Posts Tagged With: Sabina

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Shadow 0004 (July 2, 2015)

 

Laudato Si’

“Men and women who seek to become gods must first lose their humanity.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 206). Random House Publishing Group.
July 15 is National be a Dork Day. Remember to mark your calendar.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SABINA:
IMG_20150625_112608_795
Casperia in Sabina

Back in Sabina, we spent a few days exploring Casperia, the town Jason grew up in, eating at some of the fine local restaurants and looking for a place to buy as a family retreat. Since the collapse of the economy several years ago, the prices of homes in the area have fallen substantially.
IMG_20150624_190827_190
A piazza in Casperia
IMG_20150624_190908_539
Jason by the wall
IMG_20150624_210336_964
Pookie enjoys an afternoon snack of prosciutto, Mozzarella da Buffala, a local crumbly cheese made from sheep’s milk, a delicious local salami and, of course, a glass of wine from the nearby vineyards.

One day we visited Roccantica, another hill town nearby where about 120 years ago my grandmother was born along with her 12 siblings in a small three-room home. Those 13 siblings grew up and most of them left the town, some to the US, some to Australia and some to other towns in Italy. Now only Rosina, the widow of the grandson of one of those 13, still lives in that home, alone. During the day, she sits on a plastic chair in the shade by the door, talking to neighbors across the alley a few steps away, hoping for visits from her children on the weekends and waiting to die.
IMG_20150625_114817_508

Jason, although in America often bitter and angry about the hand fate has dealt him, here in Italy his true home is almost always sensitive, compassionate and insightful.* In our short visit he brought joy and happiness to Rosina.

*Of course, not necessarily in the father-son relationship where we naturally must play endless games of Orestes at the Seashore.

B. A FEW DAYS IN ROME:
IMG_20150626_174648_199
A View of Rome

I returned to Rome intending to get only two things done in the week remaining before departing for Thailand. One was to complete some banking transactions at which I was singularly unsuccessful.

One of my minor amusements while in Rome was to plot automobile directions on my computer and watch the contortions which the application goes through to get from one point to another. In the case of the bank, it was located on the corner of the block not more that twenty-five yards away from my pensione. The map showed an image looking like a deranged snake extending about two kilometers before ending at that same corner.

My second goal was to visit Borromini’s mature masterwork, St Ivo’s in Sapienza which was supposedly open to the public on Sunday mornings and which I had longed to visit for forty-five years now. It was open and I was enthralled.
IMG_20150609_115625_253

The first thing one needs to notice in Borromini’s church architecture is the absolute absence of an anthropomorphic God. Nowhere does one find his rival Bernini and other architect’s visions of God in heaven, a sky full of rumbling noise, clouds, putties and flashing lights.
IMG_20150628_093508_024

True at times he was forced by his patrons to include symbols of their families in his designs, but rarely a hint of God. It seems the Popes and Cardinals that hired him were far more interested in honoring their families then in glorifying God.
IMG_20150628_093516_397

Borromini begins his designs with a simple mathematical or geometrical figure and allows it to become more complex as it meets with the restrictions of the site, like some Mandelbrot set cascading from the apex of the dome to the floor. To Borromini, like Steven Hawking, God exists in a mathematical equation — God as the Unified Field Theory.

IMG_20150628_094729_025

I was so thrilled with my morning, I celebrated by sitting at one of those execrable cafe’s the line Piazza Navona and drinking the worst cup of coffee I had in Italy.
IMG_20150628_103608_881

I sat at the same cafe 45 years ago where my old acting classmate Jon Voight sat nearby during the filming of a few scenes from Catch 22. He did not recognize me and I did not acknowledge him.
IMG_20150628_105214_541_2
An interesting take on the human statue — one floating in air.

Outside of the above, I mostly I spent my time wandering around, primarily in the Villa Borghese. I wonder why I enjoy it there so much?

Of course, I tried again to get into the Borghese Museum but it was sold out until long after I depart. So, the placid Canovas, the hyperactive Berninis, the dead and bilious eyes of the Caravaggios and the etherial Rafaelos will just have to wait for another day and I will have to content myself with a photograph of the palazzo’s exterior for this trip.
IMG_20150627_103109_239

One evening I sat listening to a trumpet player playing the blues. The clear high notes shimmering through the quaking leaves and shadows of the Roman evening seemed as appropriate as if they came out of a smokey bar in Harlem.
IMG_20150626_182920_984
Another day, I sat and listened to the accodianist play “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, better known to all as the music the Phantom of the Opera plays when he is sitting alone at the organ. (also recorded by SKY, Deep Purple, Blondie and McFly)
IMG_20150627_102108_913
Earlier, a drone hovered above my head. It was a memorable event — my first drone. One never forgets his or her first time.
IMG_20150626_183623_557_2

Although central Rome is notorious for bad Italian food, I found a place just off the Via Veneto, on Via Sardegna that I recommend. Andrea’s Restaurant is a little pricey, but when you can make a simple tommelli pasta with butter and cheese and a sprinkling of pepper taste like a king’s dish, you have something good going for you. I also had a side plate of spinach that was remarkably free of the often bitter spinach taste. Since it is fig season, I finished the meal with almost perfect fresh figs.

On my last night in Italy, I returned to Andrea’s. I had a superb Gnocchi. The place must be somewhat well known. There was a Japanese couple in the restaurant with me. They had a Japanese woman with them whose job it was to stand by the table and interact with the wait staff. When she had nothing to do, she waited in the kitchen for the couple to finish dinner and then left with them.

I enjoy wandering aimlessly around cities like Rome where people spend so much of their time outside on the streets that bits and pieces of their triumphs and tragedies drop like gold coins on to the sidewalks. I walked by a hotel a few steps off the Via Veneto where a little girl was crying desolately, having lost something of great value to her on the bus to or from somewhere. Her parents, the doorman and the bus driver fluttered about trying to comfort her. But, of course, to children the pain of such loses, although at times brief, cannot be consoled.

One day there was a Ferrari rally through the streets of Rome. It was colorful and loud.
IMG_20150629_104926_066

At other times I would visit my old haunts.
IMG_20150627_114642_714

Pookie happily enjoying an eight euro cup of coffee at Cafe Greco.

Alas, moments after taking this selfie, the background music in the cafe began to play the dying CoCo San’s aria from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and I began to cry as I always do when I hear it — much to the consternation of the stone-faced waitress as she brought me my bill.

I noticed one morning as I went down to breakfast in my pensione dedicated to servicing impoverished priests and pilgrims, that I was dressed all in black — black shirt, black pants, and even those clunky rubber soled black shoes that priests like to wear so that they can sneak up on you. I wondered if my subconscious was trying to tell me something truly frightening.

The answer to my question above as to why I enjoy the Borghese Gardens so much is because it is a park with benches where old folks like me can sit for free in the shade, watch the people go by and listen to the music of the street musicians, until the biting and stinging insects drive us away.

IMG_20150628_105322_791
Rome as it is now and alas, as it will be.

C. STRANGE DREAMS:

I continue to have strange dreams. In one, I am an undercover police officer who works at night in a city like New York battling those who prey on the weak and the disabled. I dress like I am lame, hobbling along on two canes. I often go into abandoned buildings that terrorize me. I work every night seven days a week and live alone in a small room. When I pass people on the streets, no one says hello or even looks at me.

In another, I am a priest in a hospital charged with transferring deformed infants on life support to other hospitals better able to care for them or more likely, dispose of them. I am silently in love with an ebullient red-haired hospital administrator who is three months pregnant and deeply adores her husband.

D. BOOK REPORT:

Good News! Denise Mina is about to release two new mystery novels for publication. Mina is one of the few mystery writers whose heroines appear to be real women — women detectives that have a right to be as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

The first and to me the best, The GarnetHill Trilogy, features a loudmouth, alcoholic slut on the dole — Imagine Nancy Drew as a dipso welfare queen in Glasgow.

The second and my personal favorite features a young overweight newspaper reporter forced to cover women things. She wears clothing too tight and skirts too short, is the constant butt of male newsroom jokes and falls easily into bed with whichever no-good asks her.

The third, Alex Morrow, is a police detective passed over for promotion because of her sex and reviled in the station house for her coldness, competence and sharp tongue. Morrow deals bitterly and cynically with the demise of her youthful dreams and enthusiasm about her career. Somehow I get the impression this is Mina’s favorite character.

Each of these women through grit and insight solve mysteries the men who bedevil them are unable to even remotely decipher.

Pookie says try them, you’ll like them.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“ By now it is clear to most thinking people that every decision we make on major public problems simply makes matters worse.”

“We live in a cancer society in which growth has become the enemy of life. In economics this means that our economy cannot sell the consumer goods pouring out of existing factories unless we are simultaneously investing more capital and resources in new factories to make more goods or are otherwise providing more purchasing power to the market by inflationary spending on nonmarketable products such as national defense. This same characteristic feature of our society, that we cannot use what we already have for the satisfaction of our needs unless we devote increasing increments of time and resources to different future desires, now pervades all aspects of our society. Everywhere our activities now have built-in feedback loops which require investment in future technical innovations creating new activities or there will be sudden collapse of our existing activities.”

“Reductionist attitudes and methods now dominate every corner of our lives, defended by an unconscious alliance of special interests, corruption, and irrationality. These would be jeopardized by the holistic methods Ferkiss advocates. We holists are a small minority with little influence. Ferkiss believes that “science” supports his position. Holistic science, such as he and I practice, does support him, but 90% of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are reductionist technicians and would repudiate our version of what “science” is. He ls a holistic political scientist: I am a holistic historian. Each of us is a lonely voice in his own discipline, and our view would be rejected by the majority of our professional associates. Even publication is restricted for holistic views wherever manuscripts are subject to approval by “expert” referees or editorial boards of specialists.”
Carroll Quigley review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis,” 1974

I suggest reading the second paragraph twice. It describes the crisis of our times. The crisis that Laudato Si seeks to address. Sadly, the process of bringing forth a sustainable world will probably be accompanied by economic depression and suffering until it is achieved. The question is not how do we bring about a sustainable world. We already know that. But, how do we take care of people until that revolution succeeds? Because, if we fail at that, we fail with it.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservative, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.”

“We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun and we wait for popular support that never comes.”

C. Emotions people feel but cannot explain.

OPLA. The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It should be obvious by now that the right-wing fixation on repealing or defunding Obamacare is symbolic rather than substantive. It’s a political dispute that appears to be about the present and about matters of policy, but is really about the past. Most opponents of the president’s healthcare bill neither know nor care whether it contains elements of “socialism” (which it doesn’t). What’s at stake is the ability to roll back reality, as with a spell learned at Tea-Party Hogwarts. If this aspect of a hated new American reality can be undone, then so, at least in the world of right-wing magical thinking, can everything else”
Andrew O’Hehir, Solon.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_20150628_092214_756_2IMG_20150628_092214_756_2.jpg

This photograph is mostly for Bill Yeates and others with a passing interest in the avian world. It is a poster that sits on the plaza that fronts Italy’s Parliament Building. It supposedly represents the birds that frequent the plaza — scavengers all — much like most legislators. In fact from my time in the legislature in California I can attach specific legislators to each species. (Pigeon – Montoya, Seagull – Denny Carpenter, Hawk – Bob Moretti and Willie Brown and those birds that flit around and do nothing, most of the rest.) Let me know how you would categorize the legislators you know.

 

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 33 JoJo 0004(June 18, 2015)

 

“If I didn’t believe in the miraculous nature of talent and in the sacred duty of the recipient, by now I would have gone so insane that I’d qualify for numerous high government positions.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 4). Random House Publishing Group.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SABINA:

The area of Sabina lies about 40 miles northeast of Rome. It was named for the Sabine tribe that lived around here about 2500 years ago*.
IMG_20150611_141500_862_2
The hills, sky and countryside of Sabina

Jason and I stayed at the home of his long time friend Gianantonio Rando, a farmhouse a short way from Casperia, the Sabina town Jason lived in for a few years when he was young. The farm house and assorted buildings were originally a monastery built in the 1600s. The area is crisscrossed by many tiny dirt and gravel roads. Here and there, fresh water springs still pour water into the tubs where the residents of the area met to do laundry and collect water needed for domestic purposes. Jason having drunk at these same springs every day he lived here as a youth considers the water the purest aqua minerale on earth. I’m not so sure.
IMG_20150611_140645_806
The two windows on the corner of the upper story open into my room.

Gianantonio rents, sets up and operates sound and recording equipment for performances and festivals and also produces music videos — one I particularly like, his own group playing “I can’t give you anything but love baby,” including cuts of film from the 1920s and 30s can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zd3RquVvWo (Listen to the follow-up video also. The singer in both is from the Naples Conservatory. The guitarist is a teacher and master of classical and jazz guitar at Santa Cecelia.) Gianantonio lives in Rome and uses the house in Casperia as a video, sound and recording studio, to store some of his equipment and as a weekend retreat.
IMG_20150610_132506_037

Gianantonio is also an accomplished musician, a graduate of Santa Cecilia in Rome with a Master on the double Bass. His musical group and company, Mad Cap Official Ensemble can be reviewed at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mad-Cap-Studio-Musicale-Sale-

The first day we searched for a restaurant for lunch and found most of them closed. (The first phrase in Italian both Jason and Hayden learned was “tutti chiuso,” [It is all closed] reflecting the general status of museums or anything in Italy one would want to visit at that moment.) We did find a fairly good place eventually. Jason ordered a marvelous linguini with local mushrooms and truffles.
IMG_20150610_142036_076

That evening Gianantonio and his friend Marcella prepared us a light dinner at the farm house. It included sausage made on the farm, local cheese, and wine, Parma ham, an excellent frittata and finished off with some grappa and organic ice cream that Marcella produces and sells throughout Europe.
IMG_20150610_205230_172

 

The next day at lunch we drank beer from a micro-brewery owned their friends. The beer was named Club 27 in honor of the many musical artists (e.g., Morrison) who died at 27.
IMG_20150611_134152_646
Another day, another food fest, this time with family at a Neapolitan restaurant near the Tevere. Most of us had pizza but Jason had tuna cacciatore. The high point of the meal was the antipasti, a collection of Neapolitan delicacies including various forms of zeppole, supli, and fried zucchini.
IMG_20150611_222617_747

The next day was barbecue day.
IMG_20150612_140931_869IMG_20150612_144259_124

Sitting beside Gianantonio is Claudio, Marcella’s son, who is trying to break into the events business. He and his family are longtime cacciatori (hunters) and so the talk got around to hunting and fishing. What was most interesting to me was that he also hunts mushrooms and truffles on a few properties nearby. He showed us a photograph of mounds of black and the rare white truffles he found recently. When we questioned him about his ability to find truffles without the assistance of specially trained dogs or pigs, he took us out into the nearby countryside and filled a bowl with truffles in about a half an hour. “It’s all a matter of knowing where to look,” he said, “and I do.”

It seems, since arriving in Sabina, all I do is eat and sleep. After lunch and an adequate time for conversation over coffee, I took a long nap.

Eventually, I did manage to get sick — stomach pain and constipation requiring a trip to the emergency room, purchase of various medications and confinement to my room. Nothing has worked yet.

One night Gianantonio’s recording business brought an Italian Ska group in for a recording session and a promotional video. The video required the studio to appear like a nightclub with flashing lights and a smoke machine. About 50 people showed up effectively turning the small house into a nightclub. They sold Club 27 beer, wine, and grappa to the attendees. I was not feeling well enough to get out of bed, but I loved listening to the music nevertheless.
Pasted Graphic

Gianantonio’s music group (Mad Cap Official Ensemble) is headlining a concert on American Jazz (Maratona Jazz a Roma) next week, so the musicians came by the studio today to practice. I felt I had time-travelled back to tin-pan-alley and the Jazz of the 20s and 30s which they treated with the same reverence and respect as the New York Philharmonia treats Beethoven or Mozart. For some reason, I started to cry. They played many of the old standards. Their amazing singer was able to change her voice and phrasing to sound like Josephine Baker, Lady Day or Ella Fitzgerald as the song required.

I spent the day listening and taking a few videos which I cannot send with T&T because of technical space limitations, but here is a photograph.
IMG_20150614_115853_408

In spite of my illness, this was one of my life’s more transcendent experiences.

Tomorrow we leave for Sicily. I am still in pain, have not eaten or shit for three days. Perhaps the overnight boat ride from Naples to Sicily and the sea air will cure me of whatever sickness I’ve got.

Because of an airline strike, Nikki will not be able to join us for a night in Naples so I put off leaving here for one more day. The pains have lessened.

Today I had a mild success, some symptoms of whatever I have passed so, Jason and I went to a friends restaurant in Cantalupo and I enjoyed hand-made spaghetti unique to the area in a heavenly mushroom sauce.
IMG_20150615_141030_148
Jason with pasta
The next day the sun was shining brightly while we left the farm. After breakfast, we drove to the Autostrada to Naples.
IMG_20150616_101130_623
Another photograph of Sabina.

About one o’clock, we had a mediocre lunch and drove up the many switchbacks to the famous Monastery of Montecassino. While there I gave Jason one of my bullshit lectures on the history of the monastery until his eyes glazed and he mumbled “Nice building.”
IMG_20150616_140247_926
The Grand Staircase at Montecassino

Returning to the Autostrada, we drove to Naples.

The stress on a 75-year-old father traveling together with his 50-year-old on a long trip like this, is roughly equivalent to the stress on a 50-year-old son traveling on a long trip with his 75-year-old father. I remember taking this trip almost 50 years ago with my 50-year-old father. My brother and I were insufferable, but my father took it all with surprising grace (for him) and reasonable good humor — certainly better than I am now. But, hell, he was only 50 at the time about my son’s age now and I was 25. So it goes, same old, same old. Or, what goes around comes around. Or, about 1000 more tired old cliches.

Arriving a little early in Naples for embarkation onto the boat, I suggested that we drive on to Sorrento and have dinner at a hotel where at least five generations of Petrillo’s have stayed including Jason when he was only a lad. I always stopped there for a night or two whenever I happened to be in Sorrento. It sits right on the edge of the bluffs with Vesuvius to our right and Capri to the left. The last time I had been there was with Margret Azevedo, Denise, and the very young Jessica.

I was shocked when we got there. The place was closed and in ruins.
IMG_20150616_170647_845
So sad, so sad.

So, after dinner at a local restaurant that was not to bad, we returned to Naples and boarded the car ferry for the overnight trip to Palermo.
IMG_20150616_173718_061
Another picture of me eating.

Although I felt better, I still was not over whatever illness I had contracted and felt exhausted so, I collapsed on to my bed in our cabin and fell right asleep while Jason explored the nightlife of car ferries. There is none.
*Pookie’s fractured history: It was the conflict between an outlying village of Sabines encamped on the Quirinale Hill across the pestilent swamp that became the forum and the Roman tribe camped upon the rocky, smaller, less fecund Capitoline hill that the famous story was written about. One night, the Romans, annoyed that the wealthier Sabines considered themselves superior in intelligence and ability and also believed that the Roman penury was due to their lack of intelligence and general laziness and not the crappy soil of the rocky promontory they lived on, or the sharp dealings of the bastards inhabiting the Quirinale Hill, snuck across the marsh and, in biblical fashion, killed the men and took the women for wives and slaves. (There was little difference between being a wife or a slave at that time, except that a wife could lord it over the slaves now and then.) The Romans realizing how simple it was to get rich and how much less work was needed to kill people and take their land than work the land themselves, attacked other tribes in the area, took their land and made them slaves. Eventually, the Romans began to think they were superior to those others and began to consider them ignorant, lazy and menial — and the rest is history.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“For years, I have told my students that I have been trying to train executives rather than clerks. The distinction between the two is parallel to the distinction previously made between understanding and knowledge. It is a mighty low executive who cannot hire several people with command of more knowledge than he has himself. And he can always buy reference works or electronic devices with better memories for facts than any subordinate. The chief quality of an executive is that he has understanding. He should be able to make decisions that make it possible to utilize the knowledge of other persons. Such executive capacity can be taught, but it cannot be taught by an educational program that emphasizes knowledge and only knowledge. Knowledge must be assumed as given, and if it is not sufficient the candidate must be eliminated. But the vital thing is understanding. This requires possession of techniques that, fortunately, can be taught.”
Carroll Quigley. The Evolution of Civilizations. 2nd ed. 1979. p. 420

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Western Europe during the Middle Ages was the only society in history to prohibit their brightest minds from reproducing by forcing them into celibate religious orders if they evidence the slightest curiosity or passion for knowledge  while at the same time encouraging the most sociopathic and violent to rule and breed at will.”
Trenz Pruca

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

*A collection of paraprosdokians is called a paradox.

D. Today’s Poem:

Steamboat Willie

I saw Mickey Mouse
As Steamboat Wille
On the telly
Last night.
We both have skinny arms
But I can’t whistle.

(Eat your heart out Emily)

E. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

Popes: Last issue I indicated the Barberini Pope was Urban VII. That is a mistake. It was Urban VIII. Urban VII was Pope for only 13 days before he died. I should be burned at the stake. Mea culpa.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The offices of officials were stormed, and the records destroyed. Serfs became lords. The land was revolving like a potter’s wheel. The high-born were starving, and the fat lords had to work in place of the serfs. Their children were hurled against the walls. High honors went to female serfs, who wore precious ornaments, while former great ladies went around in rags begging for food. Weeds were eaten and water was drunk; food had to be taken from the pigs. The learned man had only one wish: ‘May the people perish and no more be born.’ Those who had been poor suddenly became rich. Upstarts now rule, and the former officials are now their servants.”
Papyrus from the Middle Kingdom Egypt 1991-1786 B.C.

(Same old, same old)

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 JoJo 0004 (June 12, 2015)

“Pessimism is strictly for people who are over-educated and unimaginative.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 273). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

Sadly I left Sacile and took the night train to Rome. I enjoyed lying on my bunk rocked to sleep by the swaying of the car and the rhythm of the wheels clicking along on the tracks.

I had not intended to do much in Rome except wait for Jason to arrive and then leave directly for Sabina before moving on to Sicily.

I checked into the same pensione I always do — the one near the Via Veneto that services penniless priests and others on their pilgrimages to Rome as well as the odd traveler or two like me, and where, in the mornings, breakfast is accompanied by recordings of Gregorian chant.

After checking in and dropping off my luggage, I walked over to the Borghese Gardens to see if I could get into the museum. I couldn’t, so I strolled around the park.
IMG_20150606_130313_353
The Pines of Rome — The Borghese Gardens (Respighi, first movement)

I ambled down one of the lanes crisscrossing the park, sat down on a bench and watched the tourists pass by on foot or peddling a variety of vehicles.
IMG_20150608_104246_205

In the woods, I could see two people who appeared to be doing something that seemed not completely legal. Nearby a musician was playing the accordion. While I sat there and listened, he worked through many of the great tunes of the 18th Century including those of the Justin Bieber of his era, Wolfie Mozart. — — I can’t believe I just wrote that. I should be ashamed of myself.
IMG_20150606_124059_492

That night I unwittingly locked myself in my room and broke the key off in the lock. I could not raise anyone to get me out until the next morning. I’ve had worse experiences. I convinced myself I was being punished by fate or karma for that line about Mozart.

The next morning, having escaped from confinement, I decided to take a short morning walk for exercise and stop by some of the places I do not consider my visit to Rome complete unless I do.

I planned to begin at Piazza Barberini near my pensione, walk up the hill to Quattro Fontana and the church of San Carlo. I consider this church, Borromini’s first commission, to be among the finest examples of an architect combining art, design, and mathematics in a single building. I then planned to continue on past Bernini’s St Andrea, skirt the Quirinale Palace and push my way through the tourists at Trevi Fountain. Then over to Piazza da Spagna to visit the Keats-Shelly museum dedicated to three young men who unfortunately died before enjoying all the lives most of us are endowed with. But then, perhaps they were only allowed one life to live (except perhaps for Byron [Childe Harold himself]). I planned to follow this up with espresso at Cafe Greco, walk up the Spanish Steps and wind my way home before the heat of the afternoon leaves the streets of Rome to the tourists.
IMG_20150607_102509_591

As I walked from the Triton Fountain toward Quattro Fontana, I noticed that visiting the art collections in Palazzo Barberini was free today and even more surprising, it was open.

Palazzo Barberini is stark proof that there was a time when all a family needed was to produce one Pope (Urban VII in this case) to become unbelievably wealthy and set for generations. The Palazzo now is also the National Art Museum containing an art collection that, although not quite as spectacularly focused as at the Borghese (which I am resigned to never finding open again) nor as vast as the Vatican, nevertheless, is remarkable in its own right.
IMG_20150607_110628_227
I often forget classical artists, in addition to their obsession with murder and mayhem, also struggled mightily to inject sex in all its varieties into their paintings and sculpture.
IMG_20150607_105505_525
“Maddalena Penitente in Estasi” by Guido Cagnacci

This painting below (Betsabea al Bagno by Jacopo Zucchi [Firenze 1541-Roma 1593]), while I was there, seemed to be the most popular among the women visitors. They would stop to discuss and take numerous pictures of the painting while the men mostly strolled by without glancing at it. I could not figure out why.
IMG_20150607_105835_251
Some of the Museum’s more famous paintings (capo lavori) below, from left to right: “Narcissus,” by the incomparable artist, drunkard, sociopath and murderer Caravaggio; “Beatrice Cenci,” by the gifted Guido Reni; “Fornarina,” by the sublime and subtle Rafael (although perhaps not all that subtle this time).
IMG_20150607_105143_647IMG_20150607_105544_286.jpgIMG_20150607_110114_511
After leaving the museum, I walked to San Carlo to pay homage. I was so moved while there, that for the first time in 50 years I attended mass — a high mass no less.
IMG_20150607_111016_458
The woman in red has been begging at this spot for as long as I can remember.
I left San Carlo feeling virtuous, slipped a Euro to the woman in red at the door and walked on.

As I was passing the Quirinale Palace, the home of the Italian President, I discovered that for the first time in my experience it was open for tourists. I took advantage of the opportunity and entered. The palace was opulent as could be expected and contained a remarkable number of tapestries. As usual, it was guarded by a special branch of Carabiniere who some have suggested are, “as tall as angels (over 6’6’’?) and as dumb as stones.” One, stationed in the center of an especially ornate room so as to be seen by all, seemed to be at least 7ft. tall. With his golden helmet and irritated eagle on top, he appeared to approach 8ft. His feet clearly hurt him as he leaned on his sword and shifted from one foot to another.
IMG_20150607_120811_309
Future recruits.
I left the Quirinale and after skirting the Trevi Fountain ate lunch in a little restaurant where 40 years ago the woman who owned it then had me try, for the first and last time, cervello (brains). Then it was over to the Keats-Shelly museum and an espresso at Cafe Greco.
IMG_20150607_130256_160
A Pookie selfie in Cafe Greco.

Following my coffee break, I walked up the companion stairs to the right of the Spanish Steps that used to be the leather glove center of Rome and on back to the pensione.
When I arrived back at the pensione, as I passed small room off the stairs, I heard the woman who runs the place and two others laughing loudly. One of the women I had surprised when I opened the toilet door this morning. I was more embarrassed than she was. It seems strange this establishment dedicated to religious pilgrimages has unisex bathrooms.

Anyway, as I passed by, the proprietress saw me, mentioned to the others my unintended imprisonment last night and called out to me. They all laughed some more and invited me to join them. Too embarrassed, I excused myself, scampered up the stairs, locked myself in my room hoping the key would not break and crawled into bed.

The next day I decided to spend the morning wandering around the Villa Borghese again. As I walked up the Via Veneto, I thought about the club I often frequented 45 years ago. It was underground located in the crypts not needed by the adjacent Capuchin monks for their diorama of death. It was dark and smokey, the music a mix of jazz and rock. We, dressed in our turtle neck shirts, huddled in the tiny crypts drinking wine and discussing poetry and the war in Viet Nam. We were the last gasp of the Beats before they were swept away by the flower rebellion and folk rock. It is still a nightclub today, but an expensive one and the crypts are now used for gambling. It just goes to show, give a hippie enough money and he will spend it on high priced booze and gambling (well, dope too).

The Borghese Gardens are the lungs of Rome and perhaps a bit of its soul also. I used to hang out here in the Gardens many years ago. It was my retreat from city life.
IMG_20150608_094540_873
As I entered the Gardens I noticed signs for something called, “Social Network Week.” I have no idea what they meant, except perhaps free Wi-fi hookups among the pines for Facebook addicts.

While strolling along, I saw a pair of bright green birds flitting about in the trees. At first, I thought they were Rome’s version of San Francisco’s escaped parrot colony. These, however, did not make the raucous sound of the SF flock and their tail feathers were as long and their bodies.
IMG_20150608_092257_300

Recently they have added an exact replica of the Globe Theatre, barely visible among the trees. I hope they show a selection of all Elizabethan plays and not just Shakespeare. In other posts, I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the general exclusion of other Elizabethan dramatists in the academic world and at drama festivals.

I went by the Borghese Museum. It was closed Mondays so I sat on the bench near where the accordionist usually plays his Baroque medleys. I guess he was closed Mondays also. The guy with the electric mandolin was there, however. The plinking sound of Neapolitan folk tunes made into 1950’s hit songs skittered through the trees. A splatter of young teens armed with eggs, flour and aerosol cream whirled by and, in a lengthy pre-coital ritual, gaily covered each other and the pathway with bits of uncooked pastry.

On the way back to my pensione, I passed a small but loud protest in front of the American Embassy. I watched for a while. It was not the mass rallies against the war that I remembered from the late sixties but it still had the homemade signs, the slogans, and the whistles. I could not figure out what they were protesting but, since in general I believe protests are a good thing, I shouted my support. I was not arrested nor beaten with a police baton so the demonstration could not have been all that significant.
IMG_20150608_110554_921

All in all, it was a wonderful morning.

The next day Jason arrived. He will drive directly to Casperia in Sabina being unwilling to brave the traffic of Rome (no one has ever written a symphonic piece entitled, “The Traffic of Rome”). I will take the train and join him there tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have another day to wander the city. I think today will be ice cream day. I’ll probably walk to Piazza Navona for a lunch of bad spaghetti carbonara and good ice cream.

The walk from the Via Veneto to Piazza Navona even if you take the narrow back alleys is tourist highway. Hundreds of flag-waving tour guides lead legions of eager sightseers to the not to be missed marvels along the way. I veered slightly off the track to visit St Ignatius’ Trompe d’oil ceiling and the magnificent but unappreciated piazza in front.
IMG_20150609_112624_726
I passed through the plaza in front of the Pantheon and braved the masses to drop into the old building to pay my respects. I was surprised when I entered to discover it putting on an unusual light show of its own.
IMG_20150609_114303_279

In the piazza, a woman was playing a mournful “Ave Maria,” (is there any other way to play it?) on the accordion. Surprisingly, as I departed the piazza I could still clearly hear it as I walked along the backstreets. Other people and sounds seemed to disappear until I felt there was only me and the music floating above the gloom of the alley.

Just before arriving at Piazza Navona my heart skipped a beat, the door to the state archives containing Borromini’s master-work of his mature years was open. Because it was located in the archives, I had never been able to visit the church before. As with San Carlo the site was difficult to build on and Borromini had to design a church unique in Christendom to fit there. Instead of basing the design of the interior on circles, ovals and squares, he used interlocking triangles. Alas, my hopes were crushed. The small library he designed to house the Pontifical Academy’s Library was open, but the church was not. I did find out access to the church was now available on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
IMG_20150609_115625_253
St Ivo in Sapienza

I passed through Piazza Navona and into the warren of streets on its far side. I had hoped that I could get far enough away from the piazza to find edible food. Until now, since I have been unable to get to places like Piazza Tuscola (outside the walls) and the like, I have been stuck eating the overpriced inedible stuff served in Centro. I found a place right by one of my favorite churches. There was no one eating there and two surly teenagers who I assumed were the waitpersons sat by the door fiddling with their smartphones. I assumed either the food was so bad everyone knew to stay away or the food was good and the service terrible. I bet on the latter and sat down. I won my bet. The food (gnocchi con buffala mozzarella) was excellent and the panna cotta with fresh raspberries heavenly.
IMG_20150609_122500_178IMG_20150609_123038_143
Pookie is happy when he eats.

The church was notable because the Renaissance and Baroque era Popes, in a vain effort to discourage the location of national churches that were breeding like locusts in central Rome, gave this site to a small German order because he thought the piazza was too tiny to fit a church in it. He was wrong.
IMG_20150609_131435_517
The restaurant is on the left.

I do not recall the architect of the facade but the designer of part of the interior was Bramante. It was he who made it fit, There was a Chagall exhibit going on inside today, but the entrance fee was more than I wanted to spend.

Then I sauntered off to Piazza Argentina with the statue of he who did not cave, like Galileo, to Papal pressure, Giordano Bruno (he was burned at the stake instead) rising above the daily market.
IMG_20150609_134256_196

While approaching the Via Veneto on my return, my right ankle gave out and I fell hard on to the sidewalk. Two American tourists helped me up and inquired if I was all right. “Embarrassed,” I responded, “but otherwise all right.” And, after thanking them, I walked off trying to appear unaffected by my tumble.

If it were Bangkok and I fell on the sidewalk, I would be quickly eaten by soi dogs and street rats and no one would help me get up. Instead, they would stand around and laugh at the clumsy fat farang in his death throes.

Ah, well, tomorrow I am off to Sabina.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Experience may be the best teacher, but its tuition is expensive, and, when life is too short, as it always is, to learn from the experience of one’s own life, we can learn best from the experiences of earlier generations. All such experiences, whether our own or those of our predecessors, yield their full lessons only after analysis, meditation, and discussion.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.”

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

*Paraprosdokians devour their own minds.

D. Today’s Poem:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d advertise — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Emily Dickinson

(Everyone has a bad day now and then.)

E. Message from the Old Sailor in Bangkok

“….having an interesting day ….a guy died in the lobby ….too many ladyboys ….dirt on his shirt …..from his last meal or his last ladyboy…..from Denmark ….drank too much and smoked.

Good name for a book: Dead Guy in the Lobby”

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Pepe 0003 (November 4, 2914

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

This is my last night in Thailand on this trip. No matter how much I look forward to my next stop, I still feel a bit sad to leave.

Today I went to the health club in the morning as usual, but instead of swimming I spent my time swapping stories with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver. This time he told me about when he tried to enter the body bag business in Santo Domingo. He and a few of his buddies from the bar he frequented also tried to purchase a mobile crematorium to go with the body bags. They believed, since it was relatively quite expensive in The Dominican Republic to die and be buried, a full service mobile death service would be welcome. They were not able to get the business started for some reason. I guess you can say that it died.

Following this failure, he travelled to Australia where he bought a land-rover and decided to drive to the northern most point of the continent. There were no roads for the last six hundred miles back then, but he plodded ahead anyway. One night while he was camping he was attacked by giant cane frogs. After that he slept in his car.- – – Hey, I’m not making this stuff up. That was his story and I’m sure he’ll stick by it.
*************************************

This evening after dinner I went to the pharmacy and bought the various medicines I thought I would need for the rest of my trip. I decided to take my last walk through that cesspool of corruption and model of capitalist market driven society that is Soi Nana. For some reason as I walked along, Christmas carols kept popping into my head and I began humming “O holy Night.” The ladies of the holy night graciously stepped aside and smiled as the old man with the funny hat, a protruding belly, brightly colored shirt and carrying a cudgel as a walking stick strode by singing Christmas carols.
IMG_20141002_093455_360_2
Me on Soi Nana
*****************************************************

On my last day, on my way to the barbershop, I walked through the Arab-India-Africa section of BKK with its sandal shops and restaurants. It reminded me how much more attractive and clean it was than most other parts of the city. The restaurants are better also.
IMG_20141028_122120_892IMG_20141028_122120_892.jpg

And then, that evening, off to the airport.
*****************************************************

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

Sometimes the lack of drama is welcome. The flight from Bkk to Rome was mostly uneventful, except for  the fact that I thought I was in for a long six-hour layover in Singapore. At least that airport provide travelers with a pool, sleeping cubicles and massage machines to tide them over. I was looking forward for a swim while whiling away my time between flights — at least before they told me at the check-in in BKK that I read my ticket wrong, I was going to Shanghai instead. So rather than enjoying the capitalist excess of Singapore airport, I experienced the socialist realism of Shanghai for six long hours.
IMG_20141029_112142_764
Shanghai Airport
**************************************************

Each time I return to Rome in is with a little sadness. There are a few cities I call home — New York because I grew up there, San Francisco because I’ve lived there longer than in any other place and of course Bangkok because I live there now for some of the year and have done so for five years. There is also Barcelona and Istanbul, cities I love but have never lived in. Then there is Rome where I lived for about three years and to which I have returned innumerable times. If it were not so expensive, I very well might be living here now.

My lodging during this trip is in something I found in Air BNB. It is located less than a block off of the Via Veneto in central Rome. It is hostel-like usually housing religious groups of very modest means making pilgrimages to the city. It feels a little like a cult operation although the woman who runs it is very nice. It is quire basic. My bed is only a slight upgrade from a cot.

On my first day here I took my brother-in-law George on a tour of some of the well known tourist spots and to some places very few tourists visit. In the evening we along with my sister Maryann had dinner near Piazza Navona. Here are some photographs of the first day.

IMG_20141030_130758_270
George by the Colosseum
IMG_20141030_120454_898

George in the Forum contemplating classical antiquities.
**************************************************

The next morning at breakfast, Gregorian Chant filled the air from somewhere in the building. I sat there listening and thought of the liturgical reform that I was so eager to promote in 1960 and so equivalent about the results a few years later. I feel like a monk, living in a plain cell, sleeping on a cot, listening to Gregorian Chant and worrying about liturgical reforms. Perhaps I should consider that option for the next phase of my life.

After breakfast I joined my Maryanne and George for the days stroll around the eternal city.
IMG_20141031_095604_373
Maryann and George at Cafe Greco

We began with coffee at Cafe Greco, then off to the Keats-Shelly museum located in the rooms overlooking the Spanish steps where John Keats died of tuberculosis. I do not consider my trip to Rome complete without visiting here.
67265_10152805949310242_2014076215444280016_n
Maryann standing in front of the Spanish Steps and the building housing the Keates-Shelly Museum

Then up the Spanish Steps and past my old law office into the Borghese Gardens to visit the Borghese Museum, one of the worlds great museums with their collection of paintings Caravaggio (a thug and murderer but a great artist) and the Bernini sculptures (mostly statues commissioned by various princes of the Church depicting rapes and attempted rapes by sundry gods) and Canova (who was incapable of rape). The museum was sold out so we walked to the church displaying Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (psychosomatic rape). It was closed, so we decided to eat lunch. We found a great local restaurant a few blocks away from the tourist areas. After lunch we visited the ruins Baths of Diocletian where, as his last commission, Michelangelo designed a spectacular church. Located in this church is one of the wonders of the age, the Great Sundial. It was used to calculate the accuracy of the Gregorian Calendar prior to its introduction into use.

Then, off to visit Borromini’s great architectural triumph, the church of San Carlo, after which, to Berninini’s Saint Andrea followed by the Doria Pamphili palazzo with its huge collection of paintings. Finally we visited the Church of St Ignatius, the mother church of the Jesuits with its magnificent trompe l’oeil frescos. We finished off the day with drinks, overlooking the city at night from the rooftop terrace of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The next morning I discovered a few other guests had checked into the place I was staying at. They were middle-aged men with grey hair and chalky white faces. I guessed they must be priests, because only those who take permanent vows of chastity and spend their lives in darkened churches could have skin so pallid.

C. VOYAGE TO ROCCANTICA IN SABINA

Roccantica is a small town in Sabina about an hours drive from Rome. It is the original home of my paternal grandmother. My grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters. Some emigrated to the US others to Australia and South America and some stayed in or near Roccantica. The town is noted for, in the tenth century, sheltering Pope Nicholas II, who, having been chased from Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto, took refuge in a tiny tower in the town where he was defended by the men of the town, all thirteen of them, during a two-year siege until it was lifted by Robert Guiscard’s arrival with his troops. For this act of singular heroism the Pope awarded the people perpetual exemption from taxes. The citizens of the town enjoyed this benefit for 900 years, until in was revoked after the unification of Italy during the Risorgimento.
IMG_20141101_104712_181
Roccantica

One of the country’s more prominent medieval reenactments is held once a year in the town.

The town is also noted for a remarkable work of folk art efforts by the local priest for the glory of God. In addition to his fame as a folk artist this priest, who because of his short stature was referred to as the dwarf priest, was in love with my grandmother and reputed to have had an affair with her. He dedicated his life’s work to her. I am convinced that he also was insane.
IMG_20141101_112746_908 IMG_20141101_112527_227
Examples of the priestly folk art that dominates the town heights around the restored church.

It addition to that bit of notoriety, one branch of the family became wealthier than the other citizens of the town when one of them, a priest, became the private secretary to Pope Pius XII. Due to that bit of good fortune, that branch of the family inherited two of the town’s churches. The dwarf priest administered the local parish church and the state I believe owns the one he restored and adorned with his brand of folk art. Because of the peculiarities of Italian tax law the family keeps their two churches closed and locked so that the tax men will not learn of the artistic treasures within. As a result they remain living in genteel poverty despite their potential wealth.
IMG_20141101_111146_656
Maryann and George in front of the house in which my grandmother was born.

10743226_10152813684995242_1654854965_n_2
A group of photographs including lunch in one of my favorite restaurants in all of Italy located in the town and a snapshot of Mary and I with some of the remaining relatives assembled in the house where my grandmother and all dozen siblings were born.
10748954_10152813713040242_111201243_n_2
Via San Giuseppe, the street on which I used to live
IMG_20141101_135647_334
The street by the apartment I lived in for about a year.

IMG_20141101_112557_990
The view from that apartment.

IMG_20141101_113222_767
Looking down on Roccantica

On the way back to Rome we stopped at the nearest town to Roccantica, Casperia. My son Jason grew up here.
IMG_20141101_154635_549
The walls of Casperia

IMG_20141101_154143_743
The municipal plaza in Casperia where Jason and I used to stay at times.

And so on to Sicily———

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A responsible government is one in which the real disposition of power in the structure is the same as it is in people’s minds or as it is in law (which is an objectification of how it is subjectively in people’s minds). In such a case, when people act on the basis of the picture they have of the situation, they will be acting on the basis of the real distribution of power because the two are about the same. Thus, there can be no sudden rude awakening from the fact that the situation is, in fact, different from what it is reputed to be.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

Note: those interested in back issues of This and that…. they can be found at: josephpetrillo.wordpress.com

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: