clock
I have so much to do—
And yet—Existence—some way back—
Stopped—struck—my ticking—through—
We cannot put Ourself away
As a completed Man
Or Woman—When the Errand’s done
We came to Flesh—upon—
There may be—Miles on Miles of Nought—
Of Action—sicker far—
To simulate—is stinging work—
To cover what we are
From Science—and from Surgery—
Too Telescopic Eyes
To bear on us unshaded—
For their—sake—not for Ours—
Twould start them—
We—could tremble—
But since we got a Bomb—
And held it in our Bosom—
Nay—Hold it—it is calm—

.
Therefore—we do life’s labor—
Though life’s Reward—be done—
With scrupulous exactness—
To hold our Senses—on—
by Emily Dickinson

D. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 
Another snag from Jason Colavito (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog) in his unending battle with the lunatic fringe. Today he pursues Nephilim hunters and SkyWatch.tv.

Steve Quayle Claims Fallen Angels Will Return Soon to Kill Us All
11/13/2019

This week, Nephilim hunter and Christian bigot Steve Quayle visited the Evangelical extremist broadcaster SkyWatch.tv to discuss UFOs, cataclysms, and giants, as well as the True Legends conference he held in America’s conservative entertainment capital, Branson, Mo., a few weeks ago. The True Legends conference builds on Quayle’s True Legends brand of Christian Ancient Aliens knockoff products, which like much of the Christian entertainment market involves copying something secular, adding sanctimony and hypocrisy, and reducing the quality by 40-50%. Things got off to a great start when Quayle told viewers that he believes that we live in a holographic universe dominated by demons who have created a “hell-o-graphic” world, and that UFO disclosure is imminent because Satan is using demon-driven flying saucers to undermine belief in Nephilim giants.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who gave up that million he got.”
WILL ROGERS

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    24 Shadow 0007 (July 13, 2018)

 
“We ain’t tourist’s honey — travelers, buy there or mail it back.”
A friend of the Old Pirate.

 
Remember July 15 in National be a Dork Day.
Be a Dork, I know you can do it.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CROATIA:

It was a lovely sunny warm morning when we left for Croatia. Our first stop, of course, was at Lucia’s Petite Cafe for coffee, brioche, and hugs. For me, it was especially sad, since at my age I cannot know if I will be back again. I even hugged Danielle, Lucia’s somewhat dissolute and shaggy boyfriend. Then we were off.

The drive to the border of Italy and Slovenia was relatively brief. We passed Trieste on the way, a surprisingly small city nestled among relatively gentle hills surrounding the bay and the Adriatic.

After a drive of not much more than a mile from the Slovenian border we reached its border with Croatia and passed through without incident. This portion of Croatia, Istria, had been part of Italy or some Italian City State since Roman times except for a period of Austro-Hungarian rule in the 18 and 19th Centuries but eventually passed to the old Yugoslavia after WWII.

After a brief drive through some low hills, we entered a low flat plain containing Mediterranean type forest vegetation and few people. According to Hank, Goldman Sachs plans to buy up just about everything it can get its hands on in this area, even its toll roads (one or more of the people we will be partying with over the next two days is [are] involved somehow). They want to make it into a tech hub for Europe like Silicon Valley (Facebook already is building a facility) and some sort of Adriatic vacation paradise. In the meantime, it remains someplace one would like to visit, easy going, pretty and slow moving.

Our first stop was at some Trulli type buildings. Actually our first two stops. Initially, we halted at the side of the road to view an abandoned Trulli. A road maintenance vehicle then appeared to see if we needed any assistance. After explaining that we stopped only so I could take a photograph of the abandoned building, the worker then offered to sell us truffles, olive oil, and grappa. Hank bought some truffles, I took some photos and we continued on our way.

A short time later we stopped at a place with considerably more of those buildings, in fact, the whole area was some sort of archeological park. Trulli-type buildings are conical stone buildings common throughout Europe in one form or another. They were built mostly in the 19th century as agriculture in Europe moved into less ideal areas because of rising demand. The buildings (and walls) were built from the stones taken out of the cleared lands. The most famous or at least picturesque of these are the large conical stone homes In Puglia, Italy. Since that portion of the trip had been jettisoned for logistical reasons, I felt that a photograph of me standing beside any like structure would be a satisfactory replacement.
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Pookie and the Trulli in Croatia
We eventually arrived at our hotel near Pula. A nice little place not too far from the harbor where the ferry to the Island National Park disembarks.

Many stories I either heard, saw or experienced on this part of my trip — much too many to write about here but some of those I remember most vividly follow. Many were told by Hank. But, be aware, their veracity depends upon: the accuracy of my memory; may be affected by what I may have thought I had been told; my additions where I could not recall what I had been told; what for one reason or another I avoided; and whatever I have added in an effort to make the story more interesting, After all, isn’t that what history is all about, a few truths surrounded by a lot of little lies and highlighted by a few big ones.

To pass the time on the drive, Hank told me the story of Paul Bingham who was Tennessee Williams lover at one time and lived at Hank’s house and died there. Hank ended up with many of the letters that passed between Paul and Tennessee which he still has. He also told me about someone he called “Doc.” Doc was one of Hank’s professors at college. When Doc retired from teaching he also retired his suits and other clothing replacing them with bib overalls, tee shirts, and black work boots. With the time on his hands that often comes with retirement, Doc got involved in various dicey projects and would often persuade Hank to join him — apparently a not too difficult task. Projects like growing okra for profit. One time Doc went into the illegal fireworks business and blew up his house. Homeless, he moved in with Hank and stayed there until he died.

We arrived at our hotel, a pleasant little place not too far from Pula and near the warm where the boats depart for a national park located on an island a few hundred yards away. After checking in we left to visit our friends at Tito’s old vacation estate.

We arrived at Marshal Tito’s vacation estate in Pula on the Adriatic coast at a place called Volkane.
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Tito’s villa

Tito had the villa built to his specifications. He also had all the lands that could be seen from the Villa which were treeless, reforested — planting over a million trees in the area. Now that the trees have reached maturity some of the people in the area complain that the trees obstruct their view of the water and of the other trees.
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The view from the terrace

At some point, Tito gifted the villa to his chief of intelligence. That spy’s daughter lives there now with her husband an ex-marine officer who at one point had been an Assistant Under-secretary of Defense for the US by the name Jolly (he was the tallest man in the marines at the time and was nicknamed the Jolly Green Giant shortened to Jolly. He liked the name and it stuck.) He was a trained psychologist and was sent around the world to, as he put it to me, “Find out the truth.”
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Jolly

The villa and part of the estate stand upon an old Nazi bunker one entrance of which remains. An ancient Roman wall surrounds part of the estate.

Every year on or around the 4th of July, Jolly and his wife hold a party for about two hundred of their nearest and dearest friends among which, due to Hank and Camille, I found myself included.

On my first day at Volkane, I met some of those that lived there, the sisters of the spy’s daughter and other relatives and friends who visited during the day. I also stared a lot at the pleasant view of the Adriatic. The air was warm, full and restful. I walked several times through the gate onto the rocks by the water and along the shore to a bench where I would sit for a half hour or so after which I would make my way back.

In front of the villa, there was parked a large black Mercedes. I was told the Mercedes once belonged to Tito. It now belongs to an aging local rock star who lives in one of the three units the villa had been divided into after Tito’s death. The name of the rock group was Atomic Shelter and had a bit of a reputation in eastern Europe.
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Tito’s wheels

A lot of time was spent telling stories. Mostly by Jolly about his life and times in the military and going and coming from some clandestine doings in some backwater somewhere, but never about the nature of the clandestine doings themselves. Most of the stories, I do not remember, or remember vaguely, his time in Thailand, his selection for his job or jobs and so on.

He told one about his great-great-grandfather, Christopher Sheats. Sheats from Winston County Alabama was one of the delegates to the convention of southerners who drafted the Articles of Succession that began the Civil War. He objected to secession but lost. Upon returning to Winston County he, at a meeting of Union sympathizers held in Looney’s Tavern, a local meeting place and center of Pro-Union sentiment, declared the county a free state arguing that if states had an inalienable right to secede from the Union than counties have the same inalienable right to secede from a state. He called it the Free State of Winston and sought to join the Union. The Confederate State of Alabama arrested him and sentenced him to death by hanging as a traitor. The rope broke saving him. He was imprisoned and escaped, fought for the Union using freed slaves and, according to Jolly, never lost a battle. After the war, he served in Congress. Because of threats on his life, President Grant appointed him Ambassador to Finland. After he died, the county refused to bury him in the whites-only cemetery so he was buried in the Blacks-only cemetery with many black people attending the ceremony. Since then almost all members of the Sheats family have chosen to be buried in that same black cemetery. The Incident at Looney’s Tavern, a musical drama performed regularly in Winston County, tells the story of Christopher Sheats and the Unionist meeting at Looney’s Tavern. It is the official state outdoor musical drama of Alabama.

Another story I remember from lunch the following day — Jolly had been asked to serve as a chief judge in the court-martial of a women soldier who, when told her husband had taken a women into their bed while she was at the base, bought a 45, went home, and promptly shot he erring husband in the nuts.

The young military attorney from the Judge Advocate General’s office chosen to prosecute her charged her only with assault with intent to kill. At the trial, when questioning her the young attorney asked, “Sergeant ___ when you shot your husband you intended to kill him did you not?” She pointed to a gold marksman medal on her uniform. “ See this” she responded, “I won the pistol shooting competition at the Olympics and when I qualified as a marine marksman they gave me a gold marksman medal rather than the silver in honor of my Olympic victory. I assure you I intended to shoot him in the nuts. If I wanted him dead he would be dead.” Jolly and the other judges ruled her innocent of the charge, stating, “The defendant may be guilty of many things regarding the shooting, but not of the only charge before us today, shooting with the intent to kill”

A few years later it happened that the sergeant was assigned to Jolly’s unit. When he asked her about the trial she told him that, had she been charged with anything else, she would have pleaded guilty, but not to the charge of intent to kill. When Jolly inquired as to how she has been doing since then, she responded, “Pretty well sir, but it’s been hard to get a date.” (Note, I suspect Jolly made this one up because I seem to remember having heard tales like this before but who knows maybe those tales were about Jolly.)

We had lunch, with a small group on the terrace that day.
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Lunch on the terrace

After the lunch, Hank told me a story about the sister of Jolly’s wife, Mary (she is the blond woman second on the right in the photograph). When she was about three or four years old she had been captured by the Nazi’s but released in a prisoner exchange. A year or two later she was trained by her parents to operate the clandestine radio transmitter that was secreted in a place too small to get into for anyone but her and thereby able to avoid the Nazi search teams.

The next day was Market Day in Pula, the streets were full of stalls selling whatever and everything. I could smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. The cafes, like the streets, were awash with people. The place seemed vibrant and alive as did many of the tourist cities in Italy when I first visited them 40 or 50 years ago. Now with prosperity, restoration, tourism, and the departure of the young to the largest cities they often appear dead, dying or mausoleums celebrating a culture that never existed. Cities are always becoming, a mixture of despair and of hope. When they don’t change they die no matter how pretty they may appear.

I strolled through the town, drank prosecco in the cafes, browsed the stores and visited the port and the Roman ruins. There’s a bitchin Roman Arena here also. It seems those Romans dropped them everywhere like rice at a wedding. When one considers the cost and turmoil surrounding the building of the relatively few large sports areas around the world today, the efforts of the Romans seem even more amazing.

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The Amphitheater

The following evening was the big party. It was also the night of the World Cup match between Croatia and Russia. A large screen was set up so everyone could watch the game and eat hot dogs and hamburgers before the party began. There were many local notables including the head of Goldman Sachs for this area and much of adjacent Europe. I was told he was an ex-Mossad agent.

Now you must be wondering why and how over the last month or so I have managed to come upon so many ex-spies or relatives of ex-spies — Two in the Enchanted Forest; one who I met two days before in Sacile retired from the military whose job he said was to examine military construction sites in areas of American troop deployment; Jolly; his wife; and now the Mossad agent and god knows how many others were at the party. One must remember, however, all these people are from my generation and the following one. The generations who lived their productive years from the sixties through the eighties, the Spy vs Spy era when anyone who was anyone spied on someone or believed one lived under their bed or were entertained by stories about spies. It was the James Bond era.

Croatia won. The crowd went crazy.
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Croatia scores

The music started. Everyone drank too much. I got kissed by two Young Croat women who I am positive either they only wanted to take a photograph of themselves kissing the old codger staggering around with the cane or they were drunk.

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The next morning we left for Southern Italy and the rest of our trip.

 

B. TO NAPLES AND BEYOND:

We left Pula at about 8:30AM and drove south through Italy, getting lost only once until at 5PM we arrived at a surprisingly nice hotel with the improbable name of Hotel Gentiluomo just outside of Arezzo. It was owned by an Indian company and we shared the place with an Indian tour group all saried and caste marked up. While they ate various curries, the smells wafted through the hotel, we dined in good Italian fare that alas I have forgotten so I guess it was good but not particularly notable.

The next morning, we left and arrived at our hotel above the Bay of Naples early in the afternoon after becoming lost in those little towns south of Vesuvius that I have been getting lost in each time I have come here for the past fifty years. The marvelous and inexpensive Hotel Torre Barbara in Vico stands high on the bluff above the bay. We drank some prosecco while sitting on the veranda admiring the view of the volcano looming over the towns clinging to its slopes like barnacles on a ship’s hull. Intending to swim in the pool with a view, I returned to my room but lost myself playing with my computer and dozing until dinner time.
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Pookie with the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius in the background

On the veranda, I had dinner of shrimp risotto accompanied by prosecco and finished off with a chocolate mousse ice cream and grappa while we watched the sun sink into the sea beyond Capri and the lights\ come on and twinkle like a necklace of fireflies around the base of Vesuvius.

The following morning, I arose early and with my cup of cappuccino and a glass of fruit juice I sat alone on the veranda and watched the sun climb above the hills behind me and strike the bay. I tried to understand why in the many years I have been coming to Italy and having so rarely planned to visit Naples, I seem almost always to end up here for at least a day or so. Beautiful the view of the bay and the volcano may be but, I have seen many places more so —although while I sat there, I was hard-pressed to name them.

As I continued to stare at Vesuvius across the bay with its string of buildings encircling its base I began to think about how wretched those buildings and neighborhoods actually were. They began to look to me more and more like a disease creeping up the slopes — as though the volcano suffered from psoriasis and would wake up someday from the itching on his flanks and burn it all off. That’s what Naples signifies, I thought, beauty and horror together — Pompey rich and licentious ending buried in lava, the Bourbon dynasty of the Kings of Naples, squalor, and corruption alongside elegance and art.

Caravaggio spent much of his career here in Naples. A drunkard and a vicious murderer and perhaps the greatest painter that ever lived. His painting of Narcissus gazing at his reflection in the pool of water is beautiful until you think about what the painting is about, someone imprisoned forever.
C. MATERA — A CITY CARVED FROM THE ROCKS.

The next day we were on the road to Matera in the Province of Basilicata. The drive took only about three hours, a relief after the grind of the past few days.

After leaving the hills of Calabria, we drove through the weary plains of Basilicata. The approach to Matera left much to be desired. We passed from forested mountains and rolling hills green with vineyards, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens, onto a large undulating plain of dry farming almost all of it wheat leaving the land with a bare desolate desiccated look.

Here and there the plain was crisscrossed with steep stone canyons invisible until looking down on them from the bridges spanning them. On the top of a broad rise in the terrain stood a large city, much larger than the small hill towns we had seen in Calabria and Basilicata so far, and much uglier also. I was quite disappointed and contemplated urging Hank to turn the car around and retrace our tracks to Naples.

We checked into an attractive newly built hotel that seemed to have a swimming pool with stepped smaller pools cascading into it. Excited, I put on my swim trunks, strode through the lobby and out to the pool. Alas, when I got there I found it was only a decorative fountain built to serve as a background for photos of lavish nuptial celebrations that seemed to be the main reason for the existence of the hotel. Dejected, I changed back into touring clothing and we set off to the town to see what the travel brochures raved about.

After a lot of aimless driving about the modern town looking for the rock city, we parked and followed the signs and suddenly came upon the amazing city carved from the rocks and perched upon the largest of the steep stone canyons, the smaller versions of which we had crossed while driving here.
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Matera — almost every building in the photograph of a facade covering the cave which provided at least 80% of the building’s interior.

We decided then that we could not fully appreciate the city without a guide so Hank asked the driver of a small tuk-tuk style tour vehicle how we could find a guide, “Wait here for Vito” he advised. So, we waited there for Vito. While waiting, Camille and I explored a nearby church containing another church buried underneath containing fascinating frescoes on the walls.
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The mosaics painted on the walls of the cave church.

And, one of the more bizarre statues I have ever come across.
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The Saint who steps on naked fat women.

It is a statue of Saint something or other (I do not remember his name) with his foot on the back of a naked woman. Finding this odd, I moved closer in order to read the information card. I translated it as either Saint what’s-his-name with his foot on a fat woman or, Saint whoever driving out fatness from women or maybe something else. Perhaps, he is the Patron Saint of diet scammers.

Vito arrived in his bitchin red tuk-tuk (as far as I could tell the only red one in town). He turned out to be a delightful young man who entertained us during the tour.
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Vito and his bitchin red tuk-tuk with Hank and Camille.

(if you should travel there an want pleasant knowledgeable guide call Vito at +39 3931772506)

I could go on about the wonders of the town, but T&T is not the place for it. I will mention that Matera is the third oldest continuously occupied town in the world. Across the canyon stands the neolithic caves in which the ancestors of the townspeople lived before crossing the canyon to settle the current site when agricultural technology reached the area.
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The Neolithic caves
Matera, despite being almost abandoned 30 years ago when the government forcibly relocated the penniless agricultural workers living in the rock homes, had experienced a rebound when that policy was abandoned and the original residents, artists, and others were allowed to move back in. Next year, according to Vito, the UN will declare the town the World Artistic Capital (or something pompous like that).

That evening we dined in what Vito declared was among the oldest and finest restaurants in town and was the favorite eating place of Mel Gibson who dined there often during the filming of the “Passion of Christ” (the crucifixion scene was filmed on top of the rock outcropping in the above photograph). While we felt that last was a dubious recommendation we dined there anyway and found it excellent and well worth it.

The next day we set off for Altamonte back in Calabria.
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D. A PLEASANT DAY IN ALTAMONTE.

Altamonte a pleasant little hill town in Calabria, remote from just about anywhere with little to recommend it other than the Hotel Barbieri. Started by the patriarch of clan Barbieri a hotelier and master chef he has built up a small industry here and in the US selling regional Calabrian foods and folk art at the hotel and at a string of elegant delicatessens in Philadelphia and Pittsburg owned and operated by the family whose members have been sent to the US to manage their interests.
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The view from my room.

The hotel started small on a hill with a great view of the town and the countryside around it, grew in a comely hodgepodge of rooms, verandas and a pool and a spa. Members of the family still run it day by day. “It serves the best Calabrian food in Italy,” Hank claimed.
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The pool and newly built terrace (we ate dinner on the terrace to the right)

We had a snack that included a local specialty, chips made from the local long red sweet peppers dipped momentarily in hot olive oil until they become puffed and brittle. Marvelous. We ate them and washed them down with prosecco under the trees on one of the verandas with a view of the town, a cool breeze and three children of the family playing and running around the tables.
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Hank, the daughter of the Patriarch, Hank and a bowl of sweet pepper chips.
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Camille and Hank on the terrace waiting for lunch.

I then took my much-delayed swim in the pool, napped and had dinner on one of the more formal terraces. We ate a variety of traditional Calabrian dishes and ended with a delicious homemade fusilli in a sauce of tomatoes and eggplant. The noodles are freshly hand rolled into long curving pasta with a hollow center and were delightfully chewy and went perfectly with the sauce. Grappa and dessert ended the meal. It was everything Hank said it would be.
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First course

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Second course

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Fresh-made Fusilli

The next morning, after another great breakfast we said goodbye to the patriarch and his daughter who came by to see us off. And so I left for Sicily and a week ar Antonio’s.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Today’s Poem:

My remark in the previous issue of T&T about the possibility of my becoming a “geriatric Boy Toy” generated a few humorous comments such as Peter’s “It sounds like an Asian food” and Ruth sending me her husband’s poem which I have reproduced below.

TOYBOYS

The world is full of pretty boys
The aging ladies’ favorite toys
If I were only twenty-two
I’d be some lady’s toyboy, too.
But sad to say I’m eighty-eight
And I’m afraid it’s just too late.
Bill Lansford ([c] William Douglas Lansford).

Alas, so true, so true — But is there still hope if you are only seventy-eight?
B. Giants of History: Peter responds to a challenge.

In the previous T&T, I hurled a challenge at Peter when I wrote:

I thought it was obvious my phone had been hacked in Verona. (“Hacked in Verona,” a movie starring John Goodman as an aging, fat, inept, hacker hiding out in Verona because of his erroneous belief he was being hunted by the police of several nations. Frances McDormand plays the Interpol receptionist dedicated to tracking him down to let him know that, in fact, no one was looking for him. She locates him in a one-room attic apartment two doors away from the “Juliet” house. They fall in love and she moves into the apartment. The film was so successful that its two stars were contracted to appear in its sequel, “Malaise in Verona.” — OK Peter the ball is in your court.)

He accepted the challenge and in a heroic effort flung back at me the following:

Sequels uber alleles. “Godfather” etc., “Rocky” etc., “Peewee’s Great Adventure”, etc. “Malaise in Verona”– bathos with mandolins. Saving grace: Monica Vitti, Anna Magnani, Giulletta Messina, and Sophia Lauren star as the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse. Our intrepid heroes Goodman and McDormand, wallowing in humid solicitude and a decent spaghetti sauce in a Verona pension, are interrupted by the Fab Four [who are aware of course that no one is looking for Goodman – after all, why would they?] who present the lucky couple with a dilemma: Why stay in Verona when you could be in Ravenna? The two are completely flummoxed by this question. Camera closeup: they look at each other, McDormand says “Why Indeed?” Goodman counters: “BFD- we could be in Ravello.” McDormand: “No. Puglia. The olives are better.” The four horsewomen interject: “Have you made up your minds?” Goodman: “Who are you, and where is that masked man?” The 4: “Chasing after Tonto. Last seen in Parma. The ham is good there. As to who we are, only Fellini knows for sure. You needn’t bother yourselves.” “Oh”, say the humid duo. “And anyway, Ravenna, Ravello, what’s the difference?” The 4: “We hate people who wave Occam’s razor around indiscriminately. In any case, Lucretius and Sartre are staring you in the face: which shall it be: Osso bucco con barbera or authenticity and rye crisp?” And that’s why they made Godfather III.

I concede.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“Most cities lived on the very edge of civilization. Everyone talked about towns and villages out in the middle of nowhere as if they were uncivilized, but she’d found people in those places pleasant, even-tempered, and comfortable with their quieter way of life. Not in cities. Cities balanced on the edge of sustainability, always one step from starvation. When you pressed so many people together, their cultures, ideas, and stenches rubbed off on one another. The result wasn’t civilization. It was contained chaos, pressurized, bottled up so it couldn’t escape. There was a tension to cities. You could breathe it, feel it in every step.”

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (p. 629). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

Categories: July through September 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 7, 2010

Today’s factoid:

1968 – A divorced Dutchman named Louwrens Voorthuijzen who proclaimed himself God and renamed himself  “Lou the Eel Vendor”, died. He mixed marketing European eels with proselytism. His followers considered him a living God on a mission against evil.

Petrillo’s dyspeptic advice for the unwary traveller in Thailand:

Always remember, nothing is what it seems.

Pookie’s adventures in Thailand:

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

Pookie awoke the next morning feeling not much better than he had the night before. Nevertheless, he got up and went out to have breakfast because he thought it would be best to get some food into his stomach even if he could not keep it all down.

At the café he thought about how lucky he was to get sick while at the pharmacy and not somewhere else and how fortunate it was that the pharmacist was so kindly.

He also began to contemplate the decision that had been plaguing him for a while, whether to remain here in Paradise by the Sea or return to the US, at least briefly. It did not appear that his preference to drift and allow circumstance to decide for him was going to save him the trouble of figuring out what to do.

His plan was to travel to the US in late November of early December, remain there for two weeks or so and visit with family and friends that he was finding he missed more and more. He could also see, for perhaps the last time, his mom, now 91 years old and living is a rest home. Toward the end of the month he would travel to Italy with Hayden and stay in Milan until H’s mom returns from visiting her parents and boy friends in Thailand. Then he could return to Thailand or go to Ghana, Ecuador or another low-cost jurisdiction.

But it all ment too much planning and effort for him. What about his apartment? Give it up and perhaps lose the opportunity to live in a place he had grown accustomed to? What about the hassle of Thai Immigration again? And finally there was the cost. He would have to dip into his meager savings. What to do” What to do?

He finished his breakfast, went for a brief stroll along the beach and returned to his apartment, feeling exhausted. He laid on his bed trying to deal with these matters as well his feelings of inadequacy to do so. Eventually he drifted off to sleep. The last words he recalled bouncing around in his mind were “Tomorrow is another day.” And indeed it will be.

Mopey Joe’s memories:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT,)

JOE

Although this story is mostly about Joey, me, it is appropriate that it begins with my grandfather Joe or Peppino as he was sometimes called, because of the shadows that his life and legends cast upon the family, especially me. I always considered him as heroic character. A view not shared by everyone, especially his wife Elisa and my mother.

Joe was a big man. Not as tall as most Americans, but above average for italian immigrants of the time. He was the ideal mesomorph, broad and blocky with heavy strong muscles. His body looked a lot like that of Rocky Marciano the undefeated Italian-American Heavyweight boxer. This physical type is not uncommon in the mountains surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

These mountain people differed in culture and history from those people who lived in the lowlands. They were probably the original inhabitants driven into the highlands by the waves of invaders that swept across the mediterranean basin for thousands of years. There they remained undefeated except by economic adversity. The mountains were harsh and unproductive, good only for the herding sheep and goats and the hiding of the smugglers and brigands who provided additional sustenance to the meager resources available to these mountain people.

Joe was born in a small village called Prato on the slopes of Mt. Vergene in the mountains above Naples. Prato is not far from Avellino a largish mountain town. I know little about the town, never having visited it. The little I do know I learned from uncle Aldo, my fathers youngest brother, who visited it shortly after the Second World War and found the partisans and fascists still shooting at one another as though the war continued unabated. He left quickly. As far as I know no one in our immediate family has ever visited the village since.


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Prato

Pepe’s potpourri:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Miracle Max: “You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” 
The Princess Bride

2. Today’s album cover:

(I don’t know what to say.)

Today’s quote:

” War makes thieves, and peace hangs them.”
Nicolo Machiavelli The Art of War

Ciao…

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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